Frozen Tears: Chapter 2

  • Arlya’s POV

     

    This wasn’t happening. I blinked. I blinked again, keeping my eyes closed this time. When I opened them, the student was still there.

     

    “You put on the magic ring you found in the ancient ruins. The ruins we found had a secret extension, which is now being investigated by the Arch-Mage, and only him, because we’re not sure if anyone else will be able to survive the onslaught of draugr that are probably in there. Those ruins. And you found a ring. A magic one. And put it on.” I was just talking in circles now, but I can’t stop it. Really, how did he live this long with such little common sense?

     

    The student just glares at me. Well, half glares, half gives pleading looks. “Look, I know, I know, I was dumb. I just need it off, please.” He’s practically begging me now, and it was pathetic, but he’s right, and he’s probably damaging it with his scratching. He looks like he’s trying to scrape it until it dissolves into nothingness, alternating with the pulling, the pulling that wasn’t doing him any good, because the ring seemed very, very stuck.

     

    “Fine,” I answer, “But I am still going to talk to Tolfdir about this.” He glares at me, before giving out an undignified yelp as I cast my heat resistant spell on him. I can’t blame him, resistance spells don’t feel that great, elemental resistances especially. I cast another spell on the ring, and he looks at me curiously. I ignore him as I search through my bag, but soon relent. If he’s anything like most mages, he’s probably dying from the need to know. Something I can relate to. “It’s a revert form spell. It’ll restore the ring as to how it was when I first casted it. Now, drink this.” Finding what I was looking for, I shove a potion into his hands.

     

    He sniffs it, and gags. “What is this thing?”

     

    “A bond potion. It’s got my blood in it already. You know what it does, right?” Judging from his panicked look at the word ‘blood’, he did not. “It makes you immune to my magicks. Just drink it already.”

     

    He’s not calming down. “Blood? I’m not drinking that!”

     

    I wonder if all mages are this stupid. “If you want the ring off your finger, you will drink it.”

     

    After another minute of persuasion, he finally gagged it down. “Why did you need me to drink it anyway? You already cast that fire resistance…”

     

    “Resistance, even at its strongest, isn’t immunity. That’s just the backup. Now, I’m going to start casting flames, and it will feel very weird, but will not hurt you, so for the Nines sake, hold still.”

     

    He gives me a strange look once he hears that particular invocation (Not too many High Elves invoking Talos, eh?), but forgets about it as soon as I grab his hand and start burning it. I smile, partly from his utter shock at what I was doing, partly from remembering why I started using the Nines in my speech. I hadn’t even paid much attention to the religious debate until the Thalmor issued their official policy on it. Then, of course, I did the opposite of what they want. The Nord in front of me brings my attention back to the present.

     

    The student squirms, and squeals, and makes many other sounds. “Let me go, let me go!” His voice is impressively high, but I’m not having any of it.

     

    “Quiet, it’s working!”

     

    He stops doing his little panic dance when he sees that, yes, the ring is expanding with the heat, and no, his hand hand is not being burnt off. I flash my teeth in what I hope looks like a smile, but is probably more of a demented grin. Few others could get the flames this hot. Well, few others in Skyrim. It satisfies a primal urge in me, burning something, anything, enough for it to expand and begin cracking.

     

    Once the ring is able to be pulled out, I stop and do just that. As it starts falling apart in my hand, I recall the spell I used on the ring earlier, and gasp as it starts draining my magicka quickly, very quickly, too fast. Staggering I lean against the wall as the world starts spinning, before finally canceling the spell altogether.

     

    “Oh Talos! Uh, are you alright? Here, drink this.” Something is thrust into my hands, before being taken back. “No, sorry, sorry, wrong… here!” I’m given a water skin this time, and I start to chug the liquid, except it’s not water, not at all. The potion leaves a bad taste in my mouth as I choke on the thick, almost crunchy liquid. Whoever made this didn’t grind it up well enough, and it shows. I feel a warm glow spread throughout me, giving me back my energy. Normally I’d take the time and savour the feeling, but right now I’m too busy trying not to suffocate from flowers fragments in the mixture.

     

    Once I finally swallowed and choked down the last of the potion, and drank a whole waterskin (filled with water this time) to get rid of the gritty taste, I managed to get up. “Thanks.”

     

    “No problem. Are… are you okay?” He looks worried, and I feel a bit bad at how annoyed I was at him before.

     

    “Yeah, I’ll be fine kid. I’m going to check up on the Archmage and Tolfdir. Go on, I’m sure you have… things to do.”

     

    As he heads off, I hear him mumble something. “Not a kid.” I laugh, and his cheeks turn a little red. You’re, what, 20? You’re still a kid, even by Nord standards. Gods, they have such short lives.

     

    Following the student outside, I set off, heading back to the College. My bones ache from leaning against the wall. Gods, I miss my healing magicks. Gritting my teeth, I cast the rudimentary spell that is, luckily, still left over. While anything higher in Restoration is gone, at least I have my healing aura.. It starts to slowly soothe my body, and counters the frigid winter air. At least, I think it’s winter. I haven’t noticed any changes in the environment so far during my stay.

     

    I manage to make it through the snow, and to Winterhold, when I notice three Nords at the entrance to the College, harassing Faralda, who sometimes takes over for the watchman. Moving faster, I attempt to intervene before it goes ugly, but my presence is not needed. I walk around the Nords, who appear to be heading to the nearby inn. They give me ugly looks, but don’t say anything.

     

    “Are you okay?” I ask Faralda, who still looks rather shaken up.

     

    “Yes, yes, I’m… I’m fine. Thank you Arlya.” She sags against the wall, before I gently grasp her shoulder, and start guiding her across the bridge. She doesn’t protest.

     

    Faralda isn't my closest friend, but we're both High Elves, and she's nice enough. It'd be rude to not help her out, after she looks so... shaken. Nines curse those Nords.

     

    When we enter the gateway of the College, I summon a brief telekinesis spell, shutting the bars behind us. It’s a bit early for the College to close down, but not too early. The sun should start setting soon.

     

    She thanks me, and departs to her room, while I begin to do the same before I see J’zargo come out from the Hall of the Elements. When he sees me, he starts to jog over. I walk over to him, meeting him halfway. “Ah, yes, Arlya. There you are.” I chuckle, that Khajiit says me name the oddest way.

     

    “Need something?”

     

    “Yes, actually. Urag was looking for you. He didn’t seem to be mad, but…” I let out a full-blown laugh this time. Urag isn’t that scary… if you treat the books well.

     

    “Thanks, J’zargo. I’ll find him.”

     

    J’zargo nods, and heads off, presumably to get some rest.

     

    My mind wanders as I slowly walk over to the Hall of the Elements. What could Urag want? I didn’t do anything to any books. Did I drop anything off for him to translate? No, no... wait. That’s it! The book! By the Nine, I’ve spent enough years searching for it, only to forget it when it’s out of my hands for a day?

     

    Hurrying, I open the doors wide, before ascending the spiral staircase. At last!

     

    I rush to Urag, and he looks up, giving me a scarred grin. "There you are."

     

    "You have it?" I waste no time with greetings, I'm too excited by the prospect of finally reading it.

     

    "Oh, I don't know... what are you looking for?" He gives me another grin, and I narrow my eyes.

     

    "...Urag. Please?"

     

    "Please what?"

     

    I think that I might burst. "The book!"

     

    He nods, "Ah, yes, the book. This one?"

     

    I eagerly grab it, and...

     

    It's not the one I want.

     

    He lets out a booming laugh, before getting another book, the real one, finally. It's leathery, and ancient, and coated with whatever liquid he used to hold it together, and it's here.

     

    "Just playing. Here you go, but be careful. Turn a page too hard, and the whole damn thing will turn to dust."

     

    I nod, taking it gently, like a newborn babe. I bring it to a table, and start reading, lost in its pages.

     

    Eventually, I turn the page, only to have the back cover stare at me. Whew. An amulet! It seems like a small thing to have obsessed over for so many years, but at last. I have the knowledge, now I can locate these... fragments. At last.

     

    I gather some more related materials, walking around those who've trickled in since I first arrived. At first, I grab a book about the Pysjiic Order from an Argonian's table. I bring that back, and quickly skim through it. It's fascinating, but doesn't tell me much. I then grab another book, Lost Legends.

     

    I bring it to my table, trying to work out the kinks in my back. This is going to take all night.

      

    ~-~-~-~-~-~

     

    Soars-Above-Clouds’ POV

     

    Damn, this place is a Hist-forsaken mess! There’s only two places I could go to shake my angry ‘friends’ off my tail. The Jarl’s 'palace' might be big enough, but even if it started snowing right now and my footprints disappeared, the other Nords would sell me out. Which leaves one place. The Mages’ Guild. Er, no. The… University? College? College, of Winterhold. That’s the one.

     

    I start to spin my story as I slowly meander away from the inn, hoping I look like a mage deep in thought rather than someone buying a bit more time. I can’t masquerade as a mage, I have very, very little magical talent. I had tried to learn the art of summoning familiars years ago, but gave up once it became clear that I would need months of study for it to stay long enough to be useful. I just didn’t have that time.

     

    Anyway, what else could I pose as? The College, it attracts mages, wizards, magical people… scholars! That’s it! I’m a scholar, here visiting… the College, of course. To learn about history. That should let me hole myself up in the library for a few hours before setting off. It’s not ideal, I may be called out by my lack of knowledge, but it’s the best I have.

     

    I walk across an desolate, battered stone bridge. Fountains of blue… stuff, swirls and shoots into the sky. While the bridge had an open gate at the entrance, the one leading directly into the college is closed. Damn!

     

    I lean into the bars, testing them. Solid, and firmly locked. I try to push on the center, which contains an eye staring out at me. But all I get is cold hands.

     

    Finally, I start rattling the bars, hoping to get someone’s attention. “Hello? Anyone home?”

     

    A Breton women approaches me, understandably annoyed. “What’s with all the racket? Who are you?”

     

    “I’m a simple scholar, please. I was hoping to get into the College before nightfall, so I may begin my research.” I’ve spoken so many lies that I now wear this new one like a second skin, easily adopting the idea of a scholar setting across Tamriel, not even pausing where others would stop to gather their thoughts. I am confident that this will fool the woman, unless she starts to quiz me.

     

    “...Fine. But don’t come in so late again!” She puts her hand out, and a flash of light drives the gate open. I jump back, feeling the woosh of displaced air as the metal doors fly apart. Giving her an indignant look, I step within the college, hearing the gates re-close behind me.

     

    It is a grand sight, with the dusk on display behind a main hall’s formidable bulk, rising up with two large windows representing where each new floor begins. Another pool of blue liquid swirls and shoots into the sky, with a statue holding his hands over it. The sight is diminished by the cracks and flaws in the stonework, but is still breathtaking.

     

    “You’ll be wanting the Arcanium.” I don’t jump, but by the Hist my heart starts to pound as the Breton’s voice snaps me out of my sight-seeing. “It’s our library, and is on the second floor of the Hall of the Elements, our main hall that you see in front of you.” I nod, and start walking that way, preparing to spend all night cramped in an uncomfortable chair. As I walk, the Breton catches up to me.

     

    “One last thing… we don’t currently have room for you, I’m afraid. You may, of course, purchase board at the inn.” I give her a sharp look, that means no bed at all and my scales already ache, but I just nod. She nods back, and sets off to do… magey things. I don’t know.

     

    Taking a breath, I open the doors. It’s a narrow room with another gateway, this time open wide. On either side of me two doors are fitted into the walls, while the gateway leads to a wide lecture room, and yet another pool of blue magic is in the center of it.

     

    I walk into the lecture hall, but it’s a dead end with only a Breton man sitting inside. He’s clad in yellow robes, and is older than the woman who I spoke with. I don’t think he’ll help me, though, so I chose a door at random.

     

    Ascending a spiral staircase, I emerge into a library, cramped with the presence of bookcases and the smell of paper and ink. I walk to a desk, where an old Orc sits, reading a worn leather bound book. He must be the librarian. He looks up as I approach, and gives me a brief once over. “Yeah?”

     

    “I’m looking for books on the, the, uh" I pause, cursing my foolishness. "The Oblivion Crisis, please.” It’s the first thing that comes to mind, but even then it’s too late, and I’ve slipped up.  He doesn’t notice my hesitance, and simply nods and points to a bookcase, giving me a gruff warning about treating the books poorly.

     

    I grab a few dusty old tomes, a few new ones, and one that looks positively ancient. Clearing a small space, I set to work stacking them in a way that’ll obscure me and let it look like I’m deep into my studies. It’s a poor shield, and I’ll no doubt be spotted if the Nords somehow got in here. I’m not expecting them to get into the College in the first place though, this is just to ease my paranoia.

     

    I start to pretend to read the book, which lapses into me actually reading the book. I’m not much of a reader, but I can enjoy a good story from time to time.

     

    A few hours pass, with me actually enjoying this a fair bit. A few of the books are too dry for my taste, but even the worst scholar can’t help but make Daedric invasion at least somewhat interesting.

     

    After I’ve read everything, I get a few more books. Partway through my new pile of tomes I see a High Elf walk by me, stopping when she sees something on my table.

     

    “Excuse me, but may I please see that book?” I look up. She’s a tall one, all the damn High Elves are. Looking at the book she wants, it’s just some ancient thing about old rituals by the Psijic Order. I agree, and off she goes, clutching the thing like it’s going to fly out of her hands. She returns to a table with one other book, and damn. If the book she just took was ancient, this thing must be from another Era. It's cracked, and has a strange... substance, dried on it. I watch a bit, but all she does is read, so I return to my books.

     

    I’m on the third stack of books before I start to reread sentences, words swimming like some ancient runes. I lean against the brief patch of stone wall, bookcases on either side of my head.

     

     

    I’m rather tired…

     

     

    I should get some rest…

     

    ~-~-~-~-~-~

     

    Druiston’s POV

     

    I stand among the wreckage of the former Hall, shivering in the cold. Bodies lay around me, and I can’t force myself to look at them. Even out of the corner of my eye, I can see that they’re… horribly mauled. Gripping my steel sword with slow, numb fingers, I go deeper, looking for survivors… or the ones who did this.

     

    My hand is shaking, my heart pounding. I don’t know who could do something like this, but… who am I to think I could defeat them, if they’re still here?

     

    Rounding a corner, I drop my sword as I fall backwards. A hound, as black as the void, is snarling, trying to get to me. Its teeth are sharp, its breath rancid, and the hind portion of it is pinned down by some fallen wood, which shakes ominisly. Picking my sword back up, I slowly approach it, crouched low to the ground.

     

    When I’m almost close enough to attack it with the end of my sword, it gives one mighty heave, and bursts forth from the rubble, dragging its useless back legs with a speed I wouldn’t have thought possible.

     

    Swinging in terror, I knock it back with the flat side of the blade, before giving it a long, shallow cut on its side. It lunges for me again, and I swipe horizontally, and just barely manage to send it off course, the dog collapsing in a heap beside me. I now plunge my sword as deep as I can into the beast’s body, moving quickly to prevent another attack. It lets out a deep sound of pain before giving up, its body limp and twitching on the floor, close enough for me to touch.

     

    I let out a deep breath that sounds more like a sob, and start breathing rapidly, in out, in out. I almost died! I can’t… I’m just a merchant!

     

    But then the sounds my wife had made as she lay dying, the smells of fire, it comes back to me, and I steady myself, my fingers still shaking and numb.

     

    I drag myself to a fire, and, kicking a bit of debris away so it won’t spread, I sit down in front of it, trying to warm my travel-worn body.

     

    I lay there, shaking, until my fingers have feeling return to them again, and I figure I’m as warm as I’m going to get. Rising up unsteadily, I venture further into the maze of wood and fire, clutching my sword painfully tight.

     

    I see a survivor, and quickly trot towards the huddled figure, looking around to see if any danger is nearby.

     

    “Are you okay?” I call out, wanting to reassure myself that this is a fellow person, not a monster, not a werewolf, just a person. She whips around, her eyes blood red, and I freeze. She has fangs coming out of her mouth, and is openly weeping.

     

    “Please! I need… a potion! Rid me of this filth, so I may die and go on, away from here!” She isn’t making much sense, but I get the general idea of what she wants. A cure disease potion. I had bought a few before I left Whiterun, anticipating that I might get infected with Rockjoint.

     

    “Of course, of course,” I say, reaching into my bag and pulling out a potion. “Here, drink this, it’ll be better now. It’s over.”

     

    She sobs harder, and swallows the potion in one mighty gulp. Letting out hoarse cries of pain, the fangs retract, her skin gets darker, and her eyes turn to a brown hue.

     

    “Thank… you. Please… tell those at the Beacon… what has happened. It’s… in… the Rift.”

     

    Before I can say anything in response, she grabs a nearby dagger and thrusts herself onto it. I can’t move, she’s so fast, and I just stand there, dumbfounded, watching her bleed out onto the charred wood.

     

    My mind replays the scene, trying to figure out what happened, why did she just do that?! Something she says floats into my ears once again. “Rid me of this disease… so I may die.”

     

    She wasn’t asking me to save her from death. She just didn’t want to die a vampire.

     

    I stumble out, coughing and crying my own tears. To have everything ripped from you… to lose the very will to live. Staring at the corpse, she had looked almost peaceful, but I can’t, no, I have a duty. No. I can’t.

     

    I walk, walk away from the temptation, the desire to end all the pain and fear, I walk until I trip and lay on the ground. But I still have a duty, so I get out my tent, going through the motions mindlessly, setting it up and collapsing inside, with my uncomfortable iron armor still digging into my sides.

     

    My bag’s contents are unleashed onto the floor, a few vials cracking slightly, and I should make sure they don't break, but I don’t have the energy, it’s just a vague thought of what I should be doing in the back of my mind. Pushing everything aside, I look onto a map, words dancing across the parchment, my fingers leaving damp marks wherever they touch. Finally locating the Rift, I mark it, and push it away, and give up on thinking, on planning, on revenge and carrying out dying wishes, and I cry. And I keep crying, until darkness has embraced me, until I can pretend that this sleep is death. Until it stops.

     

    ~-~-~-~-~

     

    Korir scowls, staring at his desolate town. Aye, his town! Not the damn College’s! Milk drinkers, they are. No, milk drinkers is a soft insult. They’re murderers. Killers. They have no honor. They killed a whole town, and he’s forced to live side by side with them! Argh, he’ll tear that place apart, even if he has to personally fight every one of them damn demon-summoners!

     

    His familiar thoughts were interrupted by an unsteady gallop. Looking back, he sees two High Elves, riding exhausted, haggard horses. Damn, the beasts were near death! And, is that Thalmor armor!? They dare just stroll into his town? NO! Korir blocks their path.

     

    Coriayon looks down at the man blocking his path. He wears a noble’s clothes, at least, what passes for a noble’s clothing in this place. True rulers, back in Alinor, wear garments so grand they put this whole town to shame!

     

    “Out of my way.” Coriayon isn’t going to bow to any Nord, even if he is a noble! This is a Stormcloak allied town, but there’s not much they can do to him, is there?

    “You dare! I am the Jarl of Winterhold, and you, you are Thalmor! Halt, and leave, lest I kill you where you stand!” Korir stares up at them, noting a faint glow on the horses. Gods, they’ll have to be put down! “What did you do to your horses?”

     

    Coriayon pauses, perplexed by the question. “What? Why do you care what happens to our horses?”

     

    Korir fixes his eyes on Coriayon’s, unsure if the elf is mocking him

     

    “Because, I am a man of honor. And this, this! They’ll have to be put down! How long have you rode them?”

     

    The agent besides Coriayon lets out a small laugh, before answering. “We rode them all the way from Morthal. Had to use quite a few spells, to stop them from dying on us. Half of the nerves in their body must be numb by now. More magic than beast, I say!” He lets out a merry laugh, Coriayon chuckling beside him.

     

    Korir feels the back of his neck stand up. “What… you…” He could not find the words, in Skyrim, your horse was your life. He had never met somebody who not only planned on killing their horse, but enjoyed it. By the Gods.

     

    Coriayon now was tiring of the Nord. “Now, out of the way, or we will destroy you.” Seeing Korir reach for a sword that wasn’t there, the High Elf gave him a mocking grin. “Seeing as you’re the Jarl, I suppose your questions can be forgiven. Now, out of the way. We are here for your little school, and nothing more.”

     

    Korir stopped, holding back his anger, trying to for once think things through. He had left his weapon behind. The monsters could cast in an instant. And they want something from the College… so, Korir made a decision. He would regain his weapon and take his housecarl, and confront them as they leave the College. He would, of course, give them the option to chose where to fight. He is, after all, a Nord with honor. Merely nodding, he steps aside, his eyes never leaving the two Thalmor.

     

    Coriayon hadn’t expected that to work. Dismounting his horse, he slapped it on the backside, sending it fleeing out of the little, gods, 3 house village? 4 house? Tiny, even by barbarian standards. As the agent did the same, he walked forward, tense, and ready for any attack from the Jarl. But none came, so he simply continued on, into the College. Seeking his prey.

     

    Previous - Toc - Next

Comments

2 Comments   |   Shy Knight of the Shovel and 2 others like this.
  • The Lorc of Flowers
    The Lorc of Flowers   ·  September 20
    I really liked the magic shown here, very clever ideas you have there. And yes, Arlya´s really becoming a favourite. So when will I get another chapter? :)
    • Felkros
      Felkros
      The Lorc of Flowers
      The Lorc of Flowers
      The Lorc of Flowers
      I really liked the magic shown here, very clever ideas you have there. And yes, Arlya´s really becoming a favourite. So when will I get another chapter? :)
        ·  September 20
      :) Soon! (TM). I've been bouncing around a few ideas, but the addition of my new game, Destiny 2, has slowed things down a fair bit. I'm still working though, and I expect my frenzy for the game will die by the end of the week, which should at least allow...  more