Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Oblivion Day 20 - The Harrowing Ride to Cheydinhal

16 Heartfire, 3E433
Cheydinhal
~~~

My stop at Bravil proved fruitful: I left the guild with three Illusion spells to try out during the long trip to Cheydinhal, one to send my enemies into a senseless rage, another to make myself seem charming, and a third to simply allow me to see in the dark, though my Khajiit eyes do that well enough already. It is however the easier spell of the three and I bought it solely to practice my spell-casting with.

Before starting for Cheydinhal there was the small matter of the Oblivion gate I had found yesterday between Bravil and Leyawiin. I woke early to give myself enough time to close the gate and still arrive at Cheydinhal. While leaving Bravil I noticed a small island in the bay that had a stone on it that strongly resembled a head. Perhaps it is a shrine of some sort, but it is not of any interest to me, at least right now.
The gate was identical to one I had already closed: three towers, two small and one large. Entering one small tower enabled passageway into the second small tower, which in turn led into the large one and the Oblivion Stone. The Dremora seem to be increasing in numbers and the Scamps are decreasing, but I do not yet know if this is a sign of a permanent change or not.

After closing that gate I turned around and started towards Cheydinhal, expecting a very long trip. On my way I passed two Oblivion gates in close succession, each just off of the road leading to the crossroads to the Imperial City or Cheydinhal.

I was not even halfway done with my ride to the city, so I marked them on my map for later attention. As a result of their proximity and my temporary ignorance of them, I spent quite some time under a very ugly, very red sky which appeared to not bother any of the three bandits whom tried to kill me for my horse.
Other than their poor attempts at murder and horse-thievery I had no trouble during the ride, but still arrived at the gates of Cheydinhal just before midnight, having been distracted by the closing of the first gate, the discovery of the other two, and combat with three desperate individuals.

I took a room at the nearest Inn and will be presenting myself to the local Guild tomorrow. All I have left after this is Bruma, then I should finally have access to the knowledge of the University to better understand the nature of the enemy I am continually facing.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Oblivion Day 19 - An Orc's Vengence

15 Heartfire, 3E433
Bravil
~~~

Another day, another two or three Oblivion gates. I cannot keep up this pace for much longer and maintain any sort of belief that I will be able to accomplish anything else with my time.

The gate I had marked on my map lay in-between Leyawiin and Fort Blueblood, making it an hour's journey at worst. The increasing stink of molten rock led me in the right direction and the sun was just rising as I finished dispatching the last of the Scamps outside the gate.
Like yesterday's this gate led to a very small pocket of Oblivion with only one tower to ascend, but this one contained far more Dremora than the last and hardly any Scamps. It was a refreshing change of difficulty, for the Dremora themselves were still quite weak and their tactics uninspired. I did find a Dremora bow on one of them, but it was much heavier than my own, so I took it with me to sell later. It is a fearsome looking weapon, but my testing revealed it to be not much more powerful than my simple wooden bow. I suppose that is a good analogy for the Dremora themselves, none of which posed any sort of challenge for me.
The Daedra's hearts fetched a nice price back in Leyawiin, the bow not so much. The story of the Orsimer Knight who had been bothering the Count of Leyawiin about something stuck in my mind, so I put off my trip to Cheydinhal and visited the castle. 

The Count, Marius Caro, is a friendly, approachable sort of person. He greeted me and asked what business I had in his city. When I replied that I was visiting each of the cities in the province to secure my entry into the University, he exclaimed that my quest was an admirable one and asked if I could be persuaded to delay my journey to provide a small service to Leyawiin.

The small service, unsurprisingly was to speak with the Orsimer and determine what it was she was in the city for. Like most of her kind, she was surly and uncooperative and would not reveal her business to anyone, including the Count. I was not sure then what I could do to succeed in this task, but she solved that problem herself.

Upon approaching her she immediately demanded to know if I knew how to speak properly to a Knight. I felt the best answer was "No", receiving the reply that I needed to address her as 'Sir' every time I spoke with her. An Orsimer putting on airs is not the strangest thing I have had to deal with, but she was certainly an odd character. After ensuring my speech was up to her standards she demanded that I fetch an Argonian hunter named 'Weebam-Na'.

Weebam-Na was also less than cooperative and it took some persuading before he would agree to visit the castle to speak with Mazoga.
Mazoga wanted to go to a place known as 'Fisherman's Rock', but Weebam-Na refused to take her. He excused himself from the conversation and told me where this Rock was, wished me luck, and left, leaving me to escort the heavily-armed Orc. She meant to meet a man there named 'Mogens Wind-Shifter', after which we would, in her own words, see what happens. Clearly this was not to be a friendly chat.
It was a short, unfriendly talk. Mazoga accused Mogens and his little band of murdering a friend of hers, Mogens denied it, then as one the gang leaped at us. But an Orc in full steel armor with a heavy shield and long blade is a foe not to be leaped at without a great deal of thought. Mazoga cut down three of the bandits, including Mogens and I accounted for the two who, for some reason, rushed at me instead.

Having killed all the bandits, Mazoga was satisfied that her oath to avenge her friend was complete. Only then did she admit that she did not know much about being a Knight, but that she thought doing some "good deeds" would be a step in the right direction. She declared my helping her to be a good deed of its own and suggested that I become a Knight as well, which I suppose is as kind a word as I will ever get out of Mazoga.

The Count was pleased by my story and of what Mazoga had been seeking. He declared that Mazoga and I should join his chivalric 'Order of the White Stallion' and that eliminating a local bandit leader was the entrance fee to his self-started Order. However, Mazoga still had not returned from Fisherman's Rock and I was due to be elsewhere by nightfall, so if I do join this Order it will have to be during another day.

It was evening when I left the castle again, so traveling to Cheydinhal was out of the question. Instead I climbed back on my horse and rode to Bravil, intending to spend a day or so there training at the Guild before claiming my recommendation at Cheydinhal.

Naturally the sky began to glow almost as soon as I left the stables. A Gate has opened just off the road, but I had no time to close it today. Once again, that will have to wait until tomorrow.
I arrived at Bravil an hour or so before midnight and am staying at the Guild. After some training and perhaps the purchase of a few spells I will begin to make my way to Cheydinhal, then Bruma, and then I will finally be allowed entrance into the University so that I can find out what these Oblivion stones do. They are clearly enchanted with something, but I am reluctant to pry owing to my lack of knowledge and the deterioration of my magicka-related skills. 

Friday, June 26, 2015

Oblivion Day 18 - Betrayal at Fort Blueblood

14 Heartfire, 3E433
Leyawiin
~~~

After yesterday's Oblivion gate just outside of the city I thought I had somehow earned a reprieve from the gates for a few days, but that was not to be, nor do I think it shall be for quite some time.

I woke early, not looking forward to the dark walk into the forest to search for the ruins of Fort Blueblood. I fought off several wolves and a wandering gang of Imps before I somehow managed to stumble into the ruins of a fort I assumed was Fort Blueblood.
As usual a group of bandits had taken up residence within the ruins and were in no mood to tell me whether or not I was even in the correct ruin to find Dagail's father's amulet. If I had been in the wrong ruin they would have died for nothing more than a mistake of direction.
On the body of one of the more better-armed bandits I found a key that opened a door into some sort of graveyard that had become infested with Imps. Two bodies indicated that the bandits had either been caught unawares or tried to clear our the infestation, but without success. 
Of the coffins that the bandits managed to unearth before their deaths, one contained nothing more than an amulet, with not even a skeleton to mark the remains of Dagail's father. Only then did I realize with some relief that I actually was in the correct ruin and that my recommendation for the University was assured. As I turned to leave I realized to my chagrin that someone had managed to sneak up behind me, though fortunately this person remained some distance away.

It was Kalthar, the reformed Necromancer from the Mages Guild. He demanded the amulet from me, saying that he had taken the other one thinking it would be enough to force Dagail from the Guild and that my amulet would prevent this from occurring. Somehow he thought that without her amulet Dagail would promote him and leave the Guild, allowing him to leave Leyawiin for the University. Only then would he return the woman's amulet. 

The plan made no sense of course, but neither did confronting someone who just fought her way through a dozen bandits when all you had was an iron dagger and a conjuration spell. He joined the other spirits inhabiting the desecrated, forgotten graves.
While on my walk back to Leyawiin I was surprised by an Oblivion gate standing right where I had freely walked only hours before. I have yet to observe the opening of a gate, but it is apparently a rather quick process.
The gate was right in my way and the day was still early, so I decided to pay Oblivion another all-too-familiar visit. This gate led me to a piece of Oblivion I have already seen three times: a simple island with one large tower accessible via a series of tunnels infested with Scamps. The tower had equal parts Dremora and Scamps, but neither were any difficulty for me. I claimed another stone of unknown power from Oblivion and found myself standing between the smoldering spires of another closed gate.

By then it was late into the night and I was looking forward to reaching Leyawiin, but yet another Gate had opened in my way. Rather than spend the remaining hours of today in Oblivion I simply marked the Gate on my map to tackle tomorrow. 

Dagail was relieved to be able to slip her father's amulet on but her distracted demeanor did not change much after, though her speech improved significantly. She warned me that the voices spoke of me and of my choosing life or death for many people in the times ahead. She also assured me of her recommendation. 

I would be leaving for Cheydinhal except for the gate I left behind today. I cannot in good conscience leave with it still open and I do not think there will be enough time tomorrow to close the gate and make it to Cheydinhal before the day ends. I may close the gate and go back to Bravil instead, but I shall make that decision tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Oblivion Day 17 - The Near-Invasion of Leyawiin

13 Heartfire, 3E433
Leyawiin
~~~

Given the length of the ride from Bravil to Leyawiin I elected to get up earlier than usual, anticipating bandits, Oblivion gates, rain, whatever this land has to offer a weary traveler. As it was, I found the body of a bandit dead at least two days, but nothing else save for two wolves and a little dock along the road with a boat tied to it. It reminded me of the nearly uncountable numbers of smugglers that had dotted the coast of Vvardenfell. I made good time and was standing before the gate of Leyawiin before the dawn broke.

Leyawiin has always been an interesting city. Stuck in-between Elsweyr and the Black Marsh, the city boasts the highest population of Khajiit and Argonians of any city of Cyrodiil, including the Imperial City. Such a diverse group of people tends to attract a diverse group of visitors and the few who were awake when I arrived wasted no time in telling me about an Orc name Mazoga who had presented herself to the Count claiming to be a knight of some kind. Interesting, but hardly relevant to my reason for being here.

I sold my silvered long sword at a blacksmithy called the 'Dividing Line' and purchased a steel short blade to replace it. The long sword had been a welcome addition when I received it, but I am no armorer and rigors of my several trips to Oblivion has left the blade worse for it. I could have had the Argonian blacksmith repair it, but I would much rather have a sturdier, if somewhat shorter, blade in its place.

The Mages Guild in Leyawiin has fallen on hard times. It's Master, an Altmer named Dagail, has been unfocused to the point of incoherence and her second, an Imperial named Agata, has been running the guild in her stead. This lack of focus is a recent thing however and Dagail was normally an effective leader. Focus or no, only Dagail could give me the recommendation I sought, so I had no choice but to speak with her. Her speech was not as vague as I had been led to expect and I found her understandable, if rather meandering. She did complain of constantly hearing voices and I assumed that they were the cause of her unending distraction.

Dagail did say that her amulet silenced the voices, but that it had recently gone missing. She asked my help, but could do little else but direct me to Agata to learn what was required of me. Agata was surprised that Dagail revealed the cause of her misery to me, but she did not know much about the disappearance herself. She suggested I ask around the Guild to see if anyone had seen an amulet laying around, but I figured if it had simply been laying around it would have been found before my arrival. Nevertheless, I spent some time acquainting myself with the other guild members, including the resident Alchemist, S'drassa who asked that I keep my eyes open for crystals called "Garridan's Tears", powerful ingredients that I have been promised a fair quantity of money for, should I bring him any. He also mentioned that a guildmember, Kalthar, had been talking about an amulet.

Kalthar was happy to hear that I was searching for the amulet, but not in a helpful sense. He crowed that the guild's "facade" was ready to collapse and that Dagail's entire family had always suffered from these bouts of strangeness. He then talked of Dagail's father, who according to him served the Empire for years and died in an unmarked grave. Why the man's anonymous fate bothered Kalthar, I have no idea. 

After asking Dagail about her father she told me in a roundabout way that he had fallen in battle, possibly against a dragon, near Fort Blueblood. I am not familiar with the specific fort, but Dagail told me to search the south-west for its ruins and within it, her father's amulet which would quiet her own voices. I left the guild expecting the rest of the day to go rather quickly.

On my way out I encountered the Countess and her bodyguard and she actually stopped to speak with me, asking if I was an adventurer. When I replied that I was, she praised my actions, stating that the Empire depended now on people like me to keep the roads safe from bandits and "rabble-rousers" instead of Legion. Disquieting, but I pretty much already knew this to be true.

As I left the city via the east gate the sky began to glow red and my fur stood on-end, sure signs of an Oblivion gate, but I was literally standing just outside the city. I thought the gates opened only well outside the cities to stealthily stock the land with Daedra, but this gate was an arrow's shot away from the city wall.
When I asked the gate guard about it, he admitted to being scared of the thing and said that the Count had been trying to raise a small force from the city guard to invade the gate, but that had been days ago and no one stepped forward. Thus the gate was left alone to spew forth Daedra and eventually destroy the city. As the Countess had said moments prior, it seems up to adventurers to defend the Empire in these difficult days.

The gate led me to an area of Oblivion with which I was very familiar already: six small towers surrounding a large tower, each of which controlled a gate on the ground. Opening the gates allowed entrance to a smaller tower which led inside the large one, enabling me to claim the Stone and close the Gate.
By then dusk was closing and I did not feel as though I had time enough to wander the forest southwest of Leyawiin in search of a fortresses's ruin, so I have ended my day early at the 'Five Claws Lodge'. The Countess's observation has been in my head all afternoon and I realize my initial strategy of tackling these Gates myself is not a winning one. I need to encourage others to do the same and in this town, the Orc Mazoga may be adventurer enough for the task. I do not yet know.

Tomorrow I shall complete my own business and then look after the Orc and see if we cannot come to some sort of understanding about what the Empire requires from people such as us.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Oblivion Day 16 - Within a Dream

12 Heartfire, 3E433
Bravil
~~~

If the outside of Bravil's Mages Guild was shabby and worn-down, it did well to disguise the inside of the Guild, both materially and organizationally. The Guild's master is Kud-Ei, an Argonian with a very strict sense of responsibility and obvious pride in her Hall and her people. She greeted me and immediately assumed (correctly) that I had come to her seeking a recommendation.

Kud-Ei apologized for not having a "conventional" task to assign to me, being preoccupied instead with friction between two of her guildmates, the Dunmer Varon Vamori and the Altmer Ardaline. I assumed the difficulty was due to hostility between the two, but the reverse was actually the case: Varon had an interest in Ardaline, but all of his advances have been spurned. For whatever reason, the man decided to steal his would-be lover's magical staff and she could not bring herself to confront him, leaving the problem at Kud-Ei's feet instead and as a result, mine as well.

Kud-Ei did not want to get involved as the rest of the Guild did not yet know about the theft and she did not want to embarrass Ardaline by bringing her authority to bear on Varon. What Kud-Ei was willing to do was far more clever: I was to speak with Varon and use Illusion spells while doing so to make the man more willing to talk. Thus, I would be helping Kud-Ei and presumably learning something about magic in the process, though I feel what magic I wound up using was still within my rather depleted set of skills. I was given several scrolls to enhance my personality and free reign to tackle this problem however I saw fit.

The freedom was nice, but there was little else to do but speak to Varon. With a scroll providing me with additional charisma, I approached Varon and asked him directly about the missing staff. He readily replied that he did, in fact, take it, but could not justify the action even to himself. Varon stated that he only wanted Ardaline to feel about him the way he felt about her, but admitted to completely botching his latest stratagem by both taking the staff and then, astonishingly, selling it to a friend of his in the Imperial City, Soris Arenim. 

When I reported back to Kud-Ei with news of the staff's location I was given more scrolls and asked to travel to the City in order to retrieve the staff. Again, how I accomplished this was my decision alone. Fortunately, it was still early in the morning and the Imperial City was not a time-consuming destination from Bravil by horse, so I went back to the stables and rode back to the Capital. Having encountered nothing hostile along the way, I arrived about two hours later, having made good time.
Varon had given me the location of his friend's home, so I had no trouble finding where the staff was, but acquiring it would be a different matter. When I arrived at the man's house he already had a visitor present, so I spent some time talking with his wife, Erissare. With one of Kud-Ei's scrolls discreetly in effect she told me that the staff was locked away in the basement and that the key was upstairs in their bedroom. Having learned this, I waited until both husband and wife were busy with their business visitor and sneaked upstairs to take the key. With another scroll I convinced both of them that I was in the market for a staff and they allowed me into the basement alone. From there it was a simple matter to take the staff, though I did leave one hundred Septims in the drawer where the staff had been to soothe my conscience. Leaving the house was a rather uncomfortable and stiff affair, as I wound up tying the staff to the side of my leg underneath my gown.

I did not dally at the City, instead immediately returning to the stables before either one of them called the guards on what seemed to me to be an obvious theft. Hopefully the coin will soothe their tempers. When I arrived back at Bravil it was just after dinner and I was looking forward to an evening of magical study, but that was not to be. I received the promise of a recommendation, but Kud-Ei asked if I would be interested in helping her with a more personal problem. The Guild specializes in my magical School of choice so I agreed figuring that it was only good to earn the Guildmaster's favor if I was to be a somewhat frequent visitor.

The personal problem was the disappearance of her friend, Henantier. He had a reputation for being careless with his experiments and she feared one had finally gotten the better of him. When I expressed my interest in helping her find the man she sighed and told me that she had been lying slightly: Henantier was not missing, but...unavailable, in a way. His latest experiment was in finding a way to enter his own dreams where he could study or train as much as he liked. Kud-Ei's story about him disappearing was merely a cover to protect him from being expelled from the Guild, as his latest experiment was well outside the accepted norms.

I was led to his house where he remained trapped in his own dream, courtesy of an amulet he constructed. Kud-Ei had the amulet and told me that all I had to do was wear the amulet before I went to sleep and I should then find myself inside Henantier's dreamworld. She would not go herself, fearing that her friend's memories of her would make it impossible for her to convince him that he was merely dreaming. I, as a stranger, would have no such difficulty. So I placed the amulet upon myself and settled into the bed next to the restless man, nervous about what I would wake up to, so to speak.

The man's dream was a nightmare of the worst sort. He was trapped in what looked like a ruined version of his own bedroom, everything was colored by a sickly red light, and he had no idea who or where he was. I also happened to be naked, much to my displeasure.
Speaking to Henantier only generated the babbling that he had lost several items in the area and repeatedly asked me to find them until I agreed. A brief exploration of the tiny area revealed four different doors, but I found nothing that suggested it might be one of the "lost" items. It was clear that these items of his lay behind each of the doors.

Each door contained a test, I suppose each one was to improve some skill or spell. The first door I chose placed me in an arena with a two-handed blade and two angry Minotaurs. Defeating each of them was easier than I anticipated, as it only took a single blow to fell these dream foes. After defeating both of them a staircase appeared at one end of the arena leading towards a small ball spinning wildly within a shaft of bright light. It strongly reminded me of the Oblivion stones. Taking it sent me back to Henantier.

The other three doors led to different tests. One was simply a room filled with traps, the second contained three sets of tiles that needed to be walked on in a precise order and the third, my least favorite, had me swim through an increasingly dark, foreboding tunnel until I finally reached dry land and the last of the dream-stones.

Once I had all the stones talking to Henantier began to have some positive results. He accepted my story of being sent into his dream by Kud-Ei to rescue him and lamented his own foolishness at being conquered by the tests that were supposed to improve him. With understanding came release and his dreamworld dissolved around us as we both woke up.

Now awake and back in the real world, Henantier was very thankful and gifted me six scrolls as a reward, though I have not yet looked to see what they do. Kud-Ei was just as grateful for the safe return of her old friend and promised me discounts at the Guild whenever I return. 

Despite having slept I was utterly exhausted and bade them farewell so that I could take my plain lodgings at the 'Silverhome on the Water' inn. Tomorrow I make the long trip to Leyawiin and I am certainly not looking forward to the ride from that city to Cheydinhal later this week. But my tour of the province's Mages Guilds is almost complete and then I can hopefully find someone in the University to explain what the Oblivion stones actually are.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Oblivion Day 15 - Murderer on the Gold Road

11 Heartfire, 3E433
Bravil
~~~

I was already awake when Arielle slid into my room several hours later. I was already pretending to be a merchant, so my role in her plan was to act as bait. At my own discretion, I was to leave the inn and continue to travel along the Gold Road heading east into the area where the bodies have been found. With luck, I would serve as a tempting target and the murderer would be flushed out of hiding. Arielle and her battle-mages would be following me discreetly, ready to leap out as soon as the murderer made his move against me. I concurred with the plan and left the Inn after midnight, trusting my Khajiit eyes to give me early warning of any attack.

The murderer revealed herself to be none other than my fellow inn-mate, the Altmer Caminalda. She gave no reason for her wanton hostility and said little other than that my time had come. Very uninspired. As it turned out, neither myself nor Arielle and her battle-mages were required. Caminalda's oratory was matched by her environmental awareness and she launched her attack upon me just as a Legionnaire turned the corner of the road on his horse. A blow from the man's long blade nearly cleaved the woman in two as she concentrated on a spell.
Arielle asked me to return to the Guild while she and her people cleared the road of the Altmer's remains. Having left so early in the morning, everyone was still asleep when I arrived at the guildhouse, so I idly experimented with some of my alchemy ingredients to pass the time. When Carahil came down for breakfast I reported her fellow Altmer's death and my recommendation from her was assured. I set off for Bravil after a hearty breakfast, though it was obvious I was still an outsider there, recommendation or no.

While enroute to Bravil I came upon an Oblivion gate close enough to the road that Scamps were actively tearing the path's cobblestones out of it. After clearing the area of Scamps, I secured my horse and stepped back into Oblivion. Fortunately where I ended up was a place I have been before and I stole another Stone from Oblivion effortlessly, even with the rather welcome addition of more Dremora than usual. I left the smolder wreck of the gate behind as it began to rain, quenching what little fire remained of it.
Bravil is an ugly, poor town, the houses are little more than shacks and the residents little more than beggars. They all have a desperate, haggard appearance, as if there was some secret way out of the town that everyone was looking for. The town universally smells like a latrine, as they use the sluggish canal winding through the town as one, as well as for bathing and washing. It is a rather archaic way of living and I cannot think of a reason why Count Regulus does not seek to improve his squalid city.

As soon as I stepped inside the gates I was approached by a woman named Ursanne who had been looking for anyone to help find her missing husband. The man had borrowed from a notorious lender of money and she feared his final location was somewhere underneath the waters of the canal. Still, she had hope that he lived and that someone could re-unite them and this hope is what drove her to approach a richly dressed, armed Khajiit who had just walked into her town. 

Despite my misgivings of the town itself, I felt I could spare the time to help the woman and agreed to look into her husband's disappearance as soon as my own business had been attended to. She thanked me profusely and gave me the location of her shack so that I might return him to her once I was able.

But the trip from Anvil to Bravil had been a long one and the Oblivion gate also ate into the day quite well. When I finally was able to distinguish the town's Inn from the rest of the shacks, it was deep into the evening and I had no energy to either look for her husband or visit the local Mages Guild. I have rented a very plain room in the 'Silverhome on the Water', an inn whose name is far more extravagant than its furnishings.
I have slept in worse places, the ruined strongholds of the Sixth House certainly being one (or several) of those places. The room is dry, if rough, and I am content enough with that. Tomorrow morning I shall call upon the Guild and see what is required for my recommendation from Bravil. I was told that the Bravil Guild specializes in Illusion spells, so I am eager to see how I can improve my own skill in that school, for it has been a very long time since I have cast much of anything and a Khajiit is always well-served by illusions.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Oblivion Day 14 - Mystery in Anvil

10 Heartfire, 3E433
Brina Cross Inn
~~~

A day spent without setting foot in Oblivion is a day increasingly becoming more rare, making the land a much more hazardous place to travel in. Today I made the trip between Skingrad and Anvil, passing the ruined town of Kvatch on my way, a not-so-gentle reminder of what will happen again if I cease to close the gates as I meet them.
Today's gate lay just outside of a inn new enough to be unknown to me and certainly close enough to it to be visible to anyone inside. I do wonder why no one has been summoning the Legion to deal with these things and why it is up to a former Khajiit prisoner to do so. Such is one of the many mysteries of my life, I suppose. The gate itself, by now, bears little mention.
What does is the nature of my business at the Anvil Mages Guild. The head of the local guild is an Altmer named Carahil and unlike at Skingrad she did not treat my presence as something to be merely dealt with. Rather she seemed eager to have me there, even temporarily and assured me my recommendation was certain so long as I was willing to prove able-bodied and willing to learn. 

The matter sounds more serious than what occupied my other recommendations. Merchants have been found dead along the Gold Road and the wounds on their bodies suggests a rogue mage is to blame. The ruling council has asked Carahil to find the murderer and bring him or her to justice. The council dispatched battlemages to the Brina Cross Inn, curiously the same inn that the gate was outside of, but they are awaiting her orders before acting. Carahil instructed me to go back to the Inn, present myself as a merchant, and introduce myself covertly to a Arielle Jurard, who is waiting for an "assistant" of Carahil's.

No doubt due to the recent murders the Inn was nearly deserted, aside from the battlemages only another Altmer is staying alongside me tonight. She introduced herself as Caminalda and asked my business on the road, so I told her I was a merchant of small, shiny things, so she likely thinks I am either a merchant or a thief. Not that it matters. Arielle told me to rent a room and that she would visit me secretly at midnight tonight to tell me what the plan is. Apparently things have progressed further than Carahil was aware.

Midnight is not for several hours still, so I will get what rest I can and earn my recommendation soon enough.