The unwelcome foreigner from the south - Chapter 6

  • Chapter 6: The journey to Winterhold


    Slays-Many-Elves read the note left for him by the Khajiit and turned to Talen-Jai. “Anything the matter my lord?” he questioned.

    “No, & please call me Han-Ei.”

    “As you wish” Talen-Jai bowed and walked away to resume his duties. Han-Ei thought about the cat he's gotten to know over the past few days. He was a strange one and wondered where it was worth going after him or not. The note had said they didn't want to break their friendship but Riften wasn't the place for him.

    Han-Ei threw the note on the fire and shrugged. There was little point in travelling to find him without any other purpose for the journey. If the cat wanted to improve his skills at the college so be it. He sighed to himself and thought that was another friend lost and wondered if he would ever find a best drinking buddy. Perhaps if he ever found himself in Winterhold he would come across that cat and say hello. “Ah hell” he muttered to himself. “More like perhaps if I didn't behave like an ass I may have more friends in the first place.” Talen-Jai heard him muttering to himself and chose to ignore him.


    After breakfast I decided to leave the warmth of the farmhouse and venture out to find the carriage driver. Fortunately for me it had stopped snowing and I could see the city of Windhelm more clearly. The Argonians were still busy on the docks supervised by a few Nord men who were letting the lizards do all the hard work. I stood at the bridge and watched them loading and unloading a couple of the four ships that were docked at the piers.

    “Hard working lot I tell you” a voice came from the side of me from the driver who had crept up unheard. “You ready for the journey north? The weather forecast is very good for today. We should make the inn at the fork in the road point by mid afternoon. You can stay there whilst I go and arrange an escort for us then we'll continue the following day.”

    I turned and brushed the snow off my front where I'd leant against the wall.

    “I'm afraid I must ask you for more money. I can only get one more passenger and the guards will need payment.”

    “You said 50 septims” I argued putting my hand on my sword.

    “What! You are going to attack me?” I sensibly put crossed my arms and said “No. I am just annoyed. It's a habit of me placing my hand on my sword's hilt when angry. If you know where I come from you will know why.”

    The driver saw I was no threat and apologised “I know and I'm sorry. Normally that would be the case if I were to take a carriage full of people but with only two paying passengers and given the circumstances I'm gonna need 200 septims.”

    I bared my teeth in anger. “You only charged me 20 from Riften to here!” Your asking ten times that amount!”

    “Ah but Windhelm is on the way. I would have been going here anyway but if I had no passengers I would have gone back to Riften instead of continuing north.”

    “What about ones that may want to travel from the college?” The other passenger asked. I looked at her. A High Elf. Great.

    “The college only sends students home once a month at the end of the month. As you know there's 3 weeks before anyone would be due to be coming south. I would be making a special journey and wouldn't have any passengers for the return trip.”

    “It's disgusting if you ask me” the elf said looking at me and reluctantly handing over the cash. I realised that was the end of the conversation and did the same. “Here. But I wish you would have told me earlier; I could have travelled with the Khajiit caravan instead.”

    The driver just replied “that's business, sorry.”

    The elf wore a mage's outfit under a heavy fur coat and didn't appear to be carrying any weapons. How foolish I thought. She didn't look like Thalmor to me and neither of us spoke for a long while after we had left the city of Windhelm behind us.

    At last the elf finally spoke. She introduced herself as Elanin and was heading to the mage's college to further her education so at least we had something in common to talk about during the long journey.

    “How much are you paying for your education at the college?” I asked wondering how much it would cost me.

    “2000 septims - that gets me one course in a particular field of magic. In my case conjuration; it's the only skill I need further training in.” she reluctantly answered. I'll be staying for 3 years before I return home to the Summerset Isles.”

    I vaguely showed some interest and sat upright from my slouched position and got comfortable again showing that I was interested in her tale.

    She looked at me in the eyes for a moment trying to figure me out. “We don't see many Khajiit interested in the arcane arts but those that are generally train well. I've heard there are some up at the college, one in particular, ah, I forget his name – Zargo, Zargah., hmm. But it does not matter. That one has got his eye on the archmage's job; there would be a first. A Khajiit archmage.”

    “What are you interested in learning?” she continued.

    “Destruction magic.” I replied stretching my legs out as they were becoming stiff. “It's the only magic skills I have and I'd like to improve them. That is if I can afford it.”

    “A warrior mage hmm? Well, as I said, it is 2000 septims for a complete course which lasts up to a year depending on how well you do and what particular spells you are interested in. If you want to learn more you'd have to spend many years at the college; it's not uncommon for High Elves to spend 20 years or more studying the arcane arts.”

    I thought about that. 20 years studying; that was only 10 more years than my age but then I remembered that Elves can live for up to 200 years. More in some cases. No wonder they were so skilled at magic if they spend most of their early years studying. I also knew that I had about 3 thousand septims. I'd spent 700 getting to my current point and if I spend a 2000 on a year's education that would leave me only 300 to manage on. Not much but it would have to make do for now. Unless I relieve some more bandits of their money on the way.

    She was snooty and stuck up but yet seemed a friendly sort and did not seem to bear any hatred or prejudice towards me, that I was glad of for I had little regard for the Nords that inhabited these lands. I figured we would get along just fine.

    An inn rolled into view as the snow began to fall heavily. The horses blew out big gusts of frosty breath as they laboured up the inclined road climbing ever higher in altitude as it wound around the mountain.

    “Ah, here we are” the driver commented pulling his horses to a stop. “You two go on in. Ill see to the horses and join you later.”

    We dismounted and headed for the inn. “We should hopefully find some mercenaries to join us for the trip. I didn't see any forts on the way here.” I said.

    Elanin waved her hand behind her. “There's one back down the road to Whiterun. I guess the driver will find help there.” She suggested.

    I didn't really care at that moment. All I wanted to do was get out of the cold and sit by a warm fire with some ale and decent food. We entered the inn to find it mostly deserted and run down although not as bad as the bunkhouse in Riften.

    “Welcome travellers” the innkeeper welcomed. “Always glad to see someone. As you can see we are not very busy especially at this time of year.”

    I smiled not really caring about the innkeeper's lack of patrons and asked for a room for the night as did Elanin for the inn was had no room bookings and all four were free. We were shown to our rooms where we left our belongings and returned to the common room and waited for our well deserved evening meal.

    Several hours passed and there was no sign of the driver. I decided to go outside and have a look around for him but it had gotten dark and I could not see anything by nor in the stable. I assumed he had spent the night at the imperial fort and returned to the inn.

    Elanin did not share the same lack of concern that I did. “I think he's done a runner with our money; he said he would be along in a little while” she said with some worry in her voice.

    “Ah don't worry about it. He's probably stayed at the fort as it's deathly cold out there” I said reassuringly. “Fancy a game of cards? The battle of Heroes?” I asked.

    Elanin frowned and smiled. “There isn't much else to do besides drink is there? I've had enough for now. Lets see how good you are.” With that we had several games with the elf beating me several times in a row and retired to bed early with the intention of getting up at first light.

    Morning came and there was no sign of the carriage or its driver. Elanin's concerns were beginning to become a reality. As we both wandered up and down the road it became apparent that the driver had not continued on without and instead had buggered off back to Windhelm evident by the recent cart and hoof tracks heading from the fork leading towards the fort and to the road back to Windhelm.

    “That no-good swindling bastard” she said angrily. “I knew there was something funny about him.”

    I looked at the snow covered ground in dismay. There was no way we would get to Winterhold now at least not in one piece. “What an absolute bastard. I thought I trusted him. I have been travelling with him from Riften. He seemed OK to me; perhaps he has fallen foul of bandits?” I suggested.

    The elf snorted in disdain. “Not likely. Come on, I will have to conjure a horse and manage to keep the spell going for as long as I can. After that we will have to walk until I'm strong enough to cast again. We will probably have to walk most of the way. I trust you are handy with that sword?”

    I nodded and was suddenly very glad of a Altmer for company, something I thought would never be possible. With her magic and my sword we would make a formidable pair.

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  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  January 19, 2016
    That skeeving wagon driver! (unless of course, bandits actual did kill him)
    2000 could get you one 3 or 4-credit class at most public schools for a quarter, but I don't think inflation has gotten so crazy in Skyrim.
  • Teekus
    Teekus   ·  January 16, 2016
    Yeah, it does read a bit confusing - I've added a header so the reader knows I have switched perspective.
  • Lyall
    Lyall   ·  January 15, 2016
    You may want to put more of a space when you switch perspectives, makes it easier to read.
  • Teekus
    Teekus   ·  January 11, 2016
    I had no idea what to go on re: prices. I was comparing it to cost of property in Skyrim so a house at 20,000 septims I figured 2,000 would be for a year's education. It's cheap compared to real university costs. Maybe 5000 is closer to accurate?
  • Relycs
    Relycs   ·  January 10, 2016
    Killing the emperor costs 15.000 septims, so 2000 "should be" a lot.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  January 10, 2016
    Damn I want to go to Tamriel college. Only 2000 septims for a year's study. That's cheap, especially considering what you may pick up. 
  • Teekus
    Teekus   ·  January 10, 2016
  • ShyGuyWolf
    ShyGuyWolf   ·  January 10, 2016
    Really cool piece man. Keep up the good work.