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The Sublime Brazier

Author: 
Xui'al

The Vestige speaks to the Drake of Blades in the sewers.

Drake of Blades: Given all that we’ve uncovered, I think Molag Bal’s plan is clear. He wants to breach the Dragonfire Cathedral to destroy the Sublime Brazier. If he succeeds, the Dragonfires will never be relit, and Mundus will be exposed to Daedric attack forever.

Vestige: How do we stop him?

Drake of Blades: Well, Captain Caudex has pledged his soldiers to the cause. Father Egnatius is examining that ancient scroll you recovered. We also know the cathedral’s location, and we have a key to help us gain entry. I’m sure we can come up with something.

Vestige: Is there anything I can do to help?

Drake of Blades: This is going to sound stupid. Truthfully, it is stupid, but I don’t pick our allies. I found a rodent with a map tied to its tail - a message from that vagrant, The Rat. He’s apparently left us an urgent letter out in the sewer. Can you find it?

Vestige: All right. I’ll find The Rat’s letter and bring it back here.

Drake of Blades: While you retrieve The Rat’s message, I’ll coordinate with Father Egnatius and Captain Caudex to chart our next move. By the time you return, we should have a plan in place. I can’t guarantee it will be a good one.

Vestige: Why didn’t The Rat just tie the message to the rodent he sent you instead of a map?

Drake of Blades: Do you really expect me to explain - ? Oh, you’re joking. You’re joking, right?

Vestige: Do you really believe that the scroll I recovered is important?

Drake of Blades: It made Caudex’s soldiers immortal. And according to Father Egnatius, it just magically appeared one day. At the very least, it’s an asset. Egnatius tells me he’s nearly finished deciphering it. I guess we’ll find out how useful it is soon enough.

Vestige: Shouldn’t we go to the Dragonfire Cathedral immediately?

Drake of Blades: We’d be going in unprepared. I try to avoid that whenever possible. We need to read this message from The Rat and allow time for Egnatius to decipher the scroll. Captain Caudex did mention sending some of his people ahead to prepare defenses though.

The Vestige travels into the sewers to collect The Rat’s message and then returns to the Drake of Blades at the alliance base.

Drake of Blades: You’re back. Did you find The Rat’s message? Well? Sorry to be... I mean... I’ve just had to do a lot of talking. My ears are ringing, but I’m all right. Don’t look so sour. We have a plan.

Vestige: Glad to hear it. Here’s the letter I discovered. It’s definitely from The Rat.

Drake of Blades: Why is it sticky? Forget I asked. This is just a list of his favorite nursery rhymes. I don’t know what I expected. He’s a filthy lunatic who... wait. It’s a cipher. Well, this is troubling.

Vestige: What’s wrong?

Drake of Blades: Unless this is some inane practical joke, it seems General Malivus is already on his way to the Dragonfire Cathedral. Fortunately, he’s stuck using the front door. We should be able to use the key you and Regilus uncovered to sneak in the back.

Vestige: You mentioned a plan?

Drake of Blades: Right. That. Father Egnatius finished translating the mysterious scroll that Caudex gave you. Apparently, it details some bizarre ritual that can only be performed in the Cathedral itself. It imbues mortals with incredible power. Even immortality.

Vestige: If this ritual turns people into powerful immortals, why hasn’t anyone done it before?

Drake of Blades: There’s a catch. The volunteer is bound to the Dragonfire Cathedral. Forever. They exist to protect the Sublime Brazier. I’m sure you can imagine, that’s not a very appealing commitment. Could be worse. Plenty of time to catch up on my reading.

Vestige: Wait - you’re volunteering?

Drake of Blades: Of course I am. Captain Caudex insisted at first. I think he was trying to be chivalrous... or something. Because I’m a woman, I mean. He’s an idiot. Anyway, he’d go mad within a week. Too much of a people-person. I’m the obvious choice.

Vestige: If you say so. I’ll protect you an Egnatius from the Daedra so you can complete the ritual.

Drake of Blades: Captain Caudex has already gone ahead with his soldiers to prepare defenses for the Cathedral. When you’re ready, we should follow them. It’s not exactly close and this ritual is going to take a while.

Vestige: Who is General Malivus again?

Drake of Blades: General Malivus is Molag Bal’s chief enforcer in the Imperial City. He’s a Xivkyn, which is to say he’s a comically evil blowhard. But he’s a skilled warrior, and a master tactician. Almost caught me a few times. He’s tenacious. And very, very tall.

Vestige: So, are you ready for this?

Drake of Blades: Which bit? The ritual? I guess so. Does it matter? Honestly, I have no idea if it’s even going to work. I heard Egnatius practicing his pronunciation and muttering. Doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

Vestige: Are you sure you want to go through with it?

Drake of Blades: Of course I don’t want to. Just because I hate talking to people doesn’t mean I want to live alone in a draft undergound cathedral forever. Don’t be thick. The fact is it doesn’t matter what I want. The Brazier needs to be protected. End of story.

Vestige: All right...

Drake of Blades: I appreciate the concern. This is concern, right? For my welfare? It’s... well, frankly, it’s baffling - but I appreciate it. I’m sworn to protect the Emperor. Without the Brazier, there is no Emperor. It’s simple math. No use brooding over it.

The Drake of Blades, Father Egnatius, Captain Caudex, and the Vestige travel to the Dragonfire Cathedral. It is under siege by the Daedra. They go in side. Father Egnatius and the Drake of Blades begin the ritual, while Captain Caudex and the Vestige defend the cathedral. Although the captain and the Vestige manage to strike down the Malivus, an army of dremora enter the cathedral through portals. The changed Drake of Blades destroys them.

Drake of Blades: So that’s it. We did it. Wait, did I just incinerate thirty some-odd Daedra?

Vestige: So, I guess the ritual worked.

Drake of Blades: Certainly seems like it. I feel weird. Lighter. This place - I can see it now. It’s more than stone. There’s purpose, and fury, and light. A stiff breeze... and fireflies. I’m babbling. This is all very new. You’re gawking again.

Vestige: Do you think we finished off the last of the Daedra?

Drake of Blades: Oh yes. I can hear Molag Bal howling. He’s not at all pleased. I believe the Brazier is well and truly out of his reach. So, now I wait, I guess. I probably should have brought a book or something.

Vestige: Is there anything else I can do for you?

Drake of Blades: Yes. You can forget this place. And me, I’ve left instructions with a member of my order. He’ll ensure that the Brazier stays out of the history books. All you need to do is stay quiet. This is the part where you nod and take an oath of silence.

Vestige: So this is it, then?

Drake of Blades: Looks that way. We did good work, you and I, but it’s far from over. The city is still overrun, and without me to leave severed heads on cultists doorsteps, it might get worse. Look after the people. Eight know they can’t do it themselves.

Vestige: What will you do now?

Drake of Blades: Now? I guess I wait. Don’t worry - there’s more to this place than you can see. I’ll keep busy. Trust me. For what it’s worth I’ll never forget you, and I’m going to live a very, very long time. So... yes. Take care, all right?

Vestige: You too.

The Vestige returns to the alliance base.

Father Egnatius: Ah, it’s good to see you again. I can scarcely believe we survived, let alone succeeded. The Eight have been kind, to you and I at least.

Vestige: So, the Brazier is safe.

Father Egnatius: Yes, I believe it is. Akatosh be praised. Molag Bal will lash out, but the Dragonfires are safe, thanks to you. I only wish the price had been less dear. Centuries of lonely service is a heavy burden. I will pray for the Drake - and for you.

Vestige: Thank you.

Father Egnatius: You look weary, my friend. Why not have a seat? Stay and talk a while.

Vestige: What will you do now that the Brazier is secure?

Father Egnatius: Truthfully? I’ll rest. At least for a little while. These last few months have been the longest of my life. It feels like years since I just sat down.

Vestige: Are you going to leave city?

Father Egnatius: At my age? What would I do? Where would I go? No... no, my life is here. There are wounds to mend, and relics to protect. And then there is the Drake. She committed herself to the city, body and soul. I couldn’t bear to look at myself if I did less.

Vestige: Do you think we’ll ever see her again?

Father Egnatius: No. Not in this lifetime. Perhaps, if we’re very lucky, we’ll see her again in Aetherius. But we needn’t rush to meet her. I suspect she will be here in Mundus for a very long time.

Vestige: Do you think the Drake will be all right down in the Cathedral?

Father Egnatius: Oh, I think she’ll be fine. You needed worry. Akatosh will keep her safe in his hands.

Vestige: But won’t she get bored?

Father Egnatius: I doubt it. Did you notice her eyes? Akatosh blessed her with a second sight. She sees things as the saints do now. Yes, the Cathedral looked like cobwebs and old stones to us. But to her? I can hardly fathom the things she’s seen.

Vestige: She did mention fireflies...

Father Egnatius: You see? The truth is like a window, my friend - bright and clean, but shrouded with many curtains. Akatosh has thrown those curtains open for the Drake. A fitting gift for such a loyal warrior.

Vestige: Have you spoken to Captain Caudex?

Father Egnatius: Since our adventure in the Cathedral? No. As you well know, Anatolius is committed to protecting the bastion in the Nobles District. He likely returned to his soldiers as soon as we said our farewells.

Vestige: You don’t approve?

Father Egnatius: I worry for him. With the scroll gone, he may well have lost his own immortality. Without it, I fear the garrison will be lost, and his soldiers with it. He is far from reckless, but...

Vestige: But what?

Father Egnatius: He has the strength and wisdom to do real good here. There’s no telling how many civilians he could rescue if he put his mind to it. But instead, he defends that crumbling ruin. When he held the scroll, I understood. But now? It smacks of pride.

Vestige: I could...

Father Egnatius: No, no. Forgive me. I’m an old man, my friend. Age brings more than wisdom, I’m afraid. It makes us forgetful and ill-humored. If I still had Caudex’s strength, I’d probably be defending that garrison as well. He’s a good man. I’ll leave it at that.

In a corner of the alliance base, the Vestige unexpectedly encounters the Drake of Shields.

Drake of Shields: Greetings. I’m sorry, I was looking for someone. I’ll take my leave.

Vestige: What are you doing?

Drake of Shields: Pardon my intrusion. I assure you, I do not seek to meddle in your alliance’s affairs. I’m looking for a compatriot of mine. She’d be dressed as I am. Reclusive... a   bit abrasive at times. Have you seen her?

Vestige: Are you talking about the Drake of Blades?

Drake of Shields: So, it is true. I am the Drake of Shields - her associate in Cyrodiil. My orders were to avoid the city, but she sent me a cryptic farewell, along with all her notes. I had to make sure she really was gone. My thanks. Now, if you’ll excuse me...

Vestige: I was with her at the end. She’s safe.

Drake of Shields: Ah, you’re the “associate” she mentioned in her missive, then? I had a feeling. It is a great pleasure to meet you. This business with the Dragonfires is going to keep me very busy. But then, The Drake of Blades never made anything easy.

Vestige: What can you tell me about the Dragonguard?

Drake of Shields: Very little, I’m afraid. I mean no offense, but our order has learned the price of loose talk many times over. The Drake of Blades was very vocal on the subject. I must say, it is odd that she would even share her name with you.

Vestige: Well, she never told me her real name.

Drake of Shields: I am far from surprised. She valued her privacy. Now, it appears, she’ll have all the privacy she ever wanted. I wish I could have said farewell. She was a difficult person, but I was proud to call her my friend.

Vestige: So you knew her well?

Drake of Shields: Better than most. I was her mentor in the early days. She barely spoke when I first met her. Many of my comrades in the order swore I was mad for taking her as a pupil. She never gave me cause to regret it, though.

Vestige: That couldn’t have been easy.

Drake of Shields: Ha! No, it most certainly was not. But I knew it was worth it - even at the start. Once she started talking, it was always to ask the hard questions. “Because I said so” was never enough. Ha! This one time she...

Vestige: Yes?

Drake of Shields: I am sorry, my friend. The loss is still a bit too close. Perhaps I can tell you that story another time.

Vestige: She’s not dead, you know.

Drake of Shields: I know. And yet, I’ll never see her again. In some ways, it’s worse. Knowing that somewhere in this maze of old sewers, my dearest friend sits alone with no one to comfort her in her melancholies, or laugh at her gibes. But, you’re right, of course.