Looking for other Skyrim Speedway posts? Part One has links to them all!
Previously on the Skyrim Speedway: Orciana Jones found yet another long lost magical artefact, High Elves were yet again jerks and we found out there’s yet another disaster-filled prophecy involving our beloved hero. What’s next, the return of Voldemort?
No, no-one’s going to return, although the Elder Scrolls series does have a surplus of powerhungry wizards. And while you can definitely draw parallels between ol’ Voldy M and Alduin, we’re leaving the dragons alone for now to keep going with the College questline.
Because despite everything I said last time, I do kind of like the College quests. Or maybe I just like it because it’s the best Guild questline by default? I said earlier that I considered the Mages Guild in Skyrim a missed opportunity and I think that’s because of all the Guilds, it’s easiest to see in this one how Bethesda could have made something really special, but went for generic and dull instead. Still, maybe the Magic School game I actually want isn’t really suitable for a Skyrim style RPG. I’m imagining some sort of crazy, compelling videogame mashup of Harry Potter, Rockstar’s Bully and Lev Grossman’s The Magicians. Someone get on with making that, OK? Thanks!
Getting back on track, Ancano, the College’s resident Thalmor, is upset at us because the show-off timestop elf from earlier is now here to see us in person. And frankly, why wouldn’t he? Orc is extremely good at being charming in person. Rather than tell everyone how amazing and important Orc is though, he stops time again, tells us to seek out the Auger of Dunlain, then unstops time and pulls the mage equivalent of “Whoops, wrong number!” to everyone else. Rude.
The Auger lives in the College basement, an icy place full of long-lost secret experiments; one of the experiments being the Auger himself.
Or maybe he was totally normal and Orc just ate some bad mushrooms beforehand? That’s a real risk with alchemy. The Auger is also full of the usual dire warnings. Paraphrased, he said “doom and gloom! you seek knowledge but will it destroy you like it has others?? but hmmm I see you are ~special~ ok seek out the Staff Of Magnus alright laters”.
Asking around the College, it seems that the Staff is a long-lost relic of an ancient wizard -presumably the same one responsible for the Eye- and that Synod mages were here a few months ago seeking the very same thing. The Synod are what the Mage’s Guild in Cyrodiil has become, so when I insist on calling the College the Mage’s Guild, not only is that inaccurate but the real Mage’s Guild isn’t even in the game any more! Not stopping though!
The Synod mentioned going to an ancient Dwemer ruin called Mzulft, so off Orc goes too!
It’s down near Riften and has an impressively steamy exterior. Fun fact of the day: a lot of Elder Scrolls players think that Dwemer stuff is steam powered because all their ruins have steam pipes running everywhere. They’re actually not: all Dwemer technology runs on weird sound based Tonal Magic, the steam is just there to provide the necessary sounds! I think that’s neat! Here’s the Dremora Twins beating up one of the bigger constructs for Orc. Note the steam!
Anyway, the Synod expedition has gone wrong. They had to hang around for ages waiting on a magical crystal to arrive from Cyrodiil, during which time they got overrun by Falmer and Dwemer machines. We run into the lone survivor, who is really in no position to be as condescending as he is but nevertheless takes every opportunity to make it clear he thinks Winterhold College is a joke. He does deign to share that while the Staff isn’t here, there is a Dwemer machine that will reveal powerful magical sources, if Orc can somehow line up three beams of light with wall crystals…??
Orc is extremely good at setting up ancient magitek rave shows. This projects a map on the wall that shows only 2 such sources: the College and somewhere in the middle of Skyrim. As Orc is leaving, time is stopped once more and the Elf from the Psijic Order is briefly back to be vague but reassuring about “future events”. Wonderful of him to keep in touch.
Anyway, Orc heads back to the College with the map information and…
…uh, you probably shouldn’t be doing that, Ancano.
Yeah, definitely bad things are going down. Ancano is up to no good behind his impenetrable magic shield and he killed the Archmage doing it!
Killed him so hard his legs sunk into the ground. So sad.
Conveniently, the shocked survivors are able to identify the other place of power as the Archmage’s obsession, the legendary lost city of Labyrinthian and just so happen to have the relic needed to gain access to that place on their person!
It becomes clear why the Archmage was obsessed as soon as we arrive. There’s a whole bunch of ghosts arguing, one of whom is the Archmage! But Orc didn’t pay him any attention when he was alive and isn’t changing this policy just because he’s a ghost now. We head inside and face the Labyrinthian’s most famous denizen…
…the skeletal dragon, only one in the game! Past him it’s mostly draugr, plus a mysterious voice that drains all your magic every time it appears to taunt you, which is pretty frequent. A huge problem if you’re a pure mage (as you might be on the Mage’s Guild questline!) but barely an inconvenience for Orc. At the end of the dungeon is the mysterious voice’s owner, a Dragon Priest, but he’s a pushover and we take the Staff from him no sweat. One of Ancano’s Thalmor cronies does show up to try and pull the “I’ll just be having that” routine but…
…heheh. (sorry, it’s still really hard to get a good killcam screenshot)
With the Staff in hand, Orc head back to the College to end this once and for all. The Eye Of Magnus is going quite crazy, but with the Staff Of Magnus in hand we break the magical shield and Ancano’s face in that order.
Immediately after that, the Elf from the Psijic order shows up with a few buddies. He says “Good job Orc, you did well following my instructions so you should be Archmage now” before the lot of them teleport out with the Eye to put it “somewhere safe”. If he’d hung around a little longer we could have asked him why he didn’t just take the Eye as soon as we found it and save us all this trouble.
Tolfdir is perfectly happy to go along with the Psijic’s suggestion, so now Orc is officially Archmage of the College of Winterhold. Frankly, that would be more impressive if it wasn’t abundantly clear that Winterhold is the community college of magic schools, but Orc doesn’t turn down titles.
Best to focus on what’s important: we picked up the final two College Questline achievements during all that and Orc got the Poncho Of Power!
Time Elapsed: 13hr 56m
Achievement Progress: 32/75
Next time: Orc puts his armour back on because the Archmage’s robes are actually not very good.