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18+ The Path to 'In the name of Aetherius'

Discussion in 'Skyrim Fan Fiction' started by Specter of Death, Sep 6, 2017.

  1. Specter of Death

    Specter of Death a soul devoid of eternal bonds

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    The following story follows the path of one Lilium Lancif, leading up to the Roleplay "In the name of Aetherius". This can be looked at as a prelude of sorts. Enjoy! [Click for the Roleplay]

    Fredas, the seventh of Last Seed, the year two hundred and two of the fourth era.
    Somewhere in the south of Skyrim


    The ride up here was rather uncomfortable, considering the unsettling terrain. I’ve never ridden in a carriage that long, or in weather as foul as this. The carriage driver, Hrorrik, was a stern yet talkative man. He talked more than I, and didn’t seem keen on listening to anything but his own voice. He almost drowned out the hiss of snow filled wind with every word he spoke. Told me quite a bit about his family and mainly his daughter, a 'very successful merchant in the Imperial City,' and considering my circumstances, that part of the conversation wasn’t pleasant. Thankfully he didn’t dwell too much on her being in the city itself, but rather all 'pigs' she would bring home to him and his wife. 'None of them are good enough for my Illia,' is more than enough of a summary of that. I eventually fell asleep for what I can only guess was about 45 minutes, but when I woke up he was silent. I hate to say it, but it was rather nice to listen to nothing again.

    He was quiet all the way up to the border crossing, but when we got to the partially fortified part of road, he began to turn his carriage around almost as soon as I got out. I was confused and he made it very clear that he had no intention of venturing into the actual territory of Skyrim, and that I only paid him enough to get me to the border itself.

    ---


    “I’m sorry, lass, but there isn’t any amount of septims you could give me to take you down there,” he started, before looking back on his seat as he trotted off back the way they came, “not worth running into those Rebels!”

    His words sat at the forefront of her thoughts as she watched the wooden transport disappear over the top of the hill. Rebels? She had never felt more confused in that moment, and as she turned back to the North, a vague swaying light slowly approached through the slowly darkening snow that surrounded her. She squinted at the source of the glow, barely making out the dark silhouette of a man. As he drew nearer, his form became more and more focused, as did the torch which flame’s seemed to be just as cold as she was.

    “Hello? A-are you a rebel?” she started, trying her best not to shiver as she spoke, “I’m just a scholar trying to get to Winterhold, please, can you tell me who you are?”

    The form coughed harshly as it’s steps grew louder and louder with every labored trudge that each leg made. It sounded like a man, and a big man. One that she definitely wouldn’t win a fight with, if he did end up meaning her harm. He stopped in front of her, lighting up both his form and her own. Unlike her thin fur lined jacket, he was wearing a thick fur coat, along with thick leggings. She could finally begin to make out a face underneath a thick fur hood as his voice spoke to her just as loud as she presented herself. “I’m no rebel girl, I’m the border watchman!”

    “Oh,” Lilium said with a relieved sigh, “I’m sorry if I offended you, the carriage driver said something about rebels and the road being dangerous because of them.”

    “Hrorrik’s a fool girl, no rebel would be caught dead this far south,” the man said in between exhausted breaths, standing right in front of her, “what in Talos’ name are you doing out in weather like this alone, girl? At this time of night as well?”

    “I, um,” she looked backwards, secretly hoping the carriage that once seemed so warm sat waiting at the top of the hill behind her, “he just dropped me off.”

    “That’s Hrorrik for you, bloody coward he is. Didn't even show you where to find shelter,” the man said, gently placing a guiding hand on her shoulder, “let’s get inside before I freeze my arse off.”

    He kindly led her inside of the small stone structure, that arched over the road with an open, bridge-like top. There wasn’t much inside of the part of it’s structure they found themselves in. A small fireplace sat underneath stone stairs that led up to the overlooking arch. A small table with 2 chairs sat placed on the same wall as the door they entered from, and near the hearth of the flame sat 2 large, fur bed rolls. Lilium hadn’t noticed how violently her body had been shaking, or how cold she was until her eyes landed on the dancing flame that was ahead of her.

    “You should sit by the fire, lass, you’re shivering like you haven’t seen warmth for a week,” the man said gruffly. He parked himself on the chair in the corner, and pulled himself close to the table, setting the torch into the sconce just above it. “I’m Lorn, by the way. Member of the Legion, so don’t you worry about any rebels.”

    Lilium could do nothing but nod and quickly walk herself to sit right next to the hot flame. Her body stopped shivering, and she felt herself grow more comfortable in short time. She pulled the hood off of her head finally, revealing her short auburn hair and looking in the direction of Lorn, “I’m Lilium. Sorry for being so… So rude.”

    Lorn looked at her for a second before a grin grew across his face, “not rude at all, just frightened. And rightfully so for your first time in one of Skyrim’s blizzards. Help yourself to whatever is stewing inside the pot, there. I’m sure you’re hungry after the trip from wherever you traveled here from.”

    Lilium nodded, surprised at the man’s brief words. She chalked it up to listening to Hrorrik’s rambling the entire trip. She stood herself up, and grabbed a clean bowl from the floor near the pot, and hastily put it into the hot stew to fill it. She put the bowl to her lips and took the chunk filled liquid slowly into her mouth until it was full. She gulped it down hungrily, and felt a pang of relief fill her body as the heat it had, carried it’s way through the inside of her body and adding to the comfort of the warmth she now found herself in.

    “Listening to him talk really distracts you from how cold it is,” she said with a chuckle, not breaking her gaze with the flame.

    “He always has a lot to say, that old cook,” the man responded warmly, “let me guess; his daughter is dating pigs, his wife works in the fields too late, and the taxes in Bravil are the Empires way of robbing the poor man’s pockets?”

    Lilum grinned, and looked in Lorn’s direction, “pretty much everything, you forgot his hatred of the ‘foul scum of a family’ he said he lived across from. Oh and how much he thought Dunmer deserved to be the Empire's enemies again.”

    “Ah,” Lorn spoke again, walking himself over to sit by the hearth, and filling a bowl of his own with the warm liquid, “I guess it is the time of year to be complaining about the Dunmer farmers that live across the way.”

    “Are Nords always that, erm,” her words seemed to fall short, as his picked up where she could not finish.

    “Racist? Ignorant? Arogant? Downright stupid?” His voice was filled with a tone of humor, “Yes. Yes they are. Most of them, anyway. Especially in these times, what with the Rebels still dragging this bloody war along.”

    “War?” Lilium questioned, not sure she had ever heard of any such conflict since the Great War.

    “Yeah, the Civil War,” Lorn said between gulps, “not surprised you haven’t heard of it. Most of Skyrim’s problems seem to be just that, Skyrim’s problems. The Empire doesn’t seem to care much what happens up here outside of what the Thalmor demand.”

    Lilium sat quietly, listening to the Imperial tell her about all that the northern province she found herself in. About Ulfric Stormcloak and his rebellion, the start of one of Skyrim’s harshest of winters, the Thalmor’s grip on all of Skyrim’s denizens among his other stories of battle and experiences. She took the time while listening and eating to examine the man she was talking to. He was an older man, definitely seen more years than she and more battles too. His hair, much like his beard, was graying, unkempt and long. She decidedly came to the conclusion that this man’s time in the province had likely quickened the aging process and made him look much older than he actually was. His stories weren’t that of the Great War, or of ‘the good ol’ days’ like her father had put it, despite his looking like he would be. They were about his time training under a General Tulius, and his service in Skyrim. He was nothing more than a middle aged man. One that was now forgotten and left to keep watch of a lonely road that connected one world with another.

    “You should sleep lass, tomorrow a cart with a shipment of food and supplies is arriving, and I can arrange for you to be on it, when it heads back north” he said, standing up and stretching, “they’ll probably only take you as far as Falkreath or Riverwood, but either way it won’t be near as cold and snowy or hard to get around in. Now I’ve got a road to watch. Sleep well.”

    Lilium nodded with a small grin, “goodnight Lorn, thank you for the food and shelter.”

    The man grinned and nodded back, before picking his torch up out of it’s sconce and walking up the stone steps to the world above. As she laid herself down atop the bedroll, she didn’t find any difficulty in finding the urge to sleep, and before long it wrapped her up in it’s arms and let her all into deep rest.
     
    #1 Specter of Death, Sep 6, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 25, 2017 at 1:23 AM
  2. Specter of Death

    Specter of Death a soul devoid of eternal bonds

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    Sundas, the ninth of Last Seed, the year two hundred and two of the fourth era
    The Dead Man’s Drink, Falkreath

    Lorn kept his promise, and arranged for me to be taken on the imperial cart on it’s way back up north. I don’t think I will ever forget the man’s face, or his voice. He was the first person in Skyrim that I have ever met, and was the first kind person I’ve had the pleasure of meeting since I left Cyrodiil.

    The hold that I am in now, Falkreath Hold they call it, is gorgeous. It’s like it is somehow shielded away from the cold and unforgiving nature of the Skyrim I had first experienced. It’s so lush and green, and there are even birds chirping and whistling within the trees. It reminds me of the Blackwood Forest around Leyawiin. The only thing that is missing is the humidity and the salty smell of the southern seas. But the warmth of the sun is still here, and I can’t help feeling a little homesick; even if Leyawiin and it’s forest had only been my home for but a few months.

    The township of Falkreath is, for lack of a better word, bland. Not that it isn’t beautiful, as I said it’s just the opposite. It’s just, the people and the air here is just drab and what I can only describe as grey. I asked the innkeeper why everything seemed so odd, and even her response was as dry and short as the town itself. “Falkreath is the city of the dead. The town of headstones and graves. What else would you expect, girl?” I was slightly taken aback by the tone of her response, but given her words I couldn’t blame her. I still find it a little rude to not even have shared her name when I gave her my own, but her words stuck with me. They explained a lot, and after walking around the roads of the town I began to take note of exactly what she meant. Even the name of the Inn itself finally clicked in my mind, ‘The Dead Man’s Drink.’ It seems even Arkay has a home on the mortal plane.

    Today I am headed northeast, where the innkeeper says the village of Riverwood sits. There I will rest, and tomorrow I will trek further North to Whiterun which is apparently just halfway to the College.


    --

    “Follow the road north, until you see the Lake Illinalta,” the woman’s voice was still as gruff and emotionless as it was the night before, “then follow the road along it’s shore west, until you meet the White River. Stay along that waterway, and you’ll get to Riverwood at some point.”

    Lilium nodded along, and grinned at the woman as she finished her directions. “Thanks for the help! I’ll be sure to stop in to visit if I find myself in Falkreath again.”

    “Feel free not to,” the woman’s voice was suddenly more annoyed as she added, “oh, and fair warning, there are plenty of bandits who like to ambush travelers on the road. Hope you’re okay with a little running while you’re on your way.”

    Lilium did nothing but nod to the inn keeper as she turned around and began to sweep the dust covered floor. The she elf’s face slightly frowned at the grumpy woman, as she turned heel and started toward the door. As she stepped outside onto the outer deck of the grim wooden building, she was met with the glow of the sun glaring it’s light onto the town’s road. Her steps squished at each foot fall, and it was clear that it had rained while she was sleeping. There was a slight sense of remorse in her stomach as she wished she could have been awake to enjoy the downpour, but she pushed it aside. Lilium wasn’t going to waste a perfectly good morning feeling sorry for herself about missing some rain.

    “Lake Illinalta, here I come,” she proclaimed to herself, as she changed her slow walk into a determined one and followed the road toward the gate of the broken walled city. As she walked, she never looked ahead at the road in front of her. Instead she stared up at the sky through the trees. The pale blue was only broken up by the white puffs of clouds, which took many different forms as they moved at a snail’s pace overhead.

    Her heart lurched, and suddenly Lilium’s head cleared and snapped into focus. The thought about the woman’s warning of Bandits struck a chord of fear in her heart. Though the elf had known a small handful of destruction spells and a single conjuration spell, she had never used them against another person; only the rocks along the shore of the lake surrounding the Imperial City. Even then, her practice with them was minuscule, and she wasn’t even sure she would be able to cast them in the heat of any fight if there were to be one.

    She stopped mid pace, and looked around her. Surely there was a place that she could take an hour or two to practice in. As she scanned through the trees surrounding the road, her eyes caught a small cluster of rubble and rocks sitting in a small clearing. Perfect, she thought, and walked off of the road toward her chosen destination. One of the rocks was just as tall as she was, and thicker than any man, woman or bear that she guessed she might meet on her journey.

    With her bag next to a small pile of rubble and rocks behind her, she had a book open atop one of the flatter ones to look at. Lilium began to reach into her connection with the aetherial plane as she read. Her eyes scanned the descriptions in the book of destruction spells, taking in word after word; picture after picture. Mimicking the directions she saw, the warmth of flame began to fill and emanate from her hands.

    “Unlike that of a simple flames spell, the firebolt spell must be a quick and powerful thrust of your aetherial energies,” she read out loud to herself, “to charge enough energy for the bolt, circulate the energy through your body as you would the novice spell. However, instead of letting it flow out of your palms in a constant stream, let it build up in your hands before you release it. The longer the charge, the farther it will fly... Hmmm, okay.”

    Lilium closed her eyes, paused, and let the warmth of her energies move up and down throughout her torso until it started to put pressure on her arms and hands. When she opened her eyes, she let the energy fill her hands all at once, and with two thrusts she released two balls of flame from within each of her hands’ fingers. They scorched the side of the large rock, which stood mere yards away. She blinked, and felt her face go blank. “Wow.”

    “Though Fireball uses the same technique as Firebolt, you must learn to control the flames of your magic from a distance as well as thrusting it in the direction of your opponent,” she read, taking the book from the stone and placing it in her lap as she sat down in it’s place, “to practice this technique, cast the novice flame spell from one hand and let it flow outwards in a stream like you normally would. With the opposite hand, try to feel the energy of the magic flowing within the flame as it is cast away, do this with both hands until you can feel the flow of magic strongly within the flames you cast. Once confident, try to bend the flow of your flame stream at different distances. Do this by pulling the energies in the direction your hand wishes to guide it.”

    The elf shook her head, shrugging off the idea to even attempt the more advanced spell. I only just learned this spell, I need to get it mastered before I should even venture into that difficult a spell, she thought to herself as she stood back up. She set the tome down, and placed herself back in the same place she stood when first casting the spell, and began to charge her flame’s energy, this time in only one hand.

    “Once I get this down, I have frost and electric spells to practice too,” she spoke to herself as she released the ball of flame from her right hand, “then I gotta get on the road by sun-high if I want to get to Riverwood by the day’s end.”
     
    #2 Specter of Death, Sep 6, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 9, 2017
  3. Specter of Death

    Specter of Death a soul devoid of eternal bonds

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    Middas, the twelfth of Last Seed, the year two hundred and two of the fourth era
    Braidwood Inn, Kynesgrove

    These last few days have been rather stressful. At least I have gotten to practice my spellcasting…. on both rocks and people. When the lady in Falkreath told me about bandits, she wasn’t kidding. I have learned the hard way, that this province is far more wild and unforgiving than all the wilds in Cyrodiil combined. Maybe it’s the fact that there aren’t constant Imperial patrols walking the roads between cities. Yet, something tells me that even if there were, they’d just be wasting lives.

    Somewhere on the road to Riverwood, I met a nice trio of bandits posing as friendly hunters. Thankfully the dried blood on one of their necks caught my eye just before they turned on me to attack. I wish I knew one of the cloak spells, because I definitely could have used it. I managed to take down two of them with a few of the firebolts I had the practice, while the third I managed to defeat by casting a spell that I have never even cast before… and one I won’t be casting ever again. I have only read about conjuring familiars, and in an act of desperation I willed myself to conjure anything to come out and help me. I’ve read that familiars come out different from person to person, whether wolves to lions, they are unique to their caster. Mine… Well, mine was surprising. The bear tore through the last poor bandit, until he was nothing more than…. human pulp. I am somewhat grateful they were all dispatched after that, because I almost fainted. I didn't think it would be so energy intensive, as it is technically a novice spell…. perhaps the size of my familiar had something to do with it...

    When I was in Riverwood I managed to charm my way into getting a rather cute Bosmer to guide me on my way to Whiterun. This was a good call, even though we didn’t even run into any trouble. I wasn’t willing to risk my life again just trying to get from one place to the next. He was also some decent company. I tried to pay him for his troubles, but he insisted I didn’t. It was “his pleasure,” he said. Cute little man.

    Whiterun was nothing short of a headache. I had to barter with a guard at the gate to even get inside, some nonsense about dragons. I realized too late that the guard was likely doing me a favor, as the hustle and bustle of the panicked people inside was overwhelming. The only place I could catch any sort of break was the general store. Belethor was the name of the man who ran it. Iit only took me a few moments to realize exactly why it was the only place that wasn’t busy. He was an absolute creepy scoundrel. He would not leave me alone, and insisted that he’d give me the best tour of the city followed by the best night I’d ever have. Let’s just say that I was only there for a total of 5 minutes before I opted to deal with the overwhelming world that was waiting for me outside.

    By nightfall the city was virtually silent, and in the Inn outside of the Bard’s music, it was relatively quiet. There was some low talking between individuals. Mostly just a few other travelers or adventurers sitting with a hot meal and a cup of mead. I was one of those people, and fell into the bed I rented with a full belly and tired eyes.

    Yesterday, I made friends with a small group of traveling merchants, who let me join them as they traveled east. I’ve only ever met two Khajiit in my life, and both were apprentice mages in the Arcane College. They have a very interesting way of speaking - which I adore, and all of them had wonderful stories to share as we traveled. Two of their guards were large, heavily armored and intimidating men that reminded me of large bipedal tigers. There was another guard, a woman called Majjaan. She was smaller than every other cat in the group, and almost half my height, but her stories and the respect the other guards showed her was an example of how fierce she was. She was a master archer and sword wielder, and she trained the other guards to fight along with some basic lessons to all the others in the group. The pride and experience in her eyes was something I don’t think I will forget any time soon. The group’s leader, Za’nir, had some of the best stories. He was clearly much older than all the other Khajiit in the group, and told many stories about his time exploring the southern regions of Tamriel. From the thick forests of Valenwood to the almost impossibly navigated swamps of Blackmarch. It seemed like he had seen almost any and every place there was to see.

    They were kind enough to take me as far as Windhelm with them, but recommended that after I rest, I should head back on the western road until I found it split north. That is where I will find the College. They advised me to avoid getting close to Windhelm, and stay at the Inn in Kynesgrove. They didn’t tell me anything more than “Stormcloak leader does not like mer or cat, enter you should not, we would not allow you to be killed in such hateful arms.” I’d assume the resentment of the Thalmor’s harsh laws and restrictions enacted with the White Gold Concordat made their tolerance to other races incredibly low. I’m grateful for their guidance and wisdom, they were a wonderful family of loving people I think I will always be connected to; for the rest of my days. I hope I get to see them again soon.

    Tomorrow after a good night’s rest and a bowl of the delicious stew the innkeeper prepared, I am hoping to get to Winterhold as quickly as possible. Iddra is a very welcoming and kind woman, and a very loving mother to her children. She has helped me plan the safest path tomorrow, and told me everything I should expect along the road. All that’s left is to finish my meal, and lay my head to rest. Tomorrow I will finally arrive at the place I have traveled all this way to find.


    --

    The northern morning sky shone clear blue, as the rising sun made the snow bluffs glitter like dazzling stars. Lilium had never been more in love with the white sparkling precipitation that surrounded the road she walked. Not even a day ago had she been cursing at the pale, cold powder as it blew in her face and stuck to the fabric of her hood. In the moment she couldn’t help feeling envious of her feline friends she had been traveling with, as they never once shivered under the thick fur that covered their bodies.

    The waterway she learned to be called the River Yorgrim roared as it flowed toward the sea on her left. The torrent started to calm down, and she found herself only paces away from the lake which it originated. The road climbing north into the icy hills appeared to her just as she was about to pass it by, covered in more snow than the road where she stood. Nobody’s walked this way in quite some time it seems, she thought with her first steps North.

    Her mind wandered thinking about what the college would hold in store for her once she arrived. The many drawings of what it was said to look like, the description of it’s grounds, the story of the great collapse. She’d heard that the city got it’s name from the appearance of its state in a permanent winter. After the few days that she had been in the northern province, the idea of never ending winter was the last thing that she wanted to deal with.

    As she passed by a large, crumbling stone fort the site of a tall mountain caught her eye as a large female statue adorned it’s peak. With two of the statue’s arms stretched up, Lilium could make out a star being held in one of the hands, while a moon was in the other. Azura? She thought in question, trying to guess the deity the statue was depicting. It was rather strange to her that a daedra would be so prominently shown in a shrine, then her mind clicked. Lilium was rather close to the border between Skyrim and Morrowind, and one of the Dunmer’s patron deity’s was Azura herself. Lilium nodded in respect toward the shrine as she walked, then returned her focus to the road and her thoughts.

    As the shrine went further behind Lilium’s sight with each step, she thought she could see what she thought was the college’s main tower, and a pang of excitement filled her stomach. It wouldn’t long before she could finally say her long journey was complete, and as the road ahead began to descend the town slowly came into view. Wow, was all she could think as she reached the bottom of the descent, and her pang of excitement began to mix with that of slight disappointment.

    The city was indeed in shambles, that was for certain. It seemed the collapse she had read and heard about had much more of a toll that she initially thought. There were only a small handful of buildings in the once great city, along with a similar amount of people. Just a couple guards walked the single road that guided Lilium’s sight forward to a large black gate. A pretty altmer woman stood arms crossed within the archway, and for a moment Lilium thought that they locked eyes as she stared her direction. It wasn’t until she turned her back to pace that Lilium noticed she had awkwardly stopped walking to look around in awe of it all. It was nothing like what she anticipated, but she knew she would be happy in the small city.
     
  4. Specter of Death

    Specter of Death a soul devoid of eternal bonds

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    Turdas, the twentieth of Last Seed, the year two hundred and two of the fourth era
    College of Winterhold

    This last week has been nothing less than a dream come true. Faralda, the woman who was standing “guard”, as she put it, gave me a simple spell casting test to see my magical ability. I passed with flying colors, I think. For the first couple days, she was hard to read, but I think she was impressed? I can at least say that I was impressed with myself as I had only practiced that spell once, just days before my arrival.

    I fell in love with the grounds almost simultaneously as I was shown around the College. It was far different than what I imagined from hearing in all the stories, but they did manage to capture at least one of it’s elements. The snow. It is truly like a permanent winter up here, and the more time I am here, the colder it seems to get. But at the same time, I don’t seem to be shivering near as much as I was in my first couple days.

    Faralda has taken quite an interest in me, as well. From what I have seen, none of the master mages take such an interest in individual apprentices. They just teach and advise the students as best they can. However, Faralda, she’s become more than just a teacher to me. She’s begun to mentor me, and I suppose has taken me under her wing. Not only that, she seems to actually enjoy my company. I can only say the same, I find myself respecting her more and more day after day. I look up to her, and wish that one day I can be as wise and intelligent as she, and more importantly - as skilled. I wouldn’t like to say that I idolize somebody here so soon, but I think in not saying it or at least acknowledging it I would be lying to myself. It’s as if she’s known me for years, watching me grow and learn into the woman I am now. What I’d imagine having an elder sister, or perhaps even a mother would feel like.

    I can tell the other apprentices hold some resentment towards me because of our relationship, like they think I am getting special treatment or something. According to Faralda, “none of them have shown the slightest amount of interest or care in learning as you do, darling. If they wanted to learn or be taught as much or as diligently as you, what is stopping them from joining us? I’ve never said that these are our own private expeditions.” So I guess it’s not so much special treatment as it is more diligent teachings. So I pay no mind, if they want to learn and practice as much as me, it’s their responsibility. Nobody else’s.

    We talk and have bonded a lot, especially while outside of the college on certain training expeditions and practicing sessions. Trading stories, and experiences and just learning about each other. I haven’t been as close with a person since my father passed. In fact, she is the only person I have ever told or talked to about my father. I think that is the catalyst in bringing us as close as we are now.

    She’s giving a lecture this morning on The College of Whispers after Tolfdir gives a brief lesson to the new apprentices who came in yesterday. One of them is somebody everyone is calling the Dragonborn. Which, from my understanding, defeated the World Eater when he returned late last year. I thought it was mere rumor, however all the evidence proves otherwise. And according to Faralda, apparently that isn’t the only title of importance that he holds. The list of his accomplishments seems fairly long, and upon arrival Mirabelle escorted him, his companion and a troll clad in iron out of the college. “You can return when you don’t have such a foul creature, and foul mouthed Orsimer with you,” was all I heard of the confrontation. One of the new apprentices, a nord called Onmund I believe, said something about the Dawnguard and their usage of trolls as the man left. Nothing of importance to me, however. I don’t intend on introducing myself to him this morning, having to talk to the three yesterday was redundant, as soon they too will resent me.

    I shouldn’t wait any longer if I wish to speak to Faralda before her lecture.


    --

    “Good morning dear,” Faralda spoke in warm greeting, “how has the morning been treating you?”

    “Fairly well,” Lilium responded cheerfully, “I had time to turn my books back into Urag before I found you. I was thinking I read up on Saarthal again this evening after we practice this afternoon. Tolfdir probably told you he’s taking the apprentices to the dig-site tomorrow. I wanted a refresher on the ruins before I headed down there to help him and Arniel babysit.”

    “Yes, he indeed told me,” she responded, holding the door to the Hall of the Elements open for Lilium as she followed, “but don’t worry about reading about that gunk of nordic reclamation again, you are a veritable expert on the subject. As with most other things you have read about this week.”

    Lilium nodded in understanding, following back in at the mer’s side and looking to her face. “Any particular reason why? You know how I am.”

    “Yes. ‘Preparation is a mage’s first line of defense, even if it isn’t needed’,” she interrupted Lilium’s line of thought, “as much as I love it when you quote me dear, it isn’t necessary as you will be with me tomorrow.”

    Faralda stopped walking when she met the center circle of the hall, turning to make eye contact with her, before smiling and sitting down on it’s ledge.

    “Yes, I am aware Tolfdir requested your aid specifically to ‘babysit’, as you so eloquently put it,” she spoke with a chuckle, gesturing Lilium to take a seat next to her, “but Savos and I agree that you can be put to better use, as this ‘Dragonborn’ character will be more than enough to keep them all safe.”

    Lilium sat down next to Faralda, not breaking her gaze as they conversed. “Well what is that we will be doing tomorrow?”

    “I’ve arranged a carriage to take us to Solitude after my lecture,” she stated shortly, absent-mindedly taking off her bag, and removing her books and notes out in preparation of her speaking, “Savos has asked me and Sergius to take some enchanted items to the Blue Palace. Elisif had some things enchanted here, and they need an escort. She’s also requested we stay for a meal to update her on the College.”

    “Let me guess,” Lilium interjected with a role of her eyes, “Sergius has ‘too many orders to complete’, and ‘can’t possibly leave when his skills are in such high demand’.”

    Faralda smirked with a slight chuckle and nod, “as usual, Savos avoided the argument by tasking me with selecting another one of the master mages to come with me.”

    Lilum’s eyes widened, and her heart began to beat with anticipation. She had a sense as to what Faralda was asking of her, and her mind fluttered in excitement at the thought. Had she already proven she was capable of more senior tasks?

    “I convinced Savos to allow me to invite you in joining me,” Faralda nodded at her to confirm her thoughts, “I believe you are more than capable enough to begin more adept level training, as you’ve already surpassed the even senior apprentices in the mere eight days you’ve been here. Savos agreed, and gave me the blessing. So, my dear Lily, are you up for a little adventure?”

    The tone of her mentor’s voice was playful and seductive, it sent a shiver of excitement up Lily’s spine. She stared into the Altmers eyes, feeling her own glowing with admiration. She couldn’t believe that she had made such strides this early on. Strides early enough that her Archmage acknowledged them, and more importantly, her mentor. Lilium could only muster a small nod of excitement, as her eyes began to water. Am I making you proud too, father?

    “Oh,” Faralda spoke in gentle surprise, embracing the young mer in a hug, “darling, it’s alright! Don’t cry, by the divines!”

    “I’m sorry, I’m just,” Lilium sat back, looking at Faralda once more, she smiled sincerely, “I think my father would be- I think he’d proud, don’t you think?”

    Faralda did nothing but nod, and hug her once more. “Of course he would, Lily. Now let’s stop the tears, I don’t want you to make me misty while I’m speaking!”

    Before long, the hall began to fill with student mages. Lilium, like Faralda, leveled her emotions out and prepared for the lecture. She sat in the very same spot, next to where Faralda had been sitting. In her stead, was a pile of her mentors books and notes. Lilium watched as the master mage paced back and forth, looking from her feet to the tall ceiling of the hall while thinking. As she was prepping for her words for the small group of apprentices, Lilium picked up one of the books in her pile, and began to flip through it. It had no formal title, and it’s pages were poorly scribbled and filled in. What an obscure little tome, she thought, shortly getting bits and pieces of it’s writings. Some vague little nonsense capturing the Synod, nothing more than what Faralda was surely going to be discussing.

    “If everyone is here, let’s begin,” Faralda raised her voice, hushing the the quiet conversation filling the hall. Lilium scanned the room, it seemed all the apprentices had come to listen. Only the new faces caught her attention though, though she knew they would only eventually join the rest of the faces in the college’s every day functioning.

    They had all gathered on the stair steps that surrounded the center ring Lilium sat on, and quickly her eyes found the four newcomers. Onmund, the nord, was an awkwardly charming looking young man. As he fumbled over himself sitting down next to the dunmer woman, Lilium could see his clumsiness flow into his whispered words as he introduced himself to her quietly. The young mer simply grinned a friendly grin, and nodded at the clumsy man before turning a blind eye. Lilium respected her response to Onmund, she too quickly ignored the man’s attempt to speak too much in her direction; talking to a man nervously fumbling over his words while clearly staring at her body rather than her eyes, was not within the realm of enjoyment for her. The new Khajiit sat on the other side of the young dunmer, and as her eyes fell on him he finished speaking to the man next to him; the nord they called “Dragonborn”. He was a brutish looking man, clad in ugly, dented armor. She looked at him briefly, before finally letting her eyes fall back onto her mentor just before she began.

    “It is no secret that both the Synod and the College of Whispers have recently made inquiries as to the status of our College here in Winterhold. At this time, there is no indication that either group is aware of the other's correspondence. The College of Winterhold has thus far declined requests for direct meetings. This has been at the specific request of Arch-Mage Aren,” she started in more stern a voice than Lilium had expected, “Aren believed that although the initial communications were innocent enough, they were sent with a particular motive in mind. The Synod's harsh rules and draconian structure are maintained only by suppressing any opposition to their Council's policies. It is entirely possible that they look to our College here in Winterhold in order to find supporters for their organization. Likewise, the College of Whispers has long been driven by its desire to directly oppose the Synod. They focus on research banned by the Synod, such as Conjuration and Necromancy. The College of Whispers hopes to learn that our College also supports these avenues of research. Thus they may claim that the Synod is indeed a political minority in the Empire and should be treated as such.”

    A slight shuffling tore Lilium’s attention away from her mentor, and she scanned the seated apprentices. The Dragonborn had not so quietly stood up, dragging J’zargo up with him and trampled their way out of the hall without any attempt to be quiet. Some hero, she thought, shaking her head in quiet disdain. Looking back at Faralda, she could see her gaze follow the hero as well, with a glare of offense before she looked in Lilium’s direction for agreement of their disapproval. It seemed she wasn’t the only one who felt slight annoyance for his lack of common decency or respect for learning.

    “Our actual position and policies are irrelevant. No matter the facts of the response, it will certainly be twisted to suit the whims of either group. Indeed, it has been jokingly suggested that we send the exact same response to both, which each will warp into support for their side. At present, these two groups do little beyond attempting to gain the attention and favor of the Emperor. They appear to have little interest in real study and research for the sake of gaining knowledge,” Faralda continued after a deep sigh, “Arch-Mage Aren believes that their conflict poses a significant threat to the autonomy of our College, and I concur. Falling in with either would threaten to draw much unwanted attention to our College. If either group goes through less official channels and attempt to contact you directly, please refer them to the College's Master Wizard. Say as little as possible so as to avoid compromising our neutral position.”

    The look on Faralda’s face as she found her conclusion, was a mixture of happiness and relief, was she excited to leave as well? “Thank you all for sitting in on this rather brief lesson, and welcome to all the new faces we have here with us. If you all would like to head up to the Arcaneum, Urag is going to be giving a brief lecture before helping you all with finding the right books for your studies, if not, have a nice day. And work hard!”

    The master mage quickly stepped back towards Lilium with a content little grin, and patted her on the shoulder before sitting down next to her. As she started to shove her tomes back within her bag, Lilium draped a grateful arm around her shoulders and began to hum a random little tune. The excitement that was emanating off of her master radiated out of her like waves of warmth, comforting Lilium as she hummed. Before long, Faralda rested her head on Liliums shoulders joining her hum briefly before the two broke out into a short giggle.

    “Come with me while I drop these off in my quarters?” Faralda invited. Lilium nodded happily, and stood up with a skip following after her mentor.

    When they got to her chambers, Lilium sat in one of the chairs around the perimeter of the room and watched her mentor put her traveling gear on over her robes. Lilium quivered suddenly, as the thought of traveling popped up in her head. She had no clothes outside of her robes now. The clothes that were virtually rags by the time she had arrived had been thrown out as soon as she was able to change into her current attire, but all she could remember was how cold it was outside, and how warm those rags had kept her. At least they had a thick wool cloak, Lilium thought in slight panic. Mid thought, a black fur cloak landed in her lap shaking her focus back to reality.

    “You threw away the only one you had,” Faralda said kindly, as Lilium looked up at her gratefully, “this one is better and you can have it, I already have one. See?”

    Lilium stared at her as she twirled around, the fur now draped around her frame caught the air as she spun. “Thank you so much. I will take good care of it, I promise.”
     
    #4 Specter of Death, Sep 14, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2017
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