Friday, April 8, 2016

Skyrim Day 023 - The Midden and the Augur

7 Heartfire, 4E201

I did not have it in me this morning to stop at Morthal for the book, but I have no doubt I will be in that area at some point in the future anyway. Instead I left Whiterun and spent most of the morning walking the road back to Winterhold. As I left what could be considered the "end" of Whiterun I witnessed two city guards drag the bodies of three bandits away from one of the city's watchtowers. The banditry is getting bolder, if not smarter.
Near a farm I came upon another horse-and-cart, but this time its owner was very much alive. But if a person can be said to be unhinged, then this fellow had his door removed completely.
The little Imperial was dressed as a jester and introduced himself as 'Cicero'. Cicero had a very odd way of speaking: sort of singing, sort of whining, and somewhat poetic. I was able to understand that the cart belonged to him and that it was carrying the casket of his dead mother whom he hoped to re-bury (I assume) somewhere in Skyrim. But the wagon wheel had broken and he was unable to fix it himself.

Fortunately he had broken down right in front of a farm, but he said the farmer there was not willing to help him repair the wagon and the guardsman who was patrolling the road had not been any more helpful. I offered to speak with the farmer on his behalf and he did a little dance in front of me and offered bags of gold if I succeeded.

The farmer, Vantus Loreius, watched me warily as I walked up from the road and spoke first, telling me that there was no way he was getting involved with the strange man's wagon trouble. I pointed out that the quickest way to get rid of him was to fix the wagon, but he countered with the idea of going to the guard and having the man arrested. But then his wife spoke up and chided Vantus for not being "neighborly" and helping someone in need. With that his defenses collapsed and he sheepishly asked me to tell "that little Imperial" that he would be by shortly with tools to repair the wagon. My reward was another dance and three pouches of coins. I had no reason to wait to see the wagon fixed, so I wished Cicero and his late mother luck and continued on to Winterhold.

While on my way through the pass between Whiterun and Winterhold I found a horse standing placidly next to the body of what was probably a bandit.
Judging by the angle of the woman's broken neck she had been thrown from the horse and struck the frozen soil with her head, hopefully killing her instantly. If that were the case the horse did not seem bothered by it

It has only been a few hundred years since I have last ridden a horse, but the skill came back to me rather quickly...which was the only thing quick about the ride. I vaguely remember the horses of Cyrodiil being fast, but I could have ran faster than this horse galloped. It was considerably more sure-footed on the snow and ice than a quicker horse, so it did end up being worth the jostling I received, even if it had killed its former rider.

When I arrived back at Winterhold I sold the horse to a lucky guardsman for ten Septims and walked across the precarious-looking bridge to the College. Tolfdir and Savos had somehow managed to transport our treasure from Saarthal to Winterhold and while the image of them rolling the giant metal sphere across the snow and ice is amusing, they must have teleported it into the hall.
The ever gruff Urag gro-Shub was rather gracious in the acceptance of the missing volumes and presented me a gift of six much more common books, each a lesson in the use of a particular school of magic. He then suggested that I seek out Tolfdir to receive my next assignment pertaining to the College's new hall centerpiece and asked me to bring Tolfdir the 'Night of Tears', though having read it myself I could not see what help it would be.

Ancano chose that moment to make his entrance by striding into the Hall and politely insisting that Tolfdir find somewhere else to be. Tolfdir did not take the interruption likely, as he had just begun what I am beginning to understand is his favorite activity: lecturing. He left with the promise to issue a complain to the Thalmor Embassy and then it was just Ancano and I alone in the Hall with the giant, levitating ball.
Ancano only wanted to tell me that a visitor had arrived at the College and was waiting for me in the Arch-Mage's quarters, not an announcement I felt Tolfdir had to be dismissed over. I had little choice but to follow him upstairs to speak with whomever this was.

I should have known: the "visitor" was another Psijic mage. As soon as I opened my mouth to ask what his Order needed now the world froze and turned white.
I was still able to ask my question, but received far more of an answer than I had wanted. According to the mage, the artifact hovering in the College's Hall was known as the "Eye of Magnus", an artifact said to have been created by Magnus, the God of Magic. The mage said disaster was now unavoidable due to events that had already transpired, so naturally I asked him what was expected of me before an inevitable disaster. His response was one I might have received hundreds of years ago: do your best to contain it. He suggested that I speak with someone or something called the 'Augur of Dunlain' who would know more about what I needed to do.

With that the world regained its color and the mage excused himself to a very confused Arch-Mage and Thalmor. Ancano demanded to know what had happened, but he was in the Arch-Mage's personal residence and was asked, politely of course, to leave.

But when I asked Savos about the Augue he was only able to point me back to Tolfdir, so feeling a little silly I went back to the Hall where Tolfdir had been kicked out moments before.

Tolfdir knew of the Augur and offhandedly commented that he used to be a student at the College before his studies and experimentation went disastrously wrong and he became what he is today. I felt that sort of personal history deserved a bit more detail, but Tolfdir was not able to provide much more. His name long forgotten, the former student now went by the title of 'Augur of Dunlain' and resided, for lack of a better word, in the College midden accessible via a trapdoor in the courtyard.
The midden was half storage area, half illicit training ground. Skeletons raised and fallen by students littered the entire area as well as Draugr that students had lost control over. I also had to contend with more more natural predators in the form of giant spiders which were occupying a corner of the midden.
There was evidence scattered about the whole area that pointed towards generations of College students having retreated to the midden to further their own research, some of the evidence looking unfortunately violent. Some of the evidence was very interesting though, one being a magical "forge" of some sort that a nearby journal claimed could take several items and turn them into an Atronach.

The journal did warn that the Atronachs would not arrive loyal, so I fail to see the usefulness of such a tool, elegantly designed though it might be.
The only other item of deceitful interest was an obsidian altar which terminated in a gauntlet that appeared to be reaching for something. Again, a nearby journal explained what I was looking at. It began by declaring that the "missing students" had been found dead around the altar, their wounds being consistent with something the author called "conjurer's burn", a phrase apparently describing burns to the hands and arms. The author, an instructor at the time, removed four rings from the gauntlet's fingers and stored them at the College while they awaited examination from a master of Conjuration magics. Something to keep in mind for the future, perhaps.

I found the Augur in a little room of his (its?) own, hovering above a pool of what appeared to be oil.
Whatever he was now the Augur was surprisingly open and helpful about my problem. Right away he warned me that Arcano had already come down to the Midden to speak with him about the Eye of Magnus and that his interest would lead to his death and disaster for the College. 

Despite his incorporeal and presumably immortal form the Augur of Dunlain seemed to lean towards helping the College over the interests of the Thalmor. He instructed me to return to Savos and tell the Arch-Mage that Magnus's staff was required to harness, or perhaps just contain, the power within the Eye of Magnus. Without it, as Arcano is, usage of the Eye could destroy the College or worse.

Having said that, he withdrew into his pool of oil, leaving me with no time to ask any further questions. I made my way back out of the midden via a short passageway which deposited me on the shore, about one hundred feet beneath where I wanted to be.
I was not as fortunate during this walk as I have been recently. The weather cleared up as I made my way up the shoreline, but I was attacked by three black dogs that each had glowing red eyes and over-sized fangs occupying a distended mouth. Fearsome though they looked, they were still just dogs and I claimed a beaten silver collar from each one of them. I do wonder where they came from to have collars on.

The only other encounter I had was with a goat who trotted along with me as we passed the as-yet not-visited Shrine of Azura.
I went immediately to the Arch-Mage's quarters when I finally arrived back at the College, but he was not there despite it being several hours past midnight. Instead I found him in the Hall pondering the Eye of Magnus. I told him we needed to find the Staff of Magnus and once again was told to speak with Mirabelle. By this time some of the early risers were waking up for breakfast, so I shall only be getting an hour or two of sleep.

No rest for the weary.

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