Yrith’s gaze wandered outside of her window, following a single snowflake fluttering toward the crimson-lit statue of Shalidor. Days passed slowly in Winterhold, like the lazy floes bobbing in the Sea of Ghosts. As the middle of Sun’s Height approached, the weather stilled itself into mild snowfalls and evening clear skies with gentle rose-colored cloud lines along the western horizon. Sun’s Rest was quickly approaching, promising a long-awaited extra day of leisure.
Thank the Divines I brought my coat, Yrith thought sardonically, shaking whole clumps of snow down from her robe. Wet as a drowned skeever, she did not dare take one step further. Urag was generally quite benevolent with her, but not even she would be permitted to touch a book with wet hands. And so she stood on the threshold of the Arcanaeum, drawing in the scent of dust and old paper. In her mind, she was desperately thinking of a way to ask him for the books Master Larkwing had ordered her to study without having to explain the circumstances. The memory of Urag’s heated words addressed at the young teacher and the Nord’s scowl at the mere mention of the orc librarian conjured a soft smile on her face. Despite all the harshness and tease, there seemed to be a kind of mutual understanding between the two. One they might have not realized themselves, but she could sense nonetheless.
It was a beautiful night. Masser and Secunda were forming a nigh perfect eclipse, the latter shrouding most of the former, revealing only a thin circle of partially lit craters. They were watching over the still land of Skyrim like a freshly wed pair, surrounded by myriads of glittering diamonds forming a hazy veil of nebula on their background. The sea of dark, which they dominated, was lined by the colorful aurora on its edges. It was a once-in-a-lifetime sight. Yrith had been preparing for it with all she had. She had read an incomplete collection of astronomy books that the Dwemer had left behind and some proactive wizard had gathered, calculating the position of the moons. She had studied all the constellations she would see in the sky that night. And sure as the shimmering lights of sundry colors lining the horizon, she remembered them all.
Singird Larkwing was not pleased. Not even two days had passed since he had arrived in the College, and the world was already upside down. Back in his student days, rigid discipline had been his only motivation. To arrive late for the class, neglect one’s studies, or disrespect a teacher would have been out of question. Now there were so many who did the latter… and one managed to cross all the lines at once. We lost support from the jarls, they’d said. But to invite brats from wealthy households and let them trample on the College’s honor and tradition? The world must have gone mad.
Yrith gave the box she was holding in her hand a pensive look. Urag gro-Shub would not accept anything less than this. It was carved in smooth larch wood, and coated in fine leather on its edges. Gilded corners held a series of thin glass panels, through which she could see numerous quills of various shapes and sizes. It glistened in the flickering candlelight, casting light upon the dimmed columns of the library. She carefully deposited it on the librarian’s desk and earned herself a heartwarming smile.
“Thank you, you’re a lifesaver,” the orc said. He snapped the book he’d been reading shut and admired the craftsmanship. “Three more copies for the sake of science, would you believe it? And the amount of paperwork to be completed for the new students! Erm, not that I’m blaming you, of course.”
The wind howled and wailed through the crevices in the cold stone walls, blowing the snow inside the small room through the gaping window. Opposite to it sat a scrawny Breton girl clad in a set of simple, brownish novice robes, leaning to the wall behind her. Cold air filled the room and tiny cloudlets of steam rose from her mouth with every breath. She did not seem to mind them. In her numb fingers, she was gripping a book, eyes fixed on the lines of text, inhaling deeply the fresh air.
Winterhold was a place known for its murky gloom and raging snowstorms. It was grey and harsh, but it had a beauty to it unrivaled by any other place on Nirn. Magic was in the air, and upon its foundations was built the world’s most famous and prestigious school of arcane arts. Strange powers whispered and beckoned to the soul. While most people feared them, a few courageous ones found their beauty and dedicated their life to them, even if it meant spending their entire life in a place forsaken by the divines.
Despite always reveling in the mysteriousness of the place, Yrith Ravencroft was not one of them.