essay, video games

Arch-Mage and Irony

In my last post about my journey in the area of Cyrodiil via Oblivion, I talked about my experiences with Count Hassildor and how I had grown tired of being the tool of the Mage Guild, of being the hand to their every whim. It was after I killed men in the name of this Guild that I needed a break. Killing necromancer’s was one thing, maybe even a necessary thing, but murdering good men — noble men, men who hunted vampires —  was something else entirely. It was time to step away from the Guild for a while and seek out my path in the world. I had seen what that journey, following their lead, would do to me — leave blood on my hands — and I knew it was time to clear my mind in the greater world. There had to be more than just magicka and the pursuit of necromancers. There had to be more to Cyrodiil.

So, I traveled. I started in the far south. As a player, I had spent some time in Morrowind and thought I would try my hand at adventuring in the borders to the Black Marsh in the eastern edge of the country of Cyrodiil. I traveled to Leyawiin, a rather Germanic looking city, and began my journey to the southern-most edge. If I was going to explore the world of this game, I was going to walk from end to end. I was going to see the world as it appeared in the natural setting, not the urban cleared and cleaned areas but the messy marches and turmoil of the tundra.

I swam across the The Lower Niben and began to run through the woods. I picked plants to my liking and explored the rocks and trees of the border. Then, as luck and the game would have it, I came across a Nirnroot. For my character, it was yet another in a long line of nameless and worthless plants — my character is not an alchemist. Why waste time with potions when you have magicka for every need? Me, as the player, however viewed this as yet another quest.

As I said, we had both grown tired of getting things and killing people for no gain. Here I was fresh out of prison and I was being put into jail again, even for a short time, because some mage, one of my brethren of magicka, told me to take care of a problem and to work with a vampire no less. No, I was not going to take on any more tasks. No,thank you. I was going to explore, to see the world. I ignored the message and began my long trek up the territory.

I soon grew lonely. There was no other life around. Sure, yes, there were plants and occasional wolves to fight off, but it was very quiet. And it was in this unseemly quiet that I decided that I wanted another entity to walk with me. It didn’t need to be a friend or another humanoid even. It need not even be… alive. Yes, I could summon some undead thing to walk with me and fight for me. What a great idea.

Why not summon the dead? Honestly, why not? The necromancers had done it. And they… well, many of them were dead now. I’d killed them. But they didn’t seem to have been effected by the process. I mean, I was not going to raise the dead, only summon them. It was a matter of semantics. And that was what mattered to a true Mage. It was not the spell itself but the intention. I was not going to conquer any areas or disrupt the put-to-rest. I was going to open a portal to another plane of oblivion and, you know, pick out a companion.

Others in the Mage Guild did it all the time. Jeanne Frasoric had often been summoning scamps when I visited the Bruma Guild Hall. Obviously, it was totally okay. So, I began to summon skeletons as I walked. Over and over, as I walked up and down hills and through the forests, I called to me again and again these bony undead. And nothing happened to me. Kinda.

While I was traversing the border between Morrowind and Cyrodiil, heading north, the scenes changed. As I walked from the edge of the Black Marsh with its waters and banks, I encountered a few settlements and camps. As I walked into the mountains though the places lessened. It was as if nothing was around at all. Nothing but me… and my frequent skeletons. I had walked for about a hour, followed the occasional deer here and there, when the game told me I had become a Master of Conjuration. Oh, I thought. Neat. But it meant nothing much to me or my character then. I walked on, trying to get out of my mind the crimes I had committed. I walked on and on finally coming to a cliff overlooking Cheydinhal. Looking down from that great height, I thought it might be time to finally turn in the information I gathered. The Mages Guild deserved that much.

I went back to Traven and told him what the Count had told me. I was thanked and then asked for another favor. Could I go find out what happened to Burma? Nothing has been heard from the Guild Hall there for awhile. I guess I thought. It might be nice to see Jeanne Frasoric again, to check in on Volanaro and to not-see J’skar. So, I went to the frozen northern city to check out the Guild Hall, maybe buy some better conjuration spells. Should be simple, we both thought.

From the outside it looked the same, but inside — inside, it was bad. Very bad. A wall of fire, skeletons abounding. As soon as I was attacked, I knew the cause. Necromancers. I had left them alone and they had attacked, killed my… friends. No, not friends. These people, these were… family of the Guild. I went to the place of vengeance in my mind. There was death enough on the planes of oblivion. Why bring it here? Why kill these people? No, no — it didn’t matter. If they were not going to see reason, be civil, then they had to be killed. Traven was right. There could be no quarter for them, no good necromancer could be found. I would show them what a Master could do, I would summon my Daedroth to deal with their skeletons. I would unleash my own flames upon them.

And I did. They burned. As I watched the last one die, as I listened to J’skar tell me of this “King of Worms”, I knew that I would have to kill him. Traven knew too, but he put me to recover things first. A Helm, an amulet, some big black soul gem. Whatever. Death was riding with me and was coming for this King.

Soon, I was set. Traven had given his life for me, for this cause. I was pointed at Echo Cave. There, I was told, this King of the Worms awaits. I went willingly. I slew the guard at the door. The necromancers in the caves. What skeleton or zombie stood against me? I had a Daedroth, a denizen of the oblivion, on my side. And, more than anything else, I was a Master at Conjuration. I could call my minions again and again. These sycophants had nothing on me.

I killed one after another. After another. After another. I marched through the caves and death flowed from my hands. What qualms I had at taking lives had long ago been silenced. This was a mission of mercy: a quick end to their disgusting lives. I marched to this king and found him in his arena of bone.

He tried at first to recruit me. Me! As if I would listen to his dribble or promises of power. Please! I had marched into his home, killed his people and he wanted me to join him. Ha! No, it was time for him to die. It was time for Cyrodiil to move beyond the terror of holed up necromancers. I could summon the dead too. But I was a Master and not just an expert. I was, with Traven dead, the new Arch-Mage. But only if this last detail, this last wrinkle was removed.With my magicka and his, we dueled to the death. To this fight, I brought my undead minions, my many options at my fingertips. I brought my fire spells, my ice spells and my Wizard’s Fury. He brought a dagger.

He fought me off with a single zombie and a dagger. For the terror of the Mags Guild, the famed King of the Worms to fight with a knife was beyond ridiculous. Where was his great display of power? Where was the spell strength he had just promised me and the others in his group? Where, to be more blunt, was the threat? Sure, he attacked fast and was constantly in my face. But with a dagger. A weapon.

Bitch, I thought. You brought a dagger to a magicka fight? Not even enhanced dagger. But a regular silver dagger!?  Idiot.

I killed him. I ended the threat. The necromancers were gone. I was the last. I went back to the Arcane University. I claimed my right as Arch-Mage. I was the new ruling member. If there was a council before, it was gone now. I as the one in charge.  I was going to make some new rules. Necromancy was bad, yes, but no longer illegal. After all, it had helped me rid the world of the King of Worms and kill off the “threat”.

Maybe I would just make it okay for the Arch-Mage to summon what she wanted. Maybe make a new rule that only females could be Arch-Mages. Ha. I was quick with many ideas to change the Arcane University and Imperial City. But no one would listen. Some acknowledged me as the new head of the order but most did not. In fact, everything was pretty much the same. A few necromancers died, sure, but the world went on, people continued to buy and sell things. Nothing really changed.

Maybe it’s time to check into that Nirnroot thing. With the threat gone, my thirst for adventures was renewed. I was now willing to kill.