Tsarrina brought in the next one proudly. "This one would like you to meet our Mazken," she said.

Nelrene was as big as Prizna, but thankfully not as naked. She wore a dark satin dress decorated with black lace and fringes, with a wide hooped skirt. A plunging neckline fought for attention with her glowing eyes.

Did all Daedra have eyes that glowed? Prizna's were red, and Nelrene's were blue, but they both shone with the same unworldly light. He didn't ask, yet. But he did ask about her race. Mazken, Tsarrina had called her.

Nelrene explained that the Mazken came from Sheogorath's realm, the Shivering Isles. There was another Daedric race there, too - the Aureals, also called Golden Saints. Nelrene didn't understand why Sheogorath needed them when he already had the Mazken, but she bowed to his will.

The Mazken are all completely loyal to their Lord Sheogorath, but our loyalty to mortals has to be earned. For me, the Champion of Cyrodiil did that even before I knew that he had become the Madgod.

Syl had enough of Sheogorath's favour that we served her too, but it was starting to wane. She was his Duchess of Dementia by virtue of having slain the previous Duke, and she was permanently in fear that she'd have the same fate. Of course she would eventually, those are Sheogorath's rules.

She was supposed to just get on with her job as Duchess, and leave the succession issue to the Madgod's wisdom, but that wasn't Syl's way. She wasted all her time looking for conspiracies against her, and creating them in the process.

I could sense that she had overstayed her welcome as Duchess, and that I would serve the Madgod better by helping to remove her. When Muurine began to plot against her, I took my place in the conspiracy and did what I could to help advance it.

Muurine told me it was all about Syl's little fling with Thadon. It seemed important to her, and perhaps it was, as another sign that the era was ending and the Greymarch beginning. I didn't know, but I agreed to her plan. I didn't care about the petty excuse they had for wanting Syl's death, but I knew her time was coming.

I provided Ma'zaddha with a weapon, and demanded that he find someone to use it against Syl. Anya Herrick, Syl's handmaiden, was a good candidate, as she could get close to her. He had contacted Anya, and was beginning to bring her round to our side when the Lord Sheogorath himself spoiled it all. He sent the Champion to Syl, to become her Grand Inquisitor. It seems it was too soon to dispose of Syl, and the conspiracy was not to succeed.

I did not realize that until it failed. First the Inquisitor, and Herdir, Syl's personal torturer, interrogated Syl's steward, Kithlan, and found out about Anya. Then Anya directed him to Ma'zaddha. The Khajiit held out, despite the attentions of Herdir, and the trail could have ended there. But I foolishly tried to keep the conspiracy alive. I spoke to Ma'zaddha late at night in Crucible and told him to find someone else to replace Anya.

I didn't know that the Inquisitor was listening to us. He confronted the Khajiit after I'd left and got him to agree to get more names. Someone else overheard them. Ma'zaddha was murdered, and the Inquistor found the sword I'd given him in his cupboard. I knew the conspiracy was over when he showed it to me. I sent him to Muurine. I hoped she could convince him that it was justified.

Syl was delighted to have the plot unravelled, and took great delight in executing Muurine herself. Then she turned her spite on me, and had me sent to to Corpserot Prison.

The imprisonment itself was of no concern. I'd have to fight my way out past the Grummites, but a Mazken is immortal, and my death would just be a delay in reaching freedom. But that snake Syl had another card to play. She told me she'd asked Lord Sheogorath to make me mortal. As in no return to the Wellspring. As in dying from diseases, permanently. That kind of mortal!

I didn't know it was a lie. I stayed cowering in the cell until the Champion came to get me. He had to bring me some Amber armor and weapons before I'd venture out. I didn't trust anything else. Syl had no influence in Bliss, so Amber should be trustworthy.

If I'd stopped to think about it, I'd have realised that Syl would have killed me as soon as I became mortal. Since she hadn't, she couldn't and I wasn't, but I was too scared to reason clearly.

We didn't encounter any Grummites inside the prison, as they'd all fallen when he came in, but there were some waiting for us as we emerged. I forgot my supposed mortality when I got into battle, my training just took over. But the fear all came back afterward. He healed my wounds, which were minor anyway, but he couldn't take away the fear. The walk back through Dementia was a long and frightening one for me.

He brought me into Tamriel, through the door in Niben Bay. I still felt unsafe, even here.

He told me Syl was dead, and he'd killed her himself, so he could be certain of that. That she had lied to me about being mortal. That he was now the Madgod, after defeating Jyggalag. That's when I stopped believing him again.

He had to take me to Sheogorath's Shrine before I'd change my mind. When Haskill's voice confirmed all he'd told me I was so ashamed. I had disbelieved the true Madgod.

He understood. It was because I thought for myself, instead of just blindly waiting for Sheogorath's direction, that he'd thought me worth rescuing from prison in the first place.

Now he wanted me to think for myself again, and consider Gweden. I had a few questions first.

If I died here in Tamriel, how could I return when the Wellspring was in the Isles? He told me the door on the island would remain, and I could return to the Shrine here too.

How could I be here in Tamriel, where none of the other Mazken could follow? That was harder to explain. Actually any of them could come here if they were invited, but they wouldn't, because they believed they couldn't. I believed I could, and he'd invited me, so I did. Especially now, Daedric princes weren't allowed into Tamriel, but he was the Madgod, and that didn't stop him returning. He belonged here, and I could too, if I wanted.

Would I really be welcome at Gweden? I had always been a guard, a soldier, an authority figure. He told me about Silanu, and that got me even more confused. I couldn't understand why anyone would pay her to do that. But then I remembered how strange the people in the Isles had been, and it wasn't so unusual after all.

And I really did find a welcome here. If there's any trouble, my training comes back to the surface, but that's rare. And my habit of ordering mortals around isn't the disadvantage I thought it would be. Apparently some guys do like to be told what to do. Of course, what I'm telling them to do has changed a bit.

So put down that pen and notebook, and help me with these lacings.

"How may I serve?" he asked her. Tsarrina stopped them. He had another interview or two before that