Skyrim: A New Life

The path leading up to Azura’s Shrine was a rocky, windy, snow swept path. The cold glacial wind drove across its surface howling as it went. The path rose up into the mountains twisting and turning the air getting thinner. Se’rith didn’t see the snow cat until it was too late. Crouching amid the drifts and swells it leapt out at the mage. Blending in with its natural habitat Se’rith was already on the back foot as the cat raked its claws painfully against her right arm. She surprised herself when she recovered much quicker than when the wolf had bit her a few days ago. Confidently she called on her Dunmer powers and asked the ghosts of her ancestors for their protection and it seemed they did as ethereal flames cocooned her. The snow cat instinctively backed away while Se’rith felt no heat at all. She took a step forwards and was rewarded with the smell of charred fur and a whelp of pain. Grinning wickedly in spite of herself she sent two quick blots of lightning at the cat that took them both square on the eyes. With a growl it dropped dead at Se’rith’s feet. Blinking unbelievingly she felt her ancestors fading away and thanked them for their aid. Downing such an enemy was a big step forward for her. Five days ago she was a girl, a refugee. Now she had power at her disposal to fend of predators hell bent on her flesh. She marched forward purposely and soon enough got sight of the most majestic thing she had seen in her life. A likeness of Azura as large as the heavens themselves. She fell to her knees in supplication and praise. Azura rose from the mountains like a new dawn, much like Se’rith was reforging herself in this harsh, cold land.

(OT-Se’rith is now at Level 3)

She climbed the steps reverently, her red eyes brimming with tears. This was Dunmer work. Her countrymen had crafted this, she just new. She climbed all the way to the top and there in front of an altar she met another Dunmer. ‘I’ve been expecting you,’ she said. ‘She told me you were coming and I have know you were going to come up those stairs even before you were born.’ She introduced herself as Aranea, a priestess of the dawn, an acolyte of Azura. She told Se’rith of a prophecy know to the Azurites of a woman, a Dunmer, who would challenge the wizard capable of bringing the brightest star into darkness. The woman would come by sea and climb the steps of the shrine recently bloodied and hurt. Aranea suddenly seemed to lose sight of Se’rith and turn her gaze outwards, to the sea. ‘Seek him in the castle the rises from the water battered by the waves,’ she suddenly said. In the next instant she was back smiling at Se’rith and charging her to find this enemy of Azura. As a child of Morrowind she solemnly swore to seek out this enemy of the Mother of the Rose and keep the star burning bright. She took a brief moment to take in the view from the platform and for the first time realising the rugged beauty of this new land that was to become her home!

The rugged beauty of Skyrim. Land of the Nords and a Dunmer.

Skyrim: A New Life

She left Winterhold amidst a flurry of snow and wind. Leaving the battered village behind she took the mountain road south. Coming in her direction she saw a couple of heavily armed females dressed in similar garb to her, College initiates mayhaps? As she walked past them one of them stopped and approached her. She introduced herself as a member of the Order of the Vigilants of Stendarr. An order exclusively dedicated to the fight against evil, most particularly deadra, vampires and werewolves. She regaled Se’rith with her order’s sacred mission and their pledge to protect Skyrim from the darkness spewed from Oblivion. The Vigilant offered to heal Se’rith as, to use her words, she was ‘bloated’ with disease. In return they only asked that Se’rith would not consort with daedra or any other evil powers. The Dunmer acquiesced and the Vigilant asked her to kneel. Laying her hands on Se’rith she called upon Stendarr’s blessing to remove the blight of disease from this warrior of light. Blue energy flowed from her fingers and enshrouded Se’rith. The effect was instant. Strength began to flow into her arms and legs again and her head felt clearer that it had for a couple of days. She rose and thanked the Vigilants as they continued on the road down to Winterhold. Se’rith resumed her journey to Azura’s shrine with more purpose as surely the Goddess must have seen her plight and put the Vigilants on her path.

Slightly further up the pass a man suddenly ran up to her and thrust a shield into her hands. She was roughly told to hold onto it unitl he returned. He was rather blunt in his assertion that he would gut her should she lose it. Without further word and not allowing Se’rith a response he skulked off into the snowdrifts. Hot on his heels came a second Nord who immediately dropped to his knees upon spotting the tracks. Seeing Se’rith holding the shield, one radiating protection magic, he demanded where the thief was. He explained that a fugitive from a penal colony had assaulted him on the road from Dawnstar and taken his shield. He had tracked him across the tundra and was grateful for the return of his property but wanted to enact revenge. Se’rith indicated the direction the thief had taken and watched the Nord follow into the drifts. Feeling somewhat obliged to intervene Se’rith hoisted her weapon and called forth her Sparks spell and followed.

Finding the villain hiding among the snow drifts the Nord began to lose arrow after arrow that flew with unnerving accuracy to their target. Se’rith contributed two solid blasts with her magic that scorched the studded leather armour the thief wore. A third arrow thudded against the man’s temple and he dropped like a stone. The Nord thanked Se’rith for her aid and told her she was welcome to the dead thief’s possessions as a reward for helping him. He introduced himself as a Stormcloak Warden tasked by Jarl Ulfric to keep the peace in the Hold. A Stormcloak! Se’rith stiffened but nodded her understanding as he turned away to walk South. She felt somewhat like a scavenger rifling through a dead man’s [pockets but hadn’t he tried to use her? 8 gold septims richer later she resumed her course. Stopping at the mine she had a bite to eat with a Winterhold guard that was telling her of an adventuring career cut short due to an arrow to the knee!

OT – eating animation courtesy of Imps More Complex Needs.

Skyrim: A New Life

Se’rith greeted the dawn with a cold chill and aching joints. Her fever was getting worse and as of yet had not found an alchemist in the College of Winterhold. She felt like lying there all day and disappear under the goose feather quilt. Yet her fellow apprentices would not let her be. Onmund, the Nord, politely coughed as Se’rith was clasping on her robe. He was standing awkwardly at the entrance to her chamber. ‘Well are you going to spit it out or are you going to stay gawking there all day?’ she spat. The Nord’s white face reddened at the dark elf’s boldness and so he set tounge to purpose. He talked rather sheepishly of a transaction with Enthir, a mage of shady repute who was rumoured to have access to College unsanctioned materials. Onmund had handed over a family heirloom, an amulet of sorts in return for some goods the Nord was reluctant to mention. Enthir, unsurprisingly did not come up with the goods and had refused to return the amulet. Onmund had hoped Se’rith would talk to the elf on his behalf. She agreed just to get him out of his room as her head was thumping uncomfortably.

However she would not find peace as loitering at the entrance of the Hall of Attainment was Ancano, the Thalmor Ambassador. ‘You there,’ he called, his voice dripping with scorn. Se’rith froze like a fawn caught in the hunter’s gaze and watched the Altmer approach. He immediately launched into questions about Saarthal and was very insistent that Se’rith tell him what had been found. She found her tongue and told him very little actually having the temerity to tell him what business of his it was. At this he snapped around exclaiming that everything was the Thalmor’s business. At that he courteously bid her farewell though she could feel his golden eyes piercing into her back as she headed to the Arcaneum to see if she could find anything on how to brew a cure disease potion.

On her way there however she was called over by Drevis, the master illusionist. He rambled on about having been given a task by the Arch Mage that was better suited to the talents of an apprentice and as Se’rith was the first apprentice he saw he entrusted her with the job. She was to go around the College and clean all the focal points of magical energy from any impurities she found. He pointed to the blue pillar of light pointing skywards from the stone basin at the centre of the Hall of Elements to indicate what he meant. Indeed it was rather different to the others she’d seen. It had swirling pale blue lights that moved around the main pillar of light in a chaotic fashion. ‘Here I am a Master of this College tasked with house cleaning,’ he groaned as he handed Se’rith a pair of gloves covered in arcane sigils. She was simply to insert her hands into the focal points and let the magic in the gloves do their work. With that he turned away and told her to seek him in the Arcaneum when she was done. Putting on the gloves, that at first sight seemed too large for her slender hands, she felt them adjust perfectly to her fingers until it seemed she was wearing a second skin. Pausing for a breath she put her hands in the flow of magical energies bracing herself for the worst. An anti climatic whoosh and a rush of air being sucked downwards were the most dangerous things that happened. When she dared to open her eyes she saw that the pillar of light had been restored to its usual serene self but resting at the bottom of the basin there rested a glittering soul gem. She looked at it for a second, marvelling at its perfect facets, before gingerly placing it in her satchel.

She quickly went about her mundane chore in less than an hour. At each focal point the same thing happened. A soul gem was left nestling at the bottom of each basin. She did indeed find Drevis in the Arcaneum who collected his gloves but told Se’rith with a wink that she could keep the gems as payment. He also told her that a sickly Dunmer could always seek the blessing of Azura to cure her of whatever ills she may be suffering from. With that he bade away and continued to enjoy his brunch. Ofcourse Se’rith instantly caught onto Drevis’s meaning, the Shrine of Azura. She had bumped into a pilgrim on the way to the shrine on her journey to Winterhold, somewhere near that mine she rested outside of. She dug into her satchel, produced her map and almost kicked herself when she noticed the shrine was less that a days walk to the South West. She could almost kiss the wizened old Drevis but thought better of it. She immediately set off to the Shrine of Azura to seek the Goddess’s blessing.

Drevis

OT – I have changed the time scale of the game to 5 down from 20 after reading this article on improving the role playing experience while playing Skyrim.

War in the Pacific Admiral’s Edition. Game vs Herb

9th June 1943, Reuters, Chungking

China Holds

Changsha is quickly becoming a city coming under attack. First the assault came from the skies and the bomb bay doors of the IJAAF. Then the IJA joined the fray. A small recon unit cut off the railway to Kweilin and Hengyang to the West of the city on the 7th. Chinese infantry contained this weak thrust awaiting reinforcement. Supporting them were B-25’s of the USAAF. Transferred in from Burma this reporter was taken to the frontline along with other members of the International Press to see the Allied effort against Japan. 15 bombers had carried a low level bombing attack on advancing Japanese units yesterday. The scene that greeted our arrival, some 12 hours after the attack, was one of carnage. The smell of burning oil and petrol still hung in the air along with a too familiar smell of charred meat, only this time it wasn’t a burger on the barbecue. Dark plumes of black, oily smoke arose from the plains marking the funeral pyre of an armoured vehicle. 13 wrecks lay in front of us. Weak skinned armoured cars that had virtually disintegrated under the pounding of 500lb bombs dropped by the Mitchells. Grinning Kuomintang troops smiled toothy grins for the photographer and the compulsory unit photo with a captured enemy flag was taken amid the backdrop of destroyed Japanese vehicles. Morale was up and many a Chinese soldier was seen to give a thumbs up for Uncle Sam! In further news reports were also coming in from the South of the city were an enemy probing attack in Brigade strength was held back by units of the 30th Group Army.