Step Five

A/N ~ As with most of Skyrim, I initially loved the vanilla version of the Arcanaeum. But JK's mod really helped it reach its full aesthetic potential.

Previously: Boys

Despite being a "fancy word for library", the Arcanaeum was everything Fairuz imagined and more.

The walls were insanely high, as were the bookshelves. Despite having been to a library before, she'd never seen this many books in one place. Her breath caught in her throat as she slowly moved through the giant room.

She could smell the ancient wood of the desks, the aged paper of the books, the melting wax of the candles. No one was speaking, not loudly, and every other person seem deeply engrossed in their books. The only other sounds came from the groundskeeper sweeping the floor.

There were so many desks, large, spacious desks like the kind she expected the faculty to have in their offices. There were fur rugs on the floor, and elaborate flowing drapes framing the doorways. It was...opulent, almost palatial, as if this was where kings and queens came to read. She imagined all the royals and nobles who had studied here in the past, wondering who they where and what they'd left behind. Fairuz wondered why more Jarls of Skyrim didn't send their children to study here, and then she remembered...the Nords didn't trust magic.

I never want to leave.

The realization surprised and slightly disturbed her. She'd expected this place to grow on her, but not so quickly, not so intensely. But the pull was strong, much like the pull of Aetherius. There was knowledge in these books, arcane secrets she was unlikely to find anywhere else in the world, and it was all here, right at her finger tips.

The librarian was a white-haired Orc mage. She'd figured as much, with a name like "Urag gro-Shub". He greeted in a deep, gruff voice.

"Afternoon, Miss. What can I help you with?"

"This place is incredible," she gasped, and immediately wanted to slap herself.

The old Orc smirked. "You must be the new one." He reached under his desk and produced a list. "Tolfdir made a list to catch you up to your classmates. You can take it to Eleanor over there; she'll pull the books for you."

Also unmodded
Eleanor was a Breton who looked a lot like Mirabelle Ervine, except younger and happier.

"Yes?" she asked. "What can I do for you?"

"I need these books," Fairuz handed her the list, looking her up and down. "Are you a student here?"

"No," Eleanor smiled. "I graduated last semester, but I couldn't find any open court mage positions in Skyrim. Luckily, the College is understaffed, so I became a library assistant." She set her broom aside and skimmed the list. "A Minor Maze, Before the Ages of Man, Children of the Sky, Reality & Other Falsehoods...I take it you're a first year?"

Fairuz nodded. "That's right."

"My advice? Read. Read, read, and then read some more. Read any and everything you can get your hands on."

Fairuz's nodded slightly. "Thanks."

"This school is hard," Eleanor warned. "The competition is cutthroat. You have to pass all your exams. Lectures take place here in the Arcanaeum three times a week, and you can't miss any of them.

"And practice," the assistant emphasized. "Whatever magical lesson you learn in the morning, spend at least two hours practicing it downstairs the same day. That's what we do here--practice, practice, practice. You'll see the older students practicing in the hallways, the them. Ask questions. Learn. That's how you'll survive here."

"That all sounds...very disciplined," Fairuz muttered. "But what about the parties? Doesn't anybody drink around here?"

Eleanor laughed. "You're at the wrong college, dear. But if you really want a drink--and sometimes, you will--you can always go to the Frozen Hearth. It's the only tavern left standing in Winterhold."


"...I would just like to remind everyone, once again, that Restoration is indeed a valid school of magic. It is absolutely worthy of research, despite many of the notes I've had left in my bed. And my desk. And on occasion, my meals. Anyone suggesting that Restoration is better left to the priests of the Temples, I think, is forgetting a few things."

Professor Colette Marence was a Breton mage, a short, skittish creature with dark blond hair. Fairuz didn't know how the other students were paying attention to her lecture; she'd already zoned out as soon as she'd sat down at a desk conveniently next to Onmund's.

Instead of listening, Fairuz dipped her quill into her ink and scribbled a note.

What are you doing for fall break?

She smoothly passed it Onmund, eyes fixed on the chatty professor to ensure she wasn't caught.

He took it, read it, scribbled something and passed it back.

"...Firstly, the ability to repel the undead cannot be ignored. Skyrim is well known to be full of these... Draugr, ancient Nord warriors who cannot find peace. I submit that everyone in this College has, at one time or another, relied on one of the Restoration spells that can keep them at bay."

Fairuz opened the note, her heart pounding, then pausing. All he'd written was a question mark. She rolled her eyes before elaborating.

Brelyna says we get a fall break at the beginning of Sun's Dusk. She's visiting family in Windhelm. What are you doing?

"...Secondly, how can anyone forget wards? They have become essential to any mage working in dangerous situations. They are counted upon every bit as much as Candlelight, or Invisibility. But more importantly, wards have saved lives. This is a simple fact. Every mage in this College regularly uses wards for practice, so as to avoid physical harm. I truly hope that these points actually sink in, and that more care and thought is given to this subject in the future. Thank you."

Since the lecture was finally over, he turned to answer her verbally. "I'm staying in Winterhold. I wanted to go beyond the city and explore the rest of the hold. What about you?"

"I have no clue," Fairuz shrugged. "I don't know anybody in Skyrim."

"I guess we could explore together," he offered. "There are some fascinating ruins north of here."

"I'd love that," she nodded. "I've been reading about Shalidor and the history of this region. It would be nice to get some archaeological context, I suppose."

Her voice was casual, and her smile friendly, but inside she was screaming. Step Five is in full swing!!!


While Step Five pended, Fairuz tried to keep her distance and not appear clingy. She spent time getting to know Brelyna, tried to work through her reading list from Tolfdir, and attended her classes. She didn't practice much in the Hall of Elements because the only spells she mastered so far were simple and came almost naturally to her--Candlelight, Magelight, healing, and wards. She was also learning the basics of botany and alchemy; every day Tolfdir brought a sample of ingredients for the students to taste or experiment with. So far, she learned that bees restored stamina, and ash hopper jelly restored health, as did blue mountain flowers and butterfly wings. She actually found alchemy interesting and happily took plenty of detailed notes, never knowing when they might come in handy.

But when fall break finally came and it was finally time to venture out into Winterhold, the real Winterhold, Fairuz began questioning what she saw in Onmund and just how far she was willing to go to get his attention.

...'cause I should've just left Step Five in the drafts.


Popular Posts