When he arrived at the Count's Arms, he found the sisters were already there. Varulae hadn't trusted the one method of summoning them, and had sent a courier to Arborwatch as well. She seemed distressed at something.

That something was Giant Mudcrabs. She'd caught a glimpse of them in the crystal ball when Terranis had sent his distress call. The laborers had taken shelter in the wreck with the Argonians, but that wasn't going to be much good if they couldn't get out to gather food. Nobody had expected problems like this, so they hadn't taken any weapons with them, and Mason's tools aren't much use for fighting.

Her crew were ready to take them to the island and rescue the laborers. They'd help fight the crabs, too, if need be, but they didn't have much skill at it.

He counted himself among the unskilled, but the sisters had been getting a lot of practice. He noted that they'd both armed themselves with heavy warhammers for this job. "But we don't intend to let them get close," Angeline declared. "Diablita's pitchfork is going to be backed up with a few more fireballs from me. We should cook them before they get near."

They arrived just around sunset, and managed to kill one of the crabs with fireballs from the deck of the Serpent's Wake even before they anchored. But the others slipped beneath the waters of the bay and avoided their barrage. It did give them a breathing space to get the laborers out of the wreck and onto the ship, where they could watch the action, and help spot where the crabs were coming ashore.

Calban rowed them to the jetty again. He had no armor, so they told him to go back to the ship and keep lookout for the crabs with the others.

They walked along the edge of the water, looking for tracks that might show them where the crabs had gone. A large shape loomed out of the bay and headed towards them. They backed inland, letting the crab follow until it was clear of the water, and they could get a good shot at it with their fireballs. The reporter looked in the direction they were going and saw a wraith drifting down the slope towards them. They were caught between the two!

But the wraith wasn't coming for them. A blast of frost flew over their heads, and froze the crab in place for a moment. That made it easier for the sisters to hit it with their fire spells. The alternation of cold and hot was clearly even more effective than either would have been alone, and the giant crab soon collapsed dead in the surf.

The wraith glided silently along the beach towards an outcrop of rock. Another crab was just coming around it, unseen by the sisters. It wasn't obvious how the wraith had known it was there either, unless it was using a life detection spell. If it was, it had a longer range than his, which hadn't shown him the crab at all.

Again the unspoken tactics went into play. Frost, then fire, then frost again until the beast's armor cracked and it went down.

Three more times they did this, and then the wraith turned inland. It stopped, seemingly waiting for them to follow. At the top of the beach, near some rocks, it stopped again and pointed.

A small barrel was wedged between the rocks. The top was still sealed, but it opened easily enough. All it contained was a book, one of the series on Sheogorath's dealings with the other Daedric Princes called "16 Accords of Madness". This one was about Azura.

Sixteen Accords of Madness Volume I

Azura's Tale

Sheogorath came to Azura with a proposition. He had just receieved a challenge from Mehrunes Dagon to pit two of his Dremora against two Golden Saints. He needed a piece of neutral ground for the contest, and perhaps a little assistance.

Sheogorath knew that Dagon's satisfaction came from the destruction of the battle, and he had little regard for its outcome. Just letting it happen would be conceding a victory to Dagon, and that wasn't in his plans. With Azura's help, there would be no battle.

Azura had no love for Dagon, so she listened attentively to his ideas. Her realm of Moonshadow, with its permanent misty twilight, was the perfect venue. And yes, she could provide the Seducers to complete the plot.

The Seducers are a wide range of related Daedra. Sheogorath's own Dark Seducers are permanently of human form, while Azura's Winged Twilights have bat-like wings at all times. The majority can shape-shift anywhere in between, by a magic that seems to combine Alteration and Illusion to transcend both. It is hard to tell which of the many forms they take is their true one, if that even exists.

A particularly skilled Seducer can tailor her appearance to the tastes of her victim, making herself totally irresistable. Azura chose two of her best for this, and helped them prepare.

On the appointed day, the Dremora arrived early, as Sheogorath had predicted. They like to scout the area, and seek out any advantage they could gain from holding higher ground, or attacking from cover. One of them was clad in heavy Daedric armor, with a shield amd longsword. The other wore a black robe, with a staff on his back.

They weren't the first arrivals, but the two women waiting for them weren't Golden Saints. They carried no weapons, and wore no armor, and not a lot of clothing, either.

Azura had chosen their aspects carefully. One was a pale-skinned blonde with huge blue eyes. She looked innocent in a way that hinted that she was anything but that. And if she personified temptation, her companion personified challenge. She had horns like a Dremora, deep red skin, hooves and a tail. Curvacious to an extreme, with an attitude that dared you to take her on. Naturally, she was the spokeswoman for the pair.

"We came to watch the fight," she said. "That's such a turn-on, especially if we get to reward the winners".

"That will be us", the armored one responded. "without a doubt."

"If you're that certain, then we could give you your reward right now." she suggested. "Your opponents aren't due to arrive for a long time yet. Assuming, of course, that you can handle the extra effort."

The plan was that the Golden Saints would arrive while the Dremora were naked, tired and helpless. The Seducers normally operated in a similar manner, except that they would transform and attack as soon as their prey disarmed. This time they were to drain their victims' fatigue in the most enjoyable way, and make their defeat even more inevitable.

The Dremora would be forced to surrender without being able to put up a fight, a particularly maddening experience for one of the Kyn. Worse, they would have accepted a reward they did not deserve, a mark against their honor.

The Seducers weren't sure when they all collapsed into sleep, but when they woke, the Dremora were gone. There was no sign of any Golden Saints, but they assumed that the plan had worked. In Moonshadow, the passage of time was hard to reckon, so they had no idea how long they'd slept. They'd find out when they flew back to Azura.

Except that they couldn't sprout their wings. They appeared to have lost their ability to transform. Azura sensed their fear and came to them instead. She quickly diagnosed their problem.

"You're both pregnant," she told them. "which means that you just slept with mortals, not Daedra. I have a suspicion that Dagon wasn't involved in this at all. It's well within Sheogorath's powers to disguise two of his mortal minions well enough to fool you."

"The spell to prevent conception is so simple, but you have to know you need it. Maddening, isn't it? You'll have months of discomfort to consider that fact. And you'll be stuck in your current form until you give birth, which will be an additional annoyance. Probably not enough to drive you into Sheogorath's clutches, but close."

"Your babies will be mortal, and grow to resemble your current selves, as a child always takes after its mother in appearance. However they won't have your ability to change."

Azura wondered if that was the additional anxiety factor that would take the mothers into insanity, or whether it was the daughters that Sheogorath had in mind. If they truly resembled their mothers, they'd be irresistable to most mortal men, and not have their mothers' defences. They'd have to learn spells to make up for that. And Azura would just have to watch this play itself out over their lifetimes.

When they looked up, the wraith had already faded from view.

Since all the giant crabs were now dead, they returned to the ship to talk with the mason and his men. They'd seen fire on the horizon the previous night, out where the latest island was. It seemed that there had been a fresh eruption, and maybe that was what drove the crabs in their direction.

But what had made them grow so large? It wasn't just illusion magic, as they'd remained large when they died. Alteration could do it, but who'd have cast such a spell? The reporter had a theory. The far island was almost in the straights between the Summerset Isle and Valenwood. Dagon's forces had caused storms and other disruption in that area during the Oblivion Crisis. Some of that magic could easily have spilled out and affected the crabs.

If he'd been as paranoid as Lathenil, he'd have blamed them on the Thalmor. He couldn't rule that idea out, however.

The rising sun was just catching a ring of columns up on the bluff where the graves were. It wasn't a complete ring yet. there was still one more to go up. And then there would be a circle of stone placed on top of them. But they could see already what a magnificent sight it would be.

Terranis took them there and showed them what had been done so far. They'd made good progress, and even with this interruption, he expected his original estimate to be accurate. He had a few ideas how he could make use of the local rock to add a few details, too. He'd keep that as a surprise for when they came back to see it complete.

In their cabin on the way back to Anvil the sisters read the book again. The resemblance betwen the Seducers described and their mothers was uncanny. The reporter was naturally comparing them to the sisters themselves. He reasoned that whoever wrote the book had seen some relatives of theirs. Maybe he'd even known their mothers, and it had inspired his writing. He was sure that it was fiction, like most books about Sheogorath, but the sisters would have none of that.

They liked the idea of having Daedra for ancestors. They'd met Prizna, and Nelrene, and Goldie at Gweden, and those were people they could identify with. But they were content with being mortal, too. They'd like to have children someday. He just wished they hadn't looked at him that way when they said it.