|This is a compilation of books assembled for easier reading.|
To Her Royal Majesty Queen Ayrenn the First, Primarch of the Aldmeri Dominion, High Queen of the Summerset Isles, et cetera, et alia: Greetings, O Queen, from her humble servant Razum-dar of the Eyes of the Queen, who though preeminent in his trade of intrigue lacks an official title, because when one has an official title, one must go to so many meetings. So tedious! Thus, to avoid another meeting, Raz hereby submits this Official Report on what he has been doing on Her Majesty's behalf in the Case of the Secret Cabal of the Mirror Court of the Proxy Queen. (Melodramatic, yes? But all true, as Your Majesty shall hear!)
After the conclusion of the Affair of the Imga Lich-Queen of Meirvale, Raz was taking a much-deserved vacation at Rid-Thar's Solace on Khenarthi's Roost with sleek friend Softpurr when he was interrupted by Agent Cariel, who should be more careful about unnecessarily stealthy approaches if she wishes to stay so healthy and vigorous. Cariel informed Raz of the distressing situation in Shimmerene, which she described in terms so urgent that this one regretfully stroked Softpurr goodbye and traveled immediately to Summerset to investigate. Razum-dar's deft and clever handling of the Shimmerene matter was described with clarity and élan in his previous report, and he mentions it here only as a reminder of why he was on Big Elf island and how he ended up in Alinor afterward at the court of the Proxy Queen, Your Majesty's esteemed cousin Alwinarwe.
To cut to the chase: Raz has a very sensitive nose for the musky odour of treachery, and he smelled it wafting about the hall of the Royal Palace. But Raz has been kept so busy tending to affairs stirred up in Your Majesty's wake on Auridon and the continent that he has not had time to linger in Alinor and acquaint himself with those surrounding our oh-so-proper Proxy Queen. So this one looks around for someone he knows, and he sees old friend Telenger the Artificer, coming down grand staircase with long face made even longer by a dark beard badly in need of a brush and trim.
Raz knows that inattention to personal grooming is a sign of melancholy in a haughty High Elf like Telenger, so he takes gloomy Artificer to a tavern, buys him a strong drink, and asks his old friend what is the trouble. Then Telenger tells a long, sad story: he says that by virtue of much study and sheer talent, he is now the greatest living mage with expertise in teleportation, but he cannot qualify for the so-desirable position of Sapiarch of Transliminal Travel as long as Camilonwe holds that seat in Crystal Tower, and old Camilonwe stubbornly refuses to admit that Telenger is the better Elf in the matter of transpontine circumpenetration. (Raz has good memory for esoteric jargon, no?) Now, by Altmeri standards Telenger is almost as reckless as Your Majesty, so he decided that he would perform a feat of teleportation that would prove his peerless skill! And how better to do this than to find a way to travel to and from the vanished Isle of Artaeum, mystically removed from Nirn by wizardry of mysterious Psijic Order?
The question was rhetorical, so Raz just bought mage another drink as Telenger described taking a month in his laboratory to fangle together a device called a Hyperagonal Locational Determinator, which is a hairball in the mouth, so Raz will refer to it as the Finder. He calls it this because Telenger tells him the Finder can pinpoint any desired location in the entire Gray Maybe, even those protected by magical defenses. Such a claim, as Your Majesty can well imagine, makes this one's ears perk up as it would be very useful in Razum-dar's trade, no?
Anyway this Finder, in concert with another awkwardly named device that Raz in the interest of brevity will call as the Projector, enabled Telenger to locate long-missing Artaeum and project himself right into legendary Ceporah Tower itself. He found himself in the quarters used by Dark Elf demigod Sotha Sil when he visited the Psijics. Telenger borrowed some of the Tribune's research notes as proof of his visit and returned to Alinor before pesky Psijics could discover him and perhaps make trouble.
Now what, Your Majesty is doubtless wondering, does all this have to do with treachery in the Mirror Court of the Proxy Queen? Be patient like a cat stalking a sparrow, and Raz will explain. Telenger has a dilemma: he has performed an awe-inspiring magical feat, but he has broken many, many High Elf laws both explicit and tacit, so who can he tell? It seems there is a High Elf lady in Alinor named Advisor Penewen whom Telenger admires and wishes to impress, so he swears her to secrecy and tells her of his adventure, showing her the purloined notes of Sotha Sil.. Penewen becomes what for an Altmer is excited and offers to help Telenger by having herself projected into a hidden place and then serving as witness for his genius on her return. But she suggests that instead of Artaeum, which is protected by Summerset law, Telenger send her to Clockwork City, which is just as hard to get into but is the territory of unpleasant Dark Elves, fair game for adventuresome Aldmeri Dominion types.
Telenger agrees with foolish enthusiasm, finds Clockwork City with his Finder, and sends Penewen there with his Projector, where she spends several days before signaling for her return. When she comes back, she spins Telenger's head with effusive praise but then essentially disappears from the Artificer's life, thus his gloom of doom.
Razum-dar buys mage another drink and tells him to cheer up because here is mystery and who is Telenger's best friend when it comes to solving mysteries? This one says that to solve the mystery, he must follow the Advisor's path, but first he would very much like to see notes of semi-divine Sotha Sil, thank you so much. Dark moons! Reading Clockwork God's research notes make Razum-dar's tail twitch, for suddenly pieces of mosaic begin to click into place.
Then intrepid Raz allows himself to be projected into the Clockwork City, where he finds out many things, which he will recount after a brief digression. First, he wishes to point out that knowing Her Majesty's interests, he collects for her in Clockwork City a great many documents and images that he is tired of carrying around, so he includes them here to provide context for his matchless storytelling, which this one continues further along in the dossier.
Raz arrives in Clockwork City in an unsanitary alley in a little-used neighborhood of the Brass Fortress, which is the city inside the Clockwork City, if you catch this one's meaning. Later, Raz learns that it is good he arrives in the Fortress because if he had been projected into the Radius outside, he would have had to talk his way into the city. Which he could do, of course, but a step is saved.
The law of espionage when in a new and unfamiliar place is to get familiar fast by finding the nearest busy tavern. So Raz follows thirsty-looking person with metal arm to a bustling inn called The Cloisters. This is a funny name for a tavern as there is nothing monastic about drinking, but perhaps this is because local bosses are a priesthood called the Clockwork Apostles. If they choose to worship their divinity by hoisting a whiskey at the Cloisters, Raz is willing to join them in their devotions.
Razum-dar quickly realized that Clockwork City people are sometimes people, sometimes clockworks called Factotums, and sometimes a mention: the aforementioned Apostles. After an hour in the Cloisters, Raz has seen no other handsome Khajiit, and he is getting slantendicular looks from Apostle guards, so he decides it's time to go native. He has already learned that gold drakes spend as well in Brass Fortress as anywhere else in Tamriel, so this one locates a clothier in the Hall of Refined Techniques and purchases local garments. Then he starts to ask questions.
These Sermons are very eccentric, yes? Even by the standards of silly Dark Elves, who try so hard to be unorthodox that they write rules for it. But Raz admits that if one reads six or seven of these screeds in a row, they start to make a sort of sense, and this one almost begins to doubt the Riddle'Thar's doctrine of Free Will Under the Moons. Still, it is best to have some understanding of those one investigates, no matter how eccentric. And Clockwork Apostles take some understanding, as Razum-dar discovered.
Your Majesty remembers how this one's ears perked up on reading Sotha Sil's research notes, but Raz didn't say why? Suspense always makes the story better—but now to explain. In precise and machine-like handwriting, the Clockwork God outlined a plan for a mechanical-magical device that was intended to imprint mortal emotions upon heartless artificial people, the so-called Factotums Raz mentioned earlier. But though the Tribune had high hopes for this "Affect Inducer" for unspecified personal reasons, he'd abandoned the experiment after it didn't work on Factotums, only inducing emotions in real people.
That's right: it worked only on real people! Razum-dar imagines Her Majesty's raised royal eyebrows as she reads this, because now she understands why this one was alarmed, yes? A magical device that can instill specific emotional responses in its targets has obvious practical applications, especially for those inclined to make mischief in the body politic. And that is why Raz finds himself in funny-smelling Clockwork City where even the mice are machines (which is like a cruel joke aimed specifically at poor Khajiit by malicious Sotha Sil).
So Razum-dar begins asking discreet questions to try and pick up the trail of Telenger's erstwhile friend Penewen, who persuaded him to project her into Clockwork after he read Seht's notes. And he is successful, because Raz is so clever and personable even frigid Clockwork Apostles find him charming! This one makes the acquaintance of an adjunct in the Clockwork Basilica, a robust Apostle lady still mostly flesh named Alveno Apo. She remembers Penewen but is reluctant to speak of her, so Raz decides to become her very good friend.
To become Alveno's very good friend takes time, but Alveno has hidden virtues, so this one finds the task congenial. It is best to enjoy one's work, no? Eventually, in the privacy of her personal lodgings, Alveno reveals to Raz that she had illictly admitted Penewen into a palace pompously entitled the Mnemonic Planisphere, which is apparently some kind of library or archive. When Penewen came out, she had asked if Alveno could, for appropriate inducement, lead her to another site with the more mundane name of Barilzar's Eighth Laboratory.
And Alveno had agreed. Of course, Raz also now desired to see this Barilzar's Eighth Laboratory, so he proceeded to persuade Alveno to take him there, though this one suspects the inducement he used was different than that employed by Penewen. Whoever Barilzar is, he is not in his laboratory when Raz enters, and he is met instead by an attractive assistant named Alarvyne who is very upset, because it seems an important piece of equipment entrusted to Barilzar has gone missing. I'll wager Her Majesty can guess what this was!
Razum-dar takes time to console the distraught Alarvyne over the theft of the Affect Inducer from laboratory, meanwhile considering what move to make next. To track Penewen, yes, but this one doesn't wish to blunder about the strange wilderness of the Radius like a blind kitten. Fortunately, friendly Alarvyne has advice, which is to seek a sage of the wastes known as the Withered Hermit, who abides in a cave near the Vale of Tears. Apostles give clear and precise directions, so expeditious Raz soon finds himself at the aforementioned hermit's abode.
"Seventeen," says a voice from the cave, then out hops a bird, a black with raven with—surprise!—no clockwork parts. "Eight Divines, Eight Divines," it croaks. Raz is considering his response when a robed figure shuffles from the gloom and speaks in a buzz. "He says his name is the Count of Numbers" If you seek the hermit, I am she." This one cannot see her face, but there is whirring as she moves, and Raz gets the impression he's talking to a very Clockworkish Apostle, or even a Factotum.
"But this bird, where does it come from?" I ask. "Outside," says the hermit. "Far outside. He found me, and led me to the corpse of a City man, not far from here. Dead by his own hand." At this, the count hops. "Seven thousand steps. Romien," it croaks. "Penewen." So this one bows and says, "I am called Razum-dar, and my business is information. That is yours as well, yes? Let us trade." Then we go into cave, talk politely over cups of vile, acidic tea, and reach agremeents.
Hermit tells Raz of Whispering Shadows, cultists of nasty Nocturnal who somehow found a way into Clockwork City, where they entice disaffected citizens like the late Romien Garvette to join them. It seems they commune with Oblivion at a place called the Shadow Cleft, to which Raz gets clear and precise directions. In return, he is able to give Hermit some information she wants, about certain practices of Dibellan priestesses with which Raz happens to be familiar. Hermit doesn't say why she wants to know this, and Raz doesn't ask.
As Razum-dar heads for the Shadow Cleft, he is unsurprised to find that the Count of Numbers accompanies him—after all, one makes friends everywhere. "Penewen?" he asks. "One Penewen!" the bird nods emphatically. In a shallow grotto, we find stone talons curving over a black pool that stinks of Oblivion. Raz thinks back to Khenarthi's Roost and Softpurr, and wonders whether he hasn't spent enough time in Her Majesty's service—but raven squawks, "We only die once!" and dives into the pool. So dauntless Raz shrugs and follows him.
Some might describe the Shadow Cleft neighborhood of Evergloam as picturesque, but Raz cannot recommend it: the place is infested with floating Night Terrors and nasty Gloam Wolves that, as this one's nose can attest, are very aggressive about marking their territory. Also, there are Wafts, which look like blue flames that have escaped their candles and seem harmless, but when they get close they make one's fur stand on end like when Telenger is careless with shock magic. Uncomfortable. Plus, of course, this Shadow Cleft is very, very dark.
And it is in a shocking state of disrepair, so this one is constantly cursing under his breath as he stumbles in the dark over rubble and twisted fallen branches. It doesn't help that Raz is following the Count of Numbers who is a bird and therefore incapable of appreciating the utility of paths and trails, proceeding instead directly to his goal. This turns out to be a camp of Whispering Shadows cultists. "Romien here," it squawks. "Eleven times!" But no one is in the camp when Razum-dar arrives there.
Nonetheless, the Count of Numbers struts around and seems very proud of himself, so this one searches, and finds copies of the unhappy letters by Romien Garvette previously appended. He also finds a final note reading, "Gripped ever more by bleakness since Penewen tried to 'cure' me with her device. I can stand no more—I'll go back to the Radius to look for her, but if I can't find her, this must end. Forever." It is clear that Penewen used the Nocturnal cultist as a test subject.
Raz asks the Count how often Penewen came to this place. "Two times!" he squawks. So maybe the Alinoran was interested in something other than just testing the Affect Inducer on Garvette. This one decides he'd better take a thorough look around, which involves more tedious sneaking, but the Shadow Cleft is no bigger than Mistral, and eventually Raz finds something interesting in a collapsed hilltop tower. It is a band of women, but Raz is not interested in the way that you think, because these women are not a coven.
And not a coven of lissome wyresses, but of hoary Gloam Hags and angry Shrikes. Raz hides behind a truncated statue and observes as the night witches cast powerful scrying spells, and he can see very clearly that they are observing different locations in Tamriel. And gradually this one realizes that Nocturnal's cult is spying on what followers of other Daedric Princes are up to in our world of mortals. Now, why should the Night Mistress care what other Daedra and their followers are doing? Raz would like to know.
When a witch sees a book or journal in her scrying spells, sometimes she casts Duplication and conjures up a copy. It is interesting to watch, though after a while Raz is getting cramps from crouching behind the broken statue. He's thinking that maybe he's seen enough when a deep bell rings somewhere in the darkness, and the coven abandons their scrying spells and marches off. When he is sure they are gone, Raz hurries down into the tower space and gathers up a double handful of copied books.
When Raz uses the Recall Stone, a coppery-smelling portal appears before him, and he steps through into Telenger's workshop in Alinor, prepared with a quip for the Artificer about the tall Telenger's long face. But Telenger is not in his workshop, only a High Elf lady Raz recognizes as Penewen from descriptions by Alveno and the Artificer. Penewen is possibly even more surprised to see Raz than Raz is to see her, but she is quick (for an Elf) and grabs Telenger's Projector, which is on the desk before her.
This one heroically rushes her, dashing directly into danger, but Penewen spins a dial on the Projector and thumbs a knob, so that just as Raz reaches her there is a flash of light, a smell of copper, a swirl of mist, and then this one is... somewhere else. It is a strange interior room with walls like sandstone in ridged patterns, but Raz knows it is a bedroom because he sees a bed. But he has no time for looking around because someone is coming to the doorway.
So this one dives, with practiced ease, under the bed to hide (and where Razum-dar got so much practice doing this is none of Your Majesty's business, begging your royal pardon). Peeking out at the newcomer, Raz sees that she is a female of the human persuasion wearing the gray and yellow robes of the Psijic Order, which is strange because this one thought all the Psijic mystics were High Elves. Razz watches as this Psijic lady—a Breton, perhaps?—searches through a long sideboard that lines the far wall.
But the Psijic Breton seemingly doesn't find what she's looking for, for she shrugs irritably and leaves. This also seems incongruous to Raz, as he had thought the Psijics were all mystically serene like like wise old monastics, but fortunately this one is always open to learning new things. He also remembers that Telenger had said he'd used his Projector to send himself to the Isle of Artaeum, and maybe that is one of the settings on the dial that Penewen spun on it before she so rudely transported him away.
Telenger had said that he had been projected into the Psijics' headquarters of Ceporah Tower, arriving into Sotha Sil's own private chamber. Raz realizes he may be hiding under the divine bedstead of the Clockwork God himself, which seems vaguely inappropriate, so he rolls out next to a nightstand. This furnishing somehow captures my attention—for a moment Raz even thinks he sees a white glowing arrow hovering over it. He opens its drawer and finds within a strange device, a handle with a glowing blue globe on its end.
Raz puts the device in his pouch. Your Majesty has never seen Ceporah Tower, of course, but based purely on esthetics, Razum-dar cannot recommend it. The place has a squiggly Sloadish look to it that makes this one uncomfortable, and Raz decides he'd better find a way out. He turns toward the doorway and is surprised by an Altmer for the second time in a half-our, because a tall Psijic is standing on the threshold. Then this one is surprised again when the Psijic says, "You must be Razum-dar."
"You must be Razum-dar," the Psiji repeats, and this one composure slips, and he hisses slightly because what is the point of trying to be a so-secret clandestine operative when random Psijic monks recognise you at first sight? It is vexing, but Raz is nothing if not well-mannered, so he bows politely and says, "At your service. And if I must be Razum-dar, who must you be?" Unpertubed by this sally, the Psijic merely bows and says, "I am called Celarus the Loremaster, for I know many things."
"So it seems," this one says. "Is one of the things you know how I can quickly return to Alinor? Because Raz is not here of his own accord, and urgent events impend on Summerset." Celarus nods and says brsquely, "I can help, but first we have an emergency here on the Isle to attend to. I was looking for Oriandra Attus, but you will have to suffice because I need aid—my mystical skills are not the sort to enable me to handle a renegade Sload on my own."
Raz nods and says, "This one is not exactly a battlemage, but he will do what he can. Where is this renegade Sload?" Celarus turns, beckoning Raz to follow, and says over his shoulder, "This is not just any renegade Sload, this is Q'fura the Pendulous, a most dangerous mage. The creature is below, in the Dreaming Cave beneath the tower's foundations; how it got there I do not know, but if it opens the Void Gate and admits the hordes of Oblivion, I fear for the world itself."
"This one must confess that does sound like an emergency," I say, padding along behind him as we spiral down into the depths. "What is our plan?" The Loremaster, short of breath, replies in a wheeze that makes Razum-dar wonder if these Psijics get enough exercise. "I will distract Q'fura with dazzling but probably ineffective spell-casting. While its attention is on me, you will approach the creature by stealth and commit some nefarious act upon its person." This one smiles and says, "Raz admits, you do know a few things."
We emerge into a large subterranean space centered on a large portal device this one assumes is the Void Gate. The place is weirdly lit by sheets of crackling magic reflecting from a whirlpool of light within the portal, so we can clearly see a corpulent Sload beyond the gate weaving a barrage of spells—and alas, it can see us. So much for stealth! It flashes a dire effulgence at us, and Celarus erects a ward barely in time. He also casts a spell on Raz a moment later.
Dual-casting is impressive, but there is no time for compliments, as Q'fura casts a volley of frost darts. This one dodge-rolls, but not quickly enough to avoid them all—surprise, the ones that hit Raz pass right through him! Razum-dar looks at himself and sees he is all shimmery and ephemeral. It is a good look, but Raz isn't sure of its duration, so he hastens to get behind the Sload while Celarus makes ineffective attacks. On the way, Raz has a thought, and draws out Seht's blue-globe device.
This one is pleased to see that he is still ethereal as he approaches the posterior of the evil-smelling Q'fura the Sload. He notes that the handle of the strange blue-globe device has a line of three knurled knobs on it, each one larger than the last, which is curious, but then from somewhere Raz gets the idea that he should twist all three of them, from smallest to largest. The globe starts to pulse and spark, but Raz is distracted by a screech from Celarus, back beyond the Void Gate.
The Loremaster is trying to fight off three summoned sea monsters and failing, but meanwhile Q'fura notices the blue sparks and swivels—it is surprisingly nimble for a giant gelatinous slug. An opening gapes in its abdomen, which is most convenient for Raz, who thrusts the blue-globe device into it with considerable force. And suddenly this one is no longer ethereal, the globe is whining, the Sload is howling, and there is a stunning and rather glutinous explosion. It makes Razum-dar's head hurt, and he decides to take a nap.
Raz is awakened by a sweet kiss from Softpurr, only it is really a nudge on the shoulder from Celarus. This one is in the Psijic Infirmary and seems whole except for a headache and fur that has not been cleaned properly. "Can your scrying find the Four-Fold Hearth tavern in Alinor?" Raz asks the Loremaster. "Because Razum-dar wishes to be there instead of here." And shortly thereafter, he is! Your Majesty should seriously consider requisitioning a Psijic portal sage; Raz would have a thousand uses for such an asset.
Innkeeper Vintenwen is one of the Queen's Eyes, so Raz gives her instructions and then heads for Telenger's laboratory. This one is very stealthy, but the effort is wasted as no one is at home. The place has been trashed, the Projector is missing, and so is Telenger, which is worrisome. Fortunately Vintenwen arrives from the Armory with our Clairvoyeur, a device Telenger built for us that projects a glowing trail to a desired goal. Raz places a personal item in its Sniff Slot, and off we go!
The glowing trail leads Raz out the city gates and down to a stone jetty on the shore, where this one finds Telenger tied to the backside of a pier and barely keeping his head above the incoming tide. "Did my beloved Penewen send you?" says the Artificer with wide eyes as Raz unties him. "I knew this was just a love test, and she'd send someone to save me!" This one hisses and says, "It appears she used Seht's Inducer on you. Do you have anything she gave you?"
The Clairvoyeur sniffs a silk scarf, and we follow its trail back to Alinor where Raz first stops at the Heart to leave the besotted Telenger in Vintenwen's care and to adjust this one's appearance, as Razum-dar is all too well known in Alinor. This one then follows the golden trail into the district of government buildings near the Palace, where it leads Raz to the very door of the so-officious Divine Prosecution! He is considering what to do when a burly Justiciar appears and snarls, "You! You're under arrest."
Raz looks up at the stern Justiciar, who is both tall and wide. "This one is under arrest? On what charge?" The Justiciar curls his lip and says, "I've studied the dossiers of every Khajiiti 'guest' currently in Alinor, and your description doesn't match any of them. You're nebarra. Get inside!" He gestures at the ornate door of the Divine Prosecution, where Raz wanted to go anyway, so this one shrugs and says, "If we must." The Justiciar leads Raz to a cell, but Raz decides the officer looks tired.
This one uses a Goutfang choke-hold to put the Justiciar to slepe, borrows the keys in his pouch, andhim in the cell. He looks so peaceful that tired Raz almost wishes he could join him, but there is work to do. The Clairvoyeur leads this one to a staircase and up to the top floor, to the office of the Bureaureeve of the Divine Prosecution. And who should Raz meet coming out but the long-sought Penewen herself! Razum-dar smiles, but Penewen scowls and pulls out a strange device.
This one recognizes Penewen's device as Seht's Affect Inducer, and as Razum-dar does not wish to be overwhelmed by despair or besotted with love, he avoids the violet beam it emits and unleashes a Rawlith Khaj double roundhouse. His heel knocks the Inducer from Penewen's hand, and his fist knocks her senseless—or it should have, but she unexpectedly dodges, and the blow just rips a jeweled brooch from her collar. Her entire appearance ripples and then changes. And Raz sees that Penewen is really the Prosecution's High Magistrate Rinwaray.
This is very bad because Rinwaray is an extremely dangerous person, and Raz hesitates for a split second. Which is all the extremely dangerous Rinwaray needs to envelop him in a Frost Shroud, a spell that paralyzes a suspect in place for most of a minute. The High Magistrate steps back, crosses her arms, and takes a moment to admire this one, frozen in an awkward and frankly unflattering posture. "My, my," she finally says. "The great Razum-dar, caught so easily. And wearing such an amateurish disguise, too. It's disappointing."
Raz is also disappointed, but cannot express it. Rinwaray fills the gap by continuing her monologue. "However your day is done. Once I render the Proxy Queen my emotional slave, I'll replace her advisors one by one with my Mirror Court—and with you out of the way, it will be child's play for my Justiciars to find and eliminate your Eyes. Then, if anything should... happen... to Ayrenn, I'll be there to ensureassumes the throne, under my guidance. Then the Altmer will abandon foreign entanglements."
"But you won't be there to see it." And she draws a black stiletto. But as Your Majesty has already guessed, since it was she who gave Raz his Amulet of Emancipation, this one was only shamming his paralysis. With a sudden Whispering Fang backhand blow, Rinwaray is disarmed, and the follow-up temple punch knocksunconscious. And that is why the former High Magistrate of the Divine Prosecution now awaits Your Majesty's judgement in the lower oubliette of Alinor's Royal Palace. Bright moons! Razum-dar likes stories with happy endings.