25 - College of Winterhold

"Why are you chasing around after this Alduin?" Zahra asked me. "Is it just because the Nords are all in a panic about the end-times?'

"Well, I assume there's fire behind that smoke. Legends are usually based on facts, even if they have got half of it wrong. But mostly it's because Jarl Balgruuf asked me to do so, ... and because that's why the Kyn gave me the spell to summon you."

"So we're headed for the College of Winterhold next?"

"Yes, I'd ask Esbern, but he seems to have the same illusions that Delphine has about needing to eliminate all Dragons. It's the way he was trained, and he knows no better, but it clouds his judgement."

"What about the Greybeards?"

"They have little contact with the rest of the world. How would they know where to find anything? The College is supposed to have a major library, and they might even have the scroll itself."

When we reached Winterhold, we found a senior mage waiting at the entrance, to screen potential applicants to the College. She wanted me to summon a Flame Atronach as proof that I had the skills of a mage. I pointed at Zahra. "I summoned her, and she's better than an Atronach." Zahra proved my point by turning on her flame cloak, and Faralda laughed.

"I think that qualifies both of you," she agreed, and admitted us both. "Report to Mirabelle Ervine when you reach the courtyard."

Mirabelle was certain that they didn't have any Elder Scrolls at the College. "But ask Tolfdir, the senior lecturer. He's just starting a new class in the Hall of Elements, and you might find that useful, too."

I assisted Tolfdir with a demonstration of wards, and then asked him about Elder Scrolls. He confirmed what Mirabelle had told me, that there were none at the College. "But we're all on our way to the excavation at Saarthal. That's just started, and there's no telling what it will turn up. Perhaps even the scroll you seek. Why don't you join us?"

At Saarthal, Tolfdir had us each search a section of the site for magical artifacts. The only one who found anything was a timid young Dunmer named Brelyna, and she found more than she was expecting, when a gate closed behind her, trapping her in a small section. Her shriek of surprise brought the rest of us running.

Tolfdir asked her what had happened.

"I pulled an amulet off the wall, and the gate closed behind me."

"Then perhaps the amulet is the key to opening it again," he suggested. "Put it on, and see what you can do with it."

Brelyna did so, and when she cast a flame spell at the place where she'd taken the amulet, the wall collapsed, revealing a passage. At the same time the gate opened, admitting the rest of us.

Tolfdir led the way into the passage with Brelyna following, and Zahra and I close behind. The other students stayed where they were, reluctant to risk the unknown.

We emerged into a small chamber, and a flash of light. "Did you see that?" Brelyna asked us.

"The flash of light?" I asked.

"No, the Psijic monk that just spoke to me. He said something about danger ahead, and the Psijics watching me."

"When did all that happen?" Zahra asked her .

Brelyna thought a moment. "I did notice that you all appeared to be frozen while the monk was speaking to me. He must have stopped time for you, which is why you didn't see anything but the flash."

Tolfdir decided that we ought to continue, and we could discuss the Psijic intervention later, back at the college. This section of the ruin had been sealed for some time, so there would likely be draugr in it, and we should all be careful. The moment he finished saying it, a coffin lid fell and a draugr stepped out to attack us. We encountered several more as we proceeded, and the source appeared to be a chamber with a remarkable number of coffins stacked up as far as we could see.

Tolfdir wanted to stay and examine the chamber, but urged the three of us to continue, and try and find out where it all led. "And the way out again, I hope," Brelyna added.

There were traps, and puzzle doors, which Brelyna appeared to be quite adept at solving. There were draugr to battle, which suited me better, as a big daedric hammer works well against ancient bones.

Tolfdir caught up with us just as we were about to open a large wooden door. Brelyna did so, to reveal a glow coming from the middle of a large chamber below us. As we got closer we could see that it came from a huge magical orb floating just above the floor. It appeared to be guarded by a draugr, who rose from his seat as we approached. I stepped forward to deal with him, but my blows had no effect at all!

Magic from my mage companions was equally ineffective, until Tofdir had the idea of turning his spells on the orb. Using a shock spell seemed to drain power from it, just as it would from a living mage, and the draugr's protection was gone.

He didn't last long under a barrage from the rest of us, and Brelyna got another amulet from him when he fell.

"I'll stay and guard this orb," Tolfdir decided. " You go back to the College, and notify the Arch-mage. This is something he'll probably want to examine personally. Quickly, now. This is important, even if we do not know exactly what it is."

There was a door behind the orb, and we went through it, rather than retrace our steps. It was a long way back the way we'd come, and there was the hope this would be quicker. The passage led to a word wall, and a chest. I learned a word of "Ice form" and we got a bit of miscellaneous treasure from the chest. No Elder Scrolls, though.

Brelyna reported our discovery to the Arch-mage, who set off for Saarthal, and directed us to the librarian, Urag gro-Shug, for anything he could dig up about Saarthal's past.

Urag didn't have anything. "Not any more, after Orthorn ran off with those books. If you want to get them back, you'll have to go find him."

We asked about Elder Scrolls. "If I had one, it would be locked away, but I don't. I do have a couple of books about the Elder Scrolls that you can look at. They may be of some help."

The two books he brought us weren't very helpful. One just described the effects of them on the reader, and the other was incomprehensible. I remarked on that to Urag, and he laughed.

"Yes, that one was written by Septimus Signus. Not many people can make any sense of his work. He's the main authority on the Elder Scrolls, or he's completely insane. Nobody's quite sure which. You can ask him yourselves, if you can find him. He went off north a while ago, looking for something, and we haven't seen him since."

Brelyna went to look for Orthorn, and we went looking for Septimus.