33 - Madgod

We delivered the Emperor Titus to a remote location on the northern shore, where a small boat was waiting. "Bring G'wen here when she's ready to join me," he told us. "I need her by my side, not unbalancing the succession struggle in my wake."

I suspected that wasn't his only motivation. After Zahra had helped him break the ice, Titus and G'wen had got along very nicely. And that's all I'm saying, even if I did have as much fun as he did.

We'd told G'wen how to find our Tower, in the remote hills of the Reach. Although we hadn't been spending much time there recently, that was mainly because we'd been busy with Alduin, and it wouldn't hurt to just relax there for a while and wait for her.

First, however, she had to report back to the Dark Brotherhood, and deal with the person who made the contract with them. That gave us time for a side-trip on the way there.

"Titus left orders for Tullius to be recalled to Cyrodiil," I told Zahra, "but he has no control over the Thalmor, and in particular, Elenwen. I can do something about her, I believe."

I'd noticed the mad beggar in Solitude ranting about "the Master being on vacation", and I had a pretty good idea what he meant. I soon got directions to the Pelagius wing of the Blue Palace, and permission to investigate its haunted nature.

"Torygg's widow is a looker, isn't she?" Zahra goaded. "Do you think Titus features in her past adventures?"

"She's discreet enough that it doesn't matter," I replied. "Torygg certainly didn't know, or didn't care."

I continued into the clutter of the abandoned wing of the Blue Palace, removing the spider webs without drawing attention to them. It wasn't long before we walked through the portal I'd been expecting and found ourselves somewhere else.

Two men were seated at a dining table in the middle of a clearing in a wood. One of them I knew to be the Daedric Prince Sheogorath, with his characteristic divided suit of red and blue, but the other was a complete stranger to me.

The Madgod introduced us to his guest, King Pelagius III, whose wing of the Palace we'd just left. He was a bit surprised to find Dremora coming from Tamriel to find him, but no matter. We were there now, and we could help with his current task.

I noticed that I was now wearing a suit of fine clothes, just like I'd worn to Elenwen's party, and my armour was nowhere to be seen. Zahra had had a change of outfit too. Sheogorath has a really dirty mind, if not two. It looked good on her, although I got the impression that she was a little annoyed at not having been consulted.

Sheogorath handed me a familar staff. It was the Wabbajack, one of his special toys. Apparently, whatever he wanted me to do, this was all I had to do it with.

"Pelagius needs to cheer up a bit. He's been depressed for too long now, and the other side needs its turn. You're going to help him. Now run along, and see what you can do."

I looked over at Zahra, and couldn't help thinking she'd cheer anyone up, but Pelagius was a special case, and this would take more than that.

There were three arches around the clearing, and it didn't seem to matter which way we went, so I picked one at random. I found a bed in the middle of the forest with Pelagius sleeping in it. It seemed that I was now a part of his dreams, and various enemies appeared to attack me. As each materialised, I hit it with the Wabbajack, and it turned into something harmless. Sheogorath's voice told me I'd done what was needed, and I should move on.

The next arch led me to an arena, with two viewing areas overlooking a pit where a pair of Storm Atronachs were fighting. On the other side, someone sat on a throne flanked by two bodyguards, and apparently my Atronach was fighting against his. I saw no point in interfering with that battle, as I didn't even know which was which. Instead I turned the Wabbajack on the bodyguards, as that was the sort of thing Sheogorath himself would do. They both turned into wolves, and attacked my "opponent".

"You're doing well, just one more trial"

The third arch led to another clearing where two men were fighting. One huge, who was apparently Pelagius' Anger, and one tiny, his Confidence . Sheogorath wanted me to change something, so I used the Wabbajack on each of them. And again, as every time the initially large one hit the little one, he'd shrink again. I was getting worried that the staff would run out of charge, but eventually I got them to swap sizes.

Sheogorath told me to return to the dining area for my reward. There, I declined his offer of keeping the Wabbajack, as I had something else to ask of him.

Actually there were two. First I wanted to know about how he'd given his powers to the Champion of Cyrodiil to help him defeat Jyggalag. "That was something like what you just had me do for Pelagius, wasn't it?"

"Yes, and no. Pelagius isn't a Daedric Prince, so he didn't need anything quite that drastic. Jayggalag, being me in a bad mood, was a Daedric Prince. And I'm much better off without him, especially as I got the Champion of Cyrodiil in his place."

I asked him to explain.

"When I was in my Jyggalag mood, I wanted perfect order, and the only thing that's perfect is nothing. So I'd destroy my entire realm, trying to achieve that. And when you try to achieve nothing, you usually succeed."

"Jyggalag's a nasty violent type, and the Champion was a nice ... violent type. But that's what I needed. I let him take over my realm and it changed while he was alive. When he died, I took over again, and it all flowed back to me. So he's part of me now, in place of Jyggalag. I can still get violent when it's needed, but not so indiscriminately."

"I have all his knowledge now, and the understanding, too. That's what Hermaeus Mora keeps forgetting. Facts don't mean anything if you don't understand them. The Great Library of Jyggalag did the same thing, collecting useless facts, so I had it destroyed. I kept Dyus, of course, as he was the understanding part. And he knew all the facts, anyway. They didn't need to be written down in books as well."

"Knowledge is something you can give to many people, and it's not divided; they each get it all. And maybe even more than that. If I divide an apple and give away the slices, each person gets a slice of apple. If I explain 'apple' to them, they each get 'apple', and if one of them knows 'tree' as well, he could get 'orchard'. And pigs to eat the windfalls, and yellowjackets to eat the ones that rot, and pretty soon, you can't live there any more."

Even though it was Sheogorath telling me, it made some kind of sense. I had some idea how Alduin might have come by his power, without being a Daedric Prince himself.

The second thing I wanted was to draw his attention to Elenwen. She'd just had her plans for a full-blown civil war in Skyrim fall through, and she might be in a delicate state of mind at present. Perhaps the Madgod would take a small detour on his way back to the Shivering Isles?

We found ourselves back in the Pelagius Wing of the Blue Palace. I was wearing my armour once more, but Zahra was still in the same outrageous outfit Sheogorath had given her.

"Are you going back into the main place dressed like that, or what?" I asked. I knew she could summon her usual attire with a simple spell, but she hadn't, yet.

"I'm still wondering what he intended, and if I shouldn't humor him, at least until we what see the reaction is," she replied. "And I have this urge to ask Elisif for her opinion. Maybe she'll want to wear it."

I understood what she meant. Elisif had been culturing the popular belief that Torygg's death had made her a little eccentric. That was actually a clever ruse to have Tullius treat her as a harmless puppet, and not have her replaced. Now that need was over, who knew what she'd do.

However, I now had the mental image of Elisif sitting on the Jarl's throne in that outfit.