Location:- Winterhold City.
Date:- 2E 584 Evening Star Middas 30th
Amesia pulled her cloak tight around her to keep the chill winter winds out as the snow fell heavily around the city of Winterhold. Along the streets lanterns had already been lit by the city watch. She walked past the entrance to a dunmer corner club that was located on the outskirts of the Grey Quarter of the city. Laughter and music spilled out onto the deserted street with a promise of warmth from the cold winter night.
She stopped under a lantern outside of the club and read the note once more about the meeting with the contact that had sent Amesia and her friends to the Broken Tower Redoubt. She adjusted her satchel that contained the journal and rubbings of the runes she had taken from the expedition. The streets of the Grey Quarter were deserted stray cats and dogs roamed the alleys and side streets, their shining eyes watched as Amesia followed the directions on the note to her destination. She was stopped a few times by the city watch and questioned as to why she was abroad at this time of night. Mostly the guards seemed to be pleased to talk to someone different and break up their boring routines. Her satchel full of paper and the staff she carried helped her weave an easy story of a mage being sent on an errand by her mentor soon placated their curiosities.
The snow had stopped falling by the time she had reached her destination in the twisting maze of streets that made up the Grey Quarter. A huge stone wall surrounded the grounds of a large dilapidated town house. Its gardens overgrown and wild bushes swayed in the cold wind shaking snow from their laden branches. The iron gate lay open and crooked from lack of maintenance, while the paving slabs that lead up to the front door were covered in green moss. Out of one of the windows on the first floor a candle flickered showing her the room where the meeting was to take place. The whole scene sent a shiver down her spine as the words of her dead friend Rik'Sea echoed in her head.
“This is a place one brings people to kill them.”
With a deep breath she walked down the garden path, her foot falls silent on the flagstones due to the moss covering the slabs. Amesia stopped and looked down at her feet as she wondered why the snow had not settled on the path. In the darkness small runes glowed on the flagstones and each one gave off a small amount of heat. She opened her mage sight and looked again at the runes. This time she noticed they were capable of becoming a raging inferno if the correct words were spoken. In that moment she realised the power of the man she was to meet inside the old house was far greater than her own meagre magical knowledge. She closed her eyes and wished her friends were alive to give her support if anything were to go wrong. As she opened her eyes to carry on up to the front door she thought she saw a shadowy figure at the window where the candle burned, its flame now sputtering as it struggled to remain alight due to the sudden movement. Amesia quickened her step and walked to the front door.
“I wish to enter.” she said at the large doors as per the instructions given in the note.
“It runs deep in the earth of Nirn, and where it reaches the surface it scars the world.” a disembodied voice whispered back to her.
“You seek lava, it is the life blood of our world.” she responded with the exact phrase given to her in the note she had read earlier.
With her answer the door unlocked and swung open to reveal a large hallway with a flight of stairs leading up to the first floor. In places the floorboards in the hallway had rotted through leaving gaping holes that lead down into the cellar. Amesia gripped her staff and held it before her ready to defend herself if attacked, lightning crackled along its length as she stepped over the threshold of the house. A lantern caught light from some unspoken command and gave her enough light to see the stairway as she approached. Slowly she walked to the foot of the stairs and looked up at the landing, a roaring crackling sound of a large fire could be heard coming from a room upstairs its glow could be seen casting dancing light patterns on the wall of the landing. A loud bang behind her made Amesia jump and spin round a bolt of energy left her staff and struck the now closed front door, a click sounded as the bolts and locks fell into place locking her inside the house. Her heart pounding as she breathed heavily from fear she forced herself to push onwards up the stairs. The only motivation not to flee was the promise of five hundred gold coins for the journal and rubbings she had taken from the statue of Molag Bal.
Doubt raced through her mind as she wondered who the man worked for or if he was a member of the worm cult she had heard so much about, or even a direct servant of the dread prince himself Molag Bal. Would she even escape this meeting with her life or soul intact?
If she ran now the deaths of her friends would be for nothing and she needed the money because living on 'if and buts' would not put food in her belly or clothes on her back. Amesia summoned all the courage she could and pushed on up the old creaky stairway to the landing. The wooden stairs groaned and protested at her weight as she slowly made her way up the flight keeping her back to the wall so she could have a clear line of sight to as much of the landing as possible and the hallway below. Amesia reached the landing and could see the room which had the fire roaring away as it cast flickering shadows out into the corridor. She gripped her staff till her knuckles turned white and cautiously made her way to the open door. Halfway there she cried out in pain and shock as the rotten floorboards gave way beneath her and her left leg shot through them and the ceiling of the ground floor. Using her staff to leaver herself up she inspected her left leg for any serious wounds, noting the small cuts and grazes on her calf she knew that by morning her lower left leg would be bruised and sore for the next few weeks. She gritted her teeth and tested the weight on her damaged leg, then pushed on to the welcoming warmth of the fire within the room.
Amesia poked her head around the open door and scanned the room beyond for any visible dangers
The candle on the windowsill continued to burn telling her she had found the correct room. Two large cushioned chairs sat in front of the fire with a small wooden table between them. A crystal decanter and two glasses full of what looked to be sujamma arranged on a tray. Sat in one of the large chairs was a man of imperial descent with his legs stretched out and hands resting on each arm of the chair. His eyes were closed and his breathing deep as though in meditation, the fire in the hearth seemed to grow and die with each deep breath he took and each time it became more fierce and hotter as though he was breathing life into it. It took Amesia a few seconds to realise he was in a meditative trance and feeding magicka energy into the flames, she opened her own magesight briefly and saw with each exhale he poured magicka into the flames and then drew it back into himself as he breathed in once more.
“Good evening miss Amesia.” he said startling her, his eyes snapping open. The first thing that caught her attention was his strange yellow vertical pupils of his eyes that reminded her of a pair of snakes eyes, “Please take a seat.” he said as his hand waved at the empty chair.
She entered the room and sat down in the spare chair with her satchel clutched tightly on her lap. The cushions on the chair were warm from the fire and started to sooth away the chills of the night. Her contact smiled at her as he did wrinkles spread across his features showing the signs of a weather worn face that had seen many days in the sun. The smile put her at ease slightly as he sat up and pointed to the glasses.
“Take one and let the warm drink chase away the winter chills.” he said to her in a friendly tone.
“Thank you, but I am okay.” she replied turning down the drink unsure if it was poisoned.
“Very well, I hope you don't mind me having a drink then?” came his response as he reached over and took one of the glasses.
“Look I just want to be paid and...” she started to explain.
“...and get out alive.” he finished her sentence for her.
“I feel at a disadvantage at the moment.” Amesia confided in him as she decided to take the other glass of sujamma “You know my name and yet I do not know who you are.” she finished the sentence and looked at her supposed countryman in his strange yellow eyes.
The old imperial chuckled as he swirled the sujamma around inside his glass “Names have power Amesia you should know this being a member of the mages guild.”
Amesia couldn't control the shock she felt when he told her of her membership to the esteemed order of mages across Tamriel “How did you know?”
“I know a lot about you and your four dead friends.” he replied “If it helps you may call me Bob.”
Amesia smiled and took a sip of sujamma, its spicy taste seemed to radiate a warmth down her throat to her stomach as it chased away the chills.
“I want double the five hundred, you sent my friends and I into a death trap.” she said looking at the man sat next to her “My friends are all dead because you didn't give us all the information.”
“You will get the five hundred as agreed.” Bob replied in a serious tone the smile fading from his face “I gave you instructions to wait in Rorikstead for my contact. Yet you and your friends pushed on to the fort without aid from the Shatter-Shield oathsworn.”
Amesia bit her bottom lip and looked at her glass of sujamma “They were at the village when I made my escape. The undead chased me all the way back to town, and the oathsworn held a shield wall to beat them back.”
“I know.” Bob said with a smile “It also means what you have in that satchel has some value towards beating Molag Bal and his schemes for Nirn.”
“I want in, I want to make the Prince of Domination pay for what he did.” Amesia said as she looked back up at Bob. He shook his head and sat back once more in his chair.
“No, you are a good person Amesia.” Bob said to her as he looked into the fire “Take the gold and walk away while you can.” he finished his drink and placed the empty glass back on the table.
Amesia gulped down the last of her drink and got up leaving her satchel behind on the chair. Bob pointed at a small wooden casket sat to one side of the fire place, Amesia didn't show her surprise at not seeing it when she had entered the room.
“Five hundred gold as agreed.” he said as she walked over to pick it up “And do mind the rotten wood along the landing. I wouldn't want you to fall through and die in a horrible twisted mess in the hallway.”
She looked back over her shoulder at him as he finished his parting comment but couldn't see if it was a joke at her expense from before she entered the room or of a genuine concern. Bob just continued to look into the fire without a hint of a smile.
It took Amesia all her self control not to flee from the old house and its strange occupant of an imperial male who tried to act human but couldn't quite remember how to. Back outside in the cold night air she breathed a sigh of relief and decided to head for the nearest tavern. The snow had started to fall once more as well as a strong breeze coming off from the sea, the wind picked up the fresh powdered snow and tossed it around in swirling patterns to gather in small piles against walls and in corners. Amesia headed down a side street to a small tavern she knew would still be open.
A sound from the old house alerted her, she stopped and spun around to see a figure closing the front door. She used a small amount of magicka to shroud herself in shadows to watch the person leave the property and lock the door. From her vantage point she could see the figure had her satchel over one shoulder.
“Well that drink can wait Bob. Lets see where you go.” Amesia whispered to herself.
Bob stepped out into the light of the lanterns on the street, he looked up and down the street and set off towards the harbour. The main difference to Bob that Amesia noticed was the long lizard tail and horns on his head inlaid with gold runes, although his eyes were the same. Amesia chided herself for not seeing through the illusion that the argonian had used and wondered how he had managed it. Unsure what this all meant she decided to follow the satchel and its new owner.
She kept to the shadows and out of sight of her quarry as he lead her through the harbour and back into the city. It was just after midnight by the time her journey ended outside of the College of Magic at its hidden rear entrance. Amesia watched as he spoke the password and activated the correct sequence of runes needed to open the hidden entrance and enter the college grounds. She decided the next morning she would attend a class in the college and see who this argonian truly was.
Location:- Winterhold College
Date:- 2E 584 Evening Star Turdas 31st
The clouds of the previous night had cleared revealing a crystal blue sky as the sun gave its weak warmth over the city, sounds of dripping water could be heard in the quiet spaces as the snow and ice started to melt slightly before the clouds came again to lay down another sheet of snow. People moved around the city pushing carts full of wares for the days market, a small group of carts had gathered at the front gates to the college waiting for the servants to open them up so they could deliver their weekly supplies. Small store owners stood with tables waving and shouting at the students who had started to gather at the entrance to come and buy their wares. Some of the college students could be seen buying snacks and bottle containing drinks to give them sustenance throughout the day of study.
Amesia mingled with some of the students as they bought some apples and cured meat to eat during the day. No one questioned the stranger stood with them as she was dressed in simple robes and carried a plain wooden staff. Her cowl was pulled up over her blond hair to keep the morning chill out. She laughed along with the students jokes and chatted with them as they walked past the main gates and into the college grounds. The main building of the college loomed up before her, its doors now open waiting for the students to enter and to head for their respective classrooms. Slowly the students filled into the large stone building and moved around the various notice boards detailing that days lecturers and the classrooms they would be in. With the easy part of her plan now complete she had to find the argonian from the previous night.
The interior of the college was comfortably warm kept at a constant temperature by magical enchantments. Arranged on the walls and on the high vaulted ceilings crystals gave off a constant light so the occupants could see in a perfect light for their studies. Parts of the roof and some walls had huge decorated stained glass windows depicting ancient nord heroes and legendary mages locked in combat with daedra and other monsters of legend. Sunlight illuminated the stained glass bringing the designs to life. Branching from the great hall were corridors with doors leading off into classrooms, outside of each door a stand with the name of each class, the time of day it began with the name of the teacher presenting the lecture. Amesia walked the halls looking at each name outside of the classrooms in the hope of finding an argonian name or to see the familiar face amongst the crowd. The students didn't have many argonians among them and at a quick glance it was easy to dismiss them for none of them had the large horns on their heads inlaid with golden runes, nor did they have the strange white markings on their snouts. She asked some of the students about the lecturers and the classes they were to take. It wasn't long before some of the students praised one of their favourite lecturers who also happened to be an argonian, he took the class of illusion and alteration. Amesia fell in with the small group of students and made her way with the group to the classroom where the argonian called Vistha-Okan-R was going to take his class.
Excitement mixed with fear made Amesia's heart race at the thought of exposing a possible daedra cult in Winterhold. The small group of students she had latched onto entered the classroom and found desks to sit at, where they opened up their note books and readied themselves to take notes of the talk for their own studies. Sat at the head of the classroom was an ageing argonian with piercing yellow eyes, a white marking on his snout. The top of his head was adorned with a pair of large horns decorated with golden runes and inlaid with gems. He was reading a book as he waited for the class to settle down. Amesia found a seat at the back of the class and sat down keeping her cowl up in place to try and remain hidden for the moment.
“Good morning students.” the argonian Vistha-Okan-R addressed his class “Today we will focus on merging two spheres of magicka which is alteration and illusions.” he paused and looked around the classroom. Then continued to explain the metaphysics and intricacies of the skills needed to merge the two.
For an hour and a half Amesia sat and listened to the lecture and made notes as some of the things she heard surprised her as she learnt new ways to manipulate light through illusion magic. She waited patiently for the moment where Vistha-Okan-R would open the floor for the question and answers at the end of the class.
Amesia was starting to doze off when she heard him open the floor for questions, with a rush of hands reaching for the sky Vistha-Okan-R went back to his desk and sat on the edge pointing to a student and listened to the question nodding his head with a smile. The question he answered with ease and confidence, with the first question answered another rush of hands went up and with each question he answered with sound and easy to understand explanations.
Eventually there was a lull in the questions as students tried to think of more things to ask flipping through their notebooks trying to refresh their memory, Amesia chose her moment to ask her question. Without raising her hand she spoke out loud, her voice cutting through the room crystal clear.
“You say it is possible to merge alteration and illusion magic to change ones shape. I would like to know if there are going to be any tell tale signs of this kind of magic to the trained eye or is the transformation complete?”
Vistha-Okan-R paused in his answer with his mouth slightly open as he thought about the question and a way to answer it “The hardest thing to disguise would be the eyes as they are the windows to our souls.” he said slowly as he stood up to get a better look at the student who had asked the question.
“To disguise one's eyes you would also need to consume a full soul gem which would require time and preparation.” he continued as he looked at Amesia in her eyes and a smile spreading across his face as his tail twitched.
Amesia not used to the subtle body language of the argonians could tell she had riled his composure as the argonian students turned to look at her and back towards Vistha-Okan-R slightly backing away as he passed them. She met his gaze and remained seated.
“So lets say if you disguised yourself as an imperial male.” she said breaking the building silence “Would you need alteration to hide those horns and tail?”
“Class dismissed.” he said in a annoyed tone above the din of chairs scraping on the tiles and the door slamming as students pushed and shoved to get out of the classroom and the building tension within. “Not you though miss Amesia.” he pointed at her with a finger tipped with a long sharp talon on the end.
Amesia froze and sat back down feeling very frightened and exposed as the students left the room. A khajiit that had been sat next to her said as he passed “Good luck lady you are going to need it.”
“What do you mean?” she said grabbing hold of his robe.
“Master Vistha-Okan-R is one of the best duellists in the college.” he replied as he pulled away from her and ran out of the room.
Vistha-Okan-R watched the khajiit leave the room and then turned his attention back to Amesia who was now stood up holding her staff ready to defend herself. This seemed to amuse the argonian who just chuckled as he turned his back on her and walked back to his desk. Amesia relaxed a little as she witnessed no aggressive body language from the old argonian.
“So your name is it Bob or Vistha-Okan-R?” Amesia asked as she slowly walked towards his desk where he was now sat down in a high backed chair.
Vistha-Okan-R smiled as he leant back steepling his fingers “Seeing as you can not say my saxhleel name correctly please call me Left-Paw-Alight.” he said after studying the imperial woman now stood before him. “It also seems my ruse is over.”
“What daedra do you work for?” Amesia said lighting crackling along her staff ready to attack.
“No daedra or cult here my dear.” he replied “I am tasked with investigating the dark anchors that are plaguing our world by the mages guild.”
“Then why all the cloak and daggers?” she asked letting the lighting charge move up and down the staff.
“You must understand the people I am investigating are dangerous as are their patrons. The deception was necessary for my own protection.” he replied as he offered a chair to Amesia with a gesture “Tell me did you enjoy the tour of this wonderful city last night?” he asked as he leaned forward and poured some water from a jug into a cup.
“You knew I was following you?” cam Amesia's shock reply and slightly uneasy of his comfortable manner.
“Of course I knew.” he snorted the answer “I was also debating whether to kill you at the harbour and drop your body into the water.”
“What stopped you?” Amesia said as she slumped down into the chair offered to her.
Left-Paw-Alight chuckled with a smile playing on his face “You reminded me of myself and what I would of done in your shoes when I was younger.”
“So the runes and journal how are they connected to your investigation?” Amesia asked running a hand through her long blond hair “Also I am guessing the Shatter-Shield oathsworn being in Rorikstead wasn't an accident either.”
“First you are correct about the oathsworn, I sent them to the town to meet your group as back up when exploring the old fort.” he replied as he took a swig of water from the cup “Second the runes and journal are linked to Molag Bal who is also controlling the dark anchors.” he finished the sentence and looked down at the notes on his desk.
Amesia sat forward her head in her hands as she realised her dead friends would still be alive if she hadn't pushed them to take the short cut and bypass Rorikstead. “Out of curiosity are you the same Left-Paw-Alight that published the paper on Coldharbour last year?” she said as she got up and walked over to the windows that lined the classroom.
“Yes.” came the reply from behind her “The guild approached me to investigate the dark anchors because of that paper.”
Amesia looked out of the window down onto a courtyard where students practised their spells and talked in small groups studying notes from their books. The magical barrier above the courtyard kept out the cold air and snow which allowed various tropical plants to remain alive in the grounds giving it a vibrant colour of life.
“This journal and rubbings of the runes will help in this and save lives?” she asked as she continued to look out of the window.
“Not directly no.” came the reply from Left-Paw-Alight.
“So please tell me why my friends died.” she said with a sigh as she closed her eyes bringing back a memory of their faces laughing and joking which brought a small smile to her face and allayed her guilt of knowing it was her decision that got them all killed.
“I made a promise three years ago to a friend and now I have a chance to make good on that promise.” he explained to her as he watched her reactions closely “Your friends died due to being impatient, I put in place the oathsworn for their protection.”
“I want to help.” Amesia said surprising herself with the comment.
Left-Paw-Alight sat back in his chair once more as he considered her proposal to help him. Amesia turned round and leaned back against the stone wall to look at the old argonian.
“You know I am capable in the Arts.” she continued to push her case forward to him.
“I am not disputing your abilities Amesia, its just your impulsive behaviour I can not afford to accommodate.” came his reply deflating Amesia slightly as she knew he was correct on his assumption of her.
“You could give me a chance at least to prove myself, and you said yourself that I remind you of yourself when you was younger.” she protested as she walked back to his desk.
“Very well I will give you a chance.” he said as he reached down and took two letters from his bag “I need these two letters to be sent to two different places. But” he slammed his hand down on them before Amesia could pick them up “I want it so they arrive to both parties on the same day.” Left-Paw-Alight pushed them over to her.
He continued to speak to her as she picked them up and read the names and addresses before placing them inside a pocket in her robes “I then want you to decipher these passages from the journal using the codex I am going to give you before the people in the letters arrive here.”
“Bruma and a clan hold in Whiterun. This task is impossible unless I hand deliver them.” she said in an annoyed tone.
“You would give in so easily?” came the old argonian's reply with a chuckle.
“How was you going to achieve this then before I arrived?” Amesia said folding her arms and tapping her foot.
“Use the courier here in town of course with strict instructions on how to deliver the letters. You though may use what ever you deem appropriate to get the job done.” with that Left-Paw-Alight stood up and walked to the door. He stopped and turned back to Amesia who was still stood looking at the journal on the desk tapping her foot “Well are you coming? That is unless you know more about summoning circles than I do.”
She didn't need any more coaxing picking up the journal from the desk she followed the strange argonian out of the classroom.