The unholy lich-like entity gazes at the potent dragon who has invaded the crypt. From behind a thick mask made of colored ebony the creature is overcome by reverential awe. And the other two creatures in the room gaze at the priest, curiously.
One of the creatures is the draugr death overlord, an eerie titan of a Nord who has been struck silent by the eldritch magicka of the dragon. The other is the dragon himself, his scarlet eyes curiously peering at the dragon priest and waiting to see what the creature would do.
The dragon is a gigantic creature, dozens of feet wide, and about as long, with wings that dwarf the rest of his body. As the dragon peers at the stranger his three-part vision allows him to see the past, present, and even the future of the dragon priest. This ability combines with “Soulseer” and in doing so fills the dragon’s mind with a powerful understanding of the nature of the man standing before him. And the piety that defined the man’s life as a mortal.
“Qethos…” The dragon utters, softly. This makes the dragon priest’s eyes widen and his necromantic imitation of a heart quicken in his chest. Qethos was alive during the reign of Alduin and his lieutenants and he knew that dragons were not, at least innately, mind-readers. Nor did they have any sort of natural ability to peer into one’s soul and learn their names through things like enhanced psychometry. And yet this dragon… evidently did have such an ability.
“Dovah…” The priest utters, his eyes filled with awe, so much so that even an ordinary person would have been able to see it had they peered into his necromancy infused eyes. The dragon lets out a gruff noise akin to a chuckle and continues to speak.
“I am Cossus. Submit Qethos and become my acolyte. Surrender and return to your natural place as the mouthpiece of a dragon.” The creature utters, powerfully, in the guttural voice of a mighty dragon. He even uses his original name, now that he is in this alternative form and using this distinctive secondary identity.
Qethos hesitates for a moment. The truth is that while the figure was once faithful to the mighty dragons who ruled over Atmora and portions of Tamriel, but in the millennia following the defeat of the dragons he, like many dragon priests has become much more self-obsessed. But at the same time there isn’t a single dragon priest who got where they are now by having weak instincts of self-perservation.
His bodyguard is silently watching him, unsure of what to do. The fact that the stranger is a dragon is something that boggles the mind of the draugr warrior, in all of his millennia of life he has never seen a dragon take on an “inferior” form willingly. He actually didn’t even know that it was something that they had the ability to do in the first place!
Cossus is silent for a moment, before he begins to radiate a potent aura of pride and dominance. He begins to speak a second later.
“Qethos, I have survived for millennia, waiting and watching for an opportune time to return to Mundus from the depths of the unknowable realms of Oblivion. I came here first because I suspected this would be a good place to make my lair. I watched your forces surge forth and kill the bandits who had invaded this place, who had defiled it, and it was pleasing to me.” The dragon says, partially lying. Much of what he has said is made up nonsense he knows fits this universe’s inner workings, but his words are filled with, at times, partial truths.
By peering into the eyes of the draugr he has subjugated he has gained a healthy understanding of what occurred in this place, but he did not see it happen in real time. Nor did he come from the “depths of Oblivion”, though some dragons did escape dragonborns throughout history by doing so. His words on his emotional reaction were, surprisingly, true, though they were the only part of his statement that was unequivocally true.
As he studied the dozens of draugr in this place he came to appreciate the brutality of the draugr. Their bloodthirst and obedience to their lord filled their new master with a fondness for their violence. Cossus himself would never shy away from violence, even if it wasn’t always his favored tactic, especially since he has recently discovered that he can steal things from those he slays and add them to himself.
“I have come here to secure your service and begin taking my first steps towards my ultimate ambitions. I have returned to Mundus for you.” The dragon explains, ambitiously and mysteriously. These words cause both the dragon priest and his minion to pause. After a few moments of silence Qethos manages to muster the courage needed to speak to the domineering dragon.
“Dovah… What is your ultimate purpose?” The priest asks, both curious and dreadfully afraid of whatever Cossus is about to utter.
“Sonaak… I have freed myself from the World-Eater. It took me many millennia, but like the traitor Paarthurnax I am free from Alduin’s control and influence. And I have gained the power to bestow the same blessing upon my fellow dovah. I have even wrestled control of a plane of Oblivion from the dreadful Deyra who once controlled it.” The dragon reveals, speaking grandly and mixing truths and lies once more.
Cossus has never been a part of the grand oversoul of Alduin, so he has never had to deal with the destructive urges that Alduin’s instincts inflict on lesser male dragons. He has learned much by mixing “Soulseer” with his other perks and using his ultra-enhanced mind to piece together disparate pieces of lore and knowledge to create a cohesive understanding of a grander tapestry of history. Even as he peers at Qethos his understanding of the world steadily expands and improves thanks to the priest’s incredible understanding of history and mythology.
“In my own way I have become something grander than a solitary dovah. And I will rescue, resurrect, and recruit, both my fellow dovah and our aars.” The dragon continues, speaking grandly of his machinations. He uses the word “Aar” in its plural form, a word that means “Servant” or “Slave” in dovahzul. He understands how to manipulate these kinds of beings, creatures who yearn for a purpose, who wish to be commanded and led.
The dragon raises a single paw and points it right in front of himself. With a single thought he effortlessly opens a portal to his warehouse, which blinks into existence with ease.
“The plane of Oblivion I have seized for myself is to be a new home for all dragons and our worshipers who yearn to be more than puppets of Alduin. All who wish for a grander purpose, and to explore the very edges of reality itself, shall find a welcoming home in the plane I have come to rule.” The dragon utters, his voice filled with powerful pride as he stares into the warehouse and masterfully performs the sort of deception Boethiah herself would be proud of.
“The age of the World-Eater has come and gone. Instead of tying ourselves to him, I say we, dovah, joor, and diil alike, pave a new path.” The dragon utters, though truthfully he only sees those who insist on dragon worship as future servants. He uses the draconic words for dragons, mortals, and undead beings, hinting at more magnanimous plans than he actually possess.
He does not wish to truly pave a new path forward for everyone, but he will happily steal the faithful of others, performing a theft of sorts that even Nocturnal herself might admire. He is quickly finding that this sort of social engagement is something he is fond of.
As he speaks his words worm their way into the hearts of both the draugr and the dragon-priest the draugr is tasked with protecting. They begin to fall under his sway, his words slowly but surely coming to change their outlook.
“I do believe that dovah ought to rule over Tamriel and beyond. We are worthy of mortal admiration and worship. But first we must regain the worship of the remnants of the dragon cult that once ruled over all of mankind.” The dragon explains. His followers nod, and as he studies them he begins to smile, the expression utterly terrifying on a dragon’s reptilian face.
“Now Qethos… Arnbal… Pledge yourselves to me. Submit to me and place yourselves in my service.” The dragon demands, as his eyes fill with power and pride. The two nordic undead creatures kneel in supplication and their undying hearts fill with submission and piety to the dragon whose words have warped their minds.
The two creatures silently pledge themselves to the dragon, and the dragon’s chest momentarily fills with eerie light. Cossus himself feels the potent power of worship infusing him, even the slight amounts generated by two undead creatures. And that is before Qethos, his head still bowed in supplication, powerfully projects his voice throughout the crypt.
“Fellow Aars of the dragon-cult… Pledge yourselves to our new Rah! Kneel in supplication, and bend yourselves to serve him. He is the herald and voice of a new age, of a new philosophy for all dovah. A new lord to follow and worship.” The priest utters, his voice causing all of the draugr in the crypt to fall to their knees in reverence and awe. As they turn their hearts to Cossus something unexpected occurs to the mighty dovah/daedra hybrid. He levels up.
He gains his first level as a new kind of entity; a daedric prince. And in doing so a screen appears in front of him, a powerful notification.
[Alert: New Threshold Of Power Attained
By gaining the power of worship and faith, even of undead beings, you have taken your first step towards the true power of the daedric princes. Unlike the other princes, you will eventually have a chance to consciously and willingly choose your spheres of influence, and you have been blessed with the potential to grow infinitely.
For that otherworldly aspect of yourself you have been given automatic influence over a trio of spheres: growth, evolution, and potential are your first three daedric spheres, or the aspects of life that you are connected to and can sense and manipulate. At this low level of growth in the context of your nature as a daedric prince, you only possess one more daedric sphere of influence; technology.
You possess supernatural, nearly absolute awareness of instances of growth, of evolution, of one’s potential, and of technology. By making use of this state of being cleverly you can steadily spread your influence and awareness of your existence which is keyed to your growth as a prince.]
The notification did not end there, but that was the main thing Cossus focuses on. The potent power he feels flowing inside of him grows greater with every passing nanosecond as he feels true awareness of the world around him for the first time. And he smiles in appreciation of the potent new powers he has just received, his eyes filling with the azure power possessed by all daedric princes.
In the back of his mind powerful new abilities manifest and begin to make themselves known. The most powerful of which was a perpetual set of notifications keyed to instances involving and events revolving around his spheres. Whether it is a creature growing in power as it slays a competitor, or a blacksmith making a sword, he is aware of it, provided it is occurring in Aurbis. And that sort of potent pseudo-omniscience is powerful, given the breadth of his spheres.
Never has Cossus been so grateful to see others submit. For now he is a far more dangerous being than he was merely hours ago. He returns to his human form, and walks over to the chest in the background of the room. He opens the thing with ease and finds the ring he was looking for, inside of it.
And then he begins to wait, and cement his influence in Silverdrift Lair for three days. He doesn’t want to go back to Dawnstar just yet, when he could take some time and ensure his first servants are properly equipped. Plus he refuses to reveal his supernatural powers to any mortals this quickly. In time, maybe, but not right away.