Skip navigation
Library

Where Shadows Lie

Author: 
Anonymous

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.