To the Clockwork City

"Are these daedra much weaker than I'm used to, or is it all down to the new equipment?" I asked, during the first break from the fighting.

"Both, I suspect. If my spells are doing their job, then they should be less able to resist your attacks, as well as those doing more damage because of the better weapons etc. And on the other side of the equation, you've got better defensive pieces, and I'm healing you, as well."

We both agreed that it hadn't exactly been easy, but at least it was possible.

"But I can't help you with the next part," Fyr told me. "Entering the central chamber requires that you get the blessing of each of the Tribunal, and I have enough history with each of them, to know that's not happening for me."

"Almalexia's is already given. You've got this far, which is what she asked. Sotha Sil and Vivec have tests for you, and even though Vivec sent you here, his is still a requirement."

Sotha Sil had me repair, and then destroy, a Dwarven Centurion. The cogs and dynamo cores were a puzzle to test my brain, and the battle with the mended construct a test of brawn, I assume. Vivec's was not so much a murder mystery play, as a lesson in Great House politics.

With blessings in hand, I entered the central chamber to find a Dunmer mage attempt to summon even more daedra to his cause. Or rather, that of Magistrix Vox, whom he represented. I got the impression that she was not in Mournhold herself, so hopefully I'd be done here once I dealt with this mage.

That wasn't as easy as I'd hoped. I had to activate three warding stones in the right order before I could reach him, and he was firing off spells at me as I did so. He went down as rapidly as the barrier did when I touched the last stone. One solid blow from my shield to wind him, and then a follow-up thrust with the sword.

I assume that killed him. Before I could check, I found myself in another room. It appeared to have no doors, or windows, and the light all came from a glowing ceiling. The floor was covered with a resilient matting that would let you fall without injury, and gave your bare feet a good grip.

Oh yes, bare feet. And everything else. And Almalexia was bare too.

She was attacking a straw dummy in the middle of the room with an unarmed style of fighting that was both acrobatic and effective, judging by the way the dust was flying from the target. Still, something told me that display was mainly about showing me what she had, more than her skill in using it.

Perhaps a part of that suspicion came from the way her breasts moved. Unrestrained, they should have been flailing around all over the place, but they didn't. There was clarly some magical support, and restraint, involved. Whether it was for her own comfort, or just vanity, she was still using at least some of her levitation.

She was glancing at me, seeing if I was showing an interest, so I didn't. I remembered a spell from somewhere that let me totally fail to react. Now, why did I even want to learn a spell like that in the first place?

And then I recalled teaching patience to Drelka, Azura's guard captain. That's why I could recall this one, because I'd used it in Moonshadow. It was able to counter-act the seducer's Allure spell, so hopefully Almalexia didn't know anything more powerful.

"Very few get to watch me practice," she was saying. "I do expect you to appreciate the privilege."

She stopped dancing around the straw man, and came over to dance around me. An impressive show of acrobatic/erotic poses, that still failed to change my apparent disinterest. Then contact, rather gentler than the straw man had endured. She took my hand and guided it, letting me know that she was ready to accept my offering, and where she'd like it delivered.

I couldn't get her thoughts very clearly. My telepathy isn't that good, and one of the Tribunal probably has a greater ability to hide them than most. But some of the surface ones were leaking through.

My lack of reaction was beginning to get to her. And her mood was darkening. And then, abruptly, it lightened again, as she "understood" that I was resisting her, not ...

There was an old wound behind that thought that I'd just missed re-opening. And naturally, she misunderstood my intentions.

"I know what you're trying to do and it won't work," she told me. "I am not going to kneel before a mortal!"

As abruptly as I'd been pulled into that room, I was ejected again. I found myself standing outside the Temple, next to Divayth Fyr. Fortunately, she'd dumped me out with my armour back in place.

"I think I may have got on the wrong side of Almalexia, a bit," I told him. "At least that means she's not likely to call on me for another errand for a while."

"Then we should take this opportunity to go to the Clockwork City," he responded. "The entrance isn't far, but it's a bit hidden away, to say the least. Follow me."

I soon understood what he meant by that. The entrance to a cave was hidden behind a waterfall just outside town, and the entrance to the dwarven ruin was hidden in the cave, and then ...

Eventually we came out in the same small room that I'd been to with Barilzar, and there was the miniature dome of the Clockwork City before us. The process for shrinking down and entering wasn't a surprise any more, which was perhaps a disappointment to Fyr.

More of a disappointment was where we arrived. "This isn't the Brass Fortress. What's going on?"

I began to wonder that myself when Fyr's shadow started to run ahead of him. "Follow that shadow! I need it back!"

I started to run after it, but the factotums around the walls started to energize and attack us. Presumably, without his shadow, Fyr was no longer someone they recognized, and of course, I wasn't either. To make matters worse, losing his shadow had also drained Fyr of a lot of his magicka, and he could only manage a few healing spells.

His memory was intact (unlike mine), and he knew the factotums' weaknesses, and could instruct me on how to exploit them. He knew where the traps were, and the switches that turned them off - altough those always seemed to be on the far side of the traps themselves.

His shadow apparently didn't remember the way out, or maybe it couldn't go out into the daylight without him. We caught up to it eventually in a large hall, where after a bit of a struggle, I was able to subdue it, and Fyr was soon back in one piece.

On our way to the nearest wayshrine, we discussed the purpose of that incident. Was someone just trying to delay our arrival, or did it mean more? I had a vague feeling that someone was trying to warn us about something, and the shadow separation was a clue that we'd need later.

Fyr dismissed that theory. He had his plans for this trip, and it didn't fit with them.