Frost in Morrowind

Edward Frost's time in Morrowind has come to an end; but his struggles are recorded here for any to read. A year in the making, and spanning one hundred and fifty chapters… Violence, suspicion, loss, betrayal, revenge, power with a price, a fight for survival, ages-old mysteries... all thrust in the way of Edward Frost, a man simply trying to rebuild his life.

Chapter 1 can be found here.

Friday, April 14, 2006

Chapter 113: To death

I had resolved to leave Sirilonwe alone for a while, to give her time to get past her misgivings regarding those vials of blood... She had come to tolerate most other aspects of my vampiric nature - or perhaps it would be better to say that she had come to look past them to see that I was still myself; the same as I had been before my 'change'. Surely it was only a matter of time...

However, by mid-morning my resolve had crumbled and I was on my way to the Vivec Mages Guild to try to explain my position to her. I had become accustomed to her being near, and I wanted her back at my side.

The door to Sirilonwe's chambers was ajar, and she was not inside. Her scent was strong in the room, and my heightened vampiric senses told me that she had only just left. Her scent was different though... wrong, somehow. She was afraid. A vague dread stirred in my stomach - in the time I had known her, she had never before smelled that way. I followed her scent from the room and through the hall to the entrance chamber, where Janand Maulinie, the enchanter, was casting worried glances at the front door.

When I pressed her, she admitted that Sirilonwe had just left, with Arch-Mage Trebonius Artorius following her. By Janand's tone, it was obvious that she assigned some dark significance to this fact.

"I don't think she really wanted to speak with him..." Janand was saying - but I was already half out the door.

Sirilonwe's trail led out into the Foreign Quarter Plaza, sprawled out beneath the great domed ceiling of the canton. Even with the crowds of people milling about, I had little trouble distinguishing Sirilonwe's scent from the myriad others; the fear it spoke of grew stronger and stronger. As I had been afraid of, the trail took me outside; through the great eastern plaza doors and into the sunlight.

... Almost into the sunlight. The stone eaves above the great doors served to shade me from the burning light - but it did me little good, in the end. Artorius and Sirilonwe were out at the edge of the terrace, bathed in the bright morning light. The Arch-Mage had his back to me, his heavily-built frame mostly obscuring my view of Sirilonwe, who was backed up against the balustrade. It could not be plainer to me that Artorius was intimidating her. His hand tightly gripped her wrist, and when I caught a glimpse of her face, I could see that she was not at all happy about it.

I could not hear what he was saying: not because they were too far away to be heard, but because my fury at the sight of the Arch-Mage's threatening manner towards Sirilonwe had completely deafened me. At the moment when Artorius raised his hand as if to strike her, all reason left me and I was out in the burning sunlight, charging towards the Arch-Mage. Sirilonwe's eyes widened as she caught sight of me over Trebonius' shoulder, a pale figure of flames and smoke racing across the open terrace. Artorius turned to see what she was looking at, releasing Sirilonwe from his grasp. Sirilonwe slipped out from behind the Arch-Mage - and just in time.

I slammed into Artorius, sending him flying in a low arc over the balustrade - and down, down to the waters of the bay far below. Without waiting to see the outcome of his fall, I gripped a shocked Sirilonwe by the wrist and hauled her back into the shade of the stone eaves.

"Are you alright?" I asked, as the flames licking at my body died away. I was burned all over.

Sirilonwe said nothing, merely staring at her wrist - where both Trebonius and I had grabbed her. The skin was reddened and raw: my flaming hand had burned her.

"Sorry." I muttered, reaching out and sending a healing spell into the burn - which vanished in an instant. "What did he - what was he..." I floundered, still trying to master my anger. The reality of my attack on the Arch-Mage of Vvardenfell had not yet quite settled in my mind.

"You did not know?" Sirilonwe murmured, still looking shocked and staring at the balustrade over which I had pitched Artorius. "He has pursued my affections for a long time, but I have never... there has always been something not right about him..."

I recalled, and suddenly understood, all the strange looks the Arch-Mage had directed our way whenever I was in Sirilonwe's company.

"What could he have been thinking?" Sirilonwe continued, finally turning to look at me. "He was holding me down. Magically, I mean; he was draining away my energy, my magicka. I think he thought I would not notice." Sirilonwe paused, rubbing her wrist. "He is a powerful mage, Edward: a Battlemage. He is the Arch-Mage for a reason."

"'He is', you say? I... threw him from the terrace." I spoke slowly. "I don't... I don't think -"

A man's voice sounded from behind me.

"I did not know that you were in the habit of attacking unarmed men from behind, Mister Frost." Artorius dismissed his levitation spell and alighted on the sun-scorched stone paving a little way from where we stood. "Or should I call you 'Master Wizard' Frost?"

I turned to face Trebonius squarely, hand on my blade. Really, I should not have expected anything as trivial as gravity to pose a real danger to someone with the title of 'Arch-Mage'.

"Yes, Master Wizard," Trebonius sneered. "I have been watching you, and your movements and motives are transparent to me. I know of Ranis' part in this, too. Did you really think that a rise through almost every rank in the guild from the bootlick you were a few short months ago would not attract suspicion?" The Imperial's voice was becoming husky with suppressed anger. "You come into my guild, enjoy the hospitality, bring the Dark Brotherhood into the halls, lust after my wom-"

"What?" Snapped Sirilonwe, interrupting him. "That sounded, Artorius, as if you think that I belong to you in some way -"

The Arch-Mage pointed a finger at Sirilonwe, whose mouth continued to move, but produced no sound. A silence spell. I drew my Daedric katana from its scabbard a fraction, taking a step towards the heavily-built Imperial. The movement of my clothes and armour against my burned and bloodied skin was agony. The shade provided by the stone eave ended just beyond the tip of my nose.

"This does not concern you now, Sirilonwe. And stay your weapon, vampire, if you have any honour at all. With Sirilonwe here as my witness, I hereby challenge you to a duel to the death." He spat the words out between clenched teeth. "I will put an end to your schemes. You will not take my title - nor my position - from me. Come to the Arena now or the coward I know you to be will be evident to all."

Trebonius waved a hand, and vanished.

I was furious at the Arch-Mage: for his treatment of Sirilonwe, and for having the nerve to accuse me of such things... So he wanted a duel? Moreover he wanted it to the death?

I would give him death.

With one glance at Sirilonwe, I unstoppered a vial of blood taken from my pouch, and drank it down in front of her. It was no time for concern over her attitude towards them; I was too angry. I needed it for what I was about to do. In a few short moments my burns had all-but vanished, the fresh blood from the vial empowering my body to heal itself.

Without another word (Sirilonwe was still to regain her voice, in any case), I dashed into the sunlight and leapt from the terrace, high into the air. My 'Touch the clouds' spell carried me across the considerable gap between the Foreign Quarter canton and the Arena canton; where I came to rest like a falling, flaming star in the shade of another set of stone eaves. Again I was burned and bloodied, and the pain was terrible. It may sound like an awfully rash thing to have done, but there was simply no other way for me to reach the Arena canton in the daylight; as Artorius of course knew.

After draining another couple of vials of blood, the pain was lessened enough for me to carry on, though the smell of my own burnt flesh lingered in my nostrils, filling me with the desire to retch.

Instead I burst through the large wooden doors that marked an upper entrance to the Arena; leading to the massive balcony that surrounded the fighting pit. Trebonius was already there in the pit, down on the sand-covered Arena floor: I could smell him. Somehow he sensed that I was there too, as he bellowed out:

"Come down and face me, vampire!"

Again I launched myself high into the air; over the market stalls being set up by their astonished owners, over the empty seats set aside for spectators, and over the barrier at the edge of the balcony. The floor dropped away beneath me, and there was Artorius far below, in the centre of the Arena, pointing a finger at me. A red-hot bolt of magical fire whipped past, missing me by the barest margin. As I sailed over his head at a great height, I sent my deadly new 'Acid Cloud' spell streaking down to impact the sand at his feet. The Arch-Mage was lost in an explosion of green, virulent acidic steam - and I came to ground a fair distance behind him.

Trebonius had the power of a great Battlemage, but not the skill of a warrior; or the speed of a vampire. He dispelled and cleared the blinding, poisonous cloud in an instant and span to face me, but he was still only just fast enough to see my blade being thrust through his neck. He was killed instantly.

When I pulled the blade free of his limp body, an amulet that had hung from his neck came with it. It was in the shape of a tiny skull with a dagger through it, and the magical force radiating from it was simply awesome. I had to pocket it for later examination, though, for at that moment Sirilonwe dropped down onto the sand next to me; obviously in full command of her magical abilities once more.

She barely acknowledged the bloody form of the late Arch-Mage, instead placing her full attention on me. Then, as she did so often, she said the very last thing I expected:

"Edward, I cannot go on like this. I need you to give me your blood. I need you to make me into a vampire."

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Chapter 112: Machinations

It was still before midnight when I returned to the Ald'ruhn Mages Guild, and Edwinna and Sirilonwe were sitting together in silence, each reading something; waiting for my arrival.

"Ah, good." Edwinna stood up, dropping her book on her desk. She looked tired. "Is that the staff? Here, let me look at it."

She held out her hand, and I gave her the 'Wizard's Staff' I had taken from the necromancer Anirne. After weighing it in her hands for the briefest of moments, she gave it back.

"Yes, that is a Wizard's Staff... I trust Anirne presented little trouble, then?" I gave a nod, which Edwinna mirrored subtly before searching through the papers on her desk for something; that sheet of parchment headed with my name, as it turned out. "Well then Frost, this means that you are now officially a 'Wizard' in the Mages Guild." She made a note on the parchment and signed it. "Congratulations. Now... I'm off to bed." The Steward dropped her quill and stumped up the stairs, headed for the hall's private chambers.

It was not the most heartfelt promotion I had ever experienced.

"She was only staying up to see you because I asked her to." Sirilonwe explained, giving me a hug. "Congratulations."

After a moment she let go, and continued:

"She told me earlier what she wants us to do next. That excavation report we gave her mentions another ruin: Mzuleft - near Dagon Fel..."

It was the first of two evenings in which we were to comb through Dwemer ruins for Steward Edwinna, looking for ancient plans or blueprints of Dwemer origin. I was not at all surprised. Edwinna seemed little interested in anything that was not of Dwemer origin.

As Sirilonwe had mentioned, our first destination was Mzuleft, a ruin due north of the Rotheran Velothi stronghold. We set out immediately, as we were both already equipped for travel - Sirilonwe in the volcanic glass armour from my museum, and I in my 'Shadow Lord' armour. In addition to my usual equipment I had a number of the glass vials of Anirne's blood secreted away in a pouch on my belt, a strip of thick cloth woven through them to keep them from breaking or clinking against each other. They were intended for an emergency only; I preferred that Sirilonwe remain ignorant of their existence.

The Wizard's Staff I left at the castle: it contained a minor levitation enchantment, but besides the strength its construction from ebony afforded it, that was virtually all that distinguished it from a mundane staff. I had no practical need for it.

My friend Folms was still awake, and gladly teleported us across the island to the Rotheran propylon chamber. Mzuleft was a relatively short trek from the stronghold, and like Nchuleftingth, we found its approach to be guarded - however incidental this 'guard duty' was to the guardian in question. I think that the being of fire - whatever it was - really only attacked us because we came too close to its home; a smouldering pit of molten rock near the entrance to the Mzuleft ruin.

It rose from the pit and roared towards us with the sound of a forest-fire, lighting up the whole depression in which Mzuleft sat. My reaction was instinctive; sending out my new 'Blizzard' spell (that I had created with Yanika's help with the intention that it replace my vastly inferior 'Frostball' spell) to arrest the progress of the flaming figure. (Make no mistake - I am not referring here to a Flame Atronach: those creatures from Oblivion have a distinctly man-like shape, while this... thing had no shape other than its dancing, crackling flames.)

The powerful spell exploded in a frigid sphere of ice so cold that the nearby rocks caught in the blast cracked, flaked and shattered under its force. The being of fire, though, was diminished but not stopped; it flew straight at Sirilonwe. Before I could gather myself (after casting such a draining spell) to make another move, Sirilonwe had raised her hand... and the fiery creature vanished as it rushed into it.

I asked her (more than once) what exactly she did, but she would only smile and say:

"I did the same as you, I think - only less showy."

The insides of Mzuleft were just as dangerous as the outside: like the Arkngthand ruin where I retrieved the Dwemer puzzle box, Mzuleft was crawling with looters - only this time every single one was a musclebound Orc. Still, through our combined magics, not one of the aggressive thugs came close enough to land a blow.

In a metal strongbox, half-stuck to the bottom, we found what looked to be exactly what Edwinna wanted: a very old sheet of waxed parchment with indecipherable plans and text printed neatly on it. The Orcish looters had already scoured that particular room, but passed over the blueprints; obviously thinking them worthless. After carefully unsticking and removing the plans, we teleported directly home so as to lay the parchment down flat somewhere until we could deliver it to Edwinna.

The ruin the Ald'ruhn Steward sent us to the following night was a freshly uncovered (and completely underground) one: 'Bethamez'. Workers in the Gnisis egg-mine had discovered it when they dug through to a partially-collapsed metal chamber... but before any serious investigation could take place, the mine had been closed due to Blight disease infecting the kwama inside. Edwinna said that someone had described seeing something that looked like some blueprints down there before everyone was evacuated.

Again we were aided by Folms Mirel's 'Master Index' teleportation service, as he sent us on to the Berandas stronghold just south of Gnisis, across the River Samsi. The entrance to the mine, up on the hill overlooking the village, was guarded by an Imperial Legion trooper; and it soon became apparent that the assignment Edwinna had set us was perhaps not exactly an 'officially sanctioned' one: the trooper did not want to let us in. Sirilonwe was again doing the talking while I kept a respectable distance, and before I knew it she had magically Charmed the soldier - the result being he cheerfully let us in, and hardly blinked at my vampiric appearance as I passed.

We wound our way through the darkened caverns and tunnels, careful not to step on the head-sized kwama eggs littering the floor, until we found the broken wall opening onto the ruin. The strange, tubular glowing lights one finds in almost all Dwemer ruins were still working, but that was about all. Most of the metal passages were terminated by collapsed ceilings, and the scattered parts of long-cold Dwemer constructs were all that remained of any machinery the place might have contained.

I found the blueprints Edwinna had mentioned - this time on a metal shelf, half-obscured beneath a heavy, rotting book. Both were indecipherable, but both accompanied us back to the Ald'ruhn guild hall. We returned there directly, as it was still well before midnight. The search had not taken long at all.

Balmora Mages Guild Steward Ranis Athrys was with Edwinna when we returned. I had not spoken to Ranis since I had moved on to the Ald'ruhn guild hall (with the express intention of avoiding the Balmora guild Steward). Surprisingly, Ranis thought that both Sirilonwe and I deserved a promotion - never-mind that I had received one just two nights previously.

"I'm saying this, Edwinna, because as you said, you have simply run out of tasks to set these two." Ranis, sitting next to Edwinna behind her desk, motioned that Sirilonwe and I should sit down across from them. Edwinna, who had been looking grumpy at the Balmora Steward's obvious imposition, brightened up at the sight of the blueprints and the book.

"I mean, has that ever happened before?" Ranis continued. "You always have some trinket or mouldy book you want fetched. And when did you say you sent them out on this assignment? It was only an hour or so ago, was it not? And now they are back, with your task already completed. If these two -" she may have said 'two', but Ranis' eyes never left mine - "have fulfilled your every need and request, I think they deserve advancement. Frost here has certainly done enough for this guild to deserve the title of Master Wizard."

I was sure Ranis was up to something. I had never known her to do anything solely for another's benefit. I was apparently the only one there who really doubted her motives, as Sirilonwe was thrilled, and Edwinna was too distracted by the blueprints and the ancient book to care overly much.

"Yes, yes..." Edwinna said absently; "if you wish to take responsibility for this, Ranis, then by all means..."

And so it was done. I was advanced two ranks in as many days, to the level of 'Master Wizard'; the highest rank possible in the guild, save for Arch-Mage of the whole province. It was the same rank enjoyed by Ranis and Edwinna; though they were still considered my superiors by virtue of their positions as Stewards.

Sirilonwe was very happy: both for me, and for herself: she had been advanced to the rank of 'Warlock' - just one level below that of 'Wizard'. In fact, she was in such a 'good mood' that she insisted we go straight to my chambers at Wolfen castle...

Sirilonwe appeared frozen, her eyes wide in horror.

"Is that..." She began, softly.

She was staring at one of the vials of blood I had taken from Anirne, as it rolled gently back and forth in a fold on the bed-covers. It had fallen from the pouch as Sirilonwe made to strip me of my armour and equipment at the bedside.

"It's mine." I lied. "I bought them in Ashmelech, yes - but they are made to hold a vampire's own blood, for an emergency." This was of course true for some of the vials I owned; but - regrettably - not the one Sirilonwe discovered.

"I'm sorry, Edward." Sirilonwe recovered from her surprise, but looked somewhat... sad. "I... I think I'll sleep in my own chambers tonight. I feel the need for some sunlight tomorrow, so I'll need some sleep now..."

And with that, she touched one of her glittering rings and vanished.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Chapter 111: Three birds

Sirilonwe made no move to heed my instruction and get out of the way, instead turning to face the blue-black shades. Flames leapt up about her feet, curling up her legs and in an instant, enveloping her whole body. At first, to my dismay, I thought one of the shades had inflicted some horrible magic upon her; but then the flames coalesced around her fists: two gauntlets of fire.

I recognised it as being an offensive spell, not unlike my own Frostbite spell - but much more powerful. She swung her fist through one of the shades in a great, sweeping punch, the magical flames boiling the spirit's very 'substance' away.

By that time I had reached her, and launched myself at the second spirit. My Daedric katana, forged in the plane of Oblivion, reached across the barriers between life and death to carve bright, flashing furrows through the immaterial spirit. The shades flicked about, attacking either or both of us seemingly without reason or strategy. Their white, ghostly scythes rose and fell, the 'blades' passing right through us - armour, flesh and bone - but leaving gashes behind, on the surface of our bodies.

In a few frantic moments of frenzied action, the shades were defeated; slashed into rapidly dissolving, dissipating ribbons by my otherworldly blade, or boiled away by Sirilonwe's magic. We were lucky: the shades were much faster than either of us; and as it was, we were both seriously hurt - blood seeping out from between the joints of our armour.

For a long time afterwards Sirilonwe and I were locked in an embrace: I healed her with my magic, and she healed me with her blood. Fighting alongside her like that; the desperate imperative in my mind, blotting out all other concerns, to keep her from being hurt... and the realisation that the same thoughts were going through her mind - it changed how I felt about her. I felt closer to Sirilonwe than I ever had before.

Nchuleftingth was very close by, and we reached the well-preserved ruin without any further trouble. At first glance, Senilias Cadiusus and (for some reason) his adult daughter were the only people there, making for a fairly small expeditionary force. It was after midnight when we arrived, and Senilias and his daughter were both asleep in a pair of hammocks; their camp set up in a chamber near the ruin's entrance. I did not know how they could actually sleep in there, with the screeching, groaning and hammering racket a Dwemer ruin makes.

Sirilonwe, with a cheeky smile, said that she had better wake them - rather than me, as:

"If they woke up to see you leaning over them," she mimicked my appearance by baring her teeth, as if she had fangs, "they would be scared to death."

As she gently shook Senilias awake, I absently ran my tongue across my fangs. It had taken some time to become used to them, but by that time I often forgot they were there.

"Oh, yes - the excavation report for Edwinna." Senilias, a middle-aged Imperial man, said. "I'm afraid I don't actually have it... it was nearly complete, too." As he spoke, Senilias glanced over at me more than once. I was standing back in a dark corner (my glowing, obviously vampiric eyes averted) and letting Sirilonwe do the talking. "We've had some... setbacks, you see." The man dragged his gaze back to Sirilonwe. "Our native guide, Anes Vendu, had the report with him - to add a few notes - but he disappeared just a day ago!"

The similarity between the names of Senilias' 'native' guide and the vampire hunter I had killed (Ano Vando) gave me a start. For an instant my confused mind thought that he was talking about the same person, and that the 'disappearance' was due to my having killed him... but no: different name.

Senilias told us that he was positive that Nchuleftingth extended deep into the ground; that there were levels below the one in which we stood - he just could not find a way into them.

"Maybe Anes found a way down there!" was the best Senilias could offer. He did not seem willing to investigate himself - he knew as well as we did, I think, that Dwemer ruins often contained dangers that had dwelled there for an eon or more. He knew what may have happened to Anes Vendu.

Sirilonwe told him that we would investigate the ruin - and finding the missing Dunmer guide turned out to be very easy: for me, at least. I have mentioned before how my sense of smell had become intensely acute since I became a vampire: and now it meant that I could track where Anes had gone by following his scent. He was the only Dunmer to have been there recently.

His strongest trail led down into a long, steam-filled hall of rattling, clanking machines, somehow still performing their mysterious function even after thousands of years. There were three cranks protruding from vertical pipes in the hall, evenly spaced out along one wall. I could tell that Anes had laid his hands upon the crank farthest from the only entrance to the hall - so I did so too, finding that the crank turned easily. I could hear what I assumed to be steam rushing through the pipe, and then behind me there sounded a metallic shriek.

"Senilias can't have looked very hard." I remarked, as a section of the wall opposite the crank juddered to the side, revealing a flight of stairs leading down into the ground.

We found Anes Vendu's body near the recently-destroyed hulk of a 'Sphere Centurion' - one of the mechanical Dwemer constructs whose gears still ground away and told the things to guard those ruins for their long-dead masters. It looked as if Anes had perished from wounds sustained from the blade attached to one of the Centurion's 'arms'. Senilias' report, which contained several interesting observations on Dwemer machines and constructs, was in one of Anes' pockets.

Sirilonwe informed Senilias of Anes' death, and that no threats remained on Nchuleftingth's lower levels. Senilias, sounding relieved but sombre, said that he would make the arrangements concerning Anes' body; and that we should take the excavation report to Edwinna straight away - it was near enough finished anyway.

As we arrived home in the hours before dawn, I reflected that our expedition had gone quite well, in the end. In the lower levels of Nchuleftingth I had even found a left-handed Dwemer bracer - the last piece I needed to complete the suit of Dwemer heavy armour I had on display in Wolfen castle's museum.

We delivered the report to Edwinna in the morning. She said that the turn of events in Nchuleftingth was unfortunate, and thanked me for recovering the body of Anes Vendu.

"Actually, Frost," the Steward said, scanning a piece of parchment that I could see was headed with my name, "I believe you're due to advance in rank with the guild: to 'Wizard'. It's not something that will make everyone here happy, but -" she slapped the parchment down on her desk - "rules are rules."

"Wizard!" Exclaimed Sirilonwe, her remarkable eyes open wide. "Edward, besides Archmage, there's only one rank above 'Wizard', you know."

I was a little surprised to learn this myself. I had not paid much attention to my promotions in the guild, as the only time my advancement had made any difference was when it had been necessary to grant me access to Folms' store of 'potentially dangerous' spell-scrolls.

"Yes..." Edwinna continued, "you will need a 'Wizard's Staff', though. Rules are rules, as I said."

She went on to explain that a Wizard's Staff (in the context of the Imperial Mages Guild, at least) was an ebony staff with a specific enchantment placed upon it. If I wanted one made specifically for me, it would cost five thousand septims and require Edwinna to arrange for one to be fashioned and enchanted. I could afford this amount, but since the museum and services available to the public at Wolfen castle were only just starting to make a profit, and the quarantine on Vvardenfell would make getting the required materials for the staff difficult, I took advantage of the other possibility Edwinna presented to me:

"If you wanted to kill two birds with one stone, you could... retrieve the Wizard's Staff that belongs to Anirne, an ex-member of the guild. She is a wanted criminal now, so no-one would deny you the right to get your Wizard's Staff from her, if you so choose. It would do the guild a service, too."

Sirilonwe and I slept for most of the day, rising near sunset so that she could speak further with Steward Edwinna about what we might do next for the guild, and so that I could prepare to seek out Anirne. I was glad that I had managed to persuade Sirilonwe that I should go alone, because according to my map, the caverns of 'Sud' - Anirne's last known location - were very close to Ashmelech. There was no way I would take Sirilonwe that close to that many vampires; even if they were of the same 'family' as I.

Since I would be going alone, I would also be able to use the 'Aundae Amulet' Dhaunayne had given me to teleport directly to Ashmelech. From there I would only have a short way to go to reach Sud caverns.

Something I did not tell Sirilonwe - or anyone else - was that I would be taking my enchanted, mortal-blood-holding glass vials with me...

Making my way through Sud, a series of natural caverns, it became obvious why Anirne was considered a renegade and outlaw in Morrowind: she was a necromancer. I broke apart more than a few aggressive skeletal guardians on my way to her 'chambers', in the deepest part of the caverns. I knew it was Anirne, and I knew that the skeletons were bound to her service, because as I paused on the other side of the wooden door to her chambers, I could hear her whispering to herself:

"... more skeletons, Anirne; you should have used more skeletons..."

Apparently she could sense her guardians and servants being destroyed. She did not appear surprised when I stepped through the door, either.

Anirne (who attacked me on sight) was an Altmer woman. When I left with her ebony staff, she was dead - and I had filled most of my little glass vials.

Three birds.