Part 56 - More Stones

Back at Honeyside, Clark was surprised to find Brelyna visiting with Gilda and Iona. She'd brought with her a pair of the Stones of Barenziah.

"When Jordis and Lydia helped me retrieve the books from Fellglow Keep, we found one of these, and I took it back to the College to try and find out more about them. The housecarls told me you'd started collecting them, but had less than half the set, so I figured you wouldn't need this one right away."

"I found another in my quarters when they made me Archmage."

Clark hadn't heard about that. The last he knew, Brelyna and Mjoll had been headed for Winterhold with the Staff of Magnus to try and stop whatever Ancano was doing there. It was time to catch up on that whole story.

"When we got back to the College, we found that there was a magical barrier around the whole place, created by Ancano, using the Eye. Tolfdir suggested trying the staff on the barrier, so I did, and it collapsed immediately. I wasn't too surprised by that, as Morokei had been using it to drain my magicka, so I knew that it somehow suppressed magical effects."

"That got us back into the building, but we still couldn't do anything to Ancano. I was reluctant to try, as that's what got Savros Aren killed, but when Ancano invoked the Eye's power to try and attack us, I had no choice but to use the staff to try and shut it down again. We were lucky that the Eye spawned a couple more of the wisp-like creatures it had the first time. They went after Ancano, and gave me time to shut the Eye down."

"With the Eye no longer in his control, the others could attack him. Mjoll and Tolfdir together was more than he could handle."

"With Ancano dead, we still had the Eye itself to deal with. We had no idea what Ancano had done to it, and whether it was stable enough for us to attempt to take control of it. That's when the Psijic monks appeared and took the Eye away. Quaranir, the one who'd been contacting me at times and guiding me, suggested that that I should concentrate on getting the College back to normal. He called me Archmage, as if it was obviously my job now."

"I didn't feel much like an Archmage. I was only an Expert in a couple of the magical schools, although it wouldn't be long before I reached Master level. Still, there were Masters of each of the Schools that should be before me in line for the job."

"Tolfdir disagreed. The Archmage wasn't supposed to be a specialist like he was. That was too likely to result in one school of magic pushing the others to the side-lines. Colette Marence was already complaining that Restoration didn't get enough recognition, and that would only be worse if one of the Masters was in control of the whole College. Mirabelle would have been the obvious successor, if she had survived."

"I thought about the alternatives. Enthir wasn't right for the position, nor Nirya. I could certainly do a better job than either of them. Eventually, Tolfdir talked me into it, although I insisted that someone else fill Mirabelle's administrative position, perhaps him."

"I didn't take much persuading to take over the quarters. I like having my own alchemy and enchanting stations, rather than having to wait my turn for the ones in the halls. And as a young Dunmer, I'm sure I'll find a use for the bigger bed," she laughed.

Clark smiled at that. Trust a Dunmer to see that advantage. "Is that Amulet your badge of office?" he asked her.

"Actually, no, The robes, which I'm not wearing right now, perform that function. But they're a bit dull and unattractive. Fine for an old bureaucrat like Savos Aren, but I'd want something else. However, they do have just the enchantment I need, with extra magicka, skill fortification, and regeneration all on the same item. I can't do multiple enchantments, or I'd try and put it all on the amulet."

"So who's the Master Enchanter?" Clark asked. "Isn't there one at the College who can do it?"

"Not right now," Brelyna replied. "Sergius Turrianus is an Expert instructor, and does a lot of the College's work, but it's out of his range, too. There's a priestess of Dibella in Markarth, apparently, who can train higher, and Neloth over on Solstheim."

"And by now, I suspect your old friend Vicuņa has joined them," Clark pointed out. "She was studying with Neloth, and I gather was getting close to Master level, too."

"There's another reason to go to Solstheim, too. I need some higher Conjuration training than I can get here in Skyrim, and Neloth's apprentice Talvas Fathryon can do that."

"He does Master training, but he's Neloth's apprentice?" Clark was amazed at that.

"Well, it is Neloth we're talking about. He's a level above most of us when it comes to magic."

"Is that why you're here now? You're planning a trip to Solstheim?"

"Yes, I have so many reasons to go there. Neloth, for the enchanting, Talvas, for the conjuration, and Velith and Diablita, because I haven't seen my friends for too long. And after saving the College from destruction, I need a vacation!"

"And Azura was just hinting that I need to go there to find Rayya some new weapons. That's if I understood what Aranea was telling me," Clark added.

Gilda added the two Stones of Barenziah to her collection. "That's exactly half the set, now," she remarked.

"Let Mjoll know about them," Brelyna told her. "She'll be out adventuring on her own again, now she has Grimsever back, and I'll be in Solstheim for a while."

"Er, I'm not sure she'd want to help the Thieves Guild," Gilda pointed out. "She blames us for the current state of Riften."

"Oh, don't think she's just a dumb blonde," Brelyna replied. "She's quite aware that it's the Black-Briars that are the real problem. Now there's a chance you'll break away from Maven, I'm sure Mjoll will do anything she can to help that happen."

"I didn't tell Serana about them," Clark remarked. "There weren't any at Volkihar Castle, but that's not unexpected."

"Everyone in the Thieves Guild knows we're looking for them," Gilda replied. "And I'll let them all know we're half-way there. That will include Serana, of course."

Clark had sent a note by courier ahead of them, so Diablita was waiting on the dock in Raven Rock when the ferry pulled in.

"Greetings, Archmage Brelyna! I was half-expecting Vicuņa to be with you. She went over to Skyrim looking for a staff for Neloth, and I thought she'd be back around now."

"Oh, so she doesn't know I'm visiting?"

"She'll find out from Captain Gjalund when she takes the ferry; on his next trip, I'd imagine."

"We're expecting to spend a few days here in Raven Rock before visiting Tel Mithryn, so it should all work out nicely to travel there with her," Clark pointed out.

"So what are your plans?" Diablita asked. "The letter didn't say much, other than that you were coming."

"That's because we don't have any for the first couple of days," Brelyna answered. "I just want to relax in Dunmer society and ignore the rest of the world for a while. Then I can get back to being Archmage at my own pace. We can make all the plans when Vicuņa's back to add her input."

"Do you have any?" Diablita asked Clark.

"Only if you know anything about enchanted scimitars," he replied. "Azura implied that there were some on Solstheim that Rayya would like. She was rather vague about them, and I got the impression that they were part of a more complicated story. She told me I'd find out more about it when I got here."

"Well, the only unsolved mystery I have any clue about is a book about Haknir Deathbrand I found. It's at least partly based on fact, as I came across the island the book mentions. It's off the north-east coast, and the door is locked beyond my picking abilities. No indication of it being haunted, but maybe the ghosts are all inside."

When they got to Severin Manor, Diablita handed Clark the book. "There's a mention of twin swords near the beginning that makes me think this is what Azura meant. Where did you find this book?"

"That's not a clue," Diablita told him. "Since I found this one, I've come across more copies in various places. We could go back to the island I told you about, and look around there. It's not far from the Skaal village, so we could ask Frea if she knows anything about the legend. Skaal oral traditions have a lot of useful information you won't find in books."

"We'll go there later, when Vicuņa's back," Clark decided. "Our priority is a visit to the Retching Netch for a bit of relaxation!"