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The Strangeness of Seht

Author: 
Lady Nerevar

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.