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naveenwf avatar 3:47 PM on 11.29.2011  (server time)
Tales from Skyrim: Entrance to The College of Winterhold

I learned about Winterhold College through a tweet from reverendanthony, saying "Winterhold College is like Hogwarts for adults, yaaaaay". Obviously, I was immediately intrigued. At the time, I spent most of my time in Whiterun, the trading city of Skyrim. Keep in mind, this was fairly early in my game; I hadn't even visited the Greybeards yet, and this being my first Elder Scrolls game, I did not know about the pseudo fast-travel Horse and Carriage system. As a result of this, I manually rode all the way to Winterhold, which, simply put, was a breathtaking serene journey.

So, as soon as I came into Winterhold, which I expected to be a major city, as opposed to a smaller town like Morthal, I found my way to a bridge, where an elvish woman was standing. I engaged in conversation with her, and found out that Winterhold is selection-based. I was told all about the College, it's background, professors and the Five Schools of Magic; I also learned that if I wanted to be a master of the arts, I had to pass a few tests. While I was talking to Faralda, I could hear dragon roars in the background. Since this is a magic school, I thought the dragon was the test I had to face. Naturally, I was pretty scared, this being the second (or first random) dragon that I had seen (or heard) after the initial maingame dragon.

I was pumped, and I was ready for Faralda to give the go ahead to some mage to release the dragon so I could have an epic fight on the bridge to the College. As she continues to talk to me, she is literally set on fire right in front of me (I was experiencing a WTF moment). Surprisingly not dead, she starts to run back to the main part of Winterhold, spell in hand, body still burning. At this point I've realized that this wasn't a glitch, but was in fact, my first random encouter dragon. I quickly scrambled, furiously clicking to get Sparks and Healing in my right and left hand, ready to take it down. Some townspeople had started to don bows and arrows, and inflicted minimal damage. My magic was draining quickly, so I had to take shelter and heal myself from the pursuing dragon. I drank a few magic potions, healed myself, and got back out there. The dragon swooped down, grabbed a man with it's teeth, and threw him out, killing him. It subsequently roared fire, shaking it's head, burning more people. I got my two-handed axe out, ran behind it, where it wouldn't eat me, and started swinging away.

After absorbing it's soul, many walked up to me and said things like "So you're the Dragonborn," or "I can't believe you took it down all by yourself". As I said before, this is my first Elder Scrolls game, and I'm astounded at the amount of work that's put into "side quests", which in my opinion, are so detailed that they can be considered the main story. After the initian Helgen mission, you're free to roam all of Skyrim, and do whatever you want, and call that your main story. Many of my friends haven't touched the main story, doing whatever the hell they want to, which just shows the level of freedom that this game offers. I'm still playing Skyrim, and will be for a long long time, as I'm thoroughly enjoying all that it has to offer. And yes, I am now the Arch-Mage of the College of Winterhold.

My home, in the distance.

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