Chapter 28 A Beautiful Disaster
“My Umbra. You won’t take it. You won’t take any of it!” Xighden shouted at me. He fumed with anger. I had no idea what had happened to him, but he had definitely changed since I last saw him. It was only hours ago, but it seemed like days. He had suddenly appeared, with a huge axe that he called Umbra, blaming me for the death of Prophiter. I didn’t know what happened to the Wood Elf, and I didn’t have time to think about it. So much had happened, it boggled my mind, and then his showing up, affected by something and wishing me dead. I tried to calm him.
“Xighden, listen. Something is affecting you. It must be this place-” A thought then struck me as clear as day. “Of course…” I muttered under my breath.
“…Sheogorath.” I turned around to look for the Daedra lord, to address the source of Xighden’s madness, but I found no one. He had vanished. I turned back to Xighden, with a desperate attempt to diffuse his aggression. “Xighden, Sheogorath was here, I swear. I spoke to him. He must be affecting you.”
Xighden didn’t appear to even be listening to my words. His head was lowered to the ground and he clawed at the side of his skull frantically. He whispered to himself, with just barely enough volume for me to hear.
“Kill him, creature…kill him, creature,” he said faintly. I was shocked to witness such a sight. Saliva frothed from his mouth and he panted vehemently. He was hunched over, and most of his armor was gone, making him appear more animalistic. He then raised his head and looked me straight in the eye. “Kill him, creature,” Soon, his agitation stopped, and he rose to his full height, which equaled mine. With that, he seemed to accept a calm determination. “I will kill you,” he said. His words were steady, and not troubled, like before. There was hatred behind them.
I drew back, disturbed by the intensity of his aggression. I didn’t know what I could do or say to pacify him. He made a quick advance forward and then began to pace around me sideways. My hands were raised defensively, as my sword had been tossed across the room. Xighden blocked my path to the weapon. “If I only had my sword, I could…” That thought struck me with surprise. “I could what? Kill him?” I asked myself. I couldn’t. We had traveled all the way to Ald Daedroth seeking answers. And just when I had begun to get them, Sheogorath had done something to Xighden, turning him against me. “I won’t let you do this Sheogorath. You still owe me answers.”
Another thought then came into my mind with a brutal sting. “Only one of us can leave here alive. Is it true?” I tried to separate what I knew and what I simply suspected, but a painful sensation in my brain made it difficult to exercise logic. I stopped trying to think so hard, which made the pain subside. It left me with a simple and undeniable conclusion. “It is true.” I thought, with a sad acceptance.
“I will do what I must,” I then said aloud to Xighden. His chest rose and sank with heavy breath. All he wore were pants and bonemold greaves. It made me realize that I had never seen him without his armor on before. His bulky Cathay-Raht body was covered in blood and sweat stained fur. He stood hunched over, with a lowered head and yellowish Khajiit eyes peering up underneath a heavy brow. For the first time, ever since I had met him in Balmora, he appeared to be less human, and more like an animal. It gave me an uneasy feeling to see someone that I knew, in such a condition. At the same time, though, it made what I had to do easier. The less human he appeared, the easier it would be for me to kill him. “You will do what you must.”
Xighden approached me, carrying a weapon I had never seen before. He charged, swinging a huge, double-edged daedric blade. He referred to it as Umbra; it was a symptom of his madness. I ducked out of the way, as its black, metal edge missed me by less than a foot. With Xighden out of my way, I ran for my broadsword. My feet carried me across the room, but not quickly enough to outrun Xighden. As I stopped, my sword mere feet away, I turned around and found my Khajiit opponent right behind me. His eyes flared with murderous intentions as he swung his axe down again. I had no choice but to dodge to the side, throwing myself down at the ground. I had avoided his slash, but as I then witnessed, my weapon did not. His swing continued after I had moved, and was guided down at the base of my sword, shattering it beyond use. I let out a sullen gasp as my tool for defense was destroyed. Xighden smiled maliciously and paced towards me. His grin bared Khajiit teeth, long and sharp.
From my sitting position, I pulled myself up in time to avoid another few axe swings. Xighden’s demeanor was no longer angry, but instead bold and playful. He was trying to just kill me, but make me afraid of him. From spending time with him in conversation after battles, I had learned that he could smell fear. And he liked it. He swung the huge axe around with confidence and ease, trying to force me to sweat out pheromones for him. I refused. With an angry resolve, I fought off my initial reaction to his aggression, and offered him nothing but a strong awareness.
He rushed to attack and I stopped him without hesitation. “Superus Fulgailus!” Upon shouting the words, a mass of electrical energy materialized in my hands. I thrust my arms forward, forcing the lightning to leap out and strike Xighden. The purple bolts wrapped around his body, causing him to growl in pain. I pressured the magicka for a few seconds before releasing it, the lightning still humming in my hands. His muscular frame stood, damaged, but no where near defeated. He let out a Khajiit roar, unlike any that I’d heard from him before. “He’s become an animal.”
He charged me once again, but without any hesitation. He was on longer playing around. I knew that I could’ve used another spell of destruction magicka on him, but I didn’t want to expend all my power, so I cast a simpler spell. “Coangusto Gladius,” I said. A daedric longsword appeared in my hands. Much like Xighden’s weapon, it was jet black and inscribed with runes. Mine though, had a time limit. Conjured weapons only lasted for short periods of time, so I knew that I would have to make use of it.
“Die!” Xighden shouted, as he heaved down his huge weapon. I couldn’t block his axe because of its weight, so. I instead deflected it. His swings continued and I managed to parry each one of them, countering with a few slashes of my own. Although I was an adept mage, I had always known that Xighden was my superior in combat. He lived and breathed the warrior’s life, and I knew that I could not defeat him solely in martial combat. My only chance was to slow him down, and finish him off.
After deflecting another chop, I ducked around behind the raging Khajiit and threw up my hands. “Gravido Perquam!” My spell of burden worked just as I planned, slowing his movement and leaving his rear open. I pulled back my weapon, as Xighden turned to face me in slow motion. Without hesitation I dove forward, attempting to plunge my blade into his side. I was confident that I could end the battle right there, but Xighden was not willing to give in. Through either his unbridled rage or sheer strength, her pulled his body completely around and blocked my attack. He didn’t just defend, but he began a new attack, my alteration spell still in affect the whole time. ”That’s not enough.”
I was shocked to see a spell of mine have such little effect on him, but an understanding soon came to me; this was no regular adversary. He had the body of a ferocious beast, and the mind of a veteran warrior. His rage was out of control and madness commanded his actions. I didn’t have an opponent, but instead an enemy. It was not just a fight; it was personal. He hated me and wanted my death, not just my defeat.
“He is your enemy. You can’t just defeat him, he needs to die. Remember what you felt in Vivec. Kill him, or he will kill you.”
He had become what I had expected from Lemnos: my antagonist. The whole quest for answers and understanding had lead up to that point, in Ald Daedroth, and regardless of who was behind his actions or who was to blame, Xighden was my enemy. Xighden Lienx was the name of my obstacle and I had to not just defeat him, but rid myself of his presence completely before I could achieve my goal: truth. And so that was the mentality that I needed to adopt to kill him. The same feeling that I had experienced when dealing with Tiram Gadar in Vivec: killer instinct. I had to kill him; otherwise he would kill me without a second thought. Nothing else mattered.
With a revitalized sense of battle, I matched Xighden’s fuming rage with that of my own, and allowed my barbarian side to take over. I rushed him with powerful sword slashes. He blocked them, but with not as much ease as before. Soon he began to counter, and we stood in a storm of clanging metal and swiping edges. Neither of us landed a hit.
I could’ve continued that pace for hours, but my conjured weapon could not. In mid swing, it vanished from my hands, leaving me with an empty attack that carried nothing but momentum. Xighden did not waste time in seizing the opportunity. He pulled his battle-axe up above his head and rained the blade down upon me. “Your weapon is gone, even the odds.”
I knew that without a weapon, I could not fight him, so I decided to even the odds. I threw my arms up and caught his axe along its base. We stood eye to eye, in a power struggle over the weapon. “Nord will not take my Umbra,” he growled. His grip was too strong to pull the weapon away, but that was not my intention.
“Cinctum Corrisio,” I said, matching his determined tone. My spell of corrosion became active by eating away at the base of his axe. It broke off and fell to the ground, as the magicka crept up the handle and began to destroy the wide blades. We both stepped back, standing about two meters apart.
Xighden’s eyes went wide in shock as his weapon nearly vanished from my spell of destruction. His rage then only doubled, and surfaced in a violent roar. “My Umbra! No!” He was utterly distraught. He actually fell to his knees and grabbed at the last few pieces of metal that remained. It looked like he was mourning the loss of a family member. It was not long before his decimated appearance turned back into hatred. His eyes locked on me with a burning intensity. “Watch out, now!” I didn’t even have time to move before he sprang up off his knees, diving for me. Both menacing hands clasped around my throat and two powerful arms held them in place, wrenching away at my neck. “Magnus! Magnus took away my Umbra in Suran! Magnus took away my Umbra here! Magnus will not take away my destiny! My immortality!” he violently shouted at me.
Nords are strong, and I was no less than any other, but Xighden’s grip could not be broken. I grabbed onto his wrists and push him off, but it was impossible. My airflow began to diminish, and my vision blurred. If it continued, he would throttle me and I would die. More thoughts came to me, pieces of advice that I couldn’t recognize as my own or someone else’s.
“He’s going to kill you. You’re not going to let that happen, are you? Do something!” I heard in my mind.
“My magicka is depleted…I…I have nothing left.” I said, with garbled speech. Xighden’s murderous stare did not waver, nor did his grip.
"You’re a Nord! You have other means to wield power. Think!” the voice said.
On the fringe of nearly blacking out, I tried to think of what I could possibly do. As a mage, there was nothing left for me, but as a Nord, I had one last resort: the lightning fist. It was an innate ability that all northerners could call upon. I had never been able to control it well, usually resorting to magicka instead. I had nothing else, though, and it was my only hope.
Opening my eyes and throwing up my arms, the barbarian spirit in me reached out and grabbed onto Xighden’s thick skull. I wrapped my fingers around his head and gouged my thumbs into his eyes. No words were necessary to summon the energy. It was just the primal instinct of a Nord that I channeled, and allowed the thunder fist ability to unfold. With a fierce bellow, I squeezed my hands around his face just as he squeezed onto my neck. Sparks began to surge through my hands and soon enough, lightning blasted out through my palms and fingers. It engulfed the Khajiit’s head. Xighden thrashed around and screamed in pain, which forced his choke to soften. Soon, he head let go entirely and was instead attempting to pull my hands off his face. I refused to release, however, and my grip only increased. My shout had turned into a fierce scream. I sunk my thumbs deep into his eye sockets, and clenched my fingernails into the sides of his head. His howling agony was only broken when he grabbed onto my left arm at the wrist. He proceeded to pound the rear of my elbow with on open palm, breaking it. I felt a pain nearly equal to Xighden’s as my arm snapped backwards. I screamed and let go, as did he. The two of us fell back, focused on nothing other than our wounds. My left elbow was destroyed, unusable. Pulling up my head, though, I saw that I had come out of the conflict better than Xighden had.
The furious Cathay-Raht was hunched over, with his palms covering his face. He grumbled angrily in pain. When he moved his hands away, I saw the disgusting void that had filled both his eye sockets. Only blackened wounds that seeped out smoke remained. The fur along his skull had been burned and was black and even bleeding along one side. I had intended to blind him, but as I looked closer, even his ears had been destroyed. His entire face was disfigured. He became a geyser of rage, and began screaming for me, circling around blindly and cursing my name. I backed away from him, trying to think of my next move.
Hiding behind a large stone pillar, the battle seemed to come to a halt. Xighden’s screams and threats were too difficult to focus on, considering the pain I felt in my arm. I had to pull it close to my body, to stop it from shaking. I squatted down, lowered my head, and closed my eyes in a moment of devastation. I was injured. I had no more magicka. Xighden was insane, blinded, yet still able to kill me. I felt a lingering futility building up inside of me. “Open your eyes.”
“Open your eyes,” a voice said to me. I did so, in shock, to see Sheogorath kneeling down beside me. “Well done, Magnus. You’re almost out of this mess.” It took me a moment to come out of the mental state that I was in before I could respond.
“What?” I stopped, remembering Xighden. I peeked back around the corner, seeing the Khajiit standing out in the open, no longer shouting, but instead holding his head high, listening for me. His ears looked demolished, but I didn’t want to assume that he couldn’t hear. His fists rapidly clenched and unclenched in frustration. Returning to Sheogorath, I lowered my voice.
“Xighden turned on me. He thinks I killed Prophiter. I don’t even know if he’s dead or not.”
“The elf is dead,” Sheogorath immediately responded. I turned to him, with an initial surprise that quickly faded into acceptance. A twinge of logic crossed my mind as I tried to analyze the means of Prophiter’s death. The sharp pain reoccurred, stopping any such thought, though. “But who killed him?”
“But who killed him?” I asked.
“Come now, Magnus. Who do you think killed him?” Sheogorath asked to me, gesturing towards Xighden. I sighed, realizing that it must be true. I expected no less from Xighden in his animalistic state. “He has become an animal.”
"He has become an animal,” I said, sadly.
“You’re correct, Magnus. So you know what you have to do when an animal goes mad. Put him down.”
“But I have no weapon, and I’ve lost too much strength to use my magicka. And my arm.” It felt as though there was nothing left for me to use against Xighden. He had stood up to everything that I could throw at him, and I was at my end.
"Well, you better think of something soon, or else...” Sheogorath trailed off.
From the corner of the pillar that I leaned against, burst Xighden, towering over me in his fearsome state. His claws slashed down at my head. I spun to my side and scrambled up to my feet. His attack continued, swiping at me as I ran away from him. A direct strike tore away at my chest, cutting through my robe and slicing into my skin. I stumbled backwards, with a shout of pain. I thought at first that he had regained his sight, but that was not the case. He sniffed the air, and soon locked onto where I was.
“I can smell the Nord. It is afraid.” Xighden giggled with a sickening tone. In his blindness, his hatred had become muddled with his humour, creating a newer demeanor that was truly frightening. “Fear from the fearless. It is always the sweetest,” he shouted, laughing almost maniacally.
He was correct; he had managed to make me afraid. I tried not to let it get to me, but in his horrific, mutilated condition, he seemed more confident than ever, making me both repulsed and terrified. I backed away from him, giving off the smell that he needed to follow me.
I broke into a run, still clutching my broken arm. Xighden chased after me at such a pace that his blindness was almost irrelevant. I ran throughout the temple ruins, dodging in between pillars and piles of fallen rock. He kept right behind me.
Deeper into the depths of Ald Daedroth we ran, up a few flights of cracked stairs and through dark hallways. Time had not benefited the temple, nor had the battle between Lemnos and I. Deep rifts had formed into the walls and floors. The further we ran, the more they appeared like chasms. I hopped over each gap in my path.
As I came to the end of my breath, with aching bones and bruised and bleeding muscles, we reached a final room. Near the entrance, at the top of the stairs that I had just climbed, were two pillars. Out of desperation, I planted my back against one of them and pushed against it with all my strength. Without a second to spare, the stone pillar tipped over and smashed into the ground. The cracked stone shaft created a barrier, sealing Xighden out and sealing me in. It created a final moment of rest.
I frantically scanned the room, looking for anything that I could use to kill the Khajiit. There was nothing. Xighden’s raging screams could easily be heard from the other side of the toppled pillar. His fierce snarls were completely devoid of humanity. I could find no weapons or tools to make use of. The only thing that separated the room from a cage was one open void where an eastern wall should’ve been. It was a vast break in the structure that allowed view of the open sky. The faintest glow of dawn lit the room. The sun had not yet risen.
More beastly roars made me shudder. Xighden pounded and clawed at the stone, breaking away at it, bit by bit. Peering out through the empty wall, I saw no salvation. It led only to a sheer drop. The ground was at least fifty feet below and was mostly jagged rocks and rough cliff edges. There was no way down, and no way back. I stood in a true dead end. As the Khajiit screams grew only louder and more ferocious, I closed my eyes, nearly ready to accept my demise. My arm throbbed in pain. As I clutched it, I could pain the bone grinding and bone in a way that it should not. My chest bled, soaking my robe. I exhaled, breathing out what was the last of my natural hope.
“Open your eyes.”
I opened my eyes and turned to Sheogorath, in what somehow, was no surprise.
“All right, Magnus, this has gone on long enough,” he said to me in his casual tone. I had grown weary from exercising such desperation and fear. I responded with only a sober truthfulness.
“Yes,” I said.
"I have an offer for you, Magnus. I have a way that you can survive this.”
“I…I know,” was my response.
“Do you? Tell me, then,” he prompted. I sighed, glumly. I knew that I was desperate, and possibly mad. All the while, though, since Sheogorath had first spoken to me, I knew what he wanted. Somehow I knew, and it was because of what he wanted that a familiar feeling surfaced within me. It was slow and creeping, and it writhed around inside me.
“You are going to offer me what you originally offered Lemnos. A connection to your power, and a position within destiny. A chance to live on within a future prophecy, to be reborn and change the world in your name, for the sake of madness. That is it, isn’t it?” I sadly asked. I was correct.
“Well, well, Magnus. I have to say that you impress me. I so do love that I’m capable of surprise as my age. You’re absolutely right. If you accept my offer, you will give to me the only thing that I cannot take from you, your soul. That will tie you to me, and you will become my acolyte, living on through the streams of destiny after your own death. The aggravation of the one power will subside, for a time, and I will have gained a position in things yet to come. So Magnus…do you accept?”
Xighden’s hammering blows had almost destroyed the barrier of fallen stone. I breathed out painfully. I soon recognized the creeping feeling inside me as something inevitable: truth. I knew that he had achieved what he wanted, and I knew what my choice would be.
“If I refuse, then Xighden will kill me. You know that I don’t have the strength to stop him. The only choice you’ve given me is between life and death.” Sheogorath leaned in towards me and whispered.
“You’re absolutely right,” he breathed. For the first time, he showed a fraction of his evil. From one hand, he opened up his palm and offered me its contents. It was a small, golden ring, exactly the same as the one that Lemnos wore. I stared at the small ring, pretending that I had the option of not taking it. It offered power, knowledge, life beyond death, and the only price was servitude. I reached out and touched it, causing the feeling inside me to swell. The ring had a warmth to it; its power was evident. It was sickening as I put it on my finger, the power of Sheogorath flowing into my body. My magicka was restored and my arm healed, snapping back into place.
The disgust did not go away as Xighden burst through the barrier. I had no choice but to kill him. I summoned a whirlwind of fire, which twirled around him, wrapping to his fur. The Khajiit’s fury went unadulterated, all the way down to his death. His warrior heart could’ve fought through the flames, but his body fell. I stood, wide-eyed and nauseous as he fought the fire, Sheogorath chuckling all the while. I stayed that way as his thrashing slowed to long-lasting crawl. His burning body reached out for me with one scorched, trembling hand, as if no longer guided by any physical sense at all. He eventually came to halt on the ground and there was nothing but burning.
I felt faint looking at his corpse, and needed fresh air. Stepping out through the space in the wall, I floated down towards the ground. The spell of levitation was effortless with Sheogorath’s power in me. I touched down on the beach at the north end of the island. Dawn had broken and a beautiful sunrise greeted me. It created a perfect contrast to the hideous feeling that had filled my body. Once again, yet perhaps forever, I thought, Sheogorath stood beside me.
“Well done,” he simply said. I didn’t respond. I instead raised my left hand and stood at the golden ring on my finger. What I had earlier felt as warmth had then become burning. I grabbed onto the ring and tried to pull it off my finger. The burning spread throughout my left hand and down my wrist and forearm. I finally pulled the searing hot ring from my finger and threw it to the ground. I swallowed hard in near exhaust from the action.
“You don’t want my ring? No matter. The ring makes no difference. I already have my mark upon you.” What he said was true. Staring at the back of my hand, I saw that a deep crimson burn had formed, carving strange symbols that wrapped around my wrist and palm.
“What…what is this?” I asked.
“It is daedric, the old words. It marks you with what I am renowned for: madness.”
“That’s what it says? Madness?”
“No. An interpretation of madness, my interpretation. It says “bitter mercy.” Because for many, madness is not a curse, but instead a bitter mercy. Take your Khajiit friend for example. He couldn’t fit into the normal world, because of his need to kill. The animal in him kept pushing him closer to the grave, but the human in him kept pulling him back. He was in a permanent conflict. I did him a favor, really. He needed those words in his head. As did you.” I then suddenly spun my head and glared at him, anger in my eyes. His words had suddenly snapped me out of my haze and back into a sense of normality.
“Words in my head?!” I demanded a response from him. There was no more fear in my voice, for I felt as though he had done all to me that he could.
“Why yes, those encouraging words I gave to you along the way.”
“Or don’t you remember?” The words appeared in my mind, like they had before. For the first time I realized their source. I blinked with a sudden realization. All throughout Ald Deadroth Sheogorath had been affecting me. I had thought that only Xighden had been affected. I thought that because of my strength of will, I was immune to what had happened to Lemnos.
"If you…were affecting Xighden and me, then which one of us…” I began.
“Which one of you…was the killer?” he asked with sarcasm. “Was it he who went mad and attacked you? Or was it you who killed the Wood Elf and tried to steal the destiny that was meant for Xighden? Neither and both is the answer. That’s not the real question here. What you really want to know is: if you had been in full control of your logic, would the Khajiit still be alive?” I looked into his eyes with humbleness and nodded. He smiled and responded.
“I haven’t a clue.” After a moment of lingering, scanning for anything other than malicious jest, I scowled in frustration. I didn’t want to believe what he was saying.
“How did you do it? In the Mages Guild we’re taught to resist tricks of the mind. How did you control me?” In response to that Sheogorath let out bellowing laughter.
“You see, Magnus, this is why I said you needed my help. You have such a desire for the truth, yet you stand in a thick fog of ignorance. It almost pains me to watch, so I’ll tell you what you need to know. Listen, here, mortal.” Sheogorath’s tone lost its playful quality, and became completely somber. “I have told you of the one power, the force that is expansive beyond our world. You now know that it can affect all of us, even me. It, in a way, drives us all and controls us. But it is a tool as well. It can be manipulated, and by doing so, we open ourselves to its control. The more we rely on it, the more it can use us to achieve its means. Now, think…think because I know that you know what I’m about to tell you. The one power has a name. What is it?” My mind processed the information, and I concluded that I did know the answer. I opened my mouth in an attempt to speak the name, but became stifled as soon as I tried. It was a shock beyond anything Sheogorath had told me, and it sickened me. A slight smile returned to Sheogorath’s face.
“That’s right…it is magicka.” The Daedra Lord said. “Every time you use it, it tightens its grip upon you. Every step you take closer to its power is a step away from what you are as an individual. To open your mind to magicka allows its chains around your hands.”
The feeling of disgust suddenly took me over. I felt absolutely empty, just a void, except for that feeling. It took away my strength. I couldn’t even stand, and soon toppled to the ground. On my hands and knees, panting, the memories of every moment of my life that I’d spent learning to use magicka, so eager to grasp more of its power, came back to me. The more I remembered, the more the feeling took over. I was plagued with despair. I opened my mouth and vomited. Spitting out the taste of bile and gasping for air, the perversion of my life came to its pinnacle. I closed my welling eyes and screamed with rage. The sunrise didn’t seem so beautiful anymore.
Sheogorath watched me, and said nothing as I shouted and bellowed, cursing him, others, anyone or anything I could think of to recklessly blame for my position. I was stewing in repulsive truth and I hated it. As my rage eventually died down and I resorted to moans and whines, desperate attempts to say anything that might somehow change my situation, Sheogorath began to speak.
"That is it, Magnus. That is all the knowledge I will impart to you. This is where we separate.” Through blurry eyes I glared up at him.
"Separate?” I asked.
“Yes. I have no need of you in this life. It is after your death that you will come to me. It is in your next life that you will be reborn as my knight.” His tone became serious once again. His strict tone had doubled in intensity, though. “Now, rise.” I got to my feet without hesitation. I did not wish to obey him, but I couldn’t resist. It was through his will, and not mine that I stood upright. His eyes were fierce and penetrating, without an ounce of metaphor. He literally pierced my mind with his own and established a connection between us. For a brief second, I saw into his core. It was wild randomness, covering ingenious intent, surrounding only a smaller seed of pure insanity.
As he spoke to me, his voice was sterner than I had ever heard it. A chill run up my spine, freezing me in place “Listen to me, acolyte. Listen like you never have before. When you awake in your next existence, you will have a path to follow. It will be in the form of a prophecy. Just as Simon Belmont was driven to fulfill the Nerevarine prophecies, so too will you be driven to fulfill my plans for you. Your actions are set in stone. Nothing can change that, regardless of what you do in this life. Never forget that.” He stopped talking, and simply stared at me, into me. He could’ve just stayed there and I wouldn’t have moved, not while paralyzed under his gaze. He reached out his left hand though, and planted an ice cold grip upon me. His fingers clasped onto the right side of my face, his thumb jutting underneath my chin.
“Your life as Magnus the Greymind is no longer relevant to me. I shall mark you under a new name. This symbol emblazoned upon your face will be your title.” His grip tightened and a burning sensation came over where he touched. Just like my hand from the ring, daedric symbols tattooed to my face. “You have now accepted an existence of sorrow, so I shall mark you…Knight of the Sorrowful Figure.” The pain on my face increased, so much so that I closed my eyes and screamed, my voice muffled by Sheogorath’s palm. The feeling quickly stung with intensely, to the point where it was unbearable; but then suddenly, it stopped. I opened my eyes, gasping for fresh air. Sheogorath had vanished, I suspected for the final time. He had done to me everything that he needed to, at least in my current life.
Standing on the rocky shore, I stared into the golden sun. It was a brilliant, blinding light. There was also a symbolic juxtaposition in the sunrise. To me it meant truth. I was blinded by the light, as I was by the brutal truth that Sheogorath had given to me. The truth and the light combined to wash away the darkness of my mediocrity and contentedness. I felt empty. It was not just a feeling, but an understood fact. I was without a soul. A staple of my humanity was gone. My magicka, while revitalized with Sheogorath’s power, was tainted. Just the thought of casting a spell and furthering my connection to the one power’s will sickened me. It made me feel dirty just to have as much power as I did. I was left with the Mad God’s symbols etched on my skin. Looking down at my hand, I saw the “Bitter Mercy” runes.
“Madness being a bitter mercy?” I thought. There were many times that the civilized people of the world did not adapt to what I believed to be common sense. Trebonius and the Mages Guild politics, the Imperial chokehold on Tamriel, even everyday beggars, liars, and thieves. They were not easy to accept. I wondered if simply existing without cares of the common world or insecurities of the afterlife was superior. To not care, to be unable to care about anything. “Perhaps he was right,” I concluded. Emptiness.
I touched my face. It reminded me of the pain that I had experienced at Sheogorath’s hand. The resurfacing emptiness was not created by him, though. It was only presented to me by means of the truth. I had always wanted the truth. I had achieved it and it was cold. There was little for me to argue with. Brutal truth cannot be fought. It seemed that my fate, at least as Magnus the Greymind, would conclude without any renown or fame. Far away, people would rejoice over the defeat of Dagoth Ur. All of the intertwining events that involved the sacrifice and death of others would never be remembered. It was only the Nerevarine, Simon Belmont, whose name would be praised. There was no noble cause at the end of my story, and there was far from an honourable ending for any of my companions. All there was was a distasteful and empty void where closure should’ve been. “Knight of the Sorrowful Figure?” I thought. “So be it.”