Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 23

Door dutchinteldude op dinsdag 8 november 2016 20:55 - Reacties (3)
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En we gaan in een stroomversnelling deze keer alweer chapter 23 vandaag!!

Namens mijn vriendin (die het schrijft) en mijzelf weer veel leesplezier!

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https://www.youtube.com/user/DragonsGamingInc en kijk het volgende filmpje voor de give away informatie (veel star citizen stufff ) ^^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BQ87nOYLk2c&t=194s

Voor de rest VEEL LEESPLEZIER!

Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 23

Summary:

Nothing builds a friendship like a near-death experience while chased by evil underground elves that didn't make Santa's selection.


Chapter 23

It had taken Ancano and Ondolemar many hours, but a few days after Ondolemar had sent Calcelmo of Markarth a coded letter, they received a likewise, coded package that took them some days to deciper. It contained all the information they needed. After cross-referencing the coordinates to a map, they found that Alftand lay two hours away South South-West from Saarthal in the tundra.

Anticipating a heavy trek, they had gone on foot, which proved to be wise as it wasn’t long before the snow reached their waists. Ganir voiced to Ondolemar how he had found it strange as no snow had fallen for a few days, but they found the reason as to why soon enough as they scanned the surroundings and horizon for any sign of a Dwemer ruin. Had they not possessed such keen eyes, they would’ve walked straight past the bronze dome atop the Dwemer stone, carved tower which was surrounded by the remains of an encampment which had been destroyed by an avalanche. All that remained standing was the tower, partially covered by snow, which was inaccessible from the outside as it was locked by yet to be determined means. They found a chest nearby with tools, supplies and a journal.

It appeared they were not the only ones intent to find Blackreach as the journal belonged to one of the Synod; a certain Sulla Trebatius. What they first thought to be fragments of splintered wood turned out to be a walkway that led into an icy tunnel where they made yet another gruesome discovery. Blood was spattered all over the walls and the bedrolls. Tools lay bloodied on the floor and crates lay shattered and broken everywhere. As unnerving as the scene was, it was the lack of bodies that disturbed them the most.

“Something attacked them...” Ganir had taken a gander at the bloodstains and found an odd-shaped arrow embedded into a supporting pillar. He had never seen such a cruel, crude projectile. Normal arrows consisted of one arrowhead made of chitin, steel, moonstone and in the rarest cases glass, ebony or even Daedric. But this arrow, while also made of chitin, had not one, but two pincer-like tips on the arrowhead that would dig itself into one’s flesh, capable of piercing armor, and if one were even able to survive the poison somehow, it would prove particularly, if not impossible, to remove it without causing more injury. “Just look at this.”

Ondolemar took the arrow from him and whistled, “It doesn’t come as a surprise to find that there’s Falmer lurking about here. It would explain the gruesome scene. They’re very territorial. I had to deal with one that had snuck into Calcelmo’s museum.”

“They seem like a nasty lot. Cirilonde told me about the fate that befell the Synod in Mzulft. They didn’t stand a chance…” Ganir’s senses peaked as he tried to listen if he could detect any life nearby, but it seemed they were alone for now. “Did I tell you about that?” He rubbed some of the smeared blood between the tips of his fingers and smelled it. Poison…

The High Elf shook his head. “No. Nor was I aware the Synod’s presence was so prominent in Skyrim.” Judging by his tone, Ondolemar didn’t hold them in high regard.

Ganir couldn’t help but chuckle. “Savos quite fittingly compared them to cliff racers. They and the College of Whispers have been trying their hardest to gain some ‘cooperation’ of sorts with the College, who intends to remain neutral. Hence why the Synod are probably here to try and take whatever they can find from Skyrim to lobby for favor and influence with the Elder Council. They found an ancient Oculary in Mzulft; a Dwemer Ruin near Windhelm that could detect artefacts of great power. Cirilonde went there in search for information on the Staff of Magnus at the time, but found the expedition butchered by the Falmer…” As Ganir told Ondolemar everything, he rummaged through the belongings while Ondolemar skimmed the contents of the journal to find more information or clues. “Only one person survived, Decimius, who had locked himself away in the Oculary. When he realized who she was, he accused her of the intention to sabotage his work and take the knowledge for herself. Because he was too much of a liability, Cirilonde killed him and she destroyed the Oculary, for it had not only detected the Eye’s presence, but also that of the Staff.”

Ondolemar shuddered to think what would have happened if it had not been Ancano, but a desperate member of the Elder Council that got their hands on either the Eye or the Staff. “It seems these Synod were so blinded by the promise of something powerful hidden away here they completely ignored the dangers that lie within the Dwemer ruins of Skyrim…Idiots.”

“Saves that we’re both prepared and experienced,” Ganir said. “I’ve delved into plenty of Dwemer ruins back in Morrowind.”

“Let’s go then. Best not to linger in any case.” Ondolemar gave a curt nod for Ganir to take the lead, which was probably safer. While the High Elf had cast a spell that enabled him to see in the dark, he trusted the Dark Elf vampire’s enhanced senses more.

They walked down the winding, frozen tunnel, supported by wooden beams. Slowly but surely, the ice grew thinner and the beams made place for solid, stone and carved walls of a Dwemer ruin that had to be part of Alftand, or lead there. This alone wasn’t an assurance, but they also welcomed the warmth that emanated from the massive pipes overhead which were secured with steel bolts and beams.

“Where is it?!” The sudden exclamation had both elves stop dead in their tracks.

Ondolemar was so startled he gripped his chest and swore under his breath, which was muffled by Ganir who put a gloved hand over his mouth, grabbed him and pushed the both of them against the wall. “Quiet.” Ganir whispered as the both of them heard the distinct pitter-patter of clawed feet coming closer.

“I know you’re trying to keep it for yourself J’Zharr! You always try to keep it for yourself!” The tunnel they had come from led to a dim-lit, stone hall. The hum of the steam-powered cylinders and the lanterns was the only sound heard. Peering past the pillar, they saw a mangy, emaciated Khajiit walk around. He looked jittery and crazed, holding a bloodied axe in his shaking claws. He seemed to be looking for something…or someone. “Just a little bit for J’Darr, brother. Why you do this to me?” The Khajiit whined.

Though the Khajiit’s presence was disturbing, Ondolemar’s attention was held by the vampire whose hand lingered on his neck while another arm was wrapped around his waist to hold him in place. As lithe and athletic as he was, the Dark Elf was incredibly strong and he smelled of leather, the wilds and blood.

The High Elf shifted to have a gander himself, but the Dark Elf held him in place and released a soft growl in warning, which made the hairs on the back of his neck rise. A shudder ran down his spine as they remained in this rather awkward position, but he felt strangely comfortable. He wasn’t sure what was going on in Ganir’s mind at the moment as he watched the Khajiit like a hawk that wandered off after a few, tense minutes. When Ondolemar made to pull away, Ganir still held him in place. “Wait a moment…” After a short while, when Ganir was sure the Khajiit was gone, he let go of Ondolemar. “Sorry about that, but I’d rather not deal with a skooma-crazed Khajiit. They’re very dangerous and unpredictable.”

“I wonder how he even managed to survive given the state he’s in.” Ondolemar and Ganir carefully made their way into the hall, which led from the tunnel they had come from into another as the solid, steel gate which showed no indication it could be opened.

Near this gate, stood two, stone tables littered with soul gems, Dwemer steel plates and other odd ornaments that Ondolemar identified to be ‘gyros’ and ‘dynamos’. Ondolemar grabbed a pile of papers and scanned the contents. “Seems that whoever this Sulla Trebatius and Umani are, they were spotted by a Falmer scout that returned with his ‘friends’ to ambush them. The Khajiit must be the sole survivor, driven mad by the deprivation of skooma and horrors he witnessed…”

“Very likely.” Ganir peered into the darkness beyond the gates but didn’t see or hear anything of interest. “We best be careful to not be caught off-guard by them or the Khajiit.”

They followed the Khajiit’s footsteps into the other tunnel and found it had partially collapsed due the recent avalanche. The Synod weren’t to be deterred and had dug their way through to emerge in another part of the ruin; a sloped hallway leading upwards lit by a single torch that lay on the ground next to a puddle of blood.

They had barely come closer to it when they heard the racket of iron clashing with stone and something heavy, followed by a blood-curdling howl. “AAIIIIEEE! No! No! Leave J’Darr alone!” They heard the Khajiit screech and wail while his claws obviously dug into the stone floor in an attempt to get away while guttural snarls and hissing noises came from other, yet to be identified beings, but Ondolemar and Ganir both were quite certain it were Falmer.

Ondolemar didn’t hesitate a second and kicked the torch into the puddle, dousing the flame before pressing himself against the wall next to Ganir. Aside from the darkness, the stone and steel pillars would hide them, should they come. “Whatever you do, be completely silent…” Ondolemar spoke as soft as he could, barely hearing himself over the pounding of his heart. “Falmer are blind, but they can hear a pin drop into the snow from many yards away.”

“Stay close then.” Ganir led the way and they snuck their way up, crossing over to hug the other wall and peek around the corner where they saw the Khajiit crawling over the floor at the far end. Patches of his fur had been torn if not stained with blood and he was missing an eye. Suddenly, a wicked, hunched over shadow crept from around the corner behind him and with a hiss, dug its wicked claws into the Khajiit’s ankle, who yowled in panic and defiance. With his last strength, he lashed out with his claws, but missed. The Falmer, now visible, raised a blunt, heavy-looking weapon, as jagged as the arrow and hit the Khajiit over his head. The sickening sound of his victim’s skull cracking was a sure sign the Khajiit was good as dead.

They couldn’t be even called savage degenerates. Over the course of many centuries, the Falmer had devolved into feral, wicked and merciless beasts whose beady, black eyes showed no emotion. When standing up right, they had to be about as tall as Ganir or Ondolemar, but years of living in the dark and underground, had devolved their stance into a hunched over one. Their skin was pale and leathery. Their faces were ugly, lacking a nose and their jagged teeth bared. Their fingers were bony, long and clawed.

After hitting the Khajiit over the head again to make sure it was dead, the Falmer peered around, but not to see. It was sure it had heard something, and Ondolemar held its breath until the wicked creature finally grabbed hold of the Khajiit’s tail and dragged it off into the darkness.

“The worst kind of vermin.” Ondolemar swallowed the bile back.

Ganir shot him a look, wondering what was going on in the High Elf’s mind. He knew that as a Commanding officer of the Thalmor Justiciars in Skyrim, he wasn’t a saint either, but decided now was not the time to put this up for discussion. “I really recommend we avoid them as best we can.”

“Don’t underestimate them.” Ondolemar said sternly. “As mindless and wicked as they look, they possess a vindictive cunning.”

The Dark Elf nodded, but wasn’t looking at him, nor at anything in particular. He inclined his head like a dog would and it was clear he was listening closely. “Six…no. Eight. Still close, but on the move.”

The Dark Elf signaled for Ondolemar to follow him and he noticed that Ganir moved without a sound as they snuck up another broad stairway where a heavy, steel door stood ajar. They both hugged the wall on each side of the door and peered in, but saw nothing as the corridor ahead was coated in a thick mist or steam which reeked, mixed with the stench of oil. Ondolemar’s gloved fingers traced the crude inscription on the door which indicated where they were headed, but he couldn’t translate it. When Ganir gave him a nod, he gave the door a shove and with a loud creak it opened further. The High Elf was forced to pull the collar of his robes over his mouth and nose as a foul stench poured forth from the corridor, which was completely shrouded by the stinking gas. One of the pipes or machines had to be leaking to cause such a severe pollution.

“You need to scout ahead,” he told Ganir. “If there’s a quick way out, I could rush through and hold my breath.”

The Dark Elf slipped in without a word of confirmation but found the cause of the leak quick enough. All his senses peaked to alert as he carefully approached the oddly-shaped silhouette leaning against the pipes that were bolted to the wall. Upon closer inspection, it wasn’t a human, but the remains of a broken Sphere Centurion.

The Dwemer, or Dwarves in the common tongue, were a most intelligent and skilled people, whose advanced engineering skills permitted them to craft steam and magical-powered creations to guard their halls or do manual labor. These ‘Sphere Centurions’ propelled themselves forward on hollow, metal discs, connecting their ‘legs’ to a steel torso and head, resembling a humanoid armed with a shield and blade of which the sole purpose was to defend what they were tasked to guard.

This one had clearly served its purpose until the Falmer got to it, tearing its head off when the jagged, chitin axe buried in its back didn’t prove to be enough, hitting the pipes in the process, which caused the polluting leak.

There has to be a valve of some sort nearby…But when he made it to the end of the corridor, he didn’t find anything the sort, but also that the door at the end was barred or locked from the other side and his heart sank with a dreadful realization. He had barely spun around when he heard Ondolemar get caught in a skirmish before he broke away and barged into the polluted room, followed by a group of angry, snarling Falmer.

“You’ve got to be kidding me…” Ganir frantically kicked, pulled and shoved against the door before he took a sharp breath. The gas burned his lungs but he had no choice but to try. “FUS ROH DAH”

The unrelenting force of his Shout blasted the doors off their hinges, causing the Falmer to clutch their ears as the loud clatter of steel rung in their ears and stunned them. Ondolemar ran past him and Ganir followed suit, coughing and wheezing. The High Elf shoved the Dark Elf behind him and flames lit up in the palms of his hands.

“What are you doing?!” Ganir exclaimed. “Run!”

But the High Elf didn’t listen and he sent a ball of flame flying towards the Falmer. The moment the fire connected with the fumes, it all caught flame and the Falmer shrieked, howled and wailed in anguish as they were burned alive. Their brief victory wasn’t long, however as more Falmer came running in and Ondolemar was dragged along by Ganir to make a run for it. The surroundings flashed by them as they were far too focused on getting away with each other. The Falmer were everywhere. If not on their tails, the corrupted elves ran on the grates and walkways above them, bombarding them with rocks and their arrows. The Falmer that were hot on their trail behind them even threw their axes.

After running down many corridors, hallways and forcing their way past the heavy doors or taking sharp, sudden turns in a futile attempt to shake them off their tail, Ganir pulled Ondolemar back by the robes just in time to prevent him from plummeting to his death as the stone, winding walkway had collapsed. Below, on a platform, lay two dead humans with arrows buried in their backs, but it was most likely the collapse that had meant the first steps to their demise.

“The pipes!” Ganir said. “I’ll throw you. Quick!”

“What, are you-?!” But Ondolemar got no chance to protest as Ganir grabbed his arm and forced Ondolemar to run and use the momentum of the Dark Elf’s powerful swing to make the jump across. Ondolemar grunted as he slammed against the steel but his hands instinctively clenched onto the steel rings that secured the pipes against the wall. It would permit him to climb down a bit and jump to the platform below safely. “Get over here! I can catch you!”

Ganir looked at the doors, contemplating whether to shut them or not, but when an arrow missed his cheek by an inch, he made the jump as well, swearing when he nearly slipped, but Ondolemar grabbed his arm and pulled him up.

They had no time for common courtesies or wisecracks and quickly climbed down. At first, he hesitated as he looked straight down. If he missed the platform, he could plummet to his death in the dark, freezing water below which was rushing somewhere underground. The two elves took a sharp breath and jumped across. Ganir made a far more graceful landing as he. He rolled over the ground to let his whole body take the impact of the landing, but hit a sharp rock in the process and hissed in pain.

Ganir scrambled to his feet and grabbed the crude, leather shield that belonged to one of the fallen and he scurried over to Ondolemar to cover him and dove for safety behind the debris. “Stay here and stay low!” Before the Altmer could even so much as confirm or protest, Ganir bolted from their hiding place with the shield to deflect the arrows. “All right, now it’s my turn…”

Ondolemar had no idea what was happening, but it was as if he could see and feel the intense energy building up within the Dark Elf’s chest, who took a sharp breath and then opened his mouth in that same, primordial language he had been snarling before. But this time, accompanied by three different and odd words, “YOL TOOR SHUL!” flames burst from his mouth and shot towards the Falmer.

The corrupted elves on the front line caught flames and the others backed off, hissing and snarling. Ondolemar took that as his sign to make a run across the platform to hide in the alcove to a collapsed corridor. His eyes then locked on the walkway connected to the platform where they were and with two, swift incantations he sent a bolt of chain lightning to the three Falmer that came charging from below, but he could hear many more were on their way.

“Ganir! We’re trapped!” He shouted. The Falmer above had retreated from the flames that escaped his mouth and the Dark Elf Dragonborn turned to heed the warning. His eyes shot from the Falmer to Ondolemar who tried to fight them back, joining his side. “What’s your plan?!”

When Ganir peered over the edge of the ledge, the High Elf frantically shook his head. “Oh no! That’s suicide!” he exclaimed, but the Dark Elf grabbed a firm hold of him. “What are you doing-?! Let me go you crazy vampire, I am not-!”

But his protests were quickly replaced by screaming when the Dark Elf jumped off the ledge with him and just in time at that as well. The Falmer from above fired their arrows and the ones from below had come charging in large numbers. Ganir had held Ondolemar in such a fashion, that when he jumped, he turned so that if they were to strike something under water, Ganir would take the hit as he was more likely to survive.

Ondolemar’s body went completely rigid when his body fell into the freezing water and the air was knocked out of his lungs. He was surrounded by complete, utter darkness and he began to panic when he couldn’t tell where the surface was. Just when he thought he was going to drown, a pair of strong arms wrapped around his chest and carried him to the surface where he emerged wheezing and gasping for air. “Don’t let go!” Ganir bellowed. The stream was stronger than anticipated and dragged them along, but it was clear he needn’t remind the High Elf, who clung to him for dear life as he struggled to keep his head above the water.

He was completely disoriented and he had no idea where they were or where they were headed, but when they both saw light at the end of the tunnel, their eyes went wide. “If I survive this I’m going to kill you!” Ondolemar bellowed before incanting the spell on himself that would permit him to breathe under water. It was a small comfort to know that if either of them survived being smashed on the rocks below the waterfall, he’d breathe long enough to wash ashore and die there with some dignity.

Both Elves shrieked as the force of the stream sent them flying over the edge and plummeted down into the large body of water below, but there were no rocks. Ondolemar struggled to swim as his robes weighed him down and he had no strength left in his body. Ganir grabbed a hold of him once again and swam ashore with him. The High Elf emerged, coughing, wheezing and shivering like an old hag.

They had no time to even take their surroundings in. Ondolemar was grateful he could lean on Ganir, who took him into a chitin, cone-shaped hut of which the bottom was covered with moss, grass and tattered rags. Impulsive as his last-second choice had been, the Dark Elf clearly knew what he was doing. He began to undress the High Elf, leaving him clad in nothing but his loincloth. With rapid experience and expertise, the Dark Elf then removed his armor and undid his tunic. “Come on, put it on or you’re going to freeze to death.”

Ondolemar’s teeth chattered and his whole body shook, but he managed to put the tunic on while Ganir lit a fire in the hut’s pit with a quick, exhaled and soft, “Yol!”

“Oh god, please no-,” Ondolemar whined in protest when the Dark Elf grabbed a filthy looking, tattered Dwemer tapestry and wrapped it around him.

“Stop nagging.” Ganir’s tone wasn’t harsh and he looked concerned while he rubbed the High Elf’s back to get him warm. “Ancano will kill me if I return you frozen like a block of ice.”

“If he won’t, I will.” As displeased as he was over the little ‘detour’ and the stink of the tattered rags, he welcomed the warmth of his dry attire, fire and Ganir’s care.

Ganir’s lips curled into the handsome, rogue-ish smile he hadn’t seen in quite some time. “Have to say I find that hard to believe coming from a ‘stately’ and ‘superior-bred’ Mer who just screamed like a girl…” The Dark Elf burst into laughter at Ondolemar’s indignant and embarrassed look before he too couldn’t help but laugh a little.

“I swear to Auri-El if you even so much as mention this to Ancano…”

Ganir took a deep breath to recover from his laughing fit and shook his head. “I promise if you tell me what happened in Camlorn, because I’m dying to know at this point.”

“That’s blackmail!” Ondolemar’s eyes went wide.

“You ponder your options,” Ganir chuckled and shook his head, squeezing the Altmer’s shoulder. “If you’re going to be all right, I have to scout the area and make sure we’re safe and find you some food. I’ll be sure to rush to your aid if you can scream like you did earlier…”

The Dark Elf ducked just in time when Ondolemar threw a rock at him, but the both of them grinned. Now alone, Ondolemar felt strangely unsafe even though he knew that the Dark Elf was nearby. His fingers were stiff and uncooperative from the cold as he tried to figure a way to hang his robes to dry until his mind could focus well enough to cast a spell to take care of that little conundrum instantly.

Exhausted, however, he gave up and sat down again, staring into the flames that comforted him so. He struggled against the increasing weight of his eyelids, which felt heavier and heavier, until he could no longer fight the exhaustion and fell asleep.

Once Ganir got out of the hut, he found himself not only amazed that they had survived the whole wild trek and the drop of at least sixty feet, but also where the little ‘detour’ had taken them. He had no idea as to the specifics of ‘where’ but the rapid had led them to a massive citadel deep underground. Had they tried to find this by ‘normal means’, it probably would’ve taken them days if not weeks! The small group of cone-shaped, chitin huts made by the Falmer had long been abandoned as he found no fresh tracks anywhere nearby. To the far back was a large, square dais sided by broad stone stairways that led to massive, steel doors, which was probably the ‘traditional’ entrance to this breath-taking place, leading to the fortress…or temple? What was it exactly?

Ganir climbed a rock formation to have a better look and beheld a beautiful plaza with a fountain at its center where glowing mushrooms grew within. What really caught his eye, however, was the intricate, stone wall with massive, ornate and steel doors, sided by steel arch-ways which seemed to be a holding stations for a pair of huge Dwemer Steam Automatons, of which only one was present but inactive. It was about thirty feet high and resembled a massive, steel warrior. It had no ‘arms’ to speak of as one took the shape of a spiked mace and the other a blade. Ganir knew from experience that this was not the only arsenal at the Steam Automaton’s disposal as they could fire steel bolts from a mechanism below their blade-arm and steam could be blown from the ‘mouth’. They were brilliant and deadly creations.

He had no way of knowing for certain, but his gut told him that this had to be the entrance to Blackreach. Excited, he slid down the rocks, back to the tent where he found Ondolemar sleeping.

He knelt down at the High Elf’s side and laid a hand on his forehead to make sure he was not catching fever or sickness as his kind was rather susceptible to disease. Knowing that he was fine for the time being, Ganir made himself comfortable against the furs and tattered sheets he had gathered and though he didn’t need sleep, he figured it would be nice to get some degree of shut-eye so to speak. His mind wandered when he caught his gaze’s repeated return to the sleeping High Elf.

Ondolemar was responsible for countless deaths. He had to be. As commanding officer of the Thalmor Justiciars in Skyrim, he was not only to apprehend their opposition, but also arrest and persecute Talos-worshippers. But why, he wondered, did this not bother him as much?

He had to think of Cirilonde, who no doubt knew of the blood on Ancano’s hands at the time, but insisted they spare his life. Ganir looked at his own hands. While there was no physical blood visible, he knew he had no place to judge, but Cirilonde had seen the good in both him and Ancano. He had yet to determine whether this had to do with her youthfulness or with the wisdom and understanding she possessed.

I miss you, Ciri. He thought with a smile as he glanced at Ondolemar again. Sure, the ‘superior-bred’ Altmer could look after himself, but he felt protective of him not only because he was Ancano’s friend.

This land, as merciless as it could be, really did strange things to people.

Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 22

Door dutchinteldude op dinsdag 1 november 2016 19:25 - Reacties (1)
Categorie: -, Views: 662

Het werd weer eens tijd om wat sneller hoofdstukken te plaatsen en onze trouwe lezers te vriend te houden ''sommige mensen smeekten om nieuwe hoofdstukken'' :P

Mijn vriendin is de laatste tijd weer flink bezig geweest met haar vingers.
En zie hieronder weer een resultaat.

Veel plezier en mijn vriendin vind commentaar/opmerkingen altijd zeer welkom.

Side note : Een zeer goede vriend van ons maakt op dit moment youtube filmpjes over diverse games! Om zijn kanaal te laten groeien hebben we hulp van jullie trouwe lezers nodig ^^ hij houd ook geregeld diverse leuke giveways!! hij is een echte vriend van de familie van ons.

Hieronder zijn kanaal (subscriben zou hem echt super super super blij maken)

https://www.youtube.com/user/DragonsGamingInc


Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 22

Summary:

And so the plans are made to move the wheels of fate will never cease their motion but one can't always predict their direction.

Sass included.

“You’re joking, right?” Ondolemar then sighed and rubbed his temples. “Never mind, I’m dealing with two Elves of which one nearly blew up the College and the other Elenwen’s solar…”
Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)


Chapter 22

Every single day he would curse the cold and mutter complaints under his breath about the lack of variety in the food; bread, porridge, some fruit, stew and that was about it. His Thalmor robes were still hung to dry after thoroughly scrubbing them and the ones he had been given itched so badly it drove him mad. Really, even if his life were in danger, this had to be the-…

“Oh, stop being such a milk-drinker.” Faralda had overheard Ondolemar’s curses and muttered complaints over the past few days. It didn’t annoy her. In fact, she’d found it amusing. “At least Ancano had the decency to just scowl until he got used to it all.” She laughed at Ondolemar’s indignant look. “It’s not all bad in comparison to what Ganir told me about your dreadful reception in Camlorn. He wouldn’t elaborate on it, however…”

Ondolemar thought he’d nearly choke on his wine. That fucking vampire-!

Faralda had no clue as to how or what and watched her fellow High Elf try to gather his composure while she patted him on the back. “All right, calm down…I was just teasing you. Didn’t know it was that bad…”

“You have no idea…” Ondolemar grumbled, but decided to make a tad light of the situation rather than show how flustered he was. “But yes, I suppose it’s not all bad. Just a vast difference to the luxuries of Markarth…”

“Markarth? So that’s where you were stationed?” Faralda got excited. “I’ve heard so much about Calcelmo’s research, but all our attempts to gain access or even a glimpse of his knowledge and work has been…without result, to say the least.”

“Is your Arcaneum not renowned for its vast collection of literature?” Ondolemar asked with a raised brow.

Faralda shook her head. “Used too. A lot of it was burned by the Lord Exarch’s men; ‘Deemed unfit’ by the ‘Dominion’s standards’ if not ‘heretical’…” Faralda looked at the students who came in or were already seated nearby. Most looked groggy or if not talking, had their noses buried in a book. “We’ve lost so much but we survived, so no point in moping. Urag’s been working day and night to clean up all of the mess. We all have been, for that matter. Life goes on, as they say.”

Ondolemar listened to her as they made their way to a table in the corner. He knew they had suffered severe losses, but he had not considered the material as much. After all, he’d seen the villagers and inhabitants make repairs. And in all honesty, he had been more concerned about Ancano’s well-being. “I had no idea. And here I am complaining about…well, practically nothing.” Ondolemar gave a wry smile, stirring and poking at his meal. “Calcelmo, however…now you’re talking about a most brilliant but awkward man…As inappropriate as the comparison may be, he guards his research and findings on the Dwemer like a dragon his hoard of gold.”

Faralda waved a dismissive hand. “Hardly inappropriate. We took care of one attacking the College not too long ago. No stash of gold to be had though, sadly enough.”

“Ancano has a knack for getting into, if not attracting trouble.” Ondolemar shook his head but the two High Elves shared a chuckle. “No disrespect intended towards your Arch-Mage of course, mind you.”

“You speak as his friend,” Faralda smiled. As spoiled as this Justiciar was, he was pleasant company. “It wasn’t his fault, though. But I speak as a colleague when I say that as demanding and overly criticizing he can be, he makes a brilliant Arch-Mage…When he faced off against the dragon with Ganir and Ciri…I’ve never seen such control and power.” She got up after looking at the time. “You’ll have to excuse me for now, however. I have to host my first seminar for today in a few. If you’re as familiar with Calcelmo as you claim to be, I think you could really help Urag and the College out. Just…don’t touch anything when you visit his Arcaneum. He’s been rather…touchy since his ‘little plain of Oblivion’ was nearly burned to ashes.”

“I will look into it. It’s the least I can do while I’m here. I look forward to hearing more about Ancano’s adventures. Thank you.” Ondolemar remained seated for the time being, watching the students come and go.

Faralda was right, really. What had he to complain about? As lavish as his lifestyle in Markarth was, there had been two attempts on his life in the time he’d stayed there. A vast majority, if not all, of Markarth’s populace absolutely despised and detested him. Not without reason, though, but he didn’t really want to think about it.

As for the College, its inhabitants weren’t all bad. Granted, they were apprehensive and kept their distance, but when approached they were friendly and courteous. This most likely had more to do because they trusted Ganir and Ancano’s judgement as to who they let on the College grounds but it was a welcome change either way. There had been a multitude of attempts on his life during his stay in Markarth and if he was on patrols, he was shot foul looks and muttered curses and threats. Here, he received no such treatment. Figures why Ancano likes it here, he thought. He’s safe and he has plenty of knowledge at his disposal…or what remains of it.

It’d be a while, but eventually Ancano would return to his snarky, old self. Right now, he was just a tad more… ‘ice-brained’ as some Nords called it. No point in brooding over that. I might as well make myself useful. The Justiciar got up and made his way over to the Arcaneum. When he arrived, he indeed found that the countless shelves and bookcases were stained with black soot, covered in ash, dirt and that a lot of them lay empty.

He wasn’t a huge bookworm himself, but it was a sad sight.

“Are you just going to stand and gawk there while your filthy boots muck up my Arcaneum even more, or…” The Orc’s grouchy countenance changed when he saw it was the Justiciar. “My apologies. You are the Arch-Mage and Dragonborn’s guest, are you not? Mistook you for an apprentice.”

“Yes, I am.” Ondolemar replied.

“Name’s Urag gro-Shub.” The old Orc couldn’t help but grin. The moment they shook hands, the Orc couldn’t help himself but make sure his grip was as firm as they came and he caught the High Elf wincing. Elves…Never as tough as they try to look. “Never thought I’d see the day I’d welcome a Justiciar to my Arcaneum, but from what I understood, you’re the good sort.”

“Please, just call me ‘Ondolemar’. Due recent events I feel…inadequate at the mention of my association with the Thalmor, as you can no doubt understand…” Ondolemar scraped his throat. “After a chat with Faralda, I had to see the Arcaneum myself. Given the state of affairs and how I have been welcomed, I’d be happy to help while I’m here. No doubt you have your connections and means, but so do I, to fill those empty shelves with books again.”

“Really?” The Orc unfolded the arms from his chest. If he’s genuine, maybe he’s really not all that bad…for an Elf. “Well, as you can see, there’s not much left of it, but I managed to salvage some of it, and some of the most valuable I had secured elsewhere, but still…If you can help, I’ll be happy to accept it. You seem competent enough at the very least.”

It didn’t take Ondolemar long to learn that Urag’s grouchy demeanor was ‘the nature of the beast’ and he meant nothing personal with it. The Orc watched him like a hawk and kept his responses curt at first, but Urag warmed up fast enough once he realized his company was most competent and not condescending. Ondolemar, on the other hand, had to admit he was impressed to discover that Urag was very well-read and schooled on a variety of subjects, varying from common to arcane history, its teachings, theories and the art of debate. After a while, they forfeited trying to clean up and took a seat to talk while drinking wine.

The both of them looked up when they heard the door open and Urag muttered something about a nosy, useless apprentice. It was Ganir, however, who made his way in and carried a rather large bag he had swung over his shoulder. “Dragonborn or not, Ganir, you know the rules…” Urag’s large, bushy brows knitted together, initially set on the mud-stained boots the Dark Elf wore, but then he looked at the large bag he carried. “What’s in there?”

“Nice to see you too, Urag. Got you something that should cover the expenses to rebuild the Arcaneum’s collection.” Ganir put the bag on the table and glanced at the High Elf, whose cheeks held a glow. No doubt thanks to the wine… “Trust me when I say that the Forsworn were the least of my concerns when we made it to the Reach…”

“Malacath’s balls…Dragon horns and teeth?!” Urag’s eyes went wide when he peered inside the bag. “Thank you, Ganir. This should definitely take care of the finances…”

“A dragon’s horns and teeth…?” Ondolemar’s eyes went wide. “Let me see, please!” Ondolemar removed his gloves and took one of the horns from Urag. Awed, the High Elf ran his fingers over the horn. This was definitely not the ivory of a mammoth’s tusk, but weighed as much. He was holding a real dragon’s horn…As lethal as this beast must have been when alive, it had to be magnificent all the same. “I found it hard to believe the rumors of dragons returning…but this is irrefutable proof…”

“Well, the dragon came as quite a surprise. We were counting on the Forsworn when we made it to the temple’s alleged location. Instead, we found the camp laid to waste by the dragon, who’d made himself comfortable and cozy in the nearby cave after killing the survivors inside. Quite a close call because the damn lizard nearly burned me to a crisp…” Ganir scratched the back of his head, grinning awkwardly. “But we’ve learned a lot. Found Sky Haven Temple. Hence why I came back here.”

“Really?” Ondolemar looked up at the Dark Elf, genuinely impressed. Whether the Dark Elf had help from the Blades or not, he’d killed a dragon. “Markarth may be made of stone and steel, but it’s still a good thing to know it’s dead. What is beyond me, however, is how that temple was never found before. Do tell me more. What did you find?”

“I’d be glad to tell you all about it, but it’s best to inform Ancano as well.” Ganir replied. “I’m assuming he’s visiting Ciri…?”

“You assume right.” Ondolemar replied. “I’ll go inform him. He doesn’t mind my…presence as much.”

The first time Ondolemar had made his way to the labyrinth where Cirilonde Valanocke was laid to rest, he’d found no words to utter. Frozen flowers guided the path to where she was. When he finally came to the room, he found Ancano standing at her side. It was a morbid observation that could not go unnoticed. The freezing cold preserved her body without flaw and it looked as though she was asleep. Ancano’s expression betrayed nothing to a stranger, but Ondolemar could tell. He had watched how his friend’s thumb lovingly stroked the back of Cirilonde’s hand, treating her with a tenderness he’d never seen. The glimmer in the Ancano’s eyes said everything without words. He had loved her and Ondolemar understood why his friend preferred to pour all his attention into whatever study he could to drown out the grief.

When Ganir and Ondolemar met eyes, they gave each other an understanding nod. “You go on ahead, I’ll need Urag’s help first,” Ganir said.

“Very well.” Ondolemar bowed his head at Urag. “’twas a pleasure, Master Urag. I’ll be sure to contact Calcelmo and see what titles I can obtain for you. Meet you later, Ganir.”

“Thank you. Appreciated.” Ganir couldn’t exactly pinpoint what the Orc was thinking, who turned to him when Ondolemar was gone. “I’m going to be honest here, Ganir. I wanted to pummel the sense back into your head when you suggested Ancano take up the position of Arch-Mage. Even more so when you told us about the Justiciar, but…it’s worked out and this Ondolemar isn’t too bad.”

“Trust me, I still have to come to terms with it all.” Ganir couldn’t help but grin. “Keep in mind, it wasn’t all that long ago I could strangle Ancano. But enough for gossip now. I have a problem and you were the first person to come to mind. Do you have any books, or do you know anything about Elder Scrolls?”

“Elder Scrolls?” Urag raised one of his bushy eyebrows. “Depends on what you want to know…or how I’d even explain it to you, for that matter.”

“To keep a long story short, I need to find one and use it.” Ganir replied with an almost child-like simplicity in his tone.

The Orc’s eyes darkened, glowering at the Dark Elf. The tips of his clawed fingers rubbed his brow. “Should’ve expected an answer like that…” He then crossed his arms over his chest. “Do you even know what you’re really asking for or about?”

“That’s why I’m here.” Ganir scratched the back of his head. “No matter how I twist or turn it, I need to find an Elder Scroll. I didn’t want to pursue it head-first without preparation and knowing how, what, where or why.”

“I’m not sure if I even want to know the how, what, where or why,” Urag sighed. “But very well. I’ll see if I can find anything. You best go see Ancano, but be warned, he’s not been the best company since…”

“As is to be expected.” Ganir gave the Orc a sharp look. Not everyone knew exactly what had all happened or what was going on precisely, but Ganir saw no need for them to know everything. Ancano had suffered enough and he didn’t need feigned pity or sympathy. And Cirilonde had seen some good in him. Least he could do is take good care of him where possible. “I’ll leave you to it. Thank you.”

Ganir left the Arcaneum and made his way up to the Arch-Mage’s Quarters where the Altmer no doubt were waiting by now. When he saw Ancano, however, he couldn’t help but let out an annoyed growl. “Have you even slept since I left?”

Ancano didn’t look as dreadful as he had a week ago. All thanks to Ondolemar, though, who had relentlessly badgered his friend to at least eat properly lest he ram it down his throat.

“I don’t see how this is any of your concern.” Ancano snapped. “Ondolemar told me you found Sky Haven Temple and learned something?”

“Correct.” Ganir confirmed. “We found Alduin’s Wall in the temple, like Esbern had said. It spoke of a Shout that the ancient Nords used to…banish Alduin, of sorts, but not what kind of Shout. I met with the Greybeards’ leader, Paarthurnax. He explained me that the Shout they used was called Dragonrend. It didn’t defeat Alduin, though, because the ancient Nords made a huge mistake, which is why we’re dealing with him now. They used an Elder Scroll to cast him adrift in the flow of time, hoping he would be lost forever…”

Ganir’s fingers toyed with the golden earring that pierced his long, slender ear. “I don’t even know how to really explain all of this. When Paarthurnax told me, it all made sense. But Alduin’s banishment caused a sort rift…a Time-Wound, he called it, on the top of the Throat of the World. Though the Shout itself is ‘lost’ to the common means, if I were to obtain an Elder Scrolls, I could perhaps access the Time-Wound and learn the Shout.”

Ancano drummed the tips of his long, slender fingers against one another as he contemplated Ganir’s words for a moment. Finally, he got up and paced back and forth as he spoke, “I took the liberty of delving into this whole…’legend’. Call it what you will. As ridiculous and incredible as it is, I don’t doubt your word. I just hope you’re aware of what you’re implying…

“Even if you were to obtain this…’Shout’ by tampering with this most ancient Time-Wound, are you even aware of the potential consequences of tampering with said phenomenon or the very nature of your enemy?” Ancano’s eyes locked on Ganir’s for a moment. “I have little inclination to take the common drunken Nord tales to heart, but considering…recent events,” The High Elf looked away with a contemplative expression, “and the facts we’ve gathered by now, it would be plain dense to ignore that Alduin is the ‘World-Eater’ and ‘Firstborn of Akatosh’. I just wonder if he can even truly be killed?”

The Arch-Mage’s lips curled into a most satisfied smirk as Ganir couldn’t hide how impressed he was with the High Elf. That explains the lack of sleep, most likely… “Quite simple,” Ganir said matter-of-factly. “These ancient Nords weren’t Dragonborn. In any case, if we don’t at least try to stop Alduin, it will mean the end of the world. Risking a Dragon Break is honestly the last and least of our concerns.”

“You’re joking, right?” Ondolemar then sighed and rubbed his temples. “Never mind, I’m dealing with two Elves of which one nearly blew up the College and the other Elenwen’s solar…”

“Very funny…” Ancano and Ganir chimed, glaring at Ondolemar.

“There is one problem, however,” Ancano said to Ganir. “Where or how exactly do you intend to find an Elder Scroll and obtain it?”

“Well, I’ve asked Urag for help,” Ganir said. “Though the Arcaneum suffered great losses, he assured me that no doubt, he had some books on the subject that could help us.”

As if on cue, there was a knock at the door. “It’s Urag. Got what you need like-,”

“Just get in,” Ancano snapped.

They’d expected the Orc to come carrying a pile of books but only had one with him. “Don’t give me that look. I had more, but then I came across this work. I think you’ll find it rather insightful, and the author is actually still alive…”

Ganir took the book from Urag. “Ruminations on the Elder Scrolls…Septimus Signus.”

“He’s a bit…eccentric, even by ‘our’ standards,” Urag said, “but the most knowledgeable man alive to date in regards to the Dwemer and Elder Scrolls alongside Calcelmo…Come to think of it. Sep wrote me not too long ago and mentioned he wanted to drop by as he was working on something north of here. Probably some expedition.”

“Isn’t there nothing but islets and icecaps up north?” Ganir asked.

“I wouldn’t know. I’m not exactly the travelling sort,” Urag shrugged. “Make no mistake, though. The towers of Dwemer ruins spiral to the surface but the rest is always hidden underground. It wouldn’t surprise me if Septimus is on the trail of one that was swallowed by the Great Collapse.”

Ganir put the book on the desk in case the two Elves wanted to have a gander at it. “I best go look for him. He’s our best and only lead.”

“I recommend against venturing out there on your own, Dragonborn or not,” Urag said. “The icecaps are treacherous, as is the sea.”

“And in all due respect,” Ondolemar quipped, “this fellow sounds barking mad…” He initially had taken a casual gander at the book’s contents, but then read it over and over, trying to make sense of it.

“I’ll be fine,” Ganir said. “Unless you’re eager for some really fresh air.”

“In all honesty, please go with him Ondolemar,” Ancano said. “I’d like to not be badgered every hour by you for a change.”
“Arch-prick,” Ondolemar muttered under his breath as the two elves and Orc left the tower and made their way down. “If I didn’t pester him to eat properly he would bloody well forget too because his nose is permanently buried in whatever book he can lay his hands on if he’s not tampering with the Staff of Magnus in an attempt to fix it!” The Justiciar let out a frustrated sigh.

“I just consider it his way of being affectionate,” Ganir cocked his head to the side. “I won’t make you come along, however. It is pretty risky.”

“Well…” Ondolemar wrapped his Thalmor over-cloak tighter about him. “To be fair I’ve not really been on an ‘adventure’ for some time. As long as there’s no sewers involved, I wouldn’t mind coming along. Let me get my ‘proper’ robes.”

Ganir needn’t prepare, but he waited for Ondolemar to change into his Thalmor robes and then set out towards the north. Urag had told them about the possible location where Septimus would be, but warned them that the Imperial no doubt worked alone and if found, could be paranoid.

The two elves reached the coast on horseback and dismounted to look at the icecaps. The water had calmed for the tide, which was good as it gave them the time to cross safely. Going by boat was definitely not an option, which was supported by the shipwrecks and remains washed ashore by the waves.

“Stay close,” Ganir said. “And let me go first…”

Their boots had been treated proper enough so they could feel the cold brush against the leather, but whereas the cold didn’t bother Ganir, Ondolemar cursed himself for coming along. Gods be damned this water is beyond freezing!

It wasn’t long before his teeth were chattering but he pushed on, using spells to dry his attire whenever they came ashore to ensure he wouldn’t suffer from hypothermia. For a moment, they thought that their search would be without result, when Ondolemar spotted lights in the distance on an island. When they came close, they found a boat tied to an iron pin in the rocks and torches at the entrance to the cave, where a crude, make-shift hatch had been placed over made out of wreckage wood.

“Could be the place…” Ganir said as he lift the hatch. “Let me go in first.”

“Gladly.” Ondolemar was capable of defending himself, but he was all too familiar with a mage’s wrath after one interruption too many and he’d rather not suffer the brunt of it.

The cave had naturally formed over the course of many decades, hewn from rock and ice by the wind, waves and sleet. Ganir’s steps were silent in the snow and Ondolemar cautiously followed the vampire a few steps behind, but their careful steps weren’t needed for long because the cavern didn’t go deep. This probably had to do with the fact that most of the space was taken by an enormous Dwemer-steel cube in the wall. An old man clad in thick, blue fur-and-wool robes stood near, studying the object closely.

His coarse beard and moustache were unkempt and it was clear he had scorched it a variety of times. As normal as he appeared, there was a most odd look in his eyes; knowing, but so far away as if in another world. If he had noticed the two elves, he had made no effort to acknowledge them, if he was even ‘here’…

Suddenly, the Imperial let out a roar of frustration and startled the two Elves. Ganir instinctively reached for his dagger. “Dig, Dwemer, in the beyond! I’ll know your lost unknown and rise to you!” To emphasize his point, the old man made the mistake of kicking against the cube. A loud, dull CLANG was heard, indicating the cube was most likely hollow, but this was drowned out by the shriek of pain that followed suit after the Imperial had kicked it.

Ondolemar twirled his index finger near his temple with the roll of his eyes but Ganir shrugged. He signaled for the High Elf to stay back while he approached the rambling old man who was rummaging through his notes filled with insane scrawling.

“Quill...Quill. Quill! Ink to draw the lines on the planes…” The old man took the quill he was handed by Ganir without much thought, but when he realized he was not alone, he spun around. His eyes were wide and shot from Ganir to Ondolemar. “Who are you and what do you want?”

“Don’t worry, we mean you no harm.” Ganir reassured him. “Are you Septimus Signus? Urag gro-Shub told me that he knows a lot about Elder Scrolls and we’re looking for him.”

“Ahhh, good old Urag…But yes, I’m Septimus Signus. But the Elder Scrolls you say? Ahh, yes…yes.” As jovial as he was, Septimus’ eyes held an insane glitter. “Elder Scrolls. Indeed. The Empire…They absconded with them. Or so they think! The ones they saw. The ones they thought they saw.” Septimus paced back and forth as he spoke, gesturing frantically as if he were addressing an audience, before he spun on his heel once more, only an inch away from Ganir’s face. “I know of one…” The grin on his face unnerved Ganir, which was saying something… “Forgotten. Sequestered…But I cannot go to it! Not poor Septimus, for I…I have arisen beyond its grasp….”=

Ganir scraped his throat, unsure of how ‘stable’ this man was. “So…where is this Scroll?”

“Here!” Septimus said as if it were the most obvious thing in sight, but they saw nothing, looking confused. “Well…Here as in this plane. Mundus. Tamriel. Nearby, relatively speaking…” Septimus laughed. “On the cosmological scale, it is all nearby…”

“Can you help us find the scroll or not?” Ondolemar snapped. More out of discomfort than anything else.

“One block lifts another,” Septimus said sagely. “So you must bring me something in return.”

“Of course,” Ganir sighed and rolled his eyes. “What do you want?”

“Behold!” Septimus raised his hand in gesture at the huge, Dwemer-steel cube with a variety of engravings and … lenses? Divines knew what purpose it served, but Septimus acted as though he had just revealed something grand they had not seen. “You see this master work of the Dwemer. Deep inside their greatest knowings. I am clever amongst men, but an idiot child compared to the dullest of the Dwemer. Lucky then they left behind their own way of reading the Elder Scrolls. In the depths of Blackreach one yet lies! Have you heard of Blackreach? ‘Cast upon where Dwemer cities slept, the yearning spire hidden learnings kept’?”

Ganir’s fingers toyed with his earring. “Yes. Of course. How do I get there again?”

“Under deep. Below the dark…The hidden keep. Tower Mzark. Alftand. The point of puncture, of first entry, of the tapping. Delve to its limits, and Blackreach lies just beyond. But not all can enter there. Oh no…Only I, Septimus, know of the hidden key to lose the lock to jump beneath the deathly rock…”

Ganir and Ondolemar exchanged looks. “You mention a lock? How do I get in?”

“Two things, I have for you…” Septimus rummaged about in a chest near his desk and retrieved two odd, Dwemer objects, or maybe ‘artefacts’ was a more proper term. He handed them to Ganir as though they were precious presents with a child-like excitement. “One edged. One round. The round one, for tuning. Dwemer music is soft and subtle and needed to open their cleverest gates. The edged lexicon…” He tapped on the cube with lenses and odd inscriptions. “…for inscribing. To us, a hunk of metal. To the Dwemer, a full library of knowings, but currently empty. Find Mzark and its sky-dome. The machinations there will read he Scroll and lay the lore upon the cube. Trust Septimus. He knows…” Ganir growled when the old Imperial prodded his chest, “you can know…Now!” Ganir jumped back when Septimus’ finger shot up with such speed it was nearly shoved up Ganir’s nostril. “Now…Shoo. I must listen…the Dwemer speak but make no sound…”

“Thank you…I guess.” Ganir said, but Septimus’ mind was far off again and the two Elves were most happy to leave.

Ondolemar heaved a sigh of relief once they were outside. “Glad we made it out of there without a scuffle.”

“Understatement,” Ganir snorted. “But you’re from Markarth, and you mentioned you know Calcelmo, right?”

Ondolemar scowled. “As if that craggy, wretch of a city would deserve to be graced with such an honor. I’m merely stationed there…well, was…” He ran his hand over his scalp and sighed when Ganir looked confused by the sudden anger and bitterness in his tone. “Let’s just get back to the College. I’m freezing.”

“We’ll talk there.” Ganir then gave a smile. “Bet they can hear your teeth chattering from here at the College.”

“I’m looking forward to a warm bath and fire when we get back,” Ondolemar grumbled. “I hate to sound like I’m only good at complaining but gods be damned it’s cold.”

“Well, like I said, it takes some time getting used to it.” Ganir admitted and made a note to see if he had anything to make sure the Justiciar wouldn’t end up freezing to death during his stay here once they got back.


Notes:

Hello again!

Thank you for taking your time to read this chapter. Leave a comment if you enjoyed it.

Have a nice read and day!

Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 21

Door dutchinteldude op woensdag 26 oktober 2016 20:36 - Reacties (1)
Categorie: Fanfiction, Views: 601

Jaaaaa \o/ gezien er bepaalde fans zijn die graag weer een hoofdstuk willen lezen hierbij wederom een stukje pracht en praal Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 21

Summary:

“I…was not exactly expecting you to be a dragon.” Ganir apologized and quickly stowed his bow and arrow away.


Nor did I when I first played the Main Quest, but Paarthurnax forgave me for barraging him with fireballs and making a run for it.))


Chapter 21

The enormous mountain that was host to the Greybeards’ monastery was a serene place of solitude. Nevertheless, Ganir received a crude awakening as the snow fell from the slope where he had slept below. His barrage of curses and swearing were muffled under the thick layer of snow that completely covered him.

Tormagg shook his mane as though amused, snorting and scraping its hoof at the pile of snow where his master was buried below, who emerged in a most foul mood.
“You could at least have warned me, you know…” he grumbled, shaking from the cold. He brushed the remaining snow off his shoulders and pulled a fur overcoat out the saddlebag and wrapped it around him to warm himself.It wasn’t until another hour of walking, carefully guiding Tormagg over the stone steps and around the slippery bends that they reached the monastery. He left Tormagg sheltered behind the stone wall of the stairway up to the monastery and laid the fur coat over the horse. “You keep an eye out, will you?”

He then made his way into the monastery after double-checking his bag for the Horn of Jurgen Windcaller. He had certainly been delayed on retrieving and returning it, but Arngeir would no doubt understand…he hoped.

But Arngeir did not.

When he came inside, Ganir was greeted by the silence of the other monks, of whom he had learned the names: Borri, Wulfgar and Einarth.

He found Master Arngeir kneeling in an alcove, facing the window and looking outside, where the winds howled past. “Master Arngeir, I have returned. I am sorry to have kept you waiting, but I was…delayed.”

For a moment, the old Greybeard remained silent, his old hands clenched into fists. “You did not heed my teachings. You did not heed my wisdom or that of the Way...How dare you show yourself, holding his horn after your cavalier actions?”

“Cavalier?” Ganir repeated questioningly. “My friends were in danger. What else did you expect me to do?! Sit back and do nothing and let them get killed?”

“The winds carry the cries of anguish, bloodshed and death you left in your wake no matter what direction you turn.” It clearly took everything for Arngeir to calmly stand up and contain his temper. “You did not save your friends. You sated your bloodlust. Have you learned nothing of my teachings? You are arrogant, ignorant and I cannot help you.”

Ganir wanted to be angry and argue, but knew the Greybeard was right. He didn’t have to kill the Thalmor that crossed his path in the Embassy. He could’ve knocked them out, but instead, had indulged in the desire for blood and vengeance. He hung his head in shame, shaking as a block of ice sank in his stomach. It wasn’t just guilt, but that overwhelming feeling when one knew someone had done wrong and disappointed one of their peers. To them, Ganir was a complete stranger with the promise of greatness, and he had completely disrespected and disregarded their teachings. He was tired of killing, he had said so many times, but he had done so again so easily.

“Please, Master Arngeir, I am sorry.” Ganir’s voice croaked.

“You are not worth the title,” said Arngeir decidedly, taking the horn from the Dark Elf’s hand. “Your very nature does not permit it. Leave, and do not return. High Hrothgar has no-,”

“Arngeir!” The walls shook in a fashion unlike Ganir had ever experienced before. Master Einarth, who had been silent in meditation nearby had gotten to his feet. With each syllable spoken in the dragon’s tongue, the old man’s chest rumbled, seeming about to burst and bring the walls of the monastery down on them. “Nii los ni fah hi wah komaan. Nii los ni fah hi wah maat. Rok los Dovahkiin. Ven brud mok kolos mu dreh ni tread. Mu los wah aak. Dahmaan hin heyv.”

Ganir had initially raised his arms in defense as the intense force of Einarth’s Voice resounded clear as water and loud as thunder through the monastery and perhaps even beyond.

Arngeir was also visibly shaken. “I…” With a sigh, Arngeir shook his head. “You are right…” He then looked at Ganir, who looked confused and unsure of what had just happened. Einarth gave a small, knowing smile and after bowing his head to him, he returned to his meditations.

Remind me to never end up debating semantics with you…

“Dragonborn…” Arngeir now hung his head in shame. “Please, forgive me. I was intemperate and allowed my emotions to cloud my judgement. Master Einarth is right; the decision whether to help you or not is not mine to make. It is my duty.”

“And I promise I will heed your words.” Ganir was overwhelmed with relief. Whatever Einarth had said, he owed the Greybeard! “I was wrong to ignore your teachings, Master Arngeir.”

“And yet, you spoke with the Blades…did you not?” Arngeir narrowed his eyes, but not necessarily at him, but in distaste of the Blades.

Blades. Making friends in all the wrong places…Ganir sighed. “I have, Master Arngeir. I intend to stop Alduin.”

“Of course. The Blades,” Arngeir spat, but nevertheless motioned for Ganir to follow him outside to the courtyard. “They specialize in meddling in matters they barely understand. Their reckless arrogance knows no bounds. They have always sought to turn the Dragonborn from the path of wisdom. Tell me, Dragonborn, if you wish to learn from us, why would you want to be but a simple tool in the hands of the Blades to be used for their own purposes?”

“You have to believe me when I say that I share your distaste of the Blades,” Ganir cursed the cold. “I’m not their ‘puppet’ as you so eloquently put it.”

“Heed my warning, Dragonborn,” Arngeir gave him a sharp look. “The Blades may say they serve the Dragonborn, but they do not. They never have…” The old Greybeard closed his eyes as the wind brushed past his wrinkled face. Snowflakes were caught in his messy, rough beard, but he did not seem to mind. “Why have you returned, if not for the horn?”

Ganir told Arngeir everything without secrets. He told Arngeir about the dragons he had battled, and about Alduin, with whom he had crossed paths twice now, and how the Blades helped him find out that the Thalmor knew nothing of their return, which led him to Sky Haven Temple. “If the prophecy rings true, Master Arngeir, Alduin will destroy the world as we know it. Surely you do not want for the world to end?”

“What I want is irrelevant at this point,” Arngeir said bitterly. “Have you considered that Alduin was not meant to be defeated? Those who overthrew him in ancient times only postponed the day of reckoning, but did not stop it. If the world is meant to end, then so be it. Let it end and be reborn.”

“That is what you will,” Ganir countered with a sharp tone. After all, a few more winters and you’re dead…“But I do not. We discovered that these ancient …Dragonborns, or whatever they were…they used a Shout to defeat Alduin. Do you know it?”

“I do, but its Words of Power are not known to me for it was lost in time,” said Arngeir. “A loss I do not regret, for this Shout you refer to, ‘Dragonrend’, has no place in the Way of the Voice.”

Ganir furrowed his brow. “What is so bad about Dragonrend…this Shout?”

Arngeir regarded the Dark Elf in a contemplative fashion, clearly conflicted. Finally, he sighed. The Dragonborn would walk his own path and it was best wandered with whatever knowledge and wisdom he could pass on. “It was created by those who had lived under the unimaginable cruelty of Alduin’s Dragon Cult. Their whole lives were consumed with hatred for dragons, and they poured all their anger and hatred into this Shout. When you learn a Shout, you take it into your very being. In a sense, you become the Shout. In order to learn and use this Shout, you would be taking this very evil into yourself. It could and will consume you.”

Ganir had listened to everything the Greybeard told him, but it did not change his mind. He had to stop Alduin. He had faced off against the demonic forces of Oblivion, he had survived all these years as a vampire and made his way to Skyrim. He didn’t want to carry this burden, but if he was too, he would give it his all. “If the Shout is lost, how can I defeat Alduin?”

Arngeir had looked up at the top of the Throat of the World, which was shrouded from view by thick clouds and mist. It is inevitable… “Only Paarthurnax, the master of our order, can answer that question, if he so chooses.”

“Paarthurnax?” Quite an odd name…

“He is our leader,” Arngeir replied. “He surpasses us all in his mastery of the Way of the Voice., but you are not ready. Not until we greet you as Dragonborn and grant you the knowledge required to go see him at the top of the Throat of the World where he resides.”

Ganir followed Arngeir back inside, wondering what he meant, but the other Greybeards rose and followed to the entry hall of the monastery. “It is time for us to formally recognize you as Dragonborn. We would Speak to you…” Arngeir pointed at the stone seal in the center of the entry-hall as the other Greybeards surrounded him. Einarth still smiled at him and nodded.

The Dark Elf was hesitant but stood in the center of the room.

“Prepare yourself, Dragonborn!” Arngeir said. “Few can withstand the unbridled Voice of the Greybeards, but you will emerge unscathed if you are truly ready…”

Wait…!

But the Greybeards spoke and it was as though Ganir got caught in a maelstrom of raw, but controlled power that beat down on him, shoving him in all directions, but keeping him in place all the same.

Their voices united had dust crumble from the ceiling and he was fearful it was about to collapse, but High Hrothgar was strong and built to withstand, shaking with each syllable of the Greybeards’ Voices.

“Lingrah krosis saran Strundu’ul, voth nid balaan klov praan nau! Naal Thu’umu, mu ofan nii nu, Dovahkiin, naal suleyk do Kaan, naal suleyk do Shor, ahrk naal suleyk do Atorasewuth! Meyz nu Ysmir, Dovahsebrom. Dahmaan daar rok!”

He was out of breath and he felt like he had been jostled around by a whirlwind, but Ganir found himself unharmed but shaking. The Greybeards remained silent, unmoving, but smiling.

“Dovahkiin. You have tasted the Voice of the Greybeards, and passed through unscathed,” Arngeir bowed his head. “High Hrothgar is open to you and we shall teach you the Shout so you can make your way up to Paarthurnax.”

Ganir followed the Greybeards outside to the upper Courtyard of the Monastery, where he had first been taught the Unrelenting Force and Whirlwind Sprint Shouts. At the time, Arngeir had not answered his question about the other gate, which did lead somewhere, whereas the other gate had been for practice.

“The Skies to our leader will tear the flesh off your bones if you were to pass it without the knowledge we are about to pass on to you,” said Arngeir. “The Shout, when used, will clear the skies and show you the way.”

The Greybeards stood in a row next to each other, in front of Ganir. Here we go again… He braced himself when their chests began to rumble with the same, intense and primal force, which then struck him with full force, nearly sending him to the ground. “LOK VAH KOOR!”

The wind ceased to howl. The snow that had already fallen to the ground was sent flying, but no more snow fell. The skies cleared and there was silence. The gates to the top of the Throat of the World, had opened.

“Good luck, Dragonborn. Know that it is a privilege if Paarthurnax were to Speak with you,” Said Arngeir before he too made his way back inside the Monastery.

Lok. Vah. Koor. Ganir’s whole being heard not the words, but the very essence of them, and knew their meaning and purpose. He walked past the gates and made his way up to the path, where a storm closed in on again. But he repeated the very three words and the storm stayed away.

After two hours of stumbling and slipping over the ice as he found it hard to breathe all the way up there, even in his state of grace, he made his way to the top of the Throat of the World.

The view was breathtaking as he could almost see all of Skyrim now that the skies had cleared. But he was not permitted to enjoy it for long as a roar echoed through the skies and he heard the familiar flap of enormous, leathery wings.

Ganir readied his bow and arrow as a gigantic dragon dove for the mountaintop where he stood, but he did not release the arrow. This dragon was different. It was not aggressive. And even when landed, it showed no hostility and regarded the Dark Elf with curiosity.

This dragon was ancient beyond the word’s meaning. Its horns were twisted, contorted and far more magnificent than any other dragon he had encountered thus far, holding a similarity to the bone crown of Alduin. Its wings were tattered, some of his horns and teeth chipped and broken. Its scales showed the scars of battles ages past. Both of the dragon’s eyes had once been a piercing blue, but one was void of an iris and pupil. Its gaze was still intense and unwavering, staring through and deep into his very being, chilling Ganir more than the icy winds that swept past him on top of this lone mountain.

“Drem Yol Lok. Greetings, wunduniik.” The dragon’s voice was unique and he had not heard any like it in his life time. It was strong. Civilized. Holding the power to tear not only his flesh, but so much more, and yet, the dragon had overcome its primal nature and spoke with intelligence…no, wisdom. This had to be Paarthurnax. “What brings you to my strunmah…my mountain?”

“I…was not exactly expecting you to be a dragon.” Ganir apologized and quickly stowed his bow and arrow away.

“I am Paarthurnax!” said the dragon proudly. “I am as my father Akatosh made me. As are you…Dovahkiin. Tell me. Why do you come here, volaan? Why do you intrude on my meditation?”

“I had no intention of intrusion, Paarthurnax,” Ganir bowed his head. “I came to you in search of aid. I seek to defeat Alduin, and I was told you perhaps know the Shout.”

The Dragon craned its head so his good eye could give him a sharp look. “Drem…” His chest rumbled. “Patience…” The dragon then raised his head to look at him with both eyes. “There are formalities which must be observed at the first meeting of two of the dov. By long tradition, the elder speaks first. Hear my Thu’um! Feel it in your bones, and match it if you are Dovahkiin!”

Paarthurnax then turned his head towards a wall that Ganir immediately recognized. A Word Wall, from what the Greybeards had taught him, where the ancient Dragons and their followers carved their knowledge and tales of old. Paarthurnax took a deep breath and a rumble like thunder came from his chest. When his maw opened, he roared. “YOL TOOR SHUL!”

The flames that burst forth were as hot-white but double as intense as any dragon’s breath he had been a witness too. Ganir did not just feel the heat, but the very essence of the Shout. His ears pounded as the words resounded and made his blood pound and rush. He felt…alive.

The flames that had engulfed the stone had been so intense that the stone had actually reached its melting point and glowed a hot red, hissing as the cold winds embraced it. Paarthurnax seemed amused by the Dark Elf’s expression. “Now, show me what you can do. Greet me not as mortal, but as dovah!”

Ganir was terrified. He knew he could do it, but he wasn’t exactly eager to blow himself up or set fire to himself. But the dragon gave him a reassuring nod, at the same time inquisitive what this little mortal before him would do. As hesitant as he was, though, Ganir had paid close attention to the dragon and he did as he had done. “Yooooollllll…” He took a deep, sharp breath and felt something deep inside of him that scared him but it also felt so natural and familiar. But nothing could match the intensity of what burned deep inside of him until he could no longer contain it and as the next words left his lips, so did the flames, “TOOR SHUL!”

The gout of flames that came from his mouth was brief as he was completely taken aback by its intensity and power. Paarthurnax laughed, if one could call it that. It was a most odd sound, like rocks grinding over one another.

“Yes. Yes! Sossedov los mul!” Paarthurnax exclaimed with joy. His chest still rumbled with a sound comparable to a chuckle. “The dragon blood runs strong in you. It is long since I had the pleasure of speech with one of my own kind. I have long awaited your coming. Prodah.” Paarthurnax’s wings unfurled and with a leap and flap of his wings, he perched on top of the Word Wall like the parody of a bird on a branch. “I know why you are here, Dovahkiin. You would not come all this way for tiinvak with an old dovah. No. You seek your weapon against Alduin…”

“The Greybeards didn’t exactly want me to come here at first,” Ganir scratched the back of his head, feeling rather awkward. First a polite conversation with a Thalmor and now with a dragon that could eat me in one go… “But I need to learn the Dragonrend Shout. They do not know it, but thought that perhaps you do.”

Paarthurnax mused. “Hrmm…yes. They are very protective of me. Bahlaan fahdonne…” The meaning of Paarthurnax’s native tongue completely eluded Ganir, but from what he gathered, he could guess some of their meaning. “I do not know the Thu’um you seek. Krosis. It cannot be known to me. Your kind, joorre, mortals, created it as a weapon against the dov…the dragons. Our hadrimme, our minds cannot even comprehend its concepts.”

“How can I learn it then?” Ganir immediately regretted his lack of restraint and voice his thoughts and frustrations aloud, but the dragon had not given him a sharp look because of this.

“Drem…” He reassured. “All in good time. First, a question for you. Why do you want to learn this Thu’um?”

“To stop Alduin,” Ganir replied without a second thought. “He seeks to destroy the world…It’s rotten, I’ll admit, but if I am destined to have a say in it, then I won’t let it end…not without a fight.”

“Pruzah. As good a reason as any. There are many who would share your sentiment, but not all.” The dragon’s talons scraped at the stone as he shifted. “Some would say that all things must end, so that the next can come to pass. Perhaps this world is simply the Egg of the next kalpa? Lein vokiin? Would you stop the next world from being born?”

“It can wait,” Ganir said stubbornly.

“Paaz. A fair answer…” Paarthurnax bared his teeth in a grin of sorts. “Ro fus! Maybe you only balance the forces that work to quicken the end of this world. Even we who ride the currents of Time cannot see past Time’s End. Wuldsetiid los tahrodiis. Those who try to hasten the end, may delay it. Those who work to delay the end, may bring it closer! But…You have indulged my weakness for speech long enough. Krosis. Now, I will answer your question.” The dragon craned its head so its unblinking eye could regard the Dark Elf once more. “Do you know why I live here at the peak of the Monahven, what you name the Throat of the World?”

The Dark Elf shook his head. There were countless reasons that seemed valid, but he’d rather just hear it from the dragon rather than guess.

“Few now remember that this was the very spot where Alduin was defeated by the ancient Tongues. Vahrukt unslaad…Perhaps none but me now remember how he was defeated…” The dragon seemed to lament this. He could very well be the only one of his kind as ancient as he that remained. “But not in the fashion, with this Dragonrend Shout, as you think. Viik nuz ni kroon. Alduin was not truly defeated, either! If he was, you would not be here today, seeking to defeat him! The Nords of those days used the Dragonrend Shout to cripple Alduin. But this was not enough…” Paarthurnax shook his head. “Ok mulaag unslaad. It was the Kel…The Elder Scroll. They used it to cast him adrift in the currents of Time.”

Ganir blinked as he registered again and again what the dragon had said. An Elder Scroll?! “But…But how?!”

The dragon mused, snapping its jaw in contemplation. “How to explain in your tongue…The dov have words for such things that joorre do not. It is an artifact from outside time. It does not exist, but it always has. Rah wahlaan. They are…fragments of creations. The Kelle, the Elder Scrolls, as you name them, they have often been used for prophecy, just as yours. But this is only a small part of their power. Zofaas suleyk…”

Ganir furrowed his brow as he put one and one together. “Are you saying that the Nords back then sent Alduin forward in time?”

“Not intentionally. Some hoped he would be gone forever. Forever lost. Meyye. I knew better…Tiid bo amativ. Time flows ever onward,” Paarthurnax replied. “One day, he would surface. Which is why I have lived here. For thousands of mortal years have I waited. I knew where he would emerge, but not when…” The dragon noticed Ganir’s confusion. “Tiid krent. Time was…shattered here because of what the ancient Nords did to Alduin. If you brought a Kel back here to the Tiid-Ahraan, the Time-Wound, you could perhaps cast yourself back in time and learn the Dragonrend Shout from those who created it.”

“A perfect theory, but Elder Scrolls don’t exactly grow on trees…” Ganir released a growl of frustration. “Unless you happen to know where to find one…”

“Krosis. No.” Paarthurnax shook his head, understanding the Dragonborn’s frustration. This little mortal was quite the interesting creature. So small, so frail and so broken, but so determined in spite of the odds thrown against him. “I know little of what has passed below in the long years I have lived here. You are likely better informed than I…However, I have listened closely to the path you walked, Dragonborn…This place you call home. This College where knowledge is safeguarded. Perhaps they could help you.”

Ganir could smack himself for not having thought of it himself. “I thank you, Paarthurnax.” He bowed. “You have taken the time to grace me with your presence and have not just taught me, but helped me. I will return with an Elder Scroll…I hope.”

The ground shook as Paarthurnax’s wing-talons hit the ground as he climbed off the Word Wall. “Trust your instincts, Dovahkiin. Your blood will show you the way,” The dragon then turned away, careful to not accidentally hit the Dark Elf with his tail. He spread his wings and looked back over to him. “Know that I will be waiting for your return.”

“I shall make haste,” Ganir promised. He watched Paarthurnax take off in flight, digging the heels of his boots in the ground as the gust of wind nearly knocked him off his feet before he himself began the long trek down to the Monastery to inform Arngeir, thank him and then return to the College of Winterhold.

I swear by Azura, if no one at the College knows, then I have no idea where else to look…


Seriously. There was too much Dragon speech to translate in one go.


Lingrah krosis saran Strundu’ul, voth nid balaan klov praan nau
(Long –in- sorrow –has- waited –the- Stormcrown, with no worthy head to rest on)
Long has the Stormcrown languished, with no worthy brow to sit upon
Naal Thu’umu, mu ofan nii nu, Dovahkiin, naal suleyk do Kaan, naal suleyk do Shor, ahrk naal suleyk do Atorasewuth
(By our Voice we give it now –to you-, Dragonborn, by –the- power of Kyne, by –the- power of Shor, and by –the- power of Atmora-of-old)
By our breath we bestow it now to you in the name of Kyne, in the name of Shor, and in the name of Atmora of Old.
Meyz nu Ysmir, Dovahsebrom. Dahmaan daar rok
(-You have- become now Ysmir. Dragon of the North. Remember these words.)
You are Ysmir now, the Dragon of the North, hearken to it.

Nii los ni fah hi wah komaan. Nii los ni fah hi wah maat. Rok los Dovahkiin. ven brud mok kolos mu dreh ni tread. Mu los wah aak. Dahmaan hin heyv.
It is not for you to decide. It is not for you to judge. He is Dragonborn. The winds carry him where we do not tread. We are to guide. Remember your duty.

Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 20

Door dutchinteldude op vrijdag 29 juli 2016 15:07 - Reacties (4)
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Summary:

A chapter where Ganir and Ondolemar debate semantics before they part ways:


“Different times. Different people. They had a goal. They had Martin…” There was a contemplative, odd flicker in Ganir’s eyes. “Esbern is knowledgeable but a fool. Delphine is blinded by her hatred for the Thalmor or anything that doesn’t support the Empire, but they have no purpose.”

“And you do not hate the Thalmor?” Ondolemar asked skeptically. “You left a trail of death in your wake at the Embassy…”
Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)


Chapter 20

Initially, Ondolemar had scowled at the thought of sleeping in a bed that very much reminded him of sleeping in a shack amongst the cattle like some peasant. He had grown spoiled over the course of time, bathing in the luxury of his quarters in Markarth where all finery was at his disposal to make his stay all the more comfortable. But once he laid down on the hay and pulled the thick, wool covers over him, he knew that his own bed would not warm him and he was far too exhausted to really complain…until the next morning. He swore when he made his way outside and the ice cold winds struck him in the face. He had been wise enough to put his Thalmor over cloak in his saddlebags before he went down into Riften’s sewers and he wrapped them tight around him in an attempt to stay warm as he made his way across the College grounds.

Ganir joined him halfway, quite amused by the red glow on the Altmer’s nose and cheeks. “Don’t worry, you get used to it after a while,” he said with a grin. He had clearly fed for his cheeks weren’t as sunken anymore. Subconsciously, Ondolemar reached for his neck.

“I strongly doubt it,” Ondolemar grumbled. “I’ve taken the liberty of cross-referencing Sky Haven Temple’s alleged location with my own information. I must caution you that the very region you will be travelling to, is crawling with Forsworn and that there might even be an encampment in the nearby perimeter of Karthspire.”

“Forsworn?” Ganir raised a brow.

“Savages.” Ondolemar replied. “The original inhabitants of the Reach and Markarth that were…forcibly removed by the native Nords to claim it as their own. You would do well to heed my warning to avoid them whenever possible. They collaborate with the primal, wicked Hagravens.”

“You’re telling this to someone who has slain three dragons…”

“Noted, but nevertheless, I recommend you watch your back. I don’t particularly trust those two Blades either…”

“Neither do I, but we’ll have to contend with them for now to get the information I need.”

“Strikes me as odd given your past with the Blades,” Ondolemar regarded Ganir with curiosity. “After all, are you not the Hero of Kvatch who fought alongside the last Septim?”

“Different times. Different people. They had a goal. They had Martin…” There was a contemplative, odd flicker in Ganir’s eyes. “Esbern is knowledgeable but a fool. Delphine is blinded by her hatred for the Thalmor or anything that doesn’t support the Empire, but they have no purpose.”

“And you do not hate the Thalmor?” Ondolemar asked skeptically. “You left a trail of death in your wake at the Embassy…”

“Semantics.” Since this conversation would take a while, Ganir and he moved under the walkway to take shelter from the cold wind and snowfall. The Dark Elf leaned against the pillar, crossing his arms over his chest. He did not seem antagonized by Ondolemar’s questions, however, but rather intrigued. “I could ask you the same question why you did not kill me. I am all your Dominion seeks to eradicate.”

Ondolemar inclined his head, feeling curious as well. The Dark Elf certainly was no common brute with a silver tongue…but what drove him to do what he did? “You clearly had no intent of killing me back in Markarth and you were with Ancano, who you could have killed as well.”

“Trust me, I once nearly did,” Ganir chuckled. “But Ciri knew better. She saw the Eye of Magnus possessed him. It all had us in its grasp. She healed his wounds. Azura knows what granted her such patience, but Ancano eventually understood that we all were in trouble and we’d have to make the best of it together to prevent a worse fate for us all.”

“An understatement,” Ondolemar snorted. He could only imagine what raw, unbridled power the Eye of Magnus held and what it could have done to the College and the world, had the Psijic not intervened. “But that still doesn’t answer my initial question.”

“I grow weary of killing,” Ganir said darkly, looking away. “It gives me no pleasure, but they left me no choice. Make no mistake to confuse me with a mindless killing machine without a conscience, but know that I will rise to whatever challenges me if they endanger what I hold dear and value. What matters right now, is that I trust you and Ancano. This has nothing to do with either of you being Thalmor, if that is what your concern was.”

“To a degree,” Ondolemar admitted. “I’d rather not find your teeth buried in my neck.”

Ganir laughed. “I’d rather not end up on either end of your blade.”

Ondolemar glared at him, but then sighed. “Remind me to pummel Ancano for letting you in on that…incident.”

“If it’s any consolation I’ve had my share of … similar escapades, if not perhaps more scandalous.” There it was again, that deep chuckle, followed by the rogue-ish smirk. “But I digress, you did not answer mine either.”

“Very well,” Ondolemar nodded. “I shall return the courtesy…” Ondolemar rolled his tongue in his mouth as he thought of how to word it. As much thought as he had given it, voicing them was another matter. “In all fairness, given my position as Thalmor Justiciar, I am to report you as a threat, if not eliminate it, but I cannot ignore this recent chain of events any longer. The Thalmor I was raised to join believed for us to be the catalyst to start an age of enlightenment and establish the Dominion as the ruling body of Tamriel. But this…blatant disregard for human life, the petty squabbles and clawing at whatever within reach for power…” Ondolemar glanced past the pillars up to the Arch-Mage’s tower. No doubt, Ancano had ignored Ondolemar’s request for him to get some proper food and rest. “I do not envy the path Ancano has chosen, whether the gods will it or not, but I admire him all the same. He’s made a stance of open defiance. Something not only I, but so many others have been too afraid to do.”

Judging by the look on Ganir’s face, he was intrigued. Then again, he had never really spoken as openly with any Thalmor before. Not even with Ancano, but he was quite the character to begin with. “And yet, you are here, aiding someone with a power that could rally opposition powerful enough to tear it all apart. Make no mistake, I know the legacy of a Dragonborn.”

“It does not seem to bother Ancano, but what has he to lose?” Ondolemar shook his head and sighed. “The Thalmor are no longer the representation of High Elven supremacy. Not anymore.”

And to top it off, why am I telling you all this? Ondolemar thought as he ran his fingers over his shaven scalp.

“Don’t worry, I have no intention of waging war. I came to Skyrim to find a cure for my…condition.” Ganir tapped on one of the razor-sharp teeth in his mouth. “This…All of it,” He gestured at the surroundings, “all just stumbled on my path by fate and so did Ciri, which brought me here.”

The Dark Elf’s eyes looked at the Courtyard, but so far beyond at the same time as if he could envision her walking there as if she had never been gone. “You speak fondly of her, if I may make such a bold observation.”

“She reminded me of a girl of the streets when I was younger. I protected her. Looked after her and loved her as a sibling.” Ganir shook his head and looked up at the Arch-Mage’s tower now. “He doesn’t know or doesn’t want to know. Perhaps it is even best, but she loved him.”

Ondolemar didn’t need to be told, but it comforted him for some reason to know that Ancano hadn’t made himself vulnerable to a woman like Elenwen. “Don’t worry. I will keep an eye on things while I take care of this...other thorn in your side. I will have to consult my contacts abroad, however, so it might take a while.”

“It is appreciated regardless,” Ganir said, genuinely thankful. “I just hope it isn’t too late. I should be back within the week or so. I will make sure to keep you informed.”

“Auri-El guide you, Dragonborn.” Ondolemar bowed his head to the Dark Elf and the courtesy was returned.

“Azura watch over you.” Ganir turned and made his way over to the stables, retrieving Tormagg before he made his way over to the Frozen Hearth Inn where Delphine and Esbern stood waiting for him.

The two Blades followed the Dragonborn without a word and so their journey for Sky Haven Temple began. Ganir was quite content to ride alone ahead of them as Esbern’s prattling soon enough annoyed him. I should’ve left around nightfall, he grumbled to himself. Once the sun’s glare pierced the thick clouds, Ganir’s head immediately began to pound and he pulled his hood up farther.

To add to his annoyance, he now had to compromise with his two travelling companions, of which one insisted they make camp for the night so they could eat and rest before they continue their way again at dawn. While the two Blades made themselves comfortable at the campfire, Ganir was more than happy to keep to himself while he sharpened his blades and kept watch during the night.
Delphine seemed rather content with this as well, but she was definitely more respectful towards him now.

Finally, on the third day at dawn, they closed in on where Sky Haven Temple would be. They dismounted the horses some way back, however, heeding Ondolemar’s warning about the Forsworn, but they grew especially worried when they saw a variety of thick, black puffs of smoke rise from the hill beyond.

Upon closing in, they saw that the whole encampment had been burned down to the ground and nothing had been spared. The wooden, make-shift walkways lay scattered and splintered to smithereens. Charred bodies lay twisted and contorted on the ground…Ganir felt a rush of adrenaline surge through him and his eyes narrowed. All his senses peaked to alarm.

“Definitely a dragon.” His eyes scanned the skies as if he was expecting one to fly overhead somewhere just now, but they were empty.

“How can you tell?” Delphine asked.

“The claw marks on the stone.” Ganir pointed out the facts he summarized that led to his deduction. “The wood must have been slammed to bits upon impact of the dragon’s landing if he didn’t slam it with his tail. The way they were burned. They weren’t bound. They were running for their lives. Not to mention the stench of sulphur.”

“Esbern. I don’t see any temple…”

The Forsworn encampment, or what remained of it, had lain in a valley with a creek running through it. Overhead, loomed the remains of an old, Nordic burial, which they had passed by. The temple definitely wasn’t there.

“That cave over there…” Esbern pointed out. “The Akaviri were masters of disguise to whatever sanctuary they built. No doubt, it is hidden there somewhere.”

Ganir slung the bow off his shoulder and knocked an arrow as a precaution and emerged from his hiding place. The two Blades followed him shoot and he glanced at them over his shoulder. “Be on your guard. The dragon could still be on the prowl somewhere.”

They waded through the ice-cold water of the creek and were greeted by the stench of burnt flesh and sulphur as they approached the cave’s entrance. Ganir leaned against the rock as he peered inside, bow and arrow at the ready. The darkness wasn’t an issue, but the thick smoke that lingered within and slowly wafted out of the cave did not permit him to properly see what was inside.

He signaled for the two Blades to take a position at each side of the cave’s entrance while he headed inside, but it was a mere matter of seconds that the Dark Elf came running out, screaming “Dragon” at the top of his lungs and dove to the ground. A gout of white-hot flame shot forth from the cave and missed the Dragonborn by mere inches.

“Nii fon tul vorey joor gruz sul voth dinok naal dii yolus su'um!” An odd sound like stones grinding over one another emerged from the dragon’s throat as he emerged from the cave. His eyes then locked on the two Blades that had been posted at both sides of the cave’s entrance. Esbern dove for cover behind the rocks, raising a magical ward to protect himself, but the beast set his eyes on Delphine. “Zu'u fen gunaar hin qeth, joor.”

But before the dragon, whose red scales shimmered in the morning’s sunlight, could open his maw with the intent to devour the Breton, he roared in rage and reeled to his left as an arrow lodged itself stuck between his scales above his brow.

“Get over here, you rotten lizard!” Ganir barked as he had another arrow knocked and ready to be fired. The dragon made to charge for the Dragonborn, but the impact of a multitude of fireballs knocked the beast’s head to the ground. Esbern had summoned two, powerful flame atronachs who barraged the dragon without fear or hesitation while Esbern focused on getting Delphine to safety.

Ganir didn’t hesitate a moment and charged for the dragon, throwing the bow and arrow aside. “Fus Ro Dah!” He snarled, slamming the dragon’s head to the ground again so he could grab on to one of the dragon’s horns. The dragon wasn’t going to have it, however and threw its head up.

Ganir shrieked in surprise and found himself holding on to the dragon’s horns while he lay on the beast’s forehead. The dragon frantically began to shake its head in an attempt to throw the Dark Elf off him. Ganir’s eyes widened when the beast opened its maw. “YOL TOOR SHUL!” The searing, hot flames did not hit Ganir, but forced Esbern and Delphine to run for safety. “Ofaal vau zey, ruth fahliil ful Zu'u vis gunaar hi!”

The whole scene would have looked rather preposterous if it wasn’t so precarious. A Dark Elf was clinging on to a dragon’s horns for dear life on the beast’s forehead and two Blades stood helpless. They couldn’t shoot the dragon lest they risk hitting the Dragonborn, and it was never wise to attack a dragon head-on.

Do I have to do everything myself?! Ganir began to kick the dragon’s head and nose, which only seemed to anger the beast more. Suddenly, it began to stop shaking its head and flailing its tail and Ganir followed the dragon’s gaze at the rocks. “Oh no. No!” But the dragon charged for the rock-formation near the cave entrance with the intent to ram its head against it and crush the Dark Elf on impact. But the plan did not work to the beast’s advantage, because Ganir was forced to leap out of the way lest he get crushed either on the rocks or under the dragon’s talons as he nearly fell off.

The wind was knocked out of his lungs as the dragon ran over him, missing him by just, and though he was briefly dazed, Ganir immediately saw how vulnerable the beast now was and dug his daggers into the dragon’s belly, forcing the blades through the thick, leathery hide. The dragon roared in pure anguish as blood spurted from the wounds but no matter how he slammed its wings and tried to snap its jaws at the Dark Elf, the dragon could not reach him. Now I have you…! Ganir was left dangling from the daggers buried within the beast. He knew that if he fell now, the dragon would crush him. He threw his hips up and dug his heels into the scales to hold on while he pulled one of the daggers out, burying it into the dragon’s gut again, followed shortly by the other. Now that Ganir was clearly out of danger from being shot, Esbern began slinging his spells while Delphine grabbed his bow and arrow.

It was only a matter of minutes before the dragon could finally no longer muster the strength to fight back. Blood pooled from the countless stab and penetration wounds onto the burnt ground. The beast had reared onto its hind legs and staggered, stumbling before it crashed to the ground. With its final strength and breath, its golden-brown eye glared at Ganir. “Zu'u dur hi, Dovahkiin,” it spat. “Aal Alduin siiv ahrk du hi!”

Ganir’s chest rose and fell as he caught his breath. “I’m sorry. I don’t speak Dragon.” Ganir plunged his dagger into the dragon’s skull and the beast’s eyes fell shut after a final gasp of pain.

“That…nearly…killed us!” Esbern exclaimed, out of breath. “We nearly got burned alive, I…I-,!”

Esbern’s eyes widened as the dead dragon began to catch flame and its very being was absorbed by the Dark Elf before him, who seemed rather unfazed by it. “Could’ve been worse,” he grumbled. “Last time I got impaled on a horn.”

Esbern gawked, his breath taken away by the confirmation that this Dark Elf indeed was Dragonborn. Ganir walked over to the creek and washed the dragon blood off him before he took his bow back from Delphine. “Thank you. Let’s get this over with now, shall we?” In passing, Ganir snapped his neck back in place, making a nasty cracking sound.

“Did you just see…that?” Esbern looked from the Dark Elf to Delphine, still amazed. “That is astounding. He truly is Dragonborn!”

Delphine sighed and rolled her eyes, following the Dark Elf suit, who had made his way into the cave which now had to be safe. They found that the dragon had not only wreaked havoc on the encampment outside, but also in the cave, where some of the Forsworn had hoped to find refuge, only to be burned alive by the dragon.

There was absolutely nothing left, but just when they thought they would not find Sky Haven Temple, they made their way further into a cave after finding a passage behind a thick shroud of withered hanging moss.

They looked up at the raised, stone bridges and the distinct, stone ruin that lay hidden within the rock face. Kynareth had clearly reclaimed most of it as shrubs, trees and moss had weeded their way from growing in the crevices of in the stone.

Esbern lit a torch and they made their way up to where three pillars stood, which no doubt shared a similar function to mechanisms found in ancient Nord burials like Bleak Falls and Ustengrav.
“Yes. These are definitely Akaviri symbols,” Esbern said as he studied the three pillars. “Here, you have the symbol for ‘King’…” His wrinkly, old fingers tapped at one of the symbols on the left pillars. “This one over here is the symbol for ‘Warrior’…And this here…” he now tapped on the far-right pillar. “That’s the symbol for Dragon-born; an arrow-shape pointing down-ward to the bottom as though filling something. No doubt a reference to the divine ascending into a mortal shell. Can you give me a hand, Dragonborn? We should be able to lower the bridges by turning these pillars to this symbol.”

Ganir nodded at Delphine to help him as well and with effort, they managed to turn the pillars to the correct symbol. For a moment, nothing seemed to happen, until a loud, creaking noise was heard. Initially they thought that the enormous, stone slabs were going to collapse on them, but thick, ancient chains held them in place as they lowered themselves, permitting for the two Blades and Dragonborn to cross and make their way up.

“This is simply astounding.” Esbern was in awe of his surroundings. “It is remarkable how well-preserved it has been. Just look how these reliefs of the Akaviri are still intact…” They had made their way up that led to the Temple’s courtyard. The walls and pillars were indeed quite well-preserved, depicting a variety of historical, pivotal events in Akaviri history. Ganir wasn’t necessarily impressed or interested, but when they emerged from the tunnel to an open plaza, he was in awe of the sight before him. This definitely was the inner courtyard to Sky Haven Temple, which also had been reclaimed by nature. Thick layers of ivy coiled its way around the ancient pillars. Hanging moss dangled from the stone crevices and slabs. In the courtyard’s center lay an odd, carved seal with conduits for water? He wasn’t sure. But what really caught his eye was the carved, stone head in the back wall that stared at him with hollow, cold and unmoving eyes.

After making sure nothing was trapped, Esbern made his way over to the odd seal in the center. “This is a blood seal, for certain. Another of the lost Akaviri arts. No doubt triggered by…well, blood. And look at this…” He walked over to the stone head. “You see how the ancient Blades revered Reman Cyrodiil. There is no doubt about it. This is Sky Haven Temple, built in dedication to Reman. He ended the invasion under mysterious circumstances…The entrance is most likely behind this and your blood is the key.”

Really. Blood? Ganir furrowed his brow. Shaking his head he knelt down at the strange seal. His eyes studied it. He really didn’t like the idea of shedding his blood as part of a ritual, but he wasn’t dealing with Daedra. The seal was made of marble and looked dirty, caked with mud or blood, he wasn’t sure. He unsheathed his dagger and ran the blade’s edge over his palm, squeezing the blood onto the seal. The blood seeped down and dripped onto the seal. Initially, nothing happened, until an odd hue emitted from his blood and the seal moved on its own accord, glowing with magical light. Ganir backed away, his dagger still at the ready, but it was just the stone that moved and showed him that it had not been blood or mud, but that the seal was actually a hidden depiction of the Dragonborn symbol. A rumble came from the back wall and the head receded into it before being raised to the ceiling of a passage that lay behind.

“By Talos…” Delphine gasped in disbelief.

“After you, Dragonborn.” Esbern smiled, clearly thrilled. “You should have the honor of being the first to set foot in Sky Haven Temple.”

I better enter first so you don’t set off any traps, you mean. Ganir sheathed his blade after he wrapped a piece of cloth around his hand. Making me shed blood…Damned Nord. I had to travel halfway to Windhelm to feed on some damn bandits to get my fill.

To his surprise, there were no traps. Just darkness, but as they made their way up the steps, Esbern took his time to light the braziers and prattle away, much to his annoyance. “Amazing, you can see how the Akaviri craftsmen were beginning to embrace the more flowing, Nordic style right here.”

Delphine let out an annoyed sigh. “We’re here for Alduin’s Wall, remember, Esbern?”

“Yes, yes, of course.” Esbern apologized, tearing his gaze from the passage’s Akaviri writings and depictions on the wall. “We’ll have more time to look around later, I suppose. Let’s see what’s up ahead.”

When they emerged from the stairways up, they were greeted by an amazing sight. The stairways they had walked up grew wider to lead up to a central platform, splitting to the left and right in a half-circular fashion to lead to the barracks, rooms and perhaps outside. But all their eyes locked on the enormous wall in the far-back where the rays of sunlight fell as though Akatosh himself was pointing them in the right direction.

“There it is…by Shor’s bones…Alduin’s Wall…” The two Blades and Dragonborn made their way over after Esbern had lit the braziers and they could discern the wall’s writing and inscriptions better. “Astounding. It is so well-preserved. I’ve never seen a finer example of early, Second Era Akaviri sculptural relief…”

“I didn’t come all this way with you to get a lecture on art history, lore master.” Ganir snapped. How in the hells had Ondolemar put up with him all the way from Riften to Windhelm? “What does it say?”

“I apologize, Dragonborn, I tend to get carried away.” Esbern cleared his throat. “Let’s see what we have…” Esbern squinted his eyes as he made his way to the left of the wall. The wall was a very impressive piece of work as they could clearly distinguish the depiction of three, massive dragons, who most likely represented Alduin. There were a variety of human figures, some larger, others smaller. Just what was this Wall telling them? “Look. Here is Alduin.” Esbern pointed out. “This panel goes back to the beginning of time, when Alduin and the Dragon cult ruled over Skyrim. Here, the humans rebel against their dragon overlords; the legendary Dragon War. Alduin’s defeat is the centerpiece of the Wall. You see here he is falling from the sky. The Nord tongues, the Masters of the Voice, are arrayed against him…”

Ganir listened to Esbern as he spoke and pointed the fragments of the Wall out. “Does it show how they defeated him?”

“Patience, Dragonborn.” Esbern chastised, mildly annoyed. “The Akaviri were not a straightforward people. Everything is shrouded in allegory and mythic symbolism…It is not read like the common word of man.”

If you take any longer, Alduin will have eaten the world twice, old man. Don’t test my patience. But Ganir bit his tongue to the point it bled as Esbern took a closer look at the stone wall.

“Yes. This here, coing from the mouths of the Nord heroes. This is the Akaviri symbol for ‘Shout’. But…there is no indication of what Shout is meant.”

“You mean they used a Shout to defeat Alduin?” Delphine sounded hopeful. “You’re absolutely sure?”

“Oh yes.” Esbern confirmed. “Presumably something rather specific to dragons, or even Alduin himself. Remember, this is where they recorded all they knew of Alduin and his return, but like I said, they do not mention which.”

Delphine swore. “So we’re looking for a Shout?” she then looked at Ganir. “Have you ever even heard of such a thing? A Shout that can knock a dragon out of the sky?”

“Logically not,” Ganir scoffed. “I’d have to ask the Greybeards.”

Delphine growled. “I was hoping to avoid having to involve them in this, but it seems we have no choice.”

Ganir raised a brow. “And you have a problem with them because…?” Granted, they were odd, reclusive and old men, but they did not seem the harmful sort. In fact, they had been most hospitable, friendly and respectful.

“If they had their way, you’d do nothing but sit up on their mountain all day and talk to the sky…or something like that.” Delphine went off a tangent. “The Greybeards are so afraid of power that they won’t use it. Think about it! Have they even tried to stop the civil war? Or done anything about Alduin?”

“It’s astounding how you managed to survive this long being so narrow-minded,” Ganir sneered sarcastically. “And what are your expectations of me? Do you expect me to stop this civil war?”

“That’s not the point…but don’t you get it, do you?” Delphine threw her hands up in exasperation when Ganir raised a brow. “They’re afraid of you. Of your power. Think of Tiber Septim! Do you think he’d have founded the Empire if he’d listened to the Greybeards? You are the only one who can stop Alduin.”

“And it’s what I intend to do,” Ganir said sharply. “But they have helped me a lot, so you would do well to remember that.”

Delphine glared at the Dragonborn. Had she not helped him either? Had she not retrieved Esbern with Ondolemar and gotten him into the Embassy? “You best be on your way to High Hrothgar then and find out what they know about this Shout.”

Ganir had already turned his back on her, however, and walked down the steps to make his way outside and ride for High Hrothgar. Little did he know that he would not receive a warm welcome.


“Zu'u dur hi, dovahkiin. Aal Alduin siiv ahrk du hi”
(I curse you, Dragonborn. May Alduin find and devour you!)

Ofaal vau zey, ruth fahliil ful Zu'u vis gunaar hi!
(Get off me, damned elf, so I can crush you!)


Nii fon tul vorey joor gruz sul voth dinok naal dii yolus su'um
(It seems yet another mortal greets the day with death by my fiery breath!)

Zu'u fen gunaar hin qeth, joor
(I will crush your bones, mortal)

Notes:

Sorry, I'm on an updating spree.

I hope you're still all enjoying it. Please let me know if you still are or what you think in general. It really helps!


SPOILER ALERT DOWN BELOW SO BE WARNED


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For those wondering about a certain someone: Sovngarde awaits us all. Let me know if you think what this entails. =P

Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 19

Door dutchinteldude op woensdag 13 juli 2016 14:01 - Reageren is niet meer mogelijk
Categorie: -, Views: 866

Na even een lange break en een nieuwe job gaan we weer voor nieuwe hoofdstukken :-)

Dus mensen hier komt hij.

Skyrim: The Unlikely Companions – Chapter 19


Summary:

Ganir nodded and looked at Ancano over his shoulder, who had patiently been waiting. He then looked back at Cirilonde and squeezed her hand, rubbing his thumb over the back of his hand. He leaned in and kissed her forehead. “Until the next dawn, Ciri.”
Notes:

(See the end of the chapter for notes.)

Chapter 19

Ganir watched the flames engulf the hay and wood of the funeral pyre and the flowers that had been left as parting gifts withered away before they and Tolfdir’s body were devoured by the fire. They had bid their farewells to Mirabelle Ervine and Savos Aren not too long ago in a similar fashion, but it was so different all the same. He hadn’t known Tolfdir very well, but he had been a gentle and kind soul, even if he could be stubborn. He perhaps would have lived only a few more winters to die a natural death but Ganir wasn’t at peace with the Nord’s death, which had been unnecessary and cruel. It had not been without honor and dignity as some of Winterhold’s villagers and Jarl Korir himself were present to pay their respects to a son of Skyrim who had put a lot of effort in trying to improve the relation between Winterhold and its College.

“I hope that even though he has passed, we can still work towards what he aimed to achieve,” Faralda had said to the Jarl, who had shook her hand with a nod as a silent promise.

A cold block of ice slowly sank into his stomach as he dreaded what was to come once the flames had died down. He wasn’t ready to say goodbye yet, not to Cirilonde.

The Dragonborn looked over at Ancano, who stood with what remained of the College’s staff, clad in black, velvet robes with silver trimming. His long, silver-white hair had been bound back. Though the robes were thick and kept him warm, one could tell easily that a thick layer of bandages were wrapped around his chest underneath. The magical scars that had lit up during his fight against Taurmillan had long faded, but the silver lines remained and marred his otherwise perfect and golden skin. His face was set in a cold, harsh and unreadable expression and Ganir knew he would probably never see the High Elf’s loss of composure again. He wondered what went on in his mind as all of the College’s mages, one by one, let one of their Mage lights float up into the sky, briefly lighting the College grounds as the flames slowly died down at last and only embers remained.

It was a beautiful gesture that deeply moved Ganir. They briefly stood in silence before Faralda took the lead and lead the way to the Midden, which had been made more accessible by Jarl Korir’s men by raising a ramp and widening its opening.

It still was a dark and foreboding place, but the way to where Cirilonde had been laid to rest, had been polished up and restored the best they could. Each step grew heavier than words could describe as the labyrinth came into sight. The way was lit by candles and flowers had been laid down to the sides of the tunnel until they reached the room where the Staff of Magnus had been hidden away not too long ago.

He saw how Ancano swallowed and he too struggled to contain his emotions. In the center of the room, on an altar of ice, covered by a black, velvet burial cloth, lay Cirilonde. She wore a white, burial dress-robe and her long hair had been braided and laid over her shoulder. Her hands were folded on her chest, holding Savos Aren’s amulet. It was as though she were asleep and could wake any moment.

Colette had outdone herself to lay Cirilonde to rest in the fashion they had all known her to be; beautiful, serene and graceful. Colette stood with a straight back and silent tears rolled down her cheeks, clad in black and grey robes. The Augur of Dunlain hovered next to her.

One by one the College’s inhabitants approached Cirilonde, leaving a flower and a whisper of goodbye through their tears. Brelyna even left a charm she had made. She and Cirilonde had gotten along very well and would often discuss magical theories if not practice together when she had not been too occupied with helping Tolfdir out.

Ganir had gotten along well with most of the staff and students, but Cirilonde had been everything to him in the short time he’d gotten to know her so well. He felt his heart break as the memories of their short time together flooded him from. How she had looked terrified in the mud and snow after he slew the Thalmor assassins, how they had laughed at the little moments they had shared to the intense battle against Ancano and the dragon and how they had bickered over Ancano’s allegiances.

He looked at the High Elf who stood alone not too far away from him. He still couldn’t pinpoint the cold and aloof Altmer’s true thoughts or feelings, but he trusted him. He had morals. He had honor…And he was brilliant. Only they, Colette and the Augur remained in the room now and he knew that Ancano had purposely waited so he could be alone with Cirilonde.

You loved her as much as I.

With leaden feet, Ganir walked over to the altar and stroked Cirilonde’s cold cheek with the back of his hand, digging a sharp tooth in his lip. “I could not save them. In the end, it was all in vain.” The Augur had recovered over the course of days, but he was still weak and his light didn’t shine as bright. “I have failed you.”

“You came to Tolfdir’s rescue even though it nearly cost you,” Ganir said without tearing his gaze from Cirilonde. Whatever world would greet her, she would grace it like a radiant beacon of kindness and gentleness. “We all did what we could, Augur. You haven’t failed us once. Thank you for everything you’ve done and tried to do.”

The Augur hovered in silence, clearly moved by the genuine words. “And I thank you, Ganir the Dragonborn. Without the help of you and Ancano, we would not have prevailed.”

“And we will prevail no matter what they will throw against us. I will see to it that this place will be protected no matter what,” Ganir promised. He didn’t deserve to die. She didn’t deserve to die…

“As you have.” There was a hint of a small but bitter smile to the Augur’s voice. “For now, we shall part ways...”

Ganir nodded and looked at Ancano over his shoulder, who had patiently been waiting. He then looked back at Cirilonde and squeezed her hand, rubbing his thumb over the back of her hand. He leaned in and kissed her forehead. “Until the next dawn, Ciri.”

He pulled away and straightened himself. He didn’t want to leave but he knew he had too lest he never. The Dark Elf pulled his hood up as he turned to leave and made no eye-contact with the High Elf in passing, who then finally stepped forward. He waited until the Augur and Colette were gone.

Now that he was alone, Ancano didn’t know what to do or say. There had been a great, many people he had lost over the decades due to the Great War and its aftermath, but he’d never gotten close to anyone, until he met Elenwen. She had held a brilliance, ambition and cunning that initially annoyed him, until he found it challenging and alluring. They had been close. Intimate…And she betrayed him to rise in the Thalmor ranks over his back and that of the countless, innocent lives.

But you, not once…You were always there. He closed his eyes as he could so vividly remember holding her as they practiced Destruction magic. Whenever she had been close, the distinct scent of jasmine lingered. Her melodious, serene incanting resounded in his ears still like a lament. The way her green eyes had initially shot fire at him, but then softened over the course of time. He refused to acknowledge the salty droplets that escaped his eyes but his body betrayed him for his knuckles turned white as he clenched his hands into trembling fists. The life had been torn from her and there had been nothing he could do to stop it.

Knowledge is power. Power corrupts. It destroys. It is inevitable. Your path will lead you to a destruction that will tear away all you hold dear. The Augur’s words echoed in his mind when they had first met as he had so arrogantly sought him out to get answers about the Eye.

The Eye’s mark had humbled him. The Thalmor had humiliated and tortured him, maiming his body. But all the wounds he had sustained at the hands of the Eye of Magnus and the Thalmor paled in comparison to the pain he felt tearing away at his heart. Divines knew that if he could change anything, he would have kissed her one of those long evenings they would tend to the correspondence and inventory long after Tolfdir had retreated for the night. She had broken all the walls he had built up over the course of decades. The three words were there, but instead, he reprimanded himself, his whole body shaking with grief. I never should have come here… “It doesn’t matter.” He bit to himself in a sharp tone. She’s gone. She won’t come back no matter what you do, fool. What makes you even think…

But he had held her hand and did not want to leave her.


“I have good reason to believe that the target will be coming to Riften in the next few days. Discretion is preferred, but elimination of the target is of the highest priority. The usual restrictions on exposure are lifted—you will be reassigned outside Skyrim if necessary, without penalty.

Do not fail me.

--E.”

The contents of the note deeply troubled Ondolemar. Granted, they had eliminated the witnesses involved, but the fact that Elenwen knew ‘someone’ was coming for Esbern other than the Thalmor, made him worry for his safety. This didn’t seem to worry the two Blades that rode some distance behind him and caught up with each other.

The road from Riften to Winterhold had been long, but they had not once stopped to rest. Delphine and Esbern would take turns to hold the reins of the other’s horse as one of them slept. Though elves didn’t need sleep as much as the common mortal, Ondolemar was exhausted but he didn’t trust the two Blades enough to close his eyes for even a moment.

But finally as the sun was setting, they rode towards the College of Winterhold and when they reached the bridge, they were approached by a tall, Altmer female clad in red gold-trimmed robes and fur-lined boots. Ondolemar dismounted and shook the hand she held out. “You must be the Justiciar we’ve been waiting for,” she said. “I am Faralda, the instruction of the Destruction arts at the College.”

“Ondolemar,” he replied, returning the courtesy. “I see that you have prevailed against the crisis that held this College in its grasp.”

Faralda sighed, “At a price.” She then looked past him at the two Blades that made to dismount, narrowing her eyes. “The Arch-Mage does not permit for strangers to wander the perimeter of his grounds. I will have to request you stay at the Frozen Heart Inn until summoned.”

“Summoned?” Delphine repeated in disbelief. “The Dragonborn had us come all the way here to see him! We have information that is of the utmost importance!”

“And he has been tending to matters of utmost importance. We will send for one of our own to retrieve you when he and the Arch-Mage are ready to receive you.” Without another word, Faralda then gestured for Ondolemar to follow her and he couldn’t help but be smug as Delphine angrily gripped the reins of her horse and walked off with Esbern.

“Ganir took the liberty to inform us of everything that has transpired in Solitude and how you have helped us,” she said as they crossed the bridge. “If you wish, we’ve prepared a room for you where you can refresh yourself and get a change of attire.”

“That would be desirable.” Ondolemar beheld the College grounds and though the building was ancient and crude, he had to admit it looked rather impressive. The College’s inhabitants worked together with the villagers to mend the damage the building had sustained in the course of the battle. Doors and windows were being replaced and in the center of the courtyard, near the large font, stood a rather large rock that was currently being carved into shape by a stone mason. Despite their intentions to repair the College, the stones were forever marked by the deep gashes and scorch marks the blades and spells had left upon collision

A great battle had taken place here and Ondolemar worried for Ancano’s well-being. Where in Oblivion was he? Normally, he would’ve greeted him with some sarcastic sneer… Faralda noticed how the Thalmor’s eyes sought the grounds, scanning the countless, strange faces. “He is well as far as the circumstances allow,” Faralda reassured him as she led him into the Hall of Countenance. “I’ll inform them that you’ve arrived while you prepare yourself. If there’s anything you need, just ask.”

“I thank you,” Ondolemar bowed his head to the other Altmer who then left. Now that he was alone, he wasn’t just thankful that he could wash himself, but he was also glad to see that there indeed was a spare set of robes which had been laid out for him on the bed.

As he washed the grime and filth off his body, his mind wandered. It had only been a week ago that Ancano and Ganir had appeared on his doorstep in Markarth. He hadn’t known what to expect in Riften when he went to retrieve the Blades’ lore master, but he had been most uncertain of what would await him in Winterhold.

It all came rather close now and he wondered what consequences this chain of events would have for him, but given that no Thalmor had survived the skirmish in the Ratway, he figured he was safe for now. But at the same time, he wondered where his allegiances now lay.

The ideals of High Elven supremacy that had been instilled on him from a young age on seemed to have drastically turned for the worse over the course of the past decades. Rather than the Altmer people to be the divine beacons of wisdom and supremacy, the Thalmor seemed to have grown twisted and corrupted, focusing their intent on eradicating all mortal races and purging the impurities amongst even their own blood lines.

This had only strengthened the dissent amongst his own people who began to question the Thalmor and the cultural structure of hierarchy that had been the pillars of Altmer society for so many centuries. In his eyes, what use was supremacy if there was no one to bask in the awe of it all?

There was no doubt about it that the Dragonborn would tear all this asunder, but Ondolemar didn’t know what to think or how to feel about this.

Elenwen knew absolutely nothing about the whole Dragon crisis, as he referred to it and though she was outranked, she had neglected her duty as the First Emissary to not put a halt to the Lord Exarch’s pursuits of a far too dangerous artefact. To him, it proved that the Thalmor were growing desperate and eager for power.

A knock came at his door, tearing him from his line of thoughts. “Who goes?”

“Ganir,” replied the Dark Elf. “I’d appreciate a moment of your time.”

“Enter.” Ondolemar fastened the sash of his new robes around his waist and turned to face the Dark Elf. He had expected the handsome, rogue-ish grin and the spark in those cold, red eyes, but instead, he found that the Dark Elf’s eyes looked hollow and dull. His sunken cheeks made him look far more gaunt and so much older than he already was.

“I understood from Faralda that your prevalence against the Lord Exarch cost you dearly, though she wouldn’t elaborate on it.” Ondolemar said. If he looked as terrible as he did, he wondered what state Ancano was in.

“I asked her not too because I wanted to do so myself. Hence why I’m here before we all meet in the Arch-Mage’s Quarters with the Blades.” Ganir’s thick, dark hair shimmered in the feint light as he ran his fingers through it, contemplating where to begin. “To get it out of the way, Ancano is injured, but…all right, given the circumstances. The Lord Exarch besieged the College like we had feared and though we stopped him, we could not prevent the deaths of our Arch-Mage, Tolfdir or the death of our advisor and dear friend, Cirilonde.”

Ondolemar furrowed his brow as countless questions arose. Had Faralda not mentioned that there was an Arch-Mage? And this Cirilonde…A dark suspicion began to form in his mind as to why he hadn’t seen his friend yet.

“If your Arch-Mage perished, then who is now?” he asked.

“Ancano,” Ganir replied. “Tolfdir’s death was devastating in its own right and though Ancano was reluctant to take up the mantle of Arch-Mage, he knew that the College needs him and it’s what Cirilonde would have wanted…She died trying to save him.”

The pieces of the puzzle flawlessly fell into place for Ondolemar and it explained why Ancano had refused to discuss Cirilonde with him, but now she was gone.

“It will do him good to see a familiar face such as yours, so I was hoping you could stay a while,” Ganir concluded.

“But of course,” he said. “However, even if that wasn’t the case, I might have to.” The Justiciar handed the Dark Elf the note he had found on Shavari’s body.

Ganir’s brow furrowed, troubled. “Were you compromised?”

Ondolemar shook his head. “Not as far as I know, but we are to be cautious if our cooperation is to continue.”

“I never meant for anyone to get dragged into all this. I’m sorry.” Frustrated, Ganir crumpled up the note. Just when they had overcome one hurdle, another one reared its ugly head. Granted, the Thalmor from the Ratway had been eliminated, but they had no idea if the Thalmor were aware of Ondolemar’s involvement in any of it. He could very well be in danger. “I owe you a great deal for helping me out even though you had all reason not to. If there’s anything you need, just ask. The people here won’t harm you. They know who you are and why you are here. Stay as long as you need and like.”

The relief was clear on Ondolemar’s face. At least he would be safe somewhere, should it come to that. “I thank you.”

The Dark Elf had turned to walk away, but then stopped to look at him over his shoulder. “Ancano is either with her now, or he’s locked himself away in his quarters. Perhaps it would lighten his mood if he were to see you before we meet with the Blades later tonight. As your lot says ‘the Thalmor’s memory is long’ and he certainly hasn’t forgotten about Solitude.”


Later that night, the Dragonborn led the Blades and Justiciar up to the Arch-Mage’s Quarters. Even though Ganir had warned him beforehand, Ondolemar’s face showed clear concern for Ancano when he laid eyes on him. Ancano no longer donned the Thalmor robes they both were so accustomed too. Instead, Ancano wore dark-brown, velvet and fur-lined robes with golden trimmings. He would’ve looked quite imposing if he didn’t look as though he hadn’t slept or eaten in days. His eyes held a harsh coldness that was very unlike him.

Then again, it most likely had to do with Delphine, who shifted uncomfortably under the intense, cold glare of the Arch-Mage. She felt as though he was burning holes into her very being. As satisfying as it was to see her discomfort, Ondolemar hoped the Breton was wise enough to not provoke him. Finally, Ancano’s eyes shot to Esbern, who had politely introduced himself and seemed oblivious to the fact that Ancano was a former Thalmor.

“From what I understood, you possess the required knowledge on how to stop this…dragon crisis?” Ancano asked the old Nord after he had regarded him with a disdainful indifference.

“Yes…Yes,” Esbern seemed a bit distracted as he had occupied himself with taking in his surroundings, eyeing the odd trinkets and ends that lined the shelves and desk. “It has been such a long time since we last had any glimmer of hope, but now that a Dragonborn has appeared, this logically changes everything. But there’s no time to lose while Alduin is still out there. We must locate…Hold on, let me show you something…” The old Nord rummaged through the bag he had slung over his shoulder. “I know I had it here, somewhere…”

“Esbern…what are you doing?” Delphine suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. Though they’d been able to eat at the Frozen Hearth, she was exhausted. Sleeping on horseback wasn’t exactly comfortable. And she really didn’t want to stay here any longer than needed. Ondolemar was intimidating in his own right, but Ancano was another story. If looks could kill, she would’ve been dead and buried at this point…if not disintegrated on the spot and he seemed most capable of both.

“Ah, here it is. Let me show you…” Esbern produced a moldy, leather bound book from his bag and laid it on the Arch-Mage’s desk, opening it on a particular page. “You see this right here? Sky Haven Temple. Constructed around one of the main Akaviri military camps in the Reach, during their conquest of Skyrim.”

Delphine furrowed her brow. “What are you going on about, Esbern? What does any of this-,?”

Esbern shushed Delphine, waving his hand, tapping at a particular paragraph in the book. “This is where they built Alduin’s Wall. To set down in stone all their accumulated dragon lore. A hedge against the forgetfulness of centuries. A wise and foresighted policy, in the event. Despite the far-reaching fame of Alduin’s Wall at the time, one of the wonders of the ancient world, its location was lost.”

“Would you care to get to the point, lore master? What does this ‘wall’ have to do with anything?” Ancano’s voice had held an icy tone while his long fingers drummed on the desk; a clear indicator the Arch-Mage’s patience was wearing thing, which seemed best avoided given his disposition. Though the old Nord clearly possessed a vast amount of knowledge they needed, he was far too caught up in the details he forgot why he was really here in the first place…or who he was talking too.

Esbern cleared his throat, noticing the warning look that Delphine had given him. “I’m not surprised that you haven’t heard of Alduin’s Wall, though I’m surprise you haven’t, Delphine.”

“Just tell us what Alduin’s Wall has to do with stopping the dragons, Esbern. We don’t have time for this right now,” Delphine said, crossing her arms over her chest.

“Alduin’s Wall was where the ancient Blades recovered all they knew of Alduin and his return. Part history, part prophecy. Its location has been lost for centuries, but I’ve found it again. Not lost, you see, just forgotten. The Blades’ archives held so many secrets…I was only to save a few scraps after the Thalmor burned most of Cloud Ruler Temple down…” As the Old Nord laid out the notes and sketches he had gathered over the years, he gave Ondolemar a pointed glare when Cloud Ruler Temple was mentioned. “Alduin’s Wall will hold the key on how to stop Alduin.”

They all looked at the information laid out on the desk by Esbern. According to his research, like he pointed out, Sky Haven Temple was located East of Markarth. “Sky Haven Temple it is then, I suppose.”

Ganir, however, slammed his hand down on the map Delphine had made to take. “I don’t think you and I are going anywhere after what you pulled on me in Solitude…”

“Gods be damned, Dragonborn, are you honestly still begrudging me for that?” Delphine slammed her fist down in return. “You had me ride for Riften with him-,” Ondolemar and she exchanged death-glares, “-through cold and storm and had us wait for hours because you had ‘better things to do’. I told you a dozen times back then that I couldn’t. Risk. It.”

“If I am to work with you I need to know whether I can trust you or not and right now I wouldn’t trust you with the life of my worst enemy!” Ganir’s eyes flared up as he and the Breton glared each other down. Ondolemar glanced at Ancano, who regarded the argument with a calculating glimmer in his eyes. “Abandoning me with a treacherous wood elf and an injured comrade in the heat of pursuit by the Thalmor. Disobeying Ondolemar’s direct orders to wait and your complete disrespect and disregard for anything but your narrow-minded views. You will be either the death of me, or what I have left in this cursed land!

“You think you have lost a lot? That you have suffered? I was there when the gates to Oblivion opened. I was there when Martin shattered the Amulet of Kings and sacrificed himself for all of us and I was there when they burned Cloud Ruler Temple to the ground and butchered every last one of them. But I was not there in time to save Tolfdir or Cirilonde…and I won’t let it happen again because you can’t fucking swallow your pride and cease to be blinded by your hatred.” Delphine stood in silent, trembling rage and disbelief. He had not spoken in the Dragon’s tongue, but the Dragonborn’s voice had shaken her to the very core. “Now. Get. Out.”

It was Esbern who spoke who stood up, breaking the Dragonborn’s ‘hold’ on her. “As you wish, Dragonborn. We will await your summons in the Frozen Hearth Inn as you asked of us. If there is anything you need, we are at your disposal.”

“Thank you, lore master.” Ganir spoke without tearing his gaze away from Delphine’s, who finally cast her eyes down and nodded.

“As you wish, Dragonborn.”

A shiver ran down Ondolemar’s spine. He had never experienced such an intense power and he realized that very moment, all his doubts were erased. Ganir Mathendis truly was a force to be reckoned with that would definitely tear asunder the dissent that held Tamriel in its grasp.

Ganir and Ondolemar regarded Ancano, who looked tired and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I’ll see to it they actually leave the College grounds. I’m sure the two of you have a lot to discuss.”

“Yes. Of course.” Came Ancano’s irritable response, but he made no indication that he desired to be left alone. The heavy chair he was sat in scraped over the stone floor and Ondolemar followed him to the large window where the Arcane Eye was embedded into.

“Ganir told me of what occurred,” Ondolemar said, the both of them watched Ganir escort the two Blades off the grounds like he said he would. “I am sorry for your losses. She sounded like a gentle soul.”

He hadn’t thought it possible but Ancano’s facial expression hardened even more. He had folded his hands behind his back and began clenching and unclenching his hands into fists. “It doesn’t matter. They are gone. Nor do I have need for your sentiments. Aside from the Dragon Crisis, we have a minor issue I’ll need your assistance with lest I strangle the life out of him with my bare hands.”

Ondolemar raised a brow. “Do tell.”

“When the Lord Exarch died by my hands, his General immediately surrendered. I would have torn him apart had he not made a bold claim that I cannot ignore,” Ancano said. “Apparently, the Lord Exarch hoped to use her parents as leverage against Cirilonde to disclose the location of the Staff of Magnus, which as you can see here, is broken…” Ondolemar looked at the nearby enchanting table, where a dragon-bone carved staff lay with shattered crystal-fragments. “I’ve spent a few good nights to figure out how to mend it, but for so far, I’ve made no progress…” he then waved his hand in a dismissive manner, seemingly annoyed he was so distracted. “I will need you to interrogate this General in disclosing the whereabouts of her elders. They need to be informed of their daughter’s death…” he then turned away from Ondolemar, “…and recover her remains, if they so desire.”

“I will do what I can.” Ondolemar crossed his arms over his chest. “On the condition you get yourself a proper meal and rest.”

There was a barely visible tug at the corner of Ancano’s lip. “But of course, mother.”

Ondolemar put his hand on Ancano’s shoulder before he left to do as asked.

Notes:

What, you thought that this would be the end of it all?

Oh no no no no no! Of course not.

But hey, can't just go about spoiling everything now, can I?

Unless of course, you want me too