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   Chapter 16 No.16

An Enchanting Tale By AaronDennis Characters: 13277

Updated: 2018-01-10 12:02

An exhausting expedition throughout the confusing ruins of Nchuand-Zel ultimately ended in respite. Consumption of food and water left the trio in better spirits. Afterwards, they proceeded through the control room. Apart from endless machinery, and dwemer spiders, there wasn't much else. Eventually, they found themselves on an overlook just outside the control room. They had essentially gone full circle and back to a section of Nchuand-Zel mid way up from the water. S'maash gave a shrug in desperation.

"We're chasing our tails, here, " Brelyna commented.

Zolara chuckled, gripped his tail, and shook it about. Then, he pointed firmly at it and chastised it for running circles. S'maash shook his head in dismay.

S'maash grumbled, "Hermaeus Mora said we had to go beyond the end, but if it's a circle where would that be?"

Zolara spit over the edge. His trickle of saliva fell several feet before echoing against the water. Concentric rings ebbed away from the droplet.

"Maybe, the end is below us, " the argonian suggested.

Brelyna and S'maash locked eyes. "That's brilliant, " she said.

"Well, glad to have you back on my side, " Zolara remarked.

"Looks like it's up to you, argonian, " S'maash said.

Zolara looked about in mock confusion. "What's up to me?"

"Go underwater and see if there's a sunken passage, " S'maash stated.

Zolara groaned.

"It's the only option, " Brelyna said.

"Only option, " Zolara asked, accusingly. "You, the College's instructor of alteration, do not possess a water breathing spell? And you, enchanter, you don't have an amulet you enchanted?"

"No, Sir, " S'maash answered, dryly.

"I do have a water breathing spell, but they wear off. It will be simpler for you to take your time and search. What are you worried about, anyway, " Brelyna asked.

"Nothing…I'll do it, " Zolara gave in.

Minutes later, they worked their way past the control room and the armory. Upon reaching the bottommost area, Zolara stripped nude again. He cracked his neck then hopped in, vanishing immediately; he scarcely broke the water's smooth surface. Ocassionally, the elves briefly saw his green tail poke out. It quickly receded. Then, there was nothing. The water resumed its lifeless lack of motion.

"You think he'll be alright, " S'maash asked.

"He's quite capable, at least in class. Why the antics is beyond me."

For a while longer, they continued conversations. Discussing what had transpired during their time apart was the most congenial topic. Brelyna had focused on teaching, but was glad to hear all about S'maash's errands for Farengar. Zolara's head sticking out of the water interrupted their conversation.

"Hey!" he called out.

"Yes, " S'maash stood as he asked.

"I might have found something, but I can't move the rubble out of the way on my own."

"Right. I'll cast water breathing on us, " Brelyna said to S'maash.

"We'll provide assistance in a moment, " S'maash told Zolara.

Once ready, the elves joined the argonian. Beneath the water's surface was a fallen, stone pillar. Zolara led them beyond it.

There was a hallway beneath the sunken rubble. At the end of the hallway was more rubble. Zolara pointed to it. While it was difficult to see underwater, as not much light reached so far down, the debris did appear to be blocking a passage. Working in unison, the three were able to remove large rocks, thus opening the hallway for passage.

As they proceeded, the elves grew concerned with the possibility of their spell wearing off, but they soon began swimming above a noticeable incline. Less than a minute later, they poked their heads through the water and into a darkened area. S'maash casted candle light, revealing dwemer stonework. Nchuand-Zel had more stories to tell than even Aicantar knew.

"I suppose it makes sense, " S'maash said while putting on his wet clothes.

"What does, " Zolara asked.

"Well, there must be other hidden chambers. The

the elf enough time to grab a large chunk of something like obsidian. He didn't care to question its authenticity. Instead, he ran far to his right in a roundabout fashion to get close to the cave wall. Just before reaching the carved stairs, he heard and felt something peculiar. All falmer ears turned to him. He had snagged a trip wire, causing a large claw to swing in his direction; a near miss, but the falmer were on to him.

"Oh my, " Zolara said.

"Do something, " Brelyna yelled.

"I am, woman!"

He summoned yet another atronach to stand between the falmer and S'maash, who was in full run with a stone the size of an orc's fist. The fiery dancer created enough of a diversion for the wizard to reach his friends.

"Time to run, " he yelled as he went on by.

They did not delay. All three dashed through the cave and into the dark hallway. A natural fear of running in the dark slowed them, so Brelyna took the initiative to cast candle light. Her overcharged version provided a little more light and lasted quite a bit longer than S'maash's, yet it danced above them, chasing their pace. With the pathway clear before them, they made it all the way back to the water.

"Hurry, cast your spell!" S'maash ordered.

Brelyna complied while hearing the distinct sound of argonian weight diving into water. The elves followed suit once water breathing was casted. S'maash managed to jam the stone into his robe, freeing his arms for a better swim. After emerging into Nchuand-Zel, he had an insight.

"Quick! Back underwater, we'll block the passage, " he shouted.

Beneath the rippling waters, they forced some larger stones into the gaps. With the passage blocked, they surfaced once more, if exhausted.

"By the Nine! That was some run, " Zolara cheered.

"There is something wrong with you, argonian, " Brelyna said in disbelief.

"I can't believe I did it, we did it, " S'maash added.

None of them cared to find out if the falmer were successfully blocked, so they made their return through Nchuand-Zel. Elated and commenting on their success, they continued into Understone Keep without even stopping for breath. Upon entering Aicantar's chamber of study, they found it deserted. Evidently, they had been in Nchuand-Zel for hours. It was night and most everyone had gone to bed.

"The Silver-Blood Inn then, " Zolara suggested.

"Good idea, " Brelyna said.

"I could use some mead, " S'maash added.

"Mead, mead, mead…would it kill you to get some beer now and again? Stupid bees and their stupid honey, " Zolara grumbled.

"I'll buy, " Brelyna added in resignation.

"I love mead, " Zolara said.

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