Skyrim: A New Life

It took Se’rith the best part of a day and a half to make the journey back to Winterhold. She stayed the night at Morthal and then made her way back. The Staff of Magnus was securely fastened to her back as she battled past snow flurries and high winds. She gave Windhelm a wide berth, her valuable cargo making her wary of Stormcloaks and she cut across country to rejoin the Winterhold-Windhelm road near the Shrine of Azura. Soon enough the ruined walls of Winterhold where within sight but it was the green wall of shimmering force that was surrounding the College that captivated her attention the most.

OT-the walls and extra bits you will see in the following screenies come from the Expanded Winterhold Destruction Ruins mod by Rhinala70. One of the best mods out there at the moment that adds ruined walls and areas to Winterhold to actually make you feel as if you are in a city that has suffered a cataclysm rather than a ramshackle village! It also adds quests and a massive underground ruined city.

View of entrance to Winterhold

Entrance to Halls of the Dead

View of ruins to the left of the college

Ruined marketplace behind the inn

Ascending the ramp to the College she found Tolfdir and several of the other masters were huddling by one of the magical braziers. Tolfdir screamed her name out loud when he saw Se’rith and screamed with elation when she showed him the staff. As she looked around she noticed Mirabelle was not with them. Upon inquiry she was told by Tolfdir that Mirabelle did not make it out as she fought with Ancano to give the others time to get out. Ancano! The Thalmor would be reaping the whirlwind! Tolfdir filled Se’rith in. Ancano had revealed his intention when he had heard of Se’rith’s quest to Labyrinthian and after he had sent an agent after her. He began to manipulate the Eye of Magnus and strange green lights and magical anomalies began to swirl and attack College members. The apprentices were able to barriacade themselves in the Hall of Attainment with Faralda and a few of the other Masters while others streamed out of the College. Urag was keeping the Arcanaeum safe with the assistance of the Manatis Ambassador. Mirabelle confronted Ancano and the last Tolfdir saw of her she was bleeding profusely from a wound on her side and ordering them out as she sealed the doors to the Halls of the Elements. The shimmering wall before them prevented anything to go through it and all manner of spell and ethereal walking had been unable to penetrate it. The earth suddenly shook with a tremor and Tolfdir looked anxiously towards the College.

At the tremor the staff in Se’rith’s hands started to tremble and vibrate. The green gem it sported shone brightly and it seemed to tug in the direction of the College. On a hunch Se’rith moved forwards and as the light of the gem touched the force field around the College it parted as if it were butter being cut by a hot knife. The College Masters roared behind her and charged forward, charged spells in their hands many shouting Mirabelle’s or Savos’ name. Se’rith followed them in. Atronachs were awaiting them in the courtyard, no doubt Ancano’s summonings. Tolfdir shouted at Se’rith to follow him into the Hall of Elements and to leave the Atronachs to the others. Blasting a way through for them, the old man blew the sturdy doors off their hinges and they run in. Mirabelle’s unmoving corpse was at their feet, half her beautiful face a charred mass of melted flesh and hair. Ancano would pay! The Eye of Magnus had swelled in size and above the din of battle and the gathering force of magic Ancano’s maniacal laugh could be heard. He was breaking into Altmer and the Common tongue rambling about power and the changes the Dominion would make. It was clear the power of the Eye was turning him insane. Now was the time to strike. Tolfdir yelled at her to use the staff on the Eye and thats when things started to happen.

The Eye started to come apart, magical anomalies sped out of it. Some attacking Se’rith, others Tolfdir and some Ancano. The Eye itself started to shake violently, its metal plates pulsating with a life of their own. The runes on its surface glowed evilly. Ancano, suddenly back in control of his senses, screamed in anger and started covering Tolfidr in flames. As Se’rith moved to assist he yelled again to concentrate on the Eye. The Dunmer concentrated the staffs power on the centre of the eye. Green light met blue with a shattering sound like a clasp of thunder. The magical anomalies flocked to the power beams like bees to honey. The staff took on a mind of its own as it seemed to swell in size as it engorged in Se’rith’s hand. The Eye, on the other side seemed to contract and its spinning slowed down. A scream of pain, followed by a blast of cold air made Se’rith look to her left for an instant and the next thing she knew the Eye stopped spinning and so did time. The staff shone like a new born star and then burst. Se’rith went flying backwards as the force wave expanded. The staff flew to the right until it hit the wall while the Eye was motionless hovering peacefully above the brazier. Ancano lay frozen dead covered in ice spikes, Tolfdir was unconscious on the floor near the Thalmor and it had all become strangely quiet.

 

Skyrim: A New Life

It was Savos who woke her. ‘I had to do it. I have carried the guilt all these years but I had to do it. It would take a massive sacrifice to imprison Morokai, the head Dragon Priest. I had to do it. Thank you surrah, sister of Morrowind. I can now go to my ancestors and face them with honour. The College needs you Se’rith. I bequeath my greatest gift to you. Use it well.’ With that he disappeared into the ether and Se’rith found the air in her lungs and her red eyes popped open. She held a staff topped with a green crystal in her hand. She had recovered from her wounds while her foe lay in a crumpled heap of dry bones and ash at her feet. The only thing that remained was a metal mask akin to the wooden one she had found outside Labyrinthian. Using her staff to prop herself up she hobbled over the mask and as soon as her hands clasped it she was almost overcome by the sense of power emanating from it.

 

After waking up from dropping off to sleep she found a small passageway leading to a small corridor that opened up into Labyrinthian once again. The air felt cleaner and less dense and she sensed she was higher up. A hole in the cavern wall let in sunlight that bathed the area in golden light. She follwed a winding passage upwards. Motifs of bearded nords escorted her in her ascent. Arriving at well lit foyer, three fully ablaze braziers stood among the ruins, she came across a tall Altmer dressed in Thalmor robes. Had that bastard Ancano followed here? The elf pulled back his cowl and introduced himself as Estormo. He was extending the gratitude of the Thalmor to Se’rith for obtaining the Staff of Magnus for them. He also added that Ancano had been right to have him follow her. Se’rith’s anger flared uncontrollably. He hatred for the Thalmor and the stress of what she had just been through broke upon her like a tidal wave. Screaming ferally she let loose spell after spell at the elf, his resistance was counted in a matter of seconds as her second blast killed him but she pumelled on until she realised that the wet splotches she was felling on her face was gore from the mangled corpse of the once Thalmor agent. Her red eyes were open in shock but her anger boiled. Ancano was due a reckoning. If the College was in danger that bastard must be the reason why!

 

CUT SCENE

Se’rith had no idea how much danger the College and Skyrim really were…

Skyrim: A New Life

The ruins of Bromunjaar opened up behind the patrolled gateway, after Se’rith disposed of the undead that guarded it. She wondered if the original guards were the ones still patrolling it! A graveyard stretched behind the gate for a long while. Stone cairns marked burials while rotting coffins were stacked up against a wall at the far end of the chamber. The occupants of the graves must have already gone for a wander as no more walking dead assailed the Dunmer. The ghostly voice was still in the air though, it had broken into the common tongue with promises of sweet death and eternal suffering! Undaunted she went deeper, always going down. Nothing Oblivion was going to stop her.

An increasing feeling of immense and ancient evil culminated at an iron door that was as black as a deadra’s heart. There she met the ghostly Savos again. This time he looked straight at Se’rith, his ghostly visage was crestfallen. ‘I hope you understand what I had to do, it was my only choice..’ with that he walked through the door. Se’rith pushed the surprisingly responsive door open to be confronted by a very puzzling sight. Two of Savos’ ghostly friends were encased in some sort of power field. Arcs of power stretched from these orbs and they in turn encased and entrapped another individual. There was nothing ghostly about this one though. It resembled a Druagr only that it was dressed in rotting robes. It radiated an aura of absolute power and Se’rith could feel its evil from a distance. Its intelligent eyes locked on her the moment she entered the doorway. Whatever it was it was conscious and possessed of great intelligence. Its yellow eyes seemed to flash and its emaciated mouth cracked into a wicked smile as it arched its arms and backwards to let loose a roar!

One of the ghostly mages turned to face Se’rith and shouted, ‘Savos you bastard.’ With its concentration broken it lurched at Se’rith and the beam of power holding the Druagr in place disappeared. The being laughed wickedly, its mirth sounding like a mournful wind over a grave as it filled the chamber. The ghost launched itself at Se’rith but disappeared as it neared. Its colleague likewise cursed Savos while also disappearing into thin air. Se’rith deduced that Savos must have led his friends into Bromunjaar and used their life force to entrap this being. A being that was now free and full of unlife by the looks of it.

‘Foolish mortal,’ came the craven voice from the other side of the room. ‘I thank you for my freedom and your death shall serve as the first sacrifice to the death on wings that come. Already great Alduin fly’s free and soon this world and its mortal stock will burn from horizon to horizon.’ It hovered over the platform it had been imprisoned in and hot Se’rith squarely on the chest with a bolt of lightning. The Dunmer felt as if her chest had been stamped upon by a giant of the Tundra. She thought, as she flew through the air, that it was ironic that it was a shock spell that would do for her. She was sure she cracked some bones on her back as she hit the wall behind her with a thump. She gingerly got to her feet as the effects of her most powerful health potion kicked in. It was clear that this being was immensely powerful but it was slow. If she kept moving she might survive.

Her magika was gone, her robes in tatters, her face and hair singed, her Staff of Sparks broken in two and spitting lightning, her skeletal minions dismissed with a word. Her gloves were worn through and her best potions gone. Yet the creature game against her. She had hurt it, yes but it came on relentlessly. Its cackling laughing taunting her as it promised an eternity of undeath as her thrall. She could not give up, if Savos had saw it fit to sacrifice his friends then this was an evil worth defeating. Her hands clasped two of J’Zargo’s scrolls she still had in her pouches. As a final act of a desperate woman she run straight at the being as it hovered in mid air, its robes trailing it like the legs of an octopus. Having quaffed her last two healing potions, her own concoctions that also granted the drinker an increase in temporary life force, she read the words of both scrolls as she jumped through the air and barged into the creature. Her body erupted in flame, she could feel her lungs turn to mush and it felt as if her molten flesh was pouring off her bones. Yet she heard the thing roar in pain as a massive explosion took Se’rith away from this plane and into the next. Darkness took over and she found herself in Morrowind, walking through Balmora with the sun on her face.

Skyrim: A New Life

Part Two

Se’rith minion drew an ethereal two handed sword that was made of wispy black smoke. As it silently charged the dragon it literally sawed through a series of emaciated rib bones, the black smoke having the same effect as if it were the sharpest steel. Bone cracked and splintered and the blackness of the conjured being seemed to darken. It seemed to be drawing power from each strike of its sword. The dragon, sensing a threat turned its fury on its assailant. It clawed with sharp talons while breathing frost at it. The shadow mutely continued its assault against the dragon until it literally hacked off one of its tree trunk legs from under it. As it collapsed on its left side its wing  crumpled under it. Serith saw her opportunity. Clasping her hands together she sent three large lightning bolts at its head in quick succession. The other crackled as they sped to the dragon and upon impact they shattered bone with immense fury. The evil green light in its eyes winked and then dwindled as the dragon collapsed in a dusty heap. Whatever foul necromantic magic held it together evaporating into the ether. Se’rith dropped to her knees retching with the effort it took to cast that last spell. A whooshing sound made her look up wondering what new evil Labyrinthian was launching at her. She caught the last wisps of black shadowy smoke disappearing into a purple rent in reality as her shade was called back to Oblivion. She took a moment to assess what she had achieved before delving deeper into the dungeon.

A frost line door blovked her descent and not attempt at getting open prevailed until she decided to cast her flames spell. Her magical fire melted the ice and the door behind it shimmered before collapsing upon itself. A blue light brought a foul tongue in the air, the words harsh and guttural. She could not understand them but the blue light moved with great speed through the doorway and down the corridor. With trepidation she followed into a long corridor that had columned passages leading into the darkness on either side. She ultimately came across a deep shaft, criss crossed by passage ways. Growls and howls wafted up to her. The already familiar song of the Draugr. Sighing she descended to bring death once again to those who have cheated it.

As the undead clawed at her body and bit at her heels she dove into a side chamber for some rest. Inside she found a decapitated skeleton sat in a chair with an axe of old design embedded into it. Seems that Se’rith was not the first to delve into Labyrinthian. It appears that this room acted as some sort of study area as accoutrements of magical study lay strewn all over the place. She found several usable ingredients and pushed on. Further on she came across a flooded corridor that stopped at an iron black door. There the ghostly visage of Arch Mage Savos and his friends appeared. Once again they seemed oblivious to her presence though this time they were small in number, one apparently having perished. The Breton female urged them to go back but Savos urged them forward with great urgency. Like them Se’rith had no choice but to continue.

An impressive gateway guarded by more Draugr blocked further passage after wading through smelly stagnant water for what seemed an age.

Skyrim: A New Life

Part One

Calling on her innate magic Se’rith summoned the power of her ancestors to help her against this undead dragon. She felt and heard the voices from the ether, the ghosts of her long dead fmaily lending her strength. With a prayer to Azura and Stendarr on her lips she joined her hands and summoned a powerful lightning bolt that split the air between her and the skeletal dragon. It hit the undead beast on the left wing joint with a crack, splintering the bone and causing the dragon to roar in pain. It snapped its head around and let loose a cone of frost. Se’rith dove behind a stone column but could not avoid the blast, the right side of her body went numb with excruciating pain. Icicles and frost crystals formed on her robes. With her left arm she fumbled in her potion belt looking for a grey bottle with a green label. She found it, uncorked it and threw the bitter contents down her throat. The reaction was instant. As the liquid burned her insides she felt the cold recede and her clothing and skin were covered in a translucent blue film. The philtre contained a powerful potion of Resist Frost she had bought at Arcadia’s in Whiterun. As mobility returned she summoned another lightning bolt this time hitting the beast square on the mouth, two large, rotten fangs flew off into the dank air. It slowed for a second before hitting Se’rith with a second blast of cold sir. The effects of the potion in her veins took the worst off the frost but her movements were slowed. Feeling desperate she dug into her mind and chose a new spell she had never cast before. She had acquired a new spell from the conjuration school from the Manatis ambassador at the College. It supposedly tapped into the negative plane of Oblivion and called force a Shade to aid in her fight. Calling on darker powers did not sit well with Se’rith but she was desperate. In a ball of purple light the barrier between planes of existence was rent apart and through it stepped a black, skeletal figure with wicked red eyes. it saw the skeletal dragon and attacked!

Skyrim: A New Life

She spent a comfortable night at the Moorside Inn and left at around 6am the next morning. Before she left she asked the breakfast maid about Nord ruins nearby. She laughed out loud stating that Bromjunaar was just up the road. She added that Se’rith couldn’t miss it as it was huge. The maid went on to add that as a child she used to run around the old stones but the children have stopped going up there years back. Something, not right with the place, as if there was a presence that didn’t want people around it. Finishing her tea (yes Imps More Complex Needs adds tea to the game) Se’rith left a gold coin as payment on the bar and left Morthal. The maids instructions were true. Not half an hour up the road she saw the first of the many impressive ruins she would see that fateful day. A long stone hewn staircase led up into a metropolis built upon a plateaux overlooking Hjaalmarch.

Bromjuaar was a myriad of rising stairways, raised platforms, flying buttresses and carved motifs and stone faces. It was unmistakably old, the eons seemed to permeate through the stone. There was snow everywhere and a musty smell of wet fur and rotting meat wafted through the air. Something was making its lair here and Se’rith was instantly alert. She walked up a long stairway reaching a dias that gave her a commanding view of the ruins. The scale of them took her breath away. Several doorways set into the stone told her the buildings continued inside the mountain and underground. Thats when she caught sight of the movement, a white shadow hugging the stairs in a primordial four legged sort of way.

She moved further back into the shadow being cast by a monumental entranceway carved into some sort of animal head shape. She could smell the beast before she heard it as it growled and sniffed its ways up the stairs. It smelled of carrion and blood, it carried the scent of death on the wind. She finally saw it clearly as it made the bottom of the stairwell. It was a troll, hunched up and bounding upwards. It must have caught her scent as it roared bestially. Its open mouth sported curved fangs its sharp claws rasping against the old stone of Bromjunaar. Having read in the Arcaneum of the trolls fear of and inherent weakness to fire she wanted to get the immediate upper hand. Calling forth her Flames spell she bathed the beast in roaring flame as it made the dias. It screeched in pain and anger but Se’rith did not relent. She poured more magika into her spell increasing its intensity and power. The stench of charred fur and meat filled her nostrils as the magical fire stopped the beast’s natural ability to regenerate. With a resigned grunt it eventually collapsed in a smoking heap never to rise again.

OT-Trolling courtesy of Skyrim Monster Mod.

The effort had left Se’rith exhausted so she entered the building behind her to recover. The sight that greeted her left her perplexed. A headless skeleton lay against some sort of altar. Brown blood stains covered the floor under the skeleton. A small carved, wooden mask was in the skeletons right hand while a note lay at its feet. A rusted dagger and a decrepit bow, its string broken also lay at its feet. The altar itself was of a most peculiar construction. It was roughly semi circular in shape and had five cowled figures missing their faces standing on either side of a reptilian (Se’rith swore almost dragonlike) visage. She picked up the mask and gingerly placed it in her pack to take by the Winterhold. A strange encounter indeed. As her strength recovered she ascended the largest flight of stairs yet seen in Bromjunaar to stand before a very ornate circular door with a knocker holder in the shape of a dragon’s mouth open ready to breath its fire. She fished in her pack for the Labyrinthian Torc Mirabelle had given her and inserted it into the dragons mouth. It shone briefly then disappeared as the circular door spun away to reveal a dark entry way that to be honest smelt most foul. Thats when she saw Arch Mage Savos!

Well it was a ghostly Savos and a very young looking Savos. An instant later it was joined by several other ghostly figures all dressed in the garbs of members of the College. They were oblivious to Se’rith’s presence and they seemed to be reliving events of a distant past. They spoke of the journey to Bromjunaar and of the quest they were going to undertake. One spoke of ‘failure’ once again, another of fear. One blustered that full members of the College had nothing to fear. Another, an Argonian spoke of the treasures and riches to come. A woman warned of the ghastly thing rumoured to be inside Labyrinthian. Young Savos pressed them on, he sounded almost, almost desperate! One by one they winked out of existence and from the darkness inside he could here Savos’s voice asking her to follow.

The entry way gradually lit up as torch scones lit up of their own volition as she walked in. Death greeted her. Rotting skeletons, dessicated corpses, rusted armour and cloven shields, broken swords and split spears littered the floor. Bromunjaar was a massive tomb. She stepped carefully knowing that the dead of Skyrim have an unhealthy habit of getting up and going for a walk. These however were truly dead. The ones in a cavernous chamber were most certainly not dead. A host of ambling skeletons attacked her as soon as the rusty portcullis she had walked under clanged down noisily behind her. Many she blasted to bits easily with her lightning staff until a massive shreik made them all scower away. Rising from a pit about 50 yards was something straight out of Se’rith’s nightmares. A dragon was rising from it, well a skeletal dragon clumsily rose itself from its pit and roared through a mouth full of sharp bony teeth. It flapped its skinless wings at let out a massive cone of frost that came from a meatless chest. In that instant Se’rith knew she was dead.

OT-this scene made me think of the old Forgotten Realms book cover Spellfire. Well done Bethesda on this one, very atmospheric build up to a very hard fight!

Skyrim: A New Life

Dawnstar was not what Se’rith expected. The innkeeper made it clear that they didn’t serve their kind so she promptly left. She waked around town as the sky began to turn the red of dusk. She entered a store called the Mortar and Pestle, faced the icy stare of the store owner and used up some ingredients to cough up some more health potions. As she walked around the Nord guards were openly hostile, one even daring to shout at her who the mages thought they were blowing up Winterhold! The audacity. The more she walked around the more she realised Dawnstar was for Ulfric, a Stormcloaj bastion, so close to Solitude as well. She made up her mind to make the journey to Morthal immediately even if it meant travelling after nightfall. She bade Dawnstar farewell and to her immense sadness encountered a party of khajit by the entrance. They were being pushed back by guards telling them they needed no thieves or skooma dealers in Dawnstar. How very Nord!

The setting sun had decided to give Se’rith the most beautiful of send offs. It bathed the sky in crimson, acting as a tremendous backdrop for the grey clouds running across it. As the road descended from The Pale the foilage began to thicken and the nature of the trees began to give into more greener, bushier specimens rather than the thin pines of the North. The road was long and weary but she met many travellers along the way. It filled with her confidence that many of these greeted her warmly and saw a large number of Imperial patrols. It was clear to her that the Hjaalmarch was for the Emperor. The empire’s enlightenment was strong here and thus she was seen as a citizen of the Empire and not judged by the colour of skin or eye. The road seemed to be descending through some substantial height as it wormed downwards. As she neared Morthal she past a large ruin atop a series of cliffs. The proximity to Morthal made her think that the ruins were her ultimate destination.

She eventually reached the banks of the River Hjaal, which obviously gave the name to the Hold. She followed the flow of the water West until she came to Morthal. A small settlement, though larger than Dawnstar, set among the delta of the Karth. A large marsh spread to the North and the calling of frogs, crickets and other insects of the marsh coloured the darkening night sky. She walked into the town, taking in the beauty of the red sky reflecting on the waters around Morthal, they looked aflame. Once again she had to admire the beauty of this land of contrasts.

The guards at the entrance nodded in her direction as she passed. They gave her directions to the Moorside Inn, near the bridge on the far side of town. As she passed the Jarl’s longhouse however she came across a posse of man demanding to see the Jarl about some business of visions. The Jarl’s housecarl was trying to keep the group at bay stating that the Jarl was doing what she could and that the people should trust her. Se’rith gave them a wide berth as she made her way across town. She came to the Moorside Inn and could not fail to notice a burnt out building lying next to it, wondering what had happened here she entered the inn, the day had been long and the road longer and she was in dire need of rest.