T.B.C. Chapter 27 - Welcome to Oblivion

  • ~*Serana Volkihar*~                                                                       Frost Fall 25, 4E 203


    “I don’t remember Winterhold being so… crumbly. Let alone so small.”


    “No one knows who to blame on that,” Xian huffed pulling his fur cloak closer. “Town folk blame it on the mages. Mages blame it on natural disasters.”


    I remembered Winterhold as a sprawling city back in the day stretching for kilometers in the Sea of Ghosts. Snow peaked buildings reached into the sky like shimmering mountain tops. People enjoyed themselves, laughed. People flaunted their coin, boasting that even the nobles of Solitude would be jealous.


    Not anymore it appears.


    We had arrived to the all but abandoned town a few moments ago, the carriage from Windhelm still at the stables getting prepared to depart. Somehow it wasn’t flurrying and we could actually see! At least according to Xian because he stated that, due to how far north Winterhold was it almost always snowed.


    “Just… what happened?”


    “A century or something ago the sea came alive with a wrath to swallow mountains,” he explained as his fur cloak shifted to the wind. “Whole blocks fell overnight, hundreds gone in blinks of an eye. Lives snuffed out like candles in the wind. This went on for weeks until the storm died away. What you see of the once illustrious city was all that survived. Yet the College remained relatively untouched.”


    “So they used magic to shield their mystical sanctuary.” It was common practice for a mage, or a group, to use magic to protect their home from a natural disaster. My mother and father participated in that exercise as well, using their combined might to shield the castle from typhoons, heavy hail or otherwise. My sight allowed me to see distant objects and structures in a far clearer picture than any mortal could ever dream. I was incredulous. “And the place is standing tall on that much of a pillar?”




    “Fuck.” I was silent. “The people blame the mages for not being able to protect the rest of the city, don’t they?”


    Krie nodded. “And I agree to an extent. Powerful mages from all over Tamriel flock to the college like it is a prime source of valuables because information is freely shared there. They could have saved some of Winterhold.”


    I gazed out into the wide open and snow covered area. Guards were patrolling wearing plated armor with Imperial colors loaded with fur. A large wall was behind us, used as a barracks and barricade to protect everyone from southern winds and wildlife. Once in a while someone would peek out the window.


    “And this is what is left? It appears to be a lot.”


    He laughed at my ignorance. “What you see now is some of what has been either rebuilt or built anew. That bulwark? It wasn’t there several years ago. After the peace treaty between the Empire and Stormcloaks,” he shook his head at what I assumed was a bad memory, “the Empire sent what little resources they had to Winterhold: soldiers, food, building materials, the like. This was once part of Ulfric’s territory, the side that stood with him from the start. It was given to General Tullius at the treaty.”


    “And Ulfric and his men let them do this?” I inquired. It was a war as Xian told me. A bloody civil war, tearing men and women away from their families. Ground was valuable. It was a safe haven from hostility.


    “I’ll tell you more about that later but both men in power were honor bound to obey the terms I gave them. Again I’ll explain later. So the Empire took advantage of the land. They’ve helped fortify Winterhold against the elements, rebuilt some buildings and even made sturdy railings along the cliff’s edge overlooking the Sea of Ghosts. There is even a dock nearby for ships to import and export. Money is slowly flowing through the once nearly dried up city.”


    He was not wrong. The local blacksmith, a hardy Imperial, probably had her work cut out given the soldiers needed repairs made and swords sharpened, her apprentice hammering away at a red hot slab of metal. The stables had business taking care of the horses, a chore that didn’t seem to be plausible in this climate.


    “So you helped make this a possibility?”


    “In a way. But I was not thinking of the people at the time.”


    “Oh?” I turned to face him and couldn’t suppress a small grin. “Bigger fish to fry?”


    “I did,” he said unapologetically. “The dragons were a far larger problem than they are now.” The ebony lizard sighed and rubbed his tired eyes. “Their overlord, Alduin, is beaten. They are leaderless and many went under another’s teachings.


    It was impressive, all that he had accomplished. Very few can boast about such feats to anyone. However something started to gnaw at me again. It had been bothering me for the whole time. “Xian,” I said quickly changing the subject, “we need to talk about those visions again.”


    “Oh gods not this again,” he mumbled.


    “Yes this again.” The talk of dragons may have been interesting but that wasn’t on my mind at the time, what needed to be spoken about. “Don’t try to slither your way out of this again. We will discuss this.”


    The Argonian slightly lowered his head in defeat like he had lost an argument with a family member. “You know as well as I do that those visions mean nothing.”


    What was on my mind were the past couple of days sharing the carriage with him. Those nights of setting up camp Xian was not himself. He was unresponsive at times and I waved it off to his head trauma. But it was waking up from sleep that made me wonder. I knew his sleep rhythm already and waking up in a shock was not like him. A slightly elevated heart rate, adrenaline being released into his veins.


    It happened at Candlehearth Hall as well. Then he spoke about how vivid they were. A house caught on fire with bodies and blood in every direction, screams that he could identify. Hands reaching out in desperation, voices begging for help or to be killed. Each one became more detailed than the previous. They were short and concise, never lasting more than a moment.


    “Right. Dead bodies, a building on fire and blood is nothing in a dream,” I scoffed. “Yes, yes you think you’re the exception due to all the shit you do and put up with.”


    “I do not.”




    “Fine,” Krie conceded. “There isn’t much more to say on them. Quick, simple and startling. Nothing more.”


    I thought about it for a moment. The Argonian stated a day ago that he didn’t dream a lot and when he did they were gibberish. Silly once in a great while but never flinch worthy. “If I had to guess, Xian, it is pretty outlandish, but I’d say they’re magic in nature. Not a lot on Nirn seems to bother you deeply lest it is something personal.”


    “Plausible, however unlikely. It’s from Rolff using my head as a battering ram.” His face darkened, as did mine. “Next time I see that fucker I-”


    “I’ll kill him,” I hissed finishing the sentence.


    “For hurting me or for reminding you of the past?” he asked.


    “For h… both!” Fuck!


    “I see. Make sure it’s painful and drawn out.” The bounty hunter turned his sight to the stone bridge in front of us. A lone figure in dark robes and cloak stood at the archway. He groaned, “Speaking of painful and drawn out…”


    “Do I spy with my little eye the Dragonborn?” went the figure. A she-elf. “You have some big balls coming back to the college.”


    Was he here before? What did he do to piss off the mages?


    “That or stupid. I don’t even know when to pick for myself,” he shrugged. “But maybe you’d like to pick for me and say stupid.”


    “I would and I say stupid as you took what you needed and left us with nothing.” There was spite in her voice.


    He frowned. “No, you’re right. I left you with nothing except your lives.” The amount of sarcasm was enough to warrant a groan. “Nah, killing a god wasn’t an equal trade for Elder Scroll knowledge Faralda.”


    “Cheeky and full of yourself, aren’t you?” Her dark eyes fell to me. “And the young woman behind you… an acquaintance?”


    “Friend actually,” I corrected.


    “Had no idea you could make those Dragonborn.”


    “Appearances are always deceiving,” he hissed. “But we are not here for magical texts and whatnot.”


    “Then explain,” the Altmer demanded.


    “We know about the Moth Priest that is coming in about a month. My employer, Isran, leader of the Dawnguard, was forwarded the information a week or so ago.”


    “Ah,” Faralda grinned. “And you need him to read an Elder Scroll. Specifically the one on her back.”


    “More or less,” I nodded.


    I felt insignificant, like I was part of a business deal, a transaction. I was only useful because of the Scroll simply for refusing to part with it. Had to think on the bigger picture, for Tamriel. My own feelings meant nothing in the predicament.


    Like it was at home they meant nothing.


    “So far, Xian, all I have heard is how you, your friend, and employer gain from this venture. I’m also correct in that you both wish to stay at the college until he arrives?” Faralda seemed to have regret or exasperation in her voice.


    “Nothing gets past you it seems,” he mused, much to her displeasure which he enjoyed. “In exchange for all of that, the lodging, meals, and the Priest, the college gets me.”


    I cocked an eyebrow and the Altmer gave a confident grin after being confused. “Like the deal we gave when you needed help for finding the Elder Scroll those years ago?”


    “Yes! I will basically be nothing more than a lab rat for experimentation so you can understand the Thu’um.”


    “Are you kidding me?” I exclaimed in disbelief. “Sacrificing personal freedom?”


    “I don’t have freedom, Serana.” That was a blow I wasn’t expecting.


    The smile on Faralda’s face grew bigger and her eyes twinkled at the possibilities. It was a little unnerving. “For nearly a month, you, Xian-Krie, will do as we ask? To understand the Voice and it’s magical properties?” He nodded. “Do we have a deal?”


    Xian’s face scrunched up like he ate something disgusting and was forced to swallow. This was probably like his contracts, a set of rules he had to follow. The way I saw that was he wouldn’t let the employer control him. Was he fighting the urge to say no? His posture certainly agreed with me.


    “Yes,” Xi folded, his head now low. “We have a deal Faralda.” Begrudgingly he walked up the ramp and extended his arm. She accepted and shook on it creating a binding contract. “But,” he added, holding up a claw, “my shackles are not my friend’s restrictions. Serana may go where and when she pleases except the college’s forbidden shit.”


    “And the Nord will behave herself?” the she-elf asked with a calculated stare.


    “She is more civilized than you believe. And she is a mage.”


    Embellishment much? That silver tongue of his certainly knew what it was doing. But it wasn’t a complete lie. His freedom for mine…


    “Then she’ll fit right in and give Onmund some relief at having another one.”


    Xi gave her a quizzical look. “When did Xander leave?”


    “He up and left not long after you did. A couple of weeks at best. To add salt to the wound Brelyna went with him. And how in Oblivion did you know he was gone?”


    “He hired me. Needed my help and paid very handsomely for it. Said it had to deal with acquiring all the known masks of Dragon Priests.”


    “Xander?” I asked. May as well try to learn something.


    “A Nord vampire who believes himself to be the descendent of a Dragon Priest, Konahrik. Even took the name Konahrii. Konahrik means ‘Warlord’ in Dovah and Konahrii is ‘War Soul’ or ‘Soul of War.’ Something…”


    “You worked for a guy who has war in his name and didn’t think it was a bad idea?”


    “It was two thousand gold a mask, Serana, and there are eight of them. You don’t pass up money like that.”


    “So you willingly listened to this guy?”


    “I didn’t say that, now did I?”


    “You’ll be listening to me,” Faralda chimed in with a gleeful smile. “And the other teachers for that matter. You’ll be following instructions to the letter.”


    He grumbled, “Don’t remind me. This is going to be a long month.”


    The Altmer and I shared a quick laugh at his expense. As we passed through the gate and were given a tour- or at least I was- I couldn’t help but smile even more when we arrived at the Arcanium. The sheer size of it alone made me feel like I was surrounded by foreign knowledge. The College of Winterhold was built by Shalidor back in the second Era. Knowledge was freely shared then and it appeared to be true still!


    Thank the Blood!


    “So will I be poked and prodded today? Or will I get some reprieve?” Xian asked crossley.


    Some of the students murmured amongst themselves and stared in confusion.


    “What’s going on here?” went a gruff voice. The apprentices and mages parted like a wave to give room for an aged Orc in gold and brown robes to step forward. “What’re you doing back here, Krie? Not here for the Elder Scroll you have us, ‘cause you’re not getting it back.”


    “I doubt I’ll ever need that thing again.” Xi’s tail curled and flicked. “It served its purpose with Alduin.”


    “Hope so. The Elder Scroll has roped in a flocking of tourists only for them to turn out disappointed. Like Oblivion I’m going to let them see it when only the masters and Archmage are allowed.”


    “Wait a minute, wait a minute,” I cut in. “You gave the college an Elder Scroll?”


    “Remember when I told everyone at the Fort how I ‘read’ it?” I nodded. “Well what was I supposed to do with it after Alduin’s death? I own no home to keep it safe. Or at least hidden from sticky fingers. Urag offered a hefty sum for it and I accepted.”


    “And we are very grateful for the trade.” We all turned to see an Altmer woman. She was pale for her kind which made me raise an eyebrow. The robes she dawned were clearly custom tailored to her tastes. A light black, low cut robe that fit her body seamlessly with silver trim, a shawl hung from her shoulders that dangled just above her wait. There was a trill that went from the back of her waist down to her steel tipped leather boots.


    “Archmage,” many of the present wizards greeted.


    “Yes, hello to you all too,” she smiled warmly. Her eyes, gray as snow covered in shadow, fell on Xian. “You did a great thing for us, leaving it in our care.”


    The ebony lizard looked as if he wanted to leave. “Yes. I can see that Gla’iah.”


    Somehow her long silver-white shined brighter as her smile blossomed. The Altmer looked to see that more mages showed up. Like me she wanted them gone. “Don’t you all have studying to do?”


    Just like a flock of frightened birds many disappeared, heading for the Hall of the elements or their designated rooms to avoid being the target of the Archmage’s discipline. Faralda left fo the Hall as well claiming she didn’t want someone to burn their appendages to ash again.


    “Of course you’re the Archmage now,” Xi grumbled as he rubbed his forehead.


    “Does it really surprise you? I always was a good student.” The sly and lewd grin made him shiver uncomfortably and made Urag head back towards his desk. Her gaze turned to me and the smile vanished for a moment. “So may I ask who this young treasure may be?”


    Treasure? Young? Gla’iah was examining me like I was a challenge. An obstacle to overcome. But there was something else in those eyes of hers.


    “Treasure,” I chuckled. “Gotta admit, that’s a new one. Serana is who I am. A pleasure.”


    “Here to join? By the vast amount of magical energies radiating from you tells me you know what you’re doing. I’d make you a master the second you agree.”


    “That’s a generous offer but not the reason why I’m here. I’m traveling with Xian and his current boss, Isran, wants him here to wait for the Moth Priest that is due to arrive.”


    “Isran? The Redguard fellow who’s reinstating the Dawnguard?”


    “One and the same,” Xian acknowledged. “Hired me as a hunter and tracker as well as for my previous experience with vampires. But wouldn’t let me join his group. Must be my personality,” he laughed.


    “Yeah,” I stated flatly. “Definitely.”


    “You have many charms, Xian, but your personality is not one of them.” Gla’iah shook her head and grinned. “Thankfully you have… other qualities that make you memorable.”


    Did she just purr?


    “Xian how many women have you stuck your dick in?” I groaned.


    “Shut up!”


    Welcome to Oblivion, motherfucker.


    Table of Contents

    Previous ~ Next



3 Comments   |   Ebonslayer and 4 others like this.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  August 2, 2018
    Nice to see you back in the game, Ben. And we see a new character too. Wonder what secrets the new archmage holds. But I'm sure she's slept with Xian. :P  And man is that Elder Scroll line gonna bite Xian in the ass later, I can already see the tusk ...  more
    • Ben W
      Ben W
      The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Nice to see you back in the game, Ben. And we see a new character too. Wonder what secrets the new archmage holds. But I'm sure she's slept with Xian. :P  And man is that Elder Scroll line gonna bite Xian in the ass later, I can already see the tusk ...  more
        ·  August 2, 2018
  • Ebonslayer
    Ebonslayer   ·  August 2, 2018
    “I don’t remember Winterhold being so… crumbly. Let [alone] so small.”

    boasting that even the nobles of Solitude [were] jealous.

    “And I agree to an [extent].

    I knew his sleep [rhythm] alrea...  more