Rescuing Seht

"I'm not so sure that Veya's going to make those new friends quite as much as you expected, Clark," Nocturnal told me, back at her cottage. "The ruling faction on the Summerset Isle is quite xenophobic, and Altmer look down on everyone else."

"But there are a lot of outsiders there, too. Imperials, Bretons, Nords, Khajiit ..."

"And she'll start under the tutelage of that Razum-Dar, the Eye of the Queen that Naryu has contacts with. He'll not waste the opportunity, but she'll most likely decide that comfort takes precedence over other things, and move on. That will be when I take over.

"You did a good job preparing her for me. She's got 'daedric possession' as a salve for her conscience, if she starts feeling guilt about her father, and at the same time, she has your accounts of Seryn to tell her it's not always a bad thing. Plus, I think I got you masked up before she learned your face, so she likely won't know you if she sees you again. And by that time, I'll be in a position to convince her she's mistaken.

"So now I can help her, if she'll help me."

"Help you how?" I asked

"I don't know yet. Vile hasn't played all his cards, so neither will I. And we still don't know for certain whether Meridia's getting involved, because of the Sload. If she does, then her agent, a Breton named Darien Gautier, is likely to show up. Watch out for him, will you?"

Just then, we were interrupted by the arrival of a crow, flying in through the door and landing by the fire.

"You sent for me, Mistress?" he inquired.

Nocturnal introduced me to the Duke of Crows. "Have you located it?" she asked him

"The heroic Blackfeather Court has done as you asked and found the shiny for you!"

"Then hand it over."

"We found it, but we could not retrieve it, Mistress. The Shadow has taken it."

Nocturnal didn't seem too surprised at this turn of events. "It was to be expected that the Shadow would attempt to take control of the rest of Sotha Sil. If they're reunited, then it loses out to his better judgement, and effectively gets suppressed.

"It wasn't what I had in mind when I set this all up, of course, and it does complicate things quite a bit. Restoring Seht was supposed to be a simple job for the key-bearer, but the Shadow will have turned on all the defensive apparatus of the Cogitum Centralis to protect his back.

"No doubt he'll be looking for a way to make Seht's protective custody permanent. You'll have to go there and put them back together for me."

"Can I get there from here?"

"If you're asking if this part of Evergloam connects to Seht's location, then the answer is no. I wanted the path to be easy to guard, so it's quite cut off from everything else, other than the portals in and out."

"So where do I need to go?"

"There's another gloaming gate, like the one that leads here, out on the eastern edge of Clockwork City, down in a cleft off a canyon where nobody is likely to find it. Nobody but Proctor Luciana Pullo, that is. See if you can meet up with her and send her the wrong way. You'll need her help in the Cogitum Centralis, but we don't want her starting a fight in Evergloam."

I went to the Brass Fortress to try and locate her, and found her waiting for me. She knew of two gloaming gates, and couldn't be in both places at once. She wanted me to explore one, while she searched the other.

"You take the western one, and I'll go east, then. Are you sure there's just the two of them?"

"Clockwork City's not that large. Unless the daedra have opened new ones today, my daily reports only mention the two."

"Got that," the voice of Nocturnal in the back of my head acknowledged. "As soon as she steps through the gate here, I'll get a shrike to flip her sleep switch, and she won't even know she arrived.

"It does mean you'll have to rescue her later, but we can stage-manage that so she doesn't suspect anything."

The shrike laid down and played dead while I flipped the switch to wake Luciana. Before the Proctor could examine the "corpse" Nocturnal faded her out of our sight.

Luciana looked around. "This isn't the part of Evergloam where I came in," she remarked.

"No, that was the first place they'd expect me to look for you, so you were moved here," I told her. "But wherever we are now, let's get out." I pointed at the nearby gloaming gate.

"I know where we are," Luciana excalaimed. "This has brought us to the Mechanical Fundament, just outside the Cogitum Centralis. We must be close to where they're holding Sotha Sil!"

"Well, I hope you know the way from here, because I don't," I pointed out. "This is all new territory for me."

Knowing the way wasn't all the story, of course. The Shadow had activated the Cogitum's defence mechanisms, which meant that the first part of the way wasn't where we needed it to be. The bridge we had to take was rotated to where we couldn't use it, so our first task was to get it back in the right position.

"And naturally the rotation mechanism is locked," Luciana remarked. "I think I can override it, if I have more power. Can you activate the Core Pumps, so I can try?"

She pointed me off to either side of the bridge, where power terminals were located. "Expect guards," I was told, rather redundantly, as they were already announcing their presence. I managed to reach the first switch, and activate the pump, and headed back for the other.

Back at the bridge, the automata had found Luciana, too, and I went to her assistance. "I can hanlde these," she shouted. "Get the other switch!"

So I did, and when I got back, she was stiil in one piece. A rather bent piece, with one arm looking the worse for wear. "I need to mend this first," she told me. "And you'll have to help".

She opened a flap in one thigh and took out some tools. "One advantage of hollow legs." she pointed out. "Now you hold the ends of that strut while I straighten it out."

"Does that hurt?" I asked. Bending my arm that way certainly would have hurt.

"I do have an 'awareness of damage', but it's not exactly pain. It serves the same purpose of dissuading me from letting the damage continue, but I can turn it off for procedures like this. And most repairs are done by the factotums, while I sleep."

She paused, before continuing. "What I'm really missing is a better sense of touch so I can avoid this sort of impact in the first place. I only have that in my hands so I can modulate my grip, and a rudimentary sense in my feet to supplement my balance."

She got back to her work overriding the bridge lock-out, and soon it swung back around to where we could use it. I followed her across.

"It's getting rather dark in here," I pointed out. "The shadow obviously has his preferences, and they don't match mine."

"Nor mine either," Luciana responded. "But I'm out of magicka, so we need to find the light switches. You go that way, and I'll try over here."

By the time we found what we were looking for, the shadow had almost reached Sotha Sil, who was locked into a complex apparatus that held him immobile. Someone was trying to pry the metal apart, apparently with no success. And between us and the contraption was the Shadow.

"Deal with the Shadow, while I try and get Seht out of this thing," Divayth Fyr shouted.

"You'll not open that without the Skeleton Key," the Shadow interrupted, "and I have it. So Seht's going nowhere, and you should all just leave now, before I kill you."

Fyr's reaction was to abandon his efforts on the apparatus, and fire a spell at the Shadow. Luciana had regained enough energy to do the same, and I added some physical assault to the mix. Although this was only part 9f Seht we were dealing with, like Fyr's shadow when I arrived in Clockwork City, we all knew that this wasn't going to be easy.

However, Nocturnal was the ringmaster here, and she could help us a bit, so long as Sotha Sil didn't catch on. And the rest of him was there watching, so it had to be a convincing battle. There was an impressive display of light, and dark, effects around us all the time, probably obscuring much of it from Seht's view, but also hindering the combatants. Fortunately that worked both ways. The nett result was that we won, but Fyr was exhausted, and Luciana took a bit more damage than Nocturnal would have liked.

"Take the Key and release Seht, Fyr commanded. "Turn it in that lock. over there."

As I turned the key, the dark pool that had been the Shadow faded (brightened?) and Sotha Sil himself seemed to become more solid, and aware of what was happening. The confining bands dropped away, and retracted into the walls and floor. Sotha Sil was aware of Nocturnal's presence, and dismissed her, giving her the opportunity to let him know that Summerset was next on our agenda. I suspect she wanted him to take an interest on what was about to happen there.

"We should return to the Clockwork Basilica," Sotha Sill announced. "We can discuss events there."

Factotums had carried Luciana back, and Fyr and I had found our own way, not being able to take the same shortcuts the mechanicals could use. By the time we arrived, they were already at work on repairing, or perhaps deconstructing, the Proctor. Sotha Sil asked me what I wanted as a reward for my help,

In the long term, I wanted his help on Summerset, but this part of the story wasn't complete yet. Nocturnal wanted Vile's damage here repaired, and part of that was now Luciana. "Can you save her, again?" I asked.

"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."

Nocturnal had told me that she thought the Proctor was essential to the recovery of Clockwork City, now that Clavicus Vile had moved on. I concurred with that, even if I wasn't sure that it was what Luciana herself would have chosen. I did have an idea that might make her happier with her continued existence.

After I was done with Sotha Sil and Fyr, I went to visit Luciana in her retreat at the Basilica.

"Seht. Sotha Sil. Is he ,,,?

"He's fine. We did it, Luciana," I told her

"Thank the gears. The people - my people - they're safe. He knew. He knew this would happen. He said I would shine a light one day - do you see? Everything built to this. Everything. Every battle - every sorrow. It finally makes sense."

"You'll see Sotha Sil soon. I asked him to save you."

"You asked him that? After all the impatience I showed you? The bad temper? I guess I shouldn't be surprised. I've never met a more altruistic soul. Still, I'm not sure even Sotha Sil could save me this time. I feel it in my bones. This is how I end."

I said nothing, just gave her a hug. After a while, it dawned on her that 'feeling it in her bones' wasn't quite the figure of speech it used to be.

"It feels like I'm in my armour, hugging a man who's also in full armour, so perhaps not what you'd describe as exciting, but from my perspective ..."

"Better than before?" I ventured.

"Much better. Thank you."