Part 10 - Clockwork City

The portal Barilzar opened led only to a vault beneath Mournhold. This was apparently where we'd find the entrance to the Clockwork City.

Naturally, Barbas had left guards to cover his rear, and we had the additional problem of Sotha Sil's automata also resisting our intrusion. If we'd been in less of a hurry, we could probably have set the two sides to eliminating each other, but we didn't have the time for that. So progress was fraught, but we made it through to where Barilzar was trying to reach.

"So where's the door?" I asked.

"You're much too large to see it. We'll have to do something about that."

Apparently the small domed mechanism we'd been standing next to WAS the Clockwork City. Just sitting on a pedetal down in the vault looking like a parked experiment in storage. An ingenious hiding place.

When we'd finished shrinking, I found myself standing in a hallway, with metal walls, and the sound of electicity and whirring mechanisms everywhere. Much of the electical noise was coming from a barrier just ahead of us, and I could see Barbas on the other side.

The barrier came down only after Barabas had passed beyond the next one. "Don't bother following him," Barilzar advised. "We'll go this way and try to get ahead of him."

He led me through a side-door into a maintenance chamber, where he fiddled with a control panel. He explained that he was both opening routes for us, and shutting down the defences, as well as trying to divert Barbas onto a longer path. We needed to reach something he referred to as "the Reservoir" first. That was where Sotha Sil stored parts of his own energy for his experiments, and Barilzar presumed that it was now filled with Vivec's, as Sunna'rah was the tool Sotha Sil used to transfer his own energy./p>

"The protection effect that Chodala prized, was a safety feature to protect my master from harming himself. If the drain was too much, the wielder of the staff would be healed, and the transfer cut off. Of course when Chodala used it, it was drianing Vivec, and not harming Chodala at all.

The capacity of the reservoir is immense, So none of Vivec's energy will have been lost - yet. If Barabas gets there before us, it could be. I beleieve the dog's intent is to open a portal for his master into the Clockwork CIty."

"And that would give him access to the vault we came through, and then the rest of Mournhold, and so on...?" I inquired.

"Exactly," Barilzar replied. "The thin end of the wedge indeed."

Barilzar had not managed to shut down all the automatic defences, and where he had, Barbas was able to summon skaafin to take their place. So our progress was not exactly uneventful.

As a result, we arrived at the Reservoir at the same time as Barbas. Barilzar ran to a control panel to try and get the defence mechanisms working for us, for once. If he at least managed to stop them interfering, and making things easier for Barbas, that would be good.

Barbas was alone, dressed in a suit of armour that liked a bit like the Daedric I was used to seeing on Dremora. The helm, though, resembled a dog's head. He brandished two swords, to my sword and shield. I felt that gave me a slight advantage, as nobody attacks as well with their off-hand, and a sword is an inferior blocking device.

So after a few flurries of attack and riposte, he started to use spells, mostly summoning skaafin to try and surround me. But if he summoned enough to attack from all sides, they were too weak to bother me, and fewer gave me openings to evade them. Still, they did take the pressure off of Barbas for a while.

He could sustain that, however, and was soon back to using his swords to defend himself, while his magicka returned. I'd become a bit more confident that I could grind him down, and I think he was thinking the same.

A portal opened next to us, and Barbas transformed into a dog and bounded through it, back to his master.

Barilzar came into the room, and opened a portal to take us back to Vivec's palace. But before I left, I needed to draw Vivec's energy back into the staff from the reservoir. That took me just a few moments, and I was ready to follow Barilzar back to Vivec.

I didn't arrive where I expected. I found myself in a cave, with a statue of Clavicus Vile, which spoke to me.

"So you're the mortal who gave my poor dog so much trouble. I suppose we should have a chat, you and I.

"How dare you discipline my dog? He was only trying to appease his master. And I'd never harm a hair on whatever insignificant creature you hold dear.

"You, on the other hand, require a lesson in manners."

"Barbas tried to kill Lord Vivec and destroy Vvardenfell," I pointed out. "What did you expect me to do?"

"Indeed? What ambition! As you can see, Barbas isn't a bad dog. He does get easily excited and overzealous. He embellished my plan somewhat, but it all worked out in the end. And we found the Clockwork City."

"So you were trying to take control of Clockwork City?" I asked.

"This little flea thinks it's smart, but my plans are beyond its comprehension! Still, by delaying the inevitable, you caused my associates and I some trouble. You'll stay here until you're no longer a threat. How does a few decades sound to you?"

An apparition of Barilzar appeared, just behind Vile's statue.

"I lost you somewhere between Clockwork City and Vivec, but it was simple enough to trace your energy signature to this Daedric shrine," it told me. "Unfortunately, some power is interfering with my efforts to open a portal for you."

"It's Clavicus Vile. He wants to trap me here for a few decades."

"Hmm. That would be unfortunate for you. Luckily, you have me to assist you. Well, me and Sunna'rah. Expend a small amount of Vivec's energy at the statue and that should provide enough of a distraction for me to pull you out of there."

I'm not sure how I knew how to do that, but I pointed the staff at the statue and it seemed to just happen. Perhaps the staff was more automatic than I was used to.

The result was that I arrived in Vivec City as if I hadn't been diverted on the way. I found myself next to Barilzar, and Seryn and Llevule were there, too.

"Were you successful?" asked Vivec. "Can you restore my energy/"

I was reluctant to try using the staff without some instruction on how it worked. I'd already seen that the flow could go the wrong way. Vivec was prepared to take the risk, and told me to place it as I'd done before. The staff seemed to be working as intended this time, and the beam remained golden as Vivec rose from his bed, and he and his projection merged back together.