Monday, July 25, 2016

Skyrim Day 039 - A Courier Day

23 Heartfire, 4E201
Winterhold College

I slept much better in the former bandit chief's blood-spattered room than I did in the half-ruined tower the night before, but still woke early and was on my way to the last of the 'Convector' devices as the sun began to rise. The weather was hazy and, being close to the springs, quite warm.
The last of Arniel's 'Convectors' was almost directly due west of the fortress I had emptied of the living the night before. Expecting another Dwemer ruin I was pleased to see that I had arrived at a small shrine built amidst a small collection of Dwemer debris. In one of the debris piles I unearthed the 'Convector' and baked the gem inside of it, as I had done twice yesterday.
Returning to Winterhold via the road would have taken me most of the afternoon. Instead I chose to climb over the hills north of Riften so that I could cut through the hot springs all the while heading in a direct line towards the College. Besides, I have never before been atop the hills near Riften and only really explored the hot springs once before on my quest for Eldergleam's restorative sap.

My seemingly impulsive decision quickly granted me the contemplative gift of a small pond overlooking the northern half of the province. Due to the morning's haze I could not see very far, but it was an oddly peaceful experience nonetheless.
The sulfur springs were an entirely different set of experiences. The heat and humidity hanging over them produced a suffocating sensation of trying to breathe water as I made my way through the area, a task difficult and tiring enough without being attacked twice.

Before I was twice-ambushed I found one of the ancient 'Standing Stones' the ancient Nords enchanted to better communicate with their ancestors...or something like that. This one was carved with the Atronach constellation and I left it alone, at least for now.
The first ambush occurred because I recognized a familiar shape some ways away from the Standing Stone.
The carved stone rising from the hill looked very similar to the wall I found guarded by mages while on my way to reverse another one of Enthir's regrettable business transactions two days ago. A crippling headache always accompanied my involvement with the things, but I felt drawn to it anyway.

Finding a way up the hill was an adventure by itself by eventually I managed to clamber over some boulders and up to the plateau. Bones, both of men and animals, littered the area and it was not much of a surprise when the only coffins present each disgorged a skeletal guardian. One was armed with a bow, the other two a simple iron axe and it took only a single swipe of my axe to disperse the magicka holding them together. It was then just me and carved dragon's head on the wall.
As I approached a portion of the runes began to glow. Rather than try to get away from them as I have previously been doing, I closed my eyes, relaxed, and walked closer. There was a slight sensation in my head that is difficult to describe and I suddenly knew how the word for 'Frost', which is spoken as 'Fo'. There was no pain either immediate or lingering, a curious difference likely related to my approach. While I still have no idea as to what purpose these walls serve or what dragons have to do with them, it is reassuring to know that an encounter with them is no guarantee of pain thereafter.

I was ambushed a second time as I was on my way out of the springs, but this one was far stupider and less rewarding. My walking took me to an altar upon which two Draugr had been laid and I paid it little mind, assuming it was from a mage's experiment gone either wrong or not at all. To my surprise two mages suddenly popped out of their Invisibility magicka in front of me, flinging ice and fire. 

I guess I looked like a wealthy mark of some sort, but they were not prepared to defend themselves against dagger and axe.
My walk from the altar all the way to Windhelm passed without incident, though the weather quickly changed from hot and humid to windy and cold in a startlingly short amount of time. When I arrived outside of the city the wind had blown up a snowstorm that restricted my vision to maybe a dozen paces in front of me.

Given that I was hesitant to proceed to Winterhold via the rougher path east of Windhelm and instead stuck to the road curving around the west of it. A longer walk, but one that would not have me accidentally stepping off the edge of a snow bank and plummeting to the ice thirty feet below.

When I arrived at Winterhold a guard stopped me to inquire about the roads and he mentioned that the Jarl was looking to make a trip to Windhelm. I had not even known there was a Jarl at the ruined town and the guard laughed, telling me that the Jarl felt pretty much the same way.
The Jarl was, understandably, a bitter man. His father was Jarl of a prosperous harbor town and he of a wrecked ship held afloat by the College which he hates. Jarl Korir blames the College for the destruction of Winterhold, but I have heard the mages within the College speculate that the explosion of Red Mountain in Morrowind was responsible. I care not either way. His steward openly asked if I knew anyone who wanted to join the Stormcloaks, so I quickly left before he realized I was not a Nord.

Arniel was surprised to see me back so quickly and escastic over receiving his "cooked" gem. He asked that I not travel far, for he would have additional work for me after experimenting with the gem for a few days. I shrugged and promised him nothing. We parted and as I was leaving the barracks area I heard Enthir and Arniel arguing about the latter's research.

From Phinis I purchased a tome for a soul-trapping spell so that I might start to experiment with Azura's Star and he told me that Urag was asking everyone to tell me to stop at the Arcanaeum as soon as I was in the College. I mounted the staircase with some trepedition, but the gruff Orsimer only wanted to present me with the translations from 'Shalidor's Insights' in the form of three scrolls that he said would prove very instructional in regards to the use of Conjuration magicka...which I do not use.

He also said that Tolfdir left a message of his own with him: the stone plaque from 'Bleak Falls' barrow would likely be of interest to the court mage of Whiterun: 'Farengar Secret-Fire'.

The reminder made me feel very stupid. I had met the court mage roughly a month ago when I first visited Whiterun and he had even asked me to retrieve a stone tablet from within 'Bleak Falls' barrow. Here I have been carrying it with me this whole time when I was already told where to bring it. At least I will be rid of it soon. Reading that day's entry now I seem to have thought then that the Stormcloaks were within the barrow trying to unlock the secret to summoning more Dragons.

I do not believe that is their strategy now. Too much has occurred in relation to Dragons for their awakening to simply be the side effect of the rebellion. The Dragon Priest whose mask I took, the walls which blast words into my head, and the complete lack of Dragons since the attack on Helgen makes me feel as though there is a puzzle here whose pieces are mostly still missing. I learn one thing and uncover three more mysteries at the same time. This will make sense eventually, but not today and probably not tomorrow either.

At least this is one of the few nights I am not either freezing to death or falling asleep well after midnight. It is just after dinner, I have eaten, and am very much looking forward to a long, pleasant sleep in a warm bed. Tomorrow I will visit Whiterun to drop off the stone, then perhaps north to Solitude or even east to Riften, if I feel like having all of my possessions stolen.

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