Azura's Sky

Previously: Eras Bygone

They left so early the next morning it was practically night. They met with a small caravans outside the city. The carriages were small, but covered in skins to keep out the gold Onmund paid a few coins to the Dunmeri caravan leader, so they could squeeze into a small carriage of their own.

"All these people are going to the Shrine?" Fairuz asked him, giving her robes a hitch and tightening her hood. Even without the pouring snow or merciless wind, it was still freezing cold.

"Many Dunmer come all the way from Raven Rock to make the pilgrimage," he nodded. "They revere Azura."

"And Azura's a Daedra, right?" she asked, knowing fully well she was. Azura was the Daedric Prince of Dusk and Dawn, the magic between Day and Night. Some called her Mother of the Rose, others the Queen of the Night Sky. Fairuz stayed up reading all about her last night.

Onmund smiled slightly. "Not all Daedra are evil. Some, like Azura, are actually quite benevolent."

They rode for a time in silence; he fell asleep while the cold kept her wide awake. By the time they arrived, the sun was rising. 

They climbed the several steps to the base of the gigantic statue. A Dunmeri priestess stood at an altar. It appeared she lived there, judging by her nearby tent and other camping gear. Fairuz opened her mouth to address her but Onmund silently stopped her. He tapped her shoulder and pointed in the opposite direction instead. Fairuz gave him a confused glance before finally turning around.

The view was beyond words.

She walked to the edge of the base in trance, lulled by the pinkish, purplish, golden shades of down. There were mountains near and far, covered in snow and shrouded in mist. The air was crisp and pure, and the distant sea was bathed in glorious sunlight.

"This what I imagined Aetherius looks like," she murmured to herself. It was where her mind went when she felt the inner dance of push and pull. She envisioned that the Immortal Plane looked like this, exactly like this. It was...transcendent to see it here, in real life.

"Me too," Onmund confessed softly, with a tiny smile.

They said little else, instead watching the sun rise, lost in their separate thoughts.

Later, as they headed back down to the carriages bound for Winterhold, he told her, "Today when I meditate, I will contemplate the sky over Azura's Shrine."

She flashed him a puzzled look. "Meditate?"


"Fairuz, explain to me how you've been at the College of Winterhold almost two months now and have never meditated?" Onmund asked, leading her to his dorm room once they returned home.

She tried not to sound distraught. "Because no one told me to!"

"It was literally one of Tolfdir's lessons."

"Was I there?" she blinked, stopping in her tracks as she doubtfully scanned her own memories.

Apparently, Onmund used his end table some a sort of makeshift altar. With a wave of his hand, the candles lit, illuminating the hideous horker head on his wall.

He knelt. "Talos the Divine ascended to the Immortal Plane to claim his godhood," Onmund said. "I was raised to revere his name, despite the White-Gold Concordant. When I first realized I could do magic, I thought I was personally touched by Talos, that he was calling me to the Immortal Plane."

Fairuz was still a bit lost. "So...when you meditate...."

"I think of him and try to channel his spirit," he nodded. "I focus my mind and let him pull towards Aetherius. It's like Tolfdir said: it's not about trying to cast a specific spell, rather about simply feeling the essence of magic, strengthening your connection to the Immortal Plane."

It as though something clicked inside her head. "So...if I were to focus on building that connection, I might be able to perform more difficult spells?"

"Possibly," he replied.


Without anymore trekking to do, boredom threatened to set in.

There were very few students left, mostly upperclassmen, and the students did not socialize with staff. Fairuz didn't want to spend what was left of their short break doing anything resembling schoolwork, but a few hours after they returned from the shrine, she was tempted to go to the Arcanaeum.

Thankfully, Onmund was also growing bored, and not particularly eager to be cooped up again so soon. He came by her dorm and asked if she wanted to walk the town with him. She didn't want to do that either, seeing as it was getting dark and the snows were coming back. But she found it promising that he was inviting her to spend more time with him.

They walked the empty, haunted streets of Winterhold as the snow came down, their boots scraping against the stones. They wandered through the cemetery where all the gravestones were now blank, and then through the winding steps all the way up to the Jarl's courtyard.

She almost asked about entering the Jarl's hall; she'd heard that Skyrim Jarls preferred to maintain open forums with their people. But when she smelled the horse in the stable and saw chickens freely flapping about, Fairuz lost all interest on seeing the inside.

They wandered aimlessly some more until Onmund suddenly said, "Let's go in here," opening the door and ducking inside before she could ask what kind of place it was.

Turned out...

"A tavern!" Fairuz exclaimed, while Onmund beamed broadly at her. "This is the Frozen Hearth?"

"The one and only," he nodded. He turned around, "I don't remember it ever being this packed before, but I guess with the war over more people are coming to Winterhold."

Fairuz looked around herself, expecting to see every walk of life represented--warriors, priests, mages, nobles, and the like. In Skyrim, taverns were the often the equalizer; they drew everyone together over a tankard of mead.

But as she looked about herself, she noticed only one walk of life represented: farmers, miners, laborers, and the like. A while they were drinking, dancing, and seemed to be having an overall good time, every single one was thin, pale, and had a haunted look in their eyes.

The tavern reeked of smoke, mead, bodies that hadn't bathed in days, and clothes that probably hadn't been washed in weeks. While Onmund relaxed, blending in despite his fine robes, Fairuz resisted the urge to pinch her nose.

"I'm gonna go grab a drink," she called over the music. "Want anything?"

"Mead," he called back.

Of course he wants mead, she smirked.

She ordered two tankards, a septim each, and started to return to Onmund when saw an Elven mage in resplendent robes of gold and green.

She stared at him for a moment, and he was equally surprised to see her.

"What's a girl like you doing in a place like this?" he demanded.

Fairuz had long grown tired of the haughtiness of Elves. The College was overrun with them. "I could ask you the same thing," she snapped.

He raised an eyebrow, whether because he was surprised or impressed. "I am Nelacar." He looked her up and down. "Student?"

"Yes," she grumbled. "You?"

"Exile," he replied simply.

"Let me guess," she snorted. "Research?"


"It was nice meeting you," she bid him farewell. She was in no mood to get mixed up with the type mage who got exiled for their experiments. 

She finally returned to Onmund, handing him a tankard. They each took a sip at the same time, but while he just kept on drinking, Fairuz promptly spit hers out.

"What the f--"

Onmund raised an amused eyebrow. "First time drinking mead?"

"No, I've had mead before," she winced. "In Solitude, and then again in Dawnstar."

"So you've had the rich people's mead," he scoffed. "This is the stuff we lowly mortals drinks all across Skyrim."

She offered him her tankard, which he laughingly declined. "One drink only. We really shouldn't be here."

"Why?" she asked. "It's not against the rules."

"Because this distracts us from our purpose."

Fairuz loudly sighed. "What is the point of living in a college town with a tavern if we're not going to get drunk once in a while? Screw it," she shook her head, before he could answer. "Spring break, I'm hiring a carriage to Windhelm. We'll visit the Palace of Kings and see what kind of mead they're drinking down there."

To her surprise, his eyes actually lit up. "You're on," he agreed, toasting her drink with his.


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