Part 3 - Vivec City

Outfit Station
Outfit Station

On my way out of the palace, Azura steered me towards the St Olms canton where I found a different kind of crafting station. "That equipment you made looks a bit too ... functional ... for my liking," she told me. "This station will let you create a different appearance, without changing the way the equipment works."

"So it's a kind of disguise, or illusion?"

"Illusion is a good word, as it does use some of that kind of magic. It's what we Daedric Princes do all the time, of course. I don't know if we have a 'real' appearance, as you see what you want to see. And I must say, you have good taste."

So we spent a while deciding how I should appear. The overall idea was based on the suit of finery that I'd worn for my trip to Dagon's Deadlands, one of the few bits of my future I could remember. That had been heavily enchanted to reflect damage of all kinds, and was better than armour. With this one, I'd have the armour on "underneath", so to speak. But the illusion also affected me, and the outfit was as comfortable as the clothes, instead of feeling stiif and heavy, like the leather and plate I was really wearing.

I liked this. Just as good as wearing my enchanted clothes from the future, and much the same effect.

Azura liked the blue I chose, or did she nudge my choice in that direction? I never can tell with her in the back of my mind all the time. And the gold trim set it off well. We applied that theme to my shield, too, which now looked a bit smaller than it really was. The sword was fine, so we left it alone.

"So now you're fit to be seen, you can go back to the Archcanon's office. You passed it on the way here."

Of course, now I was looking at everyone else along the way, wondering if that was an outfit, or what they were really wearing. "It's the same thing," Azura reminded me. "They're wearing what they want you to see, and the practical considerations of what they need to wear are out of the way."


It seemed like most of the Dunmer women wanted to show off their breasts, as most of the styles drew attention to them. Or maybe it was just what I wanted to see. I don't know any more.

The exceptions were mainly uniforms. The guards needed to be seen as such, and the Mages and Fighters Guild members wanted to show their affiliations. The laborers on the building sites either didn't care for appearances, or wanted to look like laborers. Or maybe it wasn't their choice. This was a time of slavery, after all.

The Archcanon looked like a priest, of course. And he sent me off, back the way I'd come, to the construction site beyond. I needed to retrieve the Blessing Stone that Lord Vivec had provided, so that it could be used for a divination. I was familar with Varla and Welkynd stones, so I assumed this was another store of magicka, with a specific purpose. Soul gems were a bit like that, too.

I needed to ask the site Overseer for the stone, as they might be a bit displeased if I simply took it. I asked a woman standing near the site entrance for directions. Not because her dress showed a very nice pair of breasts through the gap in the middle, but because she was nearest. Really.

It turned out that the Overseer was her wife. So was the display for her wife's benefit, or was she advertising on behalf of both of them? Interesting people, these Dunmer. The overseer herself was dressed in workman's rough clothing. Apparently she was unconcerned by appearances, or just thought that more appropriate for the job site.

"Our Blessing Stone? Do you know what happens if we give up our Blessing Stone? Well, neither do I, but I'm sure it won't put us back on schedule or end our string of disasters. I'm not one to disagree with the Archcanon, but that's a terrible idea."

I pointed out that it was Lord Vivec that needed it. The Archcanon had just been the one to send me.

"Lord Vivec? Why didn't you say so? But I'll need you help before I can turn over the Blessing Stone. The passage that leads to the consecration chamber collapsed, trapping some of my workers. If you can clear the way, you can borrow the stone."

Why is nothing ever simple? Well at least this task was uncomplicated. Passage around the site was a bit restricted, with several paths blocked by the debris, but lifting the fallen beams off rhe workers, and digging away a bit of rubble, didn't compare too badly to fighting Daedra, as I'd done in the tomb.

The Blessing Stone wasn't hard to find, either. Once the way had been cleared it was prominently situated in the middle of the construction area, on a scaffolding frame. Getting there was a bit tricky still, and more debris had to be moved out of the way.

This stone glowed yellow, unlike the ones with which I was familiar. It had the same feel of magicka when I picked it up, though. I took it back to the Archcanon, who was waiting with Lord Vivec. Two similar stones had already been placed in receptacles in the floor of the chamber, and there was an empty one for the stone I'd brought. When I placed the stone, beams of light from all three formed images in the space between. I saw a male elf holding a strange staff, a mage with a dwarven spider, and a Daedric cultist. Before any of it could make sense, the stones shattered, breaking the image.

Lord Vivec apparently got more from the images than I did, or wanted me to think so. Perhaps he knew some of the people, and I didn't. It wasn't clear to me whose cult was involved, and maybe that was more obvious to someone of this time. I wasn't getting any clues from Azura, so either she din't know, or just didn't want to tell me.

The Archcannon left immediately after the divination failed, but I stayed to ask Lord Vivec what he'd learned. Apprently, the main thing he took from this was that his loss of power was not natural, but the result of interference by others. Which meant it could be stopped.

"You're losing divine energy? How is that possible?" I asked.

He replied that it would be my job to find out. To follow the trail, and discover who was involved, and how. And I should start by asking Archcanon Tarvus if he got anything the two of us had missed.

Tarvus was in his office when I found him, consulting his books. The three images had indicated three locations, he told me. Balmora, Ald'ruhn, and Barilzar's Tower. I needed to go to those places, and see what I could find.

I bought a map before I left the city. Balmora would be in the same place in the future, so I knew roughly how to get there, but Ald'ruhn was somewhere I didn't know, and neither was this tower. Of course, I might know it as somebody else's tower. Barilzar was presumably just the current owner.

Balmora was also the nearest of the three, so I headed there first. All the clues I found - the overheard conversation at the docks, the proclamation notice on a wall, and the lengthy but unprofitable flirtation with the barmaid at the local tavern - pointed me to the Shulk Ore Mine as a source of cultist activity. But if I needed to know more about what cult it was, or anything like that, I'd have to go there.

I found the crew chief, a Nord named Hondulf, hovering outside, reluctant to go in. The cultists were still in there, he told me, and particularly irate, because an Ashlander had just stolen the weapon they'd summoned with their ritual. His crew were still trapped in the mine, hiding from the cultists.

Clearly I wasn't going to be able to get this weapon, as it was already gone, but there might be other clues, and I might be able to help the miners. I went in.