38 - Fellglow

They didn't have one at the Nightgate Inn, but they did have food, drink and a comfortable bed - for one guest. Zahra and I put our bedrolls on the floor, and let Brelyna have the bed.

We left the inn the back way, and headed south down the trail. We'd have to cross the ridge before we got to Fellglow Keep, but the road went way too far east, so the climb was still worth the effort.

At the top, at a place called Shearpoint, we found another word wall, and perched on it was a dragon. This was the first one Brelyna had ever seen, and she didn't know what to expect. I wasn't sure any more, either. Was this one going to be hostile, or had it been brought around by Paarthurnax, and his allies?

It turned out that we had more to deal with than just the dragon, and perhaps the dragon priest that rose from the coffin by the wall had some influence over the great beast. We were met with a fireball from the priest's staff, and a blast of frost from the dragon.

I told the mages to leave the dragon to me, and to try and suppress the priest's spells. Dragonrend gave me all the advantage I needed, but I'd rather fight just the one battle. We went in opposite directions, following our respective opponents.

The dragon circled back to land in front of the wall, which was really the only level ground he had available. I closed on him, trying to make his end as quick as I could. And then before the others returned from chasing the dragon priest down the hillside, I shouted "Slen Tiid Vo" at his bones, and brought him back.

"You let him get away?" Brelyna asked me, as I watched the dragon fly off towards the Throat of the World .

Zahra corrected her. She'd seen me do this before, and knew what had really happened. "Sent him away, is more accurate. He's gone to be re-educated, if I'm not mistaken."

"Talking of education, I wonder what this wall will teach me?" I countered, walking towards it.

It gave me all three words I could use for a new shout, except that this was almost the opposite of a shout. If I decided to make use of it, it would make my voice, and that's my normal voice, not a another shout, seem like it's coming from somewhere else. I decided to leave it locked for now.

We were soon at Fellglow Keep, where we found a couple of mages, and a flame atronach guarding the entrance. Flames don't bother any of us much, but one of the mages knew some frost spells. Brelyna sent a frost atronach to deal with her, while we ganged up on the others.

We soon found that the main door wouldn't open for us, probably barred from the inside, but there was another door that would let us in through the old dungeons. We headed inside.

Zahra was particularly disgusted to discover that the mage we met next kept spiders as pets. There wasn't a lot left of him (or his pets) when we moved on. I hoped we wouldn't meet any more spiders as we went deeeper into the ruins.

No, the next mage was keeping vampires, and they were prisoners, rather than accomplices, and rather resented their captivity. I pulled the levers operating their cell doors, and stood back and watched the mages get what was coming to them. A few of the corpses we passed in the next room weren't so fresh, as some of the vampires had already become the conjurers' victims. There were a couple of ash piles there too, as they'd apparently tried to resurrect some allies.

I was starting to think that we had a mixed bag of all the College rejects here, not just a coherent band of necromancers like I first thought. That could mean that they wouldn't be as united against us as Brelyna had feared.

We heard wolves just up the corridor ahead of us, and expected yet another variant of prohibited practices. We couldn't tell, as they were caged either side of an Altmer prisoner, who was wearing College robes. We guessed that this was Orthorn.

After dealing with his guard, and the wolves that he released to harass us, we found out that it was indeed Orthorn in the middle cage. "Aren't you going to release me?" he asked.

Brelyna considered that. She didn't really trust him, even though he obviously had been betrayed or rejected by the mages he'd followed here. "I think you'll be safer here," she told him. "We'll come back for you when we have the books."

Orthorn warned us that the Caller, the mage who ran the place, was dangerous, and we'd need him. We didn't think so.

The next door would have led us in to the keep itself, but it was locked. Again we had to detour around through more of the dungeon, and again we encountered conjurers and vampires. The latter were being used for target practice, and one was already dead. We didn't find out the fate of the other, as we left the conjurers as smouldering corpses and moved on into the keep.

The mages in the keep didn't appear to be conducting any banned experiments, but I didn't know all the College's rules and regulations. They were aggressive, however, and uniformly attacked us on sight, so whatever they were doing, they knew it was illegal. Most of them were wearing the robes we'd come to associate with necromancers. It was almost like a uniform for them.

The woman in the final chamber was different. a tall Altmer mage with an apparently calm disposition. Her blue robe was tied at the waist to accentuate her figure, and she exuded charisma. She was presumably the Caller, the one that Orthorn, (likely infatuated with her) had followed from the College.

She demanded to know why we were here, and Brelyna answered.

"So you're just one of Aren's lackeys? That's disappointing. You show real promise. You come here, kill my assistants, disrupt my work... You've annoyed me, so I don't think I'll be giving you anything."

That's when she attacked, summoning a flame atronach to assist her. Brelyna countered with a frost atronach of her own, and I moved in with my war-hammer, as Zahra flung fireballs. When she fell, it wasn't over, as the pedestals the books were on summoned more flame atronachs when we picked up the books.

A key we found on the Caller's body let us take a short-cut back down the tower, and find a good deal of extra loot on the way. When we released Orthorn, we asked if he'd go back to the College and ask to be reinstated. "You'll be going back to the College, then? I, uhh... I think perhaps I'll wait a bit before venturing there myself. Let this whole thing blow over, you know. Give certain parties a chance to forget what I may have done. Still, you've gotten me out of that cage, and I won't forget it. Thank you again, and good luck to you."

Brelyna didn't think she'd ever see him again, but she wasn't that concerned. The books mattered a lot more than Orthorn, and one in particular - "Night of Tears" - was related to Saarthal, and might provide the clues she needed.

"There's something I've been meaning to ask you," Brelyna began. "Ever since I found out that Zahra's summoned, it's been worrying me. When I summon a frost atronach, for example, it's completely under my control, and has little, if any, free will. But I know that you and Zahra are, well, you know what I mean. Doesn't it worry you that it might not be as voluntary as it should be?"

I related to her the whole story of when I first got the spell, and how she wouldn't even talk to me for so long. Well, it seemed like a long time, but it probably wasn't. I didn't go into too much detail about what happened when she first got the chance to say yes.

"I think that's why it takes so little magicka to cast the spell," I told her. "When you summon an atronach, most of the power is used to control it.

"Besides, I'm not so much summoning her, as telling her it's all right to visit again. The compacts between the realms don't allow the inhabitants to pass between them without permission. I was brought here by the Mythic Dawn, back at the end of the Third Era, and Dagon left me here, as he could never send me back. Even a Deadric Prince can't just send an army where he wants it to go. But I can invite Zahra to come here, and that's allowed. You know that only the most powerful conjurers can manage a second summon, and I'm not among them.

"Dagon gets an extra representative here this way, so he helps it all along. I'm sure he had something to do with the creation of the spell, even if it's a bit more sophisticated than his usual schemes. It may even have been Zahra's idea in the first place, and he just added his power to make it happen."