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Finding a place to make camp was of the utmost importance, she knew that as much as the warrior did.  The old man seemed to not care one way or the other.  It seemed like he could go on forever without stopping.  However, she and this warrior actually grew tired.

From time to time she would notice the dark eyes of the plate-clad man staring at her, whether it was in lust or suspicion, she could not quite say.  Adelina Rose was not hard on the eyes. Tall, though not so tall for an Altmer, with hips that widened just enough to not be disproportioned and hair to her shoulders a shade or red-brown that gleamed in the evening sun, Adelina was often fawned over by other Altmer she encountered.  Rarely from other races, most just assume her untrustworthy.

Evening was failing quickly into nightfall when they happened upon a clearing upon a ledge just above the road.  A nice enough spot to make camp for the night.  After they prepared the fire, set out the bedrolls and started cooking the fox the old man had snared, the warrior vanished into the woods, like he always did at camp.  Leaving her and the old man alone around a campfire in the dead of night.

"Tell me about your sordid past, Altmer.  I cannot seem to sleep and wish for an exciting tale."  The old man stared across the flames of the campfire at her.  He already had disturbing eyes, but the moonless night lit only by flames made him that much worse.  When Adelina had first met the man she would have nightmares about him, though lately her nightmares had been of different things.

"I'm afraid my past isn't as sordid as you may like, old man.  I was born of a simple family in northern Cyrodiil, moved to Skyrim early in life, and grew up distrusted by many of those living in our township.  My parents died when I was barely of age to go about on my own, luckily I avoided the orphanage.  Taking on the task of becoming a mage, I made my way into one of the larger holds, hoping to find a job in or near the castle.  I chose Whiterun in hopes that they might be the least suspecting of a lone Altmer.  Everyone assumes I am withe the Aldmeri Dominion.

"Making a life for myself was no small task, I had to do most things you might have friends for on my own.  I stayed at the inn, when I slept.  I worked cleaning the castle dungeons, and all my spare time was spent with the Court Wizard.  He was kind, at least, more than I could say for most people I had met in Skyrim.  Eventually I learned all I could from him and had needs to make for the College of Winterhold."

The old man looked at her questioningly, "I spent some time at the College, yet I never saw you.  I never heard your name, and I heard all the names."

"No, but I had heard yours.  You left the College not long before I arrived.  I missed the majority of the Eye of Magnus mess, what I did not miss you seemed to.  Our lives almost crossed paths for a time."

"Yes, yes, but where the excitement?  Where's the fun?  Where's the adventure and death?!"

"I told you, my past is not as sordid as some . . . certainly not as sordid as yours."

The old man chuckled a deep, hearty, maniacle laugh that sent shivers down Adelina's spine.  She wasn't sure what he wanted her to tell him, but she knew that he wouldn't let up until he got a story.  "What do you want me to tell you, then?  I have no great tales, I have no glorious battles.  I am simply a magister of the College of Winterhold, I showed great promise and was rewarded appropriately."

"Now we're getting somewhere, I happen to know there's a sordid story here, so spill it!  I must needs to understand how the first female Arch-Mage in recent memory could have been ran out of the College so quickly."

"How could you know any of that?  The news hasn't even reached Cyrodiil, yet!"  Adelina looked around the camp nercously, she wished she new where the warrior had run off to, he alwasy backed her up and protected her from the old man. "Besides, there's more to it than all that.  I suppose if you must have a tale, this is all that will shut up up and allow me to sleep."

"Indeed, please tell me of the youngest Arch-Mage, the first female to attain the title in many years, could have been tossed out like so much privy waste?"

"Fine, but do make assumptions upon my past, old man, or upon the truth behind any story."

"Is that to include your own I am about to hear."

"Especially mine own, I shall tell you the truth as I know it.  I am sure you have heard a truth as someone else knows it, but it is for you to decide what you take as fact and law.  As you know of most of the ordeal with the Eye of Magnus, I shall skip it.  I will simply start with the beginning of the end, I suppose."

____________________________________________________________________________

I was awaiting the day to begin in my chambers, unsure of what the day would hold.  There was horrible news from the Hall of Elements the night before, the Arch-Mage had be slain trying to stop Ancano.  Altmer like him give the rest of us a bad name.  Ancano once told me that we weren't that different, Altmer seeking power and trying to rise above our current station.  I refused to believe that, at least at first.  Now I am unsure as to how much truth that may hold.

J'zargo came into the chamber proper and summoned everyone.  He was always so sure of himself, I know he though he would be the next Arch-Mage.  In truthfullness he wouldn't make a bad one, just not the one the College needed at the time, I think.  There were so many visits from the Psijic Order during all the events involving the Eye of Magnus that many thought we were to be overtaken, or they would take a new recruit, or perhaps they would destroy us.  Others simply couldn't be bothered to guess, they wanted the Psijics gone so they could get back to life as normal.

We made our way to the Hall of Elements to hear Mirabelle speak.  She regailed us with the story of Arch-Mage Savos Aren.  His history was long and honorable, with a few dark corners.  We heard it all, from start to finish, she explained his vision, his person, his wants and desires for the guild . . . she even shed a tear or two.  "Before they left, the Psijic Monks made note of a particular member of the College that they felt should be next in line," she said after finally finishing Aren's mourning.  "I thought long and hard about this, and think that with the amount of work she has put into saving the College and the town of Winterhold, I cannot deny her this right.  Will Adelina Rose please step forward, and may we all follow her example."

I didn't know what to do, or what to say, I was stunned.  I saw no purpose in my being Arch-Mage, I still don't understand why the monks thought I should have been given the honor. 

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"Woman, get to the point, I have no need to know about your feeling on being appointed!  I need to know what happened to make you leave, I need to know why you're following the two of us around, now.  I don't care about you being Arch-Mage, not truly.  I care only for what made you not the Arch-Mage."

"You are a stubborn and impatient old man, you know that?  I was getting there, I thought maybe a little background for what you missed might be usefull."

"I have not missed near as much as you think, I just want to know what made you leave.  Why are you, a powerful and promising magister no longer in the College?  Why did you let that stupid Nord take over when you left?"

"I wanted J'zargo to have the office when I left, they chose Onmund in hopes to make matters with the town better.  It was a political move, not a power play."

"Well, that explains that much, now how about the rest of it?"

Adelina sighed heavily. I can see sleep won't be coming so easily tonight. "Fine, allow me to tell you the tale.  I shall warn you, however, that you may not like what you hear.  I know you thrive on evil and dark stories, you gain some pleasure knowing that others are as dark as you.  You won't find that here, not with me."

"So get on with it, what is it that you did to upset the whole of the College?"

"I sought a different kind of power, I sought the masks of the Dragon Priests.  I sought to collect them, which alone wasn't that bad.  I sought to unite the factions of magic across Tamriel with these masks.  I wanted to make the College of Winterhold the seat of power and magic, I wanted to bring the Synod and the College of Whispers, the remnants of the Mage's Guild and even the secret BattleMancers, I wanted to have them all represented at the College Court, as I had taken to calling it.  I wanted us all to form a union that could not be challenged again.  Unity amongst us would have cemented our power in ways nobody would have imagined."

The old man stared blankly at Adelina across the fire, "Is that true?  You didn't want to destroy the College, or disolve it?  You honestly wanted to raise its own station to that of a magical empire?  You wanted the BattleMancers and Synod and College and all the rest to work together and make this alliance?  That is brilliant!  That is scary-brilliant!  It's no wonder they wanted you out, it's brilliant and so dangerous.  So tell me, how did it begin, how did it progress . . . how did it end?"

"The story is difficult to tell, but I shall tell it.  It needs told, maybe others can champion my cause, I may still be able to make it happen from the outside.  This story truly begins with an accident, like most great ideas, with something found while searching for something else . . ."


If you enjoyed this, you can find links to each of my blog series on this forum thread.