Esteemed Valeiros,

It is difficult to express how relieved I feel to learn that you have survived the Cyrodiilic event. The story you recount is fascinating, but I find I cannot even bring myself to grieve over its tragic aspects, so well have you lifted my spirits. I can only hope that the news of my own continued survival brings you solace in like measure.

My own account is quite prosaic by comparison. My schedule was light that day, and I had just taken a late breakfast after a swim in the sea, when I was seized in my study by the most unusual headache. I pride myself, as you will recall, on exceptionally high tolerance for pain, inborn and much increased by my research methods, but that pain I could not weather or set aside. It was not the abject panic of disintegration you described; rather, it was as though magicka were being poured into my head from sources unknown with the intent of causing my skull to burst.

You know well, of course, the urge that we feel when we cast a certain number of destruction spells in rapid succession: the exhilaration, the throb and gnaw of desire to continue. The moment when we must cease or flirt with peril. I felt something much akin to this, but with respect to mending and life. Like an undisciplined novice, I flailed about with the absolute need to rid myself of magicka, of the entire contents of my very soul. I could not record a single one of the spells I raved that day, but I managed to turn my unfortunate home into a something of a jungle. Vegetation cracked and burst through the marble of my floors. Many alchemical ingredients reverted to their original living forms. My experimental animals proliferated rapidly and cycled through several generations. My soul gems shattered. Meanwhile, the pain inside my skull intensified. In the end, I howled and clawed at my face and eyes, only to heal the damage seconds later.

And then I awoke shivering and confused in my own bed, to the sight of a Thalmor agent rising from my own nearby armchair, weapon in hand, instructing me to lay back and avoid sudden movements and inquiring whether I felt strong enough to answer questions.

It turns out that at the height of my self-destructive trance, my housekeeper came up on me from behind and struck me roundly in the back of the head with one of the sandstone carvings I had brought back from Elsweyr. Let us not dwell on whether or not she sought to neutralise or kill me, for I suspect either would have suited her fine at that fraught moment, but let us instead give courage its due. How eager would you have been to confront a mage of my vintage and experience, in the grip of prolific insanity?

So, here I remain, if not quite a prisoner in my own home then under careful and suspicious invigilation. In truth, I am not yet well. Reality frays at the edges of my vision, blurs and dissolves into its component spirits only to reintegrate as I turn my eyes. I am often afraid. I am far from the only one so afflicted on Auridon, and each day brings more harrowing reports of colleagues and Guild alumni dead or with their minds irretrievably shattered. I treasure encouraging missives such as yours or the one I received from the mer of the Senchal mission-hospital.

I have beside me your penultimate letter, from before the event, the one in which you discuss the utility of the alteration school in healing. You make fine sport of my art even as you manage to be illuminating, and it did provoke me to laughter. In particular, the scenario of retroactively modifying laws of nature so that whatever inflicted an injury no longer does so in its pertinent small segment of reality is one that only a Bosmer mage could have come up with: the sword had not actually split the victim's head because we proceed to make sure that it was not in its nature to do so at the time and place it happened? I suppose if one treats Jephre himself like an indulgent father, anything is possible.

Those carefree diversions seem to belong to another age now, after whatever it was that happened in the Imperial City. I do not proffer that word, age, lightly. A magical outpouring of such magnitude as to bring so many of us to ruin at these fantastic distances must by necessity have been world-changing. Can its epicentre be any coincidence? I put little stock in mannish tales of the Al-Esh, and less still in their superstition of the Dragonfires, but the White-Gold Tower is something else entirely. It is axis mundi, the bequest of our brazen kin's ambition, and its latent power and significance are beyond measure. If it were subverted, under the negligent stewardship of Men, then it could do much more than send forth a paroxysm of death and madness.

Death and madness. Does that remind you of anyone, Valeiros? Need I ask?

We are at that peculiar stage, you and I, where we are not mighty enough to shape history but no longer quite feeble and ignorant enough to let history wash over us without awakening a sense of responsibility. I should like nothing more than to turn inward and repose in the comfort of quiescence, never more than in this time of weakness, but what little weight we can add to the correct scale of the balance, we must.

May Phynaster hasten your own recovery, old friend. I have a feeling I will pay a call on you in Elden Root in not too long.

Yours sincerely,