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   Chapter 26 No.26

An Enchanting Tale By AaronDennis Characters: 17268

Updated: 2018-01-10 12:02


The conclusion of Thorald's business ended when the townsfolk of Whiterun gathered before the Skyforge. It was customary for the fallen Companions to be burned upon the mysterious forge; the giant, stone eagle stood watch above them. Each member of the order took a turn praising their fallen, shield brother. Once the short ceremony ended, Vilkas took a torch to the pyre supporting Durro's body.

"You've done a fine thing, court wizard. From this day on, you are one of us. If ever you need assistance, come back to Jorrvaskr, " Vilkas said.

"If my brother likes you, I like you. Thanks, " Farkas added.

"Not bad for a wizard. I welcome your presence around the mead hall any day, S'maash, " Aela said.

The elf feigned a smile. He watched how the Companions gave their respects without grieving. They were glad to have avenged Durro and helped him to enter the eternal fighting and feasting of Sovngarde; it was not a time for grief but for celebration. Thorald was present as well, wearing dark finery.

"So, it's all over, eh, " Thorald asked. S'maash looked up to meet his eyes. He nodded slowly. "It was more than just necromages wasn't it? It's no wonder the Companions required aid. Well, you've done a fine thing here."

Blinking rapidly and prodding at his blind eye, S'maash looked around. The torch fires wavered, casting dancing shadows. Inside S'maash's ears, the crackle of flame was like the sound of tearing cloth; obscenely loud. Above him, the stars sparkled like diamonds. J'zargo must be right…I must have contracted, his thoughts broke suddenly.

"What, " S'maash asked, startled.

"I said you're probably off to College business. Anyway, should you ever need anything at all from me, I, and Whiterun's people, are in your debt, " Thorald replied.

After patting S'maash's shoulder, the Jarl joined the Companions inside Jorrvaskr for drinks and food. "Aren't you coming, " Aela asked.

"No, thank you…my wounds still ache, " he replied.

He watched them all vanish behind closed doors before thinking back. The previous day, just after the vicious battle, S'maash and J'zargo had done their best to heal everyone, but their powers of restoration were lacking, so they limped back into town, where Danica, the priestess of Kynareth, did her best to bandage and brace everyone's wounds. S'maash had neglected to tell her he fought Delyla, the elder vampire. Danica, being the phenomenal healer she was, noticed the bite marks regardless.

Suddenly, he heard her say, "Normally, Porphyric Hemophilia only takes hold of one's soul after sleep. So long as we remove the disease before it becomes the curse, you'll be fine, " her thick, nord accent with rolling R's rang throughout his mind like a bell.

He stood there, gaping at the flaming pyre, and the scent of charring flesh made his stomach churn, but worse was the way Danica's words echoed in his mind. Then, the khajiit's gravelly voice burst into his head.

"Heheh, J'zargo does not believe your ailment to be so simple. Delyla was an elder vampire. Her bite may have affected more than just your blood. Do not sleep unless you are certain the disease is cleansed from your soul."

He worried. The voices in his mind were almost like reliving the conversations. Everything around him had taken on a strange essence, unfamiliar, surreal. He decided to return to Danica. The Temple of Kynareth was modest and clean. Danica was watering some lavender plants when he entered. She, too, had attended Durro's ceremony.

"Feeling better? Or worse?" she was concerned.

"J'zargo said an elder vampire's bite might be worse than normal vampires'."

"Aye, 'tis a possibility. Come." S'maash approached the hearty, nord woman. Her yellow and brown robes appeared almost living to the dark elf; it was the way they moved when she moved, and the sounds of cloth stretching. She looked him over. "Hmm, I'm both impressed and frightened at the turn your eye has taken."

"I think I'm beginning to see out of it again."

"You should not been able to…nor should it have healed so quickly. Perhaps, your khajiit friend was right. If an elder vampire's bite affects the soul directly then vampirism might manifest itself without ever going to sleep, " she said rather calmly.

S'maash turned his palms over in resignation. "There's nothing I can do?"

"There is always something. So long as you still have your soul, we can save you from the horrible curse. With finely ground soul gems, garlic, blessed water, and a little sap from the Gildergreen tree, I think I can make a potion to help you, " she informed him.

"The what tree?"

"The Gildergreen, the large tree just outside? Nevermind, I will handle that and then bless some water as well. You return with the powdered, soul gem and garlic. Make haste, " she said.

He bolted out of the temple and up the steps to Dragonsreach in a flash. From his study he took both the garlic and the soul gem. Working quickly at the alchemy table, he ground the gem to a fine, purple powder. Then, he ran all the way back to the temple in just a matter of seconds. I don't even tire….

"Here, " he offered the reagents.

er a modicum of control returned, he looked around. The sigil stone had shattered. He stood then ran over to the forge to find his treasure. There was nothing. Confused, he opened the offering the box. His fragments and gem were still inside.

"What? What has gone wrong?"

Crimson mist had crept from the shattered sigil stone. It slowly descended and hovered just above the cold ground. S'maash sighed and gave a subtle shrug in resignation. He took his belongings and went back to find Tolfdir, who was still in his room. Inside, they spoke.

"Fascinating. Perhaps a normal sigil stone is not powerful enough for this undertaking, " Tolfdir commented.

"Normal sigil stones? Are there other kinds?"

The old nord leaned back in his chair, stroking his beard in thought. "Well, it has been said that the hero who helped Martin Septim obtained a special sigil stone. Some of the details escape me, but I believe a greater sigil stone was required to open a portal to Mankar Cameron's alternate reality."

S'maash clenched his jaw before speaking, "What do you know about these sigil stones. Their magickal properties are unknown to me."

Tolfdir nodded rhythmically as he searched for words. "A sigil stone embodies the chaotic forces of Oblivion itself. Many years ago, enchanters used them for their particular enchantments. I'm almost surprised you are unfamiliar with their uses. Sigil stones also anchor the forces of chaos…."

"Enchanting? Wait, what do you mean anchor forces of chaos?"

"Well, the stones can be used to crack the fabric of reality, create a bridge or portal from the realms of Oblivion into other realms, ours for example, " Tolfdir attempted to clarify.

"How?"

"I'm not sure, to tell the truth, but there is a book somewhere. I believe the Blades might have a copy. They did, after all, play a major role during the Oblivion crisis. Mehrunes Dagon used the sigil stones to that end, but only because Uriel Septim was dead, and his son, Martin, had yet to wear the Amulet of Kings."

"So, without an heir to the throne, Mehrunes Dagon was able to break his way into Tamriel?"

"Yes."

S'maash rapped his fingers against the wooden table. "It seems, if I wish to continue this task, I must somehow obtain a greater sigil stone, " S'maash whispered.

Tolfdir leaned back again. "Well…If you must continue, or perhaps, this is your sign to put an end to this ordeal."

"I don't think Hermaeus Mora will just release me from this task, " S'maash answered.

"With Azura's guidance, you most certainly can break away from Hermaeus Mora, though it will not be a simple matter."

As candle flames flickered, Tolfdir's chambers grew slightly ominous. S'maash pondered for a moment. The Archmage kept a firm gaze. They met eyes.

"I should see the Blades. Farengar said they are usually unwilling to work with others, but I must read this book you mentioned. After that…well, I suppose we'll see, " S'maash said.

"You have slain a dragon. That alone should convince them to listen to your request. You can find them at Skyhaven Temple, far to southwest. They are in the Reach, so tread carefully. Here, let me see your map, " Tolfdir said, marking the location.

"I have been to the Reach before, " S'maash remarked.

"You have been to Markarth, no? The Reach is still Forsworn territory, no matter what that Silver-Blood says. Tread carefully."

S'maash readied himself for the Reach.

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