The travel journal: a week in SKYRIM (episode 4)
The College of Winterhold - The magical LARP-event (Life as a Real Pyromancer)
I have decided to spend seven days as a tourist in the province of Skyrim. An outsider in the land of legends, roaring fires, frosty nights, sweetrolls and sweet trolls — as well as people who do not understand the concept of personal space. The following is a journal of my experiences here, and the people I meet along the way.
I arrive in the secluded and frostbitten town of Winterhold, by means of a hired carriage, just in time for second breakfast (I do not wish to be seen with my special horse Buttercup in front of all the other people attending the event, so I left him in Windhelm. It is, after all, only folk of high social standing that participate in such gatherings as the one I am attending today).
I woke up ridiculously early, as the local bard in the Candlehearth Hall back in Windhelm, an utter pestilence by the name of Luaffyn - who is surely mostly known for being officially the worst, decided its was appropriate to sing a loud and uncalled-for version of “The Age of Aggression” right outside my chamber-door. I immediately felt sorry about how the magnificent bard from Riverwood, universally agreed upon husband-material and sublime singer Sven, and I parted ways — I guess you never know what you have until it is gone.
On this day, however, minute obstacles like that shan’t dampen my spirits as I am feeling steamed up because of the LARP-event I am going to participate in, at the mythical College of Winterhold. I am wearing my best mage attire, and I even bought myself a staff as I always wanted one.
I am relieved to see the big crackling fire that greets me when I enter the tavern. While my robes are undeniably stylish, they do not offer a lot of wind-protection for my nether regions. “It is famously hard for a mage to keep his soul gems warm” as the infamous Mankar Camoran used to say.
I approach the Inn-keep, a jovial blonde man by the name of Dagur, and order a plate of braided bread with butter and honey, as well as a piece of freshly baked apple pie and an ale. I sit down by the fire in order to decide on the strengths and weaknesses of the character I am going to be portraying at the College today. I am rather sure that he is going to be a charismatic rogue with a dark past. I scribble down some traits on a piece of parchment:
As I enter the courtyard of the college, I am overwhelmed by an intense feeling of historic grandeur. The high ancient walls provide a bit of shelter from the hostile winds of the cliffside, and in the middle of the plaza, I see the iconic statue of Arch-Mage Shalidor. Shalidor was said to have built the city of Winterhold with only a single whispered spell according to my trusted guide-book. Given the current state of the city, I would say that evidence suggests whispering is not the ideal way of building anything.
Upon approaching the main entrance, I am greeted by my guide for the day. He informs me that his name is Ancano. I sense that he does not like me very much, so I make a mental note of making sure we are the best of friends by the end of my day here. Ancano takes me inside, and introduces me to my companion. He is an exotic looking man who goes by the name of Drevis, and he has apparently made the bold choice that his character is invisible. This should be interesting.
We all gather at the main chamber for a brief history of the college. An elderly mage named Tolfdir informs us, that we are currently standing in The Hall of Elements. The majestic room is eerily quiet, except for the echoing whispers our footsteps produce. In the middle of the hall, a large illuminated orb is hovering seemingly magically above the ground. Tolfdir tells us that it is called the Eye of Magnus. It is covered in strange writings, that even the wisest of scholars do not yet know the origins of. At the end of our walk, Tolfdir presents us all with a quest: apparently “The Dark Lord” has hidden part of his life-force in an item somewhere in Winterhold. The quest is to find and destroy it in order to sabotage The Dark Lords’ sinister plans. We are simply informed to look for anomalies in order to uncover the magical artifact. I assume my invisible companion will be of little assistance, but nevertheless we embark on our epic quest.
We have decided to begin by searching the main street of the wintry hold. Immediately, I see something that makes me draw my staff: A strangely confident chicken. I have noticed that chicken are very precious to the inhabitants of this stark province.. Seemingly to a degree where people care more about their chicken than their children. This has made the fowl arrogant beyond measure over time. This chicken in particular is purposely antagonizing me by walking insufferably slow in front of me. I feel an intense urge to slay the feathered monster where it stands, but luckily Drevis intervenes reminding me of the severe destiny that usually befalls people who meddle with these dark creatures. We agree to take a turn and divert our focus elsewhere.
After searching for ages, we choose to regain some heat in our bones by entering a curious looking shop called “Birna’s Oddments”. Behind the counter we see a stern looking woman, who turns out to be the owner herself. Birna looks directly at Drevis and says “Ranmir’s a good for nothing drunk. We’d’ve lost the house by now if it were up to him”. Drevis sulks and mumbles something about being invisible, and I am not entirely sure how to deal with that terribly personal and highly irrelevant information. I counter her awkward ice-breaker by enquiring if she has noticed anything strange around the city. “You looking for Ranmir? He’s either passed out in bed, or working on winding up that way”. I feel the urge to draw my staff again, but I suddenly remember that I am very handsome, so instead I send a ravishing smile in her direction. Strangely, that does not seem to accomplish anything except for making her very uncomfortable. She slowly putts her right hand on an unfriendly looking battle-axe, so I decide to end my enquiries instantly.
Outside it is now snowing rather heavily. Drevis tells me that he saw a ruined house when he arrived earlier, and we decide to investigate. Upon entering the remnant of the former glory of this town, I feel an icy sensation down my spine. Inside the ruined house, the snowfall calms down quite instantly, and everything suddenly appears to become unnaturally quiet. In the fireplace, we see a harrowing sight: A tiny doll appears. These lands are full of strange tales of ghosts and spirits haunting the nights, and I feel happy that I have Drevis by my side. Being handsome or invisible seems of little use right now though.
A quiet sound seems to emanate from the doll.. It is almost like it is breathing. Feeling certain that we have finally found the source of the Dark Lords power, we realize that we should act like the brave pyromancers we are supposed to be, and burn it. Ancano, my friend from earlier, startles me by materializing behind me. “ I am surprised to find you here.. alone” he says looking very tired of his current employment. I can see that he just made the very not invisible Drevis’ day. Good for him. Ancano produces a grand fireball spell and directs it at the doll. The figure begins to burn in a bright green and silver blaze, and we are told that our quest is completed. We have apparently saved the world. I am not feeling very satisfied with that story-line, but luckily there has been plenty of other things to do in this province, and theres is still plenty to see. This so-called main quest, Ancanos’ words not mine, is definitely not my favorite part of visiting Skyrim so far though.
After the LARP closing ceremony, consisting mostly of Ancano doing some kind of uncomfortable dance while Tolfdir banged a drum sporadically and quite poorly, it is time to leave the college. I am to travel to the capitol of Solitude where I intend to spend my last time here for now. I feel like I might subsequently travel to the island of Solstheim or the enigmatic region called the Forgotten Vale in the future though. There is so much yet to see, even here in Skyrim, and I must conclude that it is impossible to explore it all in one week.
I thank Drevis for his help and say goodbye to an exhausted looking Ancano in the courtyard. I think we have developed quite the relationship. I know he would never admit it, but we have surely become friends.
After taking a carriage back to Windhelm in order to be reunited with Buttercup, I am now back on the road. It is quite a long journey to Solitude, and it has become quite misty, rendering it difficult to be sure that I am going in the right direction.
Suddenly the capitol materializes out of the mist. This giant of civilization is home to The Bards College, The Hall of the Dead, The Blue Palace and Castle Dour. I cannot wait to see it all.
In need of a rest I decide to ride for a small cabin that is marked on my map. It should be possible to stop for some food there and get out of the rain that is now falling very heavily. I hitch Buttercup to a tree and enter the abandoned-looking cabin. Once inside I am met by a horrifying scene..!
NEXT EPISODE AVAILABLE NOW:
Missed the first episodes? Here they are:
Episode 1: From Riverwood to Whiterun
Episode 2: The Throat of the World
Episode 3: Journey to the College of Winterhold
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