Warning: potential side quest (Mages Guild) spoilers ahead!
From the journals of Garn:
Having acquired all of my recommendations I’ve made my way back to the Arcane University in the Imperial City to speak with Raminus Polus. After officially welcoming me into the guild he’s set me on the task of crafting my own Mage’s Staff – a custom that every newly accepted member of the guild partakes in. I’m somewhat familiar with these Mage’s Staffs – not only have I seen many of the mages across Cyrodiil carrying them but I had to recover one for Ardaline in Bravil as part of receiving my recommendation from the Bravil guildhall. The first step of the process will be to venture to Wellspring Cave for assistance in selecting the wood I’ll be using from a nearby sacred grove.
“Not the greeting I was expecting!”
I’ve made it to the grove and retrieved the wood with which I’ll craft my stave, however, all did not go as planned. When I first entered the cave I wasn’t greeted by the mages who steward the grove, rather only darkness and an eerie silence. As I crept further in I soon discovered the body of a mage illuminated by the flickering light of fallen torch. Lying next to the mage another body – one that I suspected by her garb to be that of a necromancer. I continued through the cave and found it to be in quite a ravaged state, as if the intruders were searching for something. Intruders there were too – I encountered and fought several more necromancers until finally reaching the exit to the grove. As I cautiously slid the door open I saw another mage fending off three more attackers. He looked wounded and was obviously outnumbered so I immediately sprang forth and entered the melee. While I slew them all I was unfortunately too slow save the mage.
Raminus seems deeply troubled by my recount of these events despite appearing to be attempting to hide it. He doesn’t discuss the situation with me further and dispatches me to meet with Delmar in the Chironasium to continue the construction of my staff. I know little of necromancers outside of my own knowledge of conjuration and my limited run-ins with them in my travels thus far – well, that, and that necromancy is outlawed by the Guild. I suppose the matter will be discussed and dealt with by higher ranked guild members. Delmar and I decide on how to fashion and enchant the staff. I admit, the process is fascinating and learning more of these sorts of arts seems like it might make my choice to join the Guild a fruitful one. I’m to collect the staff tomorrow.
Delmar has crafted a fine staff for me. I’ve had it enchanted with a fire spell given my affinity for using such magics and it has a look that would suit a battlemage such as myself if I were to ever decide to wield a staff in combat. For now the staff will make a fine keepsake for my mantle. I return to Raminus to present him with it. Raminus’s seems quite pleased with the results and congratulates me on officially being promoted to the rank of journeyman within the guild. It’s at last finally time for my first real assignment.
Raminus tells me that my next task, while seemingly menial, relates to the necromancer attack on Wellspring Cave. He asked me to travel to Skingrad and meet with Count Hassildor to retrieve a book that the Guild had recently loaned to him. While this struck me a little odd it was, after all, the first thing the council was trusting me with, so I’m preparing for my journey south without lodging any sort of complaint.
It was dusk as I walked into the great hall at Castle Skingrad. I was greeted by Mercator Hosidus, the Count’s steward, who informed me that the Count was occupied and I’d need to, instead, make an appointment to see him on the morrow. The next day I visited the castle again only to be given a similar story by Mercator. This time he told me the Count would see me but preferred to meet me in the fields outside of the west wall of the city at 2 in the morning. Odd, but I assume he has his reasons. I’m rather disappointed by this treatment as I made great haste on my ride here hoping to impress the council with the speediness that I completed my task. Raminus had implied that the Count could be unusual, perhaps this type of thing is what he was referring to. Still, I will see him tonight.
“Who called this meeting?!”
As I ride up to the appointed area near Tamika’s vineyard, my sword unfastened from my scabbard, I look around but do not see a sign of anyone. I keep my guard up, still suspicious about this meeting place and the unorthodox time. Suddenly I hear Mercator’s voice greeting me from the darkness. A torch is brought up and I see two others with him but no one I could make out to be the Count. Mercator tells me that I wouldn’t in fact be meeting the Count, that he didn’t even know I was in the city, and that I would have to be dealt with for potentially interrupting their plans. Necromancers? Before I have any more time to react I’m knocked from my horse by a powerful spell. I attempt to draw my sword as I try to keep track of the men though through the crops and shifting torchlight. The next moment I hear the sounds of a skirmish unfolding. I quickly find my feet and charge Mercator. The traitorous Imperial had death in his eyes but his dark magics were no match for my Daedric steel. As I finish him I turn to find myself alone in the field with a man looking at me disapprovingly, shaking his head.
“Why no, why would YOU have anything to do with the undead?!”
Dressed in fine plate armor and wearing a strong, if also a little gaunt face, the man introduces himself as Janus Hassildor, Count of Skingrad. He tells me that he’s suspected Mercator as being in league with the necromancers for some time now though he wanted him to reveal who else he might be working with before acting upon his suspicions. He also tells in no uncertain terms that he’s disappointed in me for not knowing that I was being duped by the Guild – I wasn’t sent here to retrieve a book at all but rather to spy on him. With that, he asks me to inform info Raminus to that he is certainly not affiliated with the necromancers and that he does not appreciate them sending someone to him under false pretenses. I have little recourse but to agree, dust myself off, and head back to my inn room for the night.
Arriving back at the Arcane University, Raminus apologizes for putting me in the awkward and ultimately dangerous situation but explains that the council doesn’t completely trust the Count despite working closely with him for some time now – his loyalty had to be ascertained and for that my mission is considered a success. I’ve been promoted to the rank of Evoker and given my next task. It’s not that I have any issue with the idea of spying on the Count but they could have let me in on it at least. It makes me question the motives of the council – what exactly did they think they were sending me into?
“I hear there’s an alchemist in the Market District with a potion for that!”
Raminus tells me that he has another task in mind for me. Something hopefully a little less stressful and he assures me that no necromancers will be involved this time. I’m to meet with Irlav Jarol about an Ayleid ruin that the Guild is currently excavating. Irlav fills me in on the details – evidently the ruin appears to be completely intact and while they’ve managed to clear out and map most of the top level, they’ve discovered some sort of magical locking mechanism that has kept the rest of the structure sealed off from the team. I’m to speak with Skaleel once I arrive.
I set off to Vahtacen which is located near the banks of the Reed River to the east of the capital. When I come upon the area that Irlav described I see none of the usual trappings of an Elven ruin – in fact, all that’s here is a muddy, unassuming cave. If it weren’t for the torches and the fresh footprints everywhere I might have never guessed the entrance to the ruin was within. As I made my way through the cave I soon found where the main structure had been breached. Torches light the way until I reach a large chamber where several guild members and other laborers have setup. I quickly find Skaleel who explains the situation in only slightly more detail that Irlav. Unlike Irlav, who seemed largely distant from the project, Skaleel appeared to know almost too much about it, her frustration palpable.
“Quite the puzzle – you just have to read the instructions. Why did I join this stupid guild again?”
I venture into the chamber with the magical locking device. Denel, another mage, explains that they’ve recently discovered that casting spells at the strange pillar like structure in the center of the room seems to be having some sort of reaction though, so far, the reaction has only been in the form of smaller stones in each corner of the chamber coming together to violently shock the caster. I examine the room but it looks like nothing I’ve ever seen before. As I’m leaning against a wall I feel a sharp edge catch my hand. What was this? I wipe away the countless years of dust to reveal the unmistakable shapes that make up ancient Ayleid writing. Denel quickly rushes off to fetch Skaleel who returns with a book on translating Ayleid. As we wipe away more and more of this writing we begin translating. While each message is cryptic at best, they all seem to mention different elements: one fire, one frost, and the other two magicka, though one seeming positive and the other negative. We concoct a plan and soon I’m casting the first spell – a firebolt at the strange mechanism. Success! It moves revealing a hint at an inner chamber. Soon, as we cast all four spells, the mechanism completely moves giving us access to a stairway further into the ruins.
“I wish I were an Elf so I could turn into one of these fuckers when I die.”
As I’m the only one equipped for such potentially dangerous exploration I venture down alone. Like most of the Ayleid ruins I’ve been in so far this one is filled with an unappealing mixture of terrible undead and brutal traps. Still, I’m quite experienced at dealing with clearing out such dungeons by now and soon find myself in what seems to be the main hall of the structure. In the center of the room sits large raised platform surrounded by stairs. This looks similar to the throne rooms I’ve seen in other Elven sites only this time the very center is covered with a large carved stone box. Chains connect it to a number of suspended pulleys and hanging counterweights. There has to be a… sure enough, a switch!
“Ouch! I don’t often get totally owned but when I make sure I get cool pictures of it.”
I flick the switch and the sound of the heavy chains ripping through metal rings is almost deafening as it echos through the hall. The dust that is thrown into the air is all but blinding as well. I take a step back and find my footing unsure – I’m stepping on something soft and fleshy. I spin and draw my sword – a lich! It raises a minion from the dusty floor and points its ancient gnarled staff at me menacingly. Just then I hear the sound of more undead being summoned. How many liches were in this room? No matter! I summon a Daedra warrior and block a weak blow from a skeletal automaton. The battle is fierce – I bash the head off of the first undead then I hack a lich almost clean in half from his shoulder down to his stomach. I turn to send a lightning bolt crackling into another. Soon they all lay in piles of dusty gore.
The throne area, now accessible, contains what may have once been a rich cache of ancient Elven armor – beautifully crafted and richly decorated though most of it seems to have deteriorated long ago. The helmet seem quite intact though so I’m bringing it back to Skaleel as proof of my discovery. Skaleel is elated at the quality of the item and suggests I immediately bring it back to the University. After imparting some information about the newly explored chambers and saying my goodbyes I’ll set off on my way back east to deliver the good news and the guild’s latest Ayleid artifact.