As you crossed into Winterhold, you beheld a terrifying sight: a maelstrom had surrounded the College. The wind and snow whipped around harsher than ever. The sheer power of whatever magic was unleashed from within the College was frightening.
You gritted your teeth as the realization hit you: Nimaco fully activated the Eye of Magnus.
You gripped the Staff in your hands and ran as fast as you could towards the College. It was on the bridge at the first well that you met Zero doing battle with an anomaly.
"Zero!" you cried as he conjured a Flame Atronach to duel the magic anomaly. Zero`s Atronach exploded after destroying its target.
The violet-eyed Nord spun around at your exclamation. "___! You made it..." he smiled, grasping your shoulder. He glanced down at the staff in your hands. "Is that-?"
"Yes, I managed to find it," you confirmed.
Further down the bridge, you saw Fai shooting bolts of lightning at several anomalies around him.
"Fai!" you called out.
Just before you could get close enough, he unleashed a powerful barrier of electricity. The anomalies halted in midair and fell hard to the ground, dead. Fai`s dark expression faded when he saw Zero and you make your way over to him.
"___! You`re alive!" he cried out breathlessly. The tall mage embraced you tightly. You felt your cheeks warm from his affectionate gesture. He pulled away and examined you closely with his beautiful blue eyes. "Are you alright? I was so worried..."
You smiled slightly, a bit caught off guard by his kind touch. "I`m fine. I have the Staff." You held up the artifact in your hands.
Fai glanced towards the Staff and his smile grew. "I knew we could count on you. You are far stronger than most."
You smiled wider in spite of yourself, but focused your attention towards the College. You could see figures fighting with more transparent creatures.
"What happened? Why are there so many anomalies?" you questioned the blonde teacher.
"It`s Nimaco..." Zero growled, drawing Fai`s and your attention. His knuckles were as white as the snow that raced around us. "After she locked herself in the Hall of Elements with the Eye and we fought off the anomalies, she managed to set free whatever secrets the Eye of Magnus was holding."
"And Vic?" you asked desperately.
Zero narrowed his eyes at you. "Vic and Matt are inside. The apprentices are in the courtyard, too busy with these little bastards to get anywhere close. Fai and I were pushed out beyond the barrier."
Your heart dropped at the thought of Vic coming to such danger. As much damage as the Eye has done, the fact that someone he trusted turned on him at the prospect of obtaining power...it was sickening.
"Stand back, I`ll clear us a way inside." you said sternly.
Zero and Fai glanced at each other, then nodded and backed away to give you enough space. You raised the Staff of Magnus into the air. A strong surge of white energy collected at the tip of the Staff before it threw a ray towards the barrier. Before your eyes, the barrier vanished as if it never even existed.
You nodded at Zero and Fai. "Let`s go!"
The three of you ran along the bridge until you crossed the archway into the courtyard, heavy winds pelting your faces.
You could see your three fellow apprentices fighting with the snow-white magical anomalies in their own ways. Dark had conjured a familiar to fight at his side. In his hand was a Bound Dagger. Even in the heat in battle, he moved so quickly and gracefully. He stabbed and sliced his enemies using swift movements.
Edward, meanwhile, had cast several Ash Runes around himself. He even conjured a Bound Sword, which he pierced through his enemies once they fell victim to his traps. His attacks were precise and harsh.
Tamaki had summoned a Greater Ward as protection as he called forth Stendarr`s Aura. The bright aura shone strong as his enemies fell and fled from him. As gentle as Tamaki was, he didn`t let his fear blind him to the situation at hand.
Fai and Zero ran into the action, their full offensive Magicka in effect. Knowing you had to keep the Staff of Magnus from being damaged, you slung it across your back and summoned a Bound Bow. Pulling arrow after arrow from the accompanying quiver, you shot at the ghostly magical entities that attacked your cohorts. One by one, Tamaki, Edward and Dark drew their gazes to you as you slew their foes; Tamaki, his tear-filled eyes full of gratitude, Edward, with his fierce gaze of pleasant surprise and Dark, with his knowing smirk. Once the enemies fell, your Bound Bow vanished in a small cloud of smoke.
"You`ve returned! My glorious princess has come back!" Tamaki launched himself at you, rubbing his cheek against your increasingly reddening one. You tried not to fall over from the excitable Nord`s antics.
Edward dismissed his blade after a final blow to the last entity. "Everyone said you wouldn`t make it. Pretty impressive."
You smiled bashfully and nodded in thanks.
"No one should underestimate a lovely and powerful creature like ___," Dark chided the shorter man, winking at you.
Your eyes fell to the snowy cobblestone, feeling flattered more and more by the second.
"Enough with your sappy pow-wow, we need to get inside and help Vic and Matt!" Zero cried, standing in front of the tall door that led to the Hall of Elements.
Fai stood next to him, calm but ready to finish the fight. You gently pushed Tamaki away and ran towards the door and unsheathed the Staff of Magnus, the thief, alchemist and bard close behind. Fai and Zero were already pushing the doors open. You shielded your face once a shiver of powerful magic blew strongly past you from within.
Once the six of you entered the foyer, you could see the metal gates of the Hall of Elements were blown off their hinges and laid strewn across the floor. You silently advised the team to keep their backs against the walls. You had to catch the Thalmor off-guard.
Clutching the Staff, you peered around the door frame. You gasped as you spotted the lone figure of Nimaco, her back to you, directing a bright beam of Magicka into the giant glowing orb floating above the well.
A waving hand caught your attention from a pillar nearby. It was Matt! Glancing down, your heart sank. Vic was unconscious in Matt`s grasp, a small trickle of blood at the corner of his mouth.
Ever on the offensive, Zero and Edward started forward, but wordlessly, you held up a hand to stop them. Ensuring that Nimaco`s attention was focused entirely on the Eye, you slipped carefully over to the pillar where Matt and Vic hid.
"Are you both alright?! Please, tell me he`s still alive!" you whispered desperately to Matt as you raked your eyes over the Arch-Mage`s form, checking for any noticeable wounds.
"Yeah, but just barely...Vic tried to reason with her..." Matt gasped, his hands balling into fists. "He said they were friends for years...but then she somehow opened the Eye of Magnus...and she threw him against the wall...Vic wanted everyone outside protecting the town before all else...I think he only wanted everyone out of the College so Nimaco would only harm him...the idiot kept thinking of others before his own well-being!"
You could see tears pricking his eyes as he looked down at his mentor. "I couldn`t do anything to help! Because of that, I couldn`t protect him...I failed him!" The younger male`s shoulders shook violently.
A strong wave of magic blew through the room. You braced for impact, but thankfully, Matt, Vic and you were safe behind the pillar. You turned your attention back to Matt, grabbing his hand. "You kept him safe. You followed his commands. That is all he asks. I need you to stay here with him and - "
"So the prodigal daughter has returned after all?" a booming voice echoed behind you.
Spinning around, Nimaco`s deadly gaze was all you could see before you felt yourself rising into the air, your throat constricted. The Thalmor, whose form glowed a bright green, held you in her choking grasp in one hand and maintained the magical link to the Eye in another.
"You've come for me, have you?" she cackled menacingly.
You kicked and struggled fruitlessly, clawing at her hand. You saw no pain in her eyes as you struck at her over and over. You could do no harm to the woman. So this was the power of the Eye?
"You think I don't know what you're up to? You think I can't destroy you? The power to unmake the world at my fingertips, and you think you can do anything about it?"
You started to see spots and you felt your strength wane. Where were the others?
Suddenly, a loud yell erupted from the foyer. The owner sounded as if they had broken free from some very heavy shackles. Quick footsteps followed.
Before you could register whose voice it was, you fell to the ground, the Staff of Magnus clattering beside you. A brighter light surrounded Nimaco as several Fireballs exploded before her. You coughed heavily, trying to regain yourself. From your spotty vision, you could see Nimaco absolutely unharmed from the Magicka your saviour delivered.
"What? My spells...they have no effect!" the same voice exclaimed in confusion.
"I am beyond your pathetic attempts at magic. You cannot touch me!" The female Thalmor shone brighter as the gathering of magic around her centred on her outstretched hand. She threw an impressive green orb at your rescuer. A cry of pain echoed through the Hall as the person was struck by the magic.
"And now you and that offending piece of trash..."
You had sufficiently recovered, but only then did you realize Nimaco was rounding on Matt and Vic.
"___ - the Staff! Aim for the Eye! It should break the magical connection!" Matt cried out beyond his Greater Ward.
You rolled across the floor and snatched up the Staff. Trusting in Matt and his judgment, you pointed the artefact`s end at the Eye, a steady stream of magic shot out and struck the floating sphere. An angered shriek from the Elf and a fading light notified you of the dissolving magical connection the Eye had with her. You had to incapacitate the Elf so she would leave Matt and Vic to run to safety.
Now was your chance.
Nimaco seethed as she prepared to level another attack at you. But your fury was stronger and faster -
"Gaan...Lah HAAS!" you shrieked at the Thalmor woman, who crumbled before you.
Scrambling to your feet, you dashed to the centre of the room where the Eye was what appeared to be opened. The Eye was cracked at each juncture and spun with slowing speed, magic leaking out from every opening. Greenish-blue runes outlined each section. It seemed to give Nimaco power when it was in its sealed state. You didn`t see any means to nullify the work done on the Eye. You understood Matt now; that you had to keep the Eye`s connection with the traitorous Thalmor severed in order to rid of her of her invincibility.
Just before you could round on the Elf, you screamed in agony as electric bolts shot through your body. You collapsed to the ground, trembling from the aftershocks.
"So...the little whore IS a Dragonborn!" Nimaco`s voice rang through the chamber.
Her voice was tinged with deep satisfaction. Her heels clacked against the floor as she walked briskly over to you. You could barely raise your head to see her tower over you. Her eyes glittered with venom. Her lips turned up in a victorious smirk.
"Wouldn`t it be so delicious if I was the one to stomp out the life of the Last Dragonborn? The pathetic little child is destroyed by the beautiful Thalmor goddess of Skyrim? No, of Nirn!" Nimaco laughed loudly, her cackling echoing through the Hall.
She raised her hands over her head, summoning Magicka to her bidding. You scrunched your eyes closed, gritting your teeth.
This is it...You thought as you braced for her attack.
A loud crackling of magic exploded above your head - a loud feminine screech - but no pain. You could feel yourself being pulled into someone`s arms and turned over.
"___ - please - open your eyes!" an urgent, male voice pleaded with you.
You opened one, then both eyes. Terrified violet orbs met yours.
"Tamaki!" you gasped and threw your arms around his neck.
But he pulled away, effectively silencing you. He removed his right hand from his hold on you and placed it on your collarbone. Warm, golden magic emanated from his touch and you could feel your strength returning.
But Tamaki`s shoulders quaked. Tears threatened to fall from his heartbroken eyes. "I`m so sorry - Nimaco Mass Paralyzed us to stop us from entering the Hall of Elements so we couldn`t - "
You shakily pressed a gentle finger to his soft lips. "It`s okay," you said, panting slightly. "She`s not really easy to pin down. She also seems to really enjoy gloating - "
"___! Hurry, use the Staff!" Edward`s voice yelled from the northern wall.
You glanced up and saw the Eye closing, the pieces sealing together perfectly. Your heart leapt as you could only watch as Edward, Dark, Fai and Zero created a Greater Ward to hold Nimaco back. But you could see the Eye`s power flowing towards her. What`s more, some of the Ward was fading inwards as both Dark and Edward were clearly struggling to maintain their Magicka. The Thalmor was absolutely furious, throwing fists against their magic, desperately trying to escape. And she very well could escape if you didn`t move now.
You scrambled to your feet and clutched the Staff of Magnus close. You raised the artifact upwards, focusing on the Eye as it spun ominously above the Hall`s well -
"Nimaco, what - by the Eight!" a familiar female voice suddenly appeared.
You turned towards the foyer, where the voice came from. As soon as you saw who stood there, your heart sunk. Mejia, Donral, Yakyln and Rochipherst - all of Nimaco`s Thalmor partners-in-crime.
"You little bitch!" Mejia shrieked, her red hair flying behind her as she dashed towards you.
Your eyes widened as you dodged, rolling across the floor to get away.
Tamaki jumped to his feet and summoned a Greater Ward to shield you from the vicious Thalmor. "I won`t allow you to bring any more harm to anyone here!" he shouted, lunging forward to put his all into the Ward.
Mejia threw Fireball after Fireball at the Mage of Restoration. "You idiot, you think you still have the College?" she cackled. "Gyosei, Ckuch, Dodt and Qrow have fallen to our hands. What makes you think a handful of novices can even dare to stand against us?"
Donral, Yakyln and Rochipherst ran to the middle of the Hall. They raised their hands and conjured Chain Lightning against the remaining Mages struggling to hold back Nimaco. The three Nords and the Breton fell to the stone floor, twitching from the coursing lightning. Nimaco was set free, the Eye`s connection fully regained.
She strode proudly over next to Mejia, staring in derision at Tamaki`s stand against the High Elves. "Foolish man. You think you can stand up to a woman? Let alone two?" Nimaco threw her hand downwards and an Ice Spike sprouted from the ground, impaling the blonde Nord.
Your eyes grew wide. Your friends` took gasps of shock. You drew a shuddering breath.
Tamaki let out a weak shout as his body went still and then fell limp, dangling from the stalagmite of ice. Blood seeped from the wound, staining his pale blue robes. His beautiful blonde head pressed softly against the ice, a small trickle of blood from his lips.
"TAMAKI!!!" you screamed, your voice flooded the Hall.
That`s all you could feel coursing through your veins. Without removing your eyes from the troupe of traitors, you shot magic from the Staff to the Eye, cutting off Nimaco`s power source again.
Nimaco and her fellow Thalmor drew breaths of alarm, while Mejia focused her dark eyes on you. She channelled Fire Magicka to throw at you, but it wasn`t fast enough.
"Faas...RU MAAR!!!" you bellowed.
You could see as your Shout blaze red in colour as it blew into the figures of your enemies. All five of them fell to their knees. Donral and Rochipherst quaked visibly. Yakyln backed up into the nearest pillar. Mejia stared up in horror. Nimaco was the only one to not show any emotion.
Zero, Fai, Edward and Dark watched in stunned silence. They had not witnessed such a display from you.
"You dare call my comrades fools?!" you cried, my eyes smouldering with rage. You glanced over to the group of men that had fought so hard alongside you. Each of them were in varying levels of pain, but maintained their shaking gazes on you. Your being shook with the emotions that rocked you to your core. "Who is it that came here to sow seeds of doubt in the trust of a kind man? Who is it that thoughtlessly came here to take advantage of resources that you were freely given in good faith? Who is it that decided who was to live and who was to die by your word alone?"
The five Thalmor stared at you, silent as the day was long. Your rage only increased.
"ANSWER ME, COWARDS!" Your Voice rang with the power of your Kind. Nimaco`s four colleagues shivered with terror. Even your fellow Mages quaked at the sheer power erupting from you.
It was Nimaco who spoke. "You know not what you speak of, child! You were not here to experience what terrors the Arch-Mage had instilled in my fellow Thalmor. You were not here when whispers of impunity from the College and its doings were passed to the Aldmeri Dominion. You were not here when I endured abuse at the hands of the leader of this lecherous dump! You never knew what I felt when I - "
Your anger had never risen to such levels in your life. This treacherous moron thinks she`s the one who was wronged? Does she really think she can speak with such self-righteous fury? "FOOL!" you shrieked. Your nails pressed so deeply into your palms that you could feel blood drip.
"Wuld...Nah Kest!" You surged forwards with unnatural speed towards Nimaco. With one hand, you grabbed her by the front of her robes and held her high, your Dragon strength at your close call. "You claim to have faced assault at the hands of a man who only wishes to open doors and avenues to study magic! It is you who knows not what true terror and assault is!" You snarled at the pallid, white face of the woman you held above you.
She struggled valiantly to break free from your grasp. No. She was not going to leave until she heard your tale. To hear the tale of her people`s work and how much discord and distrust spread amongst the people of Skyrim.
"Have you heard of Helgen? The capture of Ulfric Stormcloak among those unlucky enough to be within the vicinity of his capture? You should. As a member of the Aldmeri Dominion you would endorse his capture and execution - "
"What does that have to do with - "
"SILENCE, FAHLIIL!" You roared. "You speak too much for one that has nothing to say."
Finally, she wisely shut her mouth.
"I was crossing the border from Cyrodiil to Skyrim, searching for a new home," you continued, your Voice resounding deafeningly. "My mother abandoned me. My father took his anger for her out on me, both physically and mentally. My stepmother cursed and hurled insults at me as I was not really her own. I had endured years of torture at the hands of people that I was told to love and trust. So, I ran away. Then what do I find when I cross the border? A patrol of the Imperial Legion rounding up everyone they set their sights on. I did nothing but try to find a new home, but I was captured. I was thrown into the back of a wagon with Ulfric Stormcloak and some other poor humans despite their most desperate cries denouncing any allegiance to that fool. We head to Helgen, where a troupe of executioners waited to chop our heads off. They called us out one by one for our execution."
Then you leaned in close to Nimaco, a furious grin on your face. "But want to know the funniest part? My name wasn`t on the damned list and they chose to execute me anyway! Your Imperial Army slaves, which the Aldmeri Dominion approves of and coerces, round up people indiscriminately, without doing any form of background checks, to execute them!"
The entire room was silent.
"I had just escaped years of torment from my kin only to be hauled off for execution by a bunch of strangers that never bothered to actually determine if I`m allied with that idiot Stormcloak. You speak of assault and abuse? You are simply a stupid Thalmor who screeches like a child when someone looks at them the wrong way. You don`t take your losses in stride and fights for your own better future. You are someone who infiltrated a Mage`s College and took every possible innocuous action and spun it to fit your narrative. Your narrative of lies and perjury. You and your brainless buffoons make me sick."
Nimaco just hung from your grasp, at a loss for words.
"These morons don`t impress us much, either." Edward chuckled.
You looked to your left and there the blonde Nord was, a Bound Sword to Mejia`s neck. His golden gaze beamed up at you while Mejia resisted, a nasty snarl on her face. Behind them was Dark, casting Calm on Yakyln, Zero casting Pacify on Donral and Rochipherst. Fai held Tamaki`s form in his arms, working hard to heal the heavily wounded Nord. Seeing Fai`s work gave you some relief, knowing that Tamaki wasn`t dead.
You nodded to the Mages, pleased that they were still on your side despite all that just happened. Realizing the opportunity, you turned your head in the direction of the pillar that shielded Vic and Matt.
"Matt, get Vic to his quarters now!" you called. Matt`s blonde head suddenly appeared as he slowly dragged Vic`s body out of the Hall of Elements.
Nimaco craned her neck over to where Matt and Vic were slowly proceeding. "No!" she cried and she slashed at your arm, a Bound Dagger in hand.
You yelped in pain, releasing the Thalmor from your grasp. You instinctively held your arm close.
"___, catch her, quickly!" Zero cried, his grip on the male Thalmors weakening.
You ignored the blood seeping from your wound and aimed the Staff at the Eye once more, staving off the impending magical connection. It was almost too late when you Shouted after the High Elf, throwing her to the ground.
Satisfied that the connection was broken again, you then dove upon Nimaco`s form, grasped at her legs, trying to hold her still as she recovered from your Unrelenting Force. You watched with relief as Matt and Vic successfully left the room. Nimaco turned over, raised a foot and she kicked you in your face. You cupped your face in your hands, feeling fresh blood draining from your nose.
Scuffles broke out behind you, following your skirmish with Nimaco. Turning your eyes back to her, Nimaco raised her hands in the air, preparing another magical attack.
Your eyes narrowed. Your teeth gritted in fury. You weren`t going to let her hurt Vic any more.
Sitting up, you held the Staff high and aimed it towards the Eye once again. The magic gathered at its tip. As you focused my attention on the Eye of Magnus, it unlocked and swirled around itself furiously. You conjured a Bound Dagger and threw it at Nimaco.
Sailing through the air, you prayed your strength was enough. The blade`s aim was true.
A choked cry came from Nimaco`s form as the dagger lodged into her shoulder. She fell to her knees. You launched yourself onto her body again, allowing your full weight to hold her down.
"No, I won`t lose to a blind little sheep like you!" The Thalmor shrieked and flailed about.
You turned her over and pinned her shoulders to the floor. Her face was twisted into a mask of rage.
"Why are you so full of anger anyway?" you questioned, your face softening to concern. "If anything, your rage blinds you. You`re so caught up in what you perceive to be real that you`re stuck in a tunnel of your own making!"
"Don`t claim to know me, Nord bitch!" Nimaco cried, throwing weak punches at your ribs.
Coughing, you spat, "This is exactly what I`m talking about! You won`t even explain yourself because everyone must silently agree to whatever you say without question! You shut everything and everyone out who tries to engage you in any form of discourse against your own stance. Everyone who doesn`t automatically follow your word is dashed to pieces. You Thalmor are so caught up in your own philosophies and beliefs that the rest of the races can`t connect with you. Everyone must fall in line or feel your ire. It`s the reason the whole war in Skyrim is happening in the first place!"
Every layer you peeled back, the more fury displayed on Nimaco`s face. "I will report this insufferable behaviour to the Aldmeri Dominion and declare the Dragonborn the enemy of Skyrim!"
You understood now. No wonder Vic was unsuccessful in his speaking to Nimaco. It was clear words were useless against this individual. She was far too wrapped up in her own vision of events that discussion was out of the question. Even trying to understand her put her on the defensive. Not surprising, but still disappointing.
You glanced over your shoulder at the fighting going on behind the two of you.
Edward and Mejia were firing various Destruction spells at each other. Mejia`s clothes and hair were burnt at the edges while Edward`s metallic arm was exposed and encased in ice.
Dark and Yakyln were using various Illusion Magicka to outwit and catch each other off-guard. Dark was vanishing and appearing around Yakyln, then drawing his Bound Dagger to strike her. Yakyln was using Hysteria and Fear interchangeably to throw off Dark so she could strike him with his back turned. Both of them were struggling to land blows on each other and the exhaustion on their faces showed.
Zero had his hands full as he struggled to maintain two Atronachs to fight both Donral and Rochipherst. Rochipherst fought a Flame Atronach, severely burnt on his left side. His fury kept him pushing on to find a way to strike Zero without the Flame Atronach`s interference. Donral was up against a Storm Atronach, but he was focused more on your battle with Nimaco rather than the various Lightning Spells landing hits on him. Zero`s pose was collapsing inwards - this was putting great strain on him and his abilities.
Fai held Tamaki in his arms, summoning a Greater Ward around them for protection. Fai`s face was full of pain as he protected the unconscious male in his grasp.
You turned your gaze back towards Nimaco. "Don`t you want this to end? Everyone lived so peacefully together before. Now we all must fight for our lives? This isn`t the end goal. We can`t possibly let this go on any longer," you pleaded solemnly.
The Thalmor suddenly stopped struggling. Her eyes trailed up to yours. She frowned. "For once, I agree. This constant fighting isn`t getting us anywhere. But that`s where it ends. Just because you had your unfortunate turmoil doesn`t negate mine. You found your solace. So let me find mine."
She still fully believed in her victim-hood...is it still possible to come away from this without further conflict? You countered, "If you leave, no one will bother you again. We will forget you and everything that has happened."
Nimaco considered this, her features looking thoughtful.
After a moment, she locked her eyes with yours and nodded. You searched her eyes, your suspicion not vanishing quite yet. But even though she wasn`t trustworthy a person, maybe you could trust your agreement?
You released Nimaco`s shoulders and backed away from her. You both stood up simultaneously. This caused the battles behind you to cease. Nimaco bowed her head and entwined her hands behind her back.
"My friends, let us halt this pointless feud. We`re leaving this place. We have obtained what we need and will only find more resistance to our cause."
Mejia and Edward`s magic fizzled, but they still maintained their furious stares at each other. Dark and Yakyln stepped back from each other. Zero dismissed his Atronachs and fell to his knees as Donral and Rochipherst glanced at each other.
"Dragonborn - ___," Nimaco began, correcting herself. "It was an...interesting experience to remain here and meet with these...individuals. You have also provided us with invaluable information on the powers of the Dragonborn and what is associated with your position."
She held out one hand. You kept your lips in a firm line and nodded in thanks. You weren`t pleased to have given information about your position and powers as Dragonborn to Nimaco and her troupe, but it was a small price to pay to make them leave. You took her hand and shook it firmly.
"As for your fate, I don`t know what awaits you," Nimaco spoke, her voice even. But her eyes kept shimmering. "But what I do know...is that I WILL BE THE ONE TO SEND YOU TO OBLIVION!"
Nimaco then drew you close and drew a Bound Sword from behind her back. Before she could pierce your body, you instinctively grabbed at her sword-wielding hand and twisted it away.
Metal on flesh.
Opening you eyes, you looked up. Your jaw dropped.
The weapon you tried to defend yourself against was now wedged in Nimaco`s chest. Her face was contorted with shock. Her eyes were wide. Her mouth open in a silent scream. The Thalmor woman fell forward, her knees slamming to the stone floor.
"Nimaco, my love, no!" Donral`s voice rang through the silence.
He ran two steps before grinding to a halt. His outstretched arms quivered. The tips of his fingers were dripping with solid pellets, depleting his hands. The pebbles hit the floor, creating a pile at his slowly vanishing feet.
Cries from the other Thalmor allies resounded. Rochipherst growled in fury as he could only watch as he was disintegrating into dust. Yakyln screamed in incredulity as her hands disappeared before her eyes. Mejia tore her eyes from her fellow Thalmor and glared at you. Throwing her hands into the air to summon Magicka, her appendages began to dissipate. Mejia screeched in fury as she and the other three Thalmor dispersed into nothingness.
If your eyes could bulge out of their sockets, they would be doing so now. Confused and astounded gasps from the humans nearby rang loud in the Hall. None of you could believe it. Nimaco`s allies were conjured?
You turned back to the original Thalmor. She was writhing helplessly on the floor. The Bound Sword was gone, but the wound most definitely remained. She was coughing and spluttering blood. She turned her eyes to you, using every remaining ounce of energy to fill her gaze with venom.
"You..." she snarled.
But that was more than she could handle. Her head went limp and her mouth fell ajar. Her previously rage-filled countenance fell lifeless and pale. Her hands, quick to fill with Magicka, curled, void of any more power ever again. Nimaco, the Thalmor of the Aldmeri Dominion, was dead.
Various sighs rang through the Hall of Elements. Looking back to your friends, you saw their enemies had disappeared into the ether.
Glancing up at the Eye of Magnus, it still spun furiously despite a lack of vessel to expel magic into.
You turned your attention back to your comrades. "Is...everyone okay?" you called out.
Edward was on his bottom, clutching his frozen arm and panting heavily. He squinted up at you and gave you a trademark grin.
Dark was against a pillar, arms clutched around his middle. Blinking at you, he snuck in a seductive smirk.
Zero was doubled over on his knees, pushed beyond his limit. He barely had the strength to look you in the eye and nod.
Fai had his head hung low, but kept his grasp on the unconscious Tamaki. He still managed a warm smile.
Everyone was finally safe.
"Tamaki! Oh, Gods Beyond, is he alright?!" You cried in alarm as you stumbled over to Fai and your fellow apprentice.
You knelt down and surveyed the fallen Nord in Fai`s arms. The vicious stab wound left Tamaki a bloody mess, ruining his treasured Solitude robes. The bard`s eyes were softly shut. His limbs limp. You felt tears well up in your eyes.
"Please tell me he`s - "
"___, my dear, Tamaki will be just fine," Fai whispered, touching your cheek. "The Ice Spike did do some damage, but nothing we cannot heal. I`ve sealed the wound already. It`s up to the boy to do the remaining healing himself."
"He may be talented in Restoration of others, but he struggles in healing himself," Zero`s voice sounded from over your shoulder. "I told him Alteration is necessary for a Restoration student..." He placed a hand on your shoulder comfortingly, but shook his head at Tamaki`s ineptitude.
You ignored the comment and instead launched yourself into Zero`s arms, hugging him tightly.
"Wh-what are you-?" he gasped at your action, thoroughly surprised.
You pulled back and smiled. "You have a good heart. You always act stuck up and rude, but you`re such a good person. I`m so glad you`re okay."
Zero`s face suddenly reddened brightly. His lavender gaze turned away as if by a magnetic force. "Wh-whatever..."
You laughed, drawing his gaze back to you. You hugged him close again. "Ever the tsundere, aren`t you?"
"Hey now, Zero, don`t keep the hot girl all to yourself!" Dark`s voice interrupted the two of you.
The white-haired Nord jumped out of your embrace, realizing there was an audience. He coughed and muttered something about Dark being an impatient ass.
The violet-haired Breton winked at you as you stood up to meet him.
"Oh, you want my attention now too? I`m surprised you weren`t the subject of ire of Nimaco and Mejia, honestly, what with your flirting with anything remotely feminine," you chuckled.
Dark wrapped an arm around your middle and pulled you close. He gently pushed a lock of hair away from your face. "The only girl`s attention I want is from this formidable one right here..." His eyes smouldered as they raked over your form.
You shivered in spite of yourself.
"I could never desire anyone`s heart as empty and malicious as theirs. Yours, sweet ___, is the one I crave."
Your heart and your loins tingled at such enticing sentiments...
"Enough with the sexy act, Dark! Doesn`t ___ get that enough from Tamaki?" Edward`s voice cut through the atmosphere.
"Oh, are you falling for me, Edward?" Dark asked mischievously as you were released from his hold.
Edward rolled his eyes at his fellow apprentice`s innuendo, thoroughly uninterested. "You wish you were charming enough to seduce men."
You walked over to Edward and beamed.
"What?" he cried, your pleased gaze making him blush.
You wrapped your arms around the short Nord. "I`m so happy you`re alright," you mumbled into his ear.
Edward went stiff as a board. "Well, yeah, I mean...uhh..." he trailed off.
Pulling away, you examined his blushing face.
He scratched his cheek shyly, looking everywhere except at you. "I couldn`t let you have all the fun..."
You giggled at his antics and he grunted as you embraced him tightly.
"Aww, not fair, Edo-Bear, I`m jealous of all the attention you`re getting from the lovely ___..." Fai complained.
It was your turn to blush at Fai`s compliment of you as Edward shouted an irritated retort at Fai.
You were so pleased that everything and everyone was safe. Everyone was alive.
Suddenly, a loud crash beside Edward and you erupted. Looking down, Edward`s steel arm had broken off and fell to the ground. Edward blanched at the sight then groaned something about making an annoying trek to Whiterun to fix his arm again.
"On that note, I suggest each of us to retire to our chambers to rest and recuperate," Fai said, gently placing Tamaki`s body over his shoulder. "Zero, can I count on you to locate Qrow, Ckuch, Dodt and Gyosei and bring them to their respective chambers? They fought valiantly and need their own healing. I will return once I bring Tamaki to his room."
Zero nodded and headed for the Hall of Countenance, visibly limping as he did so.
"May I help? I didn`t expend as much magic as any of you did," you pleaded, concerned for your fellow Mages.
Fai turned to you and smiled. "A kind offer, dearest ___. But it was you who saved our lives. If it wasn`t for you journeying to the Labyrinth to fetch the Staff of Magnus, none of us would have lived to tell the tale. You deserve as much rest as any of us. Besides, Zero has made it painfully clear to me multiple times that he cannot sit still while others are in peril. There are many potions available for use, should he need extra Magicka while he heals the others."
The Mage was correct in one respect, at least. Zero is stubborn in his own right.
You felt Dark`s grasp on your shoulder. You glanced up at him.
"C`mon, you`ve done enough. If you`re really that bent on helping, you can heal Ed, Tamaki and I. I`ve always dreamed of a pretty nurse..." Dark spoke alluringly.
You laughed as Edward smacked the Breton with his broken steel arm.
As Fai led the party to the Hall of Attainment, you took one last look at the Eye of Magnus. Spinning angrily, spurts of green magic still erupted from the spaces between each fragment. You gripped the Staff, still in your hands, nervously. Suddenly, everything in the room, save you and the Eye of Magnus halted its movements.
"We knew you would succeed," a familiar voice whispered behind you. You turned around and spotted the same figure that appeared in the Arch-Mage`s Quarters before your journey to Labyrinth.
"Hikaru!" you exclaimed, smiling at the Psijic Order agent, Hikaru Hitachiin.
His light bronze gaze fell upon the Staff, then held your own. "Your victory here justifies our belief in you. Nice job, Rookie."
"Heh, thanks," you grinned, scratching the back of your head, bashfully. "But...so, what do we do now?"
Hikaru looked up at the spinning Eye. "The Eye has grown unstable. It cannot remain here, or else it may destroy this College and this world. It must be secured. Nimaco`s actions prove that the world is not ready for such a thing. We shall safeguard it... for now. You now have the opportunity to assist in maintaining the College, and carry on with your life. You have our gratitude, Dragonborn."
He bowed low to you, a half-smile on his face. You nearly bowed in response, when a thought struck you.
"Wait, how did you know I`d be able to defeat Nimaco?"
Hikaru`s smile turned into a smirk. He held up a finger to his lips. "A great many things obscured to you are quite clear to us. We have long believed you would prevail."
You cocked your head in confusion. All Hikaru did was chuckle.
He held out his hands to you, silently asking for the second half of the magical puzzle he had come to reclaim. You carefully placed the Staff in his hands.
Hikaru winked at you, flirtatiously. Then he turned towards the Eye and before you knew it, both the Eye of Magnus and Hikaru were enveloped in a bright light and disappeared.
You scratched your head, dumbfounded at the fact that despite the abilities and knowledge you had gained thus far in your journey, there was always going to be some things in this world that you`d never even hope to understand.