Part 8 - Tracking down Chodola

There were exiled Ashlanders in Nchuleft, but they weren't part of Chodola's group. Apparently getting exiled was quite a common thing, and possibly not very permanent. "Come back when you change your mind," or something like that. Once we'd fought past the few in the entrance, we were quite content to let them battle the automata for us, while we found another route through the ruins. Barilzar had given us a rough map of where to look, and it helped a lot.

We found the chest containing the manual clockwork shaft unguarded, but only after a lengthy search. It certainly wasn't out in the open and obvious, like the one in Galom Daeus.

The final ruin, Arkngthunch-Sturdumz, was near Gnisis, so we took the wayshrine and spent the night there, most pleasantly, before heading out in the morning. Late morning, as we'd both needed plenty of rest.

Just like the last two ruins, the Dwarven automata weren't the only occupants. This time, however, they were working together, and we couldn't just let them fight among themselves. Snorfin's notes, which we came across just inside the entrance, gave us an idea what to look for, and what to avoid. The mention of the side-passage to the furnace room saved us from a lot of dealings with the guardians, but those in the room itself couldn't be avoided.

The two spectral warriors we encountered going in didn't seem hard to put down. As a team, we did better than Snorfin could have alone, and Seryn's staff had just the right spell to deal with the spectral foes. But as he'd told me back in Molag Mar, it was a different matter when the automata were haunted. The second of the spirits managed to escape into a Centurion just before it fell, and the lumbering construct came for us. Instead of just attacking the nearest target in its usual predictable way, it now had enough intelligence to chase the more vulnerable opponent - Seryn - and to stop using attacks that I blocked, and weren't working any more.

The good news was that those attacks were unchanged, and I could still block, if I managed to get between it and Seryn. It took a bit of manoeuvering and backing up to force it to fight the way we wanted, but it wasn't impossible, and eventually we prevailed.

Beyond it, further into the room, were the furnaces that gave the room its name. There was a chest in the centre, but flames were being blasted at it from three vents spaced evenly around it. We needed to turn off the flames, and probably wait for it to cool down.

The switches were at the back of each vent, and not too hard to reach. I wouldn't have liked to try getting to them with a centurion chasing me, so I could understand why the previous attempt failed.

The chest was remarkably cool to the touch. I imagine it needed to have a lot of fire resistance to protect the contents - the Sonance Generator that would be the heart of Barilzar's device.

"Is that all the parts we need?" Seryn asked.

"Yes, back to Barilzar's tower, and he can start work."

"Are we staying the night in Molag Mar again?"

I just grinned.

Barilzar was unaccompanied by daedra on this visit, and got straight to assembling the components we'd brought into the device he'd promised. He did concern me a bit with his "Please don't explode" when he used a hammer on it, but before long he was telling me it was complete.

I didn't like the way he stood back as I picked it up, but nothing happened. He explained how to use it, and it was apparent that it needed at least three hands. So I had him repeat everything to Seryn. To me, at least, it seemed like she'd need to operate the device while I directed the output, as I'd need to be closer to the target.

Now we needed to track down that target. We went back to Vivec City to see if there was any news we could use. Archcanon Tarvus was as hostile to Seryn in person as I'd expected from his diatribe aginst her before. But we did find out that Chodola had been seen travelling to Malacath's shrine at Kaushtari. Apparently he was going to ask the God of Curses for assistance.

"That's not a good sign," Seryn told me.

"On the contrary," I replied, "it's a sign that Chodola is making his own - bad - decisions, and not just being Vile's puppet. That means we have a chance to change his mind before anything too drastic happens."

"Now that is a bad sign," I told Seryn. "If there are skaafin in Malacath's shrine, then something is seriously out of line."

"And it looks like the Red Exiles that came here with Chodala have been slaughtered. They're not the greatest fighters, but they should have managed the skaafin," she responded.

"There's someone still alive over there. Maybe we'll get an explanation."

Renos Oran was only barely alive, but he rasped out a few answers to our inquiries.

"Chodala - he's gone mad. Sought to make a deal with a Daedric Prince."

"What happened here?" I asked.

"Chodala appealed to Malacath ... but the God of Curses rebuked him. Killed us all ... said Chodala already served another."

"Where can we find Chodala?"

"He went ... deeper into the ruins ... into Malacath's shrine."

So now it made a bit more sense. Malacath's minions had dealt with the Red Exiles, and presumably left already. The skaafin had arrived later, and were guarding Chodala's rear. It was clear what he thought he could achieve, after Malacath's refusal, but we needed to follow anyway.

Past more of the skaafin, we found Chodala standing before a statue of Malactah, berating it.

"You don't refuse me! I am the Nerevarine!"

It seemed that he was still clinging to that idea, even after the Wise Woman's denial of his claim. We needed to change his mind before his failure became fatal.

More skaafin turned up to interfere. I can't be sure that Chodala didn't summon them himself. Whatever the case, they were quickly eliminated.

Seryn told me that the tonal inverter was ready to use. I stood in front of her, ready to direct its output at the staff, which Chodala was activating. He intended taking part directly, and expected the staff to make him invulnerable.

"Now," I told Seryn, and pointed the sound waves at the staff. It knocked Chodala off his platform, and Sunna'rah fell from his grasp, inert.