Se’rith was back on the road. She took the North Road out of Riverwood and went on past Whiterun, the tundra seemed to go on forever and a multitude of travellers and peddlers travelled to and from Whiterun, obviously a trade hub for the Hold. Se’rith was amazed at the diversity of insect life. Colourful butterflies fluttered peacefully along the sides of the round, some even hovering curiously near the dark elf. She did not have the heart to pluck them out of the air knowing full the alchemical properties of many of their wings.
OT-diversity in bud and insect life comes from 83Willows 101 Bugs by 83Willow.
The road back to The Pale was uneventful and soon enough Se’rith was back in the Nightgate Inn enjoying a spot of lunch, some cooked beef washed down with an ale and finished off with a delicious sweet roll. As was expected the weather was foul. Snow fell endlessly and the wind howled. Yet she went on until nearing Winterhold. She was suddenly set upon just as the South Road dips into the village. An argonian materialised out thin air and drove a short sword into her side. It dug in painfully and the wound begun to sting instantly, poison! Se’rith quickly gathered her wits and as she pushed the would be assassin back with a blast of lightning, she pulled at a scroll on her belt. She had acquired a brace of Fireball scrolls from a wandering wizard staying at the Whiterun Stables and one of them saved her life as she blasted the super heated ball of magical fire at the feet of the argonian. As she inspected the still smouldering body she saw a tattoo of a hand on the argonian’s left palm. Her weapons were of exquisite quality and her blade was still coated with some residue of the poison Se’rith seemed to have resisted. Most worrying of all was small note she found folded and ticked into the assassin’s pouch. It seemed the Dark Brotherhood, the Assassin’s Guild was after her for some reason or other. Se’rith suddenly felt very scared!
She took the road back to the College with greater haste and did not feel safe until she felt its stone walls around her. She went to her room in the Hall of Attainement and changed out of her travelling clothes, after bathing. The road had been long and tiresome but she was not afforded the luxury of rest as a feline voice was suddenly asking her if his scrolls worked. J’zargo was somewhat shocked to hear Se’rith’s rpeorts. Yes they did work destroying the undead that got anywhere near the shrouding flames but the damage to the caster left them weak and vulnerable. His whiskers seemed to droop at this and for the first time since meeting him Se’rith noticed him somewhat subdued. She told him to keep working at it as the spell was clearly potent, it just needed tweaking. At this the khajit perked up and thanked the Dunmer. He proclaimed he was in her debt and if she needed any assistance J’zargo would be happy to provide it. With that he gave her a curt bow and left her to rest.
Once rested, she went into the Hall of Elements and found Sergius. She handed Ahlam’s necklace over and passed on the Redguard’s message. The somewhat dour Sergius was quite pleased however and passed over a small pouch holding a not so insignificant amount of gold for her troubles. She knew exactly what she’d be doing with that. A travelling mage, calling himself and ambassador of the Manatis was staying in the College peddling a number of new and very rare spells. Serguis’s gold would go to purchasing one of these spells. Though the tome was difficult to master, Se’rith was able to commit it to memory.
OT-Spells courtesy of Phendrix’s Magic Evolved mod (Highly recommended if you are going to play mage).
Se’rith had one more matter of business to deal with, dragons! She sought out Mirabelle and showed her the adventurers journal she had found when she was assaulted at the Guardian Stones. She also showed her a very peculiar stone she had found in an ancient barrow she was investigating in the mountains above Riverwood. Mirabelle did not laugh as Se’rith expected but instead advised her not to show this to anyone else and to seek out Farengar Secret Fire, a former College student and widely recognised as Skyrim’s authority on dragon lore. As luck would have it, or unluck, he was now in the employ of the Jarl of Whiterun as court wizard. Mirabelle told her she had found a dragon stone, something of which she knew very little about. Farengar would be in a much better position to tell her more. Though she laughed off Se’rith’s question about the existence of dragons there was something in her countenance that sent a shiver down the Dunmer’s spine.
The Guardian Stones stood in a very pitcutresque location near the quait village of Riverwood that was to the south of Whiterun. Covered in vines and extremely weathered, the stones had constellations carved into them and had a hole in the top section. Se’rith approached them reverently fully aware of their significance.
Closing her eyes and whispering a prayer to the Nine, she placed her hand on the stone with the carved constellation know as the mage. The stone began to shimmer and a radiate green light. The circular hole began to crackle with lightning and without warning a straight column of green light shot up into the sky. It lasted a mere moment and Se’rith could detect no immediate change. The drawing of steel and a deranged shout behind her however did make her change as pain flared across her back as sharp steel cut through linen and robe to score deeply in her back.
Some insane woman, she was even frothing at the mouth, was slashing wildly at her with a dagger. She was clearly not in control of her own senses. Se’rith tried to back away but when the crazy woman opened a second wound on her left forearm instinct took over and soon enough another smoking corpse was at Se’rith’s feet. During the fight a journal had fallen out of the woman’s backpack and as Se’rith recovered from the fight she read it as she rested her back on the Mage Stone.
A dragon! This woman must have been insane indeed!
OT-I think this is Arthmoor’s Live another Life’s way of getting the main quest started. The mod allows for alternative starts to the game without having to go through Helgen.
The difference between The Pale and the lowlands of Whiterun Hold could be no different. Snowy hills and rocky outcrops gave way to rugged lowlands interspersed with tufts of hardy grass. Tall pine trees gave way to bushy, wider trees. Green replacing white but they both shared the ruggedness Skyrim was renowned for.
The weather, however was not an improvement. Snow flurries had given way to dark, overcast skies and a constant rainfall that made her robes sodden and uncomfortable to move in. The road from The Pale led into a deep, wide valley dominated by a massive mountain peak. High Hrothgar, The Throat of the World towered imperiously over Skyrim. In the mid distance Se’rith saw an unmistakably Nord palace atop a large hill. This must have been the Dragonreach she had heard about at the College. Her destination of Whiterun was close indeed.
As she moved towards the city she saw a man garbed in armour approached her and warned her of bandits on the road. Ha inquired as to her destination and when she replied she was heading to Whiterun he informed her that events in some place called Helgen had raised the level of alert and security in the city. Strangers and new arrivals were not being regarded kindly. Not that Se’rith hadn’t seen that side of the Nords yet! The guard also recommended a place called the Bannered Mare should she be wanting to stay long.
OT-I am using the Various Guard Replacers mod by JulianP that varies all the guard outfits in all of Skyrim’s cities. Adds a lot of chrome but also immersion as it gives each city a distinctive look.
Whiterun proved to be a decently sized city, much bigger than Winterhold. Se’rith inquired about the location of the woman Ahlam and she directed to a small tavern called The Drunken Huntsman. There a Redguard woman entrusted her with a gold necklace. Se’rith was to tell Sergius of the precise enchantment she required. Se’rith assured the woman that all would be well. She spent the morning exploring Whiterun and dabbled in some alchemy by concocting a number of potions in a shop owned by a cranky Imperial. She also ascended to the Dragonreach and once again Skyrim’s stark and rugged beauty took her breath away. Not only was the building itself of masterful quality but the view from its steps was something to behold.
Having had her fill of Whiterun she loaded up on rations and water skins for the journey back home. Being the pious sort she inquired about where she could worship locally and she was directed to the Hall of the Dead where the local priest had a shrine to Araky. There she was surprised to find the priest in a high state of agitation. He had lost his Holy Symbol somewhere in the catacombs but dared not enter as her feared the dead had awakened with out the proper care of Arkay. This made Se’rith think of the deal she had made with J’zargo and indeed his scrolls were still tucked into her belt. A good opportunity here to kill two cliffracers with one stone. Help the priest and please the divines and see if J’zargo’s bluster had some substance!
She wasn’t as confident when the catacomb doors slammed behind her. The rattling of bones and the drawing of steel caputured her attention as a walking skeleton lunged at her with a wickedly curved sword that appeared of a very ancient design. Having prepared one of the scrolls she read the magic words out loud. A blazing shroud of flame burst from her body completely shattering the skeleton apart. Impressive J’zargo she thought. But she changed her assessment as soon as the racking pains began. Her sides felt aflame and she could feel an immense weakness. Had the spell tapped into her own life force to power itself? Whatever the case the kahjit had created a powerful spell indeed as the only thing left of the skeleton were small shards scattered over a large area. The priest and his amulet were reunited and Se’rith made for Winterhold but would pay a visit to the Guardian Stones that were nearby.
OT-I have included the above screenie to show the variety introduced by the Skyrim Monster Mod.