Epilogue 6 - Andariel's Lair

They soon found out what that cryptic remark meant. The boss Succubus bore a strong resemblance to Diablita, with the same horns, and wings that looked like they actually worked. However, she was at least nine feet tall, and her face bore an expression of hate the Dragonborn never could have worn.

She hurled a cloud of poison in their direction, and her entourage of succubi added their spells too. But Clark already had his impenetrable ward up, and he could sustain that as long as he liked. So far, an impasse, unless Gilda could sway the balance somehow. She stepped out from behind the ward, and fired off a bolt of lightning at the nearest succubus.

It had little effect. "I think that one's using shock herself, and they're probably immune to their own spell," Clark suggested. "Try her again with ice, or fire."

The succubus had already moved across to the other side, trying for a different angle. Gilda suspected the blue-skinned succubi used frost spells, so she tried her lightning again on one of those. It was much more effective, and the creature staggered. Before Gilda could fire again, however, she had to dodge the counter-fire from a couple more of them.

"The ones wearing red are using fire spells," Clark announced. "I can tell from the way they hit the ward. And you're right about the blue ones using frost."

There were a few Dremora there, too, armed with swords, but Clark was able to block with his sword, and riposte. Since they lacked any coordinated attack, he managed to deal with them one at a time, without having to interrupt his ward. Gilda, meanwhile, had had her first success against the succubi.

"I'm trying to take out the shock-casters first," she told Clark. "I don't want them to drain my magicka. I can stand a few hits of frost, so the blue-skinned ones can wait."

"Don't let them draw you away from the ward," Clark reminded her. "All their spells will slow you down, and you'll get hit again, before you can get back to safety. Step out, fire, and duck back as quick as you can."

"I'm already doing just that. But unless we can lure them closer, they can use the pillars the same way."

"Then let's back up a little, and see if they follow."

"We can't go far, or we'll end up in the doorway, and I won't be able to go around the ward."

There was just enough room. The succubi came out from behind the pillars, still firing off their slow but relentless stars of elemental force. Because they could just cast one spell after another, without any consideration of magicka cost, they did so at a predictable rate, and Gilda was soon able to time her counter-strikes accordingly. One by one, the succubi succumbed to her spells, until only one frost-caster, and the boss, remained.

"While they're close together, we can advance without worrying about flanking fire. Let's move!"

As expected, their adversaries fell back and were soon herded unto a corner of the platform.

"You take out the blue one," Clark told Gilda, and swigged a potion before drawing his sword. He dropped the ward and stepped forward into the barrage of spells. Although they slowed his progress to a crawl, he was already close enough to swing, and the huge woman burst into flames as he struck. He had only a couple of minutes before the poison resistance wore off, but it looked like it would be enough.

Before Clark could finish her, however, she was pulled back to her Daedric origins in a flash of crackling lightning. Clavicus Vile's voice spoke to them.

"Fine, so you've won this round. Take your Greta and begone. I'll just find another way to recruit my legions. There's always someone greedy enough to accept my offers."

When they got back to Greta, she was already released from the pillory, and her wings had disappeared. Hopefuly, that hadn't been as painful as the process of implanting them had looked.

"You know, I like the look of these outfits," said Nocturnal. "What do you think?" As they watched, her skin darkened to the glowing black that Clark remembered from the first time they met. A red pair of thigh-high boots replaced the slippers she'd been wearing, and matching gloves appeared on her arms. Finally a red thong took the place of her skirt.

Clark noticed, even if nobody else had, that her proportions had become more ... proportionate. Nocturnal wasn't lacking in the boob area, but she wasn't looking as top-heavy as when she arrived. They'd brought Greta back down to merely awesome, too, when they purged her wings, and now Nocturnal was matching that.

"Spectacular," agreed Clark, "especially the way the red matches your lips. A nice detail, that."

"I prefer blue," Azura remarked. "Always have." She proceeded to demonstrate her version, which Clark found equally appealing.

"I'm glad you didn't go for blue lips, they wouldn't looked right."

Nocturnal chuckled, and asked Greta for her opinion. "I like black. Whoever picked my outfit for me knew what he was doing." She still wasn't sure about wearing anything this ... sexy. She'd been trying not to attract attention, ever since she grew large enough to do so. Black was a good shade for avoiding attention. And there was no way she'd ever have walked around topless before she joined the monastery, but if all these women thought it was good, maybe they had a point.

"He also did a good job on the enchanting, so hang on to it. It has frost shield, so you can wear it anywhere, and more magicka fortification and regeneration than you could possibly need. Did you learn the spells, too?"

"Just the fire one. Which surprises me, I'd have expected him to give a Nord frost."

"You weren't going to be a Nord any more, after the transformation completed. The basic Succubus spell is a fire spell, and the Snow Witches get frost, the Soul Burners get shock, and the Hell Spawn a stronger fire spell again. We'll teach you all of them, so you won't have to worry about anyone being immune," Azura told her.

"What's your preference, Gilda?" asked Nocturnal.

"I'm with you in liking the red," Gilda replied. "but I like myself the pale shade of Nord I am."

Azura snapped her fingers, and Gilda's outfit changed to match her choice.

"Don't you all look at me like that," said Clark. "I'd look stupid in any of them."

It wasn't until they were back up in the Monastery that Clark noticed that Greta was wearing an amulet.

"They gave me one like Gilda's. Told me I'd find it helpful. They were right!"

She noticed that the priestesses and acolytes looked strangely different. She turned to Clark with a quizzical expression on her face. "What happened up here, while I was gone? Everyone's smiling, and there's something about their posture."

"I enchanted their robes with the same one that's on your amulet. They're feeling a lot more comfortable now," he replied. "And they're smiling because you're back, too."

"Are you planning to stay here, or come with us?" Gilda asked her cousin. "Now you've got those spells, you can look after yourself a lot better."

"I still don't know how to deal with the men I'm going to encounter," Greta replied. "I won't want to set them on fire, just for taking an interest. And I'm not going to learn that here. So, yes, I do want to come with you for a while, if you'll have me."

"I probably shouldn't be saying it while he's listening, but you won't find a better teacher than Clark. And he has the additional benefit of being immortal, so if you do decide to fry him, freeze him, or zap him, it won't matter."

Gilda smiled at Clark. "I know you'll teach her everything else she needs to know, won't you?"

"Why didn't you summon Drelka for the final show-down? She wouldn't have any of the problems we did."

"Because I suspected Clavicus Vile was aware what was going on, even before he spoke to us. If I'd used her, he'd probably have summoned a counter of his own, like a Daedroth. Something with a physical attack that would have introduced a whole new set of problems. Like Hircine, he prefers a contest that's not too heavily biased in his favour, so he gets to bargain with his opponent, and enjoy the inevitable double-cross in the agreement."

"And do you think he's found a way to cheat us with Greta?"

"I'm sure he expects her to be more of a handful that we'd bargained for."

"You could be right," Greta said. "I know I should feel violated after all that, but I can't, because I know I was the one who started it all. Clavicus Vile didn't cause my cravings, he just let them out. All the things I did with that Necromancer, I wanted, and they felt good. I even thought I was in control, at least some of the time, and I liked that.

"But now I'm just confused. I don't know what was me, and what was Succubus."

Arura tried to be reassuring. "At least Barbas didn't get involved. He's a shape-shifter, and his idea of doggy-style can be a little too literal." When she saw the look on Greta's face, she wished she hadn't mentioned that.

"Not me, but I did see a dog sniffing around the others. Do you think that was ...?"