Nocturnal - Part IV

Clark ran into Minx again a few days later. "Did you get the crystal ball for Nocturnal?" he asked her.

Minx had, and Nocturnal was busy scrying for her bow. The Bow of Shadows had been won by a Bosmer in Morrowind, who was last seen entering an Oblivion gate during the crisis. Nobody was sure if she'd come back out before the gates all closed.

"The Champion told me that anyone who entered a gate would be expelled when the gate closed." Clark told her. "If they were still alive, that is. He rescued Farwil Indarys from a gate outside Cheydinhal. Farwil and Bremman Senyan came out with him when he took the stone, but all the other Knights of the Thorn that had been slain stayed in there."

"So it's likely she died trying to close the gate," Minx surmised.

"Do you suppose Nocturnal can see into Dagon's realm with the ball?" Clark wanted to know.

"If she can, and she finds it, then retrieving it doesn't appear to be a thief's job. She'd most likely put the challenge to another archer, who'd be able to use the bow. I don't expect I'll hear from Nocturnal until she moves on to the next artifact."

But Minx was wrong. Amusei came looking for both of them, with a message from Nocturnal. She'd located the bow in the Deadlands, and the Bosmer woman she'd given the bow was there too, ... and alive!

Nocturnal greeted them at her castle, and told them what she knew. "Cyndil must have been dead when the gate closed, but she's not dead now," Nocturnal remarked. "The only thing that makes sense of that is if Dagon brought her back to life. He has that power, and sometimes he does so, if he was sufficiently impressed by the deceased's skill. Of course, he then expects loyalty in return, and he doesn't always get it. I suspect Dagon gave her to his Dremora to play with, when she refused to join him"

"The Dremora wouldn't dare to kill her again, after Dagon has restored her to life. But they're a cruel bunch, and they have other ways to exact their revenge, especially on a woman."

"So it's no longer just a matter of getting the bow back. This has beome a rescue mission, as well. The bow, and the Bosmer's armor, are still where she fell. The scamps usually gather up the gear of fallen foes, but the bow has repelled them. They don't like going near other Daedric Prince's artifacts, for some reason. Perhaps they sense the 'otherness' of their power."

"The reason I want both of you to go, is that it will need your combined skills. Minx has the ability to sneak past the Dremora guarding Cyndil, but won't be able to get her back out without Clark's help. She'll need to be calmed, and probably healed. She has to be able to sneak back out with you, too, and it will be hard to persuade her that it's possible."

"It seems to me that we'd want to find her equipment first, so that she has something familiar to use when we try to get her out," Clark reasoned. "What does the enchantment on the bow do for her?"

"It's a fast bow, so she can get off more shots in any amount of time than she would with a regular one, and it silences the target, as well as adding health damage. That makes it a good weapon against spell-casters. The Dremora all include spells in their offense, so it was a good choice for someone entering the deadlands," Nocturnal told them.

"And her armor?" Minx added.

"She was wearing mithril, mainly for looks if you ask me, but she'd had the foresight to enchant fire shield and shock shield on some of the pieces. Again, I can't fault her preparedness. It surprises me that she was taken down."

"But nothing for stealth?" Minx persisted. "It seems to me that we won't be able to just sneak her back out again, even if we do get in undetected."

"There will be issues for us going in, too. The deadlands has fire towers, and those don't rely on seeing you." Clark could remember his trip into Molag Bal's realm. The fire towers there had unnerved him the first time one fired at him. The fireballs were slow, and easy to dodge, but any creature with intelligence would wonder what set them off. He'd had Freija with him to deal with those. This time Minx would be trying to stay undetected, too.

Nocturnal reassured them that she'd only seen lesser daedra outside the towers. The crystal ball had revealed Dremora, but only in the citadel itself. There would be no fire towers inside, so they'd only have to avoid the guards once they got that far.

Clark still felt they'd be safer taking a fighter with them, but violence wasn't Noctunal's way of doing things. "Just take some extra jewelry with chameleon for Cyndil, and you shouldn't have to fight at all."

"Do you have any?" he asked Minx. "I only have my invisibility spell, and no chameleon at all."

Minx had a single Ring of Shadows. She also preferred to cast invisibility and only used the ring when she had to open doors.

" I know the Champion has at least one ring, as Claudia told me about his using it to get in and out of the watchtower. I wonder if we could borrow that," Clark mused.

"Borrow, or steal?" asked Minx.

"Borrow," Clark stated firmly. "He obviously finds it useful. Come to think of it, both Goldie and Cybeline also mentioned him using it."

"OK, let's go back to Tamriel and ask him."

The Champion had the Ring of Khajiiti, a Grand Ring of Shadows, an amulet that he'd enchanted with a Sigil Stone, and a whole pile of lesser rings that he'd found. "I had enough to make me completely undetectable," he told them, "but once I'd collected that, it seemed like every enchanted ring I found had more!"

They sorted through the spare rings. They'd have problems with not being able to wear two identical rings at the same time, but they managed to put together three pairs of rings that would each provide 45-55%. The strongest set they marked as Cyndil's, as they both had invisibility spells they could use.

In Evergloam once more, Nocturnal led them up to her bedroom. She opened a secret door in the wall and they followed her back down to an apparently empty basement room. Nocturnal waved her hand, and a portal revealed itself in one corner. "That will take you to Dagon's realm, close to the pathway where you'll find Cyndil's equipment. Once you find it, you'll have to back track, and look for a doorway. The cave it leads to takes you up to another path higher up the island, closer to the tower. You'll go through one more cave before you emerge on the approach to the citadel. There will be fire towers and mines along the paths. My crystal ball showed no Dremora on the paths, or in the caves, but expect the tower to be full of them. The mages may be capable of detecting life, but it's not a spell they normally use. Good luck!"

Minx took Clark's hand, and they stepped through the blue flame of the portal together.