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Monday, 3 February 2014

Day One Part One - Mzulft

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One of the students at the College suggested I keep a journal of my travels in Skyrim so that I can look back on what I've learnt and done. It's a shame I hadn't thought of it before really as I've become quite proficient in conjuration and alchemy thanks to the training I've received here, and it would have been interesting to read back on it! 

Anyway, after coming back from a three day journey to collect some stolen books from the Arcanaeum I was told by Tolfdir to learn about the whereabouts of the Staff of Magnus. I thought it would be as good a time as any to record this new adventure in my journal, and who knows? I could become a famous mage and this would be my biography!

It took me three long hours of riding to get to Mzulft from Windhelm on my new horse. I'd taken most of my savings from selling my potions to buy him, along with having new steel sword forged from the blacksmith. He seemed happy enough, strong and healthy, we rode along the icy mountain paths with ease.

Back at the College, Mirabelle has told me that members of the Synod recently visited mentioning the Staff of Magnus. Last known to be heading to Mzulft, they may know more about the location. 

The journey there had been an adventure in itself. I passed a giantess tending to her mammoths and two Imperial soldiers escorting a Storm-cloak prisoner. I passed through with no event until a scamp appeared from a nearby cave, throwing fireballs at the soldiers as they armed their bows. I think I saw the Storm Cloak soldier scramble off into the bushes and escape, hands still tied.

I watched them fight a little while from horseback, wondering whether to help, the scamps fireballs even reached the giant who let out a howl and ran off, furs on fire. The mammoths she tended, hearing her distress, stomped over to the scamp and practically squashed it flat, extinguishing the fire from its little demonic hands.

By the looks of it they didn't need my help at all.

As I got closer to Mzulft the road got more dangerous. I managed to take down a few wolves and a forest drake from horseback and felt quite pleased.

Suddenly I felt heat rising on my neck behind me as I galloped, I looked around and saw a nightmare. 

A gigantic flame lurker straight from Oblivion itself, it would outrun me and my brand new horse if we tried to escape it. I drew my bow and knocked an arrow, turning in the saddle as best I could to aim. I let loose a few arrows into its fiery chest, the heat rolling off its body melted the arrow before it even hit it and I knew then that non magical weapons would be no help. 

I dismounted quickly and rolled onto the dirt. In one hand I conjured a sword from Oblivion, the other hand pulling forth my named flame atronach, Ember. I hadn't planned on using nearly all my magicka reserves already, but then again I hadn't planned on facing this dreadful creature. 

Ember distracted it as I ran around behind it and plunged the ethreal sword into its back. It let out a howl and sank to the ground. I scraped off the fire salts off its body as my reward, I'll be able to make an expensive potion out of it.

So now here I write on horseback, at the front door of Mzulft. Shoveling down a quick lunch of potatoes and chicken I roasted earlier with some water to keep hydrated. I'd heard dwarven ruins were hot as hell, full of steam and scalding pipes. 

I left my journal attached to my horse, along with any other important belongings. I'd need as much bag space as possible for whatever small treasures lay inside. I'll write more when and if I get out of there with what I came for. And if I never came out?

Someone would find this eventually.

* * *

So the good news is that I'm alive. I'm out. I have all my limbs to write with and walk on. The bad news is I have no arrows; drank every potion I had; my favorite outfit is ripped to shreds and I am covered in blood, slime, oil and grease. But at least I can tell you my story.

Inside Mzulft there was a dead man on the floor. At lease I thought he was until he let out a few wheezy breaths and lifted his head to look at me with wild eyes. He was one of the Synod researchers.

"Crystal ... gone ... find Paratus ... in the Oculary!" He coughed and hacked as blood flecked the corners of his mouth, and before he could tell me anything else, he died. 

I knelt down and gently searched his robes for any clues I'd need for the journey ahead. He had a key for the giant door ahead, and a small research log.

The book was small and bound in cracked leather, I could tell it'd seen a journey as it was dirty and musty. However only a few pages had been written in. A copy of a letter they'd received with their instructions. 

So it had seemed they were on a mission to put some sort of crystal into this ruin, but why? There was no mention of the staff. Perhaps that's not even what they were here for?

Sweat trickled down the sides of my face and arms as the steam jetted out of nearby pipes. It was as hot as I'd read about. The room was very dimly lit and I knew the rest would be pitch black. I switched on the lantern at my hip and counted six and a half bottles of oil in one of my bags. I should be good for the trip. If I didn't I'd have to find my way back in the darkness. I'd hoped this wasn't a wasted trip. What could the crystal be?

I took the heavy dwarven metal key and opened the door with a heavy push. I looked into the ruin for the first time.

It was pitch black. Noises of things scuttling, steam bursting from pipes and heavy air rolled through.

I held my lantern up and walked a few paces in to see what greeted me. The chamber was filled with smoke and steam. It smelt like tangy metal and other things I didn't want to think about. There wasn't much around but empty bowls, stacks of dwemer metal and cups. I allowed myself a little breath of relief that I hadn't found anything trying to kill me yet.

Further into the chamber I rounded a corner and found another dead researcher. I searched his robes for more clues but he had nothing on him apart from his robe and a small dagger.

It was at this point I realized I hadn't seen or heard anything alive, I drew a shining steel sword from the hilt at my hip.

Back in Windhelm I'd spent the last of my gold having a beautiful steel sword forged by the blacksmith there. He named it Shiovanna, and I liked that, I'd hoped she would help protect me against the dangers within.

I moved on and decided to conjure my flame atronach, Ember. She was the first atronach I summoned when I joined the college and stuck with me ever since. It always felt better to have a friendly presence beside me, even if she was pulled out of Oblivion. 

I creeped onwards on high alert through the hot musty passageways and stopped when I heard scuttling noises up ahead, something faintly glowing. It sounded mechanical, a creature?

Out came the biggest mechanical spider I'd ever seen. Made of dwemer metal with glowing soul gem eyes, it moved towards me with its eight limbs clicking on the stone floor. I barely managed to register the deadly crossbow mounted to its underside as a bolt whooshed past my head.

I raised my sword above my head, and dodging another crossbow bolt brought the sword down on its back as hard as I could.

I felt my wrist nearly snap as the sword bounced off its shell with an earsplitting screech of metal on metal. I realised that dwemer metal trumped steel, and my beloved sword was useless here. 

I rolled backwards and took out my Burning Bow, enchanted to set my enemies alight. Ember tossed fireballs at the mech spider as it turned and shot at her, I aimed between the spiders metal plates and fired an arrow into its body.

The arrow burned through and the spider set alight, tumbling to the ground with its insides melted. I thanked Ember, who twirled happily and disappeared.

I lent down and scavenged what I could from the spiders body. My heart leapt at what I saw inside, a Centurian Dynamo Core and a grand soul gem! From what I've read, these two ingredients are part of a recipe to conjure incredibly rare Daedric weapons and armor from the Atronach forge below the college. One day I'll have all the pieces and hopefully have some of my very own.

That reminded me, I took out one of my smaller soul gems and inspected my bow. The runes were running faint and I knew there wasn't much enchantment left in it. I recharged the bow and saw the runes glow much brighter. This particular gem had the soul of a tundra wolf within, I'd hoped it would be as fierce in my bow as it was in its last fight.

In combat, if choose to conjure a sword rather than my steel, it can bind souls to the many gems I have stored in my bag. One of the many useful things I've learnt at the College.

When I first came to Skyrim I wasn't sure which school I was going to concentrate on, but conjuration came naturally to me above all others. Of course I'll practice them all, but being able to bring my friends from Oblivion helped on the long lonely journeys in Skyrim's mountains.

I conjured Ember again and quickly dispatched a small dwarven spider worker, and another mech. Collected the soul gems from both and a little malachite ore. Not that I could smith much yet but it was good to keep and learn. 

She disappeared after that with a fiery twirl. I wish I could keep her as I know she doesn't like being in Oblivion alone, but I'm not powerful enough to keep her out for long.

I used the last of my magicka reserves to practice a little restoration and healed myself a little. I had a few cuts and scrapes but nothing that was much trouble. My clothing was starting to look a little worse for wear now I'd had a few scuffles and I was regretting not bringing any sort of armor.

 Speaking of armor, in a little room off one of the main chambers I found a dwarven chest. I didn't know much in the way of picking locks but managed to open it after a few tries. It contained a little gold, some nearly new studded imperial armor and a small ruby gemstone. The armor was clean enough, and looked small enough to fit. One I needed it I'd put it on, but for now stuffed it into one of my larger bags.


After twenty minutes or so of walking around the endless dwarven corridors I came out into a chamber with a single tree growing, first signs of life in the place. The air was musty and smoky but the tantilising smell of fresh air hovered above. I could just see a patch of natural light coming from above, whether it was night or dark I couldn't tell.

I allowed myself to relax a little and snacked on some grilled leeks to keep the hunger pangs down, I didn't want to stay for too long knowing what dangers could scuttle over at any minute.

I left the area and the gas pipe lined walls became less and less. Natural rock came through the walls and I knew I was venturing into older parts of the ruins. I hadn't seen any Synod researchers in a while.

Eventually I came across a moonstone vein in the caves, luckily I'd taken the trouble of keeping a pickaxe on me. I harvest a few bits of ore knowing I could sell them later. 
I walked through more narrow cave walls, no longer looking like a dwemer ruin apart from a few cups and bowls here and there. I stopped dead as I heard something large and heavy come from the large cave ahead, I stooped low and extinguished my lantern, drawing up my burning bow.

My blood ran cold as I realized what it was. A fully grown Chaurus Reaper, apparently eating the remains of a dead Synod researcher. Recalling what I'd read in the books at the college, Chaurus Reapers are the most dangerous of the Chaurus variety, they're incredibly hard to take down by even a group of grown men, and to make them even more terrifying, they shoot acidic poison to melt through armor. I knew for a fact the College would not have allowed me to go alone if a creature of this size roamed here.

Nonetheless, I was there and I had a job to do. I was confident in my abilities even if I was staring death in the face. My magicka reserves were still low so I couldn't bring Ember, so I settled for my fully charged burning bow. I'd even invested in some orc made arrows which were sharper and flied truer than steel.

I pulled a vial from a row attached to a band on my thigh and opened the top, it contained a deadly green poison I quite proudly made myself. Quickly looking over to see the Reaper still sniffing around the other side of the cave, I poured two drops onto the three sharpest arrows I'd selected, and waited for it to dry.

I'd hoped that with poison, fire and an arrow to the back of its head, I could take it down from stealth.

The arrow knocked and pulled back, I released the poisoned arrow in between two plates on the back of its head. It screamed out dreadfully in pain, the sound echoing through the walls. I scrambled backwards and knocked another arrow.

It was on me in seconds, I plunged another two, three arrows into its plated head until the flames worked through it and it collapsed at my feet.

I laid my weapons aside, and took a breath. Just think what Tolfdir would think if I told him I'd taken down a Reaper singlehanded! 

Remembering the hunting training I'd had from my father as a child. I pulled out my hunting knife and got to work, I wanted a trophy from this thing. First I extracted the venom from its pincers into a little vial. Then scraped off some chitin off its back, and cut out the eggs from its belly. They all had important alchemical properties. I was tempted to cut off the head and take it with me, but it was half my size and who knew what lay up ahead?

I knelt down to the dead researcher to see what he had on him that the reaper hadn't eaten, nothing much apart from a damp Scroll of Pain that was very expensive and rare. I knew the college would want it in its stores so I pocketed it.

Just before I set off I realized that my pouch holding my health potions was feeling a little light, in fact, it was completely empty! I took the opportunity to do a little alchemy. I took out my mortar and pestle, a present from the college when I expressed my interest, and began to mix ingredients I had.

A clove of garlic and the head of the fungus Namiras Rot for a health regeneration potion. Ground up hanging moss and wheat for a health restoration vial. An elves ear and petals from a red mountain flower for a Potion of restore magicka. That's all I could make with the ingredients I had, so I popped the warm bottles into their pouches and carried onwards.

I rounded a corner and came up against another Chaurus, not a reaper thankfully so I managed to take it down in a few shots. Collected more eggs and venom to replace the poison bottles I'd used.

Had to go past this locked dwarven gate after staring through the bars for a while. Who knows what treasures lay within?

It wasn't long before I came up against another dwemer construct. A dwarven sphere warrior who climbed out of a ball that was released from a pipe. After it knocked a useless arrow out the way I conjured my sword from Oblivion, sharper than any sword found on this plane and sliced it across the front.

It went down without much trouble, but not before planting a dwarven bolt into my arm.

I can't think about it much without wincing from the memory of the pain, but I was able to use the last of my health potions and restoration magic to clean and heal what I could. By now my clothes were hanging off me and I desperately needed some armor now I was out of health potions. 

Remembering the studded imperial armor I picked up earlier, I looked at my satchel which felt strangely light. I realized with horror the Reapers poison had melted my satchel and the armor within. All that remained was a twisted lump of fabric and metal.

I sighed and look at the ceiling. How much more of this was there?

After navigating a few lonely corridors, I came  up against another heavy door. I pulled it open and saw a shadowy figure turn and run towards me. It was tall, made of the now familiar dwemer metal, but I'd never heard or read about it before. A warrior so lithe and mobile? It dodged my arrows as it came towards me ever closer, holding up a fully sized dwarven battle axe.

A well placed arrow to its throat stopped its core spinning and it fell to pieces.

Relieved, I searched its body and collected the usual soul gems and gold. I was very pleased to feel a heavy pouch of gems. I wouldn't need to buy the expensive replacements from the college for a while! I also collected the battle axe which I swung onto my back. It was the heaviest thing I'd ever lifted, but it'll be worth what I could sell it for when I get back to the college.

In a nearby chamber I came across an unlocked dwarven chest, I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked inside and saw a polished set of iron armor! It fit pretty well although a little heavy, but I felt much more protected than before. I quickly changed and popped my old clothes in my knapsack. Hopefully with a wash and some sewing I could restore it, as it was a favourite of mine.

The next large chamber had a few enemies inside. The room was massive, filled with pipes and rocks and rubble. I conjured a sword and Ember, quickly dispatched a pair of dwarven spiders. It was getting easier now as I knew the places to hit, and with my new armor I barely felt the attacks.

Next up was a giant dwarven centurian, I've heard of them in books but coming up against one in combat was formidable. It shot out boiling steam from its mouth, I dodged as it passed and sliced with my sword. Luckily I escaped much damage but the scalding droplets left raised marks on my skin. I looted a few rubies and soul gems and headed onwards.

I was deep into the ruins now, how far was I underground? I felt like I hadn't seen daylight in months. Not that I had any concept of the time. I just ate when I felt hungry, drank when thirsty. I'd brought a fair amount of food just incase I was in here for a while. Which it turned out I was.

In the room ahead there lay a dead falmer and two spiders. Blood still lay fresh on the ground. Had I been hot on the trail of another living being all this time? They had to be nearby. 

There was a familiar large dwarven metal door with a plaque that read: "Mzulft Boilery"

Well it wasn't the Oculary but it was nearer than I was before.

[End of Part One]

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