Friday, July 8, 2016

Skyrim Day 034 - The Last Lesson You Learn

18 Heartfire, 4E201
Nightgate Inn

With ancient Nordic words bouncing around in my head I woke this morning with no desire to attempt anything particularly difficult. The Conjuration instructor at the College, Phinis, had asked me some time ago to investigate the disappearance of the previous group of apprentices, a task which did not sound taxing.

Phinis referred to them as 'missing', yet he knew where they were going and kept a list of their announced destinations. He just did not want to leave the College to actually check up on them, a depressingly typical attitude within any group of mages.

The first was Rundi, one of two Nord twins who had enrolled at the College together, truly a rarity. According to Phinis's list Rundi was going to be practicing magic near a small altar just southeast of the College.
Someone, probably the late Rundi, had placed magicka runes around the altar, but I could not find Rundi himself. I was able to step very carefully through the runes and examine the altar, but all I found was a book and a dagger helpfully engraved with his name. I took the dagger and looked at the next name on the list: Borvir, brother of Rundi.

Borvir had walked further south to a well-known ancient stone shelter known as 'Journeyman's Nook', half-way between the College and Windhelm.
His death was much less a mystery. Just inside the shelter was a man clad in skins and wielding a bow. I took a shot at him from outside and missed, but he came charging out of the would-be fortification anyway. I quickly climbed to the roof of the shelter and jumped behind him as he ran out. It was over quickly. Borvir's body lay inside, three arrows still stuck in his chest. Evidently he died while experimenting with alchemy, for he had brought a small table with him. Like his brother, he had a steel dagger engraved with his name along the blade. So far the apprentices were not being found in great condition.

The third apprentice was Yisra, a Redguard with an affinity for fire, at least according to Phinis. She had chosen to travel much farther than the brothers, electing to practice her magic on the shore near Dawnstar, possibly to have access to water in case of an accident. With such vague directions I thought it would be difficult to find her, but unfortunately that wound up not being the case.

A sudden reveal of a very blue, clear sky came as a pleasant surprise, the first I have seen along the north coast of Skyrim, though I think I would have been happy with anything that was not blowing more snow and ice in my face.
Naturally this did not last long and by the time I reached what passed for a shoreline the weather had sunk back into a freezing, gloomy overcast.  Horkers shuffled about as I tried to hop from one dry section to another, but inevitably I ended up in the freezing water more than once.

The tell-tale scent of smoke and burnt flesh assailed my nostrils as I carefully made my way past a small grouping of Horkers and I followed the smell to Yisra's final experiment.
What was left of her corpse was twisted in agony and fused solid by intense heat. The surrounding grasses were still smoldering around her and a spell tome, no doubt enchanted against magicka damage, lay within the charred circle. It described a powerful 'flame cloak' spell, much the same as J'zargo attempted. However, where J'zargo managed to accidentally substitute 'flame' for 'explosion' Yisra looked to have left off the 'cloak' portion of the spell, providing herself with just the flames.

The last apprentice was Ilas-Tei, obviously an Argonian, who went to an island just off the coast to the northwest of the College. Phinis's notes suggested that I look for a shrine to Talos. Ilas-Tei's specialty was Illusion, so I wondered what bizarre manner of death I would be discovering next.
Ilas-Tei's death was the result of poor planning: the unfortunate Argonian was testing 'Calm' and 'Fury' spells on a bunch of Skeevers she had caged, but for whatever reason they wound up getting loose and eviscerated her before turning on each other.
At least I think that's what happened. There was a cage, five dead Skeevers, and one dead Argonian. A scroll of 'Fury' was still clutched in her hand, but the much-needed scroll of 'Calm' was sitting on a barrel by the cage.

None of the apprentices would have died had they stuck together, but no one at the College seems able to look out for one another. Little wonder the College is so distrusted by everyone else in Skyrim. Phinis's payment for my discovering the ill-fated apprentices was a staff enchanted to cast 'Calm' with his hope that I could use it to avoid ending as they did. Considering one was ambushed by a bandit, one set herself aflame, and another simply disappeared entirely, I do not know how the staff is supposed to avoid any of that. I suppose it would be helpful against Skeevers, but I am fairly sure a Nordic child over the age of eight can kill a Skeever. Possibly bare-handed.

Still stuck with College responsibilities I consulted my journal to see what else needed to be done. According to my writings Urag had asked me to retrieve some volumes quite awhile back, at least a week, I think. He has been very patient so far, but I am willing to accept anything that gets me out of this ice and cold. The books Urag is desiring wound up somewhere south of Dragon Bridge along the river, but if he told me how he knew that I had forgotten to write it down. There is also a book somewhere north of Morthal, but the one close to Dragon Bridge he rated as more important, I only have 'Shalidor' written next to it though, so I do not remember why that is.

Once again the weather was unusually kind to me and I was assaulted by neither ice or snow on my walk from the College. As it was late in the day when I left the sun soon set and I was granted a view I have never seen before.
Whatever was up in the sky shone brightly enough to almost turn the night back into day. The effect reminded me of how the weather would warp near the gates to Oblivion so long ago and if I concentrate I can almost remember something similar around Red Mountain on Vvardenfell. While I did appreciate the increased visibility I do hope this is temporary. The dark is a Khajiit's friend just as much as the light.

I chose to stop at the inn built along the road between the College and Whiterun, the Nightgate. Tomorrow I hope to have the book in my possession and then I might visit Solitude or Morthal before returning, once again, to Winterhold. There is also the matter of the tablet I took from Bleak Falls Barrow, though I do not know who I should speak to about it.

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