[ESO][IC] A COG IN THE MACHINE

The Lab, also known as one of the Observatories created by Sotha Sil, the Tinkerer, the Clockwork God, is a very ancient structure created in the god’s pocket world called The Clockwork City. It predates the lives of most inhabitants of Tamriel. Ever since its creation, the Lab has been constantly working on the collecting and of archiving data from all around Nirn, Aetherius and Oblivion. Only a few people know how Sotha Sil’s technology works, and they are known as the Apostles of Sotha Sil. And so it took a lot of work and time for Azaber Kogom to figure out what was wrong in the Lab’s inner mechanisms. A constant noise was being heard from the data core but it took him weeks to find the source of the noise, a single gear was broken. This single gear that could fit in the palm of a hand was broken and it impaired the work of the structure’s intricate parts, it needed to be replaced. But it is no easy task to meet an Apostle of Sotha Sil, so the inquester looked elsewhere, to the second most technologically advanced race that ever set foot on Tamriel’s soil: the Dwemer.

The lost dwarves had structures scattered around the lands, hiding underground for hundreds of years since the mysterious disappearance of their entire race. Dwarven underground complexes were still operational, their machines worked and kept watch over the steam-filled corridors of the many brass halls. After sitting down with his partner, Kernost, and studying the different plans of the many Dwemer locations, the pair found the perfect location to launch an expedition to retrieve a part that would suffice to fix the data core, at least temporarily. The chosen location was in the Alik’r desert, homeland of the Redguards and the ancestral Ragada Empire, just south-east of Bergama.

Aldunz was it’s name. The sleeping ruins were used by the Dwemer as an experimental forge, and within its air filtration system, the gear they were looking for was waiting for them. Azaber summoned the inquesters at the Lab for a briefing, the Lab was malfunctioning and needed repairs… parts that needed an expedition, but the Dwemer were not to be taken lightly, even hundreds of years after their disappearance they still were extremely dangerous, thanks to their traps and hostile security automatons that guarded their ruins for many lifetimes. Those who answered the call were: the agile Zan’shavir, the rogue Shara Ardent, the strong Antonius Maximilian, the mysterious Kiara, the scholar-adventurer Sebastian and the mad Amiilei, but something was different with Amii that evening… She didn’t wear her usual pendant of the Mad God and she seemed… melancholic, but Azaber didn’t want to shift the focus away from the expedition… maybe it would even give her a little distraction.

The group packed their gear and sharpened their weapons and tools before heading to the leading pad. They then left the Lab and made their way to the Bergama Wayshrine in Alik’r. The cool and almost artificial air of the Clockwork City was quickly forgotten when the dry heat and unforgiving sun of the Alik’r Desert was felt as they appeared at the Wayshrine. Azaber pulled up his facemask and hood to protect himself from the flash sandstorms that he knew from his childhood and led the group towards the remote entrance of Aldunz. Dunes, dried saplings and desert beasts were the only thing they saw for days as they followed Azaber on their mounts, except for Amiilei who followed on foot. She hadn’t had the chance to acquire a mount yet and didn’t seem to care too much on that day. They finally crossed a wooden bridge before climbing up a small cliff to arrive at the mechanical door to the Dwemer ruin. The door was made of brass and stone carved into the rocky mountain, symbols of the Chimer and the Dwemer etched into the door along with a crown atop of them. Right above the door was an inscription, “As Zhars Volen” which Azaber translated from Dwemeris to Common for the others to “The King’s Hammer”. Along with the inscriptions on the door were five dials, each with Dwemeris alphabet on them meant to form a word.

Many inquesters attempted to solve the puzzle in vain, Zan’shavir even attempted to force the door open, but Dwemer engineering was too advanced for him and the door responded to his attempt by electrocuting the Khajiit. But after multiple attempts, Sebastian Arotxa took a step back and thought about everything he had learned over the years. The Chimer were at war with the Dwemer long ago, but if he remembered correctly, the two nations were also allies before the war, allies during a time in which the Dwemer people were ruled by King Dumac. Sebastian turned to Azaber and explained his reasoning to Azaber who told him to enter the name on the dials, and so he did. Suddenly, wiring sounds and movements would be heard coming from the door, which opened slightly, revealing the path inside the ruins.

The group rejoiced for a moment before heading inside the complex. They were immediately greeted by metal constructs, dwemer automatons in the form of mechanical spiders that dropped from the ceiling and turned their attention to attack the group. The inquesters were used to fighting their way in or out of caves and such, so they defended themselves and destroyed the metal constructs. As Azaber gave the directions to the air filtration system to the rest of the group, Zan’shavir and Shara both decided to avoid the traps they might encounter by climbing the pipes and following the group from the ceiling of the corridors.

Avoiding pressure plates and more hostile automatons, the group made their way into the main hall where it seemed like no constructs or traps were waiting for them. Work tables were placed at the center of the room, next to a wall with the filtration system’s main console was, locked behind a large fence gate of the same size. At the base of the floor laid four pressure plates, each large enough to fit any man or mer. In order to see if the pressure plates themselves were traps, Shara dropped a vase on one of the plates, but nothing happened. Zan’shavir then ordered his eternal guardian, a large mystical beast in the shape of a bear, to sit on one of the pressure plates, as soon as it obeyed his master’s orders the mechanism under the plate would emit a satisfying clicking sound. The group then decided to each stand on the plates, one by one from right to left starting with the melancholic Amiileii who would lay on the far right plate. It seemed like the expedition wasn’t cutting it for her as it didn’t provide her with enough to distract her from her personal conflict, whatever it was. Shara Ardent looked worried about the poor Nord girl, but kept her mind on the task at hand. After the four plates were activated, the gate opened to reveal the intricate mechanisms of the Dwemer filtration system.

One of the inquesters made their way to the machine and, following Azaber’s description, identified the part they were looking for and removed it from its socket. Unfortunately, the group had activated the diagnostic access with the plate, but not the master access, the removal of the part triggered an alert that caused the complex to release inflammable toxic fumes in the room the group was standing in. A metal rod started descending slowly but continuously from the ceiling, its lower tip emitting electrical sparks. Some of the interns managed to quickly escape from the room, but others weren’t fast enough and the poor Amiileii laid there on the pressure plate, devoid of will to save herself.

Shara Ardent quickly turned back to go and save Sebastian Arotxa who was choking on the fumes, she took him by the hand and helped him walk to the exit while Kiara helped Amiileii by lifting her and started walking towards the exit. Unfortunately, the metal rod had reached the gas and ingited it, surrounding Kiara and Amiileii with a circle of wild fire.  Amiileii attempted to save Kiara by jumping back on the floor and trying to throw the Reguard over the flames to allow her to save herself, but Kiara wouldn’t let her die alone in the blazing halls of Aldunz. Zan took notice and immediately used his magical knowledge to conjure a path of ice that cut through the fire, fighting the heat as best as it could to make way for the two women. Antonius ran back towards the three, protecting himself from the fire with his Imperial scutum and aided Kiara and Amiileii in their escape, followed by Zan who kept on fighting the flames by maintaining the frozen barrier from reaching the group.

As soon as the entire group left the compound, they all felt the surprisingly fresh air of the Alik’r Desert, at least fresh in comparison to the scolding gases that filled the halls of Aldunz. They rejoiced in the fact that they had completed their mission and survived. Azaber took notice of their courage and resilience during this expedition, even though the objective wasn’t to extract a powerful artifact, they all showed a desire to help the Inquest Compendium, a desire that wouldn’t go unnoticed in the future. And so, the Inquesters returned to the Lab to relax and recover from this dangerous missions, followed by the guild’s founder who would immediately head to the data core to fix the broken mechanism and prepare the next expedition.