Alustriel's Latest Consort

IV: Behind Blue Eyes

By Ed Greenwood

Larlake dislikes wearing robes and adopting the "grandly wise, mysterious" manner many wizards favor. He prefers to stroll through life like a ranger or well-traveled minstrel, going his own way (as the Marches saying has it: "following his own stars") but acting the pleasant-natured, quiet gallant. Among robed and mantled mages, he might seem a senior apprentice or a fan of wizards.

Power skillfully and selflessly used fascinates Larlake. It's likely he'd have been attracted to Alustriel had he truly known nothing about her -- rather than journeying to win her love again.

With his veiled intelligence, kindness, and playfulness to the young (Alustriel noticed him in a corner at a revel, crafting little dancing illusions to tell a tale of love and loyalty to a wide-eyed child who'd awakened and come down to see what all the noise and laughter was about), Larlake was an instant hit with the High Lady. Alustriel makes friends easily, and like many who become her deep and trusted friends (she's learned she must probe, rather than place trust without doing so), he ended up in her bed. Unlike many, he's returned there often, and lingered in her company because they both desire to remain close.

Were she not a Chosen, her mind afire with Mystra's power and armored with her obligations to the goddess, Alustriel would fully bare her thoughts to her lovers (if she thought their minds could survive the searing caused when minds of great power mesh deeply with lesser intellects). As it is, she dare not ever entangle herself so fully. To do so might also kill any affection or fascination between herself and a lover.

So Larlake's inner truths remain hidden from her, as they do from the most curious and watchful of her sons and local Harpers. None have yet learned that Larlake was crafted to be a bridle to guide Alustriel, but who has rebelled against his creator.

Morngard Delbrar Larlake was born of Tethyrian forester lineage, and he was a quiet, shy man who blundered into the clutches of an ambitious Red Wizard. Zarasper Ormit Nyritarr is an oily, greedy mage who (in the days before Thay openly established enclaves) was sent to troubled Tethyr to establish trade in minor magic with the wealthiest rising merchants. He did so by setting up a local secret society, "The Night Flame," that would give Nyritarr and other Thayan mages great behind-the-scenes influence over the Tethyrians. The Night Flame may well still be operating in the coastal cities of Tethyr.

Like all Thayans having wits enough to work magic, Zarasper Nyritarr sought to build himself "boltholes" to flee to in case "things went wrong." The best boltholes aren't merely hideaways, but rather sideline careers and residences in distant places that a wizard in trouble can flee into and start over. Nyritarr wanted to flee to a place of wealth, excitement, and great personal freedom -- so a high position in Silverymoon seemed ideal.

To foreguard that position, he wanted to exert subtle control over Alustriel and her fledgling realm (rather than going to great expense and trouble to subvert Silvaeren courtiers who might turn on him). So he decided to create a lover for Alustriel by mindblasting Larlake's handsome body to drooling idiocy and then magically forcing into it a mind he could control.

For years "Zarasper the Ghoul" had been experimenting with spells that forced souls into other bodies and established some measure of control over them. His successes had been few and his failures many, resulting in scores of unique undead he could repel from himself and force to go to certain places or attack particular persons or objects, but had no greater control over. This experiment, he vowed, would be a success.

From traveling minstrels Nyritarr learned one of Alustriel's many, many lovers had recently died crying out her name as orc blades cut him down. The Red Wizard magically sought, found, and conversed with that soul (the wizard Baerlon Amrathtar), learning that Baerlon's essence fiercely desired to be reunited with "the cool, bright flame of deepest love."

Eagerly Nyritarr bound the soul with compulsion spells and thrust it into Larlake's body. He tested the new Larlake's loyalty only briefly before sending his secret weapon on the long overland journey to Silverymoon.

The Thayan soon discovered that although he can still in some measure influence Larlake's mind, his creation is very close to independence -- and is possibly even actively thwarting Nyritarr. Alustriel's latest consort seems able to defy direct spells even when Zarasper teleports himself to where he can touch Larlake, leaving the Red Wizard baffled.

© 2004 Wizards of the Coast, Inc. All rights reserved.