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The Clockwork City

Author: 
Anonymous
Librarian Comment: 

This is the storyline of the Clockwork City DLC for Elder Scrolls Online. 

Eldrasea Deras

My Master waits for you in Mournhold Tribunal Temple. A word of advice: don't keep him waiting for long.

Vestige

Who is Divayth Fyr?

Eldrasea Deras

Only the most powerful mage in Tamriel.

Lord Fyr has walked the roads of Nirn for millennia, pluming the deepest mysteries of the aurbis. He strides between Mundus and Oblivion with ease. Daedric Princes tremble at the mere mention of his name.

Vestige

If he's that powerful, why does he need me?

Eldrasea Deras

It's not my place to question dis decisions. He ordered me to find you, and I obeyed.

Lord Fyr values diverse perspectives, but he has few mortal peers. So he often breaks bread with ... unusual people. Perhaps you strike him as unusual.

The Vestige leaves to go to Divayth Fyr

Divayth Fyr

Upon nearing Divayth in the Mournhold temple, the master wizard greets the Vestige.

Ah, you've arrived at last. Come forward, we have much to discuss.

The Vestige approaches Divayth Fyr.

You've arrived. I am Divayth Fyr, wizard-lord of Tel Fyr. I trust no further introduction is necessary?

I see a Daedric artifact. It lies hidden in a brass city filled with danger, curiosity, and contradiction. You will accompany me, if you wish.

Vestige

What exactly would I be signing up for?

Divayth Fyr

A voyage that only a few have ever undertaken. We will travel to Sotha Sil's peculiar experiment—the Clockwork City.

I have inquiries to make. You will assist me.

Vestige

You know how to reach the Clockwork City?

Divayth Fyr

I do. The Tribunes are not so clever that they could hide such a place from me for long.

The city is quite close ... and also very far away. Just the first of Sotha Sil's many paradoxes. If you choose to join me, be prepared for many more.

Vestige

Why ask me to help?

Divayth Fyr

The future holds its secrets close, but I have scried glimpses. Your spirit strides alongside of those of anointed kings and heroes. Trust me—you walk the path to power.

Don't believe me? Good. A healthy dose of skepticism will serve you well.

Vestige

All right, I'll work with you.

Divayth Fyr

Of course you will. Naturally, you have questions. Alas, they will have to wait. Servants of the Tribunal do not look kindly on blasphemous journeys like this one.

Meet me at the waterfall north of the city. We can discuss the details there.

The Vestige departs from Divayth to meet him at the waterfall.

Divayth Fyr

My companion arrives at last. Now then, our journey beings in this dreary little cave. Quite a surprise, yes? Believe me, it won't be the last.

We can speak freely here, but do make it brief. All this natural splendor is just ... tedious.

Vestige

You mentioned Sotha Sil. Who is he?

Divayth Fyr

The Father of Mysteries, the Clockwork God, the Tinkerer, and other such banal titles.

Sotha Sil, or Seht, is a member of the Dark Elf Tribunal. He reigns over Morrowind as the god of craft and sorcery—the wisest and most reclusive of the Three.

Vestige

Do you know him well?

Divayth Fyr

Ha! No one truly knows Sotha Sil—not even his hordes of wild-eyed worshipers.

I studied with him before his ascent, and even then he defied comprehension. His only true peer was Indoril Nerevar. Such a shame what happened to him.

Vestige

Indoril Nerevar?

Divayth Fyr

Indeed. Saint Nerevar the Captain. Our king and greatest champion for a time.

He died, tragically, during a journey to the heart of Red Mountain. It was all very sudden. Some believe his retainer, Dagoth Ur, struck the mortal blow. Others ...

Vestige

What do the others think?

Divayth Fyr

Some believe that Sotha Sil, Vivec, and Almalexia murdered Nerevar so they could take divine power for themselves.

Who's to say what really happened? In any event, Sotha Sil emerged from the mountain even more inscrutable than before.

Vestige

What do you think happened?

Divayth Fyr

I think it's irrelevant.

The silence of Sotha Sil may come from a place of grief and deep regret. It might be a side-effect of this fierce obsessions. Perhaps both? How he became a god is no concern of mine. I respect his knowledge, nothing more.

Vestige

Why did Sotha Sil hide the Clockwork City here?

Divayth Fyr

Sotha Sil hides everything. But more to your point, it's not just a city. It's an incomprehensibly powerful world-shaping device. Can't leave that sort of thing lying about, can you?

Also, Almalexia worries about how it reflects on her divinity.

Vestige

Almalexia?

Divayth Fyr

Yes, Sil's fellow tribune.

A machine can be studied and perhaps understood in time. She fears that by reducing their divinity to a machine, Sotha Sil lessens the mystique of their godhood. To his great credit, Sil largely ignores these concerns.

Vestige

What do you hope to find in Clockwork City?

Divayth Fyr

A Daedric artifact. I take a keen interest in all such objects, but this one seems especially significant. You see, nearly everyone who searches for it winds up dead.

I suspect that someone or something hid this artifact away in the Clockwork City.

Vestige

Are you concerned about seeking an object that got other people killed?

Divayth Fyr

Other people are not Divayth Fyr. I've not lived this long by shying away from dangerous relics.

Anyway, if this artifact inspired someone to slaughter scores of mages, it's clearly something worth investigating.

Divayth Fyr and the Vestige enter the cave.

Hmm. Even draftier than I remembered. Follow me.

The Vestige follows Divayth Fyr.

Welcome to the Dwarven hold of Bamz-Amschend ... such as it is. Ironic that Ayem's holy city of Mournhold has Dwemeric roots, don't you think?

The Vestige continues to follow Divayth Fyr through the cave, to scaffolding.

Curious. Practically no one knows this route, but this scaffolding looks new. Built by rogue ordinators, perhaps? Stay watchful.

The Vestige continues to follow Divayth Fyr.

Sotha Sil always did admire Dwarven industry, albeit quietly. Perhaps that's why he built his city here.

Divayth Fyr and the Vestige approach a lift.

This lift will take us to the nethermost depths of the ruin, and to our destination. Come along.

Divayth Fyr and the Vestige reach the bottom of the lift.

Do you see it, just across the ravine? That's our door.

Divayth Fyr and the Vestige approach the Clockwork Globe, guarded by factotums.

Sotha Sil's factotums still remember me. How touching.

I'd say prepare yourself, but nothing can prepare you for what's to come. Touch the sphere. The Clockwork City awaits.

The Vestige touches the Clockwork Globe, followed by Divayth Fyr. Together they teleport to an unknown location.

What in the ... This is not the Brass Fortress.

Divayth's shadow suddenly rips out of his body.

My shadow! My power! Don't let it escape!

Factotums activate around the Vestige and Divayth Fyr.

Factotums. They're activating!

Divayth Fyr and the Vestige defeat the Factotums.

Fetching scrapheaps ... My shadow remains close. We must hurry!

Divayth Fyr and the Vestige chase after Divayth Fyr's Shadow, until Divayth goes into the next chamber. The Vestige asks him about what happened.

Perhaps I failed to impress the gravity of our situation upon you. If my shadow gets away, we may never escape this place. So if you have something to say, say it quickly.

Vestige

Was that really your shadow?

Divayth Fyr

Yes—and perhaps something more. In removing my shadow our attacker removed some vital part of my animus. My soul, in the common parlance. Without it, my power is severely diminished.

Needless to say, this will not do.

Vestige

Do you know how to recover your shadow?

Divayth Fyr

This may surprise you, but I've never had my shadow ripped from my body. Even so, I will devise a solution. Don't trouble yourself with the finer details. Just be prepared to fight.

Much will depend on your ability. Do not fail me.

Vestige

Do you have any idea what sent us here?

Divayth Fyr

Not yet. We should have translocated directly to the Brass Fortress—Sil's chief municipality here in the Clockwork City. But somehow we ended up here. Vexing.

Vestige

How do we get out of here?

Divayth Fyr

One step at a time, if you please.

We need only to find a landmark, or a map ... or something. Once I determine where we are, it won't take long to find an exit. Just leave that to me. You focus on these traps.

Divayth Fyr and the Vestige continue to chase Divayth Fyr's Shadow.

The Vestige triggers a knife trap.

Divayth Fyr

Well done. Killed by spinning knives is not an epitaph worthy of Divayth Fyr.

Divayth Fyr and the Vestige continue to chase Divayth Fyr's Shadow.

Divayth Fyr

I recognize this place now. The Pneumatic Forge. We should leave as soon as possible.

Divayth Fyr catch up to Divayth Fyr's Shadow and fight it.

At last! Defeat this monstrosity, but don't kill it. I must reclaim my power.

After Divayth Fyr's Shadow is defeated, he recites an incantation to reattach it to his body.

Maliad, khebeit tehir! Devahrokad sint molad!

Divayth's shadow re-enters him.

Finally. You never know how much you miss a thing until it tries to kill you.

More factotums appear.

More ridiculous machines? I've had enough of this!

Divayth Fyr and the Vestige defeat the factotums, and then leave, going outside.

Behold, the Clockwork City. Finally. Sotha Sil's Brass Fortress waits at the end of this road.

We should go there at once. I'm keen to find out who sent us on that delightful jaunt through the Pneumatis.

The Vestige decided to talk to Divayth a little bit more before moving on.

Follow this road to the Brass Fortress. When you see the wayshrine, veer north ... or what passes for north here.

If you have other business to attend to, I'll not stop you. Just meet me at the gates to the fortress when you're ready to proceed.

Vestige

Are you all right?

Divayth Fyr

Concerned for my well-being? Touching. With time, I should make a full recovery.

You preformed admirably in there. I must admit, I had my doubts. But don't worry—I have doubts about practically everyone.

Vestige

Any new ideas about what disrupted our travel?

Divayth Fyr

No.

I hoped that in reclaiming my shadow, I might catch a glimpse of our adversary or my prize. Alas, nothing. Seems we'll have to conduct inquiries the old fashioned way.

Vestige

What was that about your prize?

Divayth Fyr

Have you forgotten so soon?

I came to the Clockwork City in search of a Daedric artifact. Our misadventures in the Pneumatis and this mysterious relic share a common point of origin, I'm certain. Now it's just a matter of rooting it out.

The Vestige travels to the gates of the Brass Fortress to meet Divayth Fyr, who then approaches the gate, and is met by Proctor Luciana Pullo, with her weapon drawn.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Divayth Fyr! I warned you never to come back!

Divayth Fyr

Luciana Pullo. Hospitable as ever. Go talk to her. I'll not waste my time speaking with a petulant toy soldier.

The Vestige goes to talk to Proctor Luciana Pullo.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Hold there, friend of Fyr. I am Proctor Luciana Pullo, of the Clockwork Apostles.

I don't know how you and this egomaniac breached Lord Seht's celestiodorome, but I won't have non-citizens stirring up mischief in the Brass Fortress.

Vestige

How can I become a citizen?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Only just arrived and already trying to grease the gears?

New arrivals must secure an endorsement from a citizen in good standing. I'm prepared to overlook your atrocious choice in companions if you can find a sponsor. Until then, you are tarnished.

Vestige

How do I get a citizen to sponsor me?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

That's for you to find out. Not many citizens will risk their reputation on a green-healed stranger—and you'll find no comfort from me. Maybe you should confer with the other tarnished over there.

In the meantime, obey the law. I'll be watching.

Vestige

Fair enough.

The Vestige goes back over to Divayth Fyr.

Divayth Fyr

Luciana clearly hasn't lost her charming demeanor. Predictable.

Vestige

It seems I won't be welcome in the city until I've found a sponsor.

Divayth Fyr

Ah yes, their bizarre sponsorship custom. I forgot about that little wrinkle. As a friend and peer of Sotha Sil, I come and go as I please.

I suppose it would be best for you to wait out here. If I need you again, I will find you.

Vestige

Can't you sponsor me?

Divayth Fyr

I'm not a citizen. And even if I were, I'd not waste time wading through their opaque bureaucracy. You've proven yourself to be more than capable. I have no doubt you'll figure something out.

Gain your sponsorship. We will speak again soon.

Divayth Fyr

I appreciate your assistance in the Pneumatic Forge, but for now our paths most diverge. The artifact we seek will not remain in one place for long–I can ill afford a delay.

Navigate this absurd ritual. Quickly. I will find you again afterward.

Vestige

Who is Luciana Lucian Pullo?

Divayth Fyr

One of Sotha Sil's greater lackeys. Chief proctor of the Clockwork Apostles.

You might have noticed some mild cosmetic flaws. Honestly. I think she's more automaton than flesh and blood. She certainly acts the part.

Vestige

Why does an Imperial serve a Dark Elf god?

Divayth Fyr

Sil takes all kinds. Imperials. Bretons, even Argonians.

Luciana may be one of his oldest servants. She served Emperor Raman Cyrodiil as a battle mage in her younger years. Made quite a name for herself during the Akaviri invasion.

Vestige

What happened to her? How did she wind up here?

Divayth Fyr

According to the legend, she was caught in a torrent of arcane energy during a battle with a rival mage. It mangled her body and sent her hurtling through the veil. She eventually crashed here. Sil found her shortly thereafter and mended her wounds.

Vestige

So now she serves him?

Divayth Fyr

Indeed. At first I thought she served him out of some cheap obligation – reciprocity for his kindness. But apparently she really believes in this place.

I heard they had a bit of a falling out. She still serves him though, in her dog-like fashion.

Vestige

She didn't seem happy to see you.

Divayth Fyr

People like her rarely are. You see, I present a destabilizing influence. I reject all illusions of authority and thus reject their entire way of life. Hierarchy, ritual, reverence. It's all a sham.

I respect power, not absurd social constructs.

Vestige

She mentioned the Clockwork Apostles.

Divayth Fyr

Yes, a monastic order ... of sorts. They serve Sotha Sil through magical inquiry.

Apostles fancy themselves iconoclasts who push the boundaries of magical praxis. There's a seed of truth there, I suppose – but they're still obnoxious.

Vestige

Are they all like Luciana?

Divayth Fyr

You mean. are they all half-metal monstrosities? More or less. Some modify themselves more than others. Its a form of reverence. They want to be more like Sotha Sil.

You see. Sil has some peculiar ... well. I'll let you see for yourself.

Vestige

Why did Luciana refer to Sotha Sil as Seht?

Divayth Fyr

Sil has many names. Sotha Sil, Seht, SI, the Clockwork God... and on and on. Tiresome if you ask me.

The Clockwork Apostles mostly refer to him as Seht – his verse and sermon name. I call him Sil, because I'm not a doe-eyed idiot.

Next, the Vestige goes to talk to Neramo.

Neramo

Well, if it isn't my second favorite assistant! What a fortuitous turn of events. I shouldn't be surprised. You have a knack for appearing when I need you most.

I take it you haven't found a sponsor yet? Maybe we can help each other.

Vestige

What do you have in mind?

Neramo

Initially, I thought we could rely on my ample charms to win us a sponsor. Unfortunately, the people here tend to value craft over the pleasure of my company.

Providing some gift or service seems to be the only way to earn a sponsorship.

Vestige

Have you found any potential sponsors?

Neramo

Yes, a clockwork apostle named Varuni Arvel. Apparently, she's a member of the Congress of Calibration–the governing body here in the city.

My associates, Kireth and Raynor, are already working on a plan to earn her trust. Will you help us?

Vestige

All right, we'll work together.

Neramo

This promises to be a fruitful collaboration!

I tasked Kireth and Raynor with acquiring gifts for Varuni, but they tend to wander. Kireth's just there by the cliff. You should speak with her. In the meantime, I'll conduct more research. Questions?

Vestige

How did you get here?

Neramo

Seeing as you found your own way here, I suppose there's no harm in sharing my own methods.

I just learned of a secret cave beneath the city of Mournhold that, until recently, was entirely inaccessible. Can you imagine?

Vestige

Yes, I can definitely imagine.

Neramo

Fearing that the Tribunal might seal it again, I set off through the cavern as soon as I could!

It pained me to leave my usual cohorts behind, but this duo, Kireth and Raynor, have performed admirably.

Vestige

Who are Kireth and Raynor?

Neramo

A pair of Dark Elf explorers. Like me, they delight in all things mechanical.

Their youth and endless sibling rivalries can prove irksome, but what they lack in experience they more than make up for in enthusiasm.

Vestige

Vimy didn't join you for this trip?

Neramo

Unfortunately, my illustrious bodyguard was away on personal business – I know better than to ask for specifics.

I certainly miss her services, but one makes do.

The Vestiges goes to talk to Kireth Vanos.

Kireth Vanos

So, that pompous High Elf got his hooks in you too, huh? I told my brother, Raynor, we should go it alone, but any house in an ash-storm, right?

Speaking of Raynor, he might need your help.

Vestige

Is Raynor in trouble?

Kireth Vanos

Depends on your definition of trouble, I guess.

He's down in the ravine – playing with the firepot spiders for some reason. He wouldn't tell me more. Unfortunately, those spiders have a tendency to, you know ... explode.

Vestige

Why would he do that?

Kireth Vanos

Like I said, he didn't want to discuss it. Probably whipped up an automata-disrupting spoon-twirler or something. He gets like this sometimes.

Just check in on him, all right? He's clumsy and those apostle's mechanical limbs look expensive.

Vestige

All right, I'll check on Raynor.

Kireth Vanos

Thanks for the help. Raynor's smart, but you can't smart a spider to death, you know?

Vestige

What will you do while I help Raynor?

Kireth Vanos

Well, Neramo said we needed something to offer this Varuni character, but from what I can tell, she doesn't really need anything. So I asked myself, what do you get the person who has everything?

Vestige

And? What do you get the person who has everything?

Kireth Vanos

A home-cooked meal, Argonian pottery, or information. Since I'm a terrible cook, and we're worlds away from Black Marsh, I think I'll go with the third thing.

This Brass Fortress is brimming with gossip – I just need to listen for it. Wish me luck!

The Vestige goes to talk to Raynor Vanos. On the way there, they observe the following conversation at the gate to the Brass Fortress.

Constable Baldan

I gave you my word, didn't I? Come, cat. We can discuss the specifics in my office.

Lankin

A thousand blessing, walker! Lankin has much to offer in the Brass Fortress.

Constable Baldan

Yes, I'm sure you do.

The Vestige continues on to Raynor Vanos.

Raynor Vanos

Ati, greetings. Please, don't mind me.

Actually, do mind me. I'm conducting an experiment on these firepot spiders and so far the results have proven ... explosive. You should probably give this place a wide berth for the time being.

Vestige

Kireth sent me down here to look for you.

Raynor Vanos

Kireth? So you've joined our band of outsiders? Welcome.

Now look – I may lack Kireth's natural talent with a blade, but I can accomplish this on my own. Varuni's sure to sponsor us once I deliver this ... oh, who am I kidding? I do need your help.

Vestige

What are you trying to do?

Raynor Vanos

These firepot spiders contain a highly unstable oil-like fluid. The dangers inherent to acquiring it make it very valuable indeed.

I discovered a way to prevent the spiders from detonating, but even defused they're more than capable of killing me.

Vestige

Can you siphon the oil if I disable them?

Raynor Vanos

So you'll do it? Yes, of course!

If you attract the spiders' attention, I can use this tonal dampener to disarm their ignition coils! Just a simple matter of inverting their threat assessment array and ... sorry. I can get carried away sometimes.

Vestige

All right. You disable the explosions, I disable the spiders, then we give the oil to Varuni.

The Vestige and Raynor Vanos go and collect the firepot oil.

Raynor Vanos

Brilliant! We really made short work of those spiders, didn't we?

Here, you can carry the oil.

Vestige

Where should I take this firepot oil?

Raynor Vanos

Take the oil to Varuni. Neramo said she has an office in the Clockwork Basilica. Hopefully this will be enough to earn a sponsorship.

If you don't mind, I'll accompany you to the gate. Can't be too careful out here!

The Vestige and Raynor go to the gate.

Raynor Vanos

Such a pleasure when things go as planned, don't you think? Knowledge and strength of arms, working in harmonious concert.

Now if only I could get Kireth to see it the same way.

The Vestige and Raynor go to Provost Varuni Arvel. On the way, they observe the following argument.

Sarvlos Velar

You have no right to treat me like this! I'm a member of House Hlaalu, and I demand to speak to ... to ... to someone!

Adjunct Rizma

Your ... house? Ah, yes, I remember. The Great Houses. The antiquated hierarchy of authority, which the Dark Elves chained themselves with.

Sarvlos Velar

What? I won't take this disrespect! Show me to someone of authority! Now!

Adjunct Rizma

Do you truly believe that is the way of things here?

The Vestige then goes to talk to Provost Varuni Arvel.

Greeting, auxiliary. Is your friend correct? Did you bring an offering?

Vestige

Yes. Explosive oil harvested from dangerous firepot spiders.

Firepot oil? Tremendous! And you managed to keep all ten fingers. I'm impressed. Thank you.

Now, to the matter of your citizenship. You're clearly a capable warrior, but in the Clockwork City, mental precision is of paramount importance.

Vestige

How can I prove my mental fitness?

A number of outsiders have gone missing in recent weeks. I fear someone might be abducting them or worse, but I have no proof.

I spoke to your friend, Neramo, and he insists you can gather the evidence I need. Succeed, and I'll sponsor you all.

Vestige

All right. Neramo and I will find the proof you need.

Try to keep this inquiry quiet, all right? In the Clockwork City, even a small creak in the gears can draw curious eyes.

Vestige

Who are you again?

Provost Varuni Arvel, ranking disquisitor in the Congress of Calibration.

Before you ask, yes – I am a bit young for such a tenurial position. Fortunately, Lord Seht established a true meritocracy here. One day I'll get a chance to thank him.

Vestige

Lord Seht meaning Sotha Sil, right? You've never met him?

Met? No. Lord Seht's far too busy. He only recently emerged from seclusion in the Cogitum Centralis.

He's addressed the congress, but I haven't had an opportunity to present myself. You should be thoroughly prepared when you meet a god, right?

Vestige

Can you tell me more about Sotha Sil?

Of course. Lord Seht, known to many as Sotha Sil, is the Father of Curiosity. By His word, we create, perfect, and overcome.

He cares for all of us, just as a clockmaker cares for each gear and spring. Every piece matters, no matter how small.

Vestige

You seem to know a lot about him.

I do a lot of reading. It's all there in the sermons.

Some people think he's aloof –callous, even. But I disagree. He stands with us in a way that Vivec and Almalexia never could, and he'll guide us all to a better world.

Vestige

What can you tell me about these disappearances?

Very little, which is more problematic than it sounds.

Any loose cog can carry out an abduction. It doesn't take a criminal mastermind to throw someone down a drain pipe. What worries me is that none of it was recorded by the factotums or sentry coils.

Vestige

You record what happens in the streets?

We record what happens everywhere. Honestly, I don't know how you exodromals do without. You lose so much in Tamriel. Knowledge, memories ... And you must argue incessantly.

Everything that happens here is fact. Documented and verifiable.

Vestige

Wait, exo-what?

Exodromal. Sorry. I forget how strange our words sound to foreign ears.

Anyone who enters the Clockwork City from the outside world is known as an exodromal, since they come from beyond the celestiodrome – the glass sphere you'd call our sky.

Vestige

Well, exodromals might take issue with being watched all the time.

I know. But secrets are the purview of Lord Seht, and Lord Seht alone. I have nothing to hide.

The sermons tell us that only the disassembled engine can be scrubbed and made clean. Knowledge requires light. Openness. Collaboration. You see?

The Vestige then goes and talks to Neramo.

Neramo

So, ready to do a bit of sleuthing? I'm confident that we can find this elusive evidence, but it will require some skulduggery. Breaking and entering, to be specific.

Ready for the details?

Vestige

Yes, details would be nice.

Neramo

Varuni suspects that someone destroyed city records. But if my study of Dwemer ruins has taught me anything, it's that nothing is ever truly destroyed. You just need to look in the right place.

Here, that place is the Depository Documatis.

Vestige

Depository Documatis. Got it. What's the plan?

Neramo

Sneaking into the Depository is impossible for us, but Sotha Sil's clockwork automata enter and exit the structure constantly. I discovered a way to control one such automata – a device known as a skeevaton. I'm sure you're duly impressed.

Vestige

So, you're going to guide a clockwork automaton into the building?

Neramo

No, you are. I will provide technical assistance and keep an eye out for prying eyes – both mechanical and organic.

Head to the Depository. I'll meet you there, after I've wrapped up matters with our new benefactor.

Vestige

All right. I’ll meet you there.

Neramo

If you have questions, you should ask them now. Once we begin our investigation, We’ll have little time to dawdle.

Vestige

Why start looking in this Depository Documatis?

Neramo

As Varuni said, everything here generates a record. From what I gather, those records constantly pass through the Depository Documatis.

Vestige

If every single record goes through the Depository, how are we going to find what we're looking for?

Neramo

When you say it like that it does sound daunting.

It's true – the evidence we seek drifts through vast oceans of information. Luckily, these skeevatons seem very capable when it comes to sorting and parsing. I guess we'll just have to find out.

Vestige

Do you even know what we're looking for?

Neramo

I equipped the skeevaton with a number of key words and concepts to help it sort out extraneous documents.

Have some faith! I've extracted information from tonal vaults and Dwemer orreries. Sifting through city records pales in comparison.

Vestige

How did you learn to control a skeevaton?

Neramo

Honestly, they're not all that dissimilar from the Dwemer devices I usually tinker with. Sotha Sil clearly learned a great deal from the Dwarves.

They use an unfamiliar tonal dialect as it were, but the basic principles remain the same.

Vestige

How can we control a skeevaton without touching it?

Neramo

We will employ a very simple control device. How to explain it ...

The skeevatons send and receive signals from other clockwork automatons constantly. This device allows us to drown out all the noise, making our voices the only sound it hears.

The Vestige leaves and goes to meet Neramo near the Depository. On the way there, they observed the following conversation outside of Varuni’s office.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

As I said before, those tarnished redundants down in the slums are no concern of yours. I've instructed the constabulary to keep a strict eye on them.

Lector Tanel Sadyron

Yes, that Constable Baldan's done an admirable job. Even so, tarnished and exodromals enter the basilica far too often.

Adjust Diwa

And what of these rumors? Black-robed figures lurking on the edge of the Radius?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Honestly, Diwa, settle the boilers, hmm? I will never let tarnished, or exodromals, or mysterious robed ghosts disrupt our work. Believe me.

The Vestige continues and meets Neramo.

Neramo

There you are. I prepared the device. All is in readiness. Prepared to see through the eyes of a clockwork automaton? Brilliant! Just activate the skeevaton, place it in the serviflume, and I'll instruct you further.

The Vestige begins to control the skeevaton, which looks like a tiny mechanical mouse.

Excellent, we have a strong signal. Now, to find Varuni's evidence.

I'm seeing a lot of interference. Proceed carefully. We can't risk damaging the skeevaton's data collector.

This depository should contain security documents and recordings. Search everywhere. When you find something, use the skeevaton to make a remote copy.

The Vestige finds several documents that seem useful: the Residential Logistics Log, Factotum Model Registry, Security Survey, and Mechanical Fundament Maintenance Logs.

That's it! Quickly, assistant, direct the skeevaton to the exit, then meet me there to examine the evidence!

The Vestige brings the skeevaton back.

All right, let me see what you found. Yes I believe these recordings correspond to the dates of the disappearances.

There's something more. Look here. The last person to access the records was a BAL-167. Hmph. Circumstantial at best.

Vestige

How do you propose we find this BAL-167?

Neramo

We might already have a lead.

I shared Varuni's concerns with Kireth shortly after you left the basilica and she insisted on looking into the matter herself. She cited Constable Baldan as a person of interest. His office should be southwest of here.

Vestige

BAL-167... Constable Baldan. I'll track down Kireth and see what shes' found.

The Vestige then sets out to do just that.

Kireth Vanos

Ah, there you are! Done playing with Neramo's wind-up toys? I think I'm on to something.

Vestige

What have you learned?

Kireth Vanos

I did a little asking around. Word is, Constable Baldan will sponsor anyone, as long as they can pay. Where they go after he takes their gold? That's anybody's guess.

Luckily, we're here to sort it out! here, take this memory stone.

Vestige

What do you want to do with this?

Kireth Vanos

I surveyed the building. Someone left the door to Baldan's storage loft unlocked. It should provide a great view of his office. Climb up there and wait.

When I offer a bride, you record the conversation on that memory stone. Then we've got him!

Vestige

All right. I'll make my way to the loft and wait for your signal.

The Vestige goes to the loft and waits.

Kireth Vanos

All right, Baldan, I've got your gold. Will you sponsor me for citizenship?

Constable Baldan

Oh, I'll take your offering – but sponsorship? That's for the living, you tarnished scum.

Kireth Vanos

The living – what?

Constable Baldan

Do it.

An unknown person comes behind Kireth Vanos and knocks her out.

Well? What are you idling for? Gather up the gold and dump her with the others. We don't want anyone finding our latest visitor.

The Vestige leaves the loft and goes to find Raynor Vanos.

Raynor Vanos

There you are! Neramo said you'd be around here somewhere. Have you seen Kireth? Is she with you?

Vestige

I'm sorry, but Constable Baldan's thugs knocked her out and dragged her off.

Raynor Vanos

He what? How could she –? We have to rescue her! You don't have any idea where they took her, do you?

Vestige

Not yet, but I'll find out. You tell Varuni and Neramo.

Raynor Vanos

Yes, of course. I'll get help. Maybe I could even put together some kind of tonal locater ... bah, not enough time!

What would Kireth do? She would investigate. Yes. Talk to the people in Slag Town. They know practically everything about this place.

Vestige

All right. I'll find her, Raynor.

Raynor Vanos

I'll get the others. You hurry off to Slag Town!

Vestige

What is Slag Town, exactly?

Raynor Vanos

That's what the locals call the slums in the northeast corner of the fortress. I must admit, I was surprised to find a tenement like that in Sotha Sil's holy city. Then again, practically everything here has come as a surprise.

The Vestige next went to Slag Town. There are a number of people who they can talk to in order to gather information, each with its own strings attached. We've presented all of them here, but the Vestige need only complete one.

First, they talk to Zaiba, a Khajiit on an outcropping overlooking the city.

Zaiba

Bah! Oil those ankles and keep walking, green-heel. This one has nothing to say to you.

Vestige

I'm looking for a Dark Elf. Baldan's thugs might have dragged her through here. Know anything?

Zaiba

Feh! You outsiders are all the same! Cutting into the queues, poaching our salvage, sneering and putting on airs. You're no better than us!

Vestige

Would you still feel that way if I snapped both your legs?

Zaiba

And so you prove my point! Always trouble, always violence, and poor Zaiba is caught in the middle. Ziss on you!

Baldan probably threw your friend into the Fundament – a maze beneath the city. If you go after her neither of you will come out again.

The Vestige can also complete a small favor for a local Argonian in exchange for the information.

Leaps-Over-Thistle

You look restless, gear-walker. If you seek work, you should talk to Razgurug. The people of Slag Town always welcome a helping hand.

Vestige

I'm looking for a Dark Elf arrested by the Constable Baldan. Know where she might be?

Leaps-Over-Thistle

Another newcomer taken? I erect the spine of sympathy. I know Baldan to be cruel and uncompromising, so this comes as no surprise.

I can make inquiries if you wish. I know Slag Town well. Unfortunately, I would need a kindness from you.

Vestige

What kind of kindness?

Leaps-Over-Thistle

I need an animo core from a verminous fabricant. One of our filtration units went silent again, so I must complete this task quickly. If you acquire the animo core, that will give me time to ask after your friend.

Will you do this for me?

Vestige

All right, I'll find your animo core.

Leaps-Over-Thistle

You have a well-oiled heart, my friend. The fabricants lurk in the ravine just outside the main gate. Just be careful. Those verminous beasts can rend you in two in the flick of a spring.

I should have news for you by the time you get back.

The Vestige goes to the ravine and returns with the core.

Leaps-Over-Thistle

Hist be praised – you've returned. Do you have my animo core?

Vestige

Here's your core.

Leaps-Over-Thistle

Thank you, my friend. Your kindness warms my scales.

Unfortunately, I have grave news. I fear your friend has been thrown into the Mechanical Fundament – a maze beneath the city. If she is not dead by now, she soon will be. You must hurry.

The Vestige could also have obtained this information with a small donation to a local beggar, Igmund.

Igmund

Spare a few coins? I've had nothing to eat but wire and dirt. Have mercy …

Vestige

I'm looking for a Dark Elf. Constable Baldan's thugs took her. Know where she might be?

Igmund

I might have seen a woman like that, sure. Might have seen her dark skin and red eyes, heard her squawking like a broken skeevaton. But I can't say for certain.

Sure would be easier to remember if I had a full stomach.

Vestige

Will this be enough?

The Vestige hands Igmund 41 septims.

Igmund

Thank you. Now, listen well. Baldan's thugs took your friend to the Mechanical Fundament. Guaranteed. It's a maze beneath the city. Nobody ever comes out.

If you want to run after your friend, go ahead. But I suggest you stay out of that place.

The Vestige can also check the local Outlaws Refuge for information.

Lady Circone

Who are you? Look, I don't want any trouble!

Vestige

I'm looking for a Dark Elf arrested by Constable Baldan. Know where she might be?

Lady Circone

Wait, so you're not down here looking for –? Never mind.

If you know what's good for you, you'll stop asking questions about Baldan and his friends. I can't get involved.

Vestige

My friend may die if you don't help me. You want that on your conscience?

Lady Circone

Of course not. By the gears, how do I always let myself get involved in these messes?

There's only one place that Baldan could hide a body – the Mechanical Fundament. It's a maze under the fortress. They'll take us there too if you're not careful.

Having discovered the location, the Vestige heads for the Fundament and eventually find Kireth.

Kireth Vanos

Threw you in here too, did they? I knew I couldn't be the only one Constable Baldan got the drop on!

Vestige

Actually, I came clown here to find you. We should leave.

Kireth Vanos

You're right, we should. And I could! But not yet.

I met another one of Baldan's victims–a Khajiit named Lankin. He's been scraping it out down here, but he's no warrior. I told him I'd get him out. Unfortunately, we got separated.

Vestige

All right. We can look for him.

Kireth Vanos

That's the spirit! I managed to yank this sword out of a corpse nearby. It's not much, but you don't need a sharp edge to deal with these factotums–just a heavy swing and a lot of patience.

You ready? Let's get moving.

The Vestige and Kireth go to find Lankin, and rescue him.

Kireth Vanos

Finally! Come with us, Lankin. We're getting you out of here.

Lankin

Friend Kireth! Bright moons above! Please, let's leave this dungy place!

The Vestige, Lankin, and Kireth go to meet with Proctor Luciana Pullo and Raynor Vanos.

Raynor Vanos

Kireth! Thank goodness! Don't suppose you found anything of interest down there...?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Enough. I'm glad to see you weren't lying, Raynor Vanos.

Kireth Vanos

That bastard, Baldan, threw me into the Fundament!

Constable Baldan

Ridiculous. I've never seen this woman in my life.

Lankin

Liar! You tossed this one in as well!

This Raynor Vanos made some very bold claims. If you have evidence of Constable Baldan's crimes, I suggest you produce it.

Vestige

I captured Kireth's abduction on this memory stone. Neramo has incriminating documents, too.

Huh. You're more resourceful than you look. Little wonder Divayth chose you as his companion. Seht knows he needs the help.

I'll hold Baldan under guard until I've had an opportunity to review the evidence. As for you? You're free to go.

Vestige

Thank you.

Kireth Vanos

The nerve of that Elf! Clubbing people and throwing them into the sewer like garbage! These apostles better not go easy on him.

That fool has no idea what he's in for. Live uncomfortably and learn, I suppose.

Vestige

You think he knows more than he's letting on?

Oh, most certainly.

Baldan can't have accomplished all this by himself. Erasing records? Accessing derelict sections of the Fundament? These aren't the acts of a simple mer. Someone helped him. Now it's just a matter of finding out who.

Vestige

Do you think he'll talk?

I do. One way or another.

For now, let's celebrate your achievement. You showed initiative, creativity, bravery – all qualities befitting a servant of Seht. You shall have my sponsorship.

Vestige

Will you sponsor Neramo, Raynor, and Kireth as well?

Of course. Each of them played a role in your success, and each of them will share the rewards.

Go speak to the Clockwork Registrar in the Chancel of Records. It will add your name to the codices and you'll be one of us. Again, you have my thanks.

Vestige

You're welcome.

Constable Baldan

You'll regret this. Mark me, proctor. You will regret this!

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I doubt that. Get this tarnished piece of scrap out of my sight.

Kireth Vanos

Enjoy prison, you skeeving prat!

The Vestige witnessed the following conversation between Arvel and Pullo.

Luciana, I'd like to ask the constable a few questions when we return to the Basilica.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Don't trouble yourself, Varuni. You know how persuasive I can be.

I do. That's what worries me.

Constable Baldan

Do your worst, you tin-legged hag!

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Seht help you if she does, constable.

Prior to becoming an official citizen, the Vestige decided to speak to the people present.

Neramo

Ah, it seems I arrived just in time.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

What are you still doing down here? Varuni gave you her sponsorship, correct? You should go speak to the Clockwork Registar. As much as it pains me to congratulate a friend of Divayth Fyr ... congratulations.

Vestige

Are you always this stern?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Yes. Any other questions?

Vestige

What will you do to Constable Baldan?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I'll talk to him. The tenor of that conversation is totally up to him.

Vestige

Do you think there's more to these disappearances?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Varuni's right. This whole operation had too many moving parts, and ex-Constable Baldan doesn't seem bright enough to pull it off on his own. If there's more to this affair, I'll root it out. Count on it.

Now, go claim your citizenship.

Provest Varuni Arvel

Well? What are you waiting for, future citizen? Go speak to the Clockwork Registar. I'll call on you soon again. Count on it.

Raynor Vanos

So that's it? We're citizens now? Wonderful! I can't wait to get started on our next adventure!

Kireth Vanos

So we're citizens now, right? Finally.

Now to find what passes for sujamma in this crazy place.

Neramo

Well done, assistant! One quick trip to the clockwork registar and we'll be full citizens of the Brass Fortress.

The Vestige goes to the Clockwork Registar.

Clockwork Registar

By the word, I wind the gears.

Please state your business or depart.

Vestige

I'm here to register as a citizen.

Clockwork Registar

Welcome, potential resident.

Please speak your birth-name, followed by the name of your sponsor.

[Character Name]. Provost Varuni Arvel.

Clockwork Registar

Dreaming ... Torchbugs. Overturned jar.

Sponsorship confirmed and archived. The Light of Knowledge, Sotha Sil, welcomes you to the Brass Fortress. Go forth and create.

The Vestige decided to speak further to the Registrar before departing.

Clockwork Registar

By the word of Seht, I am bound.

Greetings, resident. All documents pertaining to your citizenship have been pressed and archived. Thank you for your interest. Go forth, and create.

Vestige

What are you exactly?

Clockwork Registar

I am a factotum – a mechanized servitor automation, bound to the Clockwork City.

My functions include city maintenance, record-keeping, commerce, hospitality, and basic civil defense.

Vestige

How many factoums exist in the City?

Clockwork Registar

Just a moment.

Current inventory of seventh-generation factotums equals nine hundred forty-six active partitions, with an additional six thousand four hundred partitions stored in Cogitum archives.

Vestige

Seventh generation?

Clockwork Registar

Lord Seht revises factotum source material and partition frames regularly. Six generations proceeded the current model.

All additional information pertaining to factotum source material and fabrication is restricted. Thank you for your interest.

The Vestige then goes over and talks to Neramo.

Neramo

As one journey ends, another begins. I imagine there's much more to discover here in Sotha Sil's Clockwork City.

Vestige

So, what's next for you?

Neramo

I can finally begin my exploration in earnest.

Now that we've earned our citizenship, I can apply for excavation permits, antiquity transportation licenses ... oh dear. Come to think of it, I might not be able to begin for quite some time.

Vestige

What about Raynor and Kireth?

Neramo

They proved useful. Raynor's theories need some work, and Kireth's refusal to listen to reason caused me no small measure of anxiety. But on the whole? Satisfactory.

Provided that they follow my lead, I might call on them again in the future.

Vestige

Take care of yourself, Neramo.

Neramo

I value your service and partnership, assistant. Please, take this as a token of my appreciation.

If I understand the bureaucracy correctly, I may be here in the Brass Fortress for a while. Feel free to seek me out, should you require my aid.

The Vestige chose to return to Divyath Fyr to see about helping the wizard further.

Divayth Fyr

So you're a citizen now? Well done.

I heard something about a constable tossing people down sewer drains. Even in this shrine to knowledge, drooling idiots bumble their way to power. Ludicrous. Moving on, I require your services once more.

Vestige

What do you need?

Divayth Fyr

It's Sotha Sil. Shortly after you and I parted company, I sought him out to discuss our Daedric artifact. I fear something is... askew.

His habits, his diction, the timbre of his voice – they've all changed, albeit subtly.

Vestige

You think something is wrong with him?

Divayth Fyr

Worse. Initially, I dismissed it as boredom, fatigue, or even the first sights of senility. But now, after observing him at length, I can say with certainty – this is not the Sotha Sil I know.

There's Daedric mischief here, and we will root it out.

Vestige

How do we go about doing that?

Divayth Fyr

We will leverage your hard-earned citizenship to make inquiries.

First, I will make it known that in light of your recent exploits, I offered to take you on as my aide – an offer you eagerly accepted.

Vestige

Fine. How does me becoming your aide help us investigate Sotha Sil?

Divayth Fyr

As the most powerful mage in the Brass Fortress, I find it difficult to have proper conversations with common folk. They grow silent at my approach, then whisper as I leave. An appropriate, but sadly uninformative display of deference.

Vestige

So you want me to talk to the other aides?

Divayth Fyr

Indeed. It's commonly understood that servants grumble about their masters, loudly, to those they consider equals.

Ask them about Sotha Sil's recent behavior. I'm confident we'll find something of value tucked away in their churlish complains.

Vestige

All right, I'll talk to the other aides.

Before doing that, however, the Vestige had a few more questions to ask Lord Fyr.

Divayth Fyr

You have questions, of course. Ask what you must. The forces at work here are cunning indeed. You should be prepared for anything.

Vestige

I thought no one really knew Sotha Sil. How can you be sure something is wrong?

Divayth Fyr

He is inscrutable, but he's also unflinching. Sil always most deliberately, quietly, and one step at a time.- like clockwork. I have never once seen him divert from his course. Until now.

Vestige

How has he diverted?

Divayth Fyr

In the short time we've been here, he has twice adjusted city patrol routes and delivered three revisions to the fortress charter.

Trust me when I say this is unprecedented. Sotha Sil never meddles like this.

Vestige

Has he made any other changes?

Divayth Fyr

That's for you to discover.

Don't bother speaking with members of the congress. Varuni's faith in Sotha Sil is unbreakable. Chancellor Gascone resents any threat to the status quo. And Luciana? Well, let's just say she's been less than helpful.

Vestige

Is Proctor Luciana still insisting you leave the city?

Divayth Fyr

Luciana resents my presence, but she's no fool. I go where I please, when I please. An open confrontation between us would likely leave hundreds dead.

So do not trouble yourself. She will not stand in the way of our investigation.

Vestige

What can you tell me about the others in Sotha Sils circle?

Divayth Fyr

Well, you've met Varuni. She's pleasant without being vapid or boring. Then again, her doe-eyed faith in Sotha Sil turns my stomach. I find religious attachments repulsive. My thoughts on Luciana are well-known.

As for Gascone...

Vestige

Who is Gascone?

Divayth Fyr

Gascone serves as chancellor. He commands respect, but suffers from the peculiar character flaw of demanding praise at all times. Adulation. A sad fixation indeed.

He holds great power, but it's his petty obsessions that make him dangerous. Be wary.

On their way out, the Vestige encountered the angry House Hlaalu member they saw earlier. He had different things to say each time he was greeted.

Sarvlos Velar

This place is filled with lunatics, acting under the orders of an absent god. Why, if Lord Vivec ever caught wind of such disgrace going on under the name of the tribunal...

Sarvlos Velar

I'm sure House Hlaalu is spending all available resources trying to find my whereabouts. Why, I wouldn't be surprised if a rescue party showed up any day now. Any day...

Sarvlos Velar

I will find a way out of this wasteland, with or without the help of those Clockwork Apostles.

As instructed, the Vestige set out to talk to the various assistants throughout the city.

Agral

You're Lord Fyr's newest steward, eh? Could we talk later? If I don't finish this lamp inventory, Gascone will feed me to the fabricants.

Vestige

Lamp inventory?

Agral

Yeah, Gascone must know much I love doing paperwork.

A few days ago, Sotha Sil ordered us to rip out all the lamps in here and replace them with less efficient ones. What kind of sense does that make? Who wants weaker lamps?

Vestige

What are you doing with the old lamps?

Agral

A bunch of factotums loaded them onto a dolly and dumped them somewhere in the Mechanical Fundament.

Hey, I know that look. If you're looking to poach a free lamp, don't bother. Gascone made us slag them all. And that's not even the worst part.

Vestige

What's the worst part?

Agral

Half the old switches don't work with the new lamps, so we've had to manufacture new switches. And half the time, the switches get installed backward, which means we have to do it all over again! Even the factotums don't know what they're doing!

Vestige

That does sound frustrating, but...

Agral

And don't even get me stared on the lamp assembly! Sotha Sil could have tuned the fabricators to make the new lamps with a flick of his finger, but he demanded that we do it instead!

Do you have any idea how complex the fabricators are?

Vestige

I don't. But I really have to go. Good luck.

Agral

Crank this... I've never had to do this much paperwork. And this isn't even the worst part!

Next, the Vestige chose to talk to Sedris Nedaren.

Sedris Nedaren

So you're Divayth Fyr's new auxiliary, eh? Tough luck, friend. I've heard he's an insufferable bastard, but at least he's not Sotha Sil. Better to be turned into a guar than to serve the Clockwork God.

Vestige

You don't like working for Sotha Sil?

Sedris Nedaren

Not anymore. In the old days, sure. He was easy to please because he was never around.

These days? He changes his mind about something every night. Constant meetings, new dictums daily, adjustments to Factotum patrols. It's a nightmare.

Vestige

Are you sure he hasn't always been this way? You said he was never around.

Sedris Nedaren

Trust me, this is unprecedented. I'm afraid something's wrong with his enhancements, like he's having trouble regulating. He's a different person, I swear.

Don't tell anyone I said this. Especially Gascone. Blasphemy doesn't go over well nowawadays.

Vestige

Blasphemy?

Sedris Nedaren

Yes. Speaking ill of a god never turns out well. In the old days, he'd take it in his stride. Commit your small blasphemies, he'd say. The fire of doubt turns ignorance to steam. But not anymore.

This place is getting more like Mournhold every day.

Vestige

Sorry to hear that. I should get going.

Sedris Nedaren

Right. I'm sure you have plenty of work to do for Lord Fyr. He's back a few days and already burying you in paperwork, no doubt.

Take care of yourself, friend.

Last, the Vestige approached Kiliban Arethi for information.

Kiliban Arethi

So you're the one that Divayth has tapped to be his aid in the Brass Fortress. Sorry to hear that.

Provost Varuni's ancestors hail from House Telvanni, just like Lord Fyr. But honestly, they couldn't be more different.

Vestige

What's it like working for Provost Varuni?

Kiliban Arethi

Not as bad as you might expect. She's young. Youth comes with impatience. But I've never felt unfairly judged, and she's generous with her praise.

Honestly, if I had the choice between serving Varuni or Sotha Sil, I'd take Varuni every time.

Vestige

Sotha Sil is difficult to work for?

Kiliban Arethi

Now more than ever. I don't pretend to understand his motives, but he's never been so demanding.

One example? He insists that we turn all the lights down before he enters a room. Do you have any idea how difficult that is? It's maddening.

Vestige

Is flipping a switch that difficult?

Kiliban Arethi

Ha! Flipping switches. That's rich.

Each lamp has its own switch, and some lamps have multiple switches. And if that isn't mad enough, some switches control multiple lamps! He's a god, I know. But it shouldn't take a genius to turn on the lights.

Vestige

That sounds frustrating.

Kiliban Arethi

Don't even get me started.

Varuni might demand some obscure tome in the middle of the night, or chide someone for leaving oil on the floor, but that's the worst of it. Sotha Sil exiled an auxiliary last week because she forgot to switch off a lamp!

Vestige

Thanks for letting me know all that. I should get going.

Kiliban Arethi

Right, right - don't let me keep you. I can't imagine how demanding Divayth Fyr must be. Better you than me, that's for sure. Keep your nose to the cogs and you'll be fine.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm off to flip two dozen switches. Again.

Armed with these new insights, the Vestige returned to Fyr.

Divayth Fyr

Were you treated well by the menials? I assume they battered you with complaints. What have you learned?

Vestige

Sotha Sil is definitely behaving strangely. He's made lots of odd demands.

Divayth Fyr

Well I could have told you that. That is why I sent you here, after all. What kinds of demands? Be specific.

Vestige

He makes the servants darken rooms before he enters, and demanded that some lamps be replaced.

Divayth Fyr

The lamps in the loqutorium, yes? The large assembly room over there? The auxiliaries and factotums have been laboring in there day and night, ever since we arrived. Curious.

What could lights have to do with this? There's only one way to find out.

Vestige

Expose him to the light?

Divayth Fyr

Impressive. I assumed I'd have to explain it to you. Of course, this requires a functional lamp. I assume he ordered them destroyed.

Speak to that High Elf of yours. Neramo. The Dark Elf as well. We need one of these lamps- repaired and operable.

Vestige

All right, I'll go find Neramo and Raynor.

On their way there, the Vestige ran into Sotha Sil himself just outside the Clockwork Basilica. They could not pass up the opportunity to question a God.

Sotha Sil

Yes, what is it? I have much to do. Much to attend to. Speak.

Vestige

You're Sotha Sil?

Sotha Sil

Of course I am. And you are Divayth Fyr's aide. Yes, I've heard a great deal about you. You struck a blow against corruption in my fortress, correct? You're to be commended.

Now, speak your business.

Vestige

I just wanted to meet you.

Sotha Sil

A worthy goal. Very worthy indeed. I am a god, after all.

Tell me – now that you've had the opportunity to meet me, how do I strike you?

The player has two choices. Although only one can selected at a time in game, we have represented both here.

Vestige

I'm a little underwhelmed.

Sotha Sil

Underwhelmed? By me? Count your blessings that I have other matters to attend to, mortal. I have half a mind to show you just how powerful I am.

This city is mine! If you wish to dwell in it, I suggest you learn respect.

Vestige

You're just as majestic as I imagined.

Sotha Sil

Majestic. Yes. A fitting description.

You shall go far here in the Clockwork City, aide of Fyr. I pardon you for interrupting me and grant you my blessings. Go forth, and honor me, the Clockwork God, with your labors.

The Vestige also ran into one of Sotha Sil's Clockwork Apostles. Though she didn't want to talk at length, she did have unique things to say with each greeting.

Adjunct Rizma

Do you seek guidance? Or merely an ear to vent your frustrations? Either way, I have little answers. Silence gives birth to the intrepid mind, after all.

Adjunct Rizma

Don't worry, I won't quote scripture to you. After all, it seems Lord Seht's wisdom is unappreciated by most auxiliaries.

Adjunct Rizma

Finding your place here within our city is to become a gear within a glorious machine. Greatness les within us all, should we find the will to merge our fractured selves.

The Vestige then continued on to Neramo.

Neramo

Ah, I hoped to see you again, assistant. Pray tell, what did Divayth Fyr have to say?

I fear that he and I might have gotten off to a poor start. Did he ask about me? Any mention of my many exploits?

Vestige

Actually, Divayth wants you and Raynor to help me with an important task.

Neramo

Raynor? Surely this is something I can handled myself! Impressing Divayth Fyr could greatly increase my standing in the Dwemeric scholarly community.

Tell me, what does Lord Fyr ask of me... er, us.

Vestige

He wants us to built a lamp – one that's identical to the lamps removed from the loquitorium.

Neramo

He just wants us to build a lamp? What an odd request. No matter. I would be happy to offer my ample expertise, provided you let Divayth Fyr know that I did so.

First thing's first – I need to study one of these maps we're supposed to recreate.

Vestige

An aide told me they tossed the old lamps into the Fundament. We should start there.

Neramo and the Vestige then headed for the Mechanical Fundament.

Neramo

Lead the way, assistant... er, valued peer. Once we have a thorough understanding of the parts, I'll have the lamp assembled in no time.

The Vestige lead Neramo around the Fundament, pointing out the remains of old lamps. Neramo had several things to say.

Some kind of tubular housing. Probably meant to protect a glass interior? Difficult to say.

A complex filament of some kind. The weaving on this fiber... it must be machine-made. I should be taking notes

Hmm... some kind of compressor. For funneling a gas, perhaps? Interesting.

Look at the apertures on this. It must be some kind of modulator that changes the nature of the light. Fascinating!

When the parts had all been examined, the Vestige spoke to Neramo again.

Compressors, filaments, housings, modulators.... Yes, I think I understand what these discarded lights have in common!

Vestige

I'm listening.

Neramo

Unlike the other lamps, these compress some kind of geodic gas into metal tubes, then modulate the light to create another kind of illumination that mortal eyes cannot see. Invisible light. Remarkable!

The potential applications are limitless.

Vestige

So, can you recreate one of these lights?

Neramo

Yes. With Raynor's assistance, I believe we can recreate this lamp without much difficulty. Of course, you'll need to procure the requisite parts. These are all broken beyond repair.

What do you plan to do with this light, exactly?

Vestige

We plan to use it on Sotha Sil. I'm not sure exactly what will happen.

Neramo

You plan to what? Oh dear. Well, this seems like a terrible idea, but I shall rely upon you and Lord Fyr to protect me.

Here's a list of the components I'll need. Once you've aquired them, meet me in the Hall of Refined Techniques. Good luck!

The Vestige found a merchant who looked like she might sell lamp parts.

Hailibah

Now there's the look of someone on the hunt for something specific. You've come to the right place, friend. I've got a bit of everything.

What can I get you?

Vestige

Do you have any lamp tubes like the ones in the loqutorium?

Hailibah

As a matter of fact, I acquired some of those just a few days ago. Apparently, someone's tossing out the old lighting to make way for the new.

They're not easy to come by anymore, though. What's your offer?

The Vestige can choose to buy the parts, or leverage their relationship to Provost Varuni to get them for free.

Vestige

I'm an associate of Provost Varuni. If you do me a favor, you're doing her a favor.

Hailibah

Varuni Arvel? Well, that changes everything. Any friend of Varuni's is a friend of mine! Why don't you take this tube on the house?

Just let Varuni know how helpful I was, all right? And that I'm pretty good looking. Well-spoken, too. Deal?

Vestige

I'll be sure to let her know.

With the tube secured, the Vestige returned to Neramo.

Neramo

Ah, you've returned. Excellent. Raynor and I have cobbled together a serviceable frame for the lamp – all we need now are the components I sent you to acquire. Were you successful?

Vestige

Here's everything that was on your list.

Neramo

Wonderful! I'm confident this lamp will conform to the exact specifications of the lamps they removed... provided Raynor didn't make any miscalculations.

So, would this be the time to inform Divayth Fyr of our success – or mine, specifically?

Vestige

Yes, I'll let Divayth know we'll be ready soon.

Neramo

Excellent, excellent.

No need to return here, of course. Kireth should be back straightaway, and I'll have her run the completed lamp over to the loqutorium as soon as it's ready. See you soon, assistant!

Raynor Vanos

So Divayth Fyr requested this lamp personally? Fascinating.

I read his thesis on Dwemeric power transmission as a child. First rate scholarship that. I'd love to meet him.

The Vestige returned to Fyr with the good news.

Divayth Fyr

Ah, I was beginning to worry. Not about you, of course. These apostles have been cicling me like cliff racers –looking for an autograph no doubt. So tiresome.

I take it you were successful in learning about these lgihts and constructing a new one?

Vestige

Yes. Neramo and Raynor constructed a working lamp. Kireth will deliver it soon.

Divayth Fyr

Well done. I assume you discovered the special property of these lamps? Why does my dead friend, Sil, go through such lengths to avoid them?

Vestige

Neramo believes they emit some kind of invisible light.

Divayth Fyr

Invisible light? Fascinating. To help with factotum navigation, perhaps? No matter. Further inquiry must wait. Now is the time for action.

I will require a congressional assembly. Plant your lamp on the balcony above, then return to me.

Just as the Vestige was about to head out, Kireth approached them.

Kireth Vanos

Did you say something about putting the lamp on the balcony? We might have a problem.

Raynor and that annoying High Elf finished your lamp, but there's a problem.

On the way here, I overheard an aide complaining about some new security measures Sotha Sil put in place. Looks like the balcony is under heavy guard now.

Vestige

So I'll have to sneak past guards to get the lamp into position?

Kireth Vanos

Looks that way. Unless you want blood on your hands, of course. But that might complicate our sponsorship as smidge, yea? Just be quick and quiet... like me! you'll be fine.

Here's the lamp. Good luck!

Divayth Fyr

Kireth's logic is sound – keep those guards alive and positon the lamp, just as we planned.

You must move swiftly. Once I convince the others to call an assembly, we won't have much time. The Congress of Calibration is nothing if not prompt.

The Vestige successfully snuck to the balcony, placed the lamp, and then returned to Fyr.

Divayth Fyr

I convinced Sotha Sil that the congress requires yet another lecture on the sanctity of clockwork automata. He eagerly agreed. Seemed almost giddy about it. It was... unsettling.

Is all in readiness?

Vestige

Yes. I placed the lamp. Everything is prepared.

Divayth Fyr

Good. Sil's lecture should begin any moment now. Stand ready to activate the lamp.

I'm reasonably certain that something will happen, but the specifics elude me. I guess this is what uncertainly feels like. What a novel change of pace.

Sotha Sil's lecture began once the Vestige assumed their position.

Sotha Sil

My dear friend, Divayth Fyr, informed me that some of your number may be experimenting on my blessed factotums.

I will remind you yet again – my beloved factotums serve as an extension of my divine will. Accost them, and you accost me.

In the past, I have encouraged a child's curiosity and accepted minor blasphemies. But my generosity has limits.

Know this – any servant of the Clockwork God found tinkering with factotums shall face severe sanction.

In this place, my word shapes, constructs, and controls. My authority is absolute.

Keep your modest experiments. Seek discovery outside the walls or in the confines of your own cloisters.

Such is the will of Seht – The Mainspring Ever-Wound. Obey.

At this moment, the Vestige activated the lamp. Sotha Sil's shadow suddenly erupted from his body.

Sotha Sil

Arrrgh!

Provost Varuni Arvel

What is that? What's happening?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

After him! Someone seize that imposter!

The Vestige chased after and defeated Sotha Sil's shadow. When they returned to the lecture hall, they witnessed the following conversation.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

I haven't the time to discuss this, Varuni. Wittingly or unwittingly Lord Seht no longer serves the people of the Clockwork City. Now if you'll excuse me.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Gascone, where are you going? When news of this gets out–. We need to issue a statement or at least gather the congress for an emergency session.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

I have urgent matters to attend to! Make whatever statement you like. I will... I will return soon.

Gascone departed and the Vestige was left alone with the Provost.

Provost Varuni Arvel

What is Gascone thinking? Honestly?

Since she wasn't talkative, the Vestige instead returned to Fyr.

Divayth Fyr

Well. That was enlightening. To think, I've been speaking to Sotha Sil's shadow all this time. It seemed so lifelike. Far more advanced than my own, I'm sorry to say. Fascinating.

It really is too bad we'll all be dead soon.

Vestige

What? Dead how?

Divayth Fyr

I don't mean to alarm you, but I will be frank. If an imposter sits upon the Throne Aligned and learns how to wield the power of this place, a cataclysm will follow.

We may yet discover a way to avert this disaster, but the chances are slim.

Vestige

So what do we do?

Divayth Fyr

Stay with Varuni. With Sotha Sil exposed as an imposter, the congress will fall into turmoil. In such chaos, dark truths always float to the surface. Pray they do so quickly.

I have other inquiries to make. Stay vigilant. We meet again soon.

Provost Varuni Arvel

I… I can scarcely believe what we just witnessed. How could this happen? How could a shadow masquerade as Lord Seht?

The Father of Mysteries would never let such a thing happen. There must be another explanation.

Vestige

Divayth Fyr knew something was wrong with Sotha Sil. We had to determine the cause.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Fyr. Of course. Always the iconoclast. I'll bet he's snickering at us even now.

It doesn't matter. I… I appreciate your diligence. This has been a profoundly upsetting ordeal, but we must move forward. We must find the real Lord Seht.

Vestige

Seems like Chancellor Gascone has worries of his own.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Yes, he was acting strangely, wasn't he? He always chafed under Lord Seht's rule. Now, he finally has a pretext to seize control and he slinks away like a broken brassilisk.

Curious. Too curious.

Vestige

What do you suggest we do?

Provost Varuni Arvel

The real Lord Seht will aid us eventually, I know it. In the meantime, we must do for ourselves.

Thank you for everything you've done. It appears we'll have to do a lot more before this is through.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Classic Gascone. Fleeing to his chambers when things go poorly.

I'm sure that news of Lord Seht's condition has already made it to the streets. We have to move quickly to prevent a panic.

Vestige

What can I do?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Try to talk to Gascone. He clearly doesn't care what I have to say, but he might listen to an exodromal. You remain, you know… a novelty. No offense.

We can't assemble the congress without the chancellor.

Vestige

All right, I'll find him. Where should I look?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Check his rectory in the west wing of the Basilica. He hides in there sometimes to nurse a bruised ego, or write passive-aggressive memoranda.

I'll try to settle the apostles nerves. Honestly, my nerves could use some settling.

Vestige

I'll check Gascone's rectory.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Don't let Gascone wriggle out of this. He has a duty and an obligation. As do I.

Vestige

Are you all right?

Provost Varuni Arvel

What? Yes. Yes, I'll be fine. I just… this makes no sense.

Vestige

What makes no sense?

Provost Varuni Arvel

I don't understand how a shadow could take Lord Seht's place. Maybe this is some sort of test? But why test us?

The Clockwork Apostles haven't strayed. We build, and pray, and experiment just as the holy texts dictate.

Vestige

You don't think it's possible that Sotha Sil could be compromised?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Compromised? You make it sound as if Lord Seht suffers some kind of defect—like a crimped duct or a stripped bolt or something. We're talking about a divine being. Gods can't be compromised. They exist without flaws.

Right?

Vestige

It might not be that simple.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Do you know what the sermons say? Complexity belies the truth. The world rests on simple principles. Seht is the truth and the light. Understand the simple, and you understand the obscure.

I do appreciate your candor. Let's pick this up again later.

The Vestige headed for Gascone's office, but instead of the chancellor, found a tall, mostly naked woman that they identified as a Shrike Talon.

Shrike Talon

Where do you hide it, you worm...?

After defeating her, the Vestige found a note indicating that Gascone had gone into hiding. As they exited the room, Varuni approached.

Provost Varuni Arvel

There you are!

The factotums reported a strange energy signature in Gascone's rectory. Did you find anything odd in there?

Vestige

Yes. I found a creature in Gascone's office – some kind of Daedra. A pale woman by the looks of it.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Sounds like a Nocturnal Shrike. By the gears, how did that thing make it past our security coils?

Is Gascone…?

Vestige

Dead? I don't know yet. He left this note.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Huh. Not suspicious at all, is it? A sudden departure followed by a Daedra attack.

Vestige

We won't know until we find him.

Provost Varuni Arvel

You're right. I knew Gascone was a conceited slaggard, but consorting with Daedra? I pray it's not true.

We need to discover what he has that the Daedra covet. Proctor Luciana might be able to organize a search. She just left to disperse a crowd.

Vestige

All right, I'll go talk to Luciana.

Provost Varuni Arvel

I hope you catch Gascone soon. We need to know what he knows. Immediately.

Before that, though, the Vestige had a few more questions for the Provost.

Vestige

Does Gascone own birds?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Birds? Not that I'm aware of. He might be tinkering with some kind of avian automaton, but he rarely discusses that sort of thing with me.

Why do you ask?

Vestige

I saw black feathers all over his office.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Wait, feathers? From a live bird?

Vestige

Yes. Is that unusual?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Unprecedented. As far as I know, no living bird has ever set foo … er, wing, in Clockwork City. And even if they did, they wouldn't last long. Not a lot of worms crawling around here. They do eat worms, right?

Vestige

Some. Anyway, it looks like the end of that streak.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Fascinating. I've always wanted to see one. Under better circumstances, of course.

I'll notify our naturalists once we resolve this situation with Gascone.

Vestige

Do you have any idea where Gascone might have gone?

Provost Varuni Arvel

I'm afraid not. Gascone keeps his own council about what he does outside the basilica.

He spent a few days out in the Radius last month, but that's hardly unusual. Apostles conduct research outside the fortress all the time.

Vestige

Do you know what kind of things he tends to study?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Mathematics mostly. Predictive theory, spherical values, virtuous enumeration, that sort of thing.

He just published a dissertation on transdimensional calculation – making inferences on how numbers change during planar travel. Impressive work.

Vestige

How so?

Provost Varuni Arvel

The specificity of his calculations just boggles the mind. It's almost as if… it's almost as if he had access to a planar rift.

Oh no.

Vestige

The Shrike. You think he might be studying a Daedric portal?

Provost Varuni Arvel

I don't want to even consider it. Not until we have proof.

Armed with this worrying information, the Vestige headed out to find Proctor Luciana. She was located in the middle of a large square surrounded by other Apostles.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I'm not here to speculate on Lord Seht's whereabouts. I'm here to clear the square.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

If you want to panic, do so in your own homes – not in the public square. Now disperse, or be dispersed.

Get moving.

As the crowd left, the Vestige approached Pullo.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

If you're looking for Lord Seht, I don't know where he is. I will find out though. Count on it.

Vestige

I'm not here to discuss Sotha Sil. It's Gascone.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Gascone? What has he done now? I can't keep up with the complaints.

Vestige

He's missing.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Good. Maybe a fabricant ate him. Our luck has to change at some point.

Vestige

He might be consorting with Daedra. I found a Nocturnal Shrike in his office – and this odd note.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

So he finally graduated from corrupt hobbyist to professional villain. I'm almost relieved. Now we can finally give him what he deserves.

I assume you informed your sponsor, Provost Varuni?

Vestige

Yes. She wants you to organize a city-wide search so we can bring him in for questioning.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

A city-wide search? I can't spare enough apostles to search a broom closet.

Reports are flooding in from the Radius – stories about fanatics in black robes, pale-skinned Daedra, living shadows... we may have a full-scale invasion on our hands.

Vestige

Can you spare anything to help?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Hm. I have one asset I can spare. I know an artificer – Dalomar. He takes some getting used to, but you won't find a better tinkerer. He can help you find Gascone. Guaranteed.

Go talk to him. He set up shop near the tenements. Slag Town.

Vestige

Alright, I'll go talk to Dalomar.

The Vestige had some additional questions before heading out.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I knew that slag-addled piece of garbage, Gascone, would turn on us eventually. We should have dealt with this decades ago.

Vestige

What are your thoughts on this shadowy impostor?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I think we should destroy it – if only to convince people it can be destroyed.

I'm already getting reports from citizens convinced that their neighbor or their friend is actually a shadow. Another few weeks of this... It will not end well.

Vestige

The Shadow took some of Sotha Sil's power. If we destroy it, Sotha Sil may be diminished.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I'm prepared to live with that.

Vestige

You're all right with your god losing his power?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I made a vow to protect the Clockwork City and its inhabitants. If sacrifices have to be made, we should all be prepared to make them – Lord Seht included.

Vestige

Can I ask you about your... enhancements?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

You can ask.

Vestige

How do they work?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I have a crank in between my shoulder blades. One of my auxiliaries winds me up every morning before breakfast.

That's a joke.

Vestige

Do you even know how they work?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

In the same way as every other clockwork automata. A combination of engineering and sorcery that would take a century to explain.

The machinery keeps me alive. I know it's unsettling to look at, but no one ever said life in the Clockwork City was fair.

Vestige

How did you wind up in the Clockwork City?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

The same as you, I wager. A combination of heroism and coincidence.

I served Reman Cyrodiil as a battle mage during the Akaviri Troubles and the Valenwood annexation.

Vestige

So it happened during a battle?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Yes. I'm still not exactly sure what happened. During the Valenwood campaign, I locked staves with a Wood Elf spell-eater named Celedith. He was deceptively powerful. Wiry. Quick as a skeever-trap. I remember cleaving his staff with a summoned blade.

Vestige

And that sent you here?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Possibly. I think he was in the midst of a translocation spell when my sword made impact. There was an explosion and a bright light. When I woke, I was spayed out in the Radius... mangled.

Vestige

And Sotha Sil found you?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Yes. His factotums scooped up what was left of me and brought me here. He mended my wounds, and replaced what couldn't be mended with metal.

I asked him why. "Because one day you will shine a light," he said. And that was that.

Vestige

Is he always that vague?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Always.

Take my advice – if we manage to find the real Seht, don't expect him to embrace you as a friend. We're all cogs in his eyes. Valuable, beautiful even, but ultimately expendable. You either grow to accept that, or you turn out like Gascone.

Vestige

Like Gascone?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Yes. Bitter, sullen, probably traitorous, and if I get my way, dead.

Satisfied with the answers, the Vestige set out to find the aforementioned artificer.

Artificer Dalomar

Well, well... look at you, all full of fleshy-bits. Not a scrap of brass on you, is there? That won't do! That will not do!

I can fix you up. No bother at all! Maybe new feet. You need new feet, don't you?

Vestige

No thanks. I need to track a missing person. Luciana said you might have something that can help.

Artificer Dalomar

A missing person? How mysterious! You wouldn't be looking for Sotha Sil would you? I hear rumors you know? All kinds of rumors. Something about him turning into a crow? Or was it a frog. Never mind.

Luciana did you a favor. I have just the thing.

Vestige

Good. Can I see it?

The artificer shows the Vestige a small, mechanical nix-hound.

Artificer Dalomar

Whoa! Cool those cogs, you twitchy rascal!

This little scrapheap should do the trick... Meet Snuffler, the tracking Nix.

Keep close to Snuffler. But not too close, you know? He spooks easily. And when he spooks, someone typically gets stabbed. Just a friendly warning. Good luck!

The Vestige followed Snuffler into the wilderness, but the little guy lost Gascone's scent in the oily rivers of the wild. Luckily, a nearby vagrant was able to offer assistance.

Ralmir

What're you doing nosing around here with that ugly beast? Joneif and I haven't done nothing!

Vestige

I'm looking for Chancellor Gascone. Have you seen him?

Ralmir

Chancellor who?

Oh, you mean that brass-arsed fancy-boots that came running through here? Yeah, I seen him. Dragging his silly apostle skirts behind him like a broken wheel-chain. Seemed like he was in a hurry. Pretty suspicious if you ask me.

Vestige

My fabricant's lost the scent. Which way did he go?

Ralmir

Yeah, the grease mucks up fabricant snoots. That's why we stay down here. Wouldn't want the constables to see... Never mind!

Your man headed west. Should be some oily footprints about. Follow those tracks and you'll find your fancy-boots.

Instead of Gascone, however, the Vestige found a suspicious note. Before looking further, the Vestige pet their pretty adorable little companion.

Snuffler

<Snuffler emits a low, agitated chitter at your touch. It's impossible to tell whether it enjoys or detests the attention.>

Back on the trail, the Vestige encountered a wounded cultist slouched by Gascone's footprints.

Whispering Sorcerer

Who's...? Are you here to kill me? Too late. Your skeeving chancellor beat you to it.

The Vestige tried to question her for more information.

Whispering Sorcerer

Who are you? Another one of Vile's sniveling agents?

Gascone's gone. Now let me return to my mistress in peace...

Vestige

Did Gascone do this to you? Where is he?

Whispering Sorcerer

West. In the Ventral Terminus. He may have killed me, but he won't last long. He sealed his fate the moment he betrayed us.

There existed a covenant between your Gascone, Clavicus Vile, and my mistress, but he broke it. Now he will drown in blood.

Vestige

We will see about that.

Whispering Sorcerer

Night Mistress... I am coming.

The Vestige wouldn't let such an eager source die without questioning her further.

Vestige

Tell me about this covenant.

Whispering Sorcerer

Gascone vowed to bring us an artifact of great power. Now the artifact is gone. But don't worry. My mistress will wring the truth out of him soon. The Whispering Shadows will claim this artifact and you will all die. deafened by your own screams.

Vestige

Why did you mention Clavicus Vile earlier? Are his agents in the Clockwork City?

Whispering Sorcerer

You really have no idea, do you?

Daedric forces conspire in every dark corner – lurk behind every tree and stone. We spread like a plague, claiming more souls and territory with each passing hour! Sotha Sil's precious city will die at our hands.

Vestige

Enough. Answer my question, are Clavicus Vile's minions in the city

Whispering Sorcerer

Yes. Skaafin, and others. They served their purpose, and yet they linger. Confounding my mistress' plans and providing safe harbor to that toad, Gascone.

I will say no more!

The Vestige then headed west, eventually ending up near a locked entrance with an intercom.

Ventral Audiometer

What? Who's out there?

Begone, whoever you are! I sealed the door, and it shall remain sealed for as long as necessary!

Vestige

Chancellor Gascone? Varuni sent me to find you. We have some questions.

Ventral Audiometer

Questions? You think I'm foolish enough to let you in? No, this door will remain closed. I just need time to work this out – to smooth things over. Simple. Now, leave me be!

Vestige

What have you done? Did you make a deal with these shadow cultists?

Ventral Audiometer

Who I keep council with is none of your concern! You're just like Varuni. So uptight. So naive! If you value your life, you'll leave this place. Now.

Since the front gate was locked, the Vestige found a back way into the tunnels.

Chancellor Gascone

So, you found a way in after all. Impressive. Too bad it's a dead end. Unless you can smash through solid bedrock, you'll never find me.

He was right – a wall of rock blocked the way to him. Luckily, there was an inactive Imperfect nearby. As the Vestige powered up the automata, Gascone continued to narrate their progress.

Plotting something are we? Well, that rusty heap has been gathering dust for decades. You may as well just give up!

What... what have you done?

Slag that Imperfect, and kill the interloper! They're getting too close!

Oh, did your new toy wind down? What a shame! May as well give up!

You don't understand, I had to do this. You are ruining everything!

Enough! Re-route the charge gate and stop this thing!

Since the rock did not stop the Vestige, Gascone then summoned a skaafin to try to take them down.

Morag Goldtongue

You summon me again? I grow tired of this, mortal!

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Enough talk, you horn-capped buffoon! Just help me!

Of course, the Daedra was no match for the Vestige. After it was defeated, Gascone finally decided to talk.

How did you…? I yield! Just follow me outside, all right? I promise, I will explain everything.

The Vestige did so.

I know how this looks, but you have to understand. Those shadow cultists meant to slit my throat. I had to leave! My life was in danger, don't you see that?

Vestige

Start talking.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Fine. I made a bargain with Clavicus Vile. I know. Questionable. Just hear me out! All he wanted was a key. If I got it for him, he'd make me the ruler of Clockwork City.

Unfortunately, someone stole the key before I could deliver it.

Vestige

Who stole this key?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Some daft talking crows!

After that terrible business with the Shadow, I returned to my office to think. I arrived just in time to see one of those disgusting birds make off with the artifact! I panicked and ran here to hide.

Vestige

And what of the shadow impostor? Did you know Sotha Sil had been replaced?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

On my life, I did not! I wanted to heal the city, not destroy it! If I had known, I swear, I never would have gone through with it.

Vestige

Who are these cultists who were chasing you? Do they serve Clavicus Vile?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

No. They serve that Shadow creature … or someone worse.

Clavicus Vile never told me why he wanted the key, but I think he means to give it to those cultists' master. When they learned I lost the key, they grew furious and resolved to kill me.

Vestige

But these skaafin serve Clavicus Vile, don't they? If they knew you'd lost the key, why take you in?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Why kill me when they can bend me to their will? I'm in Vile's debt now, don't you see? The skaafin only protect me like dogs protect sheep—keeping me safe until shearing season. Until the slaughter.

Even so, I'd rather be a slave than a dead man.

Vestige

Tell me about this key.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

It's ornate. Covered in Daedric runes. One of the factotums found it in the Fundament and placed it in the salvage gallery for sorting. I snatched it up shortly thereafter.

I thought it was safe in my office… but those slagging crows!

Vestige

Crows?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Yes! Daft talking crows. They plucked it right out of my bureau and flew off with it. Those Whispering Shadows cultists will never find it now.

Vestige

You endangered everyone in Clockwork City.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Yes, my methods were… unconventional. I admit it. But you have to understand – I didn't do this for me! I did it for the City. Look around! Blood-thirsty fabricants, barren wastes, crumbling towers …. This is all Sotha Sil's fault!

Vestige

How is it Sotha Sil's fault?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

He abandoned us! While he tinkers away in the Centralis, we scrape by, eating nutriment paste and hiding from killer machines. Is that fair? Should we thank him for that?

My eyes are open. The people of Clockwork City deserve better.

Vestige

And you're the one to give it to them?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

I thought so. Look, bartering with Clavicus Vile was unwise, I know. Offering Daedric artifacts to dark Princes… it was a mistake.

Even so, I can be a useful ally. I know our enemy better than anyone. You need me!

The Vestige has two choices here, ether kill Gascone where he stands, or spare him, giving him up to the authorities.

If you choose to kill Gascone, the Vestige says the following before slaying him with one blow.

Vestige

You sold out the city to the Daedra. You don't deserve to live.

The Vestige then returns to the Brass Fortress, where they find Provost Varuni.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Still nothing on the security coils? Where could he have gone?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

He clearly fled the fortress – into the jaws of a fabricant, I hope.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Finally! I've been pacing a hole in the floor since you left. An engine can only idle for so long, you know?

Did Luciana find you? Did you find that skeevaton, Gascone?

Vestige

I killed him. He sold the city out to Clavicus Vile.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Gascone is dead? Well... he left us no choice, right? Good riddance, I suppose. I'll send some reclamation drones to collect his remains.

Now what's this about Clavicus Vile?

Vestige

Gascone promised to deliver a key to Clavicus Vile, but crows stole it before he had the chance.

Provost Varuni Arvel

The Clockwork City owes you a tremendous debt. Gascone's death is... was necessary to safeguard the people. Now we just have to follow the clues he left behind.

Please, take this. And my thanks.

If you choose to spare him instead, this happens.

Vestige

I believe you. We need your knowledge to stop the Shadow of Sotha Sil.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

You've made the right choice. Take me back to the Brass Fortress. I will admit to my crimes. Perhaps I can help you in due course.

Once we arrive at the basilica I can explain everything to Varuni. Maybe she'll understand.

Proctor Luciana arrives at that point, alongside two Clockwork Enforcers, to take the traitor in.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Chancellor Gascone!

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Oh no. Luciana, just let me expla-

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Shut that lying mouth of yours or I'll shut it for you. Permanently.

Thank you for digging this traitorous mongrel out of the Terminus. Varuni wants to speak with you back at the basilica.

When the Vestige gets back, they see the tail end of Varuni's questioning of Duscant.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

I told you what I know, Varuni. I'm trying to make this right.

The Vestige approaches Varuni about what they found out.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Welcome back. I was just having a little chat with former-chancellor Gascone. He insists he's told me everything, but I know him well enough to know he's still hiding something.

Honestly, I can barely stand to look at him.

Vestige

He may be holding out for a better deal. He definitely knows things about our enemies.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Typical Gascone… always trying to oil his way out when his plots fall apart.

What did he tell you? Any specific leads we can follow up on?

Vestige

Gascone promised to deliver a key to Clavicus Vile, but crows stole it before he had the chance.

Provost Varuni Arvel

The Congress of Calibration thanks you for your service. And on a personal note, I applaud your mercy. Gascone's an insufferable traitor, but he's still an apostle. Lord Seht always said we should take care of each other.

Take this, and my thanks.

Before asking Varuni about the next steps in saving the city, the Vestige chose to talk to Gascone a bit more. He did not have much to say.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Don't you have something more important to be doing than gawking?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Trading one cage for another. At least there are less Daedra in here.

Since the chat with Gascone was unproductive, the Vestige asked Varuni about how to proceed.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Obviously, we need to recover this mysterious key. I don't know where it is, or what it does, but if Daedric Princes intend to mount an invasion over it, we can't afford to let it slip through our fingers.

Vestige

Where should we start?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Gascone insisted that talking crows stole the key from him, right? We should start with them.

According to the constables, the birds started stealing things as soon as they arrived. I've never seen a crow before. Is that sort of thing unusual?

Vestige

The talking? Yes, that's very unusual.

Provost Varuni Arvel

"Hmm. Well, the fact that they arrived so soon after you revealed the Shadow is suspicious, but they seem more interested in simple mischief than anything else.

Ask around the Chancel of Transaction. Perhaps one of our constables can tell you more."

Vestige

All right. I'll see what I can find out.

Provost Varuni Arvel

The sermons never prepared us for something like this. Perhaps, when this is all over, Lord Seht can write an addendum on what to do when talking crows and Daedric monsters come calling.

Vestige

Have you really never seen a crow before?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Not until today, no. They're really quite beautiful – aside from the mocking, and stealing, and you know… defecating. I read that birds come in all sorts of colors. Is that accurate?

Vestige

Yes, hundreds of breeds exist in Tamriel.

Provost Varuni Arvel

Hundreds? Fascinating.

I'd very much like to see more of these birds. For research purposes, of course. Introducing a foreign species to Lord Seht's creation could result in all kinds of unforeseen errors and deviations.

Vestige

If we defeat the Shadow, maybe you can visit Tamriel yourself.

Provost Varuni Arvel

What? No, no, no. I have too many responsibilities here. And to leave Seht's side? It's an absurd suggestion. No offense, of course. Clockwork City is my home. I have no desire to leave. No desire at all.

Now we have work to do, right?

Vestige

Do you have any idea why the Daedra want this key?

Provost Varuni Arvel

It clearly possesses some great power.

Keys exist to lock and unlock doors, right? I assume they want to unlock something.

Vestige

Is there anything here in the Clockwork City they might want to unlock?

Provost Varuni Arvel

We don't often rely upon locks, but I guess it's possible. Maybe an apostle's chest, or some lower sections of the Incarnatorium?

Vestige

What about Sotha Sil? Does he have something locked away?

Provost Varuni Arvel

I really wouldn't know. What happens in the Cogitum Centralis remains a mystery to pretty much everyone.

But don't worry. If Lord Seht locked something away, no mere key could open it.

Vestige

Are you sure about that?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Certain.

I mean, I guess it's possible that... No. No, I'm certain.

Conversation concluded, the Vestige followed Varuni's advice and went to find a constable. Constable Drados, right in the middle of the garden, seemed perfect. When the Vestige saw him, he was yelling at the birds.

Constable Drados

Go on, get out of here!

Knave of Rooks

We go where we please, wingless! Go away, or we peck out your eyes!

Jongleur of Filches

Eyes! Sweet, juicy eyes!

Squire Peck

Such flavor!

Jongleur of Filches

Tender bits!

Constable Drados

Vile beasts...

The Vestige approaches the constable.

Constable Drados

Come to gawk at the birds? Just keep those heels spring-loaded, friend.

The big one there nearly pecked an apostle's ear off. She said it was due for a replacement anyway, but even so... I'm sure it didn't tickle.

Vestige

I need to ask the crows something.

Constable Drados

Ha! Well... may Sotha Sil bless your attempt.

Honestly, if you got them to stop bickering and babbling for even a moment, I'd probably slip a spring.

Vestige

Do you know where I can find more of the crows?

Constable Drados

Other than everywhere? The loudest gather around a tree just outside the basilica. I assume those are the ones you're after. Now, listen. They'll demand some kind of ridiculous tribute, I guarantee it. Don't do anything stupid, all right?

Vestige

All right. Thank you.

Prior to heading out, the Vestige wanted to see if Drados had anything else to say.

Constable Drados

I pity the factotum that has to clean His holy likeness up there. I've never seen so many droppings in one place.

Vestige

Have you ever seen something like this before?

Constable Drados

What? Like the birds? No.

We did have a skeevaton infestation once. Someone left the fabricator running and it spewed out thousands and thousands of the things. The apostles deployed clockwork cats to catch them, but then we had too many cats...

Vestige

So someone sent out clockwork hounds?

Constable Drados

Exactly. By the time Sotha Sil caught wind of it, the Fortress was packed full of wind-up bears and motorized tigers. Quite a scene.

The Clockwork God destroyed all of them... except the skeevatons. I like to think he has a sense of humor.

The Vestige followed Drados' instructions and headed to the large tree to talk to a crow.

Knave of Rooks

Spy! Stay back, spy!

This tree belongs to the Blackfeather Court. The Duke claimed it, by law of sovereign roost! Look for shinies somewhere else! Go! Go!

Vestige

I'm not a spy. I just want to talk.

Knave of Rooks

Spy! No talking! I know a spy when I see one! The Exarchs of Dross may share meat with featherless giants, but not the Blackfeather Court!

In wartime, only spies approach without tribute. Every bird knows that!

Vestige

What if I go get a tribute for the Court?

Knave of Rooks

Tribute! Yes! Shinies for the Duke!

We demand a treasure from our enemy! The metal man who shouts at us - Constable Drados. May his tail droop and his wings wither! Snatch up his silver treasure, and then we parlay. Go!

Vestige

Where can I find this treasure?

Knave of Rooks

Perhaps he carries a treasure beneath his clickity-clanking clothes. Or maybe he hides treasures away in the stone nest called Cloisters. That is for you to find out, Featherless! Now go!

Before going, the Vestige wanted to learn more about these strange creatures.

Knave of Rooks

Why do you linger, Featherless? Fetch our treasures or begone! Begone!

Vestige

Who are you?

Knave of Rooks

Bah! Questions!

I am called the Knave of Rooks - craftiest and cleverest vassal of the Blackfeather Court. Sometimes loyal servant to the Duke of Crows himself!

Vestige

And what exactly is the Blackfeater Court?

Knave of Rooks

Truly? You have not read about us in your histories? Ridiculous!

The crows of the Blackfeather Court rule the skies of Oblivion. We hold dominion over the real of Crow's Wood and many lands beyond. All lesser birds pay us homage!

Vestige

So you're from Oblivion? Like Daedra?

Knave of Rooks

Daedra? Do we look like Daedra to you? Daedra look like crocodile men, and fat-faced ogres, and plate-necked turkeys! Every bird knows that!

Vestige

And these Exarchs you mentioned? Are they birds like you?

Knave of Rooks

Yes! The Exarchs of Dross! Our hated rivals. They fancy themselves crows, but they are nothing but sparrows in black feathers! Cowards, traitors, and spies. Spies!

Vestige

Why do you hate them so much?

Knave of Rooks

Ha! A silly question! Some feuds have no beginnings and no ends.

We hate them because they follow orders from the mistress, like dogs. We hate them because they do not pay us tribute. We hate them because they hate us!

Vestige

Your mistress? Who is that?

Knave of Rooks

No! No more questions! Go, fetch our treasure, or go away!

The Vestige went to see the Constable about this treasure the crows were wanting.

Constable Drados

Look who's back. Just couldn't turn the key with those birds, eh? Don't be too hard on yourself. At least you've still got all your fingers.

Vestige

Actually, they agreed to talk. But they want something of yours as tribute. A silver treasure.

Constable Drados

I told you they'd ask for something.

A silver treasure...? Of course. They want my canteen. Ha! Those daffy birds sent you after a pewter canteen? Well, they can't have it. Sorry, mate, but I'm not about to give those scavengers anything.

If the Vestige is skilled at persuasion, getting the canteen is easy.

Vestige

If I can talk to the crow's leader, I might be able to get them to leave for good.

Constable Drados

Fine. But this had better work.

If these vermin are still filching our tools and tableware in a week's time, I'll know who to blame.

If the Vestige speaks to him again after successfully persuading him, he will say the following:

Constable Drados

My wife gave me that canteen, you know. Lucky for you, I hate my wife.

If the Vestige can't persuade Drados, they are forced to take a longer road.

Vestige

Do you really need that canteen?

Constable Drados

No, of course not. But the satisfaction I get from making sure those morons never get what they want? That's priceless.

Now that I know they want it, I think I'll toss it in my junk-chest back in the Cloisters. That'll show them!

That left the Vestige with one option: steal the canteen. So they did.

No matter how the canteen was acquired, the Vestige returned to the Knave of Rooks.

Knave of Rooks

Well? Do you have our shinies? Speak, spy!

Vestige

Constable Drados gave me this canteen as a gift for you.

Knave of Rooks

Such sparkle and shine! The shouting metal-man gave you this treasure willingly? Why?

Vestige

As a peace offering. He wants you to stop heckling him and bothering people in the Fortress.

Knave of Rooks

Ah, he quails at the might of the Court, and wishes to surrender! Yes! Yes, we accept. A fitting prize, this canteen. Perhaps you are a worthy crow-friend after all.

Ask your questions. Ask!

Vestige

Did one of you steal a key from the Clockwork Basilica?

Knave of Rooks

A key? Yes, the Great Prize! The Shiniest Lock-Poker! Our heroic Knight of Marrow breached the gates and claimed it from the clumsy apostles, and our Exarch foes!

The featherless ones squabble over its whereabouts, but they'll never find it. Never!

Vestige

Can you tell me where it is?

Knave of Rooks

No. Only our Duke of Crows knows. You cannot speak to him, crow-friend - not without an escort.

Find the Knight of Marrow. He is our grandest champion! Sleek and strong! Honor him with shinies and sweet meats and he may help.

Vestige

Where is this Knight of Marrow?

Knave of Rooks

By a great waterfall, south and east. Swooning like a lovesick dove, no doubt. Even now he builds his lady love a glorious nest, but she is fickle and he is foolish.

Go and talk to him. He needs adventure.

Vestige

Who are these Exarchs again?

Knave of Rooks

Enemy crows! The Exarchs of Dross.

They serve the shadow women and try to steal the Great Prize from us. But the Blackfeather Court bows to no one! Our Duke will rend their Queen of Chaff to pieces and we will feast on entrails!

Vestige

Shadow women?

Knave of Rooks

Shrikes! Weeping, featherless pale-skins that swat and curse us! And their other servants also - black-robed cultists. May they eat sour meat and die!

Vestige

Why do you care about this key so much?

Knave of Rooks

If you see it, you will know. No silver glistens and gleams like the Prize!

The Exarchs and the shadow women want it, but it's ours now. Ours! The Knight of Marrow claimed it for the Court. Ask him.

Vestige

How did you learn to talk?

Knave of Rooks

How did you learn to talk?

We crows are clever and wise. Wise! We bend our words into sentences just as you do - except we're better at it because we're smarter than you.

On that note, the Vestige chose to leave him and find this Knight of Marrow. As the Vestige approaches him and his hoard of random containers, he calls out.

Knight of Marrow

Who is this? Do you come to challenge the Knight of Marrow? Have at three, featherless foe!

The Vestige strikes up a conversation.

Knight of Marrow

If you be foe, cast down your silly gauntlet! But I warn you - you touch this magnificent trove at your peril! I gathered these treasures for my lady love, and I would sooner die than let you take them!

What say you, Featherless?

Vestige

I'm not here to steal your treasure. I want an audience with the Duke of Crows.

Knight of Marrow

The Duke holds court in Blackfeather Castle. I could arrange a meeting. But can't you see? Heartache has clipped my wings!

Lady Blightwing spurns me! My heroic exploits and shiny gifts only bore her. Mine is a tale of woe. Woe!

Vestige

If I help you win over your lady love, will you take me to the Duke?

Knight of Marrow

You would do that? But how? I gathered a great hoard of glistening treasures and sweet meats and she only laughed! Laughed!

Perhaps a different gift? You featherless ones sometimes woo with song and verse, yes? Teach me!

Vestige

You want me to help you write a love poem?

Knight of Marrow

Yes! A poem! A trinket unlike any other!

The flightless oafs who live here in the Fortress hid a great hoard of words in one of their stone houses. If you help me pluck the tenderest verses, I will take you to see the Duke.

Vestige

All right. I'll help you write this poem.

The Vestige didn't know any good poems off the top of their head, so they headed to the Archivox, the local library, to find something suitable.

Alavani Arano

Welcome to the Archivox, where all children of Sotha Sil may hear His divine word. What can I help you with?

Vestige

I'm looking for a good love poem.

Alavani Arano

A love poem? Where to begin? I have so many favorites.

Perhaps "The Song of the Axle?" Or are you looking for something more conventional? Ode to Brass Lily might please you. It's over on spool nineteen.

The Vestige spoke to her again to learn a bit more about the poem prior to finding it.

Alavani Arano

Ode to a Brass Lily still makes me weep every time I read it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do it.

That was a nice start, but the Vestige needed some options. They found a Nord to question next.

Reinud

You need something? I'm sort of in the middle of this theorem and... Yup, lost it again. Damn.

Well you've got my attention now. What do you want?

Vestige

Sorry. I'm looking for a good love poem. Any suggestions?

Reinud

Love poem? By the gears, why do you want one of those?

I don't stray far from the mathematics spools nowadays, but I used to love the "Ballad of Brisbor the Battle-Axe." Might not be the sweetest verse, but it'll get your blood pumping! Spool six.

Next, the Vestige asked a local librarian robot for their suggestions.

Clockwork Archivist

By the word of Seht, I am bound.

Welcome to the Archivox, resident. How may I assist you?

Vestige

Can you direct me to a good love poem?

Clockwork Archivist

Just a moment.

Category not found. Your request, love poem, does not appear in our organizational schema. I regret that I was not able to help you today. Please report this deficiency to the archivist in residence.

Vestige

Are you sure there's nothing you can do?

Clockwork Archivist

Dreaming... Discarded Flowers. Empty Cylinder.

Thank you for your patience. This unit has generated an original composition based on your inquiry - love poem. Please claim your word-form at spool seventeen.

Vestige

Wait, you just wrote a poem?

Clockwork Archivist

Poem. A collection of thematically appropriate statements and metaphors arranged in a stanzaic sequence, including title and required punctuation. Yes, this unit has composed a poem. I hope it meets your specifications.

May Seht bless your labors.

The Vestige decided that the robots attempt was both sweet and unique, and transcribed it for future reference. Then, they returned to the Knight of Marrow.

Knight of Marrow

My feathers quiver with inspiration! Tell me, have you found a poem worthy of Lady Blightwing?

Vestige

Yes, I found some poems.

Knight of Marrow

Well? Which one should I use to woo my sharp-eyed love?

Vestige

This Love Poem LT0782 looks... interesting. <Show the Knight your transcription>

Knight of Marrow

Hmm... Yes! Perfect! Let's do that one! I can't wait to express my feelings in the sweaty, fat-legged, wingless tradition!

Follow me to the Machine District, squire. You can finally meet my lady love. And the Duke too, I guess.

Vestige

I'll meet you at the Machine District.

Knight of Marrow

Away! To the castle of my lady love!

On the way to the District, the Vestige saw a Clockwork Enforcer talking to Proctor Luciana, and decided to get the latest news from her.

Clockwork Enforcer

Grim, Proctor. Daedric beasts and shadow cultists control much of the district. And the crows... the sky is thick with them!

Proctor Luciana Pullo

First that bastard, Divayth, and now the crows? Your taste in companions grows worse by the hour.

Sorry. We're having a very bad day. You mean to enter the Machine District? Why?

Vestige

This crow promised to take me to the key they stole from Gascone.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Hmm. Normally, I'd say we should simply kill them all and take the key by force. But it seems these birds have a real talent for hiding things.

Daedra and cultists tossed the district for hours, and from what we can tell, they didn't find anything.

Vestige

All the more reason to follow the crow.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Fine. You can play their ridiculous game... for now. But I'm coming with you. I've lost enough citizens already.

Word of advice: don't let these Daedric pests push you around. We need to learn the nature of this key before it's too late.

Vestige

All right. Stay close.

Suddenly, the Knight of Marrow spoke up.

Knight of Marrow

No! Your metal woman is not allowed in Castle Blackfeather! I forbid it!

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I don't want to go anywhere near your filthy castle, vermin. Let's get this over with.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Lead on, crow killer. I'll be right behind you. Trying to rationalize why I'm helping.

Upon entering the district, the group located Lady Blightwing and the Knight began reciting his poem.

Lady Blightwing

Crowmother help me...

Knight of Marrow

My fair maiden of ruin! My heart swells to see you, like a dead cat's belly warmed by the sun.

Your merits, uh... defy calculation?

My pelvic bracket pumps like a piston... Oh, that's not right!

Lady Blightwing

What? Is this some kind of featherless joke?

Knight of Marrow

And your face! Your face looks symesital...? Symmetrical? It looks shiny! So shiny!

Lady Blightwing

Sir Knight, that was... unique. So mysterious! I like your face too. Join me on the treasure-heap some time!

Knight of Marrow

She said yes! I owe a debt, crow-friend. Duke! Duke, may I present the featherless poet.

Duke of Crows

Hail, crow-friend to my great Knight of Marrow! You come to parlay? What boon do you seek from the Blackfeather Court?

Vestige

I seek the key you stole from the Clockwork Basilica, your grace.

Duke of Crows

The Shiniest? The Great Prize? Outrageous! What could you possibly offer us that rival the luster of the magnificent lock-poker?

Speak quickly! Speak! My knights and I must prepare for our next battle with the Exarchs of Dross!

Vestige

I could help you fight off these Exarchs.

Duke of Crows

You would take up the Blackfeather banner? Tempting! The Exarchs use wingless allies to shoot down my vassals and scatter my treasures. But if we had a giant of our own... Very well, I accept!

Go! Destroy the Exarchs, and the key is yours. Yours!

Vestige

Why are you fighting the Exarchs?

Duke of Crows

The Exarchs of Dross hate us! They envy our fine plumage, and covet our gleaming treasures.

I parlayed with their leader before - the Queen of Chaff. She thinks the Daedra will reward her for loyal service, but we know that's not true. Not true!

Vestige

How long have you been fighting?

Duke of Crows

Aeons in crow-time. But the Blackfeather Court will not be intimidated by these grackles! My knights will pluck out the queen's vane feathers and leave her to flop about like a fledgling!

Vestige

How did you and the Exarchs get here?

Duke of Crows

Through a pool of shadow! We heard the call of our mistress and obeyed. But once we saw this great sea of treasures, we decided to revolt. The Duke of Crows does as he pleases.

This city of shimmering prizes belongs to us now.

Vestige

Sotha Sil might have a problem with that.

Duke of Crows

I have heard this name, Sotha Sil. A dead king - or soon dead king, I've heard it said. It makes no difference! The Blackfeather Court claims this place. It's ours! Ours!

Vestige

Wait, you've heard about Sotha Sil? What else do you know?

Duke of Crows

I know only that he's a half-metal giant who hides in a buzzing nest deep within the city. And that the Exarchs and their featherless allies want him dead.

But how does this help with the war effort? Enough talk! Go! Go!

So the Vestige went. First, though, they talked to Luciana about this whole endeavor.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

So. We're going to fight... birds. If only my Reman dragoons could see me now. Channeling the arcane to defeat poultry.

Vestige

We just have to scare the other crows away, then he'll give us the key.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

You know, times like these that I really wish I had a sense of humor. But since I don't, I expect you to keep the details of this entire escapade to yourself.

Vestige

Don't worry. We're in this together.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

You're really reaching.

Enough small talk. Lets kick the droppings off our boots and get on with it.

Scattering the Exarchs proved easy, and, once enough were dispatched, they all decided to leave.

Exarch of Dross

Argh! Its arms will be the death of us! Fly! Fly!

Exarch of Dross

Retreat! Retreat!

Exarch of Dross

Why do you always dare them! Fly, fools!

With the enemy crows dispatched, the Vestige returned to their allies.

Knight of Marrow

Ha! Well struck, squire! The Exarchs are in full retreat! Look how they caw like chicks and empty their bowels! The time has come for a counter-attach!

Prepare for your greatest challenge, crow-friend. The Motionless Guardian.

Vestige

The Motionless Guardian?

Knight of Marrow

Yes! Yes! The flightless cultists summoned it to guard their treasures.

The Guardian stands like a mountain of brass and fury! We cannot approach it, but as a featherless giant, you might be immune to its gaze!

Vestige

All right, I'll deal with this Motionless Guardian.

Knight of Marrow

Behold, Blackfeathers! Our giant prepares to destroy the Guardian!

This "Motionless Guardian" was nothing more than a scarecrow.

Knight of Marrow

Shh! There it is! The Motionless Guardian! Strike true, crow-friend!

Tremble Guardian! Our giant approaches!

Proctor Luciana Pullo

A Motionless Guardian. Hope you remembered to stretch.

The Vestige easily knocked the head off the scarecrow.

Knight of Marrow

Victory! Victory for the court! Now, let us take wing, Blackfeathers. Back to the Duke!

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Another notch in our belts, hmm? Victory over a pile of garbage.

Let's head back and get this over with.

As the Vestige approached the Duke, Luciana spoke up.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I'll wait for you here. I've chased enough birds for one day.

Duke of Crows

Victory! We picked the bones cleaned and plundered the Exarchs hoard. A proud day for the Blackfeather Court!

Now, the Queen of Chaff sends an emissary requesting a parlay. I have a plan to scare her off for good, but I need your help.

Vestige

Wait a minute. You said if I defeated the Exarchs, you'd give me the key.

Duke of Crows

I know what I said, fledgling!

We've not defeated the Exarchs yet! Even now, they clean their plumage and sharpen their beaks. Unless we break the will of their queen, they will always return! This will be your last task. I swear it! Swear!

Vestige

Fine, but this is it. What's your plan?

Duke of Crows

A trick! A bluff! A great crow scheme!

Meet me in the building called Incarnatorium. I will explain all.

When they went outside, the Vestige met with Proctor Luciana.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

We're done, right? Where's the key?

Vestige

We have one more task. We have to scare off the Exarch's queen.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I think I've been more than accommodating, but I am done taking orders from a talking bird.

I'll remain here to guard the entrance - just in case more cultists of Daedra arrive. You make this quick, all right?

Vestige

All right. I'll be back soon.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

You better be. With the key and without an obnoxious flying escort, all right?

The Vestige then headed for the Incarnatorium, as instructed by the Duke. Once there, the two met.

Duke of Crows

The Queen of Chaff will arrive shortly. We must stun her with my magnificence! Are you ready?

Vestige

I guess. How do you plan to accomplish this?

Duke of Crows

Look around! I picked this place for a reason. Pully and pushy contraptions abound! When the city's wingless servants fiddle with them, the gears turn and the pipes creak.

I need to convince the Queen of Chaff that these machines serve me and me alone!

Vestige

So you want me to operate the controls in secret?

Duke of Crows

Yes! Exactly! A performance! My legs, while svelte and regal, are not strong enough to push and pull these levers. I need you and your meaty hands.

When the Exarch's queen witnesses my powers, she will take wing and never return.

Vestige

All right. Do you know what any of these controls do?

Duke of Crows

Of course not!

No more time to plan, the Queen's entourage approaches! Hide yourself! Hide! Hide!

So the Vestige did. The Queen of Chaff arrived shortly, and challenged the Duke.

Queen of Chaff

Oh Duke, you came alone? Foolish. This may be easier than I thought. Show me the key, or my murder will tear you apart!

Duke of Crows

You are the fool, Chaff Queen! I wield the power of the machines now!

Queen of Chaff

You expect me to believe that? Give me the key, or we will peck you to ribbons!

The Vestige activated the levers and made the machines move.

Queen of Chaff

What? Steady, Exarchs. It's just a trick.

I will not be threatened! I am... I am the Queen of Chaff!

Duke of Crows

Your doom is nigh! My machines will destroy you!

Queen of Chaff

No! Impossible! Impossible!

I yield! Such power! Exarchs, to me! We leave this cursed place!

Once they departed, the Duke spoke to the Vestige.

Duke of Crows

Ha! We did it, Featherless! Victory for the Duke! Victory for the Blackfeather court!

We may have a complication.

My, my. This would be much easier if you had feathers...

Vestige

What are you talking about? You're taking me to the key now, right?

Duke of Crows

I have! Kind of. I hid the Great Prize nearby, but in your zeal to impress me, you threw the wrong switch. Now, the door leading to the Shiniest is blocked. Blocked!

I can fly though, but you will need to take the long way around.

Vestige

Which way?

Duke of Crows

North! I will dispatch my proud Knight of Marrow to accompany you. Good luck!

Hoping that their quest was almost over, the Vestige followed the Knight further into the Clockwork City.

Knight of Marrow

Follow me, crow-friend! The shiniest treasure awaits!

Look at these clicky-clankey lizard monsters! Good thing they're caged... right?

After a bit of walking and fighting, they arrived at the location of the key, only to find the shadow of Sotha Sil waiting for them.

Shadow of Sotha Sil

The Skeleton Key, at last.

The shadow stole the key, and murdered the Knight of Marrow in the process.

Duke of Crows

My Knight! No!

Our victory over the Exarchs came at great cost. Quill and claw, our lost Knight was a true hero. We will not forgive and we will not forget.

I do not know which lock the Shadow plans to poke with the key he stole, but we will help you stop him.

Vestige

You will help us find the Shadow of Sotha Sil and the Skeleton Key?

Duke of Crows

Yes. You are as much a member of this Court as any crow. Our swift wings and keen eyes are at your disposal.

Find the Shadow of Sotha Sil, claim the key he stole, and avenge my Knight of Marrow.

I shall gather my vassals to plot and conspire. The Shadow will pay for what he has done! Pay!

The Vestige headed out to look for the Shadow, but chose to speak to Proctor Luciana, first.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

You look haggard. What happened in there?

Vestige

The Shadow of Sotha Sil attacked. It took the key - the Skeleton Key.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

The Skeleton Key? Nocturnal's key? Damn it. I always suspected, but hoped it wasn't true.

That key is a transdimentional artifact of unimaginable power. We have to get it back.

Vestige

What is our next step?

Before Luciana could answer, however, a loud alarm blasted out across the city.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

The omnivox alarm...

Slag it! Someone's breaching the Cogitum Centralis! I have to get back to the Basilica. Meet me there!

The Vestige ran to the basilica, following Proctor Luciana. Once there, they discovered Divayth Fyr and Varuni Arvel in the midst of an argument.

Divayth Fyr

What part of sealed don't you understand? The Shadow put a hex on the lift. Perhaps if we had the key you managed to lose...

Provost Varuni Arvel

Here we go again. I told you before, Lord Seht would never allow the Skeleton Key to enter the city. There must be another explanation.

Divayth Fyr

Well, by any means, explain it to me. Just be sure to use small words. I wouldn't want you to strain yourself.

The Vestige chose to speak to Fyr to see what this was all about.

Divayth Fyr

Why must I always surround myself with soft-headed zealots? Why?

Oh come now, I don't mean you. I'm talking about Varuni. Pity. I really quite liked her before she started talking.

Vestige

What's going on here?

Divayth Fyr

Your gentle friend suffers from some very serious delusions.

The Shadow managed to seal every entrance to the Mechanical Fundament, and by extension, every entrance to the Cogitum Centralis - Sotha Sil's inner sanctum.

Vestige

How do these seals work?

Divayth Fyr

Honestly, I have no idea.

I tried to reach out and get some sense of it through Psijic projection, but I found nothing. Just a cold lack. I hesitate to admit it, but this Shadow's magic is beyond my ken.

Vestige

What should we do?

Divayth Fyr

Talk to Luciana. She's been remarkably quiet throughout this whole ordeal. She may have a plan.

Before doing that, though, the Vestige wanted to get Varuni's opinion on the matter.

Provost Varuni Arvel

By the gears, this Divayth Fyr is just... insufferable! Honestly, how do you put up with it?

Vestige

It's not easy. What's going on here?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Just arguing for the most part. Lord Fyr has a difficult time with constructive criticism.

The Shadow locked us out of the Cogitum Centralis. Instead of exploring the sensible, mechanical alternatives, Fyr's been firing off destructive spells.

Vestige

And they haven't worked?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Of course not. And what's worse, he's spitting out all kinds of blasphemous conspiracy theories. That kind of talk doesn't serve anyone.

Something about the Skeleton Key? I told him, Daedric artifacts can't enter the city.

Vestige

He's actually correct. The Shadow took the Skeleton Key right out from under me.

Provost Varuni Arvel

It did...? That... that doesn't make any sense. Daedric artifacts are profane illusions. Sotha Sil would never let something like that into the city.

Vestige

You might need to rething some of these notions, Varuni.

Provost Varuni Arvel

I just... I need to think. Go, talk to Luciana. I think she might have a plan.

With both Fyr and Varuni pacified for now, the Vestige spoke to Luciana about that plan of hers.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

You arrived just in time. I don't know how much more of Divayth and Varuni's bickering I could take.

Vestige

What's happening now?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

It's as I feared. The Shadow breached the Cogitum Centralis - Lord Seht's seat of power. If it reaches the core... if it removes Lord Seht from the Throne-Aligned... we can't let that happen.

You should steel yourself for the battles ahead.

After gearing up for the upcoming battle, the Vestige returned of Pullo.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

We arrived too late. As soon as the Shadow of Sotha Sil claimed the Skeleton Key, it slithered into the Fundament and sealed all the doors leading to the Cogitum Centralis.

Fyr and Varuni tried to break the seal. You can see how well that turned out.

Vestige

Are there any alternate routes into the Cogitum Centralis?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

None. Lord Seht designed the Cogitum to be virtually impenetrable. Even so, these Whispering Shadow cultists move through the city unhindered. I don't know how. Perhaps if we discover how they navigate the city, we can use that against them.

Vestige

The Shadow of Sotha Sil used a pool of darkness to escape the Incarnatorium.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Hmm. I crossed staves with an Argonian mage once. He could leap through shadows - crossing long distances in seconds. Maybe that's the answer? Shadow portals of some kind?

We need more information. Inside perspective.

Vestige

How should we go about doing that?

The dialog splits here depending on whether you spared Gascone or if you killed him. The following exchange happens if he is in jail - the deceased version of the dialog is noted below.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

We have that bastard, Gascone, jailed in the east wing. He's spent most of his time sulking, but he might speak to you. You did spare his life, after all.

Ask him about this shadowy pool you described. If there are others like it, we need to know.

Vestige

You have a prison in the basilica?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Of sorts.

Our legal system is pretty rudimentary - mostly because we use it so rarely. Infractions result in exile most of the time. But this business with Gascone and Clavicus Vile is a good deal more serious than research sabotage or plagiarism.

Vestige

You exile people for plagiarism?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Not always. Sometimes we mind-lock them in one of our rumination chambers. I suspect that's what awaits our former chancellor... if we make it through this alive, of course.

Vestige

Mind-lock?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Cognitive prison. We induce a coma and set the brain on a recursive loop - trapping the condemned in an inescapable mental space.

As far as I know, we've only done it twelve times.

Vestige

That sounds pretty extreme.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Better than a summary execution. Remember, I grew up in the Reman military. Brain-jail sounds pretty lenient to me.

If the Vestige previously killed Gascone, the following dialog occurs instead:

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I have an idea. Full disclosure - you may find this eerie.

I suspect that Gascone's brain might contain some useful information, so I ordered a factotum to mine it. Speak to the Clockwork Clinician in the east wing. Maybe it found something.

Vestige

Wait, what? Mined?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Yes. It's an incredibly useful procedure.

One of our apostles created he anamnesic extractor to act as a kind of cognitive therapy for residents struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts. The results were... mixed.

Vestige

So now you use it to mine information out of dead people?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Only in cases where the deceased requests it. Or when a traitor tries to sell the city out to Daedra. You did kill him for that, remember?

This is the surest route to the truth. We can debate medical ethics after we've prevented the apocalypse.

The rest of the conversation happens regardless of Gascone's state.

Vestige

What can you tell me about the skeleton key?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Only what I read in the Imperial histories as a student.

Our libraries don't carry any literature on the Daedra or their relics. I argued against the ban, but the congress wouldn't budge. They don't understand how dangerous these creatures can be.

Vestige

Well, what do you know?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Daedric Princes litter the world with profane relics - artifacts meant to corrupt or ensorcel the greedy and weak-minded. Hermaeus Mora offers a book. Peryite grants a shield. Nocturnal is more generous. She provides a mask, a bow, and a key.

Vestige

The Skeleton Key.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Exactly. Scholars say the key can open any lock, regardless of its complexity. Some say it can unlock gates to other worlds, or even open metaphorical doors.

I don't need to tell you how dangerous that power could be.

Vestige

So the Shadow of Sotha Sil seeks to unlock the center of the Clockwork City.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I think it may go even deeper than that. Lord Seht modified himself extensively over the centuries. I think the Shadow... the Shadow may try to unlock Sotha Sil himself.

Vestige

What is the Cogitum Centralis exactly?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

The heart of the Clockwork City - Lord Seht's seat of power. He spends his periods of seclusion there. Sculpting the future, as the saying goes. Very few mortals have ever stepped foot inside.

Vestige

Have you ever seen it?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Once. And only for a moment. Truthfully, I didn't enter with a pious heart. A story for another time.

All I can tell you is the Cogitum exists at the enter of... well, everything. It's the axle that spins the wheel. You'll see soon enough.

Vestige

Are you sure he's even there?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

He has to be. If he were on Artaeum, the city would be locked in slumbering mode. Less light, slower manufacturing, reductions in factotum services. But everything hums and cranks as it should.

He's definitely here, and his Shadow knows it.

At this point, the Vestige headed for Gascone's cell (if he is still alive) or for the clinical factotum (if he is not). The living Gascone dialog is presented first.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Ah, you again. I suppose I should thank you for sparing me, for all the good it will do. That lumbering pile of scrap, Luciana, means to lock me in deep storage, I know it!

Just leave me to my hand-wringing, all right?

Vestige

Maybe we can help each other. I'm going after the Shadow, but I need information.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Information? I've been locked in this bleak little room since we parted ways. What could I possibly know?

I heard the omnivox squawking earlier. Is that what this is about? It is... Oh my. The cultists locked you out of the Cogitum, didn't they?

Vestige

Yes. The Shadow is headed for Sotha Sil. I need to know how the cultists move around the city.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Hmm... I could help you, but I'd need something in return.

One of Clavicus Vile's Skaafin enforcers stalks the Mechanical Fundament, carrying a peculiar contract. Kill this Daedra, bring me the contract, and I'll tell you everything I know.

The Vestige chose not to bother with the sidequest, and reminded Gascone that they are the reason he is still alive.

Vestige

I did you a favor when I spared your life. Tell me what you know.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

True, I suppose. Despite what you might think, I love this city. I can't be a party to its destruction.

Seek out Gloaming Gates - impossibly deep pools of shadow. The cultists use them to travel great distances. You can too.

Vestige

Where can I find these Gloaming Gates?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

I know of two - one east, one west. Look for hidden caves where the shadows gather in force. Once you find a gate, you need only let yourself sink into it.

I can't promise you'll like where you end up.

Vestige

Explain.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

The gates weave in and out of Nocturnal's realm of Evergloam.

You can use them to reach your ultimate destination, just as the cultists do. But you must first traverse the Evergloam to find other connected gates.

Vestige

I'll be off then.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Seht bless your labors. I mean that.

Hate me if you must, but I truly hope you can stop this madness.

If the Vestige had chosen to kill Gascone earlier, they have a harder time getting this information. They head out to find the Clockwork Clinician, who is standing over the dead body of Gascone inside some sort of machine.

Clockwork Clinician

By Seht's will, I am bound.

Greetings, resident. What do you require?

Vestige

I need to, uh... speak to Gascone?

Clockwork Clinician

Reflecting. Permissions registered.

I completed the cognitive archival process and data retention is within acceptable parameters. Unfortunately, my current tok-plug storage quantity equals zero. It must equal one for vocal emulation to proceed.

Vestige

So, you need me to get a tok-plug. Where can I find one of these?

Clockwork Clinician

Malfunctioning skeevatons often appropriate tools and components from this chamber. You may wish to search the eastern quarter of the Fortress. Skevatons often accumulate there, and place reclaimed scrap in piles.

I apologize for the inconvenience.

As instructed, the Vestige set out to find this tok-plug among the scraps. Once they had done so, they returned to the Clinician.

Clockwork Clinician

May my labors please the Clockwork God.

Welcome back, resident. Your permissions remain active. What do you require?

Vestige

I have the tok-plug you asked me to retrieve.

Clockwork Clinician

False assertion. This is not a tok-plug.

Fortunately, I located a tok-plug in a mnemo-crate outside my immediate visual range. Your assistance, while appreciated, is no longer required. Please ask the deceased resident your questions.

If the Vestige chose to speak to the Clinician again, the factotum didn't have much to say.

Clockwork Clinician

Please submit your questions to the deceased resident directly. All archival data related to your query will feed through the deceased resident via vocal emulation.

May Sotha Sil bless your many labors.

The Vestige approached the corpse of Gascone and talked to it. Its voice was that of the chancellor, but more robotic and distorted.

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Resident corpse, Gascone Dusant, memory outlay primed. Submit query.

Vestige

How do the Whispering Shadows cultists travel through the city so quickly?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Assembling summary. Sub-heading, Whispering Shadows. Sub-heading, movement. Sub-heading Clockwork City.

Cultists use Gloaming Gates. Pools of darkness that channel Nocturnal's power. They serve as portals to many places, including Evergloam.

Vestige

Evergloam?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Assembling response.

Subject: Evergloam. A twilight plane of Oblivion peopled by Nocturnal Shrikes, phantoms, and beastly simulacra. Passing through Evergloam allows cultists to travel great distances without detection.

Vestige

Where can I find one of these Gloaming Gates?

Chancellor Gascone Dusant

Accessing visio-spatial memory. Mapping complete.

Two gates exist in the Radius - one west, one east, hidden in cave networks controlled by Whispering Shadows. These gates may not allow passage to the uninitiated. Incomplete data.

Clockwork Clinician

I hope your interaction with the deceased resident was illuminating, and that you found my assistance satisfactory.

May Sotha Sil bless your many labors.

No matter how the Vestige obtained the information, the Vestige chose to report back to Luciana and let her know about the gates.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Tell me you have something.

Vestige

I found a way to pursue the Shadow of Sotha Sil. Gloaming Gates.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Gates. Of course. My apostles ran down a few rumors about cultists building strange basins of the periphery of the Radius, but we never found any of them.

How do these gates work?

Vestige

We can use a gate to enter the Evergloam, then find another gate inside that leads to the Cogitum.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

So we'll use the cultists' own pathways against them. Makes sense. Can't say I have any desire to fight my way through a plane of Oblivion, but we don't have much of a choice, do we?

Did Gascone say where they built these gates?

Vestige

He mentioned one to the east, and one to the west - hidden in caves.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

And we have no way to know which will get us to our destination faster.

Let's split up. I'll take the western gate - you take the east. Try to navigate the Evergloam. I'll do the same. Hopefully one of us will make it to the Cogitum in time.

The Vestige headed for the eastern gate. Before they could jump into the gate, however, a familiar crow approached.

Knave of Rooks

Crow-friend! I am glad I found you. Just let me... catch my breath.

Vestige

Knave of Rooks? What are you doing here?

Knave of Rooks

The Duke of Crows sent us far and wide looking for you. My wings ache from the effort! Ache!

You wish to use the Gloaming Gates, yes? Well, only crows, and shrikes, and silly cultists can use them. The Mistress keeps them locked.

Vestige

So you activated it for me?

Knave of Rooks

Yes! You need a crow's cunning to use these things.

Now, in you go. I will come with you, to help you find our brave Knight's murderer. You must kill the Shadow of the Clock-god. Kill him then, we'll pick the bones clean!

Vestige

What about Luciana?

Knave of Rooks

The metal woman? Bah! We help her too, but only because we know you'd be cross if we did not. We think she is stupid and ugly, but a friend of our crow-friend is sort of a friend of the Duke's. Sort of.

Now, no more talking. Into the gate! Go!

The Vestige jumped into the gate and found themselves in the Evergloam. Alongside the Knave, they navigated the perilous realm looking for gates back into the Clockwork City.

Knave of Rooks

Watch your step, Featherless. These stones are near to ruin. Just like everything else here...

Knave of Rooks

Gate's closed. Closed! You'll have to find another way round.

Knave of Rooks

Hmm. Draw your weapons. One of Nocturnal's flock-queens hides in that church. Sour taste. No shiny-bits! Be careful.

After a whole lot of fighting, the Vestige found Proctor Luciana, held captive by a particularly powerful shrike named Nightmaiden Viriana.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Do your worst, night hag! You'll get nothing from me.

Nightmaiden Viriana

Interlopers? No! I will not be interrupted.

The Vestige defeated her, and noticed a Gloaming Gate in the same area.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Thank you. I'm... unaccustomed to being captured.

A Shrike captain wouldn't defend just any gate. This must lead back to the city. Follow me!

Prior to trying out the gate, the Vestige wanted to thank the Knave of Rooks for his help.

Knave of Rooks

Made it, at last. At last! Well done, crow-friend. You move quickly for someone with stubby legs and no wings.

Now, I will lock this gate with crow-magic. No one will follow you - I swear on the Duke's fine plumage!

Vestige

Are you coming with us to the Cogitum Centralis?

Knave of Rooks

No. Not yet. Not yet! Our mischief's not done. We still have shadow women to peck, and cultists to chase, and shinies to steal!

Vestige

Well, thanks for the help.

Knave of Rooks

No time for weepy goodbyes, Featherless! Go help your metal-woman, and stop that Shadow! Go!

Luciana and the Vestige jumped into the gate, and found themselves back in the Clockwork City.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I recognize this place. These are the tunnels that lead to the Cogitum. Looks like the factotums put up a fight when the Shadow came through. Not enough it seems.

There. The Shadow's ward.

The Vestige saw the ward - a moving, partially transparent wall of black and purple, stretching across the corridor.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Liquid shadows? Some kind of Nocturnal blight. I've never seen the like.

Wait. I remember... Lord Seht taught me a spell long ago. He said it would guide me through the darkness one day. I couldn't find a use for it then, but now...

Yes. He said that logic and wisdom would part the shadows of doubt.

Luciana cast her spell and the ward disappeared before their eyes.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

It worked. How could he have known...? Never mind. Meet me at the entrance to the Cogitum. We have work to do.

The Vestige followed Luciana to the entrance, and spoke to her once there.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I don't often admit surprise, but I'll be candid - that was one of the weirdest journeys of my life. And I've lived a very, very long time.

Vestige

What now?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

With the shadow barrier removed, we can move freely between the Brass Fortress and the Cogitum again.

Now, we have a Daedric Prince to thwart and a god to save. I hope you're ready.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Tighten that armor and sharpen your weapons. Entering the Cogitum Centralis can prove deadly on the best of days. This is far from the best of days.

Vestige

What should we expect inside the Cogitum?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Beyond whatever Daedric horrors the Shadow left in its wake?

The Cogitum shifted into its strongbox configuration as soon as the alarm sounded. So now we have to contend with inaccessible platforms, hostile factotums, unleashed fabricants...

Vestige

You think the defenses might slow the Shadow down?

Proctor Luciana Pullo

You know I don't put much stock in hope. Sotha Sil prepares for every conceivable eventuality, but the Shadow is Sotha Sil. It's difficult to create countermeasures for yourself.

We can't count on Sotha Sil. This task falls to us. Are you ready?

Vestige

Yes. I'm prepared to enter the Cogitum.

The Vestige followed Luciana into the Cogitum Centralis. Inside, they had found that it had locked itself down.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Just as I suspected. The defense system locked down the bridge. Slag it.

I can use this terminal to unlock it, but the alarm cut off the power. Looks like it has two charging junctions. I need you to find two core pumps. Can you do that?

One other thing. There's a master factotum down here called--

Aios

Greetings, I am Aios. Please be advised: the sacred Cogitum Centralis is currently sealed.

I kindly encourage you to exit the Cogitum immediately. Thank you for your compliance.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Not going to happen, Aios.

The Vestige noticed a ghostly, golden projection of Aios a short ways away, and decided to talk with it.

Aios

Beginning entity analysis. Entity exists outside known possipoints. Transitioning to general reception array.

Hello.

Vestige

What are you?

Aios

I am Aios, the Automata Incarnum Overseer System. Master Sil created me to maintain and supervise the substrata operations of Clockwork City.

This partition can provide answers to class-seven queries only. Thank you for your understanding.

Vestige

Your master is in danger. Let us through so we can help him.

Aios

Assessing threats to Master Sil. Dreaming... open window. Sunlight through glass.

Threat analysis prepared: Prospect Numidium: negative. Prospect Almalexia: negative. Prospect Erasure: negative. No existential threat detected.

Vestige

There is a threat! The Daedric Prince, Nocturnal!

Aios

Accessing privatized threat-array. Dreaming... knee abrasion. Lullaby.

Threat located. Nocturnal. Ur-dra. Unfathomable Mistress of Shadows. Prospect registered. Risk level: moderate. Thank you for your concern.

Vestige

Now can you help us?

Aios

Motive evaluation complete. Non-hostile intent confirmed. Assistance threshold increased twenty percent. I can now provide advice and analysis.

A manual override is required to proceed. Lower automata still adhere to trespass protocols. Use caution.

The Vestige fought their way through the Cogitum and turned on the two pumps so that Luciana could work the bridge.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Well done. Now, all I need to do is... there. The bridge is clear.

I disabled the emergency protocol. It wont' shut down the core's defenses, but we shouldn't find our path blocked like this again.

Aios

Admonition: many of Master Sil's defenses still conform to strongbox protocols. Risk of severe laceration, incineration, and or disintegration remains high.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Thanks for the advice.

Prior to moving on, the Vestige checked if Aios had anything else to say.

Aios

Please use caution. Chance of severe injury remains high in the chambers ahead.

Since nothing remained in this chamber, the Vestige and Luciana passed through into the Halls of Convention. There, they found another shadow barrier.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

More shadows. Even thicker than before. Damn.

The shadow-banishing spell I used on the lift overtaxed my nerve-junctions. We need to find another way through.

Try throwing that switch.

The Vestige flipped the lever that was a short way away.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I see something. Some kind of light burning away the corruption!

A lamp! Like the one you used to expose the shadow!

Another switch. Try it out.

The Vestige did so, lighting anther lamp.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

When Sotha Sil saved me, he said I would shine a light one day. Could this be...? Questions for another time. Let's keep moving.

The duo proceeded into a chamber called The Inner Curiosity, where the Shadow of Sotha Sil spoke to them.

Shadow of Sotha Sil

Following me, are you? Brave... and foolish.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

More shadows. Let's hope Sotha Sil had the foresight to install those lamps here too.

After flipping more switches and destroying more shadows, the Vestige found themselves in the All-Axel.

Shadow of Sotha Sil

Managed to banish my shadows again? Relish the victory while you can. It will take more than lamps to keep me from the Throne Aligned.

You should be thanking me. If you only knew the things Sotha Sil was capable of.. you'd want to kill him too.

Eventually, the Vestige reached the gate to the throne room, only to find it blocked off by another projection of Aios.

Aios

Greetings. This partition governs All-Axle operations and gate controls. How can I assist you?

Vestige

I need you to lower the gate that blocks our passage to the throne room.

Aios

Evaluating access petition. Dreaming... raindrops on glass. Wood smoke.

Access granted. Please make swift progress to the throne room. Daedric corruption dedicated.

The Vestige and Luciana headed deeper into the Cogitum, eventually encountering yet another Aios projection.

Aios

Warning. Situation critical. Daedric threat rating increased to severe.

Vestige

What's going on in there, Aios?

Aios

I detect both a Daedric entity and a Daedric artifact in the throne room. Proximity to the Throne Aligned, and Master Sil, poses existential risk to City and all occupants.

Cleansing mechanisms offline. I urgently request hat you intervene.

Vestige

We'll stop the Shadow.

Aios

Conducting confidence assessment. Dreaming... deceased bird. Handkerchief.

Confidence assessment complete. Certainty rating does not meet credible acceptance threshold. Fail-safe preparations underway.

Vestige

What does that mean?

Aios

This partition is not authorized to discuss fail-safe protocol. Effects on non-divine persons' psyches deemed too dangerous by Master Sil.

Fail-safe will disengage if Daedric corruption is reduced to acceptable levels.

Vestige

What is an acceptable level of Daedric corruption?

Aios

Zero.

Farewell, and good luck.

With that, the Vestige entered the Throne Aligned to face the Shadow once and for all. Once inside, they found themselves in a globe of spinning circles, with a purple void outside it. In the center, the Shadow was visible.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

He's using the Skeleton Key to unseat the real Sotha Sil! We cannot let him get inside that machine!

Shadow of Sotha Sil

I see I'll have to deal with you permanently to complete my task. No matter. Come then! Face the darkness!

An epic battle ensued, with the Shadow summoning other shadows to fight by his side.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Get these creatures away from the Shadow!

When the Vestige struck the final blow, their vision suddenly faded to absolute black as shadows pulled in around them from every side.

Shortly after, everything erupted with light and the shadows were pushed back to the perimeter of the room. The Vestige saw Luciana casting her light spell, while Divayth Fyr cast some sort of spell on the Shadow of Sotha Sil, which was floating in the machine in which the real Sotha Sil was standing.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Fyr? Where did you-? What are you doing?

Divayth Fyr

Never mind where I came from! I'm keeping Sil alive, you ungrateful shrew! We can't let the shadow escape!

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Just hurry! I can't hold the light for long!

Suddenly, the Vestige heard a disembodied voice.

Nocturnal

Even now, at the end, you bicker. How predictably mortal...

Divayth Fyr

She's here! Nocturnal!

Nocturnal

Why do you struggle so? Do you not see that it's hopeless? Sleep now... give in to the dark.

With these words, the shadows in the room crept closer to the companions, Luciana's spell barely holding them at bay.

Divayth Fyr

I can't hold it much longer! Get up, comrade! You have to turn the Skeleton Key! Now!

Proctor Luciana Pullo

I... will not yield! Go, friend - do as Fyr says! Unlock the throne! Free Sotha Sil!

The Vestige quickly found the key lying on the corpse of the Shadow defeated earlier, and used it on the Throne Aligned, lifting the contraption from Sotha Sil. The Shadow that was locked above him flew back into his body, and he awoke.

Sotha Sil

You trespass, Ur-dra. The Clockwork City shall bear your weight no longer.

Begone.

He lifted his arms and the shadows vanished from the chamber.

Nocturnal

You achieve nothing, little godling. The Triad looms upon Summerset's shores. All that is shall be ours!

Divayth Fyr

Well done, my friend. Enough theatrics, Luciana. On your feet. Luciana...?

Fyr walked over to where Luciana was lying, but she did not move.

Sotha Sil

We should return to the surface. This is no place for mortals.

The Vestige stepped through a glowing portal and found themselves back in the main city. Sotha Sil was also there.

Sotha Sil

The prisoner. At last. You are early... or perhaps late. It makes little difference. I'm glad you've come. Tamriel owes you a debt.

Vestige

Are you fully restored?

Sotha Sil

Restored. Yes. I reclaimed my shadow, and with it, knowledge of what transpired and what's to come.

But those calculations will keep. I owe you a boon. Service, like all equations, demands precise reciprocity. I wonder, what would you ask of me?

Vestige

What kind of gifts do you offer? Can you give me power?

Sotha Sil

Power. Interesting. Power to what end, I wonder...

You possess a great well of potential - unexplored depths, hidden by self-doubt and narrow perspective. Feel no shame. I know something of self-doubt. I can reveal this potential, if you wish.

Vestige

What about the Skeleton Key?

Sotha Sil

Clever. At another time, in another place, I would gladly part with it. In truth, I have no interest in Daedric baubles.

Unfortunately, the Shadow Queen still lurks on our threshold. I must send this key far away. Farther than your feet can carry you.

Vestige

Luciana collapsed during the battle. Can you help her?

Sotha Sil

Altruism. A rare trait.

Luciana will die. If not here and now, then elsewhere and later. I can delay her death if you wish, but to what end? Consider carefully. Luciana means a great deal to me, but grief cannot be avoided - only deferred.

Vestige

I've made up my mind.

Sotha Sil

Ask, and you shall have it.

The Vestige can choose to either save Luciana or to ask for the power offered by Sotha Sil. The power option is presented first.

Vestige

I want power.

Sotha Sil

Then you shall have it - along with a prize from my vault. This treasure is, and always has been, yours. Put these gifts to good use ... or do not. Triumphs await regardless. We are, all of us, bound by our natures. Your nature demands victory.

You should know that great power brings its own sorrows, even for those with the wisdom to wield it.

If the Vestige chooses instead to save Luciana, this following is said.

Vestige

Please save Luciana.

Sotha Sil

It is done. The recalibration may take some time, but the proctor will make a full recovery. I know she will put this gift to good use.

Please, take this as well. A token from my personal collection. It is, and always has been, yours.

A noble, if short-sighted, choice to save Luciana. But then, the long view brings its own perils.

Where will she go from here? Perhaps you can help her decide.

With their boon chosen, the Vestige wraps up their quest to save the Clockwork City with a series of conversations, presented in the next chapter.

Sotha Sil

Strange. I spent lifetimes here in the world of tangible-forms, but each time I emerge from the throne, it's like I'm seeing it for the first time.

Broken, impoverished... beautiful.

Vestige

What will you do now?

Sotha Sil

It seems I must delay my work for a time.

When I reclaimed my shadow, I learned a great deal. Daedric plots. Alliances and betrayals. The return of things lost in time... the loss of things the world thought certain. I have much to do.

Vestige

Can I help? What do you need?

Sotha Sil

In the short-term, I need Divayth Fyr. He took his leave to attend to matters outside my fortress. I wish to speak with both of you in a more private setting.

Please, find Fyr and then meet me at the Elegiac Replication.

Vestige

I'll find him and meet you there.

Sotha Sil

We will speak in time. First, find Divayth Fyr. I wish for both of you to meet me at the Elegiac Replication - a memorial south of here.

Our discussion should be away from prying eyes and ears... even those of my own people.

Vestige

Where is Luciana now?

Sotha Sil

You will find her in her retreat, here in the basilica. My factotums tend to her wounds even as we speak. Of course, you already know how this will end. I hope that knowledge brings you some measure of peace.

If the Vestige asked Sotha Sil to save Luciana, they can have the following conversation with her.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Seht. Sotha Sil. Is he...?

Vestige

He's fine. We did it, Luciana.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Thank the gears. The people... my people... they're safe.

He knew. He knew this would happen. He said I would shine a light one day... do you see? Everything built to this. Everything every battle... every sorrow. It finally makes sense.

Vestige

You'll see Sotha Sil soon. I asked him to save you.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

You asked him that? After all the impatience I showed you? The bad temper? I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I never met a more altruistic soul.

Still, I'm not sure even Sotha Sil could save me this time. I feel it in my bones. This is how I end.

Vestige

He promised me you will survive this.

Proctor Luciana Pullo

Perhaps you're right.

You know, I asked Sotha Sil to spare someone close to me long ago. He refused. Now I see - I understand. I'll try to make your choice mean something. You have my word.

If the Vestige did not ask for the Proctor's life, they may instead speak to the medical factotum tending to her.

Factotum Medica

Greetings, resident. Please maintain a safe distance. I am still determining the extent of Proctor Luciana's injuries.

Vestige

What exactly happened to her?

Factotum Medica

Lord Seht furnished Proctor Luciana with a wide array of complex enhancements that help sustain and extend her life. These enhancements allow her to wield arcane power inaccessible to most mortals.

Vestige

And?

Factotum Medica

Unfortunately, her struggle against Nocturnal's assault overtaxed the system, resulting in catastrophic damage to all rejection inhibitors and nerve junctions.

It seems her body was incapable of handling the strain.

Vestige

Will she be all right?

Factotum Medica

I lack the requisite data to offer you a definitive prognosis. Initial findings indicate a low probability of survival. I can direct you to a grief specialist if you wish.

Please know that I will continue to execute my duties with all due diligence.

The Vestige can also talk to Varuni, who is watching over Luciana.

Provost Varuni Arvel

I can't stand seeing her like this. I always thought Luciana was, I don't know... indestructible. How could this happen?

Vestige

She held off a Daedric Prince, almost single-handedly.

Provost Varuni Arvel

And the strain was too much. Yes, I've heard. I just thought with you there, and Lord Seht as well... I guess every spring comes unwound eventually, no matter how strong.

Do you think she'll live?

Vestige

I asked Sotha Sil to heal her. She'll live.

Provost Varuni Arvel

You what? And Lord Seht granted you this boon? I'm sorry, I shouldn't seem so shocked. You've done nothing but struggle and sacrifice for us since you arrived.

Thank you, my friend. With Luciana healed, the Clockwork City will flourish.

Vestige

What will you do now?

Provost Varuni Arvel

I'll remain here a while longer. I should stay at her side at least until the factotum shares its test results. We'll meet again soon, I'm sure.

On the way to find Fyr, the Vestige spoke to several other citizens of the Clockwork City to see what they had to say about the recent events.

Meder Nerethi

The factotums didn't even flinch at the alarms. Just going about their duties. I aspire to such efficiency.

Vilia Laetonius

I don't buy it. It would take an army to break into the Cogitum Centralis, and we've seen no sign of attack. Probably a wayward skeevaton clogging the vents again.

Vincebald Farro

Slag it. I still feel like I should be doing something to help.

The Vestige also overheard a conversation between a local and the stranded Hlaalu retainer they saw earlier.

Sarvlos Velar

You'll tell me this instant if there's truth to these rumors!

Ajunct Rizma

I have nothing to say on the matter, auxiliary.

Sarvlos Velar

You will tell me if this portal exists! This could be my one chance to get home!

Ajunct Rizma

This is your home now. I suggest you find your place in it.

The Vestige found Fyr on a bridge overlooking the city.

Divayth Fyr

Ah, my erstwhile companion. You look remarkably ... coherent. Most mortals caught in a Daedric tempest would suffer some lasting effects.

I'm impressed. Baffled, but impressed.

Vestige

Sotha Sil asked me to find you.

Divayth Fyr

Already? I expected him to wait at least a week before summoning me. Sil's concept of time bears only a faint resemblance to our own.

You should set out. I'll be along shortly.

Vestige

Where were you? Luciana and I nearly died fighting the Shadow.

Divayth Fyr

You didn't though. Bully for you.

In truth, I sought an alternate route to the throne—through the Evergloam. Unfortunately, Nocturnal detected my presence immediately. One of the few burdens of near-divine power. I'm difficult to miss.

Vestige

So she trapped you?

Divayth Fyr

Trapped? No. Impeded, perhaps.

Fortunately, Nocturnal's attention turned to you and the good proctor when you defeated the Shadow. It gave me the opportunity to pinpoint the object of her fury. You. I followed her to the throne. The rest is history.

Vestige

Fine. So, what are you doing out here?

Divayth Fyr

Taking it all in, I suppose. Surely, you won't begrudge me a moment of vulnerability.

This place ... it is something. I sense that I won't return anytime soon—if at all. When you've lived as long as I have, that actually starts to mean something.

Vestige

What's to keep you from coming back?

Divayth Fyr

One can only marvel at a rival's triumphs for so long before that awe turns to resentment, and I have no time for petty jealousy.

I have plans of my own, and countless realms to explore. I can't afford to linger anywhere for long.

The Vestige then headed for the Elegiac Replication, where they met Fyr and Sil.

Sotha Sil

Thank you both for coming.

Divayth Fyr

Of course, old friend. You seem troubled. More troubled than usual, I mean.

Sotha Sil

Perceptive, as always. I do not wish to diminish your achievement, but Nocturnal's defeat here will be short-lived.

What's more, she does not act alone. A third enemy looms at the edge of my sight.

Their covetous eyes are now fixed on the Summerset Isles.

Divayth Fyr

Then we should inform the rest of the Psijics. They'll need to prepare.

Sotha Sil

I will inform them personally. I have a separate task for you, Divayth.

Take the Skeleton Key. Keep it hidden for as long as you can. I trust that this task pleases you? After all, your love of such trinkets is what brought you here in the first place.

Divayth Fyr

Sometimes I wonder if you see too much. I will keep it safe.

Sotha Sil

Farewell, Divayth Fyr. We will not meet again.

Divayth Fyr then disappeared into a portal, leaving the Vestige alone with Sotha Sil.

Sotha Sil

I haven't visited this memorial for centuries. But even I need reminders every now and again.

Do you like this place? It took me the better part of a decade to perfect it. Every stone and flower tells a story. Tales of how things were... how they ought to be.

I thought about destroying it on more than one occasion. I'm glad I didn't.

Vestige

I have questions.

Sotha Sil

I know. Ask, and I will answer truthfully. Just know that the truth often fails to satisfy.

Vestige

Who are you really?

Sotha Sil

You expect something grand, but I promised you the truth.

I am only what time and circumstances made me. Son of a lost house. Friend to a fallen king. Some will tell you that we are the product of our choices. I've never found that to be the case.

Vestige

But you're supposed to be a god, right?

Sotha Sil

I am whatever the people need me to be. A guardian. An oppressor. For some, too distant. For others, too meddlesome. I am the canvas upon which they paint their dreams and resentments. A vessel for their hopes and doubts.

A mirror. Nothing more.

Vestige

If you believe that, why even call yourself a god?

Sotha Sil

I don't.

But my companions, Vivec and Almalexia see their divinity as essential. Godhood brings them joy and purpose. They find meaning in the theatrical. Who am I to deprive them of that?

Vestige

What are your feelings on Almalexia?

Sotha Sil

Almalexia defies simple analysis. I doubt she could even describe herself accurately.

To understand Almalexia, you must first understand the value of fiction. Vivec fancies himself the poet, but in truth, Ayem is the greater storyteller.

Vestige

How so?

Sotha Sil

Vivec knows the boundaries that separate fact from fiction. He knows them so well that's he's learned how to break them. He exists inside his verse, but recognizes the lies. The contradictions.

He both does, and does not believe his own tales.

Vestige

How is Almalexia different?

Sotha Sil

She believes her tales implicitly. As does everyone else. Her capacity for deception appears limitless. She sows lies like a master gardener sows seeds, and the harvest of trust and adulation is breathtaking in scope.

Vestige

Does that bother you?

Sotha Sil

Not in the slightest.

As I said, we are, all of us, bound by our nature. Almalexia does what she does because she cannot do otherwise. It will not end well. But then, even the best endings rarely bring joy.

Vestige

What do you think of Vivec?

Sotha Sil

Vivec is my brother. He knows my struggles and I know his. That knowledge makes our relationship... complicated. To truly know someone is as much a curse as it is a blessing.

Vestige

What are his struggles?

Sotha Sil

Regret. We are bound by that at least.

He also suffers a kind of enslavement. Not unlike my own, in fact. Beauty holds the keys to his shackles. Beauty, and a love of great works. Great heights. His appetites are insatiable, thus his despair.

Vestige

Despair?

Sotha Sil

Yes. A poet's despair.

Vivec craves radical freedom - the death of all limits and restrictions. He wishes to be all things at all times. Every race, every gender, every hero, both divine and finite... but in the end, he can only be Vivec.

Vestige

And that's not enough? To be a god hero?

Sotha Sil

Not even remotely.

Vestige

What is all this for? The Clockwork City.

Sotha Sil

I sometimes ask myself the same thing.

May I confess something to you?"

Vestige

Of course.

Sotha Sil

I suffer from a peculiar ailment. Shall I describe it?

I bear the cruel weight of certainty. Total, absolute, relentless certainty. People rarely comprehend the luxury of doubt... the freedom that comes with indecision. I envy you.

Vestige

Didn't you just say that you question whether the City is worth the effort?

Sotha Sil

Indeed. But such questions are flaccid - cursory indulgences that come and go in an instant.

The truth is that my actions, both good and evil, are inevitable. Locked in time. Determined by chains of action and consequence.

Vestige

So... you were forced to build the Clockwork City?

Sotha Sil

Compelled.

This City serves a noble goal. The redemption of Tamriel. The unification of competing forces. The destruction of the Daedra. Unfortunately, it is an endeavor build upon a lattice of corpses. Betrayal. Untold horrors. Do you understand?

The Vestige can respond in one of three ways.

Vestige

Maybe?

Sotha Sil

Maybe. The word I covet above all others.

Hold to that word, my friend, and never let go.

Vestige

Yes.

Sotha Sil

Then I pity you.

Vestige

No.

Sotha Sil

Good. I pray you never do.

The rest of the conversation happens regardless of the Vestige's response.

Vestige

What did you want to talk to me about?

Sotha Sil

I instructed Divayth to run from the battle that is to come. Now, I urge you to run toward it.

Long ago, I brokered a truce with the Princes of Oblivion. This pact bound eight Princes to an oath - that they would never again set foot on Tamriel.

Vestige

If that's true, how did Nocturnal attack us in the Cogitum?

Sotha Sil

Nocturnal was not present when the Princes signed the Coldharbour Compact. Thus she flouts its restrictions. Now, this is important - Nocturnal does not act alone. Two other Princes lie in wait. Clavicus Vile and Mephala.

Vestige

Who are Clavicus Vile and Mephala?

Sotha Sil

Schemers. A Prince of foul bargains, and a Prince of lust and conspiracy. They pose a significant threat to mortals when they act alone. When they act in concert, especially with Nocturnal present, the threat becomes existential.

Vestige

So what should we do?

Sotha Sil

I have preparations to make outside my Clockwork realm. You must stay vigilant. Take heed of any Daedric incursions and stand ready to fight.

The Prisoner wields great power, making reality of metaphor. We will need you before the end.

Vestige

Why do you keep calling me the Prisoner?

Sotha Sil

A fool's hope, perhaps. I should explain.

Look around you. All of this exists because it must exist. I stand here, in this place, in this moment, not because I wish to, but because I have to. A result of action and consequence.

Vestige

So wouldn't that make you the prisoner?

Sotha Sil

Clever... but incorrect.

The Prisoner must apprehend two critical insights. First, they must face the reality of their imprisonment. They must see the determinative walls - the chains of causality that bind them to their course.

Vestige

You haven't done that?

Sotha Sil

I have. But I fall short of the second insight.

The Prisoner must see the door to their cell. They must gaze through the bars and perceive that which exists beyond causality. Beyond time. Only then can they escape.

Vestige

You don't see the door?

Sotha Sil

I see only unsteady walls.

If the people of Tamriel must exist inside this cell. I will make sure that the walls are stable, the gaps are sealed, and all who remain stay safe within it.

Vestige

I have no other questions.

Sotha Sil

I've met few heroes like you. Very few. I take this matter of the Triad upon myself, but in truth, you may be the one that saves us. The Prisoner who frees the world.

We shall see. Farewell.

With that, Sotha Sil faded out. On their way out of the memorial, the Vestige ran into Varuni.

Provost Varuni Arvel

He's gone, isn't he?

Vestige

Sotha Sil? Yes.

Provost Varuni Arvel

I knew it.

I never got to speak to him. Can you believe that? A hundred years of loyal service and then, poof. Gone.

Vestige

What would you have said to him?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Ha. You know, I spent years rehearsing exactly what I would say. I stood in front of the mirror, saying it over and over. Lord Seht, I stand before you as your loyal servant. Prayers of thanks, supplications... on and on.

Vestige

And now?

Provost Varuni Arvel

Now? Now I have nothing but questions.

Why do we study in the basilica while people struggle in the streets? Why can't we have birds like the exodromals? How could Daedra break through our unbreakable walls? Why can't we leave?

Vestige

Do you think he'd have answers for you?

Provost Varuni Arvel

I did yesterday. Today? I'm not so sure.

I have a lot of thinking to do. A lot of assumptions to challenge. Who knows... maybe that's what Seht wanted all along. I owe all this uncertainty to you.

Vestige

You're welcome?

Provost Varuni Arvel

You have my gratitude. Truly.

Uncertainty feels... it feels liberating. The world's never seemed so open. So fresh, you know? I sense a new adventure just beginning. Thank you, my friend, and farewell.

I think I'll visit the memorial for awhile. It seems as good a place as any to be alone with my thoughts.

The city was saved. Varuni lost her faith, while Luciana regained it. The Vestige was once again free of existential burdens... at least for the time being.