Skyrim: A New Life

Chapter 2 Part 6

Wolfskull Cave was to be a much sterner test than what Se’rith had ever imagined it to be. It turned that out that several Necromantic cults jad banded together to bring about the reincarnation of Potema the Wolf Queen, a powerful Necromancer of old. An eerie feeling of dread fell upon both Dunmer as they crossed the cave’s shadowy threshold. They disposed of a young Bosmer Necromancer that guarded a portcullis leading  deeper into the cave. Well, a cave that housed a whole ruined tower around which evil magics flowed. Ethereal wind carried dark glyphs to an apex above the a tower and every now and again a powerful female voice boomed across the cavern urging its followers to complete the ritual as her transfer into this world was almost complete. Not only would any return of Potema be a danger to the College, it would be a danger to Skyrim as a whole. As Archmage it would be her sworn duty to thwart any attempt at resurrecting the Wolf Queen.

 

Se’rith and Brelyna were met at every turn by Potema’s servants as they battled against them with fire, ice and claw. Undead minions lurched against them as reeking zombies and rambling skeletons tried to stop the ascent of the College Mages. The closer they got to the main tower the more frantic the chanting became and one female voice in particular rose in pitch and frenzy above all others. Darting in and out of the battlements atop the tower, Se’rith got a glimpse of a wizened old face framed by wispy, spent white hair. Murky red magic surrounded her clenched fists as she conducted the ritual to its conclusion.

The final fight atop the tower was a bloody and merciless affair. The crone was flanked by two younger apprentices that she ordered to her death at the end of Se’rith’s Lightning Bolts. Their deaths were met with insane cackles and one was even raised by the cruel witch to fight again in undeath. Yet numbers and power soon prevailed as both Dunmer were able to dispatch the undead minion and the witch. As Se’rith burned a hole through the necromancer’s chest the ritual stopped with a violence neither Dunmer expected. Blue light expanded across the whole of the cavern, the light hung for a moment before disappearing in a massive explosion of light and sound. A loud roar, half wolf howl, half female shriek made the dark elves cower in pain. However as soon as it has started the noise and bedlam stopped. Examining a bloody and gore filled altar Se’rith saw a wolf image etched into the stone and painted in blood. As she hovered her hand over it her mind ached with an image and feeling of supreme evil, an after image of a snarling wolf’s blood stained maw imprinting on her mind.

 

They emerged from Wolfskull Cave via a small tunnel leading from a platform next to the tower apex. They stopped for a moment to bask in the warmth of the sun, the city of Solitude and its Arch in the distance.

 

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Skyrim: A New Life

Chapter Two Part 5

The bandits making their home at Fort Hraggstad provided little challenge to Se’rith and Brelyna and their leader died begging for mercy consumed by Brelyna’s fire bolts. Mercy was not forthcoming as both Dunmer had found several bodies in the dungeons of the fort. Judging by their clothing these people were merchants and innocent travellers waylaid by the bandits, brought to Hraggstad and then robbed, murdered or left to rot. In Se’rith’s mind she and Brelyna were bringing righteous justice to these evil men and women and by restoring a legion garrison to Hraggstad the road would once again be safe for travellers.

Legatus Rikke was mightily pleased upon their return to Solitude with news of the Fort’s cleansing and she immediately dispatched orders for a detachment to relocate and rebase there. She thanked Se’rith and dismissed her telling her that Jarl Elisif had heard the Arch Mage of Winterhold was in town and requested her presence in the Blue Palace.

The Blue Palace lived up to its name, its blue slated roof tiles catching the sunlight, stood at the other end of the Solitude arch. Legion and Hold Guards lined its walls and stood at its gates. Se’rith was admitted into the palace with no ado but she was cornered by a member of the court called Falk Firebeard. The Jarl was receiving visitors from the Imperial Province here in Solitude for the marriage of the Emperor’s cousin but had tasked Firebeard with talking to Se’rith. She was taken into a side chamber were she and Brelyna were served sweet wine and tasty fruits. Falk, the Jarl’s steward, told Se’rith of a nearby cave, Wolfskull Cave, and of strange sightings, primarily after dark. Wolfskull Cave was well known to all mages in Skyrim due to the story of Potema the Wolf Queen. Several nearby farmsteads had reported strange lights and noises in the late watches of the night and livestock was disappearing. Due to its location and somewhat tainted history, and knowing of Se’rith’s presence in the city, the Jarl would consider it a personal favour if the College could look into Wolfskull Cave. Of course anything of a magical nature found could be considered a gift from the Hold of Haafinger to the College of Winterhold.

Se’rith was very familiar with the story of the Wolf Queen. If any of her followers or a new cult of hers was involved it would mean necromancers and undead. This was a good opportunity for Se’rith to further cement an alliance between Winterhold and Solitude. Accepting the Jarl’s request Se’rith headed to a tavern she saw just inside the main gate, The Winking Skeever, to rest before embarking to Wolfskull Cave.

CUT SCENE

Skyrim: A New Life

Chapter 2 Part 4

Castle Dour was an imposing stone structure that overlooked Solitude and stood on a cliff at the opposite end of the city to where the Blue Palace, the seat of the Jarl, was. Legionaries were all over the place. Standing guard, leaving on patrol or drilling in the main courtyard. It was a constant bustle of activity. Se’rith was stopped at the gate by two guards who demanded to know her presence there. Introducing herself as the new Arch Mage of Winterhold she asked the guards to be taken to General Tulius. She was ushered inside the main entryway and then led up a flight of stone steps to a sturdy wooden door. Inside the General was in deep discussion with another Legion officer, this one a Nord Female. From the snatches of conversation she heard the General was worried about the role  Whiterun and its Jarl played in the geopolitics of Skyrim. At the moment Whiterun had yet to declare itself for one side or the other but its proximity to Windhelm clearly had the Imperials worried about possible Stormcloak influence there. The female (a Legate Rikke) strongly argued against trying to influence Barlgruuf as Nords would take offers of unasked for help as an insult. But the General was adamant, Whiterun would come into the Imperial fold and that would be the end of that.

At that Se’rith was introduced by the guard. General Tulius was incredibly surprised to see how young the new Arch Mage was but his candour improved when he heard what Se’rith came to offer. The aid of the College of Winterhold in keeping the Empire together and winning over those Nords taken under sway by Ulfric. In return Se’rith wanted Legion mapower to help rebuild Winterhold. By working together mages and Legion could win the hearts and minds of the Nords and take them away from Ulfric’s rebellion. Tulius, being a fighting man, was not easily swayed as he trusted in the martial might of the Legion to bring down and quell any major Stormcloak offensive. However judging by the strategic map of Skyrim on a table behind him roughly half of the province was already lost to the Empire. As such Tulius was not in a position to turn Winterhold’s aid down.

It was the Legate that came to Se’rith’s aid. She interceded on her behalf and reasoned that wining hearts and minds would be of great help. Furthermore, with an increasing number of dragon sightings since Helgen, if the Legion was seen as protecting the populace from these flying beasts then the General could trumpet all he want about the Legion being protectors of Skyrim while Ulfric could be cast as the murderer and usurper that brought dragons back to Skyrim. This gave the General pause for thought and he fixed his gaze intently on Se’rith. The offer the mage was making was indeed a solid one, but a niggling doubt gnawed at the back of his mind. If he accepted the College’s offer was the Legion admitting a weakness of not being able to deal with the insurrection? Nords hated magic, a lot hated the Legion, what benefit would he gain? It wasn’t until Se’rith told him of the dragon at Whiterun and her role in its destruction that Tulius changed his demeanour. If this dark elf was in good standing with Barlgruuf she could be used to sway Whiterun away from the Stormcloaks. What he needed though was a sign of good faith. Calling Se’rith over to the map he laid his finger on a spot somewhat to the West of Solitude. He explained that if the College wanted to ally itself to the Imperial cause it must prove its worth. He tasked Se’rith with reclaiming a ruined fort called Fort Hraggstad that had been claimed by a band of bandits that had bee raiding the coastal road. The Legion had intentions of sending a detachment of troops to re garrison the fort once it had been cleared. If Se’rith could prove her worth by clearing the Fort, the alliance she craved would be granted.

Fort Hraggstad

Skyrim: A New Life

Chapter Two Part Three

The road to Solitude was uneventful as they passed the impressive stone carved bridge at Dragonbridge. True to its name the small settlement was built on the side of a gorge that was spanned by a stone bridge. In its centre was a dragons head that seemed to warn travellers as they entered Dragonbridge. Talking to several locals they found out the Solitude was barely an hours walk away.

Approaching the city gates, situated as they were in the tall, thick walls of Solitude, a most Imperial looking city in Skyrim, Se’rith was told by an exultant guard that she was just in time for the execution. Asking him why he sounded so elated at someone’s death he told her that the person being executed was a former guard called Roggvir. He had played a crucial role in the murder of King Torygg by first allowing Ulfric Stormcloak into the city and then assisting in his escape. Traitors to the Empire deserved death, he virtually spat out that last comment. He waved them through and just inside the main gate a crowd was gathering as a man in threadbare garments was  being pushed and manhandled by a pair of burly guards. Several members of the crowd were booing and hissing at him. Several children were throwing rotten produce at him as they ascended a small dias where the executioners bloack awaited. A small rectangle of brown, blood stained wood.

A guard captain pushed the prisoner to his knees before the block as the executioner, a large hooded man wielding the largest axe Se’rith had ever seen, its bearded blade also darkly stained with blood. The captain read out the man’s crimes and called him an embarassment to all Nords. A betrayer of the legacy of Tiber Spetim who had founded the Empire. To his credit the prisoner shouted out his firmly held belief that the Empire was the betrayer and that the Stormcloaks fought for and in the interests of Skyrim. He shouted out Ulfric’s innocence claiming that Torygg had been slain in the honoured Nord tradition of single combat. Such blasphemous words brought more cat calls from the crowd and demands for blood. The captain nodded towards the executioner and with a practised move he raised his axe into the Solitude air and held for a split second before he leant all his strength to bring the blade down upon the condemned mans neck. The blade did its work at the first time of asking and it sliced through till it embedded itself in the wooden block with a thud. Red blood spurted from the man’s neck and it showered the front row of spectators with a fine red mist. Roggvir,s head rolled away until the captain picked it up by the hair and claimed loudly that all traitors to the Empire would meet the same end! With that he set the head on a spike that would soon be adorning the main gate as further warning.

Skyrim: A New Life

Chapter Two Part Two

As the wind stop whirling and the noise subsided the Whiterun Guards gathered around Se’rith. A few of them were whispering ‘Dragonborn’, or ‘Thu’um’ in reverent tones. Irileth approached her and took her wrist in a warrior’s handshake, it all seemed far to reverent for her tastes. The incident had indeed puzzled her, perplexed her in fact but she could not allow these new events divert her from her path of speaking to General Tulius in Solitude. Night had already started to fall as the shadows from the gargantuan dragon bones spread around her.

She pressed on Irileth the importance of relaying what had happened to the Jarl at Dragonreach and told her to instruct the Jarl that Winterhold would come to Whiterun’s aid should he call for it in the event his city came under dragon attack. Farengar could easily send a magical missive to the College. Saluting her fellows she took the road West towards Solitude. A guard advised her that the road to Solitude would be long but a welcome stop at Rorikstead for the night would do her well, The Frostfruit Inn would always welcome a weary traveller. Thats when the earth and air shook.

‘Dovakinnnnn…’ A gruff voice carried on the wind and the guards looked skywards expecting another dragon to swoop down at them but the skies were empty other than the glittering stars of the heavens. They asked what that was but not even Irileth had an answer. It had been a strange day indeed. Their road was going to be long so Se’rith and Brelyna made their farewells and headed West. The stars and Nirn’s two moons shone brightly in the black canvas of night.

Skyrim’s nights were indeed beautiful, a myriad of colours and twinkling lights. Rorikstead itself was a small settlement on the road leading West from Whiterun to The Reach. It was a small farming community whose fields looked bountiful and plenty. It was the late watches by the time they got there and headed to the Frostfrut Inn for some well needed rest and succour. Dragons now flew the skies of Skyrim, the world had indeed changed!

OT-screenies courtesy of Enhanced Night Skyrim by CptJoker. The first mod I downloaded for Skyrim on the 15th November. I had the same mod for Oblivion as well. Well worth it

Skyrim: A New Life

Chapter Two Part One

Having made the long  journey to Solitude Se’rith and Brelyna were disappointed to have been told by a Legate Rikke at Castle Dour that General Tulius was at a place called Helgen overseeing the execution of a most important prisoner. Helgen! Wasn’t that the place mentioned in that deranged woman’s journal that also had a reference to a dragon? In consideration of Se’rith’s position as Archmage, Rikke offered Legion transportation to Helgen. It would take them nearly a day and a half to walk there so Se’rith graciously accepted. It took half the time to get to Helgen, when they got there they found a smoking ruin. Scorch marks were all over the place and stone walls were cracked and broken in many areas. Towers had their battlements torn off while burnt and mangles corpses lay all over. In some cases these corpses had been fused to the armour they had been wearing by some super heated fire. Large prints dotted the earth and what looked like claw marks scored the walls. Of General Tulius there was no sign. There appeared to be no survivors though trackers of the Legion escort found tracks leading from a cave to the south of Helgen leading North towards Riverwood. Se’rith instructed her escort that she had business in Riverwood and would try to find out what had happened here. She instructed the Optio leading the escort to report back to Rikke at Solitude that she would be visiting Jarl Balgruuf at Whiterun and talk to his court mage Farengar Secret Fire to tap into his knowledge of dragon lore. She politely declined the offer of further escort.

They took the road out of the northern gate and made good time to Riverwood. The sun had started to wane as they made the small picturesque village. They found it in a state of pandemonium. Several villagers were in a state claiming they had seen a dragon fly overhead heading North a few hours ago. One lady, Gerdur, was adamant in what she saw. She was extremely worried about the safety of Riverwood and would send a plea to the Jarl at Whiterun to send a detachment of guards to help protect Riverwood as they had no wall or no armed force to protect the populace. Se’rith made a mental note to raise it with the Jarl. She bade Riverwood farewell and followed the reddening sky to Whiterun.

Whiterun was bathed in the most glorious sunset tinting the sky red and crimson, the perfect backdrop to the glorious mountains of Skyrim. She ascended the stairs to the Dragonreach, her ears full of the worried conversations of the populace full of tales of dragons and fire from the sky!

The Jarl was in deep counsel with his Housecarl and his Steward. Indeed the Dunmer Housecarl drew her sword upon Se’rith’s arrival. Yet when the word that news from Helgen was on her lips she was put immediately in front of the Jarl. She reported all she had seen at Helgen and brought the pleas of Riverwood to his ears. After some opposition from his Housecarl the Jarl ordered that a detachment be sent to safeguard Riverwood as he would not have his people living under threat. A hooded mage then approached and greeted the new Archmage warmly, at this the Jarl stood up and shook Se’rith’s hand. She was the first Archmage to have visited Whiterun for a generation. He took her presence as a sign that the College would lend its aid to Skyrim.

As the pleasantries finished Farengar requested that Se’rith join her in his study. He was eager for news of the College and Se’rith retold her adventures in Labyrinthian and her fight against Ancano and the Thalmor, she kept the presence of the Psijics secret however. She produced the stone that she had found at Bleak Falls Barrow and the Farengar’s eyes literally shone like gold. He called it a Dragonstone and the characters carved in it were in draconic, the ancient language of the dragons. Dragons talking! Even Brelyna raised a sceptical eyebrow. All this talk about dragons was making Se’rith very nervous. Dragons were creatures of legend and myth, of children’s stories. They were not flesh and blood but what she had seen at Helgen and what Farengar was telling her made them seem all too real. She would delve into the College’s archives upon her return to see what she could find. The guard that suddenly burst into the main throne room with shouts of dragon would make that trip the archives moot.

A dragon, a real dragon not one from the pages from a child’s book, was breathing fire and killing guards at the Western Watch Tower. Jarl Balgruuf himself was willing to lead the charge roaring at the top of his voice to kill the beast burning his hold. His Housecarl intervened and calmer heads prevailed. A small group of guards led by the Housecarl, Irileth would meet the dragon and kill it. Se’rith and Brelyna offered their assistance knowing that their magical abilities would be needed to bring the beast down. Irileth accepted graciously yet many of the gathered Nords were suspicious, old prejudices die hard even in the face of adversity. They left through the main gate and headed West, the pillars of black smoke marking the location and the fate of the tower. It was aflame when they reached it, charred bodies of Whiterun guards, some only recognisable by their yellow livery, dotted its entrance. Weapons in hand these men had gone to Svongarde fighting with steel in hand!

An alien roar filled the sky as a grey skinned beast flew over the tower, its wings casting evil shadows over the gathered men and women. It breathed a long cone of fire as it strafed the guards, they dived to either side as the brush caught fire. The heat was intense but nothing was as majestic, as terrifying as the beast circling above them , legend made flesh. It landed with a tremendous noise, the earth trembling. It targetted a guard which it then immolated with its fire. Se’rith was paralysed with fear. What could a mere elf do against such a beast? Yet she could see the arrows peppering its flank, its dark blood seeping from the wounds. She could hear its roar as Nord steel bit into its flesh. The roars moved her out of her stupor. She called forth her lightning and watched it score deep, scorched gouges on its wings and its side. It let loose another cone of fire and lashed with its tail sending another Whiterun flying through the air.

It saddened her heart when they brought it down. Her bolts had blackened its side. Irileth’s blade had cut deep in many areas. Brelyna’s fire bolts had burnt through the membrane of its wings. Arrows peppered its snout, one leg was bent over at an almost impossible angle. Yet she could not forget the horror the beast brought with it. The destruction it had wrought, the destruction at Helgen…Then the questions in her mind. Where had it come from? Was it alone? Was it a harbinger of doom? Questions she did not have the answers for. Questions that only got deeper when the corpse decomposed in front of their eyes. Its flesh fell from its majestic bones as a wind built up from nowhere. Ethereal voices assailed Se’rith’s ears as the wind whipped up to a frenzy Se’rith standing at the eye of the storm…

Skyrim: A New Life

Masters and apprentices streamed into the Hall of Elements. They ran to the prone Tolfdir and some of the younger ones went to assist Se’rith. She was full of concern for her mentor as well, as she hobbled towards him. She looked down at Ancano’s frozen corpse, and even in death his visage still held that look of supreme arrogance it carried in life. She was relieved to see Tolfdir respond to Colette’s restoration magics, ‘not as useless now’ she could just imagine her saying. Tolfdir stirred weakly and opened his eyes. As they locked with Se’rith’s he nodded slightly and the corners of his mouth turned upwards in a smile. Thats when the Psijic’s appeared.

In the now customary blur of time shift and grey light three of the Order materialised in the Hall. Two positioned themselves around the now still Eye while the third sought Se’rith. He smiled warmly at her and congratulated her on her efforts and success. Indeed he called her the saviour of the College and he could not see anyone else better to lead the College. Se’rith was taken aback, her the Arch Mage. She was just a fledgling magic user with no experience but the Psijic Monk was adamant. Tolfdir also added his consent, he had weakly got to his feet and had made his way to Se’rith and the monk. Adding his endorsement he warmly clasped the Dunmer on the shoulder adding his support. Several of the Masters nodded their agreement while most of the Apprentices dis likewise, Brelyna positively jumping with glee. Several of the older members, Sergius and Nirya in particualr, stole jealous glances in her direction but with Tolfdir being so vocal in his support they also had to acquiesce. Even Urag seemed pleased as he took her small ebony hand in his large green paw. He still had to drop that despite being an Arch Mage he’d still skin her little posterior should she damage any of his books! As to the Eye? Well the Psijic’s said that Tamriel was not yet ready for power of this magnitude and that they would care for the Eye until the world had matured, to use their phrase. They cast a spell that made the Eye spin rapidly and turn a blue hue. In a flash of grey blue light they disappeared, Psijics and Eye was well!

Se’rith then called an immediate conclave of gathered wizards. She was honoured to be the new Arch Mage but was too much of a realist to realise that she lacked the experience and foresight to lead the College. As such she would be delegating the day to day running to TOlfdir. She did however have a vision for the College. The first one was to help the people of Winterhold as much as possible. She had met a lot of hostility in her travels towards the College and wizards in general. She wanted to educate the Nords and wanted them to see the College as an ally rather than an enemy. She would make her first official visit to the local Jarl soon to establish a line of communication. College members were to be seen regularly in Winterhold and use their magics to help the populace. Being arrogant and aloof would help antagonise the situation more. Se’rith told Colette that her skills in particular would be a great asset, Colette’s breast swelled with pride as she was often the butt of jokes of her fellow Masters. Secondly she would travel to Solitude to talk to the General Tulius, the Imperial Commander there. Though she was aware that the College was apolitical the threatening Civil War would rend Skyrim, and possibly the Empire apart. As such she would pledge some covert support against the Stormcloaks but work up to an alliance against the Thalmor. Her last instruction regarded the Aldmeri Dominion. Any Thalmor agents or Ambassadors seeking entry into the College would be given one warning. Refusal would lead to imprisonment in the Midden. From now on the College would be free of Thalmor interference. This last statement was made to thunderous applause. She dismissed the mages but asked Tolfdir to accompany her to her new quarters were she embraced the old man warmly and then broke into tears. One danger was over, a whole plethora of them were about to reveal themselves.

Se’rith, Arch Mage of Winterhold.

CUT SCENE – Meanwhile over the skies of southern Skyrim, near a place called Helgen…