Epilogue 5 - Onward and Downward

They continued on down a long spiral stair that seemed to lead all the way down to Oblivion. Eventually, however, they came to the bottom, where a pair of skeltons guarded a large door.

Through the door they found themselves in a tunnel dug through the rock, with bare walls unlined by any masonary. It wasn't clear if this was part of cave, or a mine. Pretty soon, though, it became clear that it was the latter, with crates,and other equipment lying around.

The inhabitants weren't your usual miners. The first they encountered were Dremora, with Succubi firing spells from behind them. Drelka's help was useful again, and she distracted the Dremora as much as she intimidated the Succubi.

One particular Succubus, however, appeared different from the others. She was larger, and sported a pair of curled horns, like a ram's. She didn't seem to be worried about Drelka's ability to reflect spells, perhaps because hers didn't get affected that way, or because she was firing them all at Clark and Gilda. Clark's ward did block them, however, and Gilda had the sense to stay behind it.

Drelka's life drain was as effective against her as it was against the lesser succubi, and she soon fell.

As Clark expected, the door behind her, which appeared to be the direct route onward, wouldn't open. And the lock defied even Gilda's attemptes to open it.

"I don't think it's just locked," she told Clark. "It's probably magically sealed, as well."

At least there was another path they could take, even if it was going to be the long way round. It led them around and over the top of the part they'd just passed through, and out in the other direction. They went through an opening in the wall into a mine shaft, with a ramp spiralling down. At the bottom, more Dremora and Succubi were waiting, but not so many that Clark needed to summon Drelka again.

Leaving at the bottom, and following the mine workings back upward, it wasn't long before they came to another door.

"I think we're on the other side of the one we couldn't open," Gilda told Clark after a quick check of the lock. "So let's hope that one at the bottom of the slope isn't sealed, too."

Clavicus Vile wasn't going to make it easy for anyone to find their way down here, unless he'd summoned them. So there were mazes and puzzles all the way. Pulling chains turned walls into doorways, and re-shaped the passage several times. More of the Succubi were guarding skulls, and Clark had already found the places they had to be placed before the final door would open.

And of course, it might not be final, just the end of this section of maze. But without all these rotating walls, it would have been a straight walk down to - wherever they were going. Greta probably didn't have deal with any of this.

In the small hall, two books lay on pedestals. There was no apparent way forward, so perhaps the books held clues as to how to proceed.

When Clark picked up the first book, and opened it, he and Gilda were transported into a small room that proved to be the entrance chamber to a larger space where Dremora and Succubi lurked. From a throne at the far end, another succubus rose, larger than her sisters, and sporting a pair of goat-like horns.

The Dremora all advanced on them, while the Succubi dropped back. The latter didn't start casting their spells until the Dremora's ranks started to thin, presumably because the Dremora weren't immune.

When the last of the Dremora fell, Clark summoned Drelka. There was an immediate pause in the barrage of spells, as the Succubi knew what would happen if they directed them at her. But they quickly spread out and targeted Clark and Gilda instead.

Drelka ran around using her drain health spell on the retreating Succubi. They found it difficult to avoid her, and concentrate on aiming at the other two, at the same time. Even the boss one, who was physically more than Drelka's equal, avoided her.

Clark managed to sustain Drelka's presence by careful timing of his re-cast of the summoning spell. Too soon, and it would fail; too late and the Succubi would get a rest. And if any of them got too close to Clark or Gilda, the rest became permanent.

They herded the boss Succubus into a corner, and let Drelka drain away the remnants of her health.

The second book lead to a mirror image of the first arena. The only real difference was that the boss succubus here wore ram's horns, and cast a different spell. Once again, when she went down, they were returned to the book hall, but now a third pedestal had appeared, again with an ominous tome upon it.

Reading the book ported them into a large chamber, with stocks and pillories all around the perimeter. In some of them, succubi were struggling to release themselves. Or maybe they weren't all succubi yet. Some of them had only small wings, and none were wearing the tall boots, and gloves. Most just wore a rope and sackcloth thong.

A man in a robe was bending over a woman who was tied face-down on a table. She was screaming in pain, as he was carving slits in her back. On the table next to him were what appeared to be tiny wings.

He straightened up as he heard them arrive, and pulled a staff from his back. Clark had to dodge a fireball before he could raise his ward.

Gilda circled around and came up behind him with her dagger drawn. While Clark held his attention, she closed in and cut his throat.

They tried to release the women from their restraints, but each one snarled at them, like an animal, and tried to bite. Clark decided it was safer to leave them where they were, for now. They could come back later, when he could spare some magicka for a paralysis spell.

The women were apparently in every stage of developing into succubi. Some had only tiny wings, and normal-sized breasts. Well, still large, but not excessively so. Those with larger wings had larger breasts, and acted more aggressively when approached.

They found Greta in a small room, off to one side of the corridor. For some reason, she'd been singled out for personal attention. Perhaps the necromancer thought she was special?

"Gods, they're even bigger than mine. And look at her wings!"

Greta was locked into some stocks in the cell. She did indeed have half-grown wings. She wore the same outfit as the Succubi, too. She didn't seem to recognise her cousin, and her only vocalizations were the same hisses and crow-like noises the Succubi had made.

"What do you bet that all the Succubi here were once acolytes at the monastery?" Clark opined. "Same offer. Power over men if you do as I tell you. They come down here and get made into Daedra, slaves to Clavicus Vile."

"But she's not completely changed yet," Gilda pointed out. "Do you think we can reverse the process, and make her human again?"

"I can try, but I suspect only another Daedric Prince could do it."

"Not even a Daedric Prince," said a voice behind him. Clark turned, and saw Azura standing in the doorway. "However, two of us can." She stepped aside and Nocturnal joined them. "drelka thought you might need our help once you found Greta,and here we are."

Both of the sisters were sporting the largest breasts Clark had ever seen them with. "It's not for your benefit, Clark, but feel free to admire. When Greta can think clearly again, we want her to have positive thoughts about her condition, so a bit of awe is in order."

"You know, Clavicus Vile has a lot more sense than I gave him credit for," Nocturnal remarked. "The wings may be vestigial, non-functioning for flight, but they do counter-balance the extra size of the breasts. If this job takes any amount of time, I may sprout a pair."

"I hadn't looked at it that way before, but I think you're right," Azura replied. "Now, Clark, Gilda, go deal with the last of the Succubi in the next room, while we get your Greta back. And watch out for the big one. I think Vile may have seen you coming, especially Clark."