Interesting fact: After this chapter, Eldaline's face stopped changing.

The story so far:

Eldaline and Skavild are in a dwarven ruin with a name they have difficulty pronouncing, trying to find the location of the Staff of Magnus. In the depths of the ruin, they have found an Imperial Mage of the Synod.

Skavild is not a real wizard but is being forced against his will to learn spells at the college because Eldaline is the cruellest and most unreasonable librarian in the history of the Aldmeri Dominion. Previously, Eldaline went on a date with the Jarl of Winterhold, and also discovered that her colleague Ancano is hiding his research from her.

"No matter what Gavros said, this was my idea first." Said the Synod mage, whose name was Paratus. "The Council is going to know that when I get back. I was the one who thought of using this... this Oculory."

"Was it intended to understand and dissect the nature of the divine by collecting starlight and channelling it?" Said Eldaline. "That would be typical of the Dwemer. I hate them."

"From all our research, it seems they were intent on discerning the nature of the divine. This machinery, all of it, was designed to collect starlight, and then... I'm not sure. Split it, somehow?"

"Hmph." Said Eldaline."

"It was my idea to replace one of the key elements with our focusing crystal." Said Paratus. "Months of enchantments went into it. Let's just hope they got it right this time."

"Here it is. Magnificent, isn't it? Took an incredible amount of work to get it running again. Now I'm hoping it'll all be worth it. Place the crystal in the central apparatus, and we can start the process for focusing it."

"There." Said Skavild, pleased that he could help with something.

"Your stupid crystal isn't even focused properly." Said Eldaline. "Get out of the way, I'll freeze it and burn it until it is cooperative."

"Now the crystal needs to be focused." Explained Paratus. "It was created so far away, we knew that some adjustments would have to be made. Heating and cooling the crystal will cause it to expand or contract, which will change how the light passes through it. You'll need to use spells to do that."

"Spells!" Eldaline cried. "Oh, but I'm not sure if I can do it!"

"Oh, don't worry. Simple spells will do. I'm sure you can do it." Said Paratus.

"But I'm afraid I'll get it wrong! Are you sure you don't want to do it for me?"

"Wait a minute." Said Paratus. "Is she just being unpleasantly sarcastic?"

"Of course not." Said Skavild.

"Did I do it right?" She called.

"Years of work, finally going to pay off. But what's this?" The Imperial demanded. "These results. They're not at all what they should be. This projection should be lit up like the night sky. Something is creating an incredible amount of interference. Something in Winterhold, it looks like. What are you playing at? Is this some attempt to stall my work?!"

"Ooh, look." Said Skavild. "It's lighting up Labyrinthian. Why is that?"

"What are you talking about?" Said Eldaline.

"You show up here, just as our work nears completion, and now I can't get any results from this because of something at your College. Do you think me a fool? Do you think I'm too stupid to make the connection?"

"Why is there a light on Labyrinthian?" Skavild said.

"But it must be something you're doing. There's no other explanation. Either you're lying to me, or... You have something at your College, don't you? Something immensely powerful. Beyond anything I'd anticipated. What is it?"

"You mean the Eye of Magnus?" Said Skavild. "Does that mean the Staff of Magnus is in Labyrinthian, the ancient city where the light on this magic map is pointing?"

"I'm not going to answer that!" Snarled Eldaline.

"But I already have answered that." Said Skavild. "My mother used to take me there on picnics."

Paratus scratched his head. "So you do have something, then."

"I've just told you that it's the Eye of Magnus." said Skavild. "Why is nobody listening to me?"

"I can't explain the details. Also, I doubt you'd be able to understand them. Have you ever seen the Orrery in the Imperial City?"

"Yes, I blew it up." Said Eldaline. "Parts of it, anyway, and they made us stick them back on again."

"It was the inspiration for this idea. Instead of projecting the sky, we project all of Tamriel, and then harness the latent energies to overlay the positions of... What's important is that all of this work was designed to reveal to us sources of great magical power. Purely to help safeguard the Empire, of course.

"Of course." Said Eldaline. "You are foiled, Imperial."

"And yet, in the end, only two locations have been revealed to us. One is your College. The other... Well, that can only be Labyrinthian."

"Oh, shut up, both of you." Said Skavild.

"So fine, trudge off to Labyrinthian in search of your Staff. I shall return to Cyrodiil and deliver my full report to the Council. This is not over, I assure you." Said Paratus.

"Oh!" Said Eldaline. "Just... one... more thing."

"So what did you do at dinner with the Jarl of Winterhold?" Said Skavild. "Did you play some board games with the Jarl and his son?"

"No." Said Eldaline.

"What is that thing, over there?" She said.

"We Nords call it a mountain." Said Skavild.

"No. The thing on top of the mountain."

"We Nords call it a castle."

"If you don't know, just say so." Said Eldaline. "I had a dream about it. A light in the window. And horrible murmuring voices."

"Oh?" Said Skavild.

"Several dreams. It always begins in a courtyard. Then suddenly, the murmuring starts and a light springs up inside. It's better than my other recurring nightmare, though. I suffer that one nearly every night. I often dream that the Imperials are about to cut off my head, and then a dragon appears."

"A dragon, or a wyvvern?" Said Skavild.

"I am clearly trying to tell you about my fear of being executed by the Imperial Legion, and you are asking idiotic questions about nonexistent animals."

"Let's go back to Winterhold." Said Skavild. "This storm is starting to get up. You can tell me about your dinner with the Jarl of Winterhold on the way."

After their return to Winterhold, Eldaline spent several nights on the battlements, watching the stars.

"Have you seen that shrine to Azura?" Said Skavild. "They say the dark elves built it after they fled from Morrowind."

"Syrabane's Sedatives, Skavild, you scared me." Said Eldaline. "Don't sneak up behind me like that unless you want a firebolt up the nose."

"Look." He said. "I know you're still angry about being banished from Solitude, and Ancano hiding his research from you and taking advantage of your expedition notes, and I admit it does look like he's just trying to damage your career, but I don't know what else you expect when you take up with a group of evil politically ambitious wizards with aspirations to divinity who dress funny."

"What do you mean, dress funny?" Said Eldaline.

"Hey, this'll cheer you up. Two Imperials fall down a big hole." Said Skavild. "One says to the other: 'Dark down here, isn't it?' The other says: 'I don't know, I can't see'."

"Ha!" Said Eldaline. "Sometimes, when I am angry about not being a god yet, I wonder why I keep you around, Skavild. Then I remember about your inexhaustible supply of jokes about Imperials."

"And your face is marginally less unpleasant when you smile." Said Skavild. "Come on, I've made you some eggs."

"Second Archivist Eldaline! You must come at once!" Said Muril, or Estormo, even Eldaline couldn't tell which when they were both wearing the same coat and running around in the snow.

"Is this more important than my soft-boiled eggs, agent?" She demanded. "Can't Ancano deal with it? Since he's so bloody clever and knows everything."

"No, it's very important, Second Archivist." Said Estormo, or Muril. "It's about Ancano."

"Is he ill? What a shame. By the way, Skavild has just told a very good joke about Imperials. Skavild, tell your joke again."

"It's the Eye of Magnus, Second Archivist. He's become attached to it." Said Muril, or Estormo.

"Well, we've all become attached to it, agent." Said Eldaline. "It's like a part of the college, now."

"No, not like that." Said Possibly Estormo. "You really should come and see for yourself."

"Tell me what he's doing down there, you pair of tits." Said Eldaline.

"Second Archivist..." Said Probably Muril.

"It's a species of small nesting bird." She snapped. "Is he dead? Is somebody else dead?"

"No, Second Archivist, but it's possible that the Eye of Magnus might become damaged!" Said Muril, Eldaline was quite sure.

"Off we go, then." Said Eldaline. "Keep my breakfast warm, Skavild."

To be continued