Kyssandra's Skyrim Adventures



  • Chapter 20

    “Kyssandra Bright-Sun, Vampire Slayer”

    Kyssandra almost ran out of the room. She had been inside an actual coffin, a coffin with a dead body no less, and if that wasn’t enough, the body spoke to her. She didn’t want to think on it. She made her way to Nazir, as fast as she could.

    As she walked up, Nazir just stared at her.
    “Whats wrong with you?” he asked.
    “Nothing. Just…what do you have for me?” Kyssandra said quickly, "Astrid said to come to you and get some new contracts."
    Nazir chuckled and shook his head. “Somethings up. But yeah, I have two for you. Lurbuk, and Hern. Lurbuk should be pretty easy. He’s a bard, up in Morthal. Not a very good one, from what I hear. Not sure if thats why someone has a contract on him…” Nazir chuckled again. "Anyway, the other one, Hern, might be a little tougher. He’s a vampire-"
    Kyssandra’s head shot up.
    “He’s located at Half Moon Mill, actually not very far from here,” Nazir continued, "His wife, Hart, will most likely be there. She’s a vampire too, they say. You ok with that?
    “Yeah…I’ll take care of it…” Kyssandra mumbled and walked off.

    Kyssandra hated vampires. She was scared to death of the things, and had been ever since she was a child. Although she had heard of them growing up, the ones she had found in the basement of Fellglow Keep the other day were the first ones she had ever come in contact with. Seeing them had not quelled any of her fears. They were as creepy and scary in real life as she had thought. She hated the thought of them, and anything to do with them. She didn’t know how she was going to handle this one.

    Finally, she had exited the brotherhood, into the bright sunlight. She looked at her map. Half moon mill was not very far away, true. She couldn’t do it. Not right now. She needed something to calm her down. She looked at the other direction, it led towards the town of Riverwood. She remembered Camilla, and her brother Lucan, and that golden claw thing that bandits from a hideout called Bleak Falls Barrow had stolen. Kyssandra headed that way. Bandits were far more appealing right now than vampires.

    She took it slowly, tried to relax, admiring the scenery along the way.

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    Finally, she passed through Riverwood, then up the mountain towards the bandit camp. Along the way, she remembered a new spell she had learned during her last visit to the college. The professor had taught it to her, specifically, due to her wanderings in the wild. He had said she was becoming quite proficient with natural things, and taught her how to call certain beings of nature to fight for her. Knowing she was about to have to fight some bandits, Kyssandra decided it was a good time to experiment. She cast the spell, and a cave troll appeared. hooookay, kinda gross, she thought, but once she realized for sure that the troll was under her command, she acknowledged that this could be pretty useful. Especially, after she called the flame atronarch, and it hit her that she could now have two pets fighting for her.

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    Together, Kyssandra and her pets headed up the hill to the barrow. Sure enough, there were bandits outside, but they proved to be no trouble. Kyssandra found the claw in the bandit’s main camp, near the entrance to the ruins. She looked at it carefully. It looked just like the sapphire claw thing that she had messed with back at that other barrow. Now she was curious. Camilla and her brother just wanted the claw back. They didn’t care what it did. Kyssandra decided to explore Bleak Falls Barrow. She knew that the claw had probably never been figured out, so she could explore some hidden ruins, and make some extra gold.

    As she figured, the barrows was interesting, and profitable. It was populated by various types of undead, and traps, but nothing she could not handle.

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    This, to her, was relaxation. Exploring a ruin, where feet had not trod in years, danger, but nothing too hard for her to handle, picking up anything that she found that interested her, with no one else to judge what she should do with it, or split it with. She needed this.

    Eventually, Kyssandra found the end, the throne room, or whatever you may want to call the last big room of a ruin. Something undead, a warlord of some type, came out of the crypt, but she and her atronarch dispatched it quickly. Funny, how these skeletons and undead draughr things did not seem to bother her like vampires did. They were all undead, after all. It must be just the result of her childhood fears that made her so afraid of vampires.

    She shook her head, ‘got to stop dwelling on it’, she thought, as she looked around at the massive room.

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    As she poked around, looting the spoils, in one chest, she found a big cut stone. It was like a giant diamond, but opaque. She picked it up, and almost dropped it, as a voice boomed from everywhere around her.

    “A new hand touches the beacon. You are the one!!”

    “…yeah yeah yeah, join the crowd, whoever you are” Kyssandra said dryly. “I’ll be sure and add you to the list.”

    “Silence!! Hear me and obey!” the voice boomed, A foul darkness has invaded my temple. A darkness you will destroy. I am Merida. Go to my shrine near Solitude, meet me there!"

    “whatever.” Kyssandra shrugged and put the stone in her pack.

    She exited the barrow. It was getting late. She had cleared the entire area, and the ruins, of anything living or undead. Just wanting to be alone, after the day she had been through, Kyssandra decided to just spend the night there, at the bandit camp. It had a campfire, and warm bedrolls.

    Early the next morning, she headed back to Riverwood. Camilla and Lucan were elated to get their golden claw back. Kyssandra did not mention anything about what it would do, or what was behind the door it opened. Camilla made some demure, but inviting suggestions, but Kyssandra declined and took a raincheck. If she left now, she could get back to the college before nightfall. She had found several pieces of armor that she really liked in the ruins, but as a result her pack was overflowing. She took the carriage, and had the items safely stored in her wardrobe by late afternoon.

    Finally, after relaxing in her room for a bit, and eating, Kyssandra was restless again. The sun wasn’t even down yet. She had sold everything that she did not want to keep, and put some extra gold in her strongbox. She was up to 6500 now. On a whim, she checked the portal orb room, to see if there was an orb for Morthal. There was. Without too much thought, she bought a common soul gem, touched the portal, and voila, she appeared in Morthal.

    Since she had not actually been to Morthal before, Kyssandra did not know exactly where she was. She wandered around town for a bit, and finally found the inn. She supposed the inn would be the best place to start looking for a bard. Sure enough, Ludwig, or whatever his name was, was in there. He was a big orc fellow, and just as Nazir had surmised, he was not very good.

    Nazir had said this would be the easiest of the two contracts, but as Kyssandra thought about it, she questioned that. There were no patrons in the inn, but there was staff. She would need to figure out how to do this without witnesses, and that was going to be the hard part. She spoke to the innkeeper, and found that Lurburg, or whoever he was, had a room in the inn, and rarely ever left.

    Not sure how to approach this, Kyssandra rented a room at the inn for the night, then went out and perused the town. While she was here, she talked to folks, and asked around to see if there was anything else she could do for some extra gold. Everyone in this town seemed really superstitious. They heard strange noises at night. A wizard named Fallion, or something, had just arrived in town, and everyone was afraid of him. If they only knew about her, Kyssandra thought… Another fellow had been accused of burning down his house, with his wife and kid in it, and taking up with some town trollop named Alva the day after.

    Kyssandra met the town Jarl, an older, wrinkled lady. She seemed nice enough though. The only work she had, was for Kyssandra to investigate the burned house story. It would be worth some gold, to the Jarl, if an outsider with an objective opinion would investigate, and either prove, or disprove, the husband’s story that he didn’t set the house on fire. Kyssandra obliged. It was extra gold, and it shouldn’t be too hard. She could do this while she bided her time and figured out how to kill the Orc-estra. heh. She made that up herself.

    Kyssandra went up to the house and started by poking through the ashes.

    “Hi there” a voice behind her said, from the corner.
    Kyssandra jumped. She turned and saw a little girl. Then she realized she could see through the little girl. It was a ghost.
    “Why does this keep happening to me?” Kyssandra said aloud.
    “Do you want me to leave?” the little girl said, frowning.
    “no, no, sorry about that.” Kyssandra recanted. even though it was a ghost, it was still a kid. “who are you?”

    Turns out the ghost kid was Helgi, the little girl that had been burned in the fire. Kyssandra asked her if she knew how the fire started, and she did, but she said she would only tell her if she would play hide and seek. Kyssandra would have to find the little ghost sometime after dark.

    Ah well, Kyssandra explored a little bit more around town, then went back to the inn. There were only a few customers. One, that came in, caught her interest. She found out this was Alva, the woman that the husband had taken up with the day after the fire. This woman was very confident, almost overly so, and flirting with everyone. As she approached and tried her luck with Kyssandra, her eyes glowed yellow, briefly. oh no. Kyssandra couldn’t be sure, but she thought that was the same glow she had seen from the vampires she had saw in the bottom of Fellglow Keep. Kyssandra retired to her room, to get some sleep. She would rather go play hide and seek with a ghost, than flirt with a vampire.

    Kyssandra woke up around 2am. The orc bard was still playing. She went outside, and wandered the town, in the darkness. There was a weird fog, that had rolled in, to make it even spookier. Hmmmm, ghosts…spooky fog…Kyssandra thought about it, and found the town graveyard. There was one grave, that had been dug up, it looked like, and- A woman jumped out and attacked Kyssandra. Kyssandra backed up, and instinctively called her atronarch. The atronarch took care of the woman. At some point during the fight, Kyssandra saw the glowing yellow eyes. She had just been attacked by a vampire, in the graveyard. It didn’t really hit her until the fight was over.

    After a few minutes, some random guy ran up. He introduced himself as Thonnir, and the woman that had attacked Kyssandra was his wife, who he thought had run off to join the stormcloaks, for the civil war. Just before she left, she had met with Alva. Ok, this was starting to make sense, Kyssandra thought.

    After Thonnir left, the ghost of the little girl Helgi spoke to Kyssandra again. Kyssandra had found her, she was hiding inside her coffin! imagine that… Anyway, she confirmed that Laelette, Thonnir’s wife, had started the fire. They were both vampires. Laelette had started the fire, and tried to turn Helgi, but had not waited long enough. Interesting, but Kyssandra needed some type of proof, if the jarl was going to pay her. She went back to the inn, but stopped by Alva’s house first. If Alva was indeed a vampire, she was out prowling. Kyssandra thought to try to pick the lock, and search the house. Kyssandra was not very good at lockpicking. As she broke a couple of picks, a guard spoke to her, from the street. He did not arrest her, but told her to stop, and that out of obligation to his job, he was going to put a small bounty of 35 gold on her. It wasn’t considered much, but it would grow if she did anything else against the law. She did not know how long he had been watching her attempts, but he seemed amused enough to go easy on her.

    Kyssandra went back to the inn. Lurburk had finally stopped playing. Everyone was in bed. Now was her chance. She crept quietly into Lurbick’s room. As she watched him sleep, she tried to figure out how would be the best way to kill him, and not wake up everyone else. She would be incriminated if it went wrong, and even one person woke and saw her in here. Then she WOULD be taken to jail. hmmm… She remembered that she had some poison in her pack, that she had found, some extract of lotus. She got the poison from her pack, and decided to see if she could just pour it in Lurbik’s open mouth as he snored.

    As Kyssandra started to pour, the orc turned slightly. She splashed most of the poison on the side of his face. He awoke. “huh?..what are you…” It must have set in what she was doing, because he jumped up, and started attacking her. Kyssandra ran out into the main room, then out into the street, all the while with the orc attacking her. Out in the town, she was finally able to cast her atronarch, and win the fight. Well, it was not pretty, but it was done. Lurbuk’s body lay on the dock beside her. She nonchalantly kicked it off side, into the water below. She looked up and saw the guard staring at her.

    Kyssandra sighed. “Are you going to arrest me now?” she asked.
    “No,” the guard shrugged. “from what I saw, he was attacking you first. self defense is what it looked like to me. Besides, he wasn’t very good. Go back to your room.”

    Kyssandra hurried back, taking advantage of this, and sleep the rest of the night.

    The next morning, Kyssandra had decided to head out of town. She really wanted nothing to do with fighting any more vampires, even though the next contract called for it. Before leaving, she suddenly had one more thought. She did have one potion of invisibility that she had bought somewhere. She hated leaving gold on the table. If she could just find one shred of proof…it was daylight now. Alva should be safely asleep in her coffin, if legends were to be believed. She went to Alva’s house, and drank the potion. Invisible, Kyssandra was able to stand and break as many lockpicks as it took, until she finally got the door open. Inside the house, she did not waste any time. She hurriedly searched for something, anything. Downstairs, Alva lay asleep, in her coffin. Beside her, was what appeared to be a journal. Kyssandra picked it up. Alva stirred. Kyssandra ran.

    Kyssandra ran out of the house, through the street, all the way to the town hall where the jarl lived. She did not stop, nor look back to see if Alva was following. She wanted to be inside the town hall, with the jarl’s guards, if a vampire attacked her. Once she got inside, she finally looked at the journal. Sure enough, it detailed that Alva and Laelette were vampires, that Alva had convinced Laelette to set the fire to the house, and Alva had spelled the husband into coming to live at her house to protect her. 'Which he obviously wasn’t doing too good a job at," Kyssandra thought, because she had yet to even see or notice him. The journal also detailed the reasons behind all this. Just out of town, there was a master vampire, named Movarth, in a cave, that had plans to take over and turn the entire town into vampires.

    Kyssandra showed the journal to the jarl. Idgrod, the older jarl, greatly appreciated this. She rewarded Kyssandra handsomely with 600 gold. She was appalled though at the fact that Movarth was going to turn the entire town into his personal little playground though. “Please, please,” she pleaded with Kyssandra, “go destroy this monster. I will reward you even more, and you will have the entire town’s thanks.” Kyssandra took her leave. She fully planned to head out. quickly. She wanted no part of messing with a master vampire. The regular ones were bad enough.

    On the way out, Kyssandra ran into a pretty girl, about her age, coming down the stairs. It was the jarl’s daughter, Idgrod the young, she said her name was. Kyssandra talked to her briefly. Nice girl. and pretty. Idgrod said that she had been having visions, that she could speak to dead people. Knowing that Kyssandra had helped so far, and what she had done, she quietly asked Kyssandra if she could go speak to the new wizard, Fallion, on her behalf. The townspeople were afraid of him, and she didn’t want the drama that would ensue if she visited him. Kyssandra said she would talk to him. But she really just wanted to get out of this hall, and this town, before that vampire attacked it.

    No such luck was to be had. As Kyssandra exited the town hall, a mob had formed outside. Apparently word had traveled fast in the small town, presumably from the guards inside. The mob wanted to go attack the vampire’s lair. They would have nothing of her leaving. Since she was the one that discovered this, she should accompany them. Before she knew what was happening, Kyssandra was running along, on the trail north. Oddly, as they ran, the mob seemed to get smaller. When they arrived at the vampire’s cave, only five remained. Four of them panicked and ran away. Kyssandra was left standing with Thonnir, the man she had met in the graveyard last night. He was determined to avenge his wife. Kyssandra sighed. She could not believe she was doing this.

    Inside the cave, the first thing they encountered, was a couple of frost spiders. After they dealt with them, Kyssandra told Thonnir to hold up a moment. She cast the atronarch, then called forth a cave troll. This was going to take everything she had, to survive. So then, they proceeded on into the cave. Kyssandra and her small army.

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    It was not long before they reached the main room. This was not extensive ruin, like Bleak Falls. It was a small cave, a lair. They had taken out two or three vampire thralls along the way, and it was not easy. Kyssandra, hidden in the shadows, with her pets behind her, looked into the room, and she could see the master vampire sitting at the head of the long table. There were several other vampires milling about the room, she didn’t know for sure how many. In the shadows, it was hard to tell. This fight was not going be winnable. She decided to turn around and get out. The master vampire suddenly looked up straight at her and smiled. Uh oh. He got up and started walking slowly towards her.

    Fighting the urge to be paralyzed with fear, Kyssandra started to turn and bolt. She knew, now spotted, she wouldn’t make it out alive. She was going to be a vampire, her worst fear. What could she do, what spell did she possibly have, that could help? If she only had an I win spell, something so big…wait! she did!! She suddenly remembered, it wasn’t a spell, but she did have a scroll. She could not remember where she had acquired it, if she had bought it, or if she had looted it from one of the ruins she had explored. But she quickly, without taking time to think, pulled out the scroll called Wizardfire, and read it. She had not used it so far, because of the description. It said it would cause a massive fireball, which could easily backfire and engulf the caster, if it were cast in a small space, or near a wall that it could bounce off of. This was not a small space. Kyssandra read the scroll, and the entire room suddenly filled with blue flame.

    That was that. Everything in the room had been killed, in one feel swoop. Kyssandra sat in the chair, at the head of Movarth’s table, gazing down at his charred, but now fully dead body, breathing heavily, trying to calm down, trying not to throw up. Was it sheer luck? Or was it thoughtful preparation of not using a scroll until you absolutely needed it? Whatever it was, she had just taken down a master vampire.

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  • Chapter 21

    “Walking on Sunshine”

    Kyssandra took a few moments to calm down. She had just faced one of her greatest fears, and won. She had killed the master vampire, and by herself. She wasn’t even sure where the rest of her small force even was. The atronarch had most likely dispelled by now, she thought the troll may have been killed, and Thonnir was conveniently lagging way behind, last she had seen him.

    Well, no reason not to make this profitable. Kyssandra began to help herself to whatever loot she could find.

    The cave was actually larger than she initially thought it was. As she turned the corner into one room, Kyssandra was surprised by another vampire, hiding in the shadows. She was able to summon her atronarch, and survive this fight by hiding and letting the pet do most of the work. She searched the room, then meandered farther into the cave, cautiously. She had not gone very far, when she spotted yet another vampire up ahead. This one she recognized. It was the woman Alva, from town. At this point, Kyssandra made the decision to turn around. Killing a master vampire had done nothing to assuage her fear and distaste of them. She had done what was asked of her, and probably a little more. To the nine with the rest of the vile things, she was done here.

    As she got back to the entrance of the cave, she did indeed find Thonnir. He made up some lame story about why he was back there, but Kyssandra figured he was just scared.
    But there was another nice surprise, just as Kyssandra got to the exit, the little ghost girl, Helgi, appeared, and thanked Kyssandra for what she had done. Helgi said she could rest easy now.

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    Back at town, Kyssandra stopped by the town hall, and collected her reward from the thankful jarl. Jarl Ingridol or whatever her name was, paid rather handsomely. She told Kyssandra that she was considering making her a thane. Kyssandra still did not exactly understand what that was, but it sounded good.

    Remembering the task for the younger jarl, Kyssandra decided to go visit the wizard Fallion while she was here. His door was locked, even though it was the middle of the day. Kyssandra was not about to barge in on a friendly fellow wizard, so she decided to head on out and do something else. The next nearest town was Solitude. She could head over there and see if there was any more work. As she was thinking of this, Kyssandra suddenly remembered those bastards that had tricked her into putting out the lighthouse light so they could rob a ship. They had set her up, then tried to kill her when she showed up for her part of the take. Oh yeah, that would be something she could do, she had found a journal with the location of their hideout on it.

    Kyssandra studied her map. The bandits’ hideout was north of Solitude. She was not very far away, she realized, from the abandoned little shack that Astrid had taken her to in the middle of the night when they first met. She remembered the next morning, how long it had taken to walk all the way around the water to the nearest bridge, and back to Solitude. Ah, if she could only walk across the water, it wouldn’t be so long of a trip.

    And then she remembered. A while back, she had bought two spells on a whim. Water walk, and Weaken gravity. They were utility spells, and she had honestly forgotten about them, until just now. Kyssandra headed north to the coast.

    Just a short time later, Kyssandra stood on the bank of the inlet. She had climbed down the rocks to the water’s edge. Just across the bay, she could see the city of Solitude. She cast the water walking spell on herself and stepped gingerly into the water. It seemed to be working so far. At the shore, the water was only inches deep, but she was not touching the bottom. She took a couple of tentative steps. Ok, this felt weird. It was like walking on a sponge. But…it was working. It was scary, yet exhilarating, knowing that magic was the only thing between her and the frigid, deadly depths of the water. Kyssandra knew from experience that as long as she concentrated, she would be able to sense when the spell was getting ready to lapse, and she could just recast it. But she hurried across the lake anyway.

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    After climbing up the bank on the other side, Kyssandra studied her map. The bandits were located at a cave, called Broken Oar Grotto. It was still a good ways away. She followed the path, which was a bit lengthy, but she wanted to make sure she found it. Once inside, she realized this was a huge cavern, where the ocean had seeped in. It was dark and dreary, a strange mix of platforms built into the rocks, and shipwrecks which had been made into living spaces.

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    Kyssandra wasted no time sightseeing here. Bandit guards were at the first platform, near the entrance. Kyssandra summoned the atronarch, and thought about the bandit that tricked her, Jaree Ra, or whatever his name had been. He had tricked her, then told his sister to kill her if she was stupid enough to come claim her reward. “Well, we will see who is the stupid one, Jaree”, Kyssandra thought to herself. She proceed to methodically lay waste to the place, killing every bandit she came across.

    Jaree wasn’t actually too hard of a kill, he ran when he saw her coming. There was another bandit, a captain, apparently the leader, that was a little tough, but soon he was as dead as his crew. Kyssandra took what she wanted, and claimed her rewards, then headed out.

    Outside the cave, it was now dark. Kyssandra figured she would just head to Solitude and spend the night there. The path from Solitude to the cave had taken quiet a while though. Now that she knew where she was, it would actually cut out a considerable amount of time, if Kyssandra could just go the other way back. The problem was, there was a rocky cliff, and you could not climb it. The only way around it would have been to sail around it in a boat.
    Or…water walking to the rescue! Kyssandra cast her new spell, and simply walked around the cliff, out on the water, and voila!, she had just cut out about an hour’s worth of walking through dark woods.

    The pathway back to Solitude was just like last time she had walked it. It was DARK. There were no lanterns spaced at intervals on this path, like other road in Skyrim. Kyssandra had actually prepared for this, she had taken a torch from the cave she had ransacked. It did not do very much good, but it helped enough to see the path below her feet, and when it turned. Eventually she made it back to Solitude. She went to the Winking Skeever Inn, and rented a room. The rest of the night was spent unwinding from these strange stress filled days, in drinking and debauchery.


    Early the next morning, Kyssandra awoke. She really didn’t have a plan for what to do next, but that was quickly decided for her. A messenger was waiting downstairs in the inn when she came down to get some breakfast. Falk Firebeard, of the castle royalty had heard through the grapevine that she was back, and had sent for her. Actually, they had been waiting for her return it seemed. Kyssandra ate, and headed over to the palace.

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    As soon as Kyssandra reached the top step, the shouting stared. A man approached her and started shouting about her being a necromancer. Someone else told him to calm down, they did not know for sure. Kyssandra did not really know where this was coming from, until someone mentioned that she had spoken to the ghost of King Torygg.

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    “Is it true? Is it true that you summoned the ghost of my dear husband?” Jarl Elisif asked earnestly.
    “M’lady,” Kyssandra tried to be respectful, "I didn’t intentionally summon anyone. I simply did what you asked of me. I took the war horn to a shrine of Talos, and…he appeared. And yes, I did talk to him."
    Elisif seemed to relax, as there were gasps from the crowd.
    “What? What did he say?”
    “umm…” Kyssandra looked around, "I…umm…I think that’s something perhaps we should talk about when others are not present…"
    There were more shouts, of necromancy, plots against the queen, and various other things that Kyssandra didn’t pay attention to.
    Elisif nodded.
    “I shall think on this,” she said. “Everyone, back to your jobs!” To Kyssandra she said, “I think Falk wants to talk to you.” Then, under her breath, as people were going back to their places, she whispered, “Come to my chambers, after midnight, sometime when you can. Be discreet. We will talk then.”

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    Kyssandra nodded, then went and talked to Falk Firebeard. He was the one that had sent her to the ritual where a cult was trying to resurrect the wolf queen.

    “It seems that the problem is not completely solved,” Falk said, “The wolf queen is still trying to rise.”
    “Oh?” Kyssandra didn’t know what else to say.
    “Yes. Since you were the only adventurer brave enough to go confront the cult, and since you defeated them, I would be most appreciative if you could follow up on this and put a stop to whatever sorcery is going on. Also, it may help you with these folks that are against you, that think you are out to get Elisif.” Falk added.
    “Oh, I don’t care about them,” Kyssandra shook her head slightly and smirked. "They mean nothi-"
    Falk cut her off.
    “But she does. I’ve seen how Elisif looks at you. I’ve also noticed that you do not seem to mind. Gain favor with her court, and you may find yourself in a position that may be advantageous to you, in many ways… Now, I implore you, go see the priest Styrr, in the Hall of the Dead. He will inform you of what is going on.”

    Kyssandra went to see Styrr. The Hall of the Dead wasn’t hard to find, it was under the chapel. Styrr told her that this wolf queen woman, that the cult had been trying to summon, was actually Potema Septim, yes, one of THE Septim family. She was a queen, powerful and treacherous, evil, and a noted necromancer. She was apparently hated and feared even after death. The cult had been trying to bring this back. Styrr wanted Potema’s remains, so he could bless them, and try to counteract the summoning. He was, however, afraid to go down to where they were, due to all the undead running around down there. He gave Kyssandra a turn undead spell, to help.

    “Ummm…what kind of undead are we talking about?” Kyssandra asked.
    “Powerful ones,” Styrr answered, his eyes wide. “This is Potema’s doings, things she has summoned from beyond the grave to guard her remains until she can get back. Draugr, Vampires, an-”
    “Tell you what” Kyssandra held up her hand, “Let me think about it. I’ll give it some thought and get back to you.”

    Kyssandra exited the Hall of the Dead, and the city. Vampires. Why did vampires have to be everywhere!

    She wandered down the path, going nowhere in particular, her mind wandering. She pulled out her map, to see where the road may take her next, of if there were anything of interest around. ‘Oh! hey, look at that,’ she thought. She was right almost beside the Shrine to Merida, a daedric prince of life. Back in Bleak Falls Barrow, when Kyssandra had picked up that strange looking stone, a voice claiming to be Merida herself had boomed out, asking her to take the stone to this very shrine. Kyssandra was not really up on daedric knowledge, but she did remember that Merida represented life, and hated undead. Kyssandra could quite well identify with that right about now. Since she was right here almost in the shadow of the shrine, may as well take it up there.

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    Kyssandra climbed the steps, and approached the shrine. The voice, presumably Merida, rang out again, thanking Kyssandra for bringing the beacon to the shrine, and asked her to place it on the statue. Kyssandra shrugged and obliged.

    “GAAAAAHHHHHH” Kyssandra screamed in surprise as she suddenly began floating up into the sky.

    Up in the air she went, shooting like a rocket, until she found herself high above the land, floating, talking to a ball of pure light.

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    Merida spoke to Kyssandra, but Kyssandra didn’t remember the exact conversation. She did remember flapping her arms about, and flailing wildly, because she was floating hundreds of feet in the air! It was something having to do with a necromancer defiling Merida’s temple, and she needed someone to go defeat him. Kyssandra declined, she had had enough of necromancers and undead for the time being. Merida promised her she could have any gold or items she found laying around on corpses in the temple. No, not worth it at the moment, Kyssandra had replied.

    “Do you hate the undead?” Merida asked.
    “YES! why do you think I don’t want to go cleanse your stupid temple!” Kyssandra shouted, still flailing.
    “If you cleanse my temple, you can also have a great artifact that is there at the end.”
    “Yeah, well, lots of great artifacts are around, it seems,” Kyssandra replied.
    "This one is a very powerful sword. It is specifically designed to kill the undead. Like vampires."
    Kyssandra stopped flailing and perked up.
    “ok, you got me, I’m in.” she said. “Now put me down.”

    Safely on the ground, Kyssandra looked up at the statue, now holding the stone she had put at its feet. Funny, the stone seemed a lot bigger now, than it was when she picked it up and put it in her pack.

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    Shrugging, she went into the temple.

    Down in the temple, there was a strange beam of light coming from a hole in the ceiling. Suddenly, she realized, that she was directly underneath the statue. The beam of light was coming from the stone above, being projected straight down here. She remembered now, more of the conversation in the sky, where Merida had told her there would be pedestals around, and she would have to activate these pedestals to make a stone within them come up. The stone would catch the light beam from Merida’s beacon stone, above, and direct it to the next stone. Kyssndra tried it, with the pedestal that the light was shining towards, and sure enough, it worked.

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    So Kyssandra made her way through the temple, killing various undead that were there, and activating pedestals. The undead she encountered here, were not that bad, mainly just skeletons, shades, and draugrs, little things compared to what she had seen in the last two days. The light beam continued, inside, outside, and back in again.

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    One thing about this temple, Merida was not kidding around when she told Kyssandra she could have any gold she could find. Almost every corpse she ran across had gold, and lots of it. She continued through, increasingly admiring the intricate light puzzle she was constructing.

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    Finally, Kyssandra reached the end, and found the necromancer in question. His name was something that started with an M. He summoned a lot of shades to defend him. Kyssandra summoned her flame atronarch and the cave troll. Eventually, her army beat his.

    Merida thanked Kyssandra and told her to take the sword, and use it well.
    It was called Dawnbreaker.
    ‘Nice,’ Kyssandra thought, she had a sword with a name now.
    …that killed vampires.



  • Chapter 22

    “Adept”

    So now Kyssandra had a cool sword that could supposedly make it easier to kill vampires. (and other undead). The first thing she had noticed about it when she had picked it up, was that it was heavy. Kyssandra had never used a sword before other than playing around with one, or stabbing someone like the headmistress of that orphanage once. She had noticed that warriors always seemed fit, but it had not occurred to her that these weapons were just so heavy. Also, this temple had been very profitable. Merida had said it would be. But it was far more than she had expected. She had a LOT of gold. Her pack was simply more than she could bear carrying, other than at a slow walk.

    She exited the temple, and it was already dark, just after sunset. She walked up to the ledge, and looked down. If she could just get down the side of the cliff, she wouldn’t have to lug that heavy pack all the way around and down the trail. Thinking to herself how useful the Water Walk spell had been, Kyssandra took a chance on the other utility spell she had purchased that day, Weaken Gravity. She cast it on herself and her pack. This was the scary part. Taking a deep breath, she jumped.

    Sure enough, the spell did exactly what it was supposed to do. Gravity was weakened, and Kyssandra and her pack floated slowly down from the ledge, to the path below. She then drank one of her two strength potions, which enhanced her strength enough that she could easily jog back to Solitude with her full pack. Magic wasn’t all about destruction. Kyssandra was learning that it could also make her life vastly easier.

    Kyssandra headed back to the Winking Skeever. There was no drinking or otherwise tonight. She was tired, and headed straight to her room. Along the way, up on the balcony, there was one small incident of note. Kyssandra ran into the inn’s bard, Lisette, with whom she had drank and otherwised with the night before. At this moment though, Lisette was having a confrontation with Erikur, the man from the court that had accused Kyssandra of being a necromancer, and started the whole shouting match. Apparently Erikur was trying to get Lisette to spend some “time” with him, and she did not want to. He wasn’t forcing himself upon her or anything, he was just acting like the Nine’s gift to women everywhere, and was pissed off because Lisette was not having anything to do with him. Kyssandra stopped and watched, just to make sure that was all that happened. When Erikur noticed this, he blustered around for a bit more, then left. Kyssandra asked Lisette if there was anything she could learn about this guy, or the rest of the court. Lisette told her, that there probably was, but she did not trust anyone that was not in her inner circle enough to tell. Kyssandra tried to ask playfully how to get into that circle. Lisette replied simply, to join the bard’s college. The only people she trusted completely where her fellow bards. Kyssandra doubted that would ever happen, as she couldn’t sing a lick, or play anything, so she just excused herself and headed on to her room.

    The next morning, Kyssandra lugged her pack down to the carriage drivers. None of the carriages were headed to Winterhold, or anywhere close. She needed to at least be close enough to walk there slowly, with this heavy of a pack. She only had one strength potion left, and they only lasted about five minutes. After hearing her options, she finally decided on Markarth. It was further away, but she did know where the portal was, there. She was taking the chance that someone there in the city would have a soul gem for sale that was powerful enough to power up the portal and get her back to the college. The driver helped her heave her pack into the carriage, and off they went.

    In Markarth, fortune smiled upon her. The thugs that had been after her last time she was there, were nowhere around. The general goods store not only had a soul gem for sale, they also bought a good bit of her loot, and she ended up with even more gold than she started with. As a result, Kyssandra’s pack was even heavier now. She drank her last strength potion, and trudged up the steep hills, all the way to the portal at the top of the city. Once there, she stepped onto it, and activated the soul gem, and with a shimmer of the air, she was back in the familiar room of the college at Winterhold.

    Kyssandra went to her room, and emptied her pack. She stored the armor and clothes she wanted to keep in her wardrobes, then counted her gold. Between what she had saved in her strongbox, and what she had in her pack, she had amassed over ten thousand gold. It was enough to move to the next semester! She immediately took it to Jorham, who looked at her incredulously.

    “Ok, I don’t want to know what unsavory things you have probably been up to, to amass all this gold, but…congratulations, you are the second of your class to advance.” He said, smiling.
    “Second?” Kyssandra asked, “and…unsavory?”
    “Second.” Jorham nodded. “J’zargo has already advanced. From what I hear, you actually may have advanced before him, but he had money and you did not. Hence, unsavory. You are the only one here that came here with no financial support from their town, or mommy and daddy. You are the only one that is going out and actually earning your gold. I know you can’t make this kind of gold, in this short of time, doing farm work. So I don’t want to know. Just, accept our congratulations, you are no longer apprentice. I bestow upon you the title of adept. Go pick up your packet, I think you have new spell tomes.”

    Kyssandra was excited. She headed over the the class area, to see what new spells she could learn, and listen to any required lectures. As she opened the doors, she stopped short. There was the big giant Saarthal ball that she had found. It looked…different. Bigger? perhaps. evolved? definitely. something had changed.

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    Shaking her head, she went around to talk to Tolfdir. She couldn’t believe they were keeping this thing in here, still not knowing exactly what it did. Tolfdir gave Kyssandra her new spells. One in particular caught her eye, Chain Lightening. She had grown quite fond of her Lightening spell. This was a better version of it, that would hit multiple targets. She then had to listen to a required lecture. At least she thought thats what it was. Tolfdir droned on and on about the Saarthal ball, and other things of magic. But she couldn’t half hear what he was saying because of all the noise from the spells being practiced by the other students at the moment, and what she could actually hear, was boring.

    Right around this time, Ancano, the Arch Mage’s advisor showed up. Ancano had heard that Kyssandra was back, she was to report to the Arch Mage’s quarters immediately. Tolfdir attempted to object, but Ancano said that someone from the Psiijic Order had come to the Arch Mage and asked for Kyssandra by name. Kyssandra was glad to get away from the boring lecture, and gladly obliged Ancano by following him to the Arch Mage’s quarters.

    As Kyssandra was ushered in, before anyone could speak, everything turned a weird shade of white.

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    “Greetings” said the man before her, "I am Quaranir, of the Psiijic Order."
    Kyssandra looked around her. He had stopped time. She and he were the only ones moving. “hoooooo-kay…”
    “I have come to find you.” Quaranir continued, “The Eye of Magnus is-”
    “You mean the big glowing ball in the middle of the room we found in Saarthal?” Kyssandra interrupted.
    “Yes.” Quaranir seemed to sigh. "The big glowing ball you found is called the Eye of Magnus. It is very dangerous-"
    Kyssandra snorted. "You don’t say. I can’t believe they are keeping it down there. What does it do?“
    Quaranir seemed to sigh again. “We do not know. We cannot discern that. But it is dangerous to have it here, and it is only going to get more dangerous. You have got to stop them, and do something about this, before it becomes too late.” he said.
    “ME?” Kyssandra asked. “Why always me? Why is it up to me to prevent them from blowing themselves up?”
    “Well, two reasons, from our perspective,” Quaranir tilted his head, “First, you WERE the one that unearthed the thing-”
    “Noted.”
    ”-And second, you, in our opinion, are the only one here that seems to have sense enough to believe that it IS actually dangerous to have the Eye here."
    Kyssandra thought for a moment, somewhat humbled.
    “Ok,” she said, “what do I do”
    “Don’t know exactly” Quaranir replied, “All we can discern at the moment is that you should seek out the Augar of Dunlain, whatever that is, and go from there. And don’t let them know what you are up to, they will try to stop you. Ok, here we go!”

    Before Kyssandra could say anything else, there was a flash of light, and time restarted.

    “Ok, here she is, what do you want” Ancano was saying.
    “Oh dear, my apologies,” Quaranir said, " I do think I have made a mistake! I am so sorry to bother you fine folk."

    Several other pleasantries were exchanged, most of them not very pleasant, and Quaranir made excuses and left. Kyssandra was told to go back to class, leaving the Arch Mage and Ancano furiously trying to figure out what Quaranir was up to.

    Kyssandra proceeded to ask around about the Augar of Dunlain. Finally, Tolfdir was the one that seemed to know about him. It was someone that was hidden, or residing, down in the Midden. This was some kind of a sub basement under the college. Tolfdir also told her that if she headed down there, to be careful. It was not a nice, or safe place, it seemed.

    Kyssandra found a stairway leading down, and eventually found this Midden. Tolfdir was right. It was dark and creepy.

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    It was quite like the various barrows and dungeons the she had been in, and there were a few hostile creatures down here, but nothing she could not handle.

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    There were however, strange sights along the way. Altars, relics, and rooms that seemed to have weird uses.

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    Finally Kyssandra found him. The Auger of Dunlain. She never thought to ask about him, or his origin. Perhaps it was from just talking the day before with Merida, in the sky, but she just accepted that it was normal to be talking to a big glowing being made of light. Perhaps she was becoming too used to this stuff.

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    The Auger informed Kyssandra that she was not the only one that had been down here questioning him. Apparently Ancano and many others had come. But he didn’t like or trust them. Apparently she was on his good list though. He told her that the Eye was indeed very dangerous, and she needed to find the Staff of Magnus, to control it. She was the only one he had told this too, and she should only tell the Arch Mage.

    Back up in the college proper, Kyssandra found the Arch Mage, by himself now, staring at the Eye of Magnus, in the main room. She told Savos what the Auger had told her. The Arch Mage did not seem impressed. Kyssandra turned on the charm, as she knew he was already a bit smitten with her. After some “convincing”, he still wasn’t sure that he believed all this, but he was impressed that she had found and talked to the Auger, on her own. He told her to seek out Mirabelle for more information on the staff, and he gave her a present, a small token, he said. It was a circlet to wear, that filled five soul gems in her possession per day. Now this was something she knew she could use, given that the portal room used soul gems!

    Kyssandra found Mirabelle in the Library. Before she could say much, Mirabelle took her aside, and kissed Kyssandra right there in everyone’s view. Mirabelle said they could continue researching the “magic” they had been studying the other night, anytime. Kyssandra passed on that at the moment, but thought to herself that this was certainly going to start some rumors. She asked about the staff of Magnus. Mirabelle told her that the only thing she knew about it, was some bunch of mages from a group called the Synod, that had came through a while back, that were asking a lot of questions about it. She didn’t know anything else, other than there were headed to the ruins of Mzulflt, on the other side of Riften.

    Kyssandra thanked her, and headed back to her room. There was nothing else to do, it was too late to head out, so she laid down for a nap. About midnight, she woke up. Laying there in bed, not being able to get back to sleep, she remembered what seemed like many nights ago now. The Jarl of Winterhold had told her to come by his room sometime discreetly after midnight, and he would make her thane. As Kyssandra lay there thinking, she contemplated more and more the power that she could have, if the Arch Mage, the master wizard, and the Jarl of the local town, were all enthralled by her charms. She still did not know what a thane was, so she got up, found one of her textbooks, and looked it up. A thane was a very respected and highly honored position in Skyrim, bestowed by the Jarl’s for various deeds, usually heroic. Thanes were typically revered, given one or more of honorary weapons, the ability to own land, personal assistants, and any bounty could be forgiven. Kyssandra put on some nice clothes and snuck down to the Jarl’s house, and became a thane of Winterhold that very night.

    Back in her room, later, Kyssandra really didn’t know what she would do with the honorary sword that she had received from the Jarl. It honestly did not look like much and did not impress her. She put it in her heirloom dresser, with some other weapons and aritifacts that she had collected, and there it would most likely stay. It wasn’t near as nice as the named sword Dawnbreaker, that she had received from Merida’s temple. Although still in her dress and heels, from her rendezvous with the Jarl, she drew Dawnbreaker from its sheath, and felt its weight.

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    It was heavy, but she practiced with it for the rest of the night, until she was too sleepy to stay awake. She decided she would try to get used to, and carry this one.



  • Chapter 23

    “Trolls and Skeevers”

    Kyssandra decided it was time. She had practiced with Dawnbreaker to the point that she didn’t think she could do any better unless she was truly using it. She had practiced her spells until she was tired of practicing. She did not think that Nazir or Astrid would give her any more dark brotherhood contracts until she had finished the ones she had. It was time to face her fears and go kill a vampire.

    She got up early in the morning, stocked up with some food, and headed to the portal room. This thing was very handy. She teleported to Falkreath, and from there it was only a short distance. She arrived at half moon mill, the lair of the vampire, before 10am.

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    Kyssandra actually recognized the place, as it was right on the path, and she had traveled by it several times back and forth from the sanctuary. She approached cautiously, trying to take in every detail. She was supposed to kill the vampire, and chances are his wife would join in the fight, Nazir had said. She was also reported to be a vampire. Kyssandra found both of them in the sawmill.

    They glanced at her, then kept working. Kyssandra realized, that until she made any moves otherwise, to them, she was probably just a young innocent girl traveling the path, curious about the mill, or maybe even a potential customer. She had the element of surprise here, but she was going to have to do what she needed to do quickly, with no hesitation or conversation to retain that. She edged as close as she could, trying to appear the curious traveler.

    Fearing the time was nigh, Kyssandra took a deep breath, and started the process. She had a plan, and she hoped that it would have some semblance of working. She had mentally prepared herself for the worst. She started by summoning her flame atronarch, then she immediately summoned the cave troll that her magic helm allowed. This drew the attention of the two vampires, as she had expected, but they had not put two and two together. They merely looked perplexed, trying to figure out what she was doing. Kyssandra knew by now that neither of her pets would attack anything unless she attacked first, or was attacked. So, before the vampires could figure it out, she drew Dawnbreaker from its sheath and ran up the sawmill ramp towards the male vampire, the one the contract was on. All practicing and envisioning of herself as a master sword fighter aside, in the heat of the moment, all she really knew how to do was run towards the vampire, leading with the sword held in front of her, and sticking it into his side. Then she turned and ran like crazy.

    Kyssandra jumped off the side of the ramp, somehow managed to not lose her footing, and ran behind her advancing pets. She knew the sword had done something, she had felt the magic emanate from it as she had struck, and she could hear the chaos behind her as her pets maneuvered around her and took up the fight. When she finally turned around, she saw the male vampire running toward her, rage in his eyes. She brought Dawnbreaker up at the last moment, and unable to stop, he impaled himself upon it. The magic flowed from the sword again, and suddenly he fell limp, and crumpled to the ground.

    Suddenly, all was quiet. Kyssandra looked around for the female, and saw her body laying over on the sawmill ramp. Had it really been this easy? Two vampires downed by a fledgling mage, two pets, and two hits from a magic sword? Somehow Kyssandra did not think all her battles would be this easy. She thanked her lucky stars and breathed a sigh of relief.

    After scrounging around to see if there was anything of value she could take, Kyssandra was ready to head back to the sanctuary and collect her reward, since it was not far down the path. She then realized something that she had not thought of. The flame atronarch seemed to be on a set time when she summoned it, it would stay a while, then go back to whatever dimension it came from. The cave troll, however was different. It apparently stayed with her, until it was killed. She had no idea how to dispatch this thing. She now had a pet cave troll that was apparently going to follow her until it met its match. She wondered how this was going to go in the villages.

    As she headed out, a neighbor approached. The neighbor had recognized that Kyssandra was some sort of adventurer, and had seen her passing by several times, so surmised she may be back. The woman just wanted Kyssandra to retrieve a valuable book of hers, and bring it back, if she was near this way again. Kyssandra really did not know what the book was, it was some kind of book written by a friend of hers. The neighbor woman said it had been taken from her, and she had recently heard that her book been spotted in Ivarstead and the man that had took it had set up some type of shrine to the author, thinking she was some type of goddess. But she wasn’t. If Kyssandra was that way, could she look around in the area, and if she found it, and was back this way, would she bring it back?

    This seemed kind of strange, but Kyssandra said she would check into it if she had time. Then she looked around and saw that her troll had made friends with the woman’s chicken.

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    Kyssandra got back to the sanctuary. It was still well before lunch. Thankfully, her troll would not fit through the door.

    Inside, Astrid approached her. Astrid had thought it over, and had decided that Kyssandra should do what the Night Mother had asked, and go to Volunruud, and find this Amaund Motierre. Astrid did not know what was happening, but since it was pretty apparent the Night Mother had spoken to Kyssandra, they should at least see what would happen next, if the request was complied with. Kyssandra went to Nazir, collected her payment for the contracts, and headed back out, with her troll close behind.

    It took most of the day to reach Volunruud. Astrid had marked it on her map, it was north of Whiterun. The troll expired along the way, saving her from the hands of a bandit attack. Inside the dungeon, Kyssandra looked around. It was a pretty typical dungeon, like the others she had been in. In a room off to the left, she sensed movement. She crept up to the doorway, and there were two men inside a naturally hewn room in the cavern. It looked like they had been living in there. They looked up as she approached, and drew their weapons.

    “…I’m looking for…Armaund Motierre?” Kyssandra asked, suddenly wishing her troll was still with her.
    “Who wants to know?” one of the men asked suspiciously, still brandishing his sword.
    Taking a chance, Kyssandra said, “I am Kyssandra. I’m from the Dark Brotherhood. We-”
    “By the nine, it actually worked?!!” the man exclaimed. He put his sword away. “I’m Armaund,” he continued, “and this is Rexus. I can’t believe it actually worked!”
    “what worked?” Kyssandra asked. “what are you talking about?”
    “The black sacrament!” Armaund motioned over to a natural alcove in the rock, where Kyssandra could see the same type of altar set up with candles and things that the kid in Windhelm had done. "We did it just like the book said to do, told no one, and have been hiding in this cave ever since, and here you are!"
    At this point Kyssandra was just as surprised as they were, given that the only way she even knew to come here was from being told to do so by a corpse.
    “ahem…yes…” she tried to hid her own amazement, “so…what can we do for you?”
    “Well, we have a job for your organization. a contract.” Armaund said.
    “Well, thats sort of what we specialize in.” Kyssandra said, “You just need to let us know who you want dead, and any info you have on them.”
    “We want you to kill the emperor. As far as information, you ca-”
    “Wait- what??” Kyssandra balked.
    “The emperor. We want you to kill the emperor.”
    “of…Tamriel?” Kyssandra couldn’t believe she was hearing this correctly.
    “Yes, of Tamriel. How many other emperors do you know of?” Armaund looked at her like she was daft.
    "That…will probably be pretty expensive, you know that right?"
    Armaund sighed. “Ah, I get it, you must be just the errand girl. Here, take this letter back to your superiors, it will explain everything, and how it needs to be done, in detail.” Rexus strode forward and handed a sealed letter and an amulet to Kyssandra. “And this amulet, this should be worth more then enough to pay you, or at least a good start.”

    Kyssandra decided not to dally. She had briefly considered exploring the rest of this dungeon for any gold to be had, upon entering, but now she decided she probably needed to get this information back to Astrid as soon as possible. Back outside, the sun was already setting.

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    She had no desire to run all the way to Falkreath, to the sanctuary, in the dark, but she could probably make it to Whiterun. It still was not quite dark when she got to Whiterun, so she pressed on to Riverwood. Night had fallen, so Kyssandra looked up her new friend Camilla Valerius, and shared the evening with her.

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    Early, early in the morning, before dawn, Kyssandra had headed out. She loved the path from Riverwood to Falkreath, it was breathtakingly beautiful, even before dawn.

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    Along the way, Kyssandra passed a huntress, out on an early morning pursuit of prey. How in the world does she even hold that bow, Kyssandra thought, its bigger than she is!

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    After a while, Kyssandra arrived at the sanctuary, and told Astrid what Motierre wanted. She showed her the letter and the amulet. Surprisingly, Astrid did not balk at the news, as Kyssandra had done. Instead, Astrid was ecstatic, choosing to believe this was the Night Mother’s way of returning the Dark Brotherhood to glory. Astrid said she would start making preparations right away, but Kyssandra’s first job would be to take the amulet to a fence in the thieves guild in Riften, and get it appraised, just to make sure it was actually worth what Motierre said it was worth. Kyssandra shrugged and headed out, following her map on the paths towards Riften.

    Near Ivarstead, Kyssandra suddenly decided she could make a quick detour. She remembered the strange book, and so called shrine, the woman had told her about. Something had been nagging at her, and she wanted to go check it out. When she had been to Ivarstead before, to kill the crazy beggar guy near there, she had run across a shrine to Dibella on the path north of the town. She remembered it, because there were gems placed there, that she had left, because she had felt bad about stealing from a shrine to Dibella. She retraced her steps from that day, as it wasn’t very far off the path to Riften that she was taking. Sure enough she found the shrine again, exactly as it had been when she had visited it before. Poking around, this time she found a journal over in the bushes. Reading it, she realized that it belonged to the man that had taken the book from the woman. The book was in a strong box, on the shrine itself. This was no shrine to Dibella, it was a shrine to the woman that the book was about, whom the man apparently thought was a goddess, and was living near a well just up the hill. Kyssandra remembered the strange little wisps, and saw that they were still there. She remembered that where there was wisps, there was a wispmother. Everything suddenly clicked. Whoever this book was written about, the man that stole it, thought she was a goddess, and then thought the wispmother up the hill was that goddess. Kyssandra crept up the hill towards the well, to see if the man was around anywhere.

    Too late, she got to close. Kyssandra had drawn the attention of the wispmother this time, and the fight was on. Kyssandra knew from her studies that once you engaged wisps, and their wispmother, they would not leave you alone. She summoned her atronarch and ran. She started to summon the troll, remembered that she could not figure out how to dispatch it, so she summoned skeevers instead, thinking they would be better received if they had to follow her around. She ran around the hill, alternating her chain lightening spell and her healing spell and potions, letting the atronarch and skeevers help when they could.

    Finally she prevailed, but the wispmother and her minions had proved to be much tougher than the vampire couple had been. When the battle was over, Kyssandra took opportunity to go on up to the well, since it was safe now. Sure enough, there was a man’s body near it. Apparently, thinking the wispmother was the goddess he thought the woman in the book was, he had ventured too close and got himself killed. Kyssandra found the key to the strong box in his pocket, and opening the box, there was the woman’s book. Now satisfied that this was not an actual shrine to Dibella, Kyssandra went ahead and helped herself to all the valuable gems and gold there, including an almost perfect diamond. This should help with her next tuition payment.

    Kyssandra then headed on towards Riften, followed closely by three remaining pet skeevers that she had no idea how to get rid of.

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  • Chapter 24

    “Dangerous Times”

    Kyssandra glanced back over the waterfall as she followed the river towards Ivarstead.

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    It was hard to imagine that such a beautiful land could be so dangerous. She had taken a new route, going from Falkreath to Riften, and it seemed like it there was more things to worry about, danger lurking around every turn. One minute you were on a beautiful path in the woods, and around the next bend there would be a platform of wood spanning that path, built by bandits to ambush unsuspecting girls traveling alone. One minute you could be happily skipping along with a pack of skeevers through yellow speckled woods, the next minute, a massive cave bear would charge in from the side and attack, hoping you were its next meal. The skeevers did not make it past the cave bear.

    But as she continued on, down roads unknown, Kyssandra realized something. She had been taking the carriages less and less, and like now, since the weather was nice, she was just jogging and walking the path alone. Perhaps it was not that the paths here were more dangerous, perhaps it was simply the fact that she was not in a protected carriage. She had seen bandits and wild animals and even more, from the carriage, but it had sped on by, before they could react. Walking, jogging, out here alone, by herself, she had to deal with everything she came across herself, be it good or bad. It took longer, and was certainly more dangerous, but perhaps the experiences along the way made it worth it.

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    At one point, Kyssandra saw a young girl, looking to be about the same age as herself running towards her. The girl looked a little worse for wear, and was not attacking, she seemed to be running from something. She told Kyssandra that she had been captured by bandits, and they had been holding her prisoner in their camp, in a tower. Kyssandra asked the girl what she needed, but the girl said she would be fine, if Kyssandra would just point her to the nearest town. Kyssandra brought out her map, showed the girl where she was, and how to get back to the town closest to them. Once she saw the map, and figured out where they were, the girl was able to point out the location where the bandits had been holding her. She had heard them call it Mistwatch. Kyssandra made note, she decided she just might pay these bandits a visit one day.

    Later in the day, there was a man standing to the side of the path, leaning against a tree, surrounded by corpses of bears. As Kyssandra approached, she realized this was not a human, it was an orc, or orsimer, as they liked to be called. Kyssandra had a few dealings with orcs, but no in depth conversations and always in a town or at the college. She knew they had settlements of their own out here in the wild, where others were not welcome, but it had never occurred to her as to how the reaction would be if no guards or other humans were around. She surmised that it would be no different than any other bandit or brigand, so she mentally readied herself to summon her atronarch, but then held back for the moment. This orc saw her approaching, and still just leaned against the tree. He did not look like he meant ill will. She kept her spell mentally ready, but did not cast it.

    “Hello” Kyssandra spoke, as she walked by. It felt uncomfortable to just not say anything.
    “Hello,” the orc replied simply.
    Now curious, Kyssandra continued. “What are you doing out here? hunting bear?”
    "No, I am simply awaiting a good death."
    Well that was a strange thing to say, so Kyssandra stopped.
    The orc chuckled, seeing her perplexed look.
    "I am old. There is nothing left but for me to die."
    Kyssandra stared at the orc. “Well you certainly don’t look old, you look pretty young to me.” In fact, she had to admit, he looked to be in rather fine shape. for an orc, that is. She felt herself blush.
    “I can see you do not know orc tradition,” he said, "I have grown too old by our standards, I have not taken a wife, nor have I made a path to become chief of my own tribe. I wish to die with honor, a proper man, to please our god, Malacath. I wish to die in a well fought battle. I normally would not ask that of a small human female, but I see you have a nice sword, so you may actually be a trained fighter. So if I dare ask, would you care to help me die?
    “Well, I’m not in the mood to help you die, but I can help you be a proper ma-” Kyssandra stopped mid sentence. She had been fantasizing about this orc the whole time he had been talking. Did she just say that out loud?

    A little while later, Kyssandra stopped to adjust the straps on her pack. She wasn’t sure she had gotten it back on correctly. Up ahead, she saw movement. As she crept closer, warily now, she realized there was some type of fort, or settlement, and a fight was going on. Still closer, now she realized it was a giant, attacking the settlement. She had seen a few giants as she passed by them riding on the carriages, but none this close. The giant was inside the walls of the settlement now, and at least four villagers were trying to defend. May as well do the right thing, Kyssandra decided. She did not summon her atronarch, but she walked into the settlement, and from its flank, she began to hit the giant with her chain lightening spell. The villagers might could have handled it, but her spell certainly made it a lot easier. Kyssandra now realized, that this was an orc settlement. She wondered if it was the same one that the one she had met on the path earlier was from.

    Most of the orcs simply murmured their thanks, and went back to their business, obviously not wanting to talk to Kyssandra. One, however did come up and offer more thanks. A female, who introduced herself as Atub. Kyssandra looked around. She was not sure what she had expected an orc stronghold to look like, from the inside. This was just like any other village she had been in, they had a forge, tanning rack, workbench, grindstones, she even thought she saw an alchemy table in one of the huts.

    Atub said that this was the Orc stronghold of Largashbur, and that their tribe and leader had been cursed by their god, Malcarath, and now the giants were just attacking at will. She apologized that her fellow orcs were not more thankful than they were.
    “I’m not sure how many of them that giant would have killed, had you not helped,” she said, “but orcs would rather die than admit weakness. Plus, they are not fond of outsiders, at all.”
    “Hmmm, wonder how get on their good side?” Kyssandra surmised. The last experience she had had with an orc had not been unpleasant at all.
    Atub shook her head. “Pretty young human like you? Only thing that would work would be to offer yourself as a plaything to them. Or, do something grand, that would be renowned by all of us, like lift this curse.”
    “Lift the curse?” Kyssandra’s mind was elsewhere for some reason, at the moment.
    “Yes,” Atub nodded. “I am the shaman here, and I think I could actually perform a ritual that would do it. But… I need troll fat, and a daedre heart, as ingredients. Wouldn’t want to help me with that, would you?”

    Kyssandra actually did have some troll fat, and a daedre heart, in her academical supplies. But she needed to get on to Riften, before dark. She couldn’t lose sight of her actual mission, to get the amulet from Moiterre appraised. Plus, she had a suspicion that daedre hearts were hard to come by. She didn’t know what the actual uses for it were yet, but she did not want to part with one on a whim without knowing.

    When Kyssandra finally got to Riften, twilight had fallen, and it was getting dark. She did not know what would be more dangerous, out in the wilds of Skyrim, with bandits, bears and orc strongholds, or after dark in Riften, the city of the thieves. At least with the cover of darkness, maybe none of the guards would recognize or remember her. She did have a horse thief bounty on her head, from last time she was here, she well remembered.

    She came in through the back gate, near the orphanage, and went straight to the Bee and Barb inn, keeping her head low. The shops were all closing for the night. Inside the inn, she ate supper, rented a room for the night, and discreetly asked around as to where she could find Delvin Mallory. Apparently he was normally found at a tavern in the Ratway, an underground tunnel system, under the city, used primarily by the thieves guild, and others that wished to remain hidden. It was a very dangerous place, in an already very dangerous city. Those people stayed down there away from the guards for a reason.

    Kyssandra found a creaky iron grate, one of the entrances that she had been told about, down a set of rickety stairs and across a small canal. The tunnels were tight and small. After a few minutes, she ran across two rough looking men, apparently guards. or lookouts. They looked Kyssandra up and down, and told her she needed to produce some gold, if she wanted to pass. Kyssandra thought for a moment, and offered them something else. The two men were more than happy to oblige.

    On down the tunnels, Kyssandra crept slowly. She kept hearing sounds, seemingly around every corner. Unnerving sounds of thieves, thugs, and all sorts of dangerous things. She had the feeling that someone, or something, could attack at any moment. She was completely lost, as there was no map of this area, she was just wandering aimlessly looking for a tavern of some sort. At one point, a gargantuan man did attack her. Accost would be a better word, as he clearly had his mind set on something other than gold. The difference between this man, and the fellows up at the entrance though, was that Kyssandra had freely offered something other than gold to those guys. This man was just going to take it, whether she liked it or not. Nope, that was not going to fly. Kyssandra knew her powers by now, and knew what she was going to allow or not allow. A couple of chain lightening spells, and the man was nothing more than burnt toast, laying on the ground. Kyssandra took what little gold he had and kept moving.

    Finally, after a tense search, she found it. the tunnels opened up into a big room, filled with water, with what appeared to be a makeshift dock built over it. There was a sign, that marked it as The Ragged Flagon. This must be the “tavern”.

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    Kyssandra asked around, but no one was in the mood to talk with her. This was not a place for small talk, or meeting new people. Finally, she accidentally found Delvin, as she heard someone talking to him call him by name. She walked up and introduced herself as Kyssandra. His demeanor changed, when she added, “from the Dark Brotherhood”.

    She showed Delvin the amulet, and he examined it closely. He proclaimed that it was some type of a valuable amulet of the Elder Council, itself. It may have been one of a kind, Kyssandra wasn’t sure if he said that or not. But it was worth a lot. Kyssandra did as she had been instructed. Astrid had told her to ask and accept terms if Delvin would buy it, and just accept a letter of credit if he offered it.
    “Of course I’ll buy it!” he exclaimed. He turned and wrote out an official looking letter, and gave it to Kyssandra. "Just give this to Astrid. It is a letter of credit. She knows we are good for it.
    Kyssandra glanced at the letter. 15,000 septims. She looked up at Delvin. “really?” her face asked.
    Delvin scoffed and looked smug. “Honey, I’m sure you haven’t seen much, but thats a lot of gold in this realm.”
    “Yes, I know sir…” Kyssandra started in an innocent voice, “its just…my tuition costs for college is about two thirds of that.” She let her tone change. “and I was able to raise it within a few weeks. I just thought an amulet as valuable as what you say would be worth a whole lot more than a young girl like me could come up with in less than a month.”

    Kyssandra turned and walked away, not looking back, and headed back to the inn.



  • Chapter 25

    “Chaos”

    “Hey! I know you!”
    “No, I don’t think we’ve met,” Kyssandra replied, looking away.
    “No, I swear, I’ve seen you somewhere before…”

    Kyssandra had got an early start, and taken a chance on visiting the blacksmith. She had noticed after a while that the blacksmiths not only had armor and weapons, but many of them had skilled seamstresses employed, or at their disposal, and offered clothing or very lightly armored robes. Some of them were very nice, and depending on what was available in that town, at that moment, they could even make custom one of a kind attire. She had arrived in Riften last evening, under the cover of darkness, and stayed in the inn and darker parts of the city. She wasn’t sure if any of the guards would remember or recognize her as having a horse thieving bounty, now that it was light outside. She had decided to go out and check the inventory of the Riften blacksmith. Maybe the guards were not up yet. No such luck, the first one that happened by thought he knew her. She tried to look inconspicuous, and hurried on her way, out of town.

    She probably needed to go back to Falkreath, to give Astrid the letter of credit from Delvin for the amulet, but she had exited on the opposite side of town, the town nearer to Winterhold. As she checked her map, Kyssandra noticed that this side of town was fairly near those ruins that MIrabelle had told her about, Muzzle fit…Mizzle foot, or something like that. The ruins that Mirabelle had said she needed to check, because the Synod, or somebody, was last seen there, and it may hold the answer to where this staff of Magnus could be found. Her packs were starting to get heavy again. She could go swing by the ruin and check it out, then head on to Winterhold, and empty her packs, then portal to Falkreath. Sounded like a good plan.

    Again, she decided to not take the carriage. There was of course a bandit ambush set up for unsuspecting foot travelers just outside of town. Kyssandra ran through it, hoping they would not pursue her if she just kept running. One unlucky bandit did. Kyssandra decided she would take out Dawnbreaker and see if she could get some practice, and only use her spells if things went really bad. She unsheathed the sword and turned around. One hit, at the bandit fell. Kyssandra stared at her sword. This thing was really, really powerful, apparently.

    Sheathing the sword, she headed on, and came to a small village named Shor’s Stone. Seeing that there was a blacksmith, Kyssandra decided to stop and see if this one had anything she liked, since her other window shopping in Riften had been cut short. As she made small talk with the blacksmith, he began to lament over some problems they were having. Their local mine, the source of their income, had been infested with spiders. The blacksmith told Kyssandra that he could pay a good amount on behalf of the town to anyone that could clear the spiders out of their mine.

    Seeing an opportunity to make a little extra gold on the way home, Kyssandra went over to the mine to just check it out, and see how hard these spiders were to kill. They were actually no match for her and her atronarch. It did not take much time at all, it was actually pretty easy, she thought. She reported back to the blacksmith, and informed him the mine was safe now. After verifying it, the grateful blacksmith gave her 1000 gold. Kyssandra had been hoping for a decent pay, but she had not expected anywhere near that much. The heavy weight of all that gold made her pack go from uncomfortable, to really heavy. Now she had to get back to her room. But first, she headed down the mountain to Mezzle fart. or whatever it was called.

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    A couple wolves later, Kyssandra found the ruins. Just inside, she found a dying man. He was a member of the Synod. He was mumbling something about a crystal he had being stolen by something in the dungeon, then he was gone. Kyssandra rifled through his belongings and found his notes. Apparently, he had been sent out to get a replacement crystal for whatever they were doing here in a part of the place called the oculary, and he had just returned with it. She took the notes, and his key, and went to find this oculary, and whoever else was in here.

    Kyssandra had not really been in a dwemer ruin before. This was a little different than the barrows full of undead. The dwemer were mechanical inclined people. The main thing she had heard about dwemer ruins was to watch out for the devious traps. The dwemer would simply build traps that would ensnare looters, and never let them go, or worse. Kyssandra proceeded very slowly and cautiously through the maze of hallways full of steam pipes and machines.

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    Some of the machines came to life; she was frequently attacked by mechanical creations. But her chain lightening spell came in very handy here, as these machines were very susceptible to the electrical damage. And yes, the traps were everywhere.

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    This ruin, as Kyssandra soon realized, was huge. It was taking a lot longer than she thought it would. She became tired, hungry, and thirsty, and her heavy pack was not making it any easier. But Kyssandra learned something while in there. There were creatures other than the mechanical ones, human mages, falmer cave elves, and chaurus, these big tough scorpion looking things. At some point, Kyssandra started trying to cast a new spell she had learned, trying to reanimate dead bodies to fight for her. She simply thought if she could add to her atronarch, the more pets she had, the better. The reanimation attempts did not go so well, and they were a little unnerving. But at some point during all this, she managed to cast two flame atronarchs at the same time. Kyssandra glanced at one, then the other. She tried it again. It worked! She had become proficient enough with conjuration magic that she could now keep two summoned pets going at the same time. Who needed to fight, when you could have a small army of pets do it for you?

    At some point later, while fighting her way through the dungeon, Kyssandra actually found what she presumed to be the crystal the mage had been bringing to his friends. This was good, because after what seemed like an eternity, she ran across his friends. or friend, a mage who called himself Paratus. In a room they called the oculary, this other Synod mage was waiting for his friend. Kyssandra told him that she had found his friend near the entrance, and she was a mage of the College of Winterhold, and had brought the crystal on to him. He was very skeptical, but he did need the crystal for their experiment, so he told her to follow and she could help.

    Kyssandra really wasn’t sure what the grand experiment was, in this oculary room. She wasn’t sure that Paratus even knew himself. But once they put the crystal in its place, a beam of light appeared. There were buttons, and other focusing mirrors on the ceiling, like in a planetarium, and in some of the research notes, it had said that the size of the crystal, which affected the angle of the beam of light, could be altered with fire or ice spells. Paratus did not really seem to know what to do, and told Kyssandra if she could make this machine work, to please do so.

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    It really wasn’t a whole lot different than the beams of light puzzles in Merida’s temple, where Dawnbreaker had come from. Kyssandra kept fiddling around, pushing buttons and pulling levers, until she got the light hitting all the mirrored places on the ceiling. When it finally worked, a map of Tamriel was projected on the wall. Paratus seemed really excited, until he decided that something was wrong. Something, up at Winterhold, was creating a lot of interference to whatever he was trying to do. Increasingly agitated, he asked Kyssandra what was going on up there. Kyssandra told him about the eye of Magnus, she saw no reason not to. She finally got around to telling him that was the whole reason for her coming here, she needed to find the staff of Magnus, to control the eye. As she understood it…

    Paratus became more and more upset. The more he pontificated, the more he convinced himself that the mages at Winterhold were doing something specifically to block what he was doing, and that Kyssandra was in on it. He babbled on about how he was going to report her to the Synod council, and how they were searching for magical devices of power and on and on and on. But the only thing that Kyssandra found worthy to remember, was that somewhere during all those words, she heard him blurt out that the staff of Magnus could be found at a place called Labyrinthian. Thats all she needed to know. She took her leave, as soon as she had the chance.

    Just outside the oculary, everything went white. Time had stopped again.

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    It was one of those Psiijic Order guys, actually the same one that had appeared to Kyssandra back in Saarthal. He told her that she was doing well, but trying times were just ahead. He said she should get back to the college as fast as possible, and pointed her to an exit that would take her directly outside, without having to trek back through the entire ruin.

    Kyssandra hurried through the door…

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    …into a blizzard of blowing snow.

    A snowstorm? Really? Psiijy whatshisname couldn’t have told her that she was exiting up on top of the mountain, instead of down where she started!?

    Kyssandra pulled her fur cloak close, cast her warmth spell, and her weaken gravity spell, and headed down the side of the mountain. As she descended, the weather got better, and warmer. She came out fairly near Windhelm. Rather than go the long way, the way the trail would take her, she used her waterwalk spell, and just ran across the bay, cutting a ton of time off.

    Back at the college, Kyssandra went first to her room, and put all of her heavy gold in her strongbox. Then she headed over to the Hall of Elements, to find Mirabelle, and tell her what she had learned. She found Mirabelle just inside the door, but she was a bit preoccupied. Savos, the arch mage, was there with her. The door to the room where they had been keeping the Eye was now some big magical barrier.

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    “Er…whats going on?” Kyssandra asked, as Savros and Mirabelle noticed her.
    “Its Ancano.” Mirabelle said. “He’s barricaded himself inside the room.”
    “We’ve got to figure out what he is doing in there!” Savos shouted, “Hit his barrier with whatever destruction spell you have!” He turned to Kyssandra. “you too!”

    Kyssandra shrugged and joined in, and soon the barrier actually did fall. Arch mage Savos and Mirabelle rushed in, so Kyssandra followed. Ancano was in fact in the room, and was casting some spell at the giant ball they called the Eye of Magnus. Savos began trying to stop him, and Mirabelle was trying to stop Savos. Savos started casting something towards Ancano.

    And then everything went white.

    A bright flash of light.

    Ears ringing.

    then Nothing.


    The next thing she knew, Kyssandra was waking up, as if from some deep sleep, picking herself up off the floor.

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    She saw Mirabelle directly in front of her, leaning against a column, shaking the cobwebs from her on head.

    “You ok?” Mirabelle asked groggily
    "think so…what…happened?" Kyssandra looked around.
    “Don’t know.” Mirabelle nodded to the ball behind Kyssandra. “But now he’s got a wall of magic around him, and Savos is nowhere to be found. Go see if he is outside.”

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    As Kyssandra exited the Hall into the courtyard, she found a scene of complete chaos. Students and teachers were running everywhere, and part of them seemed to be gathered around a body. It looked like the arch mage’s robes.

    Tolfdir ran up to Kyssandra. When she got him calm enough to tell her what happened, he said that everyone had heard what sounded like an explosion, then the Arch Mage had staggered out of the door, and fell dead, and now something was attacking the city of Winterhold, below them.

    “Wait-what?! something attacking Winterhold?! what is it?” Kyssandra asked, but she couldn’t get Tolfdir calm enough to tell her anything else of import.

    Kyssandra ran down the bridge towards the town. Along the way, she met Faralda, the guardian of the gate, coming her way.

    “Whats happening up there?” Faralda asked quickly.
    “Not real sure…big explosion, the arch mage is dead.” Kyssandra nodded towards the town. “Whats going on down there?”
    “Not real sure…big explosion up there, then these magic wisp like things flew in and started attacking everyone. I was coming up to try to get help defending.”
    “Everyone up there is panicked.” Kyssandra sighed, “You got me.”
    “Good deal” Faralda nodded. “Lets do what we can.”
    “Wait, I’ll help!!” Arniel Gane, the conjuration scholar, was running down the ramp towards them.

    Together, Kyssandra, Faralda, and Arniel managed to secure the town. Kyssandra was not sure what was attacking, but Faralda had it right. They looked exactly like the little wisp things that flew around when she had encountered the wisp mother. They were everywhere, but Kyssandra just took it slowly and methodically, like the other fights she had gotten used to, and soon all was quiet. There were some casualties, but Faralda and Arniel said they could handle dealing with them. They urged Kyssandra to get back up to the college and see if she could restore order up there.

    Back up at the college, Kyssandra assured the students and scholars milling around that the town was safe. for now. She then went to talk to Mirabelle. Mirabelle said that she and Tolfdir could try to keep the eye contained, but they desperately needed the staff. The staff! Kyssandra remembered, and told Mirabelle about what happened in Muscle Fort, and that Paratus had told her that the staff was in a place called Labrynthian. Mirabelle seemed taken aback. The arch mage had just recently given her an artifact from that place, and told her she would know what to do with it, when the time came. The time was now. She gave it to Kyssandra, along with an amulet that he had, and urged her to go to Labrynthian, and get the staff as quickly as she could.



  • Chapter 26

    “Double Duty”

    Kyssandra was really tired. She wanted a nap. It should not be this early in the day still. The Mulzft ruins had taken forever it seemed to go through. It just occurred to her; had she been in there all night, and lost track of time? At any rate, she could not go back to her room just now, and take a nap, with Ancano actively doing who knows what with the big Saarthal Ball. Ok, ok, Eye of Magnus. But Kyssandra still liked to refer to it as the big Saarthal Ball. She would certainly be looked down upon if she stopped to nap. And she also needed to get the letter of credit from Delvin back to Astrid, too.

    After thinking for a moment, she came up with what she thought was the best plan of action. She would port to Falkreath, stop by the sanctuary and give the letter of credit to Astrid, then head on up to Labrynthian and look for the staff. She could pull double duty. She could work for both the college and the dark brotherhood.

    The first part of this plan went exactly as planned. Kyssandra went to the portal room, and soon she was at the mill pond in Falkreath. She hurried along the path, on up to the sanctuary of the brotherhood.

    “Ah, there you are,” Astrid said when she saw her. “Did he buy the amulet?”
    “He did. He said it was something from the elder council.” Kyssandra replied. "Here is the letter of credit."
    She produced the letter and handed it to Astrid. Astrid looked at it and smiled, then looked back up at Kyssandra. Was she giddy?
    “Ok, then,” she said, "The plan is set in motion. Hope you actually have a nice dress stashed somewhere. You are going to a wedding."
    Kyssandra ignored the slight. “A wedding?”
    “Yes,” Astrid replied. “And you,” she said as she put her index finger in the center of Kyssandra’s chest, “are going to kill the bride.”

    Astrid went on to explain that the bride was Vittoria Vici, and was the cousin of the emperor. The plan was to kill her publicly, and messily, to create chaos in the ranks. Kyssandra was the one chosen to do it, because Kyssandra was the one the night mother had spoken to. It did not matter how it was accomplished, as long as it was during the ceremony, preferably in front of everyone, during her speech to the crowd. Kyssandra wondered how this was going to affect her dealings with Elisif and her court.

    Before taking leave, Kyssandra went and found Nasif, to see if there were any more side contracts. May as well pick them up, if there were any, while she was there. She knew she would need the money. Sure enough, he had three contracts for her. Deekus, an argonian that had a camp up on the northern coast, where he typically looted shipwrecks. Ma’randu Jo, a Khajiit who was a member of one of the traveling caravans that set up shop outside the cities. No telling which city he would be at. And a Bosmer named Anarioth, who was a hunter that lived in Whiterun. He was the brother of the guy that ran the Drunken Huntsman. He had a merchant stall, but word was, he occasionally went out on hunts, and if you could catch him out there, no one would know anything.

    Kyssandra also asked her fellow brotherhood members for advice on the wedding contract. Only one, the creepy little vampire girl, gave her something she felt she could actually use. Babette told her to examine the area above where the speech would be. Something that fell on the bride could do the job just as good, and be more apt to be passed off as an accident, if it was even seen.

    So Kyssandra headed north. She had four contracts and a staff to find. In due time, she realized that she probably would not make it to Labrythian before twilight. She knew the need was urgent, but she decided to veer towards Whiterun, and get some much needed sleep.

    It was still daylight when she got to the city, and the merchants were still open. Not knowing how much time she would have between getting the staff back to Mirabelle, and heading to Solitude for the wedding, Kyssandra decided to stop by the Whiterun blacksmith, and see if they had any suitable dresses. She wasn’t sure if it was suitable for a wedding or not, but she did find a nice purple and black dress, with some new shoes.

    After that, she headed on up to the inn. At the merchant stalls outside the inn, there sat one of her contracts, Anarioth, selling fresh meat, at his stall. Kyssandra stood and watched for a few moments. There was no way she could kill him here. There were way too many people around, not to mention all the guards. She chewed her lower lip, thinking.
    "Need something honey?"
    Kyssandra jumped. Startled, she looked around. She had inadvertently been leaning up against the front of another merchant’s stall, a rather attractive female.

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    The woman introduced herself as Carlotta, a merchant selling fruits and vegetables. Kyssandra stood for a while and made small talk with Carlotta. She had a daughter named Mila. She complained a little about the fact that men would not seem to leave her alone, particularly a bard named Mikael. Kyssandra could see that happening. In fact, she thought she remembered Mikael, as he was also after another merchant named Ysolda, that Kyssandra had met a while back. She had gotten Ysolda a mammoth tusk, for some new business Ysolda had thought of, and Ysolda had also mentioned Mikael’s antics. They talked a little more, and Kyssandra learned that Carlotta had a husband, but he had left at some point, without a reason. Carlotta didn’t seem to care, but the little girl did, so Kyssandra assured Mila that she would keep a watch during her adventures for him.

    After a while, Kyssandra retired to the tavern and rented a room for the night. The bard playing just happened to be the one and only Mikael. Apparently, he had even wrote a book, entitled “The Gentlemen’s guide to Skyrim”. It was a whole book about how to pursue women in Skyrim. Kyssandra got his attention, which wasn’t very hard for her to do, and began to share some drinks with him. At some point, she mentioned Carlotta.

    “Hey, Mikael, you know that vegetable vendor named Carlotta?”
    “I sure do! She will be a conquest before…well…before some time!” Mikael poured more drinks.
    “How about you lay off of her, instead of trying to lay on her?” Kyssandra said, laughing.
    “Now why would I do that?” Mikael grinned.
    “Well, mainly because she wants you to stop, so you should honor that. But,tell you what. I’ll make a trade with you. Lay off her, and you can have me instead.” Kyssandra winked.
    Mikael looked at Kyssandra’s charming smile, and it only took a moment of thought. “Deal!” he cried.
    “Hey, what about Ysolda,” Kyssandra thought to ask. “Didn’t you and she have something going?”
    “No, Ysolda never was interested in me,” he said, “that was just a ruse to throw people off, she was really after one of the Khajit, in the trading caravan. She didn’t think people would accept that though, so she just played like it was me she was going to see.”
    “Ah, I see,” Kyssandra nodded, "Who knows, maybe she was trying to get on his good side to market those mammoth tusks-"
    Mikeal spit his ale out in laughter.
    “What?” Kyssandra asked, laughing with him.
    “Do you know what she was doing with those mammoth tusks?”
    "No…"
    Mikeal whispered into Kyssandra’s ear, and then laughed as she blushed.
    “No!!!”
    “a-yep!! and she thinks she can market that to other girls in Skyrim. I mean, who needs a mammoth tusk, when, I’m around! C’mon,” Mikael grabbed her hand, “Lets get out of here and have some fun!”
    “Right behind ya!” Kyssandra grabbed a couple bottles of mead and followed him out.

    The next morning, Kyssandra headed to the market place, to watch for Anarioth. She had actually tried to sneak into the Drunken Huntsman, the night before, to see if it were possible to kill him there, as he slept. His room was right off the main room, and did not have a door, so she decided it would not be a good plan to do it there either. She milled around for a while, watching him at his stall.

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    This was going nowhere, and going to waste a lot of time. Kyssandra decided to research tracking spells, next time she was back at the college, if things got back to normal. If she could somehow track him, then she could wait to come after him when he left the city. Kyssandra headed out herself, and followed her map to where Mirabelle had marked Labrynthian.

    Later in the day, as she walked through a mountain pass, Kyssandra found a couple of stone arches. Suddenly, the walls of the pass gave way to a massive stone ruins, spread out before her. This must be it.

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    She found the entrance of the particular ruins that Mirabelle had marked. It was pretty much a run of the mill creepy ruin, at first.

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    But then, she encountered a skeletal dragon-

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    And a graveyard. A graveyard, with coffins, inside the caverns of the ruin-

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    But the creepiest, most unnerving thing?

    That would be when the ghost of Savos, the arch mage who had JUST DIED, appeared.

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    He appeared with his friends, members of an adventuring party. At first, Kyssandra didn’t know what was happening. These ghosts would not acknowledge her like the King and the Night Mother had. It finally dawned on her, that she was witnessing something that happened in the past. Savos and his friends had actually PUT the staff here, or had been looking for it, and decided to seal it here, and she was witnessing the ghostly tale, as it had actually happened. One by one, the friends were taken out, until only Savos remained. Was this how he had become arch mage?

    Finally, Kyssandra reached the end, where the staff was. It was held by some wizard, whose name she didn’t remember, and he was being cast upon by some of this thralls.

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    Kyssandra really didn’t know what was going on, nor did she care. She just wanted the staff. She called her two atronarch pets, thralls of her own, and the battle started. Soon, she had the staff in her hands. As she ventured on further, to the living quarters of this wizard, she found another wizard. This one was someone that had been sent by Ancano, Savos’ number two man, back at the college. This wizard spouted off something about how Ancano was going to take over the world, and that he knew Kyssandra would head here and try to retrieve the staff, and how he was going to stop her. He was wrong.

    As Kyssandra left Labrythian, with the staff of Magnus, it was the dead of night.

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    Kyssandra looked at her map. She really did not like travelling at night, especially alone and on foot. She looked at her map. The nearest town was Morthal. It actually wasn’t very far away, so she headed there.

    As she approached Morthal’s gates, Kyssandra sensed something was wrong. There were a lot of people out in the streets, too many for this time of night, in this small of a town. Then she saw their glowing eyes.
    Vampires.
    There were vampires everywhere. Suddenly the guards attacked the vampires. As Kyssandra watched, many of the guards seemed to be getting slaughtered. Neither party had seen her yet, as she was standing just outside the gates. She approached cautiously, with intent to help, but could not bring herself to do much. The initial site of dozens of glowing red eyes had paralyzed her with fear. She ran to the inn, rented a room, and tried to sleep. In the morning, people were looking around at the bodies in the streets, wondering what happened. Kyssandra shook her head. Apparently the vampire problem in this town had not gone away when she had killed the master.

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    She did not have time for this though. Kyssandra needed to get the staff back to Mirabelle. She ran to the portal dais for Morthal, and using a soul gem, headed back to the college. When she got there, everything was oddly quiet. The door to the Hall of Elements wouldn’t open, but she could peep through the keyhole, and saw that Ancano was still casting some spell at the ball. But no one else was around, anywhere. Also, he did not have the magical wall around him anymore. Kyssandra went looking around, and finally figured out why. The wall of magical energy had expanded, and was now surrounding the outside of the college. She could see her friends and classmates, outside, on the bridge, but just as they could not get in through the wall, she could not pass through it to get out, either.

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    Kyssandra had no idea what to do. Should she try to confront Ancano, by herself? Finally, she decided she needed guidance from Mirabelle or Tolfdir. She didn’t even know what the staff did. She went back to the portal room, and did the only thing she could think to do, she ported to Dawnstar, It was the closest portal to her, especially if she used her water walk spell to get back. She then headed up the coastline, towards the college.

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    Along the way, she suddenly remembered, there was something important about this area. Kyssandra stopped and dug out her map, and notes. Sure enough, the argonian she was supposed to kill, the shipwreck looter named Deekus, was supposed to be camped nearby. He was so close to her route that it was not in the least bit out of the way. She just used water walk, went out to a small island that you could have waded to, and there he was, camped on the other side of the island. Kyssandra was in a hurry to get to the college, so she did not mince words. She just killed the lizard, took what stuff interested her, and kept pressing on, towards the college.



  • Chapter 27

    “Arch Maid”

    Kyssandra eventually reached the college. Oddly, she thought, as she climbed the hill, she had never approached from this side. She had always came in from Winterhold, and there was simply no reason to go any further past the entrance ramp. She found most of her colleagues standing together on the ramp close to the magical wall. Tolfdir spotted her first.

    “There she is!” He shouted, "Kyssandra! Is that the staff?"
    Kyssandra nodded as she came into the group, the staff strapped to her back. She saw that most of the faculty was standing around, but one in particular was missing.
    "Where’s Mirabelle?"
    Tolfdir lowered his eyes.
    “She…she didn’t make it,” he said softly. "She stayed behind, trying to make sure everyone else got out, when the wall started expanding. If it expanded onto her while she was not in range of making it to a doorway…I…I…don’t…"
    Kyssandra couldn’t let him (or herself), dwell on this right now. True, she had been fond of Mirabelle, but she had seen so much death in the past month, she could deal with it. She wondered if Tolfdir, or any of the other mages, had any inkling of what she had been doing with the brotherhood.
    “So what do we do now?” she interjected.
    Tolfdir shook his head and tried to snap out of it. “The staff,” he said, “Try to use the staff on the magic barrier. I think it absorbs magic.”

    Kyssandra took the staff from her back, and pointed at the barrier, and used it. Sure enough, the barrier fell. “huh…” she thought, ‘I probably could have done this from the inside and saved myself a lot of walking…’

    At any rate, the group moved in, and now that the barrier was down, they could get into the Hall of Elements. There stood Ancano, casting his spell on the ball.

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    Ancano spotted the group, and began to laugh maniacally.
    “You cannot touch me!” he shouted. “I have all power now, I can destroy you all!!”

    Tolfdir tried to cast a fireball at him, and it just fell short, fizzling into nothing as it hit him. Ancano laughed at him, and begin to cast something back. Tolfdir turned to Kyssandra.
    “Try the staff on the Eye,” He said, “Mabye you can take the magic away, that he is drawing from it.”

    Just as Kyssandra began to use the staff on the ball, Ancano cast. It was a mass paralysis spell. It affected everyone but her; she assumed she was protected because she was using the staff at the exact moment. But the kicker here was that she was now the only one in the room that could do anything.

    Ancano grinned evilly. “I’m going to enjoy finishing you off little girl,” he stated flatly. Then he started drawing power from the Eye. There was a blinding flash, as it opened, and more of those wispy things came flying out of it. Kyssandra hit the Eye with the staff, using all of her concentration, and it started to close.

    And so it began, a long game of cat and mouse. After several openings and closings, Kyssandra realized that while the Eye was open, and Ancano was drawing power, she could do nothing to him. But if she closed the Eye with the staff, he was susceptible to damage. She managed to get her atronarchs out, for help, and the little magic wisps were attacking anyone they could. She ran around the room, ducking spells, hiding behind columns, alternately closing the Eye, keeping her atronarchs going, and occasionally casting a lightening spell herself.


    And finally it was done. After what seemed an eternity, Ancano fell. The room became eerily quiet, until the paralysis spells wore off of everyone. Then they all started talking at once. Kyssandra stood in the midst of them, holding the staff at her side, catching her breath.
    “What now?” she asked Tolfdir.
    “I…I don’t know…” Tolfdir said. “That…was amazing…I don’t think any of us could have beat him…But…I…don’t know what to do…Savos…Mirabelle…I just don’t know…”

    The air shimmered. Quarinar, of the Psiijic order appeared, as if on cue.
    “Congratulations,” he said to Kyssandra, nodding his head in her direction, “you have indeed met our expectations. We believed in you, and you have come through.” Turning towards Tolfdir, he said, “As for the Eye, this world is not ready for it. My brethren and I will take it to our dimension, where we will guard it and keep it safe.”
    “What of the college?” Tolfdir asked, "what should we do now?"
    Quarinar shrugged slightly. “Continue on as you have been. And I suggest,” he said, nodding again towards Kyssandra, “that you make this one the new arch mage. She has shown great fortitude during this whole escapade, and I daresay, she saved all of your lives. Perhaps even your world.”

    With that, a couple more members of the psiijic order shimmered into view. They cast some sort of ritual, and then the air shimmered, and all three of the robed men, and the Eye itself, disappeared.


    Later in the day, Tolfdir approached Kyssandra.
    “The faculty, those of us that remain, have spoken,” he began, “We are in agreement with the psiijic order. We believe you have earned the right to be arch mage. However…” Kyssandra waited for it, as he continued, "…you are still a student here. We do not feel like the arch mage should be someone who has not graduated properly, from here, or any school of magic. So…we ask that you stay here as a student, and complete your studies. You will continue to be treated exactly like the other students. Once you reach graduation, and master a school of magic, then we will formally make you the arch mage. To the students, you are still one of them. Only the faculty knows this, until the time comes."
    Kyssandra nodded.
    “That sounds fair.” she said. She was a bit dejected, but she did see their point.
    Tolfdir then produced a key, and handed it to her.
    “This,” he said, “is the key to the arch mage’s quarters. The suite needs to be kept clean, until it can be formally used.”
    “So…I’m to be a maid?” Kyssandra asked warily.
    Tolfdir set his jaw, but looked her squarely in the eye. “You are hereby entrusted with keeping the arch mage quarters from falling into disrepair until a new, (ahem)” he cleared his throat as he pressed the key into her hand, “…arch mage is named. As far as anyone outside of the faculty knows, you have simply been named caretaker. But,” He lowered his voice slightly, “…you are the only one that has this key. You may use it, and the chambers as you wish.”


    Kyssandra retired to her… the arch mage’s quarters. She spent the evening poking around, looking at various things, that would be off limits to anyone but the arch mage. This was definitely going to take some time to get used to. She felt like she was stealing, or doing something she shouldn’t be doing. She wasn’t sure if she would even sleep here, she would probably continue to do that in her cozy little dorm room. At the top of the stairs, she noticed a magical orb on a pedestal, that looked suspiciously like the portal orbs in the Hall of Attainment. Intrigued, she touched it, and activated it. This one did not require a soul gem. The air shimmered, and she appeared in a room of some sort; It was surrounded by tall thick windows, and seemed like a cross between a trophy room and a library. She went to one of the windows and looked out. Night had fallen. It was then that she realized what this room was. It was the solarium that you could see on the very top of the college. She sighed, and sat in the large stone chair, contemplating all that had happened, since she first got off that boat in Dawnstar, and all that would happen next.

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  • Chapter 28

    “Mission accomplished. …sorta”

    Kyssandra headed to the portal room. She had slept decently, albeit in her own dorm room. Today was the day of the wedding she was supposed to attend. The one where she was to kill the bride. Astrid had told her it did not matter how she did it, as long as it was messy and public. The goal on this one was not the kill, but the chaos it would create. Like it or not, Kyssandra still had to work for the Dark Brotherhood to earn tuition money. Truth was, she kinda liked it. So she had got up, put on her dress and heels that she had bought for the wedding, and now she stood in front of the portal orb to Solitude. She had not bothered with any equipment or her backpack. She was going to port to Solitude, attend a wedding and do the job, then port back. She had actually come across a spell in the Arch Mage’s quarters that was going to make this even easier. It was in a secret compartment, and was called Temporal Shift. According to the spell’s description, it was tied to the orb in the Arch Mage’s quarters, and would port you back to that orb, from anywhere in Skyrim. She was anxious to test it.

    But first, she needed to get there first. The wedding was to start at 10am. It was about 9:30am, so she got out a greater soul gem, and touched it to the orb. She had not been to the Solitude portal as of yet. As the air began to shimmer, she wondered anxiously where she would appear.

    The world briefly, went black, as usual, and buildings shimmered into view. Kyssandra looked around in disbelief. This was in fact Solitude, she recognized the roofs of the buildings. But she was parallel to the roofs. This couldn’t be right. She looked around, and down. She gingerly moved to the edge, and gradually confirmed her suspicions. She began to fume.

    WHO IN THE NINE PUTS A PORTAL ON TOP OF A ROOF?!!

    Kyssandra began a frantic search for a way off the roof. She still didn’t know exactly where she was in the city, and she had to make it to that wedding before it started. The portal wasn’t exactly on a roof, it was more like a patch of grass, that was up as high, level with the rooflines. The only way she saw down was a couple of boards set up, so she could walk across them and eventually get to a balcony railing. With her dress and heels, she wasn’t exactly dressed for this. But finally, she managed to get to the balcony, without breaking an ankle.

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    When she got firmly on cobblestone, Kyssandra hurried to the temple of divines. That was where the wedding was supposed to take place. She took a couple wrong turns, trying to get her bearings, and made it with less than five minutes to spare. Surveying the area, she spotted the dragon statue, that she had been told about. It was above the balcony, above the bride and groom, and was purported to be loose enough to push over. That was Kyssandra’s plan. If it went south, she only had her spells to back herself up. She preferred the statue option. Her plan was to lean against it, and hope it fell, and claim it was an accident. The wedding was now starting. Once she was admitted as a guest, Kyssandra hurriedly found her way up to the parapet where the statue was, and wondered how conspicuous she was.

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    In almost no time, the bride and groom left the ground level, and headed up to the balcony directly below Kyssandra. As if on queue, they emerged, just below the statue. The bride stepped forward, and as was customary, addressed the crowd. Kyssandra leaned casually against the statue.

    It did not move.

    She pressed harder. Still nothing. The bride was still speaking, but only the nine knew how long she would go. Trying not to panic, Kyssandra put her weight into it, and pressed against the statue with all her might. It shifted slightly, a couple inches. She continued to push, trying to use her legs for leverage. All of the sudden, the fulcrum shifted, and over the rail the statue went. Since she had ended up leaning backwards against the statue, trying to gain leverage, Kyssandra didn’t actually see it hit, but she heard a thudding sound, followed by screams. When she turned and looked, she saw the statue and the unmoving bride laying on the balcony below, as the crowd ran around frantically. Mission accomplished.

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    Well, it was sort of accomplished. Unfortunately, in addition to the screaming of the crowd, Kyssandra also heard the guards belaying orders to each other. A lizardman appeared and hurriedly whispered that he was sent by Astrid to help if he could, should she be in danger of being caught.

    “Do you think they will know it was me?” Kyssandra asked, hoping she could just slip into the crowd and leave.
    “Oh yesss,” he whispered, “you were not very, shall we say, inconspicuous. Might should’ve thought of covering yourself and concealing your face, and THEN changing back into that outfit. But run, if you can, I’ll do what I can to hold them off.”

    In hindsight, Kyssandra realized she probably should have thought of that. But she didn’t, and now the guards were after her. They were everywhere on the ground, she couldn’t go down there. She hurried as fast as she could across the parapet, and ducked into the first door she came to. It was the top floor of the temple itself. “There she is!!” She heard the shout, and it was too late. Guards were coming up both sets of stairs.

    Not knowing anything else to do, Kyssandra surrendered. She was not going to fight all these guards, here in the city, in the temple no less. She would take her chances with the ‘it was all an accident’ story. She was also hoping that she could get some favor from the palace, Perhaps Jarl Elisif’s apparent fondness of her would help, if she could get word there, or maybe her defeat of that Potema wolf queen goddess would do the trick. Oh wait, she hadn’t actually completed that yet. Nevertheless, her pleas and explanations feel flat with the current guards. They said they would check with the palace, but for now, her wrists were shackled, and she was marched unceremoniously through town, to the dungeon. Kyssandra didn’t like the way they were looking at her.

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    What followed was the worst day and night she could remember in her young life. She was relieved of her fancy dress and thrown into a cell. The entire area was resistant to magic, her spells would not work. During the rest of the day, she was periodically taken out into the dungeon courtyard, and put into a pillory, where she was whipped, the target of the crowds insults and vegetables, and worse. During the night, the guards continued to visit her cell and contrive their own devious punishments. About every three or four hours, she was given a stale piece of bread and some ale, but she was not allowed to sleep.

    The next morning, around 10am, she was again bound and led out of the cell, into the courtyard. This time however, she was led back through town, all the way to temple, and downstairs, to what she remembered as being the Hall of the Dead. This was where Falk Firebeard and the priest Styrr had wanted her to gain the remains of Potema, the wolf queen, that some cult was trying to resurrect.

    “You are lucky,” her guard said. “It has come to our attention that you have been given a mission by the palace, that is of great importance, and has to do with undead in this place.” The guard was visibly uncomfortable at this point, but continued, “you have a choice. Stay in jail, or go in here, and try to accomplish your mission. If you succeed, your debt will be paid, and you will be free, with no bounty.”

    Kyssandra chose the mission, of course, and found herself in the Hall of the Dead. She was given her possessions back, which basically consisted of her dress and shoes. She was dead tired, and hungry. She probably could have ported back at this point, but she decided not to take any chances. If she ported back to the college, and came back tomorrow, she would still be considered a fugitive, and who knows what would happen if someone saw her. She didn’t want to take the chance of being locked up again. She would continue on, try to find Potema’s remains, and then her name would be clear and she could do what she wanted.

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    Kyssandra took the dungeon slowly and methodically. She had no armor, and no weapons. She relied solely on creatures of fire that she summoned, and bolts of electricity from her fingertips.

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    The dungeon was pretty standard, compared to the dungeons she had been in so far.

    Spooky, dimly lit rooms full of undead creatures.

    Every once in a while, a voice, who Kyssandra assumed was Potema’s spirit, would audibly speak from the depths, chiding her with insults. Kyssandra pretty much ignored it.

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    Kyssandra was actually a bit surprised at how easy it seemed. Either she was gaining power, or the creatures in this dungeon were not as powerful as some of her recent forays. At one point, she did come across a room that was absolutely full of dead bodies. ‘This cannot be good,’ she thought to herself.

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    As if on cue, the bodies began to rise, right in front of her, and began to fight.

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    From this point forward, it got a little bit more challenging. Kyssandra would fight creatures, and then after they fell in battle, some of them would raise right back up, and she would have to fight the same undead creature, again and again. She kept moving, and just kept it methodical, advancing slowly but surely through the dungeon. Finally, she opened a door, and saw what must be the spirit of Potema.

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    There was more talk, and undead creatures galore attacked, and kept attacking. This time, the Potema spirit in the middle of the room fired out a lightening bolt, that kept going round and round, damaging anything in its path. Kyssandra decided upon a strategy of staying outside of the room, just outside of the double doors. She conserved all of her magic, only casting flame atronarchs, and only when one of her two would die. She would then cast another, right in the doorway. This way, she personally stayed out of harms way, as the atronarchs did all the work, and blocked the doorway. After more than several minutes of fighting, suddenly everything went quiet. The atronarchs had finally outlasted the spirit, and she had won. She went into the room, and retrieved the remains from what looked like a a throne on the other side. She didn’t really take anything else from here, as she did not have her pack, nor any way to carry anything heavy. She just wanted out of here, to go home and sleep.

    Kyssandra followed the dungeon to the hidden back exit. These dungeons, she was finding out, always had a hidden back exit. She went through a couple of passageways, and came out…

    …on a mountainside.

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    Kyssandra looked down. She was on the side of a mountain, behind the city of Solitude, looking straight down. She wasn’t sure she could have floated down this one, even with the weaken gravity spell.

    Luckily, she remembered the Temporal Shift spell she had learned. She had the remains now, so she felt confident that she could go home and come back, as long as she could present the mission as accomplished, to whoever would confront her. She cast the spell, the air shimmered in a familiar way, and she found herself back in her the arch mage’s quarters.

    Kyssandra did not care that this was not her dorm room. It was only about 6pm in the evening, but she had been up for about 30 hours now, with no sleep. She washed herself, went and found some food, then went back and crashed. She slept well into the next day. She got up, put on her comfortable grey outfit, grabbed her equipment, and headed back to Solitude, via the portal room. Now that she had on her adventuring outfit, and had more time, she discovered that there was an easier way down to the ground, from the portal. She had just been in to much of a hurry the first time and had missed seeing it.

    She first went to Styrr, the priest in the temple, and gave him Potema’s remains, as requested. Styrr thanked her profusely, and told her that if Falk Firebeard did not thank her in the same way, he was a fool. Kyssandra then made her way to the palace, and confronted Falk.

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    “So, nice little plan you came up with there, making me chose between jail and doing your dirty work,” Kyssandra said, “You could have just pardoned me first, and I would have still helped you.”
    “Jail? what do you mean?” Falk seemed genuinely confused.
    “Never mind.” Kyssandra said flatly. “I did what you needed, I took care of the Potema situation, for good this time. I think.”
    “Yes, Styrrr sent a messenger,” Falk said, still looking a little confused. “At any rate, this city is greatly indebted to you, and I will do everything I can to let people know that. You will be granted the same status as a thane, or a court advisor, let me assure you.”

    ‘That would have been handy to have the other day,’ Kyssndra thought to herself. ‘or would it? Would the jailers have treated her any differently, or would they have just kept her as long as they could, claiming they didn’t know her status?’ But as she left, she wondered who then, if not Falk, had found out that she was even in the jail, and brokered the deal to allow her to complete the wolf queen mission for her freedom? Who knew she was there, and also knew about the wolf queen?
    Politics and intrigue were in abundance here, in Solitude.



  • Chapter 29

    “Back to the grind”

    After meeting with Falk, Kyssandra had a moment where she did not really know what to do. Everything had gone so fast, one thing after another, there for a while. From the moment Ancano had started messing with the Magnus thing, (could she still call it the big Saarthal ball?), life had just been a big blur. Now things had settled down, and nothing was really pressing, it was like she almost didn’t know exactly what to do next. She supposed she should just head to the brotherhood sanctuary, and check in, but for now, she just found herself wandering aimlessly through town. Some beggar came up to her, which was not uncommon, but something about this one was different. Instead of asking for money, he was asking for help in freeing his master. Curiosity got the better of her, so Kyssandra stopped and listened. Apparently, his ‘master’ was being held somewhere in the Blue Palace, in the wing that was off limits. Kyssandra excused herself and headed on. The guy sounded half mad. As she walked away, she could hear him continuing to persuade her, shouting for her to talk to the maids, talk to the maids.

    Eventually, she found herself outside the gates. It was a long way from here to Falkreath, so she figured she would just port back to the college, and then use a soul gem to port there. She would get a little farther off the path though, as the mages did not encourage porting right in front of people. Although they knew about it, most common people were afraid of magic, and a mage vanishing right in front of you did nothing to calm those fears. Perhaps over there behind that caravan would be a good spot.

    Hey, wait, she just remembered, there were some things on her to do list, involving caravans. Checking her notes, she did indeed remember, there was a cat man that she was supposed to kill, named Marandu-Jo, and there was another one, named Ma’dran, that she was supposed to talk to for Ysolda. Or was it Mikeal that had told her to talk to Ma’dran, about Ysolda? She didn’t really remember. She approached and asked the nearest cat person if either Marandu-Jo or Ma’dran was in this caravan.

    Marandu-Jo was part of a southern caravan that ran from Markarth to Whiterun, but turns out that Ma’dran was actually the leader of this particular caravan. Kyssandra walked up and introduced herself to him.

    “So, you buying, or selling?” Ma’dran asked.
    “Actually, neither.” Kyssandra replied, “I just wanted to ask you about Ysolda.”
    “Who’s that?” the Khajit looked confused.
    “A vendor from Whiterun?” Kyssandra prodded.
    "…the one that wants the tree sap…" a Khajit female sitting beside him whispered.
    “Ahhh, yes” Ma’dran smiled, “Ysolda! yes, I remember, what about her?“
    Kyssandra looked confused. “I was under the impression that there was something…more between you two,” she said.
    Ma’dran sighed and shook his head. “No, I think she wants there to be, but alas, I feel not the same for her. But I continue to let her think what she wishes,” he brightened, “she’s good for trading. As long as I bring her the sleeping tree sap, she pretty much gets me whatever I ask for.”
    “Sleeping…tree sap?” Kyssandra scrunched her eyebrows.
    “Yes, its a, shall we say, like Skooma. but different.” Ma’dran winked.
    “Oh.” now Kyssandra understood. “its a drug.”
    “Drugs, potions, tomato, tomahtoe,” Ma’dran shrugged. “I really don’t care what people call them. But its fairly easy to get, and I trade it to Ysolda for other things I need, then trade them…you get the picture. I’m a trader. Its how I make my money.”
    “Oh, I understand, I’m not downing you,” Kyssandra said, “I have rather…questionable…ways that I make money also-”
    “I bet you do”, Ma’dran said with a chuckle
    ”-no, not TH- well, maybe…” Kyssandra blushed, “but seriously,” as she tried to steer the conversation in a different direction, "you really shouldn’t lead Ysolda on like that. Tell her nicely, that you aren’t interested. I bet she still will trade with you."
    Ma’dran laughed. “You are cute. You want her for yourself, don’t you. But, you are probably correct. Be less complicated. Tell you what. Go find out what happened to my last shipment of sap, bring it to me, and I’ll break it off with Ysolda. An orc named Ulag was the one that was supposed to bring it to me, he was last supposed to meet up with Ri’saad’s caravan somewhere, but didn’t show.”

    Kyssandra went off a ways from the caravan, and ported back to the college. She stopped by her room to freshen up, then headed to the portal room, and used a soul gem to port to Falkreath. From there, she headed north, to the dark brotherhood sanctuary. She was just getting ready to go down the path to the entrance, and ran into one of her fellow brethren coming from the other direction.

    “Hey, you have the contract for that Khajit that is in a caravan, don’t you?” he asked.
    “I do,” Kyssandra replied. “what’s up?”
    “I just saw them, on the path north of here, headed towards Whiterun,” he replied. “Figured you might want a heads up, since those caravans move around so much. If you hurry, you could probably catch him, or at the very least, you know which direction to go.”

    Kyssandra thanked him, and immediately headed north. He was right. The caravans moved so much, it was hard to find specific ones. She figured she would take this opportunity, then come back to the sanctuary. She could then get paid for two contracts instead of one.

    The caravan had quite a head start on her. Kyssandra had no idea how far up the path they actually were, but she knew how far it was to the junction where her informant had split off and went south, and that was quite a ways. She decided to try out a new spell she had bought a while back, called Longstride. It basically made you move faster. a lot faster. But you had to maintain a concentration level, and your magic would eventually deplete. Kyssandra tried it, and it worked remarkably well. She was running at a speed she did not think was possible, but she could only hold that speed while she had magic in reserve. So she ran fast, and then slowed to a jog while her magic replenished, then she would go fast again. After a while, she did indeed see the caravan up ahead of her, on the path.

    Kyssandra didn’t do anything to look threatening. She didn’t even know which one of these cats was even the right one. She introduced herself coyly, and hoped they would do the same. They did. Good, now she knew which one to kill. But first, browsed their wares, sold some things she had on her, pretending to be nothing more than a traveling customer. At one point, she casually asked about an orc named Ulag, saying that she had heard from a friend that he might have something she would be interested in, and was traveling with the caravans. The Khajit all looked knowingly at each other, and one surmised that “she must be into that sleeping tree sap.” But they told her where he would most likely be found, at a cave that was actually not far away, where the sleeping tree sap was made. They marked the location on her map, then made ready to head on up the path. Kyssandra began openly flirting with the one named Marandu-Jo. Just as she suspected, the rest of the caravan moved off, after some winks and smiles for their buddy. Kyssandra continued to flirt and keep him interested, until she finally saw that the rest of the caravan had gone around a bend in the path and was some distance away. Then she hit Marandu-Jo with a lightening bolt. He was not expecting it, and dropped on the first shot. Kyssandra dragged his slightly charred body off the path, into some bushes. His caravan probably wouldn’t miss him for quite some time, maybe even tomorrow.

    On the way back to the sanctuary, Kyssandra headed over to the cave that had been marked for her on her map. She would just meet this orc, and pick up the shipment of sap, and be on her way. Near the entrance, there was a giant lurking around. What was it with these orcs and giants? Kyssandra steered clear of the giant, and after three stealthy trips around the rock formation, she finally saw the entrance. She crept over to it and went inside.

    The cave was not big at all, it was just a hole in the ground, that appeared to be a shelter, nothing more. To a giant. Who was still at home. Too late, the giant spotted Kyssandra, and he did not look happy. Knowing instinctively what was about to happen, Kyssandra summoned one atronarch, then the other. The atronarchs fought the giant, and Kyssandra augmented their fireballs with some lightening, and the giant was soon history. May as well see what I can loot, she thought, and started poking around the cave.

    Suddenly, everything made sense. Kyssandra found the body of a dead orc, and in his pack, there was a shipment of sleeping tree sap. This must be Ulag. He must have been stealing, or dealing with the giants, for the sap, and something went wrong, and here he was, dead. Kyssandra helped herself to the sap shipment, and everything else she could find. She marveled, as the giant’s storage chest was as big as she was!

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    After taking what she wanted, Kyssandra simply ported back to the college. She wasn’t too keen on meeting an angry giant when she exited the cave, or any of his buddies that may be around. She had only seen one of them, but for all she knew, there could have been a whole tribe of them out there. It was simpler to just port back, dump all of the stuff she had taken from them, then portal again to Falkreath, and head back up the path to the sanctuary from there. In due time, she was walking through the familiar door to the dark brotherhood.

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    Astrid met her at the bottom of the steps. “Heard you had a bit of a problem.”
    “I got the job done.” Kyssandra replied.
    “That you did.” Astrid nodded. “For the record, anytime you get yourself caught, the brotherhood is going to deny all knowledge of you. You are on your own. But you obviously have made it back intact, and you did the job to perfection, so you will be rewarded. See our wizard here, I’ve instructed him to teach you a new summon spell, since you seem to be good at that school. You will be able to summon the spirit of an ancient assassin to help you fight, in addition to your other creatures. Now. On to the next part. If you are still interested.”
    “Of course I’m still interested,” Kyssandra nodded.
    “Good, I had hoped so.” Astrid’s eyes gleamed. “Next, we are going to kill the son of the captain of the emperor’s guard. He is here scouting the cities for the emperor’s upcoming visit. Word is, he is in Dragon Bridge on the weekends. Go there, see if you can figure out his schedule. Kill him, and plant this note on him. It frames him, and will make them thing he is the conspirator that was planning to kill the emperor. Bonus points if you do it in one of the major cities, where the guards will find him. Go see Gabriella for more information, and try not to get caught this time.”

    Kyssandra took the note, and headed to Nazir for payment on the other two contracts she had done. She also spoke to Gabriella about the new mission, and got the spell from the wizard. After all that, she headed back out, and ported home. This temporal shift spell, that ported her back the arch mage’s quarters, was fast becoming her favorite spell. It did not even cost a soul gem to cast. This time, when she got back, she decided to stay the night. It was almost dark, so she ate supper, then got another good nights rest.


    Early the next morning, it was time to head out again. This time, Kyssandra decided to port to Dawnstar. She would go to Dragon Bridge, but first she would investigate the place called Frostmere Crypt, that the wizard Fallion had told her about. Idgrod the young, the daughter of the Jarl of Morthal was having visions, and Fallion had told her this must be what the visions were of, something called the Pale Lady, in the Frostmere Crypt. Kyssandra had decided she could go there and investigate it, then stop by Morthal and report her findings to them, then continue on to Dragon Bridge and get there before nightfall.

    After porting to Dawnstar, Kyssandra went off path, through the country. Out in the middle of nowhere, she suddenly ran across a fort, or small city, or something down in a hole. She did not stop, but she did mark it on her map for future reference, and marveled once again at the hidden wonders you could run across in this land called Skyrim.

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    When she arrived at Frostmere Crypt, there was a fight going on, right outside. Before Kyssandra could intervene, one of the bandits won, beating the other ones she had been fighting. Kyssandra made ready to defend herself, but the bandit that had won the fight wasn’t interested. She said her name was Eisa, and her friend had stole a sword from the leader of the gang. She was being accused of helping him, and she wanted no more part of them.

    Kyssandra entered the crypt, summoned her atronarchs, and started killing bandits. Through reading journals that she found, and overhearing conversations, she was able to piece together most of the story. Apparently there was some sort of monster that the bandits had accidentally found, under this crypt. It was a big green underground forest, that they had found by knocking a whole in the wall. The monster had a sword, that the leader had taken for his own. This released the monster. One of the other bandits had taken the sword from the leader to put it back, and appease the monster. He obviously had not been successful.

    Kyssandra continued on through the crypt, only to kill the Pale Lady monster, to hopefully help with young Idgrod’s visions. She didn’t care about the bandits or the sword, they were only in her way. But after killing everything in the dungeon, including all the bandits, the Pale Lady, and her minions, Kyssandra decided to take the sword. The Pale Lady, who Kyssandra figured was a wispmother, was no longer a threat, so leaving the sword here meant nothing. It was cool, and she would put in with the rest of the trophies in the arch mage quarters. The underground forest was quite pretty though.

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    After dealing with the Pale Lady, Kyssandra headed on over to Morthal. She stopped by the town hall, and found young Idgrod, and asked if she felt any different. She did not, and could tell that the vision problem was still there. ‘Hmmm,’ Kyssandra thought, and went to visit the wizard Fallion.

    When confronted, Fallion admitted that sending Kyssandra after the Pale Lady to help with Idgrod’s visions was just a guess. He had heard the legend, and thought maybe that was the source. Kyssandra was incredulous. “You sent me after the wrong monster?!!” she exclaimed. She would have decked him right there in his house, but he had a child, a young apprentice present. He did tell her about a rumor he had heard, for real this time, about a child in the Jarl’s household that had gone wicked. That is all he knew though, if she wanted more information, Kyssandra would need to talk to Jonna, his sister, the innkeeper, about it. Also, Jonna was lonely, and needed some romance in her life, and he told Kyssandra she might be able to get more information if she would help in that department, too. “You want me to sleep with your sister?!!?” Kyssandra was incredulous at this point, and threw up her hands and walked out.

    Kyssandra went over to the inn, and after a very awkward encounter with Jonna, she wasn’t sure she knew any more than she had before she had come in. When she left the inn, and stopped back by the town hall to talk to young Idgrod, it was almost dark. She asked about the bits and pieces of information that Fallion and Jonna had told her, and Idgrod told her that it was too close to night, and she should come talk to her about it during the daytime. Kyssandra decided to just head on over to Dragon Bridge. This whole situation was getting weirder by the minute. If Solitude was a hotbed of political intrigue, Morthal was a hotbed of supernatural crazyness.

    There was no portal to Dragon Bridge, so Kyssandra had to do it the old fashioned way, running along the path. She thought about using the Longstride spell, but it was still light enough, even though the sun had passed the horizon, so she took it slower, enjoying the views. These marshes were very near the abandoned shack that Astrid had first taken her to. There was an odd beauty to this area, and Kyssandra thought it wouldn’t be bad to have a house in a place like this.

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    About halfway to Dragon Bridge though, it got cold, and one of those odd, chilly mists settled in. By the time Kyssandra crossed the bridge that was the town’s namesake, it was fully dark. The mist was heavy, and even the horses seemed spooked. Out in the street, some folks were talking. As she eavesdropped, er…listened, rather, Kyssandra realized that this was her prey. This was Gauis Maro, the commander’s son, and he was just heading out, and was saying farewell to some woman, obviously with whom he had a romantic involvement with.

    Gabriella had told Kyssandra that her best bet was to go to Dragon Bridge, and see if she could find a schedule, or itinerary of his town visits, as the Penitus Oculatus Outpost there in Dragon Bridge was where he was staying. She had not expected to actually find him here when she got here. But Astrid had indicated that she wanted him killed in a major city, not Dragon Bridge, so Kyssandra decided to let him go, and stick to her original plan. Since it was already dark, she went to the inn and rented a room for the night. The innkeeper came in, and Kyssandra realized that this was the woman that Gaius had been saying farewell to in the street. So the commanders son was involved with this innkeeper. Interesting.

    Later in the evening, when she noticed that most of the guards were in the inn, Kyssandra made her way down the street to the Outpost. There was one guard left inside, “Think your in the wrong place citizen-” the guard started, then turned and noticed the fetching girl that had wandered in. As she expected, as long as she was flirty and talked to him sweetly, the guard let her stay.

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    Kyssandra picked things up and looked at them, and put them down as she talked, trying to appear innocent and just absentmindedly looking at random things. She did in fact find the itinerary of Gaius Maro’s city inspections. She couldn’t hold it long enough to read it, that would be too obvious, and she didn’t trust herself to actually remember what it said, anyway. She continued to flirt with the guard, and nonchalantly hopped up on the table with the itinerary on it, knocking over a couple of bottles. As she made a show of reaching behind her to right the bottles, she felt around and grabbed the schedule, and quickly pocketed it while the guard was wasn’t looking. As soon as she had it, she jumped off the table, straightened it some more, and took her leave. No reason to push her luck here.

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    Out in the street, the weird mist was still there. Kyssandra retired to the inn, unpacked her dibella wreath, and decided to unwind and have some fun for the rest of the night.

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