Part 53 - Nelacar

Aranea was the first to wake up. "I've had my vision," she told them. "You need to go into Winterhold, and find a mage there. He's not a member of the College, although he may have been in the past. Azura told me he knows how to find her Star."

They found Nelacar in the Frozen Hearth. At first he thought they were applicants for the College, or customers for his magical supplies, but Clark told him why they were really there.

"Azura's Star? Yes, Malyn Varen took it. He was incurably ill, and he saw the Star as the only hope of salvation. You know how soul gems work? Well they all break after they're used, except for one. Azura's Star is permanent, and that's why Malyn was so interested in it. He thought he could place his own soul in the Star and become immortal that way."

"However, Azura's Star won't hold a person's soul. He needed to change that before it would be of any use to him. Azura didn't like him doing that, and cursed him. He started having hallucinations, and shouting at things that weren't there."

"And in his experiments, he needed souls to trap. He actually killed one of his own students, just for his research, and that's when the College threw him out. He took his followers to Ilinalta's Deep, a fortress next to the lake, to continue his work. I stayed here in Winterhold, but I'm not exactly welcome in the College any more."

As they turned to leave, Nelacar had one further thing to say.

"You're not intending to take the Star back to Azura, are you? She was the one that drove Malyn insane. Daedra are evil, and Azura's no different than the rest."


They stopped briefly in Whiterun to pick up Lydia. It made sense to both of them that they'd want someone in the group with her fighting style.

"What do you believe?" Serana asked, as they travelled towards Lake Ilinalta. "Did Azura really drive Malyn insane, or was it the disease he had?"

"Probably a bit of both," Clark replied. "Her resistance to his efforts to corrupt the Star would have angered him, and helped drive his insanity, but I doubt she'd have been the initial cause. That was probably the disease."

"Could we catch it, assuming we find him?" she wondered. "If he couldn't cure it, we probably couldn't either."

"I have no idea," Clark replied, "but if none of his necromancer minions had it, it can't be easily transmitted. Just don't sleep with him, or anything like that."

"Is that likely?" Lydia wanted to know. "I've got another set of armour that almost shows my nipples for occasions like that."

"No, I'd have invited Gilda along if if was that kind of trip," Clark laughed. "Any armour almost shows hers."

"Let's go through there," Lydia said as they were passing the entrance to Brittleshin Pass. "I've never found much more than a few skeletons in there, and it cuts off a lot of the distance."

"Suits me," Serana agreed. "I'm not a fan of this Skyrim weather. I've spent enough time in caves, but anything's better than this sunshine."

They did encounter a necromancer half-way through, and he'd raised a few more of the skeletons, but nothing they couldn't handle.

"You'd better watch your back when we get to Ilinalta Deep," Serana told Lydia. "I nearly put an ice spike through you a couple of times."

"Then it's a good thing we came this way," Clark responded. "She'll be charging in, any time there are archers, like those two skeletons back there. Just remember that, and adjust your angle when it happens."

"And don't use the fireballs, either," Lydia added. "I sometimes have to remind Clark about those."

"The Hunter," and Serana scowled when she mentioned him, "mainly used a crossbow, so we were both starting off with a ranged attack. I'm not used to working with someone who prefers getting in close."

"If the enemy prefers ranged, that's when I prefer close-up," Lydia replied. "And I'm sure they charged at the two of you when they could, for the same reason. It makes you take the time to change weapon. Except when you've already got one out, so I like the way you're combining spells in one hand with a dagger in the other."

"Also, since we're working as a team, I can have you fire past me to bring them to us, while I'm waiting with my sword and shield ready. Clark will be up next to me blocking the spells with a ward. You've always got a bit of an advantage when they have to make the move, so Clark and I usually let them come to us. Except when they're archers, of course, because they want to stay away."

They were emerging from the other end of the cave at that point. "Ilinalta's Deep's not far from here, if I remember correctly," Lydia told them. "I haven't been in there, as it looked like it would be mostly flooded. I don't think the the foundations of the fort were much good, and it seems to have sunk half-way into the lake."

"How do we get in?" Serana asked. "It looks like the entrance would be well underwater."

"Top of that tower, if you can still call it that. There's a trapdoor in the roof."

The water level inside seemed to be quite a bit lower than it was in the lake outside. Clark surmised that something was draining it away elsewhere in the old fort. "There may be more to this place than it looks from the outside."

They found a skeleton shackled to a pillar in the entrance. A journal in the knapsack at his feet mentioned a story that the fort was haunted.

"That usually means necromancers," Clark suggested. "Moaning of the corspes they raise, rattling skeletons, all that kind of thing. But if this had been a Nordic ruin, then I'd expect draugr." He readied a ward spell, as well as drawing his sword.

"They don't usually go in for armour," Lydia remarked, "so I'll get better results with a bow, especially if I can sneak up on them. The two of you shouldn't be too noisy, in what you're wearing. And I need to practice my new Muffle spell."

There was noone in the next room, and only one way out of it. Lydia took the lead up the narrow passage, creeping silently with her bow ready. She stopped, the bow twanged, and a small cry of pain indicated she'd hit someone. A thump suggested he'd not survived.

They caught up with Lydia, and saw a skeleton lurching towards them. Lydia was pulling out a second arrow, but Serana already had an ice spike ready for the possibility. The bones flew apart and its sword clattered on the floor.

Someone in the next room had heard that, and two more necromancers came rushing in. One ran into the arrow that Lydia had originally intended for the skeleton, and the other took a blow from Clark's blade. Serana's second ice attack finished the latter, and she was surprised to see a swirl of magicka flowing towards Clark.

Clark was busy fending off the first necromancer's flames with his ward, so he hadn't noticed. When Lydia drew her sword and joined in, the man soon fell.

"Did you just soul trap him?" Serana asked, pointing at the other corpse.

"Possibly," Clark responded. "I have picked up a few black soul gems recently, and one of them might have been empty. My sword will do that, as well as the fire damage."

"Nice. I haven't bothered putting any enchantment on my dagger, as I don't use it that much. But that looks useful, and it's a fitting response to necromancers."

"We need to continue," Lydia reminded them. "Or we won't find that Malyn Varen you were telling me about."

"We might not find him anyway," Clark told her. "If he did succeed with his plan, he could be inside Azura's Star by now."