Skavild was a sensible and practical Nord. Certainly, he was no barbarian; he was well-read and enjoyed life-drawing as much as he liked worshipping Talos and swinging his big battle-axe around. And once he knew where he was going, it was almost impossible to distract him. He always had a very short to-do list, not because he did everything immediately, but because he was very careful not to add to it, in case it turned out to be something he didn't want to do.

Currently, Skavild was searching for the ancient Helm of Winterhold for his old friend, Jarl Korir.

Halfway down a frozen barrow, a spectral form appeared, and tried to distract him.

"Seek not the Book of Fate!" It said.

"All right, I won't." Said Skavild. He collected the helm and thought little of it.

"I just met a very strange person." He said, later that day.

"The helm doesn't fit." Said Jarl Korir.

"People had smaller heads in those days." Lied Skavild, not wanting to embarrass the Jarl about the size of his head. "Anyway, I've come to tell you that I'm leaving the College of Winterhold. You were right, and it's no place for a proud Nord. Especially not one who can't do any spells."

"Has Eldaline not come back yet?"

"I didn't think you'd want her to come back." Said Skavild. "She planted me at the college so that the Thalmor could steal the Eye of Magnus, and half the town was nearly destroyed again."

"No, Skavild, she was led astray! It wasn't her plan, it was all that wretched advisor Ancano! He made her do it and I'm glad you killed him. My sweet, beloved Eldaline is blameless."

"If you say so." Said Skavild. "She is quite a high ranking Thalmor official. But no, she's not back yet."

(Eldaline had accidentally been transported to the isle of Artaeum along with her two surviving accomplices and the Eye of Magnus after the incident. The details are no longer important. What was important was that she had been to dinner with the Jarl several times, because Korir often forgot that he hated elves and held them all responsible for the Great Collapse of Winterhold.)

The truth was, Skavild was a little upset with the college. Not because they had allowed harm to come to Winterhold again (Skavild was from Solitude, and as far as he was concerned, the other half could fall in the sea as well), but because when he had told Arch-Mage Tolfdir that he intended to leave, as he wasn't very good at magic, Tolfdir had not tried to persuade him to stay, or argue with him in the slightest, not even once.

"Milk-drinkers. Milksops. Milk-maids." He grunted, as he stomped into the hall. "That's strange. That looks like the Eye of Magnus. I wonder why it's come back."

While he was waiting for Arch-Mage Tolfdir, Skavild decided to have a look into the scrying bowl. He wasn't sure what it did. He was fairly sure it was intended to be used in magical research, but he felt it would be more fun as a source of entertainment.

"Hey, bowl." He said. "Can you show me what life would've been like with Eldaline if it wasn't for the bloody Thalmor?"

The waters rippled and Skavild's vision filled with smoke. As it cleared, he beheld a strange scene in a stone tower. Confused and beautiful people were milling around a brightly-lit circle. A spell? A ritual?

"This isn't even working." Said Eldaline. "Skavild, I don't believe any of these people are virgins. Where in Oblivion did you find them? And this floor is a disgrace. I'll never be ruler of Nirn. I might as well renounce my ambition and surrender to the advancing Knights of the Shining Phalanx."

"You're always blaming me for everything." Said the Skavild in the other reality. "Why do you never blame him? He's the one who forgot to lightly poach the ectoplasm, and it was his idea to collect virgins in bloody Riften."

"You have asked for my help. I am providing it." Said Ondolemar.

Skavild looked up from the scrying bowl. "The water must need realigning or something. Hello. What's that?"

A figure had just reached the top of the steps and stepped into the hall.

"There you are!" She said. "Breylana told me I'd find you up here. Thank the gods I didn't miss you!"

"That's a nice... dress."

"Skavild, I am not naive." Said Eldaline. "I know very well that Ancano's dreadful behaviour will probably have made the Thalmor unpopular in the local area. I am hoping not to draw attention to myself. Now, follow me into the cellar. I have something wonderful to show you."

"The Jarl of Winterhold was looking for you." Said Skavild, following.

"I know, I have already seen him. I am eager to avoid dinner with him tonight. He said he has a new helmet, and wants to dress as Ysgramor and re-enact the Battle of the Moesring with me afterwards."

"Well, I think that's a good idea. It would be some welcome entertainment in these unhappy times. Educational, too. All the townsfolk could watch."

Eldaline said, "I do not think I would like that."

"Where are we?"

"Guess!"

"Well." Skavild said. "We're somewhere with a really deep, cold-looking underground lake."

"That's not a lake, Skavild! It's the sea! Isn't it incredible? In we go!"

"Now you must know where we are." Said Eldaline.

"Glub."

"What did you say, Skavild?"

"I said, You bloody awful elf, why did you push me into this ice water, I'm going to die?"

As Skavild clambered out of the water into a sea-cave, he noticed how dry Eldaline seemed, although his armour made unpleasant squelching sounds as he walked and his hair stuck coldly to his neck. It really was very uncomfortable.

"I am not a bloody awful elf, Skavild. I have just had a very difficult few years on the Isle of Artaeum, and manipulating the fabric of time itself."

"Few years?" Said Skavild. "You only left last week. The fabric of time? I don't believe you travelled through time. Gods, woman! What did you do? Don't lie, you tried, didn't you? You tried to assassinate Talos, the hero-god of mankind! I know you tried, so don't deny it!"

"My adventures would take far too long to explain to you, today at least. Suffice to say, I did not succeed in making any changes to the present. In fact, that is why we are down here."

"Down where?" Demanded Skavild.

"Under the sea, in the ruins of Winterhold, of course!"

"Of course." Said Skavild. "And what are we looking for?"

"A book. A very ordinary looking book." Said Eldaline.

"Of course." Skavild said again. Then he said, "A very ordinary-looking book, somewhere, here in the dark, in a ruined capital city, at the bottom of the sea."

"Yes." Said Eldaline. "When you see it, don't read it. Or, if you absolutely cannot resist reading it, and you find that it seems to be telling you the future, do not tell me what it says."

Skavild had a sudden feeling that someone had recently mentioned a book like this. But surrounded by darkness, he couldn't remember who.

To be continued