Chasing Gascone

As I rode my guar along the road to the Ventral Terminus, I considered Nocturnal's requirements. Neramo and the Dunmer siblings worked well as a team, but she needed an independent individual. Naryu, the Dunmer assassin, was inseparable from the Morag Tong. Divayth Fyr wouldn't work for anyone but himself. The various Apostles I'd met all were devoted to Sotha Sil, or else people that were going to get weeded out. I didn't have any candidates for her at present, as she'd said.

I did have Gascone to deal with, and he'd run to ground among the skaafin.

Once I got past the guard of daedra at the main door to the Ventral Terminus, I found it locked, and the voice of Gascone told me so through the speaker device nearby. Somehow, maybe from the little voice in the back of my mind, which was as likely to be Nocturnal's as Azura's, I knew there was another entrance. So I went up the ramp to higher ground to start searching.

More skaafin were waiting up there. I wasn't surprised, just a bit delayed. And the fabricants were taking no notice of them, and just attacking me, which seemed a bit unfair. Still, I soon had another door in front of me, and it wasn't locked.

It might as well have been, as it wasn't long before I came to a dead end at a solid wall of masonary. At some point in the past, the structure had been sectioned off, and this part was no longer connected to the one Gascone was in. The only thing on my side of the wall that had any hope of breaching it was a large clockwork automaton, which of course, was powered down.

I rummaged around looking for alternatives, trying the steam valves to see what they'd do. and flipping any switches I came across. Then I noticed that the pipes were getting some pressure, and judicious use of the valves let me direct it towards the station where the automaton was slumped.

All that happened was that a cylinder started to glow, as if it had just filled and was ready to use. I picked it up and looked for somewhere to place it in the automaton, not really expecting to find one. But there was a socket that matched.

I must have done the right thing, as it started to stand up straight, and a number of skaafin materialized to try and stop it. Without any guidance from me, it flung them aside and demolished the wall, as if it had been programmed to do so before it was shut down.

I followed, using my bow to help it with the stragglers, until it seemed to run out of power just short of another wall. I looked around for any more of the glowing cylinders, but there weren't any visible. I did find a stairway that took me up a level, and I had more luck up there. Just the one core, and I hoped it would be enough.

Going through the second wall was much like the first. Skaafin arrived to try and impede our progress, and failed. Soon I was in the section where Gascone was hiding.

It appeared that Gascone was the one summoning the skaafin, as he did so again as I entered, perhaps playing his final trump. This was a more powerful one than the others, and maybe not entirely in the chancellor's control. "You summon me again? I grow tired of this, mortal!"

The Daedra didn't seem reluctant to attack me, however, it just wasn't so pleased to be aiding Gascone. And after I defeated it and talked to the chancellor, I think I understood why. He didn't have the key any more. It had been stolen by crows, before he could hand it over to Clavicus Vile. I didn't need to ask what key he was talking about. It could only be the Skeleton Key.

Why had Nocturnal let an idiot like this guard it for her? I angrily killed him, and stormed off back to the Shadow Cleft to have another talk with Nocturnal.

"And who else was I going to give it to?" she asked me."Anyone more trustworthy is loyal to Sotha Sil. If I'd given it to Varuni or Luciana, then Varuni would have done the research to figure out what it was, and then Luciana would have gone off trying to release Seht.

"That would have been a disaster whatever the outcome. If she failed, then the Clockwork City would be lacking a good Proctor, and if she'd succeeded, then Sotha Sil would have been returned prematurely and Vile would probably have succeded."

"But, Gascone ..."

"He was the sort of burocrat that just files things away, and does as little as possible. He put it with all the other items he needed to guard, and detailed his minions to watch over them. No curiosity, so it should have just remained where it was until I needed it again.

"However, I did make a mistake at that point. I told my minions to go and get it, forgetting to add 'and bring it to me'. The crows just took it for themselves - it is shiny, after all - and who knows where they went with it. They don't remember, and it's probably been stolen from the first ones by a rival flock by now. You're going to have to find it for me."

"So Sotha Sil doesn't need to be imprisoned any longer?"

"No, it appears that Vile has decided that Mephala's use of the Sload is more promising, and he's given up here. So as soon as you've released Seht, I need to figure out how to deal with that. If I'm not careful, I'll get left out of the plot, and not know what's in store. But if Meridia gets involved, he'll need the extra help"

"What should I be doing next?" I asked. "If the crows have the key, then it's at least where Vile can't find it, if he decides he needs it after all. I'd think you need me finding you an agent before I go hunt down the key."

"That's true, but either quest relies on luck at this point. There aren't any clear leads to finding either of them."

I decided to go back to Vivec City, and find out what Seryn wanted me to do for her. There was always a chance it would connect in to everything else.

Well there was a connection, and it was Naryu. She'd been given a contract to take out one of the councilors of House Redoran, and found out about their dealings with the Ashlanders. She'd tried to contact me, and found Seryn instead. And that's what Seryn had meant when she said she had a job for me.

It appeared that the pro-slavery faction of House Redoran had also been trying to sieze land from the Ashlanders. It was not clear whether Ulran Releth sided with the Ashlanders, or against the slavers, but the result was the same, and he'd been eliminated with prejudice.

Now his sister Veya was out to avenge him, and as a colleague of Naryu's, that wasn't allowed. The Morag Tong weren't supposed to persue their own personal vendettas, as it was bad for business if they killed without a formal contract. So Naryu wanted me to stop Veya, and Seryn wanted me to do the job for Veya, and avenge the Ashlanders' protector.