A/N: One of the things I have always been disappointed with, after a playthrough or two, was the lack of spells, College of Winterhold as a whole, and its questline. The few spells we have, while interesting are just not numerous enough. The college itself is unique, but it lacked the actual feel of a magic school. The Questline however, was amazing, but could definitely be improved. So I decided that I'd make magic spells more interesting and fleshed out, the college being inspired by overhaul mods, and expanding the questline. More will be explained in the final A/N.
A Season of Dragons and War – A Master of the Arcane Arts
Chapter 2: Entry
4E 201, 23rd of Last Seed
The cart had gotten stuck in the heavy snow. The steed that was pulling the cart was being untethered at the moment by Bjorlam. We could see the looming ruins of Winterhold faintly and beyond that, faint pillar of light that could be visible even in the blizzard. If there was one thing I will never take for granted anymore, it's how cold Winterhold actually is. Even through my gloves, I could barely feel my fingertips.
"Come on Mathieu!" I heard Bjorlam say as he trudged through the snow pulling on the lead line of his steed. "You'll freeze if we don't get into shelter."
"Anything you need from the cart?" I asked over the howling winds.
"There's nothing anyone would steal," Bjorlam said, "I've got everything in my bag."
"Okay!" I called back. I followed the path that he and his horse had made.
Eventually, we made it to the road. Outside the gates of Winterhold were the stables. The stalls had braziers in them to help keep the horses warm. "I've got to get my horse settled in for the day," Bjorlam spoke to me, "Good luck getting into the College."
"Thank you," I replied before continuing on, "hope everything works out for you and you can get your carriage back."
"Aye!" He replied over the winds.
I continued on walked through the gates of Winterhold, noting heavily cloaked guards around a brazier. The gates and walls of Winterhold were so shambles of their former glory. A single banner of Winterhold was being violently whipped around by the icy wind. It was grey with the black crest of a three pronged crown. Each prong looked to be made of interlocking rings until it finished at a point.
The guards wore heavy plated leather armor and different colored fur clothing ranging from black to white. Some of them had shields with the Winterhold Crest upon it. The walls of Winterhold were much darker than that of Whiterun's and were built with smaller slabs of stone. It had ancient Nordic Architecture, while looked modernized. The gate was a portcullis, while the walls were built into the nearby mountain. A stone keep was built into the side of one of the mountains. It looked just as grand as the rest of what Winterhold could've been, but it was severely dilapidated. I could see most of the destroyed buildings here. There weren't many guards, just a few of them. Each one stared at me as I walked down the main road towards my destination. I heard a few mutterings.
"It's a damn mage."
"If he's here for the sights, he's seen it. He might as well go someplace warmer."
I ignored them. They weren't important. I had heard of the Nord's mistrust of Magic and those who wielded it. Winterhold was no different. I kept walking through the abandoned and ruined city. In the midst of the blizzard that had engulfed Winterhold, was the silhouette of a large castle-like building. The walkway of a large glamorous bridge was just ahead. It looked amazing as the grey stone looked completely new despite the fact that the College was supposed to be here for a couple of Eras. A single banner flapped overhead, having the grey colors of Winterhold, but having an eye in the middle of a downwards pointed star. I walked up the slippery ramp towards the first arch. Leaning against the wall was a female High Elf with auburn hair. She stood up as I came up.
"Cross the bridge at your own peril," She said in a foreboding tone, "The way is dangerous, and the gates will not open. You shall not gain entry."
"The College is not accepting new students?" I asked with a large pang of disappointment, "I've traveled a long way to enroll here." I had hoped that Arcadia was merely exaggerating the difficulty of enrollment.
"Hmm," She spoke in a tone of skepticism, "How far have you travelled?"
"Evermore in High Rock," I replied bluntly, "My lady, I'm very cold and I want to enroll here to learn Magic." Her eyes scanned me as if looking for a reason to dismiss me.
"So you're a Breton then," She said. Her tone was plain, without concern, "Perhaps you may. We have to be on our guard with outsiders. Just what is it you wish to learn here?" She had her arms crossed.
"To learn Magic," I replied bluntly. "I want to unravel the mysteries of Aetherius. I want to see how far I can push myself and learn more about magic, the history of it, and about the College of Winterhold and previous guilds that came before. On top of all that, I want to be a master at this craft and learn anything I can about all schools of Magic. Every little thing. I want to see if there are new mysteries that are yet to be discovered. You'll find that I have much ambition."
The High Elf woman looked at me as if I had just sited an unknown secret oath to the College. "Ah," She said folding her armors in front of her, "The immortal plane, it is said to be the source of all magic. This is a noble goal indeed. But you need to temper your ambition. Too much of it, will get you killed. The college may teach and learn about magic as a whole, but we also value the safety of every member." She sighed moving out the way of the college of Winterhold crest on the floor of the tower. "It would seem that the College has what you seek. The question now is, what can you offer the College? Not just anyone can enter the College. Those wishing to enter must show some degree of skill with magic. A small test, if you will. If you are magically inclined, then this should be no difficulty."
"A test?" I asked, "What kind of test are you talking about?"
"Those wishing to enter must show at least one spell that they know upon the symbol on the ground," She said, "Think you can do that?"
"Of course," I spoke nodding. She moved out the way for me to cast a spell. I raised my hand letting purplish energy engross it. I casted it. Out came a bluish spectral wolf that howled as soon as it was summoned. It sat down looking at me with its head tilted. "How's that?"
"Well done," She spoke, "Well done indeed. It's a spell most experienced Breton spellcasters can do, but you conjure your familiar with little difficulty. With what you have shown me, I believe it's sufficient proof that you'll be a fine addition to the College amongst the student body." She waved her hand releasing a glow. My wolf familiar disappeared. "Come. I'll lead you across the bridge. Once inside the gates, you'll want to see Mirabelle Ervine, our Master Wizard. My name, however, is Faralda."
"Well okay then," I replied, "I am Mathieu Tarte."
She didn't even acknowledge my name. "Hold up." She said turning around before we ascended the next ramp to the bridge. She casted a spell on the crest. A ghost appeared in the crest, looking eerily similar to Faralda herself.
"A spectral clone," She spoke seeing my confusion, "It is an apparition of myself. Its only use is to be a sentry. It cannot attack or defend itself. It does however transfer its memories to me once it is destroyed."
"That's pretty cool," I replied. I definitely would want to learn that spell.
She led me across the bridge as she lit three wells that held magical energy. When she did, the well's ignited almost like a fire until making a constant blue beam of light ascend to the skies. I looked over the edge of the bridge noting the ruins of three quarters of Winterhold down in the crevice below, East. It looked that even part of the island that the College itself was on had lost some buildings. I vaguely realized that the blizzard was less intrusive to my sight the closer Faralda and I got to the front gate. Faralda once again chimed in as if knowing what I was thinking.
"The magical wells are what keeps the inclement weather at bay in the college," She spoke, "You may have noticed it's not as bad as in the city. It's not perfect, however. The weather wards dull the weather enough to be tolerable and let's you see further than you normally would be able to." She casted a spell at the final magic well and the iron wrought gates opened. The gates had the College of Winterhold crest designed into the iron. On either side of the outside of the gates, were two college of Winterhold crests on the floor, just like the one at the entrance of the bridge.
"Hopefully," Faralda said, "Mirabelle isn't busy. The Courtyard doesn't seem as busy as either. It's usually teeming with college members." She paused to see me gawking at the beauty of the College.
The place was pretty amazing. The architecture of the College as a whole was basically nothing but cylinder-shaped buildings. There were five towers that were attached to the courtyard walls. The walls were placed in such a manner where there were tall ports to see the outside atmosphere. The walls were sheltered by what looked like another walkway. The flooring that was in the Courtyard was white tiled and there were stairs in a circular fashion leading into the courtyard. The Courtyard was bigger than it looked, housing two buildings on either side of the central walkway to the largest tower. The structures were built with the same architecture and curvature of the college walkway walls and walkways. There were plants inside each of them, probably for alchemy. There were billboards up near the entrance as we walked by them. I glanced at a map of the campus as we walked by. The five towers were surrounding the courtyard like a five-pointed star. By far the most fascinating thing other than the fountain of magical energy and the statue of a powerful looking mage, were the towers. The five towers were large. The first four were maybe five stories high, while the Northern-most tower on the other side of the statue, was at least twelve stories high and had a larger circumference. Around the walls of the Courtyard were fountain-like emplacements with balls of light hovering over them. They were mage lights. I grinned.
Then I saw something even more promising, that wasn't present when I walked through the gates. All around were robed men and women, most of them around my age. There were more women than men though, as well as over half the population being Elven of some descent. They seemed to be filtering to and from the different tower entrances. I didn't say anything, I just glanced at them all, mostly the women. I may have been here to learn magic, but I was still a guy. Faralda and I wandered across the courtyard towards the main tower. The women and the architecture may have caught my attention, but there was a conversation that did so even more.
"There she is," Faralda spoke, "Hold on. She's talking to him. Just warning you. She's sort of uptight." Great. "But she means well."
"Who's him?" I questioned. It was a Thalmor Agent. I recognized the Justicator robes.
"Ancano," Faralda said, "A nuisance as far as I'm concerned. Do your best to avoid him at all cost."
"Noted." I commented.
"I believe I've made myself rather clear," The woman said, who I was assuming was Mirabelle.
"Yes of course," The Thalmor agent spoke with an annoyed voice, "I'm simply just trying to understand the reasoning behind the decision Mirabelle." He had the classic elven supremacist sneer going on. I hated him already. But I hated the Thalmor anyways. I respected them due to their abilities in magic, but I still hated them.
"You may be used to the Empire bowing to your every whim," The woman replied tersely, "but you'll find the Thalmor have no such treatment here." He glared. "You are a guest of the college, here at the pleasure of the Archmage. I hope you appreciate the opportunity."
"Yes of course," The Thalmor agent said in the same tone, "The Archmage has my thanks." It almost felt like he was biting his tongue.
"Very good," The woman spoke, "Then we're done here."
The Thalmor agent nodded and walked towards the main tower doors. His walk seemed forced instead of what he probably wanted to do, which was stomping off into the tower. He was trying to save face.
"Let's go," Faralda spoke to me. We walked around the fountain of magic and to Mirabelle. "Mirabelle. We have another applicant. He's familiar with magic and has passed the entrance test."
"Welcome to the college," She spoke to me nodding. "Another new student? I'm surprised at how many of new applicants there are around lately…" She gave me a quick look of disproval before resuming her business-like voice. "I'll take it from here Faralda."
"Very well," Faralda spoke, "I do have a class to teach in a few moments." With that she walked towards the same hall that Ancano walked into.
"You're two days late for the start of term orientation," Mirabelle spoke, "But that is okay, your class or classes begin in three days, we'll go over that later. For now, follow me."
"Yes ma'am," I replied with a calm tone, trying not to let her know how excited I was to get started.
"I'll give you a brief tour really quick," She spoke as we walked inside the Northern most tower, "As you can see, it is quite busy here." I nodded. "The College of Winterhold has been a fixture in Skyrim for thousands of years. The prominent feature here is the Hall of the Elements. It's our primary location for major lectures, practice sessions, and general meetings. There are five floors to the Hall of Elements, each one used for a different School of magic, with the exception being the first floor, which is where the general meetings and announcements occur. On the floor below this one, is another practice area and laboratory for Alchemy and Enchanting. The entrance to the Midden and Subterrarium are also down there, but it is forbidden for new students to go down into the Midden without escort. The Subterrarium is directly below the courtyard and is attached to the Lustratorium." To the left was a staircase, one led downstairs and the other upstairs. "The staircase down leads to the said practice area, Midden, and Subterrarium. The other leads to other floors of the Lecture Halls. Afterwards, the Arcanaeum is located above the hall and the Hall of the Archmage above that. The Arcanaeum is essentially a library full of texts that are here for college use. There are also cartography tools and research equipment. While technically in charge of the College, the Archmage's responsibilities often keep him occupied." We walked up the stairs, noting that maybe two out of the five floors of the Hall of Element Lecture areas were hosting a class. At the entrance of the Arcanaeum where the stairs were, was a desk, as well as an upper elevated area hosting a large cartography station. Behind the desk, was a closed door. An old Orc in beige robes sat behind the desk eyeing me with a level of distrust for some reason. I didn't get a good look at him as we were on the move. The Arcanaeum was large, hosting bookcases all around the outer walls, while the inner walls hosted reading and study areas. There were students and scholars working on different things. A staircase in the middle of the study area lead to an upper study area that seemed to house many more maps and artifacts. There was also a balcony that was separated from this floor of the Arcanaeum. "That is where the private collection is located," Mirabelle spoke, "There are books there that are in pristine condition and there are spell tomes that only Master level College Mages are permitted to learn from."
We walked back down to the ground floor. "Unfortunately, we've had to implement more stringent entry procedures due to the local Nords. We don't anticipate any real violence, but it never hurts to be prepared. We are currently looking into more advanced security measures." We exited the Hall of Elements, back into the courtyard. The two buildings in the Courtyard are the Lustratorium, one having an alpine wing, and the other tropical wing. Each is for different plants for colder and warmer climates. The Subterrarium is below us. It houses subterrain plants and fungi. I believe that the Alchemists are working on implementing a fishery as well. Utilizing what we could from Dwemer technology, we have managed to create a boiler which warms the halls and tropical wing of the Lustratorium." We walked over to the Eastern Tower. "This is the Hall of Diligence. It is the primary location for written lectures for the different schools of magic, the Alchemy Hall, and Enchanting Hall. There is also a stairwell that leads down to the Eastern College Grounds. Down there, is where we are currently looking at implementing a compound for livestock, mounts, and crops. We are also looking into constructing a dock and boathouse. Magic Barriers are being erected to secure the grounds from threats. So far, there are only two ways to enter the grounds from the mainland; the north and south. I believe there is an entrance to the Midden as well. Do not go there unescorted."
We made our way to the next tower, following the walkway. "This is the Hall of Countenance," She spoke, "This is where college scholars, instructors, and staff dormitories are located." She moved on, not lingering. We passed the gates and moved to the other side of them. "This is the Hall of Attainment. Students, like you, who are the rank of Adept Wizards or under will be housed here." We walked towards the final tower. "Finally, we are here at the Hall of Acumen. This is where the canteen, merchants and tailors are located. It is also the location of the College Offices. The three floors below are the men's and women's privy's, washrooms, and laundry rooms. If you can't find an instructor or staff member and they're not currently doing a job, then they are probably here in their office. A stairwell also leads to the Western College Grounds. The Arena and graveyard are located down there. Another entrance guarded by barriers are down there as well." We walked inside to see various robed people in the canteen. They were eating their meals and enjoying themselves. There was a line where food was being served. We walked to the left, where a stairwell was located. After ascending two flights of stairs, we arrived at the office floor. There were eight doors on this floor, each having a plaque on the side. Mirabelle's doors opened revealing a desk, with a lot of clutter on shelving on the walls. Scrolls, maps, documents, books, you name it." She gave me a red book. "This is the College Charter. It contains the rules and regulations of the campus and what is required for anything involving the college; Advancement, duties, and conduct. I suggest you familiarize yourself with its contents. Truthfully, how far are you in your advancement in learning magic?"
"What do you mean?"
"What spells do you know that are either in the Novice stage, Apprentice stage, Adept Stage, Expert Stage, or Master Stage?"
"Umm…" I said, "I don't know any spells other than Conjure Familiar – Wolf."
She gave me an annoyed look. "The Familiar spells are common for a Breton who have magical potential," she said accusingly. She sighed. "Very well. You are hereby anointed as a Novice in the College of Winterhold. Unfortunately for you, you are the only one in this college who is a Novice ranked mage. It would be pointless to add you to the Apprentice classes and the instructors here aren't willing to teach one student in a class as it's a waste of valuable time and resources. So, here's what we're going to do." She sat behind her desk pulled out a quill, ink, and began writing on a role of paper. To achieve the rank of Apprentice in The College of Winterhold, you must practice on your own. To obtain the rank of Lower Apprentice, you must be able to successfully perform three novice ranked spells. You already have one, just learn two more and I'll promote you to Apprentice level. Which School did you want to major in? Destruction, Restoration, Illusion, Alteration, or Conjuration?"
"All of them."
Mirabelle was thrown off visibly. "A-all of them?"
"Yes ma'am," I said seriously.
She regained her composure. "Most students only major in two schools," She replied, "with a third as a secondary. Then there are the electives of course." She wrote down something else on the paper before walking over to a wall cabinet, casted a spell that emitted a golden aura and opened it. Inside were various keys, all on different key mounts. It looked like she had them labeled. She traced her finger along one of the rows and plucked a key off its nail.
"I'm not most students," I replied plainly and kept my voice even.
"That remains to be seen," Mirabelle replied in a skeptical voice. She pulled out another paper and wrote something on it again. She was a fast writer. She sighed. "Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork." She looked up at me. "Okay so your name is?"
"Mathieu Tarte." She started to write it down, repeating my name. She paused. I inwardly hoped she didn't recognize the name.
"Nameday?" She asked.
"Rain's Hand 27th, 4E 180."
"So your Birthsign is the Mage," She said, "Fitting."
"What does my Birthsign have to do with anything?"
"I'm sure you'll find out in your studies," Mirabelle said, "Provided you are as ambitious as you're trying to make it sound. Anyways, sign your name here." I signed it, revealing it to be a contract of membership of the College of Winterhold.
"You are now officially a member of the College of Winterhold," She spoke, "We keep these on record for the Jarl's taxes and our own documents. Everything you do here, will be recorded. Your discoveries, your accomplishments, college ranks, and adventures. We also encourage members to keep a journal of your personal experiences involving the college. It is for college records of course and it helps benefit the college overall for the archives. We just started this practice thanks to wishes of the current Archmage." She grabbed the book, key, and roll of paper and whisked me out the office. "Come." At this point, I figured she was through with entertaining me. I must have looked like a fool, coming to the college of Winterhold only knowing a conjure familiar spell. We returned down to the Courtyard and then to the Hall of Attainment.
"Here we are. You're on the first floor. All of the other floors have already been filled and have no room. You lucked out. The previous occupant left the college right after orientation. You may have gotten a smaller dorm, but you do not have a roommate. So, it's all to yourself." She showed me to the room that was right near the Hall of Attainment's entrance on the right. "The room has been thoroughly cleaned by the housekeeper. You're free to organize and decorate your room any way you see fit. I'll have the tailor come to your room so you can get some rest for the night. Don't forget to study our Charter. Tomorrow I will have someone bring a selection of tomes, or I'll deliver them myself. Here is the key to your room and College bill of credit for any research materials you may need to acquire. Show this to the shop owners." She gave me the key and the parchment she was writing on beforehand.
"Very well," I replied nodding and putting my rucksack down on the floor near my bed. The bed sat in the middle of the room against the back wall. It had emerald, green sheets with a small pillow and the frame was dark brown wood made in a Nordic design. There were two large wardrobes with a dresser in the middle on the right wall. Hanging on the wall above the dresser were a series of shelves. Between my bed and the right wall was a nightstand. On the left wall was a desk with several shelves above it. In the corner were several storage barrels and a nightstand. At the foot of my bed was a simple chest and there was a small round table at the corner near the door as well as a chair. I could sit at my desk or that table and look straight out that door. I took out all my potions I had collected, my money, and my spare clothes out my rucksack and put them in my wardrobe. Afterwards, I flipped open the Colleges Charter and started reading.
College of Winterhold
Written and updated by Mirabelle Ervine under the direct order of Archmage Savos Aren
The College of Winterhold's primary goal is to advance the study of magic and instruct those wishing to learn the magical arts and excel in their craft. The College of Winterhold is Skyrim's primary source of magical education and practice. There is no other institution that is as fine as this college since the disbandment of The Mages Guild. To enroll here is a privilege and disobeying the rules and regulations of this charter will lead to punishment. The punishment will be fit for the rule that is broken.
Theft is absolutely prohibited.
Murder is absolutely prohibited.
Do not interrupt lectures in classes
Do not willingly put the lives of fellow students or scholars' in danger
The study of magic is the institute's overall goal. During your tenure here, this is priority.
Unless otherwise specified, no student may leave the college on official business alone
Relationships are frowned upon here; however, they are acceptable as long as they do not intervene with studies. Relationships between instructors and students are strictly forbidden.
It is prohibited to cast magic spells upon fellow colleagues unless in practice or under instructor supervision.
Students and scholars may research into magic subjects, but these experiments must not endanger the lives of college inhabitants.
I read on and on. It seemed that there were many ways to be expelled. After I read the rules, and before I got to anything else, I heard the subtle sounds of movement outside my door. Subtle wasn't the word for it. It sounded like there was a herd of mammoths out there! There was so much talking and shuffling that I didn't know if I'd get used to it. When most of it had quieted down there was knocking. There were words but I couldn't hear them over the noise from the still lingering students and the thick wood of the door. I opened the said door seeing a woman. She was an older Breton woman with grey hair and wore a red dress that was very similar to Mages Robes. Her hair was pulled into a bun, and she had a stack of robes in her arms.
"Good evening," She spoke with a gentle voice, "Welcome to the College. My name is Elsene."
"Pleasure to meet you ma'am," I replied nodding.
"The Master Wizard sent me here to present you with Novice Robes," She spoke, "and some food for the night. Some pheasant leg, cheese, bread, and water."
"Thank you ma'am," I replied.
"I can tell that you are a size thirty-six by your muscle tone and just looking at you," She spoke, "I am permitted to give you three enchanted sets per major college rank. But just to make sure, I'm going to take measurements. You're the first student I've tailored for in about six months. Arms out and stand up straight." I did as she asked. She took a measuring tape and wrote it all down. "Yup. Almost as I thought. Your pants are going to need to be a bit longer. Do you like fit, relaxed, or loose clothing?"
"Relaxed," I replied.
"Very well," She replied writing it down, "Are you partial to any colors? I'm permitted to present you with three sets of college robes."
"My preferred colors," I spoke, "are blue, silver, black, and red."
"That's quite a condensed spectrum."
"Well," I said, "Blue and Silver go well together. Just like Black and Blue. Oh, and Black and Red."
"I can make those do," Elsene replied, "It'll take me a few hours. I'm pretty sure I can get these to you before you go to sleep for the night. If you ever need any new clothes or robes, come see me. I sell and sew them for students at a discounted price."
"I will," I replied nodding. With that, the old Tailor left me to my room for a while. I continued to read all the ways to get expelled. An hour later, she returned to give me my robes. I tried them on, a tingling sensation washing over me every time I put one on. It must've been an enchantment. I have felt the effects of them before. I didn't know what kind of enchantment it was, but I knew that it had something to do with my magic. I simply folded them neatly in one of my wardrobes. I sighed deciding that I was going to turn in for the night. As I changed into my sleepwear and got under the fresh covers, I couldn't help but look at the Wardrobe. I blew out the candlelight before looking back at the ceiling deep in thought. "Novice Robes," I said with a tone of ambition, "One day, I'll be wearing the robes of a Master." With that, I slowly felt the cruel delight of slumber.
I awoke the next morning early. It was so early that the sun hadn't come up. How did I know? There was a magical clock on my nightstand. I got up and changed to my blue and silver Novice Robes. I opened my door to see if anyone was out here this early. Nope. No one. The night before, there was a mixture of candlelight and the bright blue hue of the magical fountain. But tonight, only the blue hue lit the tower's interior. I wandered over to the fountain and stared in its blue magical depths. I sighed going back into my room. It was peaceful this morning. I stretched and picked up the charter again, opting to look at the various courses and the time of each lecture listed in it:
The College offers education and training for those who wish to learn. Education and Training is flexible upon entry. But there are some courses, that will only be taught to those who have reached Journeyman Rank.
Courses available upon entry -
Courses available upon Journeyman Rank-
I found the list of instructors and College staff underneath, explaining their position and what their career was. I also found when various courses went on every day. The weekends were when no lectures were held. Arcanology was the study of magic as a whole, studying past artifacts, and discovering new avenues in magic. Necromancy, which I was highly surprised was allowed, was heavily shackled in the college. There were extremely strict rules as to how far into the craft could be experimented with. For starters, practicing the forbidden art on college members or anyone in general was banned. The culprit could face expulsion and execution. Advanced Crafts involved creating scrolls, spell tomes, and spellcrafting. It was a completely separate course from Enchanting. Astronomy involved the powers and magic of the stars and planets. I closed the Charter and put it on my shelf. I walked out of my room once more. This time, I decided to check out the Hall of Attainment's tower. True to what I observed earlier, it had four floors. There were ten dorms on each floor, each apparently housed more than one person. Then I remembered the night before. There was a lot of traffic going pass mine every day. Sure the upper floors were probably quieter, but I'd take my noisy dorm any day for privacy.
The roof of the tower was flat and had nothing up here except that stone gazebo frames covering it. The walls of the Courtyard didn't even meet the tower's roof. A ramp lead down to them. The wall's walkways were wide enough to accommodate them. There were magelights floating in front of every pillar. My guess was that it was for practicing spells if one wanted to. There wasn't a blizzard going on this early in the morning; just a starry sky with a large full moon whose light reflected off the many surrounding glaciers and snowy mountains. I looked over at the tower on the other side of the Gates of the College. It was identical to this one. The same was true with the Hall of Acumen and Hall of Diligence. I sighed and peered over the edge on the outer side of the walls. That was a long way down. The Ravine was full of wreckage from houses and parts of the Colleges Bridge. If the fall from the height didn't kill you, landing on the debris from even a quarter of the height would. I turned around and walked over to the other side viewing the courtyard below. The blue hue from the magical fountain reflected brightly off the snow. With the various shadows from the pillars that held up the Colleges over-walk and glass off the Lustratorium, the place truly did look magical. However, I noticed something. No, it was a someone. Someone down there in strange looking dark grey robes and with an angular fabric design was down there talking with someone else in Mages Robes. They exchanged scrolls and then parted ways. The dark grayed robed Mage returned through the doors of the main tower while the other left out the front gates. I backtracked to watch him walk across the narrow bridge then disappear through the bridge's entrance tower.
I thought no more of the transaction I witnessed as it was probably common. I went over to look back down at the courtyard once more seeing a few Mages crossing in various directions. Dawn was finally coming to this icy climate. It still didn't change the temperature though. If I could see my breath and I was shivering, it was too cold for me. I returned down to the floor my room was on. No one was up yet. If they were, I had missed them.
It wasn't until I got to my room did I realize that I wasn't the only awake in the Hall of Attainment. Standing outside my closed door was Master-Wizard Mirabelle. In her arms was a small pile of books. They were Spell Tomes.
"Ah," She said with her usual monotone voice, "There you are. Where were you?"
"Getting familiar with my surroundings ma'am," I replied, "I figured I'd check the Hall of Attainment out and ended up on the roof."
"Hmm I see," She replied then sighed, "Did you enjoy your early morning stroll?"
"Of course," I replied, "How long were you waiting on me there?"
"About five minutes."
"Oh," I spoke, "Sorry about that Master-Wizard."
"It's quite alright," She replied then gave me the small stack of Spell Tomes, "Here you are. You told me you wanted to learn from each School of Magic. I have notified the instructors of your request and they have agreed to teach you. Here are two Tomes. These are tomes everyone in the Apprentice Stage have learned. They are Flames and Healing."
"Thank you Master-Wizard."
"You're welcome," She replied nodding, "I suppose if you want to become an Apprentice with the other students in that stage, you should start learning these spells immediately. The hall of Elements is devoid of anyone at the moment. Students aren't required to get up for another hour or so. The Mage light on the lamps are enchanted to absorb any kind of spell within reason. We use them as practice targets. When you think you've got these spells down, come see me. I'll award you the title of Apprentice." I gave a nod. We separated and I went out and made my way to the Hall of Elements crossing the courtyard. It was so quiet out here. So peaceful. I opened the door to the hall of elements. The entrance to the massive circular chamber was closed by a steel grey double gate with the colleges crest designed directly in the middle, similar to the courtyard gate. I opened the gate and walked in. In the center of the room was a hole with stone railing around it. A beam of magical energy shot through it from below. The energy poured towards the ceiling of the other floors as it went through a similar hole in the ceiling. My guess was this room had the same open floored design as the other towers. Pillars held up the other floors and there were the mage light lamps along the wall behind the pillars with large stained glass blue windows stretching nearly floor to ceiling. Benches and several small desks were along each window. A small flight of three stepped stairs made traveled towards the magical beam to, what looked like a meeting area. Five crests of the College were engraved in the floor around the fountain. There were banners of the College Crest closer to the ceiling on the pillars as a final note.
I smiled and got to work straight away. The first thing I did was pull out several magic restoring Potions and put them on the desk near where I was going to practice. I opened up the Flames Tome and started reading it. Most of it was pictures, directing the caster proper posture to casting it. But there was a description in it to mimic the pictures and explain how to cast it. I read through the Tome:
Although a simple Destruction spell hailing in the form of Fire, this spell, like all other destruction spells, is dangerous and deadly if not used correctly. It can bring more harm to one's self or others if not applied properly in usage. In order to use properly without endangering the lives around the caster, control must be reinforced and safety precautions enabled. When practicing this spell it is ideal not to cast around anything easily flammable such as grass, carpeting, or clothing.
To be able to cast this spell one must first feel warmth throughout their body in a mental sense. The spell is cast at the focal point of ones palms like most spells are. To cast you must generate your magicka as you open your palms held straight out in front of you. Bring all the warmth of your body and project it in fire through your magicka.
Start off using your dominate palm first. If you can control it with your dominate hand, then you'll get the basic grasp of using it with your non-dominate hand. It is wise to master any spell with your dominate hand first.
I kept reading and reading, looking at the diagrams when I got a chance to. Just the information on one spell was thirty pages. Determined, I got into a casting position in front of the Mage Light Lamp. I started to generate magicka in the way the Spell Tome suggested it. I then released the magic, thinking and feeling only of fire. And I felt it leave my palm. Weak Flames left my hand all being absorbed by the mage light. My arm tingled slightly. The flames were barely there. I hadn't run out of magicka yet, so I knew I was doing something wrong. I stopped catching my breath and letting my magic replenish what little it had lost.
I scanned over the book again looking through it. I didn't know if I was doing something wrong or not. No, I was doing nothing wrong. Maybe I just needed to practice more. So, I did. I kept practicing the Flames Spell for the next hour or so. By the first hour, I could hear a few people entering the Hall of Elements and passing the first-floor gate by. There was the unmistakable sound of practicing going on in the other floors every now and then. As the hours dragged on, the entire hall echoed with shuffling and conversations of the many people entering and exiting the first floor. I had the first-floor hall all to myself until about two hours into my practicing with my Flames Spell. There was one person who came in, a male Dunmer by the looks of it. He had on robes of an Apprentice. He completely ignored me and walked over to the other side of the Hall and started practicing the same spell I was. My own spell was slowly becoming better. With all the breaks I was taking, I was slowly making progress.
My spellcasting was about three minutes in length, while my breaks were about five minutes each. I did this all day long it seemed. By midday, after several people had come in and out of the first-floor session chamber of the Hall of Elements, I found that someone was watching me.
"Hmm not many people can get this far in such a short amount of time starting out," I heard from behind me. I turned to see Faralda, the Destruction Instructor. "Your posture and form is exact, and you are generating and producing a precise amount of magic in each time you cast Flames."
"So where am I going wrong?" I asked with a plain voice.
"You're not feeling the heat necessary to produce a good enough flame," She replied.
"I feel the warmth."
"I find Spell Tomes to be lacking," She replied walking over, "Warmth is not enough Novice. The Warmth you are feeling is probably that akin to a candle burning. That may be sufficient for touch-based spells, such as Fiery touch, but it cannot sustain something like ranged spells. You have to feel something larger than that. Can you guess?"
I looked at the Mage Light well. "Something warmer….." I muttered thinking it through, "Warmer." I thought about the wintery conditions of the college. What was the most basic thing apart from shelter everyone needed? Then I thought about it. If I was camping out in the woods, what would be the most welcoming thing? A Campfire. I got in my casting position and produced a bright burning flamethrower that was immediately absorbed by the Mage Light.
"Excellent," Faralda spoke looking impressed, "What did you feel?"
"A campfire," I replied, "One out in a wintery forest."
"That seems to have done the trick then," Faralda replied, "You learned the Flames spell at a much quicker pace than anyone I have ever seen. But don't let this one time of a perfect cast give you false insight. You still need to practice."
"I know," I replied, "And Master Faralda? Thank you for the help."
"My pleasure," Faralda replied nodding, "Now. I'll leave you to your practices, unless you want lunch. It is that time after all. Why don't you join the rest of us in the Canteen? Or at least get something to eat before you continue. Without proper nourishment and nutrition, you'll find that casting spells is much more difficult."
My stomach growled at just the talk of food. "I am a bit hungry," I replied nodding.
"Very well," She spoke, "Follow me." I gathered my things and followed her out the Hall of Attainment and into the Hall of Acumen. The Canteen was pretty big with an open floor plan with the exception of a small chunk being hidden behind a wall completely in design with the room. My guess was the room was the kitchen, where everything was prepared. There were many circular tables all around with students and scholars at each of them. In the center of the canteen was the bar. The place was packed, that was for sure, and I didn't see any open seats save for one which Faralda just took. Oh well, I could deal with eating by myself in the courtyard or something. The other students were conversing with one another. Every now and then, as my eyes glanced around, I caught someone staring at me. There were some looks, but I didn't think anything of it. With my hood up, like so many of the others, I could cut my eyes in any direction without anyone noticing. I eventually came up to the service counter. The counter attendant was a female Imperial with regular fine clothes on that showed off her feminine features. She had black hair and dark eyes. Overall, she was a pretty face.
"How much is the food here?" I asked over the loud conversations that filled the hall.
"All the food is free for students and teachers," She replied, "As long as you only eat two meals a day. Any more than that, then you'll have to pay."
"Okay then," I replied, "What is on the menu?"
"Today's menu is a Pheasant Roast meal," She replied, "It comes with Pheasant Roast, a boiled potato, and a slice of bread, and of course a drink."
"I'll take that then," I replied nodding, "Though since there isn't anywhere to sit, is it okay if I take it to my room or something?"
"Sure," She replied smiling, "I didn't catch your name? You must be a new student."
"Yes ma'am," I replied nodding, "Just arrived last night, and my name's Mathieu by the way."
"Pleasure to meet you," She replied getting a small basket with paper lining it, "My name's Amelia. As you can see, I'm one of the few that feed the rest of the College."
"Do you do any magic?" I asked.
"Of course," She replied nodding as she carefully put my meal in a basket, "I usually use it in cooking though. I use fire and frost spells. One to start the fire and one to keep the meats frozen until we need them."
"Handy," I commented.
"Yes it is," She replied, "Here you go Mathieu. Divines watch over your studies here."
"Thank you," I replied nodding before making my way out the Canteen, "I'll see you later Amelia."
I felt the eyes of many on me as I walked out. I had this feeling that all the staring was because I was the only Novice in the College. That would soon change, hopefully. I made my way down the stairs, across the courtyard and to my room. I ate in silence, once again enjoying the little peace I had at the moment. The Pheasant was good. The chefs had obviously known what they were doing, though they had nothing on The Gourmet.
Finishing my meal, I returned to the Hall of Elements and started my practice sessions again. Faralda was right. Having a full stomach did help me with my casting abilities. I finished the day off practicing Flames. I was mostly undisturbed by my fellow students, something I didn't mind at all. The next morning, I got up around the same time I did the morning before. I was one of the few that were up. I decided that I'd practice my Flames Spell for an hour. Then I decided to check out the other Spell Tome known as Healing.
One of the most rudimentary skills in surviving out in the field while doing magical research is the art of healing oneself. Everyone desires to heal themselves at a faster rate than normal. This spell's main purpose is to heal the caster from minor injuries. Injuries aside from minors will take time to heal. Even then, if a wound is not fatal, knowing Healing is a valuable asset for any Mage.
To be able to cast this spell, the caster must feel a sensation of relaxation within their self. The spell is casted at the focal point of ones palm like most spells are. When casting this spell tighten your hand into a fist then release the healing energy. It is wise to concentrate on the wound itself rather than your entire body. This ensures that the wound will heal properly.
Start off using your dominate palm first. If you can control it with your dominate hand, then you'll get the basic grasp of using it with your non-dominate hand. It is wise to master any spell with your dominate hand first.
I kept reading and reading just like I had with the Flames spell until I grasped the basic concept. I got into the correct casting posture before relaxing myself. I felt the sensation wash over me as I clenched my hand into a fist then released the energy. Like Flames the Healing spell required a continuous flow of magicka. Visible golden energy swirled around my body at a rapid pace. I felt a sense of accomplishment at first. But then I frowned.
"Nothing's that easy," I muttered to myself already formulating an idea. I pulled out my Ebony dagger given to me by my grandfather. I gently slid my finger alongside the flat side of the blade. I walked over to my rucksack before pulling out clean medical linen cloth and a Healing Potion. If this didn't work, it didn't hurt to be prepared. I pulled up my sleeve and slowly cut my forearm. Most people would call me demented if they saw me doing this. In truth, I normally wouldn't have done this, but I was eager to see results of learning this Spell. With a small stream of blood coming from my wound, I casted Healing once more. I concentrated on the wound healing itself. As I held my casting hand up in the air with a continuous flow of magicka powering the spell, I looked at my wound. Sure enough, it started to heal. When I was sure it was done healing, I smirked. "No pain, no gain." I wiped the fresh blood off my arm before checking where the wound should've been. Nothing, not even a scar. Good.
I practiced both spells for a little while longer, without the self-mutilation added, before packing up my few things and walking towards my room. I skipped lunch opting to eat some of the provisions I had taken with me to journey to the college itself. I found myself deep in thought over the events of when I entered Skyrim and got to Winterhold. All through this remembrance, I was sipping on some Nordic Mead out of my Goblet. I stopped right there, knowing my limits. I got up put the cork in the bottle and sighed. It was about time I went to see Mirabelle about becoming an official Apprentice Ranked Mage for the College. I could successfully perform the two spells. But just to be sure, I read over the Colleges Ranking System and the requirements.
I skipped all the way down to the section that I wanted to be associated with.
General Mage Ranking Systems and requirements-
This section is for Mages who do not want to specialize in one or two schools of magic or fields. This section is for students looking to be Generalists. Generalists are simply known as mages, without a title. Note that all students under the rank of Expert will always be referred to as Apprentices, even under the sub ranks of Apprentice or Adept.
Novice- Novice ranked students are those who know little about magic and have mastered at least one Novice Ranked spell.
Apprentice- Apprentice Ranked students are those whose tenure in the college is used as studying about magic. An Apprentice must know at least three Novice Spells. To Graduate, you must have the knowledge and display at least five Novice Spells, at least five Apprentice Spells per school of magic during your exam, and one adept level spell.
Apprentice Sub-ranks –
Novice Apprentice – The lowest rank of the Apprentice sub-ranks. All entry level students who qualify as Apprentices begin here.
Journeyman Apprentice – The middle rank of the Apprentice sub-ranks. Experienced Apprentices who are more skilled and knowledgeable than Novice Apprentices.
High Apprentice – The highest Apprentice Rank. Experienced Apprentices who have a higher understanding of Apprentice level magic and studies.
Adept- Adept Ranked students are those who have passed the Apprentice Graduation Exams. Adept Mages in the College are exceptionally educated in the study of magic. To Graduate, students must display previous graduation spells, display seven Adept spells in each school of magic, and one Expert level spell.
Novice Adept – The lowest rank of the Adept sub-ranks. Those who have passed the Apprentice Exams in their classes begin their time as Adepts here.
Journeyman Adept – The middle rank of Adept sub-ranks. Experienced Adepts who are more skilled and knowledgeable than Novice Adepts.
High Adept – The highest sub-rank of Adept ranks. Experienced Adept who have a higher understanding of Apprentice and Adept level magic and studies.
Expert- Expert Ranked Mages are those who have passed the Adept Graduation Exams. Expert Mages in the College are highly educated in the study of magic. Expert Mages are no longer normal students. Experts are considered College Scholars who work in the advancement of magic. Expert Mages may find that careers involving magic will become widely available. It is advised that Expert Mages continue their career in studying advanced forms of magic and continue becoming efficient Expert Spellscrafters.
Journeyman Expert- The lower sub-rank of Experts.
High Expert – The higher of the sub-ranks of Experts. They have a higher understanding of Apprentice, Adept, and Expert level spells and magical knowledge.
Master- Master Ranked Mages are those who are above Expert Ranked Mages. They are highly educated in the study of magic, spell craft, and are proficient in self-protection and college protection. Those wishing to acquire the rank of Master must complete the Master Trial for all schools of Magic. Masters are proficient in many different spells from all ranks. Master Ranked Mages often lead the College in many endeavors that will benefit the college and its students as well are instructors.
Master sub-ranks -
Specialist Master – Master's who specialize in one school of magic. They are highly skilled in their specialist school and are knowledgeable in Adept or higher-level spells and magical knowledge. This is the highest level non generalists can achieve who are not instructors or on the college council of masters.
High Specialist Master – Master Instructors of the College, who can also be on the College Council. These are the leading faculty of the College.
High Master – Master ranked Mages of the College who can be instructors or on the College Council. These masters have passed all Master Examinations on the Five schools of magic.
College Leadership Ranks -
Master Wizard – Second in Command of the College of Winterhold. If the Archmage is unavailable, all decisions are placed on the Master Wizard's shoulders.
Archmage – The leader of the College and highest rank. All decisions made by the Archmage are absolute and are to represent the best interests of the college and its future endeavors.
So I could become a High Master some day, after I completed the Master specialist trials. I wondered what the Master Trials were. Whatever they were, they had to be dangerous. I smirked. All it did was give me greater resolve. I'd like that challenge. I continued to read through the Charter as it held a lot of knowledge of the inner workings of the college. By far, the biggest section was the Rules and Regulations. But then I found something interesting. It was a list of careers and titles that people can obtain within the college. It was almost similar to the ranking system.
Archmage was at the very top of the list. The Archmage is in charge of the Colleges direction, general research, and the dealings of the college itself. Then there was the Master-Wizard of the College. The Master-Wizard was the second in command at the College and oversees the day-to-day operations involving education and its members as well as handling problems the Archmage can't at the time. Master Mages were the third highest ranked Members of the College and are part of a council if the Archmage isn't available. Then there were Instructors, whom were all Master Ranked Mages. There were assistant instructors. They assisted the instructors in lectures if need be. These mages were generally Experts. After these careers, it seemed that there was hardly any other major career other than general college members.
Members below leading and instructing or Masters and Experts whom were not doing so, weren't just members who studied constantly. No, there were either Field Mages, which were usually mages who went out on contract requested by someone or Jarls to aid them in some way involving magic. Field Mages spent most of their time outside the college doing so while also setting out to discover magical artifacts, history, or collecting ingredients. They were also tasked with supplying the college with general supplies. There were several oddball jobs they were tasked with as well. Then there were the Scholars. Scholars generally stayed inside of the College studying and researching properties of magic, artifacts, history, or developing it all. The most common careers involved being an Alchemist or Enchanter to mass produce for the colleges every day usage or bartering with outsiders. There were several classifications of Mages as well, usually titled depending on which school of magic or particular skill in that school a mage was aiming for.
The most common fields of Destruction specialists were centered around Fire, Frost, and Shock. There were Pyromancers for fire, Cyromancers for Frost, and Electromancers for Lighting specialists. Less common and rarer elemental destruction specialists were centered around Ash, Earth, Shadow, Poison, Light, Water, Wind, and Plants or Wood. There were Spodomancers for Ash, Geomancers for Earth, Umbramancers for shadows or Darkness, Toximancers for poison, Photomancers for light, Hydromancers for Water, Aeromancers for Wind, and Herbomancers for Wood or Plants. For Conjuration, they were known as Conjurers for those who Conjured anything in general, Summoners usually conjured inanimate objects and bound weaponry. Oblivion Callers only summon Daedric Creatures and objects to aid them. Even though it's frowned upon within the college itself, there are Necromancers whom deal with the undead. Restoration users were commonly known as Healers. Alteration specialists were known as Alterists. Then there were the Illusion specialists. They were known as Illusionists. All of the above were usually called those titles for majoring in one of the said Schools of Magic.
I closed the Charter again before stretching. I decided to go and practice some more, just to make sure I had it down before bothering Mirabelle with becoming an Apprentice. I eventually decided to practice each spell with my non-dominate hand. It was tougher, that was for sure, but by the end of the day, I had successfully casted each spell in each hand. All I would need now was a good night's rest to prepare for tomorrow….
A/N: I based this college on both Obscure's College of Winterhold and Immersive College of Winterhold mods, while also adding my own spin to it, evident by the College grounds. The midden will also receive some love in the form of The Midden Expanded and my own take on it. The College will be populated with students. Of course, the three original apprentices will play a role, but I feel like that the College of Winterhold was lacking in population and wasn't diverse enough.
Spells: So far, I am including spells from the mods Phenderix Magic Evolved, Apocalypse, More Apocalypse, Triumvirate, Elemental Destruction Magic Redux, Mysticism magic evolved, Hemomancy, Shadow Spell Package, Arcanum, Tombound, Poison Spells, Storm Calling Magic, Astral Magic 2, Cosmic Spells, Glamoril – Magic of space and time, Coldharbour Resummoned, Forgotten Magic Redone, Adept – Magic of Ash, Tonal Architect, Wards Functions Extended, Odin, Improved Flaming Familiar, possibly Colorful Magic. If you have any other suggestions, let me know.
Other Magic stuff: Summermyst, Ordinator, Strange Runes(For some spells), Undeath, Complete Alchemy and Cooking Overhaul…etc