"She’s not here!"
"What do you mean she’s not here?" I said, catching up with the others. I looked into the empty cage, then turned my questioning gaze towards Rayya. "She was just here!"
"Someone must have sounded an alarm and took her," she replied. "We’ll find her!"
"Over here!" yelled Teldryn, waving at us to follow, then ducking into a dark corridor.
There was no point in trying to to do this quietly, I realized. I ran to where the Dunmer had been just moments before. The sounds of another struggle echoed through the large cavern. Marcurio and Teldryn had encountered another pair of warlocks somewhere nearby. It would have to be up to me and Rayya to find the girl.
An ice spike flew over our heads. “You shouldn’t have come here!” someone yelled from around a corner. Another ice spike sliced the air towards us, narrowly missing my shoulder.
"You go ahead," said Rayya. "I’ll take care of this one." With a yell, the Redguard ran ahead. I followed close behind and made it past the warlock that had spotted us.
I walked briskly along the dimly lit corridor, vaguely aware of where it was leading me. Was there some sort of enchantment to this place? The shouts of my companions sounded far away. Shaking my head to regain focus, I continued on. A flicker of movement up ahead caught my attention and I picked up my pace to see what it was.
I found myself in a smaller cave filled with many candles. Through the haze of the smoke, I could see a group of robed figures standing around a long table. An altar! I caught the glint of a dagger as the priest held his arms up high above the altar.
The room became chaos as the necromancer stumbled backwards as a lightning bolt struck his shoulder. An ice spike caught my leg as I dove behind a low wall for cover. Cringing, I jumped up and delivered a fiery blow to the warlock that had unwisely decided to come closer. Dodging another ice spike, I sent another necromancer reeling backwards just as the others came rushing in.
Marcurio ran over to me as I slumped back down against the wall.
"Just an ice spike," I said, seeing the concern on his face. "It’ll be okay. Can’t move right now."
"You really should learn to use wards," he chided, effortlessly conjuring up a magical shield. "It’s the first thing they teach you at the College."
Not to be deterred, I pushed myself up and from behind the safety of the ward spell, I helped pick off the remaining necromancers.
"We’re too late," said Teldryn, after the last wizard had been killed. The woman’s corpse lay across the altar, lifeless. "Warlocks and their foul sorcery! They give mages a bad name."
I slumped down onto a bench and looked at all the dead bodies around us. My gaze fell on the woman at the altar as I tried to empathize with her death, but I felt nothing. The revelation worried me.
Marcurio came up to me and handed me a dusty helmet. “Take a look at this. It looks like the Helm of Winterhold that Korir spoke about. Such an important artifact, here in plain sight! And all these fools could think of was trying to bring the dead back to life!”
Life? What kind of life is this? I wondered, glancing at the bodies around me. I didn’t choose this. I didn’t choose to be the Dragonborn.