Day Twenty-Three - Secrets Beneath the Sleeping City
I was awoken suddenly in the early hours of the next morning by a tremendous crash on the roof of the Frozen Hearth. I sprang from my bed immediately, gathering my things and rushing out of the inn. Outside, a huge dragon was laying siege to Winterhold, setting what remained of this once great city aflame with its breath. I Shouted at the beast to draw it down from the rooftops, Marked it for Death to weaken it, and then began hacking at its wings and neck with my elven blade. When the dragon finally fell and I'd absorbed its soul, I assisted the city guards in numbering the dead. Thankfully, only a single casualty was suffered - a member of the Winterhold guard. With the crisis averted for now, I turned my attention to my reason for visiting Winterhold - the Mages College.
As I approached the entrance to the College, I was stopped by an Altmer named Faralda. She demanded to see some proof of my magical abilities, demanding that I cast a Fear spell as a means of illustrating my prowess. I obliged, and she duly welcomed me into the College proper. She introduced me to Mirabelle Ervine, the College's Master Wizard, who issued me with my own set of mage's robes and showed me round the College itself before dropping me into a lecture with three other newcomers. The lecturer, an elderly fellow named Tolfdir, put all of us through our paces, then gave us a chance to prove ourselves in a practical exercise at the ancient city of Saarthal.
Supposedly the very first settlement built up by men in Tamriel, the old city of Saarthal had long been lost beneath centuries of snow and ice, before the College's recent excavations had unearthed it once again. Situated southwest from Winterhold, high in the mountains, it was nonetheless fairly simple to find and reach. Tolfdir was already waiting there for us when I arrived, and led us down into the excavation chamber where we were each given a task. My task was to find anything that might have held clues as to the ancient civilization responsible for Saarthal. While searching the chamber I happened upon an amulet, which I foolishly removed from its pedestal without a second thought. Tolfdir told me to put the amulet on, and as I did, a strange resonance seemed to emanate from its pedestal. One lick of a simple flame spell reduced the pedestal to ashes, revealing a secret passage which Tolfdir and I both followed deeper into the bowels of the city.
As we walked, I found myself visited by a strange apparition - an individual claiming to be a member of the Psijic Order, who told me that Skyrim was facing a very real threat, and that I had been chosen by the order to try and prevent that threat from coming to pass. When I spoke to Tolfdir about the vision, he had no knowledge of it, but seemed to believe my claims. He left me to further explore the ruins of Saarthal alone, while he mused over what this might all mean. I continued to move deeper into the underbelly of the lost city, battling with scores of Draugrs as I progressed. I endeavoured to practise my magic wherever possible, but on a couple of occasions found myself falling back on my trusty sword and shield.
At the very centre of what was once a thriving city, I happened upon an enormous glowing green orb. Even Tolfdir, who by now had caught up with me, was unable to determine its origin or purpose. As we approached the orb, an incredibly powerful Draugr emerged from a nearby sarcophagus. Between the two of us we were able to make short work of it - Tolfdir with his magical expertise, and I with a dexterously-handled combination of sword strikes, fire bolts, and dragon Shouts. Hanging from the Draugr's pocket was an old hand-written note, a writ of sealing condemning the Draugr (who had once been named Jyrik Gauldurson) as a murderer. It also carried a fragment of an amulet. All this had the overbearing feeling of being only a fragment of a much wider picture - a picture I was very curious to piece together. I pocketed the note and spoke with Tolfdir on the subject of the orb. He asked me to return to the College and inform the Arch-Mage of our findings. On my way out of Saarthal, I passed yet another word wall, this one containing the second word of the Ice Form Shout.
It was around 2:00am by the time I arrived back in Winterhold, and so I elected to sleep through the rest of the night and speak with the Arch-Mage in the morning. A Dunmer by the name of Savos Aren, he seemed almost disinterested when I informed him about the orb we had uncovered beneath Saarthal, and dismissed me to the College's library to read up on the implications of the discovery myself. I took myself off to the Arcanaeum, with the intention of researching the orb, but my attention was soon diverted to the Draugr we had encountered and the cryptic writ of sealing it was carrying. In a short time I uncovered an ancient legend, concerning the court wizard of King Harald, one Gauldur by name. It appears that Gauldur was assassinated, although whether it was by the King himself or by his own three sons, the history books could not be sure. Supposedly one of his three sons fled to Folgunthur, near Solitude. It seems like that would be the perfect place to continue my search, and perhaps find out what happened to Gauldur all those centuries ago.
I left for Solitude almost immediately, recognising that by the time I reached the other side of the province it would be almost night and I would need a place to rest. I was slightly worried that news of my joining with the Stormcloaks or rescuing Thorald Gray-Mane might have reached Solitude and rendered me unwelcome, but nobody seemed to know anything when I arrived in town late this evening. I was able to catch the local blacksmith just before he shut up shop, and he kindly sold me some Orichalcum ingots and lent me the use of his forge. I set about refining my Orcish armour, and also fashioned a shield and sword in the same style, before refining those as well. Satisfied with my smithing efforts, I retired to the Winking Skeever and rented a room for the night. Tomorrow, I will head down to Folgunthur and see if I can unearth any more of the truth about Gauldur's demise. Until then,
- Day Twenty-Two - A Gray-Mane Saved and a Mage Made
- Day Twenty-One - Whiterun Errands and a Missing Gray-Mane
- Day Twenty - Search for the White Phial
- Day Nineteen - Siding With the Stormcloaks
- Day Eighteen - Two Sides of the Same Septim
- Day Seventeen - Tracking the Telvanni Line
- Day Sixteen - Finding Lost Books and Lost Words
- Day Fifteen - The Axe and the Masque
- Day Fourteen - A Daedra and His Dog
- Day Thirteen - Treason and Betrayal
- Day Twelve - Counsel from the Greybeards
- Day Eleven - Old Towns, New Faces
- Day Ten - New Thu'um, New House
- Day Nine - Retrieving the Star
- Day Eight - Azura's Champion
- Day Seven - Wuuthrad and Werewolves
- Day Six - Kynareth's Will Be Done?
- Day Five - The Companions and the Sleeping Tree
- Day Four - Duelling With a Dragon
- Day Three - The Bandit, the Wife and Her Lover
- Day Two - The Golden Claw
- Day One - Escape from Helgen
- Day Zero - Here Begins My Journal