“In which Leona listens to the pull of her magical sword and plays cat and mouse with a dragon.”
The walls and ceilings of the keep dripped endlessly onto wet stone floors where the water pooled and slime grew. I kept one eye on my feet and the other on the end of the passageways. For I was not alone in here. Necromancers had taken up residence.
Most fell swiftly to my bow, but if I missed the shot, they were quick to raise up their fallen companions almost before the bodies hit the ground. I left piles of ash in my wake, but it was slow going. Some hallways ended in piles of rubble, others ended in water. Dawnbreaker lay satisfied in my sheath as long as I continued to delve into the keep. If I turned around or picked the wrong path, it made it’s agitation known.
The end of my path proved to be a small circular room, with a skeleton seated in a throne set up in the middle. It was not a draugr, that much was clear for the closer I got the more the skeleton seemed to fall apart. By the time I reached the steps, it was a pile of bones surrounding a dull crystal.
The crystal reminded me of soul gems, except much much larger. Perhaps several gems all bound together? But unlike those gems, this was cold to the touch and dull. Nothing to catch the light. As I picked up the star shaped crystal I knew somehow that this is what had drawn the sword. It felt satisfied, but a touch dismayed? Was this star also a Daedric artifact?
I was reminded of my first stay in Winterhold. At the inn there was a long time resident, a wizard of some type but not affiliated with the college. Over dinner, we’d talked and he’d mentioned his former mentor who’d been expelled from the college for trapping souls in a Daedric artifact. Was this Azura’s star? I suspected so. But I had no idea what I should do with it.
Outside the keep, night had fallen. A late night, on the opposite side of midnight when only the truest nocturnal animals still moved. I no longer sensed the dragon as I scrambled down from the fallen tower and re-entered the half-forest on the lake’s edge.
The way grew even hillier and as I was passing through the pine trees over a small rise, I glimpsed a stone road below. I’ll admit, I was just a bit turned around in the darkness. But I was also spotted in return… by a dragon.
He, she, it? screamed at me and wheeling in mid-air turned to face me. There was barely any cover, for although the land had plenty of trees, they were well spaced out and all pine. Hardly any cover from the airborne eyes. When the dragon backwinged, hovering in front of me, my bow was ready.
We played cat and mouse – or rather dragon and human – for what felt like an eternity – although it was still deep night when the battle finally ended. The dragon had his strategy. He would shout at me. His frost breath was not only bone-chillingly cold, but so blindingly white that it would leave me blind while my eyes readjusted to the darkness. As I recovered, he’d take off circling overhead as I tried to follow his path before landing again, usually behind me, to resume his attack.
Eventually I found that if I could keep a tree trunk between him and I, I would avoid the worst of his shout. I could then pop out from behind the truck and get as many arrows off as I could. Even blind, I could usually remember where he’d landed. My arrows slowly chipped away at his health although he had me scrambling for healing potions more than once.