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> Madness Helps Me Save Myself
Grits
post Feb 28 2015, 09:34 PM
Post #241


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Joined: 6-November 10
From: The Gold Coast



Headshots seemed to work best on everything in the Isles. With that, he made a decision to have the helm made as soon as he got back to New Sheoth.

laugh.gif A wise decision. Its always fun to follow Wrothkens trains of thought. smile.gif


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Jacki Dice
post May 13 2016, 06:48 PM
Post #242


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Joined: 18-March 10



Chapter Fifty-Three: Relmyna's Sanctum


The door looked like it should have groaned horribly when opened. Wrothken was surprised that it made a gentle sound and shut softly. But there were sounds. A lot of groaning and sobbing. A scream suddenly silenced.

Wrothken’s stomach lurched. What in Oblivion was that? He heard a voice soon after. It was too soft for him to understand, but the tone sounded as if it were a response to an ordinary conversation.

He decided to stop for a moment and assess his surroundings. He didn’t ever want to scream like that.

The stone hall was lit with enough welkynd stones and candles to make it light as day. Along the red carpeted hall were several busts of Sheogorath. Wrothken crinkled his nose, remembering the many hints regarding Relmyna’s feelings for the Madgod. Listening closely, he heard the echo of soft crying and muffled voices.

Given the coziness of this area compared to the rest of Xaselm, Wrothken figured that Relmyna had to be here. He put away his weapon and dusted himself off before running his fingers through his hair to clean up a bit. He then removed his gauntlets to reveal his Ring of Lordship. Looking at the ring, he considered summoning a Golden Saint to appear at his side, but he decided against it. Relmyna could take it as a sign of aggression. After taking a deep breath, he walked forward.

He immediately was greeted by the all-too-familiar wish that he had simply stayed home.

The corner of the hall turned into a larger room, bigger than Sheogorath’s throne room. Six cells were on the walls, three on opposite sides. A pillar with various buttons stood in front of the cell doors. Inside the cells were naked people. All of them wounded. All of them emaciated. One man sat on his knees with his head buried in his face. He was the source of the crying.

Relmyna herself stood before one of the cages. The Argonian inside was slumped in a pool of blood. Her chest was splayed open, revealing her ribcage and still heart. Relmyna had just finished writing something down when Wrothken entered. She then raised her fingers and the Argonian’s chest knitted back up, not even leaving a scar. Her eyes blinked open before she let out a low moan and refreshed sobs.

“Stop that,” Relmyna commanded. “Or I’ll be forced to explore precisely where your tear ducts are located and burn them out. If you pass out from pain, I’ll simply awaken you so you feel every last moment.”

Though her voice was soft, it was as threatening as any warcry. The Argonian must have thought so as well because she choked herself into silence.

Wrothken reached for his mace. The first thing in his mind told him to bash her head in, or somehow immobilize her and let her prisoners decide on justice, but she turned around. Her eyes went molten when she saw him. The fiery shade of red in her hair made her look less elven and more daedric than anyone he had ever seen.

"You!” She hissed. Wrothken was sure she was going to attack. He flinched, then cursed himself for it. “I remember you. You're the adventurer who slew my Gatekeeper, are you not?"

The blunt accusation instantly put Wrothken on the defense. “Well, it was going to kill me! It was the only way to pass. Besides, who’s the genius who sewed the keys into its skin?” He turned back to the Argonian. “What in Alduin’s name are you doing to these people?”

Relmyna’s eyes narrowed, sending shivers down Wrothken’s spine. She almost whispered. “Pathetic. On what authority have you weaseled into my sanctum and disturbed my work, hmm?"

“Your--” Wrothken almost demanded to know what work she could possibly be doing. Then he remembered why he was there in the first place. He couldn’t very well birth to Sheogorath’s new Gatekeeper, could he? “I mean,” he said, polite as he could muster. “On the authority of Sheogorath Himself.”

Wrothken detected no change in her demeanor when he mentioned Sheogorath. He was disappointed, but not entirely surprised. “I see.” She simply raised her eyebrows and clasped her hands together. “Sheogorath is too important to come on his own account? He sends his mortal lackey? Well, then.” She smoothed the ruffled black silk of her dress as she looked him over. “I trust my servants didn't give you too hard a time getting in here.” An icy smile lingered at her lips. Her sarcasm was even worse than Haskill’s. Wrothken was surprised that anyone could be that horrible. “What is it Sheogorath's lackey requires of me?"

“He would like you to build a….” Wrothken tried to steel himself against the wrath brought on by dousing the fresh wound with salty lemon juice. “A new Gatekeeper.”

"Oh?” Sure enough, her eyes darkened and her voice took on a new edge. “Does he now?"

“Yes, that is why he sent me here.”

Relmyna stared hard at him long enough that Wrothken’s toes began to squirm in his boots. Luckily, she wouldn’t be able to see... right? He wondered if she could see right through his armor. This woman made him feel more vulnerable than a baby bird hatching in front of a starving snake “Fine. If it be my Lord's will, then it is also my own. But, I am too distraught over the death of my child to return to his womb. This, you must do.”

“I-I’m sorry?” Wrothken almost choked. “You want me to go where?”

“You will travel to the Gardens of Flesh and Bone. There, you will gather mystical components needed for the ceremony. Go fetch me…” She pulled out her book and wrote a list for him. “Blood Liqueur, Osseous Marrow, Dermis Membrane, and Essence of Breath.” She strode to the other side of the room, where she had two dark bottles and two pouches. “Take these to collect the components in.”

So she didn’t literally birth that Gatekeeper. Somehow he was relieved that he wouldn’t be forced to deliver one of those things directly from her actual womb. Things were looking up! He groaned. How bad was it when not helping a Dunmer bear a giant orange monster was a plus?

“Now, if that is all you require…” She turned, waving him off dismissively.

“It’s not,” Wrothken said, glaring at her. It was much easier to do when she wasn’t looking at him. “I asked you a question earlier. What are you doing to these people?”

She chuckled softly. “Oh, you mean my research subjects? Don't trouble yourself with their fates. They are volunteers, of one sort or another. Besides, they are furthering important research into the nature of pain and suffering, of life and death.” She turned to Wrothken and smiled condescendingly. “Don't be concerned. I always return the worthy ones to life. Besides, Lord Sheogorath has sanctioned my studies and my methods. Any loyal servant of the Madgod would respect His decision in this matter.”

Wrothken wanted to ask if Sheogorath knew the intimate details of the studies, but he was afraid of the answer. The fact that Sheogorath approved these “studies” was both unsurprising and sickening.

“At the risk of sounding ‘disloyal,’” he said slowly through clenched teeth. “This is disgusting.” Relmyna looked almost amused. That, or she was imagining making Wrothken one of her subjects. That thought gave him chills.

Still, he looked at the Argonian and the others in similar cages, looking just as tortured and terrified. If left them here to this fate, he would never be able to look at himself in the eye again. No matter if he saved the Shivering Isles, hell, not even if he saved all of Tamriel, nothing would make up for leaving innocent people to be experimented on like this.

He cleared his throat and tried to still the growing tremor in his voice. “And since Sheogorath has given me free reign to act on his authority, I’m going to demand you release these people. Now.”

Wrothken was prepared to face her wrath. He steeled himself, expecting a barrage of curses, magic, verbal, or both. Instead, she only sneered. “I know your type. You believe yourself better than everyone else. You persecute genius when you find it, because we are able to see around the sharp corners of your simplified ‘morality.’” She took a few steps towards him, lifting her chin slightly so she was looking down her nose at him. “I see the vast horizons of thought, while you cannot see past the tip of your own nose,” she snapped, pointing at his face. “I can grant the guilty the cleansing fire of retribution, so they may die purified of soul. And, I can grant the worthy everlasting life! And what can you offer the world, except the hot air escaping through that hole in your head?”

Wrothken was unaccustomed to receiving such a tongue lashing. He had to pause in order to come up with a response. “As it stands, I am the only thing standing between Jyggalag and the Shivering Isles. You want to talk about granting life, but right now, if I choose to leave this cursed realm, it will leave you to die. So much for your knowledge then, right?” Relmyna said nothing, but Wrothken could see her temple throb as she clenched her jaw. Hopefully, she had no idea that if he were to leave, he would likely incur the wrath of a Daedric Prince and probably be given to Relmyna as a subject for his disobedience. “What good will you and your so-called work be if it’s wiped from history? I will ask you one more time. Let. Them. Go.”

The staredown she gave him seemed to last for hours. He felt as if slugs made of lava were crawling under his skin. “Out of deference to my Lord Sheogorath, I will allow this outburst. In fact, I will acquiesce to your request.” He tried to keep from looking surprised, but he could tell by her smug smile that he failed. “But only if you can prove to me the sincerity of your position, and the depth of your conviction. Are you willing to trade places with these souls momentarily, to bear the full weight of their pain and afflictions? Weigh this question carefully.”

“You want me to what?” He finally asked what he had been longing to ask nearly everyone he had met since his journey. “Have you lost your mind?!”

“You come into my sanctuary after you murdered my child and make demands of me? I should ask you the same thing. Make your choice or be off with you! I’ve wasted enough of my time as it is.”

Now what choice did he have? If he refused, not only did he look like a fool and a hypocrite, he would be letting all her victims down, right in front of them. If he agreed, the gods only knew what she was going to do to him. Would he even survive it? She could simply rebuild the Gatekeeper herself after all and it wasn’t as if Sheogorath didn’t know that Wrothken’s life was endangered every time he was sent out of the city walls. It almost seemed like the best thing to do was to kill her and assign a force of Golden Saints to patrol the border to Passwall. This time, he didn’t even feel bad for wishing her dead.

“Fine,” he said softly, looking at the ground. He clenched his fists, wishing to all the gods that he knew a shielding spell. Or one that would reflect her spell. Oh, that would teach her.

She turned back, raising her eyebrows. “Are you sure? You will not easily heal the damage done to you. This is a permanent sacrifice you are making. In fact, it is likely you will die. Perhaps you had better reconsider.”

She had to know that she was making this much harder by saying that. Given what he had survived thus far, if the pain was going to be that bad, he couldn’t even begin to imagine it. His heart already started racing. “Just do it.”

“Truly? Very well,” she sighed a little. “I wasn't quite finished with them, but as long as you remain in Sheogorath's favor, I will not conduct experiments on these people.” She rolled up her sleeves and grinned. “This may hurt a little.”



This post has been edited by Jacki Dice: Dec 23 2019, 08:40 AM


--------------------
Madness Helps Me Save Myself
Nemesis

Standing on the cliffs that kiss burning winds
We are rising together
Brazen, exalting, a hiss of triumph rings
I am yours
...Yours immortally
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Jacki Dice
post May 18 2016, 01:37 AM
Post #243


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Joined: 18-March 10



Chapter Fifty-four: New Passwall


Wrothken tensed himself when he saw the rust-colored glow form around Relmyna’s hands. It didn’t help.

He had expected to be flung from his feet, knocked back in agony, writhing and screaming. Instead, as soon as the spell hit him, it was as if every horrible memory came back to him at once: his mother telling him he was destined to end up like his addict father, the night he caught Atrea in bed with another man, the guilt he felt when he was ordered to assassinate Thadon, the disappointment when he thought he had a chance with Rheyna only to be rejected immediately. Every ounce of sorrow stored in his memory bubbled up, followed by moments of sheer hopelessness.

Then came the physical aspect.

He didn’t remember falling to the ground. Nor did he remember crying out, yet as he shakily stood back up, his throat was sore. He blinked several times until his sight cleared up. He felt worse than when he had been hit by the hunger statue.

Relmyna was glowing with pride. “Did you like that? Pain can be pleasure, you know.”

Wrothken said nothing. He got the feeling that any hateful thing he could muster would simply amuse her. Never had he wanted to strangle someone so badly.

“Anyway,” she said, pulling a key from her cleavage and tossing it to the ground, as if flinging an insect from her fingers. “These people are your headache now.”

“What?” He asked. “What are you…” He looked at the caged people, each of them unarmed, starving, and naked. “You mean, you’re just going to toss them out? Just like that?”

Relmyna shrugged. “Here, they had shelter and nourishment. You insisted on taking that away. You wanted them, so go on! Take them all the way to the Capital if you’d like.” She smiled smugly. “Besides, are you not the exalted Duke? Slayer of the great Gatekeeper? Champion of our mighty Lord Sheogorath? I'm sure you'll be able to something as simple as escorting these people. If not, perhaps Sheogorath's faith in you is misplaced.” As Wrothken clenched his fists, her smile grew. “And you still need to visit my womb and help me birth another Gatekeeper, so it looks like you’ve got your hands full, don’t you?”

Muttering strings of curses, Wrothken bent down and picked up the key. He hated having to kneel before her in order to pick it up. He just knew Relmyna was relishing it. Then, one by one, he unlocked the cages. At first, no one moved. He sighed. “Come on, it’s fine. You’re free now.”

Still, they remained frozen in place.

“Really, it’s safe.”

Relmyna chuckled.

Wrothken turned to her, growling. “Will you do something about this?”

“Your headache,” she smirked.

He closed his eyes, eventually convincing the Argonian to come out first. After much coaxing, one by one, each of them followed Wrothken out of their cages. He was already worn out.

They lined up, some clinging to each other. What in Oblivion was he going to do with them? Whatever it was, he would figure it out away from Relmyna. The last thing he wanted to do was appear any weaker than he already did in front of her.

“Nanette!” Relmyna shouted. “Escort our Lord’s lackey and the experiments out of here. I would hate for him to take the long way out and get himself killed before he can visit The Garden.”

A young woman quickly shuffled out of one of the rooms. Wrothken was taken aback by her innocent appearance. Her heart-shaped face was framed by little gold ringlets. The rest of her hair was tied back in a Breton braid. Her eyes were big and brown, and seemed almost like a doe. Even her salmon colored dress contrasted strongly with a place like this. “Yes, ma’am,” she chirped as she bowed slightly. “Come, come,” she said to Wrothken.

He couldn’t mask the confusion on her face as he followed her down a hallway. “You live here with her?” He asked, as soon as he felt they were out of earshot of Relmyna.

“Oh, yes,” she gushed. “So, you are here to help rebuild the Gatekeeper? That’s very good of you, considering what you did to him.”

Wrothken grunted. No matter what, he was not going to be made to feel guilty for killing the last Gatekeeper. The only shred of regret he had was that if he had left it alone, he wouldn’t be there. He would have made his way to the Imperial City and never had to deal with any of this nonsense.

“So many strange noises here,” Nanette continued. “People screaming, animals dying. But I've learned so much... so much.”

“Like what?” Wrothken spat. “Oh, never mind, I don’t want to know.”

They continued along until the hall became a tunnel, sealed off with a large door. “Here you are!” Nanette handed him a key. “Just come back through here when you’re done gathering the ingredients. And be careful of Relmyna's temper. She…” She lowered her eyes. “She has ways of extracting obedience…”

Wrothken shook his head. “Come with me,” he blurted.

“What?” Nanette gasped, taking a step back.

“I-I said,” He stumbled over his words. He hadn’t meant to come off too strong. “The way you spoke... it’s as if you have experience with her... tactics. Why stay? By the Nine, she tortures people!”

Nanette stubbornly folded her arms. “Relmyna is a genius. Just because you can’t even begin to understand…” Her cheeks were flushed with anger. “Besides, do you know what she’d do to you if she heard you say such a thing? To me?” She shook her head. “I’m just fine, thank you.” With that, she turned and walked back into the main room.

Wrothken shook his head. He hoped to bring her along, not just to get her away from Relmyna, but to have some assistance getting the group to New Sheoth. As usual, he would have to go it alone.



Once they were all outside, Wrothken was mentally preparing himself for the worst. Would they all take off in different directions? Would they collapse the moment they felt sunlight on their skin again? Would a pack of hungers be lingering around? Luckily, none of that happened. They remained huddled in a cluster. Wrothken supposed Relmyna must have broken them long ago. Would it have been kinder to just allow them to die?

Wrothken’s heart twisted. How could he even think of such a thing? These people, innocent people, had the right to live. Everyone did.

“Alright,” Wrothken said, looking up at the sky. “If I’m going to get you all safely away, I need help. New Sheoth is a long way away from…” He turned around, putting his hands on his hips for a moment.

They had just exited from what appeared to be a large stone from the outside. The only identifier was a red crack in the rock, as if it was bleeding. Given the strange scenery, it was easy to overlook. The exit was a couple miles northwest from where he had entered. Coincidentally, it was also just northeast of what remained of Passwall.

He looked from Passwall to the group and then back to Passwall.

“Are all of you from here?”

“Here?” An Orc echoed after a while. He shook his head. “Deepwallow.”

“Fellmoor,” an Altmer said.

“Highcross.”

“Same here.”

Wrothken hadn’t heard of any of these places, but he assumed they were all towns around the Isles. “Alright,” he said. “I don’t know where any of those places are, but we’re near Passwall. There’s houses and clothes. I’m going to take you there tonight and we’ll decide what to do from there. Sound good?”

There were some nods and murmurs of agreement to Wrothken’s relief. He thought he was going to have to run a naked courier.


By the time he had reached Passwall, Wrothken had gotten their names. For people who had just left a torture chamber, Wrothken noticed that they were relatively well-adjusted. The only explanation he could think of was the fact that they’re all from the Shivering Isles. Could a mind already arguably broken in some ways, be completely broken? Or did a life in the Isles make some minds more resilient, due to already being accustomed to everything?

Upon reaching Passwall, Wrothken was surprised that he still felt a sinking in his stomach. The bodies were gone, but the ghost town reminded him that everyone he had met his first day in the Isles had been killed. Well, except Shelden, Jayred, and Relmyna. He couldn’t help wishing he could trade Relmyna for just about anyone else.

The six former victims looked around. “Do we just pick somewhere?” Estrid, the Altmer asked.

Wrothken shrugged. “I suppose so. They houses might need cleaning, and any food you find has definitely gone bad, so don’t trust anything. Just... see if you can find something growing. On a tree or a bush I mean! Don’t eat any mold or…” He felt like he was talking to children for a moment. “Just be careful.”

Each of them walked off, looking at the various houses. Food is going to be a problem, he thought. There were fruit trees here and there, but they couldn’t survive on that alone. Not for too long, anyway. He sat on the steps to The Wastrel’s Purse. Other than spend a week helping them hunt and figuring out how to grow crops, what could he do?

“Hmmm…”

He decided to summon Haskill.

The chamberlain appeared in his usual violet mist. “Hmph. I never thought I’d actually be happy to see you. That man, Shelden, is going to make the rest of my hair fall out.” He looked around. “So, I will truly take pleasure in what little reprieve you have granted me.”

“Shelden…” Wrothken said, folding his arms. That gave him an idea.

“Did you take a page from Relmyna’s book of tortures when you decided to invite him to New Sheoth? He has been pestering me non-stop about his home not being ‘mayoral’ enough. In fact, I would be cautious if I were you. He may attempt to replace you in order to secure some form of prestige. I highly doubt he would be fit to stop the Greymarch.”

“Send him back,” Wrothken said. “And, while you’re at it, I need food. Food and seeds and... whatever it takes to get a town going. Send a Golden Saint to escort him so he arrives safely. In fact, I’d like a handful of them to guard this place until it’s stable. And tell them I said to leave their attitudes behind.” When he noticed Haskill’s questioning look, he explained his encounter with Relmyna.

“The thing about you that I believe Lord Sheogorath appreciates is your complete lack of common sense paired with your passion. I do hope that in the near future you’ll act with a lot more thought as the fate of our realm rests on your shoulders.”

Wrothken sighed. Though as far as he was concerned he did the right, and only, thing, Haskill had a point. If Relmyna had killed him earlier, then everyone else would have suffered the consequences.

“Okay, you’re right, fine,” he said. “But now Passwall can be rebuilt and you can get Shelden out of your hair.”

Haskill narrowed his eyes. “I hope that wasn’t an attempt to be funny.”

Wrothken shook his head quickly, though he had to admit to himself that it was a little.

“Fine,” Haskill sighed. “But only because I fear that should I spend one more moment in that man’s presence, I fear I may lose myself. I’m sure he’ll leap at the opportunity to rule over something again.”

With that, he vanished.

Wrothken stood up. One problem down, a hundred to go. He headed into Shelden’s house. No one had claimed it. Wrothken supposed that they had enough torture with Relmyna so they didn’t need any more visual assault from Shelden’s portraits. He felt bad that they would be subject to the real thing, but at the same time, Shelden did know how to take charge and get things done.


This post has been edited by Jacki Dice: Dec 23 2019, 08:40 AM


--------------------
Madness Helps Me Save Myself
Nemesis

Standing on the cliffs that kiss burning winds
We are rising together
Brazen, exalting, a hiss of triumph rings
I am yours
...Yours immortally
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Grits
post May 18 2016, 02:36 AM
Post #244


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Joined: 6-November 10
From: The Gold Coast



Oh my gosh, two new chapters!! Yay! biggrin.gif

Yikes, poor Wrothken when Relmyna told him to go to her childs womb, lol. I am delighted to read more of this story!


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Jacki Dice
post May 29 2016, 11:17 PM
Post #245


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Joined: 18-March 10



Grits: Honestly, I would have thought the same thing! I mean, who would assume that a "womb" is a building a few miles away?

~~~~~♥~~~~~

Chapter Fifty-five: Into the Womb



The next morning, Wrothken slipped out of Shelden’s house to head to the Garden of Flesh and Bone. He had no idea when Shelden would arrive and the last thing he wanted was to get caught in his house. He had no doubt that Shelden would follow him all the way to the Garden just to give him a piece of his mind.

If anyone else was up, he couldn’t tell. Passwall was about as silent as it had been before their arrival. If anyone deserves a good long sleep, Wrothken thought. It’s them.

It wasn’t until he began walking the path to the Garden that he remembered that he had been there before. It was his first day, going with Jayred to find bones to make arrows from. It was the Gatekeeper’s brother, he had said. Just how many Gatekeepers did Relmyna make?

The gate was still open from when he had picked the locks. Parts of the Gatekeeper not suitable for arrows, or whatever other unholy purpose Jayred used them for, remained on the ground. What a trip this became, Wrothken thought. Funny how he could think of Atrea without much of a twinge these days, yet his mind was far from clearer.

He slipped through the gates using the hole he made before and placed it back so it looked sturdy and shut. Should anyone with ill intentions try to follow him in, it would at least slow them down. Unless of course an obelisk sprouted up within the Gardens. Then he would be slowing down his own escape. He hesitated before continuing forward. Hopefully he wouldn’t have that problem. He wondered if he should look into things he could carry for good luck, but then decided against it. He had a feeling it would consume him and he’d wind up losing his mind over it. Look what happened to Uungor.

Across the courtyard was what looked like a mausoleum. It was a small, rectangular building built from white stone. The almond-shaped double doors were smooth, like marble with golden handles. Because it looked so small on the outside, Wrothken had no doubt that he would have to travel down into an underground chamber. Wrothken just wished he knew how much of it there was. And what was lurking down in the womb of Relmyna... He shuddered.

Taking a deep breath, he headed straight in. Two vials, two sacks. He needed breath and blood, which he understood, and then dermis and marrow, whatever those were. Skin and bone? It made enough sense, he supposed. He wished he had asked for specifics, but he had had other things on his mind at the moment. He would just have to figure it out and pray to the Divines that he wouldn’t mess up.

As soon as he was inside, the doors slid shut behind him. Just like Xaselm, the area was lit with welkynd stones, with a few banners hanging from the ceiling. Beyond the small room he just entered, a flight of stairs descended to another door. The only difference was that the area was caked in dust. It seemed Relmyna was indeed too distraught to come down. Wrothken scoffed a little at the thought. That wretched woman distraught, or feeling any genuine emotion, was just too much to imagine. Haskill seemed more capable of that than she did.

Just get the stuff, then you never have to see her again, he thought to himself. Then, after becoming Sheogorath, whatever that meant exactly, instead of firing Haskill as the first order of business, he was going to banish Relmyna. Where and how, he didn’t care. Hell, maybe some other realm would have her or give her a taste of her own medicine. He shook his head. He didn’t want to keep thinking of her. She just angered him so much!

Another door was before him. When he opened it, he took a few steps before hearing a loud rumbling. He turned around, expecting to see an obelisk rising from the ground. Instead, it was a trap. Several large boulders rained from the ceiling. Had he taken a few more steps, he would have been crushed. He scrambled back up the stairs as visions of Xeddefen filled his mind. He stood there, gripping the wall for several minutes after the last rock had fallen.

Relmyna, that hateful monster, sent him down there with no warning of that trap! How would he get the materials for her if he had gotten squished? He would become the materials! He briefly imagined her using his own body parts to supplement what was needed to rebuild the Gatekeeper. He shuddered. There he would be, mouth sewn, eyes gone, wandering until some other unfortunate soul entered the Isles to try and stop the Greymarch. He wasn’t sure if he would be more likely to urge them to get away or to accept death and be put out of his misery. Then he wondered if that could have been the fate of the last Gatekeeper. Was he some poor adventurer who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, turned into some hideous monster by Relmyna? He felt a bitter warmth threatening to bubble up his throat.

“Get a hold of yourself!” He said to himself, wishing he could splash himself with some cold water. He wasn’t sure what it was that kept him thinking about Relmyna and her activities. Maybe it was because she, too, came from Mundus. If madness like that already existed in Mundus, how many others like her were there? What did it say about his own potential? He shook his head. At least Uungor was rather harmless. But Relmyna… He took a breath. He needed to stop. He had a task at hand and then he could get back to New Sheoth and pretend he never met that foul woman until it was time to imprison her or banish her or whatever he decided. Maybe feed her to Jyggalag. Had Sheogorath already tried human sacrifice?

Wrothken couldn’t bring himself to move for a while longer. Again, he was reminded of Amiable and his fear of the walls coming down on him. From there, his thoughts brought him to the fragileness of some of the residents. He had to save them. If he didn’t, no one would. One, two... on three, he took cautious steps down to where the pile of boulders rested. He looked up at the ceiling. There didn’t seem to be any other traps. Still, he felt on his guard.

Ahead of him was another, shorter, flight of stairs. He could see sconces holding welkynd stones in an entryway. As Wrothken approached, he noticed a pair of statues on either side. Both of them were women... well, mostly. Both of them had the face and upper body of a nude elven woman. They had snakes for hair, which all seemed to writhe in every direction. Their lower halves were also like a snake. Wrothken noticed that down their arms were carved feathers. They craftsmanship was so detailed that when Wrothken touched one of the feathers, he almost expected it to bend. He wondered if people like these ever existed in the Isles. Were they guarding this place? He hoped not. Though they only statues, he felt strangely intimidated.

The entry led to yet another downstairs area, though it was in worse condition. It seemed like a rock trap had gone off before his arrival, though he couldn’t tell how long ago it had been. Unfortunately, it blocked the only path ahead.

He sighed. “Now what?”

Beyond the rocks, a downstairs area was visible. Wrothken tried pushing them out of the way, but they wouldn’t budge. Nor could he pull them through the arch. “Damn!” He hissed. Maybe there was another way. He crossed the serpentine women again and looked where he had almost gotten crushed. Sure enough, to the right there was another way through. He must have been so eager that he tried to just plow through. He had a feeling that in a place like this, he would have to take his time and explore, both to avoid traps and to make sure he didn’t get stuck at a dead end.

The doors opened and he immediately saw more decay. However, the debris led to a tunnel with glowing pods along the dirt. While he had seen those in many of the tunnels he had explored, he wondered if they would lead him to where he needed to be. He climbed up and it was almost like being in Dunroot Burrow, only without the elytra. He felt relieved. He never wanted to see or hear those things again for reasons having to do more with himself than the creatures themselves.

The tunnels wove and wound, but there was no hint of anything Relmyna claimed to need. In fact, he was starting to wonder if there was any ingredients to be found at all. Maybe this place was an endless labyrinth and he was cursed to walk the tunnels forever. Or maybe there was some unavoidable trap at the end.

He stopped. “Cut it out!” He said to himself. She was making him paranoid! If he kept it up, he was going to wind up like Syl. The memory of the former Duchess brought the idea of sending Herdir after Relmyna. Then again, that might wind up being a match made in the House of Dibella. He didn’t even want to imagine the sort of things they would do together.

Eventually, he came across a bridge made from tree roots. From the bridge, he saw what looked like large plants made of bone. Large white roots sprouted from the ground with giant fleshy orange flowers in the middle of them. He wasn’t too high up off the ground, so he carefully climbed down.

He took out one of the sacks, figuring that whatever he was harvesting wouldn’t be bottled. Was he gathering the stem or the flower though? Or both? He nodded. Both. He would rather bring more than what was needed than not enough and have to come back.

First, he lifted the bony root from the ground. It took a while, but after a sickening crack, it gave. It was like a giant’s finger bones, too large for his bag. He set it aside for later. He then pulled the petals from the flower. Unfortunately, it didn’t just look fleshy. It had the same texture as well. Peeling the petals off felt the same as pulling skin from a sunburn. He winced. Then he retched as the petal started folding in on itself. It just looked too real. He couldn’t help frowning disgustedly as he stuffed the petals into the sack. Wrothken got the feeling that this would be a recurring feeling. Scooping up the giant bones, he followed the path from where he was.

He was led through the earthy tunnels until he came across another area of bone, though this one lacked the flowers. Instead, it was as if a spiked spine were jutting from the ceiling. The root-like bone had several parts that looked easy enough to break. Setting the larger piece down, he approached and carefully broke off a few pieces. Each one that broke dribbled out a pinkish-yellow ooze onto his gauntlets. “Oh, by the Nine,” he muttered. Though he was thankful that it didn’t touch his skin, he still felt repulsed. What exactly was all this stuff anyway? Surely, it couldn’t be actual body parts. It had to be some sort of very convincing plant-life... right? He shook his head. He learned that around the Isles, some things were better left unanswered.

The tunnels wound even deeper underground to an area filled with green clouds that flew along the tunnels. With every gust, they sighed forlornly. That had to be the breath she needed. What was he supposed to do? Stand there and catch it in a bottle? Or was there a source? Perhaps a giant set of lungs. He sure hoped not.

He decided to follow them, just to see if there was a source. Thankfully, when he came across it, it was not a set of organs at all. In the center of roots coming from the floor and ceiling was swirling green smoke. The clouds seemed to rush to the point in the middle before going outward. He still wasn’t sure exactly what he was supposed to do. Out of the two bottles, one was clear. He supposed that one was supposed to hold the breath, so he could see if it collected. Carefully, he held the bottle in front of a gust. It glowed green with the breath. Simple and pleasant enough. He thought he was done with the gross part until he remembered the final ingredient. Blood.

Why did he have to come all this way for that? He bet that Relmyna had plenty of blood stashed away. Her hands were certainly stained with it, both figuratively and literally. He growled.

He followed the path until the tunnels brought him back to the stone rooms again. The area seemed new, but judging by the uphill climb, he had to be level with the surface, or at least close to it. The only odd thing was the sound of running water.

As he got closer to the source of the sound, a metallic smell grew stronger. He had a feeling he knew what was coming. Oh, please be water, he thought, taking out the bottle anyway. He kept going until he saw exactly what was flowing through the room.

While he wasn’t that surprised by the blood being there, he was shocked at how much there was. It seemed to be coming from a smooth, fleshy tube at the other end of the room. It was enough to fill the entire area, which was almost as large as his bedroom in the House of Mania, a few inches deep. For once, he was speechless. He filled the vial and then double checked that he had everything.

The entire way out, Wrothken felt disgusted. The womb of Relmyna was just like the rest of her: repulsive. Though he was glad when he was back outside, it was hard for him to walk the path to Xaselm knowing that each step was bringing him closer to her.


This post has been edited by Jacki Dice: Dec 23 2019, 08:41 AM


--------------------
Madness Helps Me Save Myself
Nemesis

Standing on the cliffs that kiss burning winds
We are rising together
Brazen, exalting, a hiss of triumph rings
I am yours
...Yours immortally
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Jacki Dice
post Jun 3 2016, 12:37 AM
Post #246


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Joined: 18-March 10



~~~~~♥~~~~~~

Chapter Fifty-Six: Labor



Wrothken had stood in front of the door for who knew how long before convincing himself to enter her sanctum. When he finally found Relmyna, his stomach twisted as he saw that he was hesitant for good reason. The room she had been waiting in was scattered with body parts for the Gatekeeper. Upon closer inspection, he saw that they weren’t scattered. In fact, they were neatly organized by type. He wasn’t sure if that made things better or worse.

“You have returned with all the components?” She asked, looking up from a book she had been writing in. Wrothken handed over the two bottles, sacks, and the large finger bone. “Excellent,” she said, inspecting everything. “All that remains is to choose the body parts.”

Wrothken looked around. “Why are there parts?” He managed to ask.

“Fearing one day someone might manage to kill my child, I have been preparing a new body. I've created versions of each appendage, with various enhancements. You must choose one of each. I am too attached to them all. Artist's prerogative,” she said with a prideful grin.

The entire thing seemed so surreal. Heads, arms, legs, just laying out as if he were getting ready to buy fruit from the market. Yet, this was tame compared to what he had seen earlier.

He started with the heads. It seemed a good a place as any. Two of them sat on the table, bigger than any watermelons he had ever seen. One was just like the one he had encountered before: fleshy spots where eyes, nose, and mouth should have been. Seeing it severed and up close just made it creepier. The head next to it had a helmet covering most of its face, save for a few slits around the eye area. “That head,” he said, pointing.

Relmyna took it and kissed its forehead. She hesitated, but gave a kiss to the other head as well. Wrothken quickly turned away.

Next was the torso. He noticed that no keys were sewn into its skin. Each were the same, except for the gaping hole where its heart should have been. He looked at Relmyna for a moment, wondering if the joke he wanted to make to himself about that was just too easy. One glowed soft green and the other glowed a deep violet. Whatever the difference was, Wrothken assumed it had to do with magic. As he didn’t care to ask, since that would require him to speak with her more than necessary, he picked the green one because he liked the color better.

Then there were a set of arms, both left and right. The right arms all had a selection of weapons attached to them and the left had glowing glass-like gems along the forearm. The right arm options were a sword, an axe, or a mace. He felt a little biased toward the mace, so he almost picked that one. However, he reconsidered. Did he really want something reminiscent of himself on the Gatekeeper? It would feel too much like he and Relmyna truly made one together. “Ugh…” He muttered at the very idea. “The axe,” he said.

He took a closer look at the left arms. The three selections differed in that the gems along the arms shone different colors: one red, one light blue, and the last, gold. He figured they symbolized the typical destruction schools, fire, frost, and shock. It seemed that everyone knew a fire spell, so he selected that one.

Two pairs of legs hung from hooks on the walls. Like the previous Gatekeeper, there was no armor. Just some steel around its hips. The legs themselves differed in that one set was leaner than the other. It was like comparing a wood elf’s legs to an Orc’s. Wrothken had a feeling she had taken the time to learn the precise muscle patterns of each. He did rescue both and Orc and a wood elf from her torture chamber, after all. Shaking his head, he selected the stronger looking legs.

The final piece was the heart. They both glistened slightly, but Wrothken couldn’t tell what made the hearts unique. He simply picked the one on the right.

“All finished?” Relmyna asked. “Now, travel to the statue of our Lord, in the Fringe. There we will perform the ceremony. I will meet you there at dusk.”

Wrothken sighed slightly. As he was glad to leave her, he was disappointed that this wasn’t the end of it. What else could she possibly need from him?



When he reached the Fringe, the sun was still high up in the sky. There were a few hours to kill, so he decided to take a look at Passwall or New Passwall or whatever it was going to be called. It would also give him time to warn the new residents to stay away from the Gatekeeper.

He headed down the steps into the village and heard Shelden’s voice. He sighed. Though he hoped to avoid him, he was glad to see him around. It meant he would stay out of New Sheoth and hopefully he could get things running. Sure enough, Shelden was outside the Wastrel’s Purse loosening some dirt. Naked.

“What the--?” Wrothken said in surprise.

“Well, look who’s here!” Shelden said, turning around and placing his hands on his hips. “You needed my help, yet again! It’s about time someone appreciated how essential I am, but I’m starting to think that maybe I should be given a higher station. Maybe higher than you, since I’m actually doing something.”

“Shelden... where are your clothes?”

“Why? You want them?”

“No!” Wrothken pinched the bridge of his nose and counted to five. “I mean, why aren’t you wearing them?”

Shelden shrugged. “No one else is. I can’t be looking silly, being the only one wearing clothes! Besides, I have a splendor all my own.”

“What do you mean, no one else is?” Wrothken buried his face in his hands. “You can’t all be going around skyclad!”

“Says who? You’re not the mayor around here!”

“I mean…” Wrothken looked around. “What if you get attacked? Knights of Order might still show up! Remember them?”

“Oh please. Even if they do, you think a few layers of cloth are gonna help? Know what I think? You’re just jealous!”

Wrothken wanted to ask what he was supposedly jealous of, but he had an idea of where that conversation would go. “Fine. You know what, you’re right. This is your town and if you all want to be as naked as jaybirds, I don’t care.”

“Thank you,” Shelden said, turning his nose up to try and look down upon Wrothken. As Wrothken was much taller, Shelden wound up having to arch his back to do so.

“So, since you’re mayor and all that, I wanted to tell you that there’s going to be a new Gatekeeper. You might want to make sure everyone stays clear.”

“Yeah, yeah…” Shelden said, getting back to the patch of land.



Dusk came before Wrothken knew it. He stood at the entrance to the Gates of Mania and Dementia. It was right where the old Gatekeeper had been slain. It seemed at once like ages ago but as fresh as yesterday. The gates opened slowly and Relmyna appeared. An ornate black box floated behind her. Wrothken supposed that was the pieces of the Gatekeeper. Instead of her black dress, she was wearing a bright red gown. With every step, the skirt swished, showing pink fabric inside.

When she approached the statue of Sheogorath, she knelt before it momentarily before rising to tenderly kiss its lips. She then turned to Wrothken and with a wave of her hand, the box glided in front of him and landed with a loud thud. The lid creaked open, revealing the gatekeeper parts, as well as candles and the ingredients he had gotten for her. There were six candles, all different colors: red, blue, green, yellow, and white. The final one was a strange brown color, marbled with pink and red. Relmyna took the candles, arranging them around a large circle on the ground.

“Are you prepared to birth my child?” She asked Wrothken.

He just nodded. He wasn’t quite sure what he would be doing.

“Stand here next to me and follow my instructions,” she said. She then raised her arms to the sky. Her hands began to glow light blue, as did the entire circle in front of them. “First, place the Gatekeeper's body into the Cistern of Substantiation.”

Wrothken lifted each piece from the box. Though it was in pieces, it still took a lot of effort to lift everything. He felt irritated knowing that Relmyna could probably do it herself with just a flick of her wrist. Each piece was placed into the circle and Wrothken was surprised to see that they fell inside, as if the circle was no longer solid, but a container of its own.

Relmyna then spoke. “At the beginning of the worlds were five. Fire, water, earth, air, and light.” As she spoke their names, the red, blue, green, and yellow candles each seemed to light itself. “Darkness turned into day,” she continued. “The void took form. Hidden away, by virtue of its own self-awareness, was the sixth, containing within it the five which birthed it. Flesh!” The final candle lit itself. “Meat with the desire to consume like fire.” She turned to Wrothken. “Place the Dermis Membrane into the cistern.”

The fleshy petals no longer felt soft and pliable, like skin. They now felt stiff and dry. He quickly flung them into the glowing cistern.

“Blood, liquid nutrient, that ocean which casts pearls of life upon the shores of existence. Place the Blood Liqueur into the Cistern of Substantiation.”

Wrothken poured the contents of the vial into the cistern. It flashed red for a moment before returning to its blue color.

“Bone, branch and stone of the body, giving shape and structure. Place the Osseous Marrow into the cistern.”

He noticed that the giant finger bone was not in the box. It had to be the smaller pieces that he gathered. The ones that had oozed all over him. His gauntlets were still crusty. He held the sack as one would hold soiled clothing, away from him and shook the bone pieces into the cistern.

“Breath, child of air, bestowing movement, the stirring of spirit. Place the Essence of Breath into the Cistern of Substantiation.”

He wasn’t sure quite how to do that. Wouldn’t the breath just dissipate in the air? He took the bottle and knelt on the ground, opening it up with the top facing down. He was careful not to touch it. The image of Relmyna kicking him into the cistern popped up in his mind and he quickly got up, not wanting to give her any ideas. He glanced at her, noticing that she hadn’t moved from her spot.

“And last, the light of Flesh, the illumination of Soul -- perception, thought, memory, imagination.... I summon thee, walker in Flesh! Flesh of true Flesh! From those waters of Oblivion which sire thy kind. Come to this altar. Join with this body.”

The cistern turned dark, like a stormy night. Clouds swirled around, moving faster as she spoke.

“Quintessence of Flesh joined with the Essence of Flesh. Absolute in mortal. Immortal bound to contingent! Stand clear of the cistern,” she said to Wrothken. “Over here by me.”

He didn’t want to, but he figured it would be best to do as she said during the ritual. When he stood at her side, she suddenly grabbed his hand. Wrothken could feel a power surging through him, from her. His heart pounded. “What are you doing?”

“Lend me your power, royal lackey,” she said. “Together, we shall bring forth new life! Do this, and know the power of the flesh!”

She didn’t wait for him to respond.

“Honored Daedra, fear not thy abasement! Thou shalt be the Holy in this Temple. I bind thee Atronach to this body, henceforth Gatekeeper of the Shivering Isles.”

She released his grip on him when something began to rise from the cistern. Slimy and red, like a newborn baby, a Gatekeeper rose. It stumbled from the dimming cistern and knelt before Relmyna. She looked overjoyed as she held its head to her chest. “My child,” she said in a voice so tender, he didn’t think it was possible. “It is time to fulfill your destiny. Stand guard in this land against all those who seek entry not bearing the mark of Sheogorath's favor. You shall know them by the coldness in their minds. A darkness of spirit.”

A familiar shrieking came from behind them. They turned to see an obelisk rise, right at the stairs leading up to the Gatekeeper’s territory. “What's this?” Relmyna hissed. A wicked grin spread across her face. “My child, they are coming. Destroy them! Show them your true power!”

With an eerie silence, the Gatekeeper stomped toward the Knights. It picked up the first one and slammed it to the ground repeatedly until it was nothing but shards and splinters. Wrothken couldn’t help wondering what would have happened if the previous Gatekeeper had managed to get its hands on him like that.

As the new Gatekeeper worked, he thought back to what she had said during the ritual. Know the power of flesh? What did that even mean? He looked down at his hands. Even without direct skin-to-skin contact, he could tell that something was done to him. Yet, he didn’t feel like she hurt him. In fact, he felt stronger. It was like she gave him something.

“You’ll find that you can summon an atronach of flesh to aid you in your time of need,” Relmyna said softly. “You’ll see the fruits of my labor and perhaps eventually you’ll come to appreciate my methods.” She placed her hands on her hips and turned to the Gatekeeper. “Now, watch my child destroy the interlopers or run to Sheogorath. Either way, tell Him of our doings here. Send Him my tribute... and my affections.”

Thankful that Relmyna didn’t give Wrothken a kiss to pass along to Sheogorath, which he certainly would not have done, he took a last look at the Gatekeeper and headed through the Gates of Dementia. As disgusted as he felt having a piece of her knowledge embedded within him, especially without him asking or consenting, he had to admit, summoning one of those things could prove useful. In fact, he almost considered suggesting to Sheogorath that there be more of them built and stationed around the Isles.



This post has been edited by Jacki Dice: Dec 23 2019, 08:41 AM


--------------------
Madness Helps Me Save Myself
Nemesis

Standing on the cliffs that kiss burning winds
We are rising together
Brazen, exalting, a hiss of triumph rings
I am yours
...Yours immortally
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Jacki Dice
post Jun 13 2016, 08:30 PM
Post #247


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Joined: 18-March 10



Chapter Fifty-Seven: Cats and Bags


Wrothken made back to New Sheoth around midday. Though he knew time was of the essence, he stopped by Bernice’s Taphouse before heading to the palace. He hadn’t seen her lately and he felt badly. Yes, saving the realm was definitely a priority, but he knew he wouldn’t have gotten that far without her support. He would have lost his mind long ago without having someone other than Haskill to talk to. Besides, he missed her. Though she looked nothing like his grandmother, she reminded him a lot of her. He sighed. He hadn’t seen her in a while either.

First thing after removing Relmyna from the realm or arresting her, or whatever he was going to do, he was going to catch up with everyone he had drifted away from. His grandma, Kirsty... Oh, Kirsty was going to be so mad at him. He cringed a little. Though he was much taller and probably weighed twice as much, he still felt a twinge of fear thinking of her fury.

He shook his head. He would make it up to her, but first he had to make sure he lived through the Greymarch. That reminded him of something else he wanted to ask Bernice about.

He entered the taphouse. As usual, he got a few looks from people, but he ignored them, going straight up to the bar.

“Well, well,” Bernice said smiling. “I was starting to worry you’d forgotten about little old me.”

“Never,” Wrothken said. “I’ve been, well, you know.”

“Still working on saving the realm. Don’t worry, I figured as much. So what brings you in today?”

“Well, it’s about the realm. But I was thinking, can we maybe talk over lunch? We can go to the palace.” When she raised her eyebrows in surprise, he added, “I mean, I may as well use it. Besides, the gardens are actually pretty nice.”

Bernice frowned for a moment. “Thadon’s palace was known for an awful lot of diseases. Do you think I’ll catch anything?”

Wrothken shook his head. “Even if you did, I’d go back and get you that water from Knotty Bramble. It worked last time, right?”

Bernice smiled. “Well, alright.” She turned to the people at the tables. “Hey, everyone out! I’m closing up early!”



The garden was easily Wrothken’s favorite part of the Palace of Mania. Though Wide-Eye still painted there on occasion, she wasn’t bad company as long as the subject of Thadon was avoided.

When Wrothken arrived, the garden was empty, save for a couple of Golden Saints pacing around. They took a seat among the brightly colored flowers and Wrothken requested that lunch be brought out to them.

“So this is where you’ve been staying,” Bernice said, looking around. “A bit flashy for my taste, but I suppose I could see the appeal for someone like you. So,” She sat up a little, scooting in. “What’s it you wanted to ask about?”

“Well, I told you about the…” He looked at the nearest Golden Saint, who seemed uninterested in the conversation. “The Greymarch. Do you remember anything like that happening before?”

“Oh, goodness no!” She shook her head. “Based on what you’ve told me, it doesn’t seem like anything one could survive, does it? If the whole realm is destroyed, there’s not a lot of options are there?”

“Apparently, there’s been at least one survivor. I think Jyggalag is supposed to attack and based on what Sheogorath says, I think he’ll send his forces through the Fringe, up here to New Sheoth. Do you know the construction of the buildings real well?” When Bernice gave him a strange look, he clarified. “I mean, are there any safe-houses in the city? Maybe some basements people can hole up in until its safe?”

“Well, I know I’ve got a storage room downstairs. I don’t know about anywhere else, dearie. My illnesses kept me from really going out much, you see. Besides, I don’t know if hiding out will do any good. These Knights sound like they’d easily wipe out any stragglers they’d find.”

Wrothken thought of Passwall. “You’re right about that.” He sighed. “Then…” He thought for a moment. “Unless I can shift everyone in the Shivering Isles into Mundus…” He shook his head. “I’d have an easier time finding the Count of Anvil.” To Bernice’s confused expression, Wrothken waved. “Never mind. Besides, I saw what happened when someone from here entered Mundus.”

“What happened?”

“He just lost it. I mean, worse than most people here. He tried to attack someone. Besides, it seems like New Sheoth isn’t the only town here.” He briefly filled her in on Relmyna and her experiments. “All of them named off these places they’re from, so I would need an army to collect everyone. But the army is going to be busy holding off the Knights.” He sighed, burying his face in his hands. “It really seems like the only way to keep everyone safe is to take down Jyggalag.”

Bernice patted his arm. “No pressure, love.”



After lunch, Wrothken headed to report to Sheogorath. As he crossed the courtyard, he kept feeling as if any second, obelisks would sprout up in the center, letting out horde upon horde of Knights of Order. He was relieved when he entered the throne room without incident.

Sheogorath was seated on his throne, with his legs hanging off one of the arms. Haskill was standing near a pedestal displaying a Heart of Order. When Wrothken entered, Sheogorath hopped up. Haskill seemed not to notice his arrival.

“A new Gatekeeper!”Sheogorath cried, clapping his hands. “Excellent. We might be onto something with you after all,” he said with a wink. “That should keep out the stragglers. And I see you've got all your limbs about you! Relmyna must like you, little Duke... but probably not in that way."

“And thank Dibella for that,” Wrothken said under his breath. “But, about the Gatekeeper. I had an idea--”

Wrothken was cut off by a male Mazken bursting through the doors. “Lord Sheogorath!” He said, panting slightly. Wrothken was surprised. Though apparently the men were considered much weaker, Wrothken had never thought that a Daedra could be out of breath. They always seemed near invulnerable. “I apologize for the intrusion,” he said, kneeling. “But you must help us! Order has attacked Pinnacle Rock and routed us!"

Sheogorath frowned for a moment. His frown was more chilling than his colorful threats. “Well, well,” he said, stroking his beard. “What a turn of events this is. It's new, and I like new, even if it's bad. And this is bad, isn't it? My, my…”

He turned to Wrothken. “This is a particularly exciting turn of events, is it not? A perfect job for you, my newest and only noble in the realm! If Order has entered my army's stronghold, things have taken a disturbing turn.”

“Really?” Wrothken asked. “What makes this any more disturbing than what’s been happening already?”

“It means Order has tried subterfuge... not its strong suit. Amazing!” He said with a clap. “Perhaps things aren't going as poorly as I'd imagined. You'll want to get all the details from the messenger.”

“Right... though I don’t understand. If Jyggalag is doing all this, why hasn’t he tried to attack here yet? Why waste time going after strongholds if he really wants you?”

Sheogorath and Haskill exchanged glances. Then Sheogorath made a face that made Wrothken’s blood feel like slush. It was a look of amusement, pity, and surprise all at once. “Aren't you precious?” Sheogorath patted Wrothken’s cheek gently. “Do you really not know? Haven't you noodled it all through yet?”

Wrothken’s eyes widened as he shook his head. What was it that he was supposed to have noodled?

“Because…” Sheogorath grinned. “He is me!”

Wrothken’s jaw dropped.

“I'm him! We're a bit of each other, really. I won't be here when he arrives, because I'll be him. Happens every time. The Greymarch starts, Order appears, and I become Jyggalag and wipe out my whole realm.”

Wrothken wanted to yell, cry, fall to his knees, and run away all at once. It wasn’t until Haskill lifted his jaw shut that he found his words. “What in Oblivion do you mean you’re Jyggalag?! How could you... you of all people be Jyggalag?”

Sheogorath laughed. “Cat's out of the bag on that one, innit? Who puts cats in bags, anyway? Cats hate bags.”

Wrothken shook his head. “Why can’t you just.. just not be Jyggalag? Just don’t do it! You can stop this... can’t you?”

“Stop it?” Sheogorath chuckled, shaking his head. “Oh, no. Can't do it. Believe me, I've tried. It never ends well. But you're still going to stop the Greymarch. Stop Jyggalag-- Me-- from destroying my Realm. You've already forced Order's hand. No stopping now. Some things can't be stopped.”

Wrothken buried his face in his hands and just screamed for a while. Why not? He earned a nice, relaxing scream, especially after that news. When he finished, he looked back at Sheogorath. He didn’t seem to notice. “How long do we have? A few days? Weeks?”

“Soon,” he said, shrugging a little. “Too soon. I can already feel the change beginning. I feel like I'm not quite here. I'm not over there yet, but I'm not quite here. And I've been having moments of clarity that are quite unlike me. Like now.”

Wrothken took a deep breath. He could fall apart later. Probably just before bed. “Alright. Alright,” he exhaled and shook his hands. “So now what?”

“Now? Nothing has changed! You deal with this messenger. Make sure my army is secure. You'll need them.”

Wrothken turned to the Mazken, who had risen, watching everything quietly. “Okay, let’s get to Pinnacle Rock.”


This post has been edited by Jacki Dice: Dec 23 2019, 08:42 AM


--------------------
Madness Helps Me Save Myself
Nemesis

Standing on the cliffs that kiss burning winds
We are rising together
Brazen, exalting, a hiss of triumph rings
I am yours
...Yours immortally
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Jacki Dice
post Mar 20 2020, 08:40 PM
Post #248


Knower
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Joined: 18-March 10



Here I am, a decade later.

So I was working at a place over the summer and I had two weeks of downtime at a computer, so I wound up updating the story, going through and making edits/rewrites and all that. I changed a couple names and so on.

And now, it is Coronavirus time and school is closed and my state is under lockdown, so why not continue?


~~~~~♥~~~~~

Chapter Fifty-Eight: Pinnacle Rock



Wrothken accompanied the Mazken messenger back to Pinnacle Rock. His name was Zryacius. That was all Wrothken could remember. Though he swore that Zryacius informed him, repeatedly, of what had happened, Wrothken just couldn’t retain the information. The only thing that played in his head, over and over again was the fact that Sheogorath was Jyggalag.

Sheogorath.

Was.

Jyggalag.

The Prince of Madness was also the Prince of Order. This was insane, even for the Isles. It was absolutely maddening! He was supposed to go up against Sheogorath himself? What happened if, if, he defeated him? Would that truly break the cycle? For how long? How could he be sure that Sheogorath wouldn’t just turn back to Jyggalag as soon as Wrothken left? Divines, would he have to stick around the Isles to be Sheogorath’s babysitter until he died of old age? What if he was “gifted” with immortality in order to do that? Was that what happened to Haskill? No wonder he was the way he was!

He felt his lunch churning unpleasantly in his stomach. How was this possible?

Wrothken didn’t even notice that the path was taking him down the road towards Xedilian until they had already passed the fortress. Did Kiliban know? Haskill sure knew. Who else was aware of Sheogorath’s other personality? Relmyna probably knew. Wrothken clenched his fists. Oh, she had to have known. Wrothken easily imagined her hiding in the palace, just waiting for him to figure it out. How that would amuse her…

Wrothken grunted, punching a nearby tree. Zryacius jumped. “My Lord?” He asked, approaching quietly. “I understand your dismay. While I know you may not hold us Mazken in the highest regard, due to your station--”

Wrothken turned. “What? No, why would you...?” He trailed off, too exasperated to complete his thought.

Zryacius continued. “We wouldn’t call upon you unless it was truly dire.”

Wrothken shook his head. “It’s not that. I like the...uh… the Mazken.” He wondered if it sounded as strange to Zryacius as it did to himself. “I mean, sure, I’m Duke of Mania, but truly I’ve, uh, I’ve always felt better with Mazken than with Golden Saints. It’s nothing to do with you. I’ve just had a really, really rough day.”

A rough day. A rough time ever since he set foot in the Isles. He couldn’t believe this was his life.

Zryacius just nodded.

“Tell me again, what’s happened?”

“Forces of Order have invaded. Pinnacle Rock is our most sacred space, given to us by Lord Sheogorath Himself. It contains our Wellspring of Mazken, where fallen Mazken are summoned forth from the waters of Oblivion. We must speak to Adeo as soon as we arrive. Time is of the essence!”

“Right, right,” Wrothken said. He closed his eyes, determined to not make Zryacius repeat himself again.



Wrothken could tell that he was in the right place by all the Mazken standing outside of a stone fortress. Most of them were surrounding one in particular. Wrothken assumed she was Adeo.

She approached him as soon as she saw Zryacius. “Thank you for coming. I apologize for summoning you. The blame is mine. We've lost control of Pinnacle Rock.”

“No, don’t worry about it,” Wrothken said. “Zryacius told me what happened. How did Order manage to break in?”

Adeo’s eyes darkened. “Syl let them in…” She said through clenched teeth.

Syl. Of course. Sheogorath said that Order hadn’t yet tried subterfuge and who better to suggest that?

“We had no idea she would turn on us,” Adeo said. “They captured our commander, Dylora, and have her imprisoned somewhere inside. Our first priority must be rescuing her.”

Wrothken nodded. “Alright, sounds like a plan. Do you know where she is?”

"I do not,” Adeo said. “Syl had called her aside, separating her from the group. She meant to divide our numbers when Order entered, making us easier targets. They imprisoned Dylora somewhere within Pinnacle Rock. If they killed her, she could return to us, so they keep her hostage. If we follow the waters of the Wellspring, we will surely find her."

Wrothken looked around. There was a decent amount of Mazken around. Far more than there were Golden Saints at Passwall. If they had been overwhelmed, then there had to be a small army invading. “How many are there? Order, I mean?”

“More than I could count. It was all we could do to fall back and regroup out here. We must free Dylora as soon as possible. She will know what to do.”

“Alright. Let’s go find her.”

Adeo hesitated for a moment. “Forgive me for saying so, Your Grace,” she said. “But I find taking orders from the Duke of Mania to be... unsettling.”

“That’s fine,” Wrothken said, waving his hand. He didn’t feel like he was capable of leading anyway. His head was too muddled up. “Just tell me how to help.”

Adeo nodded. “You are the only remaining Duke, which is a situation quite unprecedented. Normally, you would never be permitted to pass within Pinnacle Rock. Given the need for swift action, the normal customs shall need to be overlooked for now. We shall welcome you within our ranks, Your Grace."

Wrothken shrugged. “Sounds fine. Let’s go.”



The interior of Pinnacle Rock reminded Wrothken of Cylarne. It was made from the same gray stones and lit with bright blue flames. Immediately upon entry, Wrothken was greeted by the sight of a dead Mazken. It was face down with slash wounds along its back. Its head was nearly cut off. A statue of a Mazken stood nearby, its head bent down as if lamenting the fallen soldier at its feet.

Around the corner, a metal door opened with a smooth sound of chains as Wrothken approached with Adeo and her army. The room featured another Mazken statue standing between two columns and flights of stairs. One side was almost completely blocked with a burst of Obelisks. Adeo looked to the others and pointed to the clear steps, nodding. Wrothken pulled his mace out and followed her lead.

As soon as the Mazken reached the stairs, Wrothken heard the clanging of Order’s Knights as they unsheathed their swords. A row of Mazken ran to face the Knights head on and another stood back, drawing bows and arrows. Wrothken ran up with the first row. A large cluster of Knights rushed to attack. Wrothken was careful to avoid the swing of Mazken swords. They had all trained together for who knew how long. Their movements were in perfect harmony with each other, as if they could read one another’s movements. Wrothken however, felt clumsy in comparison and didn’t want to risk hitting the wrong target. He separated himself slightly, drawing a few Knights away.

Once he was far away enough, he swung at them as hard as he could. The anger he felt at the latest revelation of the Greymarch finally had a helpful target. Stupid creatures! If Sheogorath was Jyggalag, couldn’t he control these things? Couldn’t he do anything besides sit on his throne and fiddle with his cane? Couldn’t he do anything helpful? Ever?

Every time a knight fell, another sprang up in its place. “Grab the hearts!” Wrothken shouted. “Three of them will shut down the Obelisk!”

As soon as he finished speaking, Wrothken felt the too-familiar jolting pain of a shock spell. They seemed to be favored among Jygglag’s followers. He glanced back and saw a Priest of Order standing in a doorway beyond.

He turned to face them. A few of the Mazken began throwing hearts to the Obelisk. The third one struck, and three Knights formed between the Priest and Wrothken.

“Wipe them out!” The Priest shouted. As he issued the command, a shower of arrows fell upon him, knocking him to the floor. The remaining Mazken swarmed the three Knights, making quick work of them.

By the time the Knights fell, Wrothken was panting hard through gritted teeth. He felt like a madman. The Mazken didn’t seem to notice. He stood up straight, pulling his hair from his face. He had to get a hold of himself. This was not going to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. Yes, he was angry. No, he was not going to let it consume him.

The sound of water caught his attention and he looked down and saw green water flowing along a stone path on the ground. Adea did say to follow the Wellspring. This must have been it.

The water flowed under a wall. Off to the side was another door. As they approached, the door opened, revealing Knights already running their way. The Mazken formed up again, preparing for the fight. Wrothen held back, this time cracking open any fallen Knights and gathering their hearts. If none of the Obelisks had been shut down, no wonder they were overrun. If he could cut off the supply, then he could even the odds a little.

Wrothken chose to focus on that strategy in the fight for Pinnacle Rock. It kept him out of the way of the Mazken army and allowed them to focus on bringing down the Knights. It seemed to work for everyone involved. They lost some, but fewer than they would have with infinitely spawning Knights.

When they stopped for a moment to allow for healing, Wrothken briefly considered summoning a Golden Saint. After all, they needed all the spare swords they could get. He decided against it however. Zryacius said Pinnacle Rock was a sacred place and Adeo bristled at letting Wrothken in. He could imagine the fury if he brought in what seemed to be their mortal enemy.

The next room contained a section that seemed to be sealed off with a wall made of Order crystals. Loud clanging was coming from inside. Wrothken approached it cautiously. Since Syl was the one who led the attack, it very well could have been a trap.

One of the walls had a crevice in the center. Keeping his mace ready, Wrothken peeked inside.
“Who’s there?” A voice called out. “Free me at once!”

“It’s Dylora!” Adeo cried, rushing to the wall.

Wrothken, lowered his weapon and got closer. “I’m here to help,” he said. He took out a few hearts from his bag and tried placing them along the wall, but nothing happened.

“The barrier can’t be broken,” Dylora said, approaching the crevice on her end. “Use the chime! The chime may shatter it!”

“Chime…” Wrothken looked around the room. He didn’t remember seeing a chime, though of course it wasn’t something he had thought to keep an eye out for.

“The chime, of course!” Adeo said, rushing down the stairs. Before Wrothken could do anything, she was already across the room, where a large brass chime as high as the ceiling stood. She took her shield and slammed it against the chime repeatedly until the walls started cracking. As soon as they did, Wrothken and Dylora began bashing the chunks down until Dylora was able to climb out.

“You have my thanks for freeing me,” she said. “But just who are you?”

“Oh, I’m Wrothken. The Duke of Mania.”

Her tone suddenly changed. “Your Grace!” She gasped. “I am sorry, I did not realize--”

“It’s fine,” he said. “Glad to help.” He was also glad to be away from the palace for fear he would do something the entire realm would regret.

“Where is Syl?” She growled. “Have you seen her? That traitorous coward!”

Wrothken shook his head. “No, there’s been plenty of Knights and a couple Priests, but as far as I can tell, Syl wasn’t here. She must have gone.”

Dylora clenched her teeth. Wrothken could tell she was seeing red. “Syl, the snake! She showed up, asked for a contingent of guards. Said there was trouble at the palace and that we were needed. We were so focused on organizing quickly that by time we realized she’d let Order in herself, it was too late! We were split up and picked off.” She sighed, shaking her head. “But it doesn’t matter anymore. The only thing that matters now is the Wellspring. We must reach it at once!”

Wrothken looked to Adeo, but she was with the other Mazken. They seemed to be preparing for more fighting. “What Wellspring? What do we need to do?”

“The Wellspring of the Mazken,” Dylora explained. “It’s what links us to this realm, where we return to the world from the Waters of Oblivion.”

“Oh! I heard about something like this at Cylarne.” Did that mean Grakedrig Ulfri could come back through here? Would she return? Wrothken hoped so. He knew she would work with him to gather forces to save the realm.

“If Syl helps Order sever that link, my kind will be annihilated. The realm will be lost to us. We must get to the Wellspring and stop them!”

Wrothken nodded. “I’ll follow your lead.”

“Appreciated.” She turned to the remaining Mazken, who were lined up before her. “Onward, to the Wellspring!”

Wordlessly, the Mazken followed Dylora up the stairs and down another hall. To Wrothken’s shock, the Mazken began to slow down, eventually falling to the ground, silently as statues. Their blue skin turned a soft gray as they hit the ground.

“No!” Dylora cried, clutching the wall next to her. Her legs began to gray. “The Wellspring! They’ve stopped it up!” She turned to Wrothken. “You… you must make it to the Wellspring and let the waters flow.” She gulped hard. Wrothken could see what effort it was taking for her to speak as her body slid down to the floor. “Follow the waters....”

Wrothken trembled as Dylora finally fell, pale and stiff as a child’s doll. He was alone in the tomblike silence. “Follow the waters,” he said to himself. “But I have no idea how to actually activate it! Damn!” He kicked the air.

He shook his head. First thing, he had to find the place. He’d figure it out from there.

If anything, maybe he could cry enough to make the waters flow again. He certainly felt up to that.


--------------------
Madness Helps Me Save Myself
Nemesis

Standing on the cliffs that kiss burning winds
We are rising together
Brazen, exalting, a hiss of triumph rings
I am yours
...Yours immortally
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SubRosa
post Mar 22 2020, 12:16 AM
Post #249


Ancient
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



So the Wrothster helped Lady Frankenstein create a new monster for the gate. I liked how you went through using the various elements to create it, and that it was the spirit of a daedra that animated it.

So now Shiggy is Jiggy? That's just crazy! Well... of course it is, Realm of Madness and all that.

I liked how the fact that if they kill the Mazken, they are just reborn, so it makes more sense to hold them prisoner.

Couldn’t he do anything helpful? Ever?
laugh.gif
I don't think doing anything helpful is in the job description of the Daedra Lord of Madness. Nor in that of most Daedra.

Dylora saved, but uh oh, the Mazken are dropping like flies. It is a good thing Wrothken is there, as a non-Mazken he can actually continue on and fight the good fight.


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Jacki Dice
post May 5 2020, 12:26 AM
Post #250


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Joined: 18-March 10



Subrosa~ As much as Relmyna is completely hateful, I think I had the most fun writing this process


~~~~~♥~~~~~

Chapter Fifty-Nine: Pinnacle Rock, Part II


Pinnacle Rock was as silent as a tomb, with Wrothken the only mourner. He stood with his back against the wall, unable to pry his eyes away from Dylora’s stone form, hoping with all his heart that she might slowly rejuvenate, as if she were simply a cicada in peaceful hibernation.

If Syl’s forces had managed to shut down the wellspring, it wouldn’t be farfetched to assume that they remained buried deep within the crevices of the fortress. They could be tucked away, possibly aided by Syl’s knack for strategy. Wrothken was without an army or a guide. He doubted Haskill had ever made the journey through Pinnacle Rock. It was at this moment that Wrothken realized the downside to only having Daedra as guards. Then again, in a place like the Shivering Isles, would it really be wise to entrust a madperson with weaponry and royal authority? Perhaps there was a shred of reason behind a few things. Probably Haskill’s idea. Wrothken wasn’t sure how he felt about appreciating him, especially given how Haskill hid Jyggorath’s identity from him.

Despite all his wishing, Dylora stayed as stone and Wrothken knew he didn’t have time to become as a statue himself. Time was not on his side. He grumbled as he got off the wall. Nothing was on his side.

He continued down the hall, moving as quietly as he could. Even though he took slow, careful steps, he felt like he was squeaking and clanging with every motion. It was bad enough that he was by nature something of a minotaur in a bell shop. Though Cutter’s craftsmanship was impeccable, the armor made its own noises. Wrothken briefly considered taking it off and going the rest of the way in his black raiment, but he decided against it. He was no thief, able to slip through the shadows with ease. He signed, wishing for a moment that he was. Or at least that he knew an invisibility spell.

Soon he approached the end of the hall, which was blocked off by more of the crystal wall. Wrothken looked around and used his mace to loudly ring a nearby chime. He wondered if these new walls were also a part of Syl’s plan. Being forced to ring these chimes made a sneak attack impossible. He was literally sounding the alarm on himself. As the crystals shattered, he saw two Knights of Order on the floor below him, already prepared for attack. Frustrated, Wrothken leapt from the higher position, his arms outstretched, so as he landed, he brought both Knights on their back.

The jump wasn’t as well-planned as he had hoped, so he stumbled momentarily as he tried to regain his balance. The Knights didn’t get up as quickly and Wrothken immediately started bashing the chest of one of them until it cracked. The other took a swipe at him before he was able to fish a heart out of it. Wrothken backed off, holding his mace in both hands. The first Knight remained down, so at least he wasn’t outnumbered at the moment.

The second Knight raised its sword and lunged toward him. Wrothken growled as he hit the sword with enough strength that it would have caused a hand injury if the wielder had been human. As the Knight attempted to regain its grip, Wrothken slammed his mace hard in the crevice between the Knight’s head and shoulder and followed up with a swing to the head. The Knight stumbled sideways and Wrothken kicked it to the ground. He stood over it, yelling and bashing it until its crystalline body was broken into shards. By time he finished, he was huffing and sweating. The red hot anger he felt coursed through him like lava while he was beating the Knight. Afterwards, it cooled into smoky volcanic rock. The past several hours had done a number on him. In fact, he realized that he had probably been up for at least a full day dealing with everything. He couldn’t sleep there, though. Not yet. Maybe once this was finished. Wrothken realized he hadn’t seen a bunker or guards quarters along the way. Did Mazken even sleep?

Wrothken continued through the again silenced halls. He had hoped to come across a few pieces of madness ore, but so far there had been nothing. Made sense. Mazken wore a different type of armor. He wondered if it was a part of them. That didn’t sound comfortable… Wrothken couldn’t imagine being plated, like some sort of turtle daedra.

Before long, his thoughts drifted to his current predicament. If Sheogorath was Jyggalag, there had to be some sort of way to stop him from turning. Vampires and werebeasts had cures, right? And Wrothken thought that werebeasts were linked to the Daedric Lord Hircine. Would he be of any help? He breifly wondered. Wrothken shook his head. He had learned his lesson about consorting with Daedra.

Perhaps there was something, some potion or an herb, that could prevent the transformation. Wrothken wished he could simply knock him out, either with strong drink or a well-deserved blow to the head, and tie him to his throne until his urge to become Jyggalag had passed.

There had to be some way to stop him. Hell, that should have been what his focus was, not running ridiculous errands that could have been delegated to someone else.

The hall curved into a larger room, mostly empty except for a few statues of Mazken bearing maces. As Wrothken approached, the heads of the maces began to glow red. Wrothken instantly remembered the hunger statues in Relmyna’s place. He stepped back into the shadows of the hall and the glowing stopped. He sighed. He then wondered how the Mazken got anything done with those around. Maybe they’re just meant to ward off intruders, he suggested. And of course, without the army of Mazken to shield him, they had no way to know he was welcomed.

Wrothken crouched in the hall, waiting for a moment to dash through, hopefully dodging the attack. If there were more Knights, surely they would send alarm spells right? What if he was able to lure them in, right in the range of the attack? He tapped his chin. What if he used their bodies to shield him? How heavy was a Knight? Of course, there was the shred of hope that there were no more Knights. He didn’t count on it.

He got up, eyes on the maces as they began to glow. He moved slowly first, and as the color brightened, Wrothken began to run across the room, trying to move unpredictably. Rust red bursts zoomed past him and he pulled his arms closer to his body, wishing he could be more like a speeding turtle. The moment he saw a tall enough wall, he ducked behind it, clutching his chest as his heart pounded.

Just beyond the wall, a cluster of Knights were waiting by a large obelisk. There were enough of them that Wrothken genuinely felt concerned about his chances of making it out alive. He didn’t have Shelden as a distraction like he did in the ruins of Xeddefen. But he did have a couple of options.

Loathe to employ anything given to him by Relmyna, he summoned a Golden Saint. The Saint appeared out of a shimmer of gold and she stood at attention before him. “Lord?” She asked, looking around. “What would you ask of me?”

“Alright, look,” Wrothken said in a hushed tone. “Full disclosure, you’re in Pinnacle Rock--”

“Pinnacle…?” The Golden Saint made a face as if she had been summoned in a pile of fresh manure. Her struggle to keep her composure was plainly displayed on her face.

“Yeah, yeah, I know. Trust me, Dylora won’t be happy about this either. Look,” Wrothken said, pointing at the Knights beyond. “Right now, that is our threat. Whatever the issue is with the Golden Saints and the Mazken, this is bigger than that! The entire realm is at risk.”

The Golden Saint sneered at the Knights and her nose was still wrinkled when she looked back at Wrothken. “So you wish for me to clear them out?”

“That’s what I was thinking. Between the two of us, we have a better chance at this than if I were to go it alone. Once we get all the Knights cleared up, you’re free to poof back to where it was that you were before and that’ll be the end of it. Deal?”

“Yes, Lord.”

“Alright,” Wrothken drew his weapon and the Golden Saint followed suit. “Let’s go.”

This post has been edited by Jacki Dice: May 5 2020, 12:27 AM


--------------------
Madness Helps Me Save Myself
Nemesis

Standing on the cliffs that kiss burning winds
We are rising together
Brazen, exalting, a hiss of triumph rings
I am yours
...Yours immortally
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SubRosa
post May 6 2020, 03:23 AM
Post #251


Ancient
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



Jyggorath is a wonderful name for the fluid god of madness and order.

Wroth's musings about turtle daedra makes me think of Gamera

After playing a lot of Morroblivion lately, I am used to Golden Saints being high level enemies. It is a real change to have one be a "good guy" for a change. On to Victory!


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