College of Winterhold, Septimus Signus’ Outpost: Malesam who?, Augur explains, Mage redemption, Unknown book, History entrusted, Resignation.
I awoke fairly late for me, about 9:00AM, and was surprisingly refreshed considering we had been running around none stop for almost 72 hours.
At the foot of my bed was a set of robes denoting my Arch-Mage status. They looked way too small but I was not surprised when they fit perfectly. I had decided I would wear them for some tasks today as an air of authority would be needed.
I found Lydia and Meeko tucking into a multi course breakfast served in expensive porcelain bowls and cups with gold cutlery. The sight of Meeko slurping whatever it was out of a bowl that would cost an average Skyrim citizen a year’s wages was disturbing to my sensibilities.
I know the College never shows any outward signs of its undoubted wealth and does its healing and some other services for free. The only things they charge for is enchantments, some potions, scrolls and spell tomes. Yet they are still held in contempt by many Nord whilst The Companions, who will not lift a finger to help anybody without payment up front or guarantee thereof, are revered. When the battle against the new Order was raging outside the gates of Whiterun they refused to help defend their homeland. Neutrality they said. I can understand not taking sides in a civil war. This was a foreign invader! Did they think the Thalmor would appreciate their neutral stance and leave them unmolested? They are totally without honour as far as I am concerned.
I sat and enjoyed the repast with them. Arch-Mage Aren was a fairly slim man and I could not see him ever eating the amount my two companions were capable of ingesting. When I mentioned this Lydia laughed and explained a young Mage had knocked on the door earlier and asked what we would like for breakfast. Lydia had told her how we had been up for three days and were famished and that anything would do. Hence the meal that was delivered.
After filling myself to bursting I told them the day was free to do as they wished. I had things I needed to do. Lydia looked at my robes and asked if I intended to be their Arch-Mage. I assured her it was only for a few hours if all went well.
I spent some time looking in the many draws, cabinets and cupboards in the Arch-Mage headquarters. I found a set of keys in an envelope with “Malesam” written on it. Just what I wanted for the morning snooping I had planned. Nothing else I found was important to my task as Dragonborn although fascinating in nature. I will have to dedicate some time in the future reading the books and texts the Arch-Mage obviously treasured. The dweomer on some of his artefacts were also intriguing.
What I did not find were any journals belonging to Savos Aren. He may have hid them away or might not have ever kept one. Not everybody wants their life poured over by future historians! I have no doubt I will be harshly judged by many upon reading my journals.
It is easier to make the right decisions in hindsight. I feel great guilt about the deaths of Savos and Mirabelle Ervine. I think if I had made the correct decisions they would still be alive. This is how hindsight works. I am unjustly judging myself and I know all the facts that went into my decision making. Anybody reading my journals would not know all the facts but would act and judge as if they did. That is the nature of things.
Since there was nothing in writing to tell me about Malesam I would simply have to ask people. First stop was the rooms where I talked to him about Rigmor.
Why my obsession with Malesam? No matter what, even if I have sworn not to rush to her aid, I am responsible for Rigmor’s safety still. My love for her also compelled me. I had found it impossible to trust Malesam and treated him accordingly. Since then I have had doubts as to the validity of my suspicions. It was reassurance more than anything I was looking for. If The Divines have allowed evil to be by my beloved whilst I am here maybe I can find a reason I can comprehend.
What would I do if I found anything to reinforce my concerns? Nothing! As I have sworn and is my current duty. I know not how Malesam factors in my Lord Akatosh’s plans. It would be beyond foolish to interfere. I have been warned and I know that fact.
I wanted to know why Malesam was chosen by the College and by whom. Why was he trusted with the knowledge of Rigmor’s heritage? Were people aware he was a Daedric worshipper and his mistress was Boethia? Did he follow Rigmor to Cyrodiil at the bequest of the College or his mistress or both? Did he report back and if so, what do the reports say?
I used the key I found to enter the rooms Malesam had occupied.
I have faced many fears, overcome them and done my duty. The one fear I found hardest to conquer was that of discovering Rigmor’s destiny did not include me. From the moment I agreed to bring Rigmor to the College it played on my mind relentlessly.
On that fateful day we awoke in each other’s arms. We had spent the night finally expressing our love and I knew then that we were meant to be together for eternity. Our souls entwined and we felt no sense of destiny or fate whilst together.
As I have said before, The Divines have a responsibility for Nirn and all of its mortal inhabitants. Individual lives and loves will be lost to ensure their continuing existence.
I found myself in the room where I had a heated discussion with Malesam about when Rigmor would be told who she was and her destiny. Where I took a sacred oath to tell Rigmor when the time was right. Where I threatened Malesam simply because I did not trust his chosen mistress. I have come to realise many of his perceived faults are from being Altmer, not a Daedra Worshipper. From the time I had awakened my feelings towards the High Elven people had been shaped by the Thalmor. I have since met many Altmer I like and even admire. Many of them no less arrogant or self-assured as Malesam.
I got myself moving and doing what I came for. All of that self-reflection can wait for another time. I searched every nook and cranny of that room. Rifled through the dozens of books I found. Not a clue for the answers I wanted.
I checked the room where Cerys had taken Rigmor and presented the family heirlooms to her. Once again no clues were to be found.
I decided the next step would be to talk to Urag gro-Shub. I had to talk to him about some other important matters as well.
I found him at his usual spot behind the desk in The Arcanaeum. He greeted me,
“May I help you Arch-Mage?”
Yes Mage Urag, I certainly hope so. First thing, did you translate those Shalidor writings I gave you?
“Several of us worked together to figure it out. He is a copy of my translation for you.”
Thank you. I will read it later. What do you know about Malesam and the secrets he was entrusted with?
“Not much. I think you will find none of us do. We knew when you visited with that young girl something important happened but Arch-Mage Aren was tight lipped. A Dragonborn visiting the College is usually an event of great importance but both times you came there was little fuss made. Malesam had been officially made a member of the College by the Arch-Mage even though none of us saw him cast a spell or show any aptitude for magic at all. Some old storage rooms had been cleaned out and he was locked in there with one of our ex pupils, Cerys, for a few days before you visited with the girl.”
So you know nothing of why that girl was important to the college?
“No. There are some things passed on from Arch-Mage to Arch-Mage on a “need to know” basis. This used to be via journals and diaries kept in a secret location. Somehow a new Arch-Mage would be made aware of them and their location. I think in more recent times such knowledge is left with the Augur of Dunlain. Senior Mages are schooled to tell a new arch-Mage to consult with him/it/whatever. Consider yourself told.”
Secrets kept from those who sometimes should know and have a right to know. Such habits may start with the best intentions, and many things should have a limited audience, but often secrecy is carried too far. This leads me to something I am about to ask of you. I am going to entrust you with my own secrets that should not be secrets. I want you to read this.
(I handed him my journal.)
This is the first volume of my personal journal. Although I work for The Divines I do not always agree with their methods. There are events in there that the people of Nirn have a right to know. Real events that might become false legends or dismissed as fanciful fiction. Worst of all is when events are twisted for propaganda. Our current histories are full of such falsehoods, dismissals and rewriting.
I want what I have done and will do to be recorded and the truth preserved. I do not know who I will eventually trust these journals to as even the Imperial scholars are guilty of deliberate fabrications to appease different factions including our Thalmor friends.
Urag, I trust you! I want you to read this first volume. As Arch-Mage I could make it your priority for today. I am asking if you can do that as a friend. Please, make it a priority over everything else you had planned. You will find some parts of it disturbing and distasteful. If anything offends your religious beliefs I apologise beforehand. I will be back later this afternoon to discuss it further. As you read it I know you will comprehend the level of trust I am showing.
“Of course Arch-Mage. I admit I am worried about what is written but you know my love of books is not some fetish. Knowledge is a sacred thing and when it is hidden or deliberately distorted that is a crime in my eyes. I am honoured by your trust.”
I left Urag as he wandered off with my journal to a place he could read it without disturbance. I would visit the Augur but first I wanted to talk to Mage Faralda and hear what she knew about Malesam.
I found her talking with some other mages near her quarters. The others excused themselves when they saw I was approaching Faralda.
Good morning Mage Faralda, can I please have a quick talk. Only be a minute or two.
“Of course Arch-Mage! Do you want to sit elsewhere?”
No, I am just confirming something and it is not a great secret.
“I will help if I can. I must admit though, it is strange thinking of an Apprentice of a few days ago as my Arch-Mage!”
I understand. It is something strange I wish to talk about. What do you know of Malesam?
“I know he was the cause of much friction between myself, Master Mage Mirabelle and Arch-Mage Aren. When he announced Malesam was a member of the College I immediately went to speak to Mirabelle as she was my immediate superior. What the Arch-Mage did was a breach of centuries old protocols. We both stormed into his quarters demanding to know what was going on. He reminded us of some rarely used emergency discretionary powers of an Arch-Mage and dismissed us. It reminded of me of when I was an Apprentice and got scolded at till I cried by a senior Mage!”
Keeping secrets from friends. Having to be firm and seemingly cruel with friends. These are parts of leadership that prevents the wisest amongst us from accepting such positions. Some of us have no choice.
“I know that as I often have to deal with Apprentices and staff in a manor needed but I am uncomfortable with. Still, that knowledge did not lessen the hurt both Mirabelle and I felt. Then you turned up at the bridge and told me you wanted to see this Malesam and the anger arose again.”
An outsider possibly knowing more about Malesam than you. That would have stung! You hid it well and were most courteous. Thank you for your time Mage Faralda. You have confirmed what others have told me. Malesam was an unknown till a few days before I came to visit him.
“Yes, and I never got to say goodbye to Cerys. She was a dear friend and very popular when an Apprentice and when she graduated. She had stayed at the College for a bit longer to learn more about her chosen school, Restoration. She was an orphan but she never told me who brought her up. Perhaps it was that Malesam. If so I would have thanked him if given the chance. She left with Malesam.”
I hope we have a chance to talk more soon. Thank you once again.
“Thank you Arch-Mage, for saving us all once more.”
As Faralda went to re-join her friends and continue their discussion I headed for the Midden and the Auger of Dunlain.
I had done a lot of thinking about the Auger and had come to some conclusions that he might confirm. He might tell me to mind my own business! These things could wait till after I grill him about Malesam.
I had no encounters travelling the Midden and was soon at his door. It opened automatically and I entered.
“I have been expecting you Arch-Mage. You have come to learn the secrets Arch-Mage Aren entrusted me to pass on?”
Yes and no. You have some seer ability. You see the robe of Arch-Mage I wear. Do you see that when you glimpse the future?
“No… but you are alive still. I sense the robe no longer belongs to you. You must have passed Arch-Mage onto another. That is what I see, is that what you intend to do?”
Yes, my duties as Champion of The Divines precludes any possibility of me being a reliable or long term Arch-Mage. Tolfdir is far more suited to the position.
“I concur. The Psijic did not have all the facts when pronouncing you Arch-Mage. Tolfdir will be an excellent choice if you wish to promote another to the position.”
As a short term Arch-Mage I do not wish to learn all the secrets of the position. There is only one that concerns me. I wish to speak about Rigmor and why Malesam was chosen to be trusted with her secrets and not an existing and qualified mage.
“He was chosen because of the advice I gave Arch-Mage Aren. My ability as a seer is limited as with any being except your master, Akatosh. However, I have unlimited time to mull clues over and come to logical conclusions. The Royal Decree concerning Morgan and her descendants is known by very few and in recent times only the Arch-Mages and myself.
The politics of Cyrodiil is a battlefield unlike anything you have experienced. Dynasties come and go and all Emperors or potential Emperors are ruthless in attack and defence.
Knowledge of a potential Titus Mede descendant had to be kept secret. The Royal Decree charged the College with protecting and serving such individuals. Knowledge of their possible existence would put many in danger. People would be killed simply because those in power or seeking power suspected their lineage.
Tiber Septim himself forced his beloved Barenziah, who later became the Dunmeri Queen, to abort their child as it would have been a rival to his eldest son who some claim to be Pelagius and others an unnamed male who fathered Pelagius. This is the type of ruthless act second nature to those playing the game of which young Rigmor is now a novice player.
I am sure you have read how Titus Mede wiped out every rival family, friendly or not, using a 1000ft high Dwemer Automaton.
So well had the College kept the secret of Morgan the Thalmor had no knowledge of Rigmor’s noble blood. Neither did her parents. Although treated badly by the accounts I have heard, her fate would have been worse if the Thalmor used her bloodline to play the game in Cyrodiil. She would have been a token, a pawn, in the game. That would have reduced her to nothing more than a potential bride or corpse, depending on the highest bidder.
When it was apparent to me a heir of Morgan was in play and likely to make his/her way to the College I asked Arch-Mage Aren to visit via a device in his quarters you are probably unaware of.
We discussed the possible scenarios and we both agreed any heir is likely to travel to Cyrodiil and enter the game. The Royal Decree did not stop once the heir visited and collected their inheritance and learned of their Royal blood. Although the Emperor is long dead the Decree is eternal unless revoked by another. If Morgan’s heir came to us we needed to have a member of the College protecting and serving him/her no matter where they went.
Our discussion of who that may be led to the conclusion we have no past or present members of the College with the skills required if Cyrodiil politics are involved. Such a protector would have to know how to play the game, not cast a fireball. Even you would be next to useless as Rigmor’s protector if she is to survive the game.
It is by pure chance we found the man ideal for the job. Malesam was well versed in the game and an expert on the laws under which it was played. He also happened to be sponsoring his adopted child, Cerys, whilst she attended the College. Although we mostly train for free we do ask if families can afford to do so to contribute something towards tuition. It is not that we need the coin. A student who knows that someone is paying for their tuition tends to take it more seriously and try harder not to fail. As it turned out Malesam is reasonably wealthy and he volunteered a very generous tuition fee to be paid yearly.
Several days after our discussion Arch-Mage Aren was dealing with the never ending pile of correspondence on his desk. One item was the annual payment from Malesam for Cerys’ tuition. Arch-Mage Aren noticed Malesam’s title and address and immediately called for Cerys to have a talk in his office.
When questioned about her adoptive father Cerys was proud to tell of his accomplishments as an advocate for many nobles playing the “Cyrodiil Game” as she called it. He was sometimes hired as an advisor to particular nobles.
Arch-Mage Aren thanked Cerys and she went off to attend her next class and boast how she had a cup of tea with him. He came rushing down to talk to me about his chance discovery.”
(Pure chance? I don’t think so!)
You know as well as I it was not chance. More manipulation by those I serve. I bet he was conveniently available when asked if he was free to take up the position of Protector to Morgan’s heir.
“Yes, as I said when we first spoke, you are being directed, led, coerced, whatever term you wish, by others. Your path is set and you have wisely not fought against it. Others are caught up in these threads of destiny or fate. I prefer destiny as fate suggests certainty and we both know that is not the case. Destiny suggests an outcome that is likely but not certain.”
So we have Malesam available but what convinced him to take on such an onerous task. Surely he has never had to try and guide and protect such a novice in the game? I can guarantee he has never had to deal with somebody as strong willed and stubborn as Rigmor!
“There were two reasons he took the assignment. After he agreed to meet with us we secreted him into the College and through the Midden. I was a bit of a culture shock to him and I think my presence made him aware of the seriousness of the task we were to discuss. I told him a few things he thought were secret to make him aware I have some “powers”. He probably thought I was omnipotent!”
Sorry but he annoyed me so anything that made him uncomfortable is welcome.
“Although I can no longer enjoy such emotions I can remember. As secrecy was paramount we could not tell him of the Morgan bloodline. We could not even tell him at that stage who the person was. All I had deduced was it was somebody young. Even their gender was unknown. We offered him a very generous fee and he left us with the impression he was not overly interested.”
I think somebody whispered in his ear. A Daedric whisper that makes you feel like washing your brain with soap and water.
“You have experienced such? I am not surprised. I knew he worshipped Boethia. I am neutral on such matters and so is the College. A person’s religious beliefs are not our concern as long as the rules of the College are obeyed.
A while later he contacted Arch-Mage Aren and requested another meeting. During that meeting he presented a draft contract with the fee as originally discussed. He did not say what changed his mind. We had been prepared to raise our already generous compensation so were bewildered the original fee was acceptable. We told him we would have the contract reviewed and some secrecy clauses added. He showed neither surprise nor concern about the mention of secrecy. We assumed that was standard practice when dealing in the life and death games of Cyrodiil.
Eventually all was signed and agreed to and he was told the full story. He realised the necessity of being a member of the College, to fulfil the Royal Decree, but refused to be an Apprentice Mage. He said he had avoided magic all his life as his parents had tried to force him into the family tradition of being a Wizard or Sorcerer.
That is how he became one of the few beings to know of Rigmor’s bloodline.”
I assume part of the contract is he had to follow Rigmor to wherever she went be it Cyrodiil or otherwise?
“Correct. He was hoping it was Cyrodiil as he enjoys the game. I think the challenge of keeping Rigmor alive in such an environment was as much incentive as any payment made. Arch-Mage Aren and I also thought the same as you, his Mistress would have whispered in his ear if she saw any possible profit from the venture.”
She has profited already. A nice shiny relic and a new Champion. She now knows about Rigmor’s family tree. I just hope she does not find profit in anything that would harm Rigmor. I do not know what Malesam is capable of. The fact he took on a non Altmer orphan speaks of compassion not compatible with my initial impressions. I must trust The Divines have chosen him and know far more than I.
“Wise but hard. I sense more than a protector’s interest in the girl. Your willingness to stay in Skyrim whilst she is among those wolves is admirable.”
Rigmor is the most headstrong person I know. I do not know if Cerys’ upbringing has prepared him for such a challenge!
“Cerys is a blessing. She was very well liked by all who met her in her time at the College. You must ask yourself how a person so full of compassion could grow up under the influence of a monster. I think you should regard Malesam as a bit of an enigma. Maybe he is not as bad as you think. There may be reasons for his choice of worship you are unaware of.
Cerys will help with Rigmor. I have no doubt they will become friends. Cerys shows genuine compassion to all. Her choice to concentrate on Restoration magic is a rarity in the College. It is not a school of power or domination. It is a school of healing and assistance.
Malesam told us something we had not thought of. There will be times he may not be able to accompany Rigmor and Cerys can. That means there will be a member of the College close to Rigmor to help fulfil the Royal Decree during those periods.
You are now a member of the College. If ever you become her Guardian again you will be fulfilling the Royal Decree. Your masters seem to have made Rigmor’s survival a priority.”
I know they have for reasons hinted at but not fully explained. They do not let me know much and rely on me figuring out enough to complete their tasks. It seems they do not care who helps me. In this instance it was the Psijic Order and yourself. In the past it has been Daedric Princes and their followers. It is a dangerous game they play with my life. They have lost Dragonborn to the baser needs such as power and/or forbidden knowledge. I know the stakes and what happens if I fail them. It is my love for the common citizens of Nirn they rely on to keep me on their side. I am mortal. I do not think they realise the danger if they ever asked me to measure the worth of many against the worth of my beloved. I hope they never test me that way.
“These things are beyond my knowledge and I am glad I do not have to juggle such needs and wants.”
I suppose to keep the secrecy no correspondence is sent to and from Malesam on this issue.
“Even when discussing it on College grounds we surrounded ourselves with the best wards to prevent eavesdropping. Malesam told us no written correspondence to and from Cyrodiil is guaranteed to be private. Encrypted messages will simply vanish. Any magic means would be found and could be intercepted without our knowledge. There is not a single message or piece of information from Malesam since he crossed the border.”
Just for curiosities sake I would like to see if I have guessed correctly about you.
“I have nothing to hide. Let me see if you are smarter than others who have tried.”
Your name, Auger of Dunlain, suggests you were originally from the Western part of the Reach where the town of Dunlain still exists.
You were probably a Reachman. Those who now call themselves Forlorn. I say this because Auger is a word I find in their writings and nowhere else. An Auger is what we call a seer, somebody who can read clues and portents and maybe even the threads of time to predict the future.
Our knowledge of magic is decreasing. There are many things ancient practitioners of magic were capable of that we are not. The demise of the Dwemer and Snow Elves meant much knowledge was lost. The jealous guardianship each race had over their knowledge means many things are no longer shared. The division of our knowledge between Synod, Psijic, College of Whispers and College of Winterhold weakens all and guarantees loss of knowledge.
Some of the pagan idols and ceremonial sites I have seen in the Midden were yours.
You had discovered some of the lost knowledge. You were trying to relearn some lost magic of the Reach. You made a mistake and here you are, a unique entity who others pity but who does not regret his actions. Yet you warn others of the dangers of the blind pursuit of knowledge.
“I have come to terms of what I am. Others are not so fortunate. Many vanish never to be seen again. Some are transformed into things lesser than what they were. I am now different and free to pursue knowledge. You have proven yourself both wise and intelligent. It is a pity you can’t remain Arch-Mage.”
It is a title I would wear with honour but alas it is not to be. I will hand this robe and duty over before the end of the day. Perhaps one day I can visit and talk about the more mysterious things I have seen in my travels.
“Like why there are always lit candles and lamps in tombs that have only had Draugr tenants for centuries? If you find the answer, let me know!”
With that unexpected piece of humour from the Augur of Dunlain I left the Midden on my next task for the day.
I wanted to see what I could do about Septimus Signus. It had been months since I left him waiting for me to return with the full Essence Extractor. I have no doubt after my threat to Hermaeus Mora his master instructed him to recruit another gatherer of blood.
My motivation to visit Septimus was twofold. He had done evil for his master in his pursuit of knowledge. That does not mean it is too late for him to reject his master and redeem himself.
My other motivation was Urag. Septimus used to be his friend. Urag will read in my journal what I have not told him. I need to give him closure on the fate of his friend.
I left the College and headed for the shore. As before I summoned Blaze and relied on his heat to protect me as we crossed the ice fields to Septimus’ outpost.
The outpost showed signs of a battle of magic. Items were strewn about and there was a dead mage of some type. He was not wearing a College uniform and when I searched him there was nothing to identity him or where he was from.
I could see the lockbox was open. The dead mage must have been my substitute. There were items in the entrance of the lockbox. The battle must have occurred after Septimus opened it.
I entered the lockbox and found the body of Urag’s friend. I inspected the body and could see he had been struck by an Ice Spear. Both mages died as a result of their battle. Not an uncommon occurrence.
There was a letter in one of his pockets. It read,
“If somebody finds this please let my friend Urag and others at the College of Winterhold know this. I was lured into evil in my pursuit of knowledge. The Auger warned me but my arrogance didn’t listen. I do not ask for or expect forgiveness for what I have done. Do not pity me either. I have not seen the Dragonborn since I gave him the task of filling the Essence Extractor. My master was less than complimentary about him when instructing me to find another accomplice. I am no Dragonborn but if he can disobey my master’s orders maybe I can as well. I hope to gain some redemption by returning to the College with an item of great value to my master. It belongs in the hands of good mortals, not evil immortal tyrants. I believe it to be the Heart of Lorkham. A relic of great power as any student of history knows. If I die it will be because I practised free will. Something Daedric Princes do not have but envy. They are incapable of being anything but what they are. Be envious master. I know it pains you.”
In the middle of the lockbox was a pedestal with a book. This was not the Heart of Lorkham. Hermaeus Mora had lied to Septimus. I wonder if his last thoughts were filled with that knowledge. It would have been better if he died without the final realisation of how he was used by that most evil of beings.
I picked up the book and opened it. It was incomprehensible to me. Urag will probably know what it is.
As I left the outpost I was more than surprised that Hermaeus Mora did not make an appearance. I was relieved he didn’t as his presence made me feel like bathing non-stop for a month.
I returned to the College late in the afternoon and headed for The Arcanaeum. Urag was sorting some books on a shelf but I could tell he was distracted. I am no expert on reading Orsimer emotion but I would guess his was the saddest expression he was capable of.
“You are truly blessed and cursed. Blessed to experience such love. Cursed to be separated from it.”
That is what has upset you most from what you read?
“There were many things but any student of history knows the Gods are deceivers and manipulators. That is not a rare thing. Your love for Rigmor is. That it exists gives me hope when darkness is all around us.”
Do you see why I want this history preserved and not lost?
“Of course! I only wish other ‘heroes’ had the foresight to leave such a legacy.”
I have no doubt many did but for whatever reason their journals were lost or hidden or destroyed. Much history that had been hidden is being revealed by Moth Priests who risk all by telling what the Elder Scrolls have shown. You would have heard of the exploits of the “Forgotten Hero” that one of their Order has recently exposed.
“To the great embarrassment of our current Emperor! I wonder how much gold he has spent trying to convince the populace that it is not true? That it is politically motivated propaganda.”
So we come to the crux of the matter. Do you think you can make a copy of my journal, word for word, and make sure it is hidden till we find a place where historians can access it?
“The Elder Scroll you gave me is in place where no mortal mage can hope to breach. I could place the copies of your journals in the same place. The secrets of Dwemer lockboxes were not lost to all. If Septimus had asked I could have helped. I may visit him and see if he is still the man I once knew. If the relic is what he thinks it is then it is our duty to retrieve it, Daedric Prince or not.”
(Urag was the right person for me to choose for this task. I hoped when I handed him his friend’s letter he found some solace.)
Here Urag, read this.
(I handed him the letter and walked away so he could absorb its contents in private. After five minutes or so he called me over.)
“I will collect his body tomorrow and give him the burial he deserves. He died free of the evil that failed to control him in the end. He was the man I knew when he took his last breath. I thank you for giving him the courage to do so.”
I opposed Hermaeus Mora as part of my solemn duty to The Divines. He opposed his master out of a sense of what is right and wrong and it took great courage to do so. He did not ask for forgiveness but he has earned it.
“Yes, he has and that is what will be recorded in the College histories.”
Hermaeus Mora had lied to him. The relic was not the Heart of Lorkham. It was this book. Do you know what it might be?
(I handed him the book and he opened it. His eyes grew large and he shook his head. He looked up at me with wonder in his eyes.)
“There are many Elder Scroll scattered around Nirn. There are more of Shalidor’s works to be found. This book is unique. Written by Xarxes. He is the Aldmeri God of secret knowledge and ancestry. Some say a puppet of Hermaeus Mora. He was a scribe to Auri-El, your Lord Akatosh. This book supposedly contains the entire knowledge of the Aldmeri race. Whatever the truth its value to mages and historians is incalculable.”
It is now the property of the College. Give credit to your friend for its discovery and recovery. That is the truth no matter the circumstances.
“It will be so. I need to think on many things but as to your journals the answer is this. I will gladly transcribe them word for word. They will be in the safest place imaginable and one day we may find another place where their knowledge can be shared and history saved.
Your duties are grim and responsibilities infinite. You have one thing that ensures your success. Your love of Rigmor! Whatever reason the Gods have for bringing you back together in the future remember that. They can’t control or destroy that love. It is beyond their powers. Use it and you will do right by all mortals on Nirn.”
Thank you Urag. I will entrust you with my journals and future volumes of it without fear or worry. Next time you see me I will no longer be your Arch-Mage. I am handing that honour to Tolfdir. I hope he enjoyed his dinner as I have not told him yet. It might spoil his appetite!
“I understand your decision. He is a great choice and would have been Arch-Mage Aren’s as well.”
With that I left The Arcanaeum and entered the Arch Mage quarters. Lydia was sitting reading some obscure text called “Kagouti Mating Habits.” I asked her to find Tolfdir and request he come meet me in the Arch-Mage quarters.
As soon as she left I removed the Arch-Mage robes and donned my armour. I sat in a chair and idly scratched Meeko’s ears as I waited.
About half an hour later Tolfdir arrived and I asked him to sit.
“You need something Arch-Mage?”
I have been thinking about who ought to lead the College.
“I told you the Psijic were right. I can’t think of anybody more suitable than you.”
“Is that so? Who?”
You. I think you should be Arch-Mage.
“Why? I will need an explanation if you don’t mind!”
I have many other responsibilities that will keep me from the college for random periods of time. The College needs a leader who will be here. Somebody who can concentrate on the needs of its members and its relationships with those outside its walls. That person is you. Will you accept the position?
“I will accept it on one proviso. If you ever wish it back just ask.”
Agreed. Oh, you must ensure the current agreement with Dragons Keep continues.
“Of course. It has proven most beneficial to those who have participated and we also expect many of the children will join us when they come of age.”
(I handed him the robes of office and he went behind a partition to change. He was a foot shorter and half as wide but I knew the robes would fit like they were tailored. That was confirmed when he emerged a few minutes later.)
They suit you Arch-Mage Tolfdir. Your seat awaits you.
(Arch-Mage Tolfdir sat in his chair and he certainly looked the part of a wise and knowledgeable leader.)
You must visit the Auger of Dunlain at you earliest convenience. He has vital information for the Arch-Mage’s ears only. Now if you don’t mind I am heading home. I need to hear the laughter of children once again.
I gathered Lydia and Meeko and we set off for home.
We reached it without incident and both of them left me to write in my new journal.
I retired to bed with my mind racing with all I had learned and experienced over the last week.
I felt a lot less worried about Malesam. He may be Rigmor’s greatest ally in the days to come. Cerys may be her best friend.
Urag’s words were true. My love for Rigmor ensures we will succeed. Not ‘I” but “we”. We both need to survive whatever trials come our way whilst separated. Then we will work together to survive whatever trials come our way when reunited. Mortals and Gods alike are no match for the bond we have.
I know not what time I fell asleep.
I know it was to Rigmor’s voice reciting moments of her lost childhood.