The story so far:

Previously, Second Archivist Eldaline sent her library assistant Skavild to the College of Winterhold to learn some spells, despite his protestations, because she is a cruel and unreasonable Thalmor dignitary.

Skavild still cannot do any spells, but he has become firm friends with Eldaline's long-lost brother Lylinar, who, unbenownst to her, is skulking around the college on behalf of the Psijic Order.

Eldaline and Skavild have discovered the location of the Staff of Magnus, which has just become very important as one of Eldaline's colleagues has gone mad. But sanity is relative, especially among Eldaline's colleagues.

"It does look like a bit of a mess in there." Said Eldaline. "I wonder what's wrong with Ancano. He's never usually this interesting."

"I want that barrier down, now!" Shouted the Arch-Mage.

"I'm doing my best, Arch-Mage!" Said Mirabelle Ervine, the Master-Wizard.

"Ha ha!" Said Eldaline. "I mean, I'll help."

"Stop, Eldaline!" Skavild cried. "I thought I'd better warn you, you're aiming a bolt of lightning directly at the back of Mirabelle's head."

"By the gods, Skavild, you're right. Thank goodness you told me." Said Eldaline.

"Second Archivist Eldaline, that's a mage-light spell." Said Savos Aren. "That won't take the barrier down."

"What are you? Some sort of magic pervert?" She demanded. "Oh, all right. But don't blame me if something gets broken as a result of this reckless interference. I'm sure there is a rational explanation for Ancano's strange behaviour."

"Ancano, stop this at once! I command you!" Cried Savos.

The Arch-Mage moved to prevent whatever unmaking of the fabric of reality was currently taking place, but found Eldaline suddenly standing in his way. "No, Arch-Mage! What are you doing? Stay back and observe. He is a very experienced mage and probably knows what he is doing. To imply otherwise is deeply insulting."

"I should have known I couldn't trust you to help. Out of my way! If you won't stop him, I will!" Growled Savos.

"Don't go near him!"

Mirabelle was right. It was a terrible idea.

"I am prepared to admit my mistake." Said Eldaline. "After careful consideration, it is possible that Ancano does not know what he is doing, or if he does, that he is not doing what I want him to be doing, or indeed anybody else, in the whole world."

"I bloody well told you so, you long-eared witch. Are you hurt?"

"Not badly." Said Eldaline. "But Mirabelle looks stunned."

"Tolfdir and I can try and keep this contained." Said Mirabelle, not stunned. "You need to get the Staff of Magnus. Now. You were told to find it, weren't you? If the stories about the staff are true, if it really can absorb a tremendous amount of power, maybe we can break through Ancano's magic. Go alone, and don't give... anybody the staff. Anybody at all, you understand."

"Alone?" Said Skavild, aghast.

"She's right, Skavild. Go to Labyrinthian and find the staff. It is the only way. I will take care of Mirabelle."

Skavild set off, with a grim look.

"He's very brave, isn't he?" Said Eldaline. Nobody else said anything.

"Do you suppose he'll be all right by himself?"

"Lylinar!" Skavild burst into the greenhouse, where the Altmer was watering his plants. "This time I really need you to distract your sister. In fact, I need you to use your incredible Psijic powers to stop anybody from following me to Labyrinthian."

"I can't!" Said Lylinar. "I haven't seen her in a hundred years! How can I face her, knowing what she has become?"

"Talk to her, then! Have a lovely conversation. 'Hello, Eldaline, I'm a strange monk from outside the tangible world now. How have you been?' 'Hello, Lylinar, that's interesting, I'm an evil wizard trying to unmake the concept of mankind.' Like that. It's easy. I mean, I'm an only child, but I'm sure it would be that easy."

"I'll do my best." Said Lylinar. "But I'm warning you, if it all goes wrong, I won't hesitate to contact the Psijic Order for aid. Good luck in Labyrinthian, Skavild."

"I suppose that's as good as I'm going to get from you. I've never seen you punch a door before. You elves must be tougher than you look."

"No, not at all. It really did hurt a lot." Said Lylinar.

Skavild looked out upon the ruins of the magnificent city of Labyrinthian. Now that he thought of it, it had been a grisly place to bring a child on picnics.

He still wondered who all the bones were in the cages. His mother had told him 'bad people', but even as a child, the answer hadn't really satisfied him. It hadn't appeared to satisfy her either.

But his mother was a practical sort of woman, and had always cleared the trolls before they sat down.

Skavild cleared the trolls now. They were smaller than he remembered.

"Oho, no, Mr Orb of Light." He said. "You're not my problem today. I'm still not rid of the last bloody orb I found."

The sight of six or seven ghosts on the stairs made him jump. Then he realised that they couldn't see him. One of them looked like Arch-Mage Savos Aren. He sounded like him too.

Skavild followed them inside. Still, they paid him no heed.

More bones, skeletons and gruesome relics of the ancient city greeted and annoyed Skavild as he descended into the temple of Labyrinthian.

"Shor's bones! Is that a spider?" He hissed, as a horrible sight glared at him down a dark passageway.

It was not a spider.

"A dragon... it's... a dragon!" Cried Skavild.

But before the enormous skeleton could turn upon him, a large figure sprang from the shadows with an otherworldly roar. It was a Xivilai, one of the cruellest of the servants of Mehrunes Dagon.

Hacking with dull, resigned hatred, the great daedra swung its axe like an angry pendulum until it had knocked the skeletal dragon's legs out from under it.

"Ahem." Said Skavild. But the Xivilai stood still, awaiting orders from its worldly master. Who stepped through the dragon carcass at that moment.

Eldaline said, "Is there anything I can do for you, Skavild?"

"Eldaline!" Said Skavild. "You came to help me find the Staff of Magnus! And in your old practical armour, too, just like when we used to go out on day trips!"

"That's right." Said Eldaline. "Any luck?"

"There was a dragon! Look. I didn't know you could kill dragons, Eldaline."

"Neither did I. But I have not, strictly speaking, killed one, as it was a heap of reanimated bones, and dragons do not exist. The staff, Skavild. Have you found it yet?"

"Not yet... patience, woman, it's bound to be in the cellar. These things always are. But, tell me. Did... no one try to stop you from leaving the college? Anyone... special try to speak to you?"

"No, not that I noticed." Said Eldaline. "Although, I have some very bad news about Mirabelle Ervine."

To be continued