As part of my duties as a Mage's Guild apprentice, I had to do a few odd jobs for the Kajiit, Ajira, such as picking up spores, molds, and fungus. Lots of fun, these mages. Ajira wasn't too friendly at first, but as I helped her out with these items needed for her study, she began to purr everytime I came to see her. Eventually, she started to greet me with "May you walk on warm sands." (something every kitty loves to do). Soon, though, she ran out of things for me to do, and suggested I speak with Ranis Athrys, the Balmora Mage's Guild steward. Ranis had a few odd jobs for me to do as well, and one of them was to go into the Molag Amar region on a double mission. One was to find one of the Mage's Guild members and get her to pay her over-due membership dues. The other mission was to convince a Telvani wizard to join the Mage's Guild. If I couldn't convince him to join up, I was to kill him. Yes, an apprentice like myself to go and kill a full-powered Telvani wizard. No problem! Which job was supposed to be harder, again?

Both locations were just a hop, skip, and a jump apart from each other, in a rather dangerous, ashy part of Vvardenfell. This part of the island had been ravaged by volcanic ash, dust storms, and even blight storms (which can bring blight desease).

One of the directions on how to get to both locations was to travel east until I come upon a lake. Near the lake will be an old dunmer stronghold called "Merandus". At the lake I was to turn north and continue until I came upon both of my destinations. Well, that part was ok, but when I arrived at the lake, I decided to stop at Merandus and see what it actually was.

I had heard stories in prison that the dunmer were fierce warriors, rejecting the Emperor's rule, and causing much havok among the troups. One of the things that confounded the Emperor was the fact that the dunmer always seemed to be able to move troups around the island so quickly, but never found out how this was done. Of course, since the peace treaty, these strongholds had fallen into disuse. I noted a large structure standing alone on top of the building, and decided to investigate.

Inside, I found something called the Propylon Chamber. There were two pylons, surrounded by strange lights waving back and forth over them. Above the pylons were large crystals, larger than any I had ever seen. They seemed to pulsate with energy.

I stepped on to the platform of one of the propylons. It had writing on it, I think it was in something called "Dadric" but wasn't sure. The lights played over me, but nothing happened. I could see that there was a space for some small object to go into, but I had no idea what that object might be. I still wasn't sure what these pylon things did.

I decided that this would be a mystery for later (like so many others that were piling up on my list of things to do). I continued on my mission, got the Mage's Guild member to pay her dues, and got the Telvani wizard to join the Mage's Guild (gold, in 100 pieces at a time bribes, speaks volumes!). I reported back to Ranis of my success, people were happy with me, so I decided to go on a little vacation.

My "vacation", if that's what one could call it, consisted of heading south from Balmora, and into the western part of the province. I'd be going through the Bitter Coast region, an area of swamps and, well, more swamps. Lots of alchemy ingredients to pick up there, so I only brought a few things with me, as as to travel light.

I stopped by one of the fishing villages along the coast, and heard about a couple of netches causing problems in the area. I've seen these huge beasts, floating in the air like balloons, and always thought of them as quite peaceful. Apparently, when they're breeding, both the bull netch and betty netch become very agressive. The bull netch spits poison, and the betty netch just has very sharp tenticles which can cut a person up very quickly.

So much for my "vacation". {sigh}

I found the betty netch first (or rather, she found ME first). She came at me from behind, and since they float in the air, I near heard her coming. She managed to hit me twice before I could turn around at hit her with one of the magic rings I had collected so far. The lightening ring worked very well, and brought her down quickly.

The bull netch wasn't so easy, as it started right away with the poison spray. I still managed to bring it down with a few fireball rings and a few hits with my sword. I had to use two of my healing potions to get rid of the poison, though. Yuk!

I went back to the fishing village, and everyone was happy about the netches being gone now.

I continued to pick up spores, molds, and fungus. This area seems to be rich with growing things. It is too bad it rains so much here.

As I continued walking north along the western shore of Vvardenfell, I saw a Dedric temple in the distance. I had heard stories about those places. Filled with evil things, guarded by evil things, and used by people who worship evil things.

Basically, an evil place to avoid for now. Perhaps once I have better weapons, magic, and armor. Rumor has it they are filled with all sorts of very good loot, IF you survive the journey into them.

A little farther north, I came across a lonely stilt strider. Up to this point, I had always seen them at a travel station, but I suppose it's necessary to let them come here to feed on the vegitation once in a while. It didn't bother me, so I didn't bother it. Besides, it had it's back hollowed out, so it was actually someone's livelyhood, and why mess with that?

Continuing north, I came upon yet another of those strange Dunmer strongholds. I decided to investigate this one as well. It was similar in design to Marandus, including that lonely structure apart from the rest of the building. I decided to check it out.

Wow! Note to housekeeping: please pick up all the mess all over the floor! There were empty bottles everywere. Whoever was here last had the mother of all parties. Crates of things were left in corners, some empty, some filled with a few odds and ends, but the most notable thing were all the bottles - tons of them.

Who ever was here last forgot to pick up after themselves.

I saw the two pylons in the chamber, and decided to give them a closer look. One of the pylons had writing on it that I had seen before. MARANDUS. This HAD to be some sort of transport chamber, but the mystery remains: how to make it work. Yet another mystery to solve in my spare time.

I gathered up what I could and used my "recall" amulet to telport me back to my home in Caldera. I'd have to consult with people to see if anyone had an idea of how these chambers worked.

When I returned to Caldera, I dumped all the stuff I had gathered, sold it, and then headed up to the Mage's Guild offices. I asked around about the strongholds that I had seen, and was directed to Folms Mierel. He said that he had been researching the locations of these missing indexes for years, but his advanced age prevented him from gathering them together to make a master index, which would operate all of the transport chambers. He gave me the locations of most of them, but one was located to the far north, in an Ashlander camp.

I had obtained several of these indexes already, but this would be the first time I would go into the dusty wastelands of Vvardenfell.

The first part of this journey took me by mage teleport to Ald'rhun, then by stilt strider to Maar Gan.

As I left the Mage's Guild office at Ald'rhun, I walked straight into an ash storm in progress. I made my way to the stilt strider dock and we left for Maar Gan. The ashstorm was still in full force when I arrived there, the dust almost blinding me. These storms can be dangerous, as they tend to carry the Blight, strange diseases from Red Mountain, to the east of us.

I decided to wait out the storm at the local inn.

It was only 10 gold pieces to stay the night, so I decided to pack it in for the day. I was hoping the weather would be better tomorrow.

The next day, the storm was still going as strong as it was before. Reluctantly, I put on my bravest face and headed north to the Urshilaku Camp. I could not believe anyone would want to live in this kind of desolation. The storm made it very difficult to see.

On my way, I passed one of those old Dwemer ruins. Strange that their buildings still stand thousands of years after they all vanished. Strange, that after all these years, no one ever really determined what happened to them.

Finally, after several hours of walking, I arrived at the Urshilaku Camp. These are hardy people, eaking a living off the dusty land they live in. They herd guar, hunt animals for their hides to trade, and so on.

A young boy asked me what kind of armor I was wearing. Before I could answer, his father called him away from me. Ashlanders, it seems do not trust outlanders, such as myself. There is still a lot of bad blood between them and the Empire.

I finally found the yurt of the camp's Wise Woman. It is common knowedge that if you ever want to know what is going on, always consult the wise woman of a village. They always seem to know, hence the name.

There, on the table next to her, was one of the indexes that I had to find.

I asked her if she wanted to sell it, and she was willing do to so. She knew that it was valueable to me, so the price was a little higher than I had hoped for, but considering what it would provide for me, it was worth the price.

I left her tent, and headed back out to do a little exploring. There was not much there, a few wild animals and an old Deadric shrine. I used my amulet of recall to return home.

I had a few more indexes to retrieve. One of of my missions, Folms Mierel sent me to the Telvani tower of Tel Fyr. I had never really had much business with House Telvani, but I understood that there were a few conflicts between them and the Mage's Guild. One of the points of contention was that Telvani felt that if you have the stronger arguement, then you have the right to fight to prove your point. If you win, then you were right all along. Telvani also delve into stronger spells than the Mage's guild cares for.

I teleported via the Mage's guild to Sadrith Mora, and used a spell of water walking to go southwest to Tel Fyr.

After a very long walk, I arrived at Tel Fyr. I had not seen these structures before, but it was huge! Telvani do not build their homes; rather, they grow them out of charmed mushrooms. I went inside, and asked the nice lady where I could find Mr. Fyr. She said he was up in his study doing research. She mentioned that there are no stairs, so she suggested levitation. I made my way through the winding tunnels of hollowed-out mushroom to the upstairs chamber door. As I did, I heard strange, moaning noises echoing through the tunnels. Perhaps the rumors were true about this place; Mr. Fyr was keeping victims of the dreaded disease, Corporus, in his basement. I felt a shiver go down my spine as I thought about it. Corporus is a deadly disease, brought by the blight storms from Red Mountain. It will eventually rob you of your mind, and transform you into a living lump of flesh, attacking anything in sight. Later stages of the disease cause the victim to grow distorted and grotesque. They will eat their own flesh, only to grow more. It always results in the death of the victim. Something to avoid. What was Mr. Fyr doing with them in his basement? I decided not to ask.

After levitating up several floors, I finally met Mr. Fyr. He was a dark elf, in full Deadric armor. I asked him about the index, and he just handed it over to me. He said he was going to let his guests in his Corporusarium play with it. I asked him about House Telvani, and he told me everything I wanted to know about it. He said if I wanted to join, that I should travel to Tel Vos and speak to Master Aryon. I thanked him for his time. He asked me if I wanted to raid the Corporasirum, but I declined. He seemed to appreciate that.

I found the last of these indexes in Telasero, in the south of Vvardenfell. It was the most difficult one to obtain, because it had been taken over by the evil "6th House" of Dagoth Ur. It was very dark, and full of ash zombies, dreamers, and even an Asended Sleeper, a huge, misshappen human that had lost it's mind voluntarily to the house of Ur.

I managed to defeat them all, and found the index. I also found a strange altar, with hunks of flesh hung around it as an offering. Disgusting.

After giving the last of the indexes to Folms, he made a master index for me. This would allow me to teleport through each of these old Dunmer strongholds. It would save lots of travel time, of course.

After doing some buying and selling with the local merchants, it was time to work on my alchemy skills. It took a lot of work to mix and match the various items together, and found quite a few good matches. As I got better and better at it, the potions came out much more powerful and much lighter. In fact, some of them weighed almost nothing, but could provide a powerful effect for several minutes. I concentrated mainly on restoring magica and health. When I had used all of those ingredients up, I started mixing other things together, and came up with dozens of useful potions that could be sold for a tidy profit.

It was a few hours later than I finally finished, and had a lot of things to sell. I made quite a lot of money that day.

A few days later I found myself on a quest for one of the Mage's guild gides to the small egg mining village of Gnisis. It seems that the workers there had broken through a wall and and found the remains of a burried Dwemer ruin. This was most unusual, since there was usually some structure above ground, but this was totally underground. There were reports of a couple of strange books there, and I was to retrieve them.

After fighting my way past some of these insects, I managed to find the room in question. I found the books I had been told about.

This one seemed to be about building a giant mechanical creature, but I could not read the writing.

This one seemed to be about how to connect something, involving a hammer and a dagger and some object that resembled a heart, but it made no sense to me at all. Again, no one I knew of could read this type of writing. Hopefully, I could find someone who could translate the text for me. I brought the books back to the guild guide that has requested them, and did a few more chores for them.

One of the guild gides, Skink-in-trees-shade, gave me a most unusual task: He wanted me to capture the soul of an ash goul for him to study. He said any ash goul would do, but the best place to find them was in an underground hideout northwest of Tel Aruhn.

By now, I had a Wizard's staff, and used it to levitate me over the water to this location. It was not as fast as running over the water.

I found the place and found the ash goul. Naturally, a fight to the death ensued. The creature felt I should die. I disagreed. I guess I had the stronger arguement. I came away with it's soul trapped in one of the soul gems I had been given. Skink-in-trees-shade was very happy with me, and decided it was time to advance me to the rank of Arch-mage. The problem is that there is already an Arch-mage in Vvardenfell, and that's Trebonius Artorius, the fool that resides in the Mage's guild office of Vivic. He was sent here to keep him out of the hair of the rest of the Mage's guild of the empire.