The Immortal Plane

A/N ~ Heads only just occurred to me download JK's Winterhold mod last night, so expect some inconsistencies with the screenshots. Remember: you can always click to enlarge any image.

Previously: Winterhold

Apparently, one did not simply walk into the College of Winterhold.

At the entrance to the bridge stood an Elven mage with reddish hair, clad in white. As Fairuz drew closer, she realized the woman was Altmeri, judging by her height. Fairuz was no stranger to dealing with Elves, but she so rarely crossed paths with an Altmer that she forgot how tall they were.

"You must be the new girl," the woman raised an eyebrow, her voice throaty, her accent crisp and clean. "Go on, show me what you can do."

Fairuz blinked, caught off guard. "I have to perform"

"Only those who can are allowed into the College," the woman told her. "Let's see what you can do."

Fairuz took a deep breath, willing her heartbeat to calm as she cleared her mind of everything, save the memory of her first (and only) spell. She held out her left hand and allowed her body to pull and be pulled by that nameless, inexplicable force she'd tapped into months ago.

And as always, her left hand filled with a ball of bright light. She held it as long as possible, letting grow until she was certain the light would hold. Then she released it, where it drifted above her and would eventually dissipate.

"Candlelight spell," the woman nodded. "Basic, but well done. You clearly have a strong connection to Aetherius."

Fairuz briefly faltered, confused."A-Aetherius?"

"The Immortal Plane," the woman explained. "The source of all magic."

Fairuz's eyes widened. So, it force has a name...and a place.

"I am Faralda," the mage introduced herself. "I teach Destruction here at the College."

Fairuz's eyes widened even further. "Destruction?"

"Here we have six schools of magic," Faralda explained. "Destruction, Restoration, Conjuration, Illusion, Enchantment, and Alteration, which you just displayed."

"Alteration," Fairuz sounded it out, as though spellbound. She'd already forgotten they were still standing outside in the freezing called. "Is that a...powerful skill?" she delicately inquired. As thrilled as she was to have magical ability, she didn't want little balls of light to be her only ability.

Faralda was amused. "Let's just say, if you decide to pursue a specialty in Alteration, then someday you'll breathe under water."

The Altmeri led her to the courtyard. Fairuz's heart pounded as she walked behind Faralda. It was finally starting to hit her. I'm really in Skyrim. I'm really at the College of Winterhold.

I'm really going to be a mage.

A statue stood before a great tower in the snow-dusted courtyard. It was bathed in blue light, and its hands each carried an orb of light, one blue, one greenish white. Faralda led her to the Master Wizard, a Breton woman with short dark hair. She was standing behind the statue, skimming a book when they arrived.

"Fairuz Atiyeh?" she asked without looking up.

"Yes...Professor," Fairuz greeted, flustered.

"I am Professor Mirabelle Ervine, Master Wizard." Mirabelle still hadn't looked up. "Apparently you possess some skill in Alteration, specifically mastery of Candlelight. What other spells do you know?"

Fairuz felt her heart stop. "O-Other...spells?"

Mirabelle finally looked up. Her face was mostly unreadable, but there was a slight furrow upon her brow.

"Students are generally required to know at least three to four spells," she stated neutrally. "If they can only demonstrate one, that's often because it's a fluke. Three to four lets us know we're not wasting our time."

Fairuz's face heated as her forehead threatened to sweat, even in this hellishly cold weather.

"Oh...," she faltered awkwardly. "I didn't know."

Mirabelle kept her face neutral. "I suppose we'll have to work on that then. This way."

She led Fairuz back towards the bridge. "I see you've already got your student robes on. I trust you understand you need more than one set?"

"I do," Fairuz nodded nervously. "I have more." Apparently, it was the only thing she'd done correctly thus far.

"This is the Hall of Attainment," Mirabelle led her to a door. "These are the student dorms. Faculty are housed in the Hall of Countenance, lessons are in the Hall of the Elements, which also houses the Arch-Mage's quarters and the Arcanaeum."

Fairuz's eyes widened as Mirabelle led her into the Hall of Attainment. "The Arcanaeum?" she gasped. It sounded so...magical.

"Fancy word for library," Mirabelle said emotionlessly, without missing a step.

She led Fairuz to her dorm, which was smaller than her bedroom back home, but she wasn't complaining. She could tell right away it was luxurious by Skyrim standards, with furs on the floors and walls, velvet bedding on the bed, her own desk, and more than enough storage for books and clothes.

Left of the room
Right of the room
Entrance (thank the gods for mods...can you imagine a college dorm with no doors??)
"There's also a kitchen and small dining room on this floor," Mirabelle informed her, "but your classmates can tell you all about that."

She led Fairuz back outdoors, to the Hall of the Elements. Fairuz gasped at the sheer size of the main hall where lessons took place. There were a few students listening to an old man while the seemingly older students looked on.

Fairuz started to panic. "We're practicing magic already? What about...I don't know? Theories? History? You don't have lectures here?"

"We do require that students read, and we do have lectures," Mirabelle nodded. "But practice is far more important than anything. Otherwise we'd be just a glorified library. Don't worry...we value safety above all."

Safety was the least of Fairuz's worries as the Master Wizard led her to the rest of the class. "But I can only do one spell."

Mirabelle was patient. "And this is how you learn more. Tolfdir, this is Fairuz, our new arrival."

The elderly mage instructor turned to Fairuz, who at this point was ready to vomit from sheer nervousness.

"Welcome, Fairuz," he greeted kindly. "I was just explaining to your fellow first-years about the a basic spell known as a ward. Wards are a form of Restoration magic, in which a mage can create a magic shield to block some spells and negate some of the damage from others. Please," he gestured. "Step forward."

No, no, no, no, no. Why me??? I just got here!!! "Oh, I don't that's a good idea, sir," Fairuz squirmed. "I, um, I actually only really know one spell--"

"And now you're about to learn another," he insisted encouragingly, while some of the older students snickered and snorted among themselves. "Now, stand there, just opposite me."

Fairuz took shallow breaths as she complied. Best case scenario, my ward fails and he kills me. Worst case, I get injured, go home, and never speak of this again.

"Now," Tolfdir instructed, "begin to summon magic. Don't think of the spell you already know; that's not what this is about. This about simply tapping into the Immortal Plane, and establishing a connection."

Fairuz nodded stiffly. If all else fails, just do the Candlelight spell.

She closed her eyes and took slow deep breaths to calm her pounding heart.

"Good," Tolfdir said, almost warmly. His voice was soft and unintrusive. "Take notes, students. Magic mustn't be rushed. Within these walls, time is not a factor. Not everything is about performing magic; sometimes, it's just about feeling magic."

His words were like magic in and of themselves; Fairuz felt her heartbeat slow as the sounds around her began to fade. It was like practicing the Candlelight spell, but in slow motion, experiencing the steps she took for granted.

Tapping into Aetherius was the first step, but she'd never thought about it before. She hadn't even known its name. Now that she did, she could feel the energy rippling in and around her. It was like being awash in warm and cool air at the same time. As the energy began to build, she heard Tolfdir's voice as though it were both near and far.

"Now...raise your hands, and imagine they're projecting a shield made of light."

Not Candelight, Fairuz told herself. Think shield...think blocking, stopping....

"Very good, Fairuz."

Fairuz opened her eyes to see she was, in fact, casting a ward. It was a lot like Candlelight; same colors, but more intense, more tangible. And more exhausting. Just as she was drawing from the Immortal Plane, it was drawing from her in some sort of delicate balance.

"You can stop now," Tolfdir said softly, as though sensing how the ward was draining her to sustain it. "There, see? You just learned another spell."

Fairuz swayed on her feet, barely hearing the sound of the other students clapping. She couldn't breathe. She could barely think, except to tell herself one thing over and over.

I'm a mage. I'm at the College of Winterhold studying magic. Because I'm a mage. I'm not a fluke. I can do more than one spell. I can channel Aetherius.

Because I'm a real mage.

Next: Boys


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