College of Winterhold, Septimus Signus’ Outpost: Alduin again, Frog people, Library, Ice Fields, Septimus
We left Ivarstead at about 8:40AM. The weather was overcast and starting to rain heavily.
The weather itself would have prolonged our trip to Winterhold. The amount of fights we found ourselves in made it much longer!
I decided we would cut across the volcanic pools and marshlands to cut down some time. Last time I rode this route it was full gallop on Blaze trying to get to Yngol and Casius as quick as possible so we could catch a boat and rescue Rigmor. I can’t recall having any encounters that time.
First encounter was a squad of Imperials fighting Frog People!
There were many of them and although they used primitive weapons they soon overwhelmed the Imperials. I started blasting them with fireballs which they seemed more vulnerable to than other creatures I have encountered.
The noise of the battle attracted a very large tribe of Goblins.
Huge Skelton Lords also joined in the melee. They took a lot of damage before they fell. Many of them resurrected somehow and resumed killing everything they could get to.
Wolves, Ice Wraith and several golems joined in the fun. I took over an hour to kill everything trying to kill us!
We rode through Yngol’s old Stormcloak camp. A few of the men assigned guard duty out in the pouring rain lit up a bit and greeted the Guardian General. I asked and they told me all of the Sons of Talos had returned home.
I looked at the platform where Rigmor gave that wonderful speech. I replayed it in my head to distract myself from the rain trickling down my neck and back.
Just past the camp the weather suddenly changed to sunshine. Some Reiklings attacked and were soon put to the sword.
Not far past the Riekling we saw a familiar sight in the sky. It looked like Alduin was busy resurrecting another of his friends.
We rode their as quick as we could but Alduin was already flying away. Lydia just stared at him with burning hatred in her eyes. She knew she would get a chance for revenge soon.
The resurrected dragon, Viinturuth, was attacking a Stormcloak patrol and had already killed several before we arrived at full gallop.
By the time I engaged him all the Stormcloaks were dead. The Dovah had taken considerable damage before they died and was easy for myself and Lydia to finish him off.
I absorbed his soul and onward we conditioned.
A walking dragon creature also attacked us and died. I could tell it had the soul of a dragon but not all the benefits of being a Dovah. I did not absorb its soul when it died.
More Riekling attacked and were summarily slaughtered.
Did I have a target painted on my back? A very pretty but stupid sole necromancer was next to try her hand and had her throat ripped out mid scream by Meeko.
Thankfully she was the last thing that tried to kill us on the way to Winterhold. It soon came into view.
We stabled the horses and proceeded across the broken bridge to the College of Winterhold.
I had not been there since the day I found out my time with Rigmor in Skyrim was soon to end. I tried not to get gloomy but Winterhold is not conducive to fun and laughter! It is not as soul sapping as Windhelm but not far behind.
We made our way to The Arcanaeum to see if any of the librarians could help me.
I was greeted by an elderly Orc called Urag gro-Shub. I told him I am The Dragonborn and need assistance with knowledge on Elder scrolls and a possible location of one.
“You are Dragonborn!? Were you the one the Greybeards were calling?”
Yes I am. What can you tell me about Elder Scrolls?
“An Elder Scroll is an instrument of immense knowledge and power. To read an Elder Scroll, a person must have the most rigorously trained mind, or else risk madness. Even so, The Divines usually take the reader’s sight as a price.”
Since I am doing this for The Divines I think I would be exempt from that punishment! The Divines are not known for causing distress to mortals like that. I don’t think the blindness has anything to do with them! I have read about “Moth Priests”. They can read many scrolls but have to space them apart or go blind. So it appears to be a wound inflicted by natural causes that will repair automatically if given time. Many people in history have been willing to pay such a hefty price as blindness to read a scroll. Why?
“The simplest way to put it is “knowledge,” but there’s nothing simple about an Elder Scroll. It’s a reflection of all possible futures and all possible pasts. Each reader sees different reflections through different lenses, and may come away with a very different reading. But at the same time, all of it is true. Even the falsehoods. Especially the falsehoods!”
Where did the scrolls come from?
“The Scrolls exist here, with us, but also beyond and beneath. Before and after. They are bits of Divine made substance so we could know them. Sorry. Talking about the scrolls, you usually end up in irritating and vague metaphors like that. Some people who study them devoutly go mad.”
Does The Arcanaeum have one I could attempt to read and see if it what I need? I am positive my eyesight would be safe from physical damage due to my Dragon Blood. I’m unsure if I could understand it though.
“Sorry we don’t. It would be the pinnacle of our collection if we could ever get one. Our mages would love to study one but all that are found are kept by private collectors or sold to the Moth Priests in Cyrodiil.”
I promise if I find one I will donate it to the library after it is of no more use to me. Do you have any information on them I can read?
“”I’ll bring you everything we have on them, but it’s not much. So don’t get your hopes up. It’s mostly lies, leavened with rumour and conjecture.”
(Urag then went to some locked bookshelves and return with two books he placed on the counter. Ruminations on the Elder Scrolls and Effects of the Elder Scrolls.
Effects of the Elder scrolls confirmed my theory that the blindness is natural in nature and not inflicted by a spiteful immortal. I was wrong about Moth Priests never going blind. They all eventually do and it varies between individuals. Their eyesight does not repair itself and gradually worsens. Each Moth Priest will eventually read an Elder Scroll that simply tells them the next they read will complete their blindness. That is called the “Penultimate Reading”. With each scroll read a Moth Priest absorbs, remembers and understands more of what it contained. It is said the final one they read reveals all to them. They are all willing to sacrifice sight for knowledge.
Ruminations on the Elder Scrolls was obviously written by a devout scholar. It made absolutely no sense whatsoever. I told Urag about it.)
The Ruminations book is totally incomprehensible!
“Aye, that’s the work of Septimus Signus. He’s the world’s master of the nature of Elder Scrolls, but… well. He’s been gone for a long while. Too long!”
Is he dead?
“Oh no. I hope not. But even I haven’t seen him in years, and we were close. Became obsessed with the Dwemer. Took off north saying he had found some old artefact. Haven’t seen him since. Somewhere in the ice fields, if you want to try and find him I will mark on your map the area he was last seen.”
I handed Urag my map and he circled an area. It would not be too hard to search but difficult to get to. I thanked him for his help and reiterated my promise to donate an Elder Scroll if I can.
We left the college, crossed the bridge and entered “The Frozen Hearth”. I booked accommodation for the night and told Lydia and Meeko they can’t follow me across the ice flows. How I planned to use Blaze as he is a good swimmer and his heat would protect me. I told them I guessed if the scholar was in the area marked by Urag I should be able to find him and return before morning.
It was about 7:45PM by the time I made it to the shoreline and summoned Blaze. I had ridden him though cold water before but freezing water was an unknown. I was relying on his heat keeping vital parts of me warm including the family jewels.
Only way to tell was plunge in. Blaze’s heat actually increased to compensate! I love Dogmeat but in these conditions he would be an ice block.
I could see and island with a row boat moored to it. As I approached I could also see a round doorway leading into what I hoped was a research station with a very much alive and completely insane Septimus in residence.
I entered to door, climbed down a ladder and found what I had hoped for. Who I assumed was Septimus was walking in random patterns and repeating the same sentences over and over. He reminded of myself bent over in the snow repeating the same two sentences to keep madness at bay. In his case I think the madness has won but he still has work to do before allowing himself to sink to its ultimate depths. The sentences he kept repeating were:
- “Dig, Dwemer, in the beyond. I’ll know your lost unknown and rise to your depths.”
- “When the top level was built, no more could be placed. It was and is the maximal apex.”
- “How long will it be sung? My feet were set upon the rock but it turned to mud and drew me down.”
- “It licks the panes and smokes the glass…”
I made my way down and stood in front of him so he noticed me. I asked him if he is Septimus, the renowned expert on Elder Scrolls.
“Elder Scrolls. Indeed. The Empire. They absconded with them. Or so they think. The ones they saw. The ones they thought they saw. I know of one. Forgotten. Sequestered. But I cannot go to it, not poor Septimus, for I… I have arisen beyond its grasp.”
So where is the scroll?
“Here. Well, here as in this plane. Mundus. Tamriel. Nearby, relatively speaking. On the cosmological scale, it’s all nearby.”
Can you help me get the Elder Scroll?
“One block lifts the other. Septimus will give what you want, but you must bring him something in return.”
What do you want me to bring you?
“You see this masterwork of the Dwemer. Deep inside their greatest knowings. Septimus is clever among men, but he is but an idiot child compared to the dullest of the Dwemer. Lucky then they left behind their own way of reading the Elder Scrolls. In the depths of Blackreach one yet lies. Have you heard of Blackreach? ‘Cast upon where Dwemer cities slept, the yearning spire hidden learnings kept.’”
Where is Blackreach?
“Under deep. Below the dark. The hidden keep. Tower Mzark. Alftand. The point of puncture, of first entry, of the tapping. Delve to its limits, and Blackreach lies just beyond. But not all can enter there. Only Septimus knows the hidden key to loose the lock to jump beneath the deathly rock.”
How do I get in?
“Two things I have for you. Two shapes. One edged, one round. The round one, for tuning. Dwemer music is soft and subtle, and needed to open their cleverest gates. The edged lexicon, for inscribing. To us, a hunk of metal. To the Dwemer, a full library of knowings. But… empty. Find Mzark and its sky-dome. The machinations there will read the Scroll and lay the lore upon the cube. Trust Septimus. He knows you can know.”
What is the sphere for?
“The deepest doors of Dwemer listen for singing. It plays the attitude of notes proper for opening. Can you not hear it? Too low for hearings?”
(The Dwemer used music for many things including locks that only open to a particular tune. Looks like the sphere plays the correct tune for a particular tonal lock. Like a key is made for a normal lock.)
What do I do with the cube?
“To glimpse the world inside an Elder Scroll can damage the eyes. Or the mind, as it has to Septimus. The Dwemer found a loophole, as they always do. To focus the knowledge away and inside without harm. Place the lexicon into their contraption and focus the knowings into it. When it brims with glow, bring it back and Septimus can read once more.”
Why do you need an Elder Scroll?
“Ooooh, an observant one. How clever to ask of Septimus. This Dwemer lockbox. Look upon it and wonder. Inside is the heart. The heart of a god! The heart of you. And me. But it was hidden away. Not by the Dwarves, you see. They were already gone. Someone else. Unseen. Unknown. Found the heart, and with a flair for the ironical, used Dwarven trickery to lock it away. The scroll will give the deep vision needed to open it. For not even the strongest machinations of the Dwemer can hold off the all-sight given by an Elder Scroll.”
(So Septimus basically needs to know how to make a key for the lockbox. He is hoping the Elder Scroll will tell him.)
What do you think an Elder Scroll is?
“You look to your left, you see one way. You look to your right, you see another. But neither is any harder than the opposite. But the Elder Scrolls… they look left and right in the stream of time. The future and past are as one: Sometimes they even look up. What do they see then? What if they dive in? Then the madness begins.”
I thanked Septimus for his help and promised to bring the filled lexicon to him if successful.
I look at the Dwemer lockbox and was impressed by its craftsmanship.
I left the outpost, leaped aboard Blaze and made my way back to The Frozen Hearth.
I told Lydia I was successful and that tomorrow we would be exploring a Dwemer ruin and possibly a place called Blackreach. The Dwemer ruin, Alftand, was not far from Winterhold but it involved crossing areas renowned for hostile wildlife and unnatural beings. So I told Lydia we would be leaving a little earlier than usual.
I sat and wrote this journal entry and retired to bed.
I know not what time I fell asleep.