ESO Imperial City: City on the Brink

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Upon arriving to Cyrodiil, the Vestige learned that the alliance is locked in an epic struggle for control of the Imperial City. The forces of Molag Bal hold the city in an iron grip, but enemy bannermen also vie for power. The Vestige must travel to the alliance base in the Imperial City and meet with the commanding officer for a briefing.

After arriving in the sewers, the Vestige talks to several refugees before meeting the commander.

Donus Falto: If you’re looking for the dumbest man in Cyrodiil, your search is over.

Vestige: Why is that?

Donus Falto: Well, it takes an unusually foolish person to flee a bad situation and end up in a far worse one. I’m one of those special people.

Vestige: What did you do?

Donus Falto: I fled Cheydinhal, a village east of here, to avoid being forced to join a gang of Imperial deserters. I ran here and put myself in the middle of a warzone, with horrors from Coldharbour running amok and killing everyone.

Vestige: Can’t you leave?

Donus Falto: We had to swim across Lake Rumare to get here, me and two friends. The slaughterfish got my friends. The guards won’t let civilians use the tunnel and I can’t face swimming back again. I’m starting to think my friends were the lucky ones.

Vestige: What’s it like in the City?

Donus Falto: Why, it’s just great up there, all sunshine and puppies. Why don’t you go take a look?

Vestige: Really?

Donus Falto: Oh, you’re so clever; saw right through that ruse, didn’t you? Well, if sunshine made your skin peel off your body, and if puppies were ten times your size and had teeth the length of your arm, then yes, it’s all true.

The Vestige encountered a refugee from the city itself.

Venetia: I’ve been sitting here for days now, and I have to say, you alliance types really know how to put on a good show. Your officers seem to think it’s a comedy, but I’ll go ahead and spoil the ending for you… it’s actually a tragedy.

Vestige: What happened to you?

Venetia: You mean, how did I get to be so cheerful? Let’s see, I’m not sure if it was when the Worm Cult sent my undead husband to kill me or when the Daedroth paraded me around the Nobles District, half-naked and bleeding.

Vestige: How did you survive?

Venetia: My charm, of course!

You’re not buying it, are you? No, I actually wound up beating my husband’s corpse back to death with a chair leg, and the Daedroth eventually dropped me. I crawled into he sewers and wound up here.

Vestige: I understand why you’re a little bitter then.

Venetia: Thanks for your sympathies, but you can keep them. Truth is I’ve always been a bitter, angry woman. My poor husband was probably relieved when they killed him. Who knows? Maybe his corpse came after me of its own will.

The Vestige goes over to talk to two scholars, who seemed to be engaged in some sort of argument.

Phrastus of Elinhir: Pay no attention to the Shrew of Taneth. She’ll say the Tel Var stones are “key to locking away the Daedra.” Why not ask the good Lady Cinnabar how much she plans to charge for each key? More than her horrid books, I’d wager.”

Vestige: What do you know about Tel Var stones?

Phrastus of Elinhir: Chips of the White-Gold Tower. Ayleids who built it couldn’t recreate their own Zero Stone, so they settled for Tel Var. The Daedra infesting these sewers are tap-tap-tapping away at it. Weaken it enough … and pop, shlorp, no more Mundus.

Vestige: What do you mean, “no more Mundus?”

Phrastus of Elinhir: Tap-tap-tap, go the Daedra. Pop, goes the White-Gold Tower. Shlorp, goes everything you know, mashed like a cheese wheel through a pinhole, back into Oblivion. That’s how I’d describe it to children.

Vestige: What should be done with the Tel Var stones?

Phrastus of Elinhir: Bring them here. When the Daedra are driven from the city, we will use our hoarded Tel Var stones to repair the damage. Unless Cinnabar gets her way. She’ll sell them at market stalls while Creation unfastens itself. Short-sighted cretin.

Vestige: Wait, what’s a Zero Stone?

Phrastus of Elinhir: A sign that you should read more.

Vestige: Why are Tel Var stones a potential risk?

Lady Cinnabar: “The Daedra are scraping them from the White-Gold Tower. They still retain power from the days of Ayleid’s construction, and I say we should turn it loose upon Daedra.”

Vestige: What do the Daedra want with Tel Var stones?

Lady Cinnabar: As with any book by Phrastus of Elinhir, there is no clear purpose. But the stones have dorman power within. I believe, with proper study, we could learn more of the White-Gold Tower’s construction. If the Ayleids could do it, why shouldn’t we?

Vestige: I thought the Ayleids did terrible things.

Lady Cinnabar: Yes, you could focus on a handful of negative aspects, completely discounting the thousands of advances both magical and mundane. Or ignore the foundation of civilization itself. Have you spoken with Phrastus? You’d get along swimmingly.

Leaving the scholars, the Vestige went to speak with a well-dressed woman, who turned out to be Councilor Itinia of the Elder Council.

Councilor Itinia: I just can’t stop wondering – when did it all start to fall apart? I’ve served on the Elder Council for years. I’ve seen emperors come and go, but I took it for granted that the Imperial City would be safe, that the citizens would be safe…

Vestige: How did the city come under attack?

Councilor Itinia: It happened so fast, but I suppose it was probably a long time coming. For years, we ignored the truth – the Empress-Regent is just a pretty face. Mannimarco is the one who’s been making all the decisions, and he’s led us down a dark path.

Vestige: What was Mannimarco doing?

Councilor Itinia: Who knows? He spent all his time in the Imperial Prison. There were rumors that he was doing terrible things and demanding the guards find excuses to make more arrests. We were powerless, though. The Elder Council wasn’t even being consulted.

Vestige: What happened after that?

Councilor Itinia: One day, Mannimarco just disappeared. He left the city without explanation. Next thing we knew, the Dark Anchors were falling from the sky, and the Worm Cultists were opening portals to Coldharbour. It’s like some kind of nightmare made real.

Vestige: Do you know what happened to the Empress-Regent?

Councilor Itinia: No, I didn’t see Empress Clivia for months even before the Anchors fell, and I haven’t seen her since. A delirious soldier claimed the Empress was trying to get into the White-gold Tower, but I suspect he was hallucinating. He died soon after.

After hearing this disturbing story, the Vestige decides to seek out the commander.

Commander: This is it, soldier! This is what we’ve been fighting for – the crown jewel of Cyrodiil, the glorious Imperial City! Not so impressive, huh? Sadly, our base in the sewers here is the only part of the city that is not overrun by the gods-damned Daedra.

Vestige: I was told to report to you. I’ve come to help take the city.

Commander: Well, there’s plenty to do. Welcome aboard! Like killing Daedra? Of course you do! You’ll fit in just fine.

Vestige: What’s the situation here in the city?

Commander: Well, we keep busy thumping those alliance bastards wherever we find them. That’s fun. But honestly, the Daedra are still in charge. Chaps my arse…

Vestige: What can I do to help?

Commander: Pick a direction and start swinging. Can’t walk ten paces in this city without bumping into some ugly beast, or thick-headed bannerman. I could bore you with grand strategy, but it won’t make a bit of difference if we don’t thin the enemy’s ranks.

Vestige: Very well…

Commander: One other thing. There’s a woman here in the city – a Dragonguard warrior calling herself the “Drake of Blades.” She’s brought us some reliable intelligence, but she’s clearly up to something. I don’t like it. If you meet her, be watchful.

Vestige: As you wish.

Lo and behold, the Drake of Blades calls out and requests that the Vestige join her down the hallway for a chat.

Drake of Blades: Your general was telling you to keep an eye out for me, right? Here I am.

Vestige: So you’re the Dragonguard I was told about?

Drake of Blades: Blades. Yes, I’m a member of the Dragonguard. Or, I should say, the true Dragonguard. We were driven underground by the Empress Regent Clivia. Just as well. We are sworn to serve the true heir of the Dragon. She is certain not that.

Vestige: What are you doing down here in the sewer?

Drake of Blades: I’m conducing an investigation – the only investigation that matters. Your friends have proved a great distraction with all their fighting and dying, but I’ve hit a wall and I… need help. I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t important, believe me.

Vestige: Why should I help you?

Drake of Blades: Because you’re not an idiot. You’re not an idiot are you? Sorry. I’m looking into a plot. The plot. Molag Bal is looking for something. Something powerful. I fear that if we don’t find out what it is, we’ll pay dearly.

Vestige: Looking for something? Can you be more specific?

Drake of Blades: Truthfully? No. Not yet. But we can change that. I need an extra set of eyes and ears. You look strong, reasonably capable, assertive, so on and so on. If we pool our assets, we should be able to foil Molag Bal’s plans.

Vestige: Where would we even start?

Drake of Blades: In the districts. There are six in all. Molag Bal has tried to cover his tracks by scattering his operation – hiding in plain sight. But he’s prideful and sloppy. He’s left clues. We just need to find them and piece the puzzle together. Simple.

Vestige: And if I decide to help you, how would I get into the districts?

Drake of Blades: Your clumsy militiamen have staked out routes through the drainage system. They rolled out ladders to mark the entrances. The hub is just over there – can’t miss it. It’s filthy, but surprisingly efficient. So what do you say? Will you help me?

Vestige: Yes, I’ll help you.

Drake of Blades: So. You’re making a stupid face. I’m assuming you have questions? Sorry. It’s not a stupid face. It’s just – never mind. I have… difficulties.

Vestige: Why do you call yourself the Drake of Blades?

Drake of Blades: It’s a simple misdirection. All members of the Dragonguard have assumed pseudonyms. There’s a Drake of Shields, a Drake of Staves, and so on. It gives us the freedom to act both in plainclothes and uniform.

Vestige: But why “Blades”?

Drake of Blades: That’s a question for the leadership. I like to think it reflects my keen intellect, but I have no idea. It was probably random. Then again, the Drake of Crowns is a clumsy, short-sighted ass, so maybe there’s something to it. Royalty.

Vestige: Are you feeling all right?

Drake of Blades: Of course I am. Am I…? I’m being awkward, aren’t I? I apologize. I’m not very good… with people, I mean. I usually just avoid talking to people entirely. This is the longest conversation I’ve had in months.

Vestige: Nerves?

Drake of Blades: Something like that, I guess. I’m perceptive. “Gifted,” they say. I can tell when someone is lying, or anxious, or plotting something, just by looking at them. But it’s too much sometimes – especially when they start talking to me.

Vestige: Must be difficult.

Drake of Blades: Yes and no. For better or worse, it made me who I am. I couldn’t really talk to people, so I had to learn about them through observation. It honed my senses – made me focus on the little things. Details. That’s a valuable skill in my profession.

Vestige: Why do you need my help?

Drake of Blades: You have assets that I don’t. Influence, connections… charisma. You’re an accomplished warrior. You obviously have no love for the Daedra. We have common enemies, common goals. It’s simple.

Vestige: Do you have any stake in the War of the Three Banners?

Drake of Blades: Are you joking? Oh, you’re not. No, I’m not interested in border disputes.

Vestige: So you don’t care who claims the city?

Drake of Blades: You’re still being serious, aren’t you? No, I don’t care who “claims” the city. The occupation could last for twenty days or twenty centuries. Doesn’t matter. When Akatosh’s heir arrives, the old order, all of it, will be swept away.

Vestige: So you’re waiting for the next Dragonborn Emperor?

Drake of Blades: We all are. But that’s hardly relevant at this point. Let’s focus on the Daedra, all right?

The Vestige departs from the Drake of Blades and accepts a mission to scout the Temple District.

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