A Tough Nut to Crack

Upon arriving at Uzec Elemix sat down in his quarters and penned a message to Magus Alix. The message read as follows:

Magus Alix, as you have requested I am writing to tell you of my recent encounter at the Mother Tree. I spoke again with the Fey known as Mara and again did not get even the slightest hint of darkness from her or from Emmiline. The tree has grown significantly in a very short time and there is the unmistakable sense of it and its grounds being in some way consecrated land. Emmiline or Mara have enlisted an Elven protector for the area who waited silently as our group met with Mara. 

On the subject of Emmiline specifically there is nothing to tell except that she has been just as I have always known her to be. She is truthful, friendly, and a trusted member of our adventuring group. 

I am not sure what else to report except that this will be my first and last report on the subjects of Emmiline or Mara. If you wish to know more about either of them, with respect, you will need to ask them. 

I am a Magus, and though I agreed to send you this report I did so only because you were upset at having been reprimanded by the order on the grounds of not reporting Emmilines powers, and I unwittingly mind you, had some part in that. With this message I consider the matter resolved.

Let me close in saying that I truly hope we can become good friends in the days and years ahead. I have the highest respect for you and your position and I want to see us both ascend the ranks of the order. Whatever I can do to assist you in that matter please know you have an ally in me.

We should be headed your way in a few days. I would welcome a chance to spend some time with you.

Your Friend and Fellow Magus
-Elemix Dungaruun

“There,” he said to himself and Sang. He looked at Sang as he began rolling up his note. “I hope this message hits the right tone with Magus Alix, but honestly I don’t know if it will. She seems to be more upset with me than friendly. Between you and I, I think I could see her and I being much more than mere colleagues, but she will need to meet me somewhere in the middle if we are even to become friends. She will also need to treat me as a respective equal. I am not some errand boy or mere apprentice. Hopefully she will see that in this very important message.”

Elemix took the note and added it to the message pouch he had built for Sang and then proceeded to give Sang some food while petting him gently. “You know Sang, I trust something like this only to you. Now you remember Magus Alix and her tower in Derriun.” Elemix brought up the images in his mind as he spoke. He also brought up her window that he and Sang had made special note to study and remember when last they met with Magus Alix. “Take this note to her and only her and return here when you can.” When he was certain Sang understood him, he walked to the window and ushered Sang onward. “Thank you my friend,” he said as Sang took to the air.

After watching until Sang was out of view Elemix thought briefly how magical it would be to fly. One day I shall have to learn that spell, he thought.

He proceeded to collect his things and prepared then to meet with the Baron.

A redcap arrives with a letter for Elemix.

Magus Elemix,

Your information on the situation in the Cairn Lands and the Mara fey is noted. I believe your trust in Emmeline is honorable if naive. You hardly know her. I believe more that Archmagus Revan says she is not yet a threat. Note the word ‘yet.’ On Emmeline, I will ask her. As she is a member of the Guild, an associate member at that, she must report in to me as she passes through Derrien. I feel I have no reason to keep you informed about any communication I have with her as you have abandoned your charge. So be it. 

Be advised however, that if Mara or her servant Emmeline become a threat, and you fail to communicate that to me in a timely manner I will hold you personally responsible for anything untoward that happens. With all due respect I will drag you with extreme prejudice before the Wizard’s Council if this fey threat harms my charge directly or indirectly and you hold back information that could have prevented that harm. If however this comes to nothing, then on this matter we have nothing more to say. Pray you are right. 

On the other matter. I asked you, an apprentice magus at the time mind you, to bring Emmeline’s magically gifts to the Guild’s attention as soon as possible. You interpreted that as not immediately. I trusted you to do this and when you failed I took the blame for it. I chose to accept that instead of selling you out and throwing you to the dogs, which I easily could have done. In my opinion, you owe me and we are by no means even in any way. Understand this.

How you treat this debt and how you act as a magus in the future will determine if your goal of alliance and friendship will be possible. To be truthful, your juvenile attempt to woo me, as if I have any time or interest in such affairs, followed by your associate’s use of fey magic as a guest in my domicile, does not help with this situation. I want to trust you Magus, but I have little reason to do so. If you want to be an ally, friend, or simply a colleague in good standing as you say, you must give me a reason to trust you. You have not done well so far. You will of course disagree with me. We will speak soon. 

Sincerely,

Magus Alix

For a moment Elemix fumed at the response. He was upset but mainly because he didn’t understand why Magus Alix was so mad and distrusting of him.

He understood Alix felt she had been lied to in that she claimed she had told Elemix to tell the wizards guild about Emmiline immediately. On that point Elemix was certain she had done no such thing. She had told him to tell the wizards guild, and he had done so. The part about doing so immediately she didn’t mention. And what harm had come from that whole thing by the way. She effectively had her hand slapped, but that was nothing lasting. It made her concerned about the risk that Emmiline may pose, but had any real harm come from any of that?

Obviously though in her mind she had said to report Emmiline immediately. As she had clearly convinced herself of that, there was no point in arguing the matter further if indeed he wanted to gain her friendship.

In terms of trust though, that was only one point she levied against him. He on the other hand had multiple examples of reasons he felt she should trust him and that is what confused him most.

Frustratingly he composed another letter.

Magus Alix,

Thank you for responding and explaining to me your concerns. If it is trust you are lacking in me and perhaps my associates please allow me to remind you of the proof of by our actions.

Since you have known me and my companions you have no doubt heard of the following:

  • Our group dispatched many goblins and killed the leaders of the band that was killing local townspeople north of Calder Falls. In doing so we managed to save many townspeople and earned the appreciation expressed to us from the keeper of the keep at Calder Falls and from the Baron of Uzec.
  • We tracked who we believed was behind those attacks here to Derrien where we found and dealt with a priestess of tyaa and her associates. You yourself were involved in this. In doing so we exposed a thieves guild that supposedly didn’t exist in Derrian. For this we were given expressed thanks from the Duke himself.

Word may not have reached you yet however about these:

  • Ti Fa Ne was chosen and accepted by the Order of Arith. She is now an honored member of the Order. As you no doubt know, this is not something that the order does lightly, nor to someone they do not trust. She would not travel with me if I were untrustworthy.
  • We have been approved to go on a dangerous mission for the academy. They funded the journey and would not do so unless they trusted in us to succeed. 
  • My associates and I recently saved many villagers near Uzec who had been attached by hobgoblins and again earned thanks and appreciation by the Baron. 

My point in all of this is to state simply that the Academy trusts us, the Order trusts us, the Baron trusts us, and the Duke trusts us. Even the Wizard council trusts us – at least enough to admit Emmiline and allow us to operate freely. Though I am certain we are being watched.

All of these people trust us. Why not you? When the only thing you have said I did wrong was fail to notify the council quickly? 

Remember that I am first and foremost a Magus. It is my lifes work and I will not risk it for anyone. If Emmiline crosses a boundary then I will report it to you and the council just as any Magus would do. I know the oath I took (after having met with you by the way), and I will stand by it.

I will not lie and say that I agree with everything you said, but I want you to know that I am willing to do what it takes to earn your friendship and trust. However if it involves effectively spying on my friends, friends who have literally risked their lives for mine on more than one occasion, and who have done nothing but helped those around them, then sadly I cannot. If it means we cannot become friends and hopefully good ones at that, then so be it. 

What must I do to earn your trust and friendship? The fact that I am communicating with you at all I hope in some small way shows my sincerity.

Your Friend,

Magus Elemix

He read the letter a second time and decided it was as clear as he could make it. Either she would get over her trust issues or she wouldn’t. It was up to her. With that. He closed and sealed the letter and sent it on its way.

A redcap arrived a couple days later.

Magus Elemix,

Your ability to make yourself seem to be the greatest thing since Sidonious amazes me. You should be a merchant or a politician. Magus, I am not your friend, I am however your colleague. I believe we have spent a few hours together in total, and that is not a friendship, so please do not take liberties or familiarities where they do not exist. I am the court wizard of the Duke of Derrien and I demand a certain level of professional formality when you are writing to me or speaking to me. This pedantic whining list of so-called accomplishments is irrelevant to the problem at hand in which you think you are Aarith’s gift to the universe. You are not.

What must you do to earn my trust? 

First, do not lie or exaggerate. I know his Grace the Duke and never has he told me that he trusts you. Respects to a degree, but no he does not trust you. Just as I respect you to a degree as a fellow member of the Guild, but I do not implicitly trust you. I am also a witch whose job is to defend his Grace. I will never let a short acquaintance create trust. Never. That would be naive and an abject failure on my part. Why do you think I had you stay in a place of power? For convenience? For kindness? No, so I could control the situation as you and yours are hunted by what are clearly enemies of the Guild, Thalassa, and the Duchy.

Second, be honest. You do not truly want friendship. You want allies to build your power-base. As I am the wizard mostly likely to be able to affect your destiny in Uzec, which has no resident wizard. It is logical you would wish my support. But that I won’t give without getting something in return. Power for power, favor for favor. This is the way of things and nothing, absolutely nothing is free. I believe I already helped you significantly with my knowledge of Tuderic Draask and other small favors – a point I have noted you seem to have forgotten. If I am wrong, and you really only want friendship, then you are useless to me. 

But, I am a magnanimous person. If you refrain demanding some kind of personal relationship and keep this professional, then I am willing to set this matter at zero. I will – forget – what has happened, put it behind me and assume it is due to your naivety. We will start again.

Therefore if you continue your arguments and try to resolve this impasse in the way you have, you may as well save yourself ink and paper – we will be done. I don’t have time for this kind of familiarity. On the other hand, should you reply formally with the simple statement, “I understand and I agree” to the redcap then I will assume our association is again set to zero. Then you will have the opportunity to earn my trust.

Think very carefully before you answer.

Sincerely

Magistrix Alix, Witch of Derrien.

P.S. For the record, I never trust a priest either, so using a priest, paladin or the like as a reference will not gain anything from me. In addition, the Academy is lending you trust. I doubt their risk is a sure thing, else they would have funded a fleet and caravan for your expedition. Lastly, the Wizard’s Guild does not trust you. You are being watched by at least two interested parties. I detected it when last you visited. That nugget of knowledge is free of charge. Enjoy it Magus.

The redcap stood by waiting…

Elemix did not want to show anything as he responded in case Alix asked the red cap for his expression.

He penned a short response she was looking for and handed it to the red cap emotionless. I understand and I agree. Magus Elemix.

As he watched the red cap depart he thought to himself. I do not agree but this is the quickest way to end the matter it would seem.

At least now we can start again. That wizard could make things difficult and it is best to placate her – for now…

2 thoughts on “A Tough Nut to Crack”

  1. Oooo, Alix done got mad at El! They do seem love to stand on formality up here in the north and are all put out when that’s not adhered to pretty strictly, eh?

    Well, this does explain the sudden, out of the blue letter Emmeline got from Alix lately…

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