Character Backstory: Elara's Journeys in Skyrim, the land of her father, Chapter 9--Onmund

  • Elara stared at the ceiling in her room.  She desperately needed sleep, but her mind kept spinning.  She needed to speak to Onmund because the Arch-Mage was sending her away again on a mission to better understand their discovery in Saarthal.  She had not expected to be sent away so soon, in reality, she did not know what she had expected upon returning to Winterhold.  Companionship that was to be abandoned just as quickly as it was resumed?  She willed herself to trace the now familiar journey back through the snow to the rocky environs of Whiterun and finally fell into a restless sleep.



                    Onmund kicked at a small chunk of ice, his hands tucked into the sleeves of his robes.  He looked out over the water and up at the College above.  He groaned.  Tolfdir was right.  His mind wandered back to their discussion earlier in the day…

                    “Please sit down and share a sweet roll with me,” Tolfdir gestured to two chairs drawn up around a small table.  “I cannot fathom how J’zargo can eat two of them in the morning and remain sleek.  I have to chalk it up to the Khajiit metabolism, another mystery, I suppose.”  Tolfdir smiled, and gazed at Onmund, who absently took a bite of sweet roll.

                    “I hope that I have not disappointed you in some way, master,” Onmund said quietly when he had swallowed a bit of ale.  Onmund had been pleased and surprised to find another Nord at the College, and Tolfdir had seemed as equally pleased.  Tolfdir did not like to play favorites, and cared for all of his students.  But he had taken to this young man like he was his own son. 

                    “No, no, not at all,” Tolfdir reassured him.  “I wanted to speak to you as a friend and someone who has had a bit of life experience, “  he chuckled.  “And I emphasize the ‘bit’.”

                    Onmund shifted uncomfortably in his chair.  Tolfdir had an uncanny way of reading his thoughts, and Onmund was distressed that he had not time to sort out his own mind before Tolfdir shared his wisdom.  I have criticized Elara in my mind for keeping her own counsel, but I am just as guilty.

                    Tolfdir stroked his white beard, contemplating the best way to begin.  “Please let me say my peace before interrupting.  I am not making any insinuations, nor do I have secret knowledge of any one’s destiny.  I am only making observations and sharing them with you from an older man’s perspective.  You are the best mage I have seen come through these Halls in quite some time, in spite of and most likely because of your Nordic heritage.  I do not think you will have difficulties finding a position at any court in all of Tamriel, or as an instructor at any of the Guilds.  Your future is bright and secure.  Yet I have sensed a change in you.  Your studies are exemplary, and nothing has suffered, so let me reassure you on that score.  But for the past few months, it seemed to me that you lost something essential.  You lost your joy and it seemed being here was more of an obligation and a chore.  Then I saw you last night at dinner, and it seemed all of your fire and life returned.”

                    Onmund made a sound as if to disagree, but Tolfdir held up his hand to silence him.  “Just hear me out.  I believe events in this world are moving very quickly, and that you do not have much time in which to make your decision.  I also see something special in our adventuring Breton, not just an extremely talented Restoration mage.  I also think Elara is special enough to need a companion to look out for her on her journeys.  Skyrim is a dangerous place.”

                    “Dangerous because of dirty Thalmor,” Onmund spat.   Tolfdir raised his eyebrows, taken aback at the anger expressed by the normally easy-going Nord.  Onmund proceeded to tell him what he learned about Ancano through Elara and Tolfdir’s face darkened.

                    The old Nord sighed.  “Unfortunately, we can do nothing about Ancano, but I assure you he is watched most closely.  I am more concerned about your path, Onmund, and your happiness.   I know about the struggles that brought you here and how it took longer than you thought it would.  Your innate talent more than made up for the late start in formal training.  The lifelong study of magic gradually absorbs and consumes us.  Magic becomes our companion, and it is one that has been very good to me, personally.  But my choices are not what may be right for you, Onmund.  I will not tell you what to do, but what I see as options.  You always have the choice, my son, and I think now is the time to make it.”  Tolfdir stood up, stretched, and clapped Onmund on the shoulder.  “Go find someplace quiet to think.”

                    Onmund smiled at the memory of his mentor calling him son.  His own father only used that term to denigrate Onmund or rub his nose in the fact that he thought his brothers were more worthy to be called son.  

                    Tolfdir had the perfect life, Onmund thought.  Molding and shaping young mages, the continual study and exchange of knowledge amongst other accomplished mages, and the chance to make a positive scholarly impact on the whole field of magical studies.  He could lose himself in his studies at the College.  Dreams of the College kept him going all those lonely painful years at home.

                    The snow had stopped falling hours ago, but Onmund had only just noticed.  The sky had darkened and the stars twinkled merrily above, oblivious to his troubles.  Yet he continued to search the sky for the right answer.  He felt his Nordic blood thrill at the thought of adventure and the ability to use his talents in a different fashion.   Certainty versus uncertainty.  Onmund closed his eyes and felt a soft breeze swirl around him, embracing him and lifting his cares.  He chuckled as he walked back to the College.  “Kyne, you have not failed me yet.”  


  • Vazgen
    Vazgen   ·  June 1, 2013
    I like how you presented Tolfdir! The old man, schooling younger generation both in magic and in life... I also always thought he'd focus more on Onmund, them being the only Nords at the College, awesome to see you thought about it too  
  • Guy Corbett
    Guy Corbett   ·  February 6, 2012
    Top post Kyn. The thing I like the most is that you show the masters of the school actually schoolling the students which i think was glossed over alot in the game. Tolfdir would pull his most promising students and guide them morally not just in the magi...  more
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  February 5, 2012
    Thank you all for the lovely encouragement and comments.  Sometimes I think I am going to wake up and find that I never posted and never found such kindness in the midst of all of you! 
    I am glad you like Onmund.  I know the game is filled with Nor...  more