The liquid had went right down her throat and coldness went right through her body. It also tasted vile. Danifae didn't know what was in it but she shivered under the furs covering her bed. The potion was causing some sort of reaction in her body. She could hear voices in the room. She could just make them out, in between her shaking fits. She thought she heard her father's voice, Minast. She tried to still her shaking as much as she could to listen to what was being said
Minast: 'You cannot be serious. That's my daughter you're talking about'
Another voice, cold, calculating, sneering...Ancano
Ancano: 'You remember what happened 16 years ago?'
Minast: 'Of course I do. You helped save my wife, Thaena'
Ancano: 'And do you remember what I said then?'
Minast sounded rather forlorn 'Yes. About there being a price to pay'
Ancano: 'Yes. I did warn you that there would be a price to pay then. And now it is time to pay that price. A life for a life'
Another voice, which sounded like her mother Thaena, who was close to tears
'You should have let me die back then, if this is the price that is to be paid!'
Minast: 'But you were pregnant with Caerwyn back then. I couldn't let you both die!'
Thaena: 'It would have saved both of us having to go through this. The price is too high!'
Ancano 'Enough, both of you. Remember who you work for. Caerwyn has been raised by you for 16 years and now that she has come of age, she is old enough to leave home, with me. If anyone asks where she is, you will tell them you argued about her marriage and she left home and you haven't heard from her. You will say nothing of what has really happened to anyone or try to find her, or the consequences for Caerwyn will, shall we say, not be very pleasant. My agents will be watching you'
They had called her Caerwyn, her real name. Had Ancano finally tracked her down to Fort Amol, where she had fallen with her companions fighting the necromancer, Micah? And what was that about 16 years ago? Her mind was befuddled due to the cold. What was going on here?
She tried speaking and opened her eyes. She could see out of both of them! This was a dream, a memory from a few months ago! She saw her parents looking at her with concern. There were some Thalmor soldiers in the room with them and there was the face of Ancano, burned into her memory, looking down on her.
Ancano: 'Ah, she is awake. Good. Her shaking has stopped. She is a strong one, certainly. Yes, she will make a fine subject for my experiments'
Her parents gasped and her mother shouted out 'Experiments! What experiments?' Her father tried to get to her but he was overcome by the Thalmor soldiers and punched to the ground. Ancano laughed and ordered Caerwyn bound and gagged and put into the cart. She fought for all she was worth and felt her hands hitting something soft but she was easily overcome. She had her last sight of her parents crying and hugging each other, her father bleeding from a face wound, before the darkness of the blindfold, her restraints and the cart...
Danifae awoke lying under some furs, near a fire. Larkspur was sitting by her bedside, several cuts and bruises on his face. He looked at her with concern then smiled as he saw Danifae sitting up in bed.
Larkspur: 'You've been out for a few hours. You were thrashing about in bed before you woke up. I tried calming you but you hit me in the face'
Danifae: 'I'm sorry. I had another dream'
Larkspur: 'I thought as much. What was it about?'
Danifae: 'I'll tell you all later when I think it through'
She remembered being hit with a frost blast and collapsing on the floor gasping for breath. Lydia and Larkspur had been fighting a Frost Atronach and both were being hard put to kill it. They had been knocked to the ground and it was trying to crush them under its big feet.
'How are you and Lydia?' she asked
Larkspur: 'Well, when Micah died, the Atronach dissipated. Just as well, because it was trying to pound us into the ground. Lydia stood up well against it, due to her Nord resistance to cold so she isn't too bad. Just a few bruises. I'm bruised and battered but apart from that I'll live'
Danifae: 'Where is she?'
Larkspur: 'She is downstairs, watching over Zora and also watching for any intruders. We had to take turns to eat and sleep'
Then Danifae remembered her dear friend Zora, falling to the floor, deathly white, after killing Micah. She jumped out of bed. Larkspur tried to stop her but she pushed past him and down the stairs. She didn't care about her wounds, they would heal quickly but her dear friend, she had to see her!
Entering the room below, she saw Micah's corpse lying on the floor, with what remained of his head. The other dead mages had been moved to the far corner. Lydia was sitting by the fire, watching over both Zora and the outer door. Apart from some bruises on her face, she seemed fine.
And there was Zora, lying underneath a pile of furs, still deathly pale. Danifae put her ear to Zora's mouth and heard her shallow breathing. The visible signs of the frost had gone from her body but she was very still. Danifae took hold of Zora's cold, still hand and clutched it in both her own. Lydia got up from her seat and Danifae took her place.
Danifae: 'Lydia, thank you for watching over her. I will take over now. How are you?'
Lydia: 'Yes, my Thane. There has been no change since she collapsed, apart from the frost melting in the heat from the fire. I will be fine in a few hours'
Danifae: 'That may have saved her life. Go and get some rest and food. You've done well'
Lydia went and sat at the table nearby to eat and drink. Larkspur came down the stairs and sat near to Danifae.
Larkspur: 'We felt we had better not move her upstairs so we moved her as close to the fire as we dared, as we did with you. I carried you upstairs myself later when your breathing got stronger'
Danifae nodded her head in understanding. She was close to tears, seeing her friend like this. She rubbed Zora's cold hand in her own and started to cast a healing spell. She didn't know if she was a good enough healer to heal such wounds but by the Divines she was going to try! Danica's teachings would have to help her now!
'Zora, please come back to me. My dear friend, I love you with all my soul. Please hear my call, Mara, Kynareth, Divines!'
She said this mantra over and over again, along with casting all the healing spells she knew. She didn't know how long she sat there, holding Zora's hand.
She felt her hand being gripped strongly. Danifae awoke and raised her head from the side of Zora's bed, which was wet with tears. Her friend, Zora, had opened her eyes and had returned Danifae's grip with one of her own. She smiled and said 'You're making the bed wet, silly'
Danifae 'It's the frost which melted from you, really it is. Anyway, how are you feeling?'
Zora 'I've been better. That was quite the spell I got hit with'
Danifae 'When I saw you fall, I tried to get to you but I couldn't breathe. Larkspur and Lydia had fallen too'
Zora 'It was quite the battle, wasn't it? Micah was casting the frost storm spell and it was heading right towards me. The acolyte was battling to free himself and he took some of the force of the spell. He was frozen solid and fell on top of me, dead. I felt so tired but had to get up and help you. I managed to push him off, got out my hammer and ran into the room. I saw Micah about to cast the spell on you again and so I hit him. The frost storm spell had drained my stamina and so I had no energy left. I collapsed and that's the last I remember until I woke up just now with you holding my hand'
Danifae 'I was casting healing spells on you for I don't know how long. It drained me going on so long and I was still recovering from my own battle. I must have dozed off'
Zora 'It's fortunate that my Breton blood has some magic resistance or it could have been much worse'
Danifae hugged Zora and managed to stay the tears this time. She gave Zora some hot soup, which had been cooking on the hearth. Zora ate it heartily. Larkspur came down the stairs and smiled when he saw Zora sitting up in bed, eating the soup.
Larkspur: 'Nice to see you awake, Zora'
Zora: 'I'm still a bit tired but on the mend. This soup is good. Compliments to the cook'
Larkspur bowed: 'Yes Zora's on the mend. She's getting her appetite back'
They all had a laugh at that. Lydia went upstairs to sleep then Larkspur remembered something
'I found these when I was searching the bodies'
He handed over two books. One was the Bound Bow spell, which was going to come in very useful for Danifae. She would have to practice this first though.
The second book turned out to be Micah's journal. Flicking through it, she saw notes of experiments on prisoners, some alchemy notes and the thing she had been searching for most of all, notes about Ancano's visit to Fort Amol to ally with the necromancers and his activities in the area which Micah had made a note of.
'Larkspur, you might as well get some rest too. I've had enough sleep for a while and I can watch over us. I need to read this journal and see what I can find out and think on the dream I had'
Larkspur: 'Yes. You're sure you'll be okay?'
Danifae 'Yes. I'll try and heal both you and Lydia when I get my strength back'
Larkspur headed upstairs to bed.
Zora asked 'So, you've had another dream? Can you remember anything else about what happened to you?'
Danifae: 'Yes, Zora. I will tell you all about it'