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Meesei had mostly completed the preparations for the portal by the time Lunise arrived, having already established a connection with the destination. She needed only to put forth the magicka required to open the portal itself. Meesei had improved her efficiency at creating them, though it still required more magicka than either of the guards could likely produce, and they could certainly feel it. Though, it still did not demonstrate the full limits of what she was capable of doing: a fact with which Meesei was perfectly content. She intended for her upcoming duel to demonstrate the scope of her abilities to her allies, and she preferred for it to be a surprise.

Meesei kept the portal open only for the few seconds required for herself and Lunise to step through. For convenience, Meesei had brought them straight to Lunise's chambers, if only to save them some walking. Almost immediately upon closing the portal, Meesei's entire demeanor relaxed. She no longer needed to keep up appearances or show strength in every movement or word, so she was able to sit down, relax her muscles, and rest for a moment. "You know, if there is one thing I would like to learn from Neesa while she is here, it would be her method of teleportation. Her technique seemed much easier."

Leaning back in her chair, Meesei let out a long breath. "But, at least that is one more goal accomplished. It could not have gone much better, short of the Thalmor just agreeing to my request outright. I am scheduled to duel against Teroiah in two days time. By our agreement, if I win, then the Dominion will aid in the invasion while I carry the axe into battle. I suspect they are confident in the champion they have chosen."
Meesei kept her eyes on Teroiah as she and the others left, all the while maintaining an almost friendly grin. Meesei would not discount the strengths of the Thalmor, but their pride was certainly a weakness that had gone to Meesei's favor today. She only had to defeat one opponent to secure the last of what was needed for their invasion, and after facing down Hal-Neesa successfully, she believed the odds to be in her favor. To Teroiah's threat, Meesei gave a polite nod in acknowledgement. "I am sure it will be a good fight."

Naturally, Meesei was not left entirely alone as she waited for Lunise. The two guards were still present, though she was equally as disinterested in speaking with them as they were to her. Now that Meesei had what she wanted, she just needed to leave as soon as possible. She did not expect that it would be long before Lunise would arrive, so Meesei went ahead and picked a clear space to create a portal. She concentrated and began to prepare it, expecting that Lunise would arrive by the time she was ready. If the guards were at all magically attuned, they would recognize the energy from when she arrived.
The harsh words of a Dominion commander were generally something to be legitimately feared. Intimidation was a common tactic for the Thalmor, and particularly for their citizens, it was one which was generally successful. At the very least, the Thalmor were accustomed to being treated with the strict respect afforded to them by their positions, but of course, Meesei showed no such reaction. Those present might internally dismiss it as their own inability to read Argonian expressions, but Meesei's expression was simply one of calm satisfaction. She had successfully managed to convince the Thalmor to agree to her terms, and made them think it was their idea. Meesei had not planned on any other repercussions in the event of a defeat, but considering that a loss to the Dominion's champion would likely result in their eventual failure against Vile, being inconvenienced by the Dominion would be the least of their worries.

"I find those terms quite agreeable." Meesei answered almost immediately. "I shall abide by the results of the duel, and I do trust the Dominion to do the same. I should say that, in one of my previous meetings with Imperial representatives, they agreed to allow me to wield the axe should the Dominion agree to this, and I emerge the victor. So, I will need to bring witnesses from the Empire, and my own clan, if that is quite alright. If there is nothing more beyond that, I will return to this spot in two days time. Would you like for me to take your representative to the clans back to Skyrim with me?"
Given that Siloune's companions were obviously her subordinates, Meesei did not pay much attention to their reactions. Siloune herself, though characteristically arrogant for a Thalmor, was also reasonable enough as a diplomat by their standards. She was at least willing to have a dialogue about the issue instead of dismissing Meesei outright. "I am well aware of the experience found within the Dominion military structure; a former Thalmor justiciar orchestrated the training of most of the lycans in Alinor. However, I am not here to suggest any sort of exceptions to your military doctrine or command structure. Quite the opposite, what I am suggesting for this invasion is a cooperative military action on the part of multiple seperate entities: The Empire, the Dominion, and the lycan clans. We can operate independently and pursue separate objectives during the invasion. Regardless of who was or was not in charge, mixing our command structures would only needlessly complicate this invasion. Your commanders would not be even-ranking to any Imperial or lycan, since our command structures would remain distinct. We merely need to coordinate our overarching strategy at the highest levels among our respective military leadership."

Meesei expected her next point to be the most contentious, as it pertained to the linchpin of their entire invasion plan. "I only see one...potential complication in regards to independent armies, as there is only one Rueful Axe. It has been empowered successfully and will be capable of weakening Vile, but of course, we cannot all share it. I am sure that Justiciar Lunise has informed you of my intentions to carry the weapon into battle myself. I expect that you object to this, and I fully understand why you do, which is why I am fully prepared to prove myself a worthy axe-bearer. Since the most important trait for the bearer of the axe is combat proficiency, a duel with your own champion, or champions, would be an appropriate test."
Regardless of the predictable attitude of the Thalmor, Meesei did not hesitate in the slightest with her response. Again, she had no intention of outright disrespecting her hosts, but she needed to remain firm in her negotiations. Showing too much in the way of weakness would do nothing but confirm the notions that the Thalmor already had about her. "I am glad that you and your companions are experienced, of course, but you can rest assured that I am quite familiar with the events of the Oblivion crisis. I have been personally advised by multiple veterans of that war among my people. I count lycans of all Tamrielic races among my clans, Elves included."

Meesei clasped her hands together on the table in front of her. Her words had challenged Siloune's, so she was quick to continue so that it did not descend into an argument so soon. "But, I have of course not come here expecting to command the Thalmor either. I and my allies do value the experience you can bring. As you said, the Daedra are a threat to all of Tamriel. We should plan our attack cooperatively, bringing all of the experience we collectively have to bear against Clavicus Vile. I am sure you can agree that it would be unwise to squander any potential advantage we might have against an army of immortals."
For the most part, Meesei ignored the guards, paying them little mind after she took her seat. Given the attitudes of the Thalmor, she could at least expect this meeting to get straight to the point, and likely be over with quickly. Meesei was dressed formally, though following Lunise’s advice, she made no attempt to mimic any Altmer styles, nor did she wear anything Imperial. She wore a long, colorful dress of an Argonian style, like that which might be owned by an upper-class Thorn merchant.

Regardless of how much the present company may or may not have respected it, Meesei too carried herself with authority in both tone and demeanor. She remained as courteous as was to be expected for a diplomatic meeting, but did not intend to allow herself to seem anything less than a leader. As expected, the Thalmor, Siloune, started straight with business, and Meesei responded in kind. “No, there have been no developments since yesterday. Your information should be up-to-date. Have the Thalmor come to a decision on the requested alliance to deal with the threat of Clavicus Vile?” She asked, simply and directly. She doubted that the Thalmor would be interested in small talk.
"As much as I wish we could keep Hal-Neesa away from...everyone, I doubt she would listen to such a request, and it is not as if we have the means to contain her. There is no point in trying to hide her from anyone; we just have to try and contain the consequences as best as we can." Meesei responded.

Meesei doubted that she would be able to get much sleep that night, with as much as Neesa had given her to thing about. But, for, the moment at least, she was able to form at least a slight grin. "Who knows, perhaps there shall be a silver lining to all of this? If we are fortunate enough, Neesa's presence may make everyone forget about Do'rhajul."

Even with as uncertain as the days ahead would be, they had little choice but to push on as best as they could. For Meesei, she did not return with Lunise immediately, but she did teleport to her room later than night. Although, she was looking more for comfort and advice than anything else, given the stress now sitting upon her shoulders. Her meeting with her council had been short, so she knew that there would be many more discussions ahead regarding Neesa. At the very least, she could take some comfort in the fact that they had indeed accomplished their goals that day.




It was early the next morning when Meesei teleported Lunise directly back to Alinor. They both wanted to have the Thalmor's answer as soon as possible, so neither had much of a reason to delay. As expected, Meesei had trouble sleeping that night, but she was at least able to distract her mind from thoughts of tonal manipulation and godhood by focusing on her short-term goals. The Thalmor were the next worry for her, so it is where she devoted her energy. Lunise's superiors could not know about the rings they used to communicate over distance, so Meesei agreed to meet her in the same location the next morning.

During the wait, Meesei remained worried about Neesa, but they were at least having no real trouble from her on their first day together. Neesa had a tendency to go wherever she pleased in her explorations of the city and respected no orders from anyone that might try to give them, but she showed no indication of doing anything malicious. To Meesei's knowledge, there were no extended conversations between Neesa and any of the council, or other clan leadership, on the first day, so Meesei retained hope that she could introduce them to her in a controlled manner. There were certain personalities on her council that she did not expect to agree with Neesa.




As planned, Meesei returned to Alinor precisely at the time and location she specified before. She had teleported to a government building in the capital city itself, into a room they had designated specifically for that purpose. Naturally, the Thalmor were just as concerned with security as the Empire, and were even more magically attuned. They knew enough about her usage of teleportation to know that they could prevent her from having more locations to return to if she was not allowed to visit them in person. As such, she had not strayed far from this room during her previous visit. There were, of course, already two armed guards in the room, and since she had arrived on schedule, Meesei suspected that she need only wait for someone to arrive.
Even with Lunise's encouragement, the look of uncertainty did not leave Meesei's face. "Perhaps that is true, but it is difficult to judge. I highly doubt she revealed anything accidentally, which means she meant for us to know all of it. I feel like she told us just enough about a few topics to pique my interest, but not enough to really learn anything meaningful. I feel we just learned a collection of surface details about her favorite topics.

Meesei closed her eyes and let out a breath. "But you are probably right. Perhaps we should just focus on what is tangible. She gave us a potentially accurate version of her history, dating back to the days of Alessia. It could be a lie, but her knowledge of the Dwemer gives it credibility. Gaining knowledge of CHIM from Molag Bal, her massive ego...it does all fit together. As for what we can do with this knowledge...that I am not sure. Little of what she said is actually practical in the moment. I suppose becoming a god would make it much easier to deal with Vile, but I doubt that is a possibility. I suppose I can instruct any curious blacksmiths to stop any efforts to reproduce Dwemer metal. If it was created with tonal manipulation, then there is not much point in bothering to experiment with alloys. Beyond that, we can just press on and try to deal with all of the other problems bearing down on us. I will need to fight the Thalmor's champions...when is it? Tomorrow? The day after? There is still much to worry about in addition to that vampire. Hopefully it will not take too long to defeat them all."
Ssarak Dyreackthanose




Ssarak gave a thankful nod towards Leith for his vote of confidence, and retained his friendly demeanor towards Henri. “You will have to trust me when I say that it is best if we speak in confidence. My words could end up being vital to you, for the sake of your own safety with the shapeshifter about.”

For a moment, Ssarak gave a glance towards Helena. “Do not worry, I shall endeavor not to occupy your companion for too long, if I can avoid it.” He said reassuringly, though his attention was soon back on Henri. This time, he made sure to maintain their privacy by exclusively speaking to him telepathically. ”I know you have encountered trouble with some of the others. It is hard not to know at this point, even without mind-reading. But, I feel some of this stems from…unfamiliarity with one another. You are new here, having only arrived within the last few months. There are many people here that you do not really know, nor are you truly familiar with the College itself and why we are doing the things we are doing. Why it is all important. Myself, on the other hand, I have known most of my fellow students for years. For a few, I know them better than I they know themselves. It is unfair for you to be thrown into the middle of all of this without the depth of knowledge that you would require to make proper judgments. I can give you…context, about the others, and about the College itself. I can help you understand why people like Althalus, Alaira, and Tyrael act the way they act, and why they make their choices. Firstly, I would like to ask if you are aware of the demon attack that took place at the College a few years ago. News of it has spread all over Tiien by this point, but everyone might not still be aware of it.”
For a moment, Meesei stared at the spot where Neesa had been standing and shook her head. "I think the notion of Hal-Neesa, of all people, attaining godhood is one of the most frightening thoughts that has ever crossed through my mind. That woman is far beyond insufferable. So...ageless and superior. And yet, there is something beyond that. It is hard for me to say if she even believes her own bravado. With her, it feels like anything she does could be an act. I wish I could believe that everything she said was a lie, but..."

Meesei released a sigh and took another moment to glance around at their surroundings to make sure there was no one around to overhear them. "You both saw what she did. We used lycan blood with the Animonculories to ensure that every automaton they produce will obey lycans, and yet she took control of it with just a few words. My council is not going to be happy to hear of that. And that is not even addressing the fact that she was speaking Dwemeris. Aloud. Most educated scholars only have an incomplete understanding of the written form of the language, and only guesses on what it could have sounded like. How could she know that unless she was there to hear it? If she was not lying about her age, then that leaves open the possibility that anything she was saying could be true. This was the first I ever heard about this 'CHIM'. Well, I saw the word before in Apocrypha, but evidently I did not grasp its importance enough to study it. Attaining godhood by simply being in a particular state of mind sounds too easy to be true, but I suppose not impossible. If it is true, then her motives may not be too complex. What ancient, power-hungry mage would not want to become a god? There may not be any sort of deeper motive. Were she to succeed, we would only be able to hope that her intentions were not malicious. Did anything she said match up with what you learned of CHIM before, Lunise?"
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