“You already know the truth.”
Tara stared at the ancient wood door, so inexplicitly placed down in the strange blend of caves and tunnels that was the Midden; the area under the College of Winterhold.
The things she’d seen just to get to this door.
When Tolfdir warned her about the dangers, she’d assumed he meant the couple of skeletons she’d destroyed and the far too abundant skeevers. Skeevers were such aggressive rats. She’d stopped counting how many were now dead down here.
No, neither the attacking skeletons nor skeevers had been the danger. Dark magic seeped from the walls here. Tara felt it in her bones.
The rooms she’d past. All the old, ruined books, destroyed by spells gone wrong. The dusty alchemy table, littered with ingredients saved for poisons. The bones embedded in stone in strange patterns.
Then, there’d been the magic forge, with the symbol of an Oblivion gate at the bottom of it.
Or that gauntlet, clearly a Daedric relic of some sort, in one of the rooms.
Dark magic emanated from here.
Where did this Augur fit in all of this?
“Your perseverance will only lead you to disappointment. You follow a path to your destruction. And the destruction of those you care about.”
“What?” Tara asked the door. She’d hardly arrived at the door when The Augur of Dunlain, it had to be him, started speaking. The door itself was closed. What did this Augur look like behind it?
“Tolfdir said you could help me,” she said.
“Tolfdir told you the truth. This is the help you need,” The Augur said. “You don’t want to hear these words, but you know they speak true.”
Tara bit her lip.
You’re not a mage, Tara.
How many times had the voice in her head, the truth in her head, told her this?
“Can I see you?” she asked.
Silence draped over her for a minute. If The Augur contemplated, that seemed what he was doing.
The ancient door swung open and Tara put up a hand to shield her eyes from the blue light that suddenly enveloped her. Her eyes watered and it took a full minute of blinking to get used to the light.
The Augur was a large, floating, ball of the same magical energy that came out of the fountains throughout the College. He floated above a similar fountain…well, in the room the door opened into.
Whatever happened to him, Tara thought, he must’ve fused with the energy of the College. Had this room he was in once been his laboratory? Had one magic experiment gone wrong? Or, many?
“I show you myself to warn you. Not all gifted in magic are meant to pursue it.”
“It’s all I’ve dreamed of,” Tara said. She hadn’t expected to whisper. Or, to start crying.
“It is not all you dream.”
“How do you know about that?”
“Knowledge is power. Knowing spells can be powerful, but applying that knowledge is key. You will never be able to apply your knowledge. You know all this already.”
You’re not a mage, Tara.
The words rattled in her head. All these lessons. All this time, these years, trying to learn, trying to control her magic. Her waves. Was it all for naught? Were the sacrifices to get here wasted?
The words were true, though. She knew it. The Augur was right. Tolfdir had been right to send her here. The Augur was giving her the words she needed to hear. The answer she already had.
Tara wiped tears from her face.
The waste was not in pursuing her dream. It’d been in not giving up when she knew the truth in her heart. When, standing in front of those Guardian Stones with Katla, she’d been afraid to touch the one that called to her.
The Warrior Stone.
Time to leave the College and move on. Time to focus on Katla.
“Thank you,” Tara said to The Augur. “You’re right.”
“Now that you’ve failed the one. Do not fail the other,” The Augur said.
“What?” Her hairs stood on end.
The door swung closed and the blinding blue light that was the Augur faded, leaving Tara staring in the darkness of the Midden.
Now that you failed the one…
She needed to get to Katla.