The Beginning of a Transformation
Ben quietly entered the throne room, holding the new staff of Sheogorath in his hands.
Sheogorath was already waiting for him. His skin was only more fallow now. His powers had already left him, it seemed.
Haskill was staying off to the side with a worried and tired face, Ben noticed as he got closer.
Ben got on his knee and held the staff of Sheogorath in his master's direction.
"Aren't you cute? That staff is for you, not me."
Ben looked up confused before Sheogorath grabbed the staff and pulled him back on their feet.
"Dance with me, won't you?"
Sheogorath threw the staff away and grabbed both of Ben's hands. He carefully intertwined his hands with theirs.
Sheogorath had gone completely insane, Ben thought to themselves as both of them swung around the throne room effortlessly.
Ben felt a weird sensation on their hands... as if Sheogorath was melting...
Suddenly he noticed that Sheogorath's hands were no longer there. Only theirs.
They seemed to be melting together. Ben was shocked at the current event and tried to pull away. The Daedric Prince only chuckled as they continued to dance, fusing together more and more.
Ben looked at Haskill only to see him enjoy their dance. As Ben looked away, they fell to the ground... to Haskill's dismay.
Sheogorath hunched over, "Time. Time is an artificial construct. An arbitrary system based on the idea that events occur in a linear direction at all times. Always forward, never back. Is the concept of time correct? Is time relevant? It matters not. One way or another, I fear that our time has run out. As I feared it would, My plan has failed. The Greymarch is upon us, and I must go. I thought we had more time. I thought we had a chance. My plan has failed. And we were so close...."
Ben was confused to what happens now and spelled it out.
"What happens is what always has happened -- what always will happen. I crumble, I fade, the Realm dies. And you with it. Flee while you can, mortal. When we next meet I will not know you, and I will slay you like the others."
Ben's facial expression turned to one of shock. Ben was only thinking now, but that wasn't an obstacle for him. Ben hadn't failed.
Sheogorath grinned, "Optimism! How adorable! I love it! Even at the end, you make me laugh. I'm lying. That wasn't funny at all. No matter. Soon you and everyone else will be dead, and I will be left a mad god, ruler of a dead realm. Again."
Wild colors started to spark from Sheogorath's body. It looked like the body was pulling itself apart. As if someone was punching holes through him with a paintbrush. He was transforming into something different.
There was a long pause.
"The realm is dead! Sheogorath is dead!! All shall crumble before Jyggalag!"
The body arose from the ground and the colors turned to white as he vanished. The second it vanished, the ground shook violently.
Haskill proceeded to grab Ben and held them in place, "He is gone, but hope is not lost. We have a rare opportunity here, but I hesitate to do what must be done. If the Throne of Madness remains empty when Jyggalag storms the palace, he will prevail. But there is a chance that the throne may not be empty."
Ben shook their head and Haskill continued as he held onto their shoulders, "You will sit on the throne. It has always been Sheogorath's intent for you to be the new Madgod."
Ben's eyes widened.
"Take the staff down to the Font of Madness! Soak the staff in the waters of the land, and it will open its full power to you. You need to cleanse the pools of Madness before that, though! Hurry!"
The Champion grabbed the staff off the ground and noticed the font turning a pure white before entering the tree on their way to the Fountainhead.
Ben was deep underground, around the roots of Madness. Even the Gnarls were infected by Order and attacked them on sight.
They successfully cleansed the first pool, the Pool of Mania, but they encountered a problem once they moved on to the Pool of Dementia.
They stood there in shock as Syl stood there, "Sheogorath's pet. That used to be me, so blinded by my suspicions that I could not see the truth of my own situation. We have lived too long as the playthings of the Madgod."
She pulled an orange, sparking hammer with large crystals on it from her back and started with the first attack. Ben dodged her first blow with her hammer by moving backwards and even dodged the second that resembled an overhead attack by rolling to the left.
They kicked her against her shin which made her fall to the ground and quickly stabbed her in the chest with his sword.
She spat out blood, "To think that I trusted you...! You!"
They let her stay there. Alone. In the cold, dark depths under the earth of the Shivering isles. Ben's escape made Syl scream and wail while she was bleeding out on the floor.
"Ben- My Lord! Wait! Sheogorath! Please!"
Ben closed their eyes and moved on.
Haskill was awaiting their new master patiently. Ben did not even react to anything they just walked over the font and pushed the staff deeply into the water until they noticed it coming alive. It was as if the font had been pulling them in its direction. The staff's eye started to stare at its new master as they slowly retrieved it out of the waters of their land. Its pupil constricted.
Haskill's soft voice was a surprise to Ben, "My Lord? It is time."
When Ben turned around, Haskill was close behind him.... holding the regalia of Sheogorath. They only took the doublet and threw it on, right over their armor.
A golden saint came running in, bowing in front of Ben, "My Lord. I'm glad to see you. We have a developing situation that requires your attention."
Ben only raised an eyebrow.
"Order. An obelisk has activated just outside the Palace. I've ordered my Aureals to engage the enemy. I expect that this is the beginning of the final assault. The cursed usurper Jyggalag himself may even take the field before the end. What are your orders, My Lord?"
Ben looked off to the side, at Haskill.
"Our Lord will lead the attack themself."
The Aureal Captain bowed again, "It will be our great honor to fight by your side, My Lord!"
Destroying the two Obelisks was no easy task, but with the new Lord's commands and capabilities, it was no major issue.
The issue came once a light blue light spread and blinded everyone in the courtyard.
Ben struggled to look up only to find a Daedric Prince out of pure crystal and metal. They approached Jyggalag boldly without any fear in their eyes. Their first attempt was to paralyze the Daedric Prince of Order with their new staff to no avail.
They had to figure something else out. Jyggalag's massive claymore took Ben with it. They flew off to the side while the palace guards screamed with rage and attacked Jyggalag in response.
Ben's ears were ringing as they watched on. Jyggalag was not just growing in strength, but also in size. Their palace guards were defending not just themselves bravely but also Ben. Time slowed down and they looked down at themselves while their heartbeat was pulsating in his ears. With an open hand, they touched their pregnant belly. Ben couldn't check if they were okay. Were they okay? Suddenly they felt a tug inside of them. A response. The past Champion of Sheogorath looked up to see their palace guards flying backwards onto the stairs.
With their hand on their belly, they decided to gather up their courage and got back up to fight their enormous enemy.
Aurmazl, the captain of the palace guard, ran to check up on her master.
"We need a sturdy rope."
"What do we have?! We need something like a sturdy rope!"
Aurmazl looked around to find something.
"Lord Sheogorath! Just materialize something! Think of it really hard and make it appear!"
Ben looked down at their hands and concentrated while opening and closing them. They need a rope. Make a rope. They closed their eyes and grabbed an imaginary rope. To their surprise, it was quite sturdy.
"My Lord, you did it!"
The past Champion looked what they had in their hands.
The palace guards continued to fight off Jyggalag, but one after the other started to fall and didn't get back up. Ben handed the other end of the rope to Aurmazl and nodded in her direction.
"My Lord, that is insane!" She paused.
"I love it!"
While Jyggalag was busy with the other palace guards, Ben and Aurmazl started to circle around his legs. Both of them pulling as hard as they could until Jyggalag took a step forward and got caught in the rope, tripping and falling.
Aurmazl started to yell and cheer while the palace guards stormed and held onto Jyggalag who was flabberghasted. Jyggalag attempted to prop himself up but he couldn't see where he was, because a few palace guards were attached to his face.
Ben was plotting and thinking. They knew that their core would not be in their chest. It would be in their head!!
They turned to Aurmazl and she got ready to boost her master up. They ran towards Aurmazl and stepped in her hands only to get thrown up into the air with an exhausted grunt by her.
Jyggalag was slippery and Ben kept on losing grip. They were close to falling off until a hand grabbed their wrist. It was one of the palace guards. She smiled at them and pulled them up further, so that the others could grab them. Ben grabbed the next guard and then the next until they were barely holding onto Jyggalag's face.
End of the line.
Ben grabbed their sword and with all their might, they stabbed deeply into Jyggalag's forehead. Both Jyggalag and Ben screamed as their fighting came to an end.
Without knowing, Jyggalag faded out of existence and Ben was falling towards the ground only to be caught by his palace guard.
Jyggalag fell over and their physical form vanished. Aurmazl put Ben back on the ground and turned around.
Another light emerged in the middle of the courtyard and Jyggalag's head was within, "Enough! I am beaten. The Greymarch is ended."
Ben looked up at the face of Order.
"For millennia this drama has unfolded, and each time, I have conquered this land, only to be transformed back into that gibbering fool, Sheogorath. It was not always so. Once, I ruled this Realm, a world of perfect Order. My dominion expanded across the seas of Oblivion with each passing era. The other Princes, fearful of my power, cursed me with Madness, doomed me to live as Sheogorath, a broken soul reigning in a broken land. Once each era, I was allowed my true form, conquering this world anew. And each time I did, the curse was renewed, damning me to exist as Sheogorath. Now, though, you have ended the cycle. You now hold the mantle of madness, and Jyggalag is free to roam the voids of Oblivion once more. I will take my leave, and you will remain here, mortal. Mortal...? King? God? It seems uncertain. This Realm is yours. Perhaps you will grow to your station. Fare thee well, Sheogorath, Prince of Madness."
The remaining palace guards cheered, but Ben only smiled momentarily. They had won... but at what cost? They carefully placed their hand on their covered belly again. What had they done?!
Haskill came outside to see if they had succeeded.
Aurmazl laughed, "We did it, My Lord!- My Lord?"
Ben looked on in horror and Haskill immediately noticed it. He attempted to walk down the stairs quicker, but Ben already removed the doublet and threw the staff away.
"My Lord? My Lord?!"
They were already running away to the shock of the palace guards and Haskill himself. They still called after them, but Ben didn't stop.
They just wanted to get home. They were running so fast that the tears flying off their face.
Everywhere they were in the realm called them Lord Sheogorath, but they weren't Lord Sheogorath! Every single person, in every settlement until they finally reached the portal again. They left faster than they arrived in the realm.
Once they were through, they gasped for air and had slight pains in their lower abdomen.
Bruma. They had to get back to Bruma. Ben removed most of their heavy armor parts and searched for their horse. Ben's horse, Elizabeth, hid behind a few bushes and neighed at Ben in surprise.
Ben immediately started to pet her and held her close to calm themselves before throwing their heaviest armor parts on her back and getting on themselves.
Their ride home was rough and exhausting. They didn't know if they should cry or scream. Looking down into the water made their heartbeat exhilarate as they saw Sheogorath from certain angles.
As it started to snow, Ben knew they were getting closer to home until they saw the walls of Bruma. The sun was setting behind them and they didn't even wait until Elizabeth stopped. They just jumped straight off to their horse's confusion.
At least they had stopped running now and Elizabeth calmly walked after Ben while they were walking home.
Ben's hands were shaking as they tried to put their key into the front door, but to their surprise it opened by itself.
Vicente nearly let the laundry basket fall out of their hands at the sight of their lover.
Ben froze and Vicente quickly pulled him inside.
"Where have you been?! Are you okay?!" Vicente looked down at their belly. "Are they okay?!"
He got on his knees in front of his partner and put an ear up to their belly.
"Oh, their heart is beating. What a relief! But way to fast! Ben, what happened?!"
Ben slowly opened his arms and got the glomp of his life time. Vicente squeezed them good.
"I searched everywhere for you! And no one knew anything! I was so scared!"
Vicente looked into his lovers eyes.
"Will you ever not play the hero?! You will wind up dead someday!"
He gently gave Ben a bonk on the head and then started to get rid of their armor.
"Oh- wait- the fireplace isn't on! It must be freezing for you!"
Vicente stopped fumbling Ben and put some wood into the fireplace. Ben turned around and saw Elizabeth in the door frame.
She missed Ben just as much as Vicente. Ben wagged his finger and cautiously guided her back outside. They hugged her head before binding her to the post next to their house. Ben removed the armor and the saddle off her back and went inside, closing the door behind them.
Quietly they placed all of the armor on the bench, wondering for how long they had vanished.
They were tired and slowly moved over to the bed where they sluggishly fell onto. With their face on the bed, they watched as Vicente aggressively tried to light the fire. It took a few minutes but they succeeded in the end.
Vicente got angry at Ben for wearing shoes in the bed.
Ben sighed heavily. Vicente sighed in response and pulled the shoes off their feet.
He watched as Ben was calming down and sat down next to him.
"Where were you, Darling?"
Ben blushed into the bed and told them that they were in Oblivion.
"In Oblivion? For a whole month?"
A whole month?!
"You left in Hearthfire. It's Frostfall."
That's why it's so cold. Vicente started to rub his back.
".... I missed you."
A few tears rolled down Ben's cheek and they moved over to make space for Vicente. Vicente lay down right next to Ben, facing them.
As always, Vicente's eyes were dimly glowing. Ben was happy to see that glow again. Vicente carefully brushed some hair out of their face and kissed them with a softness that couldn't be described. Ben asked if they had fed enough.
"Of course, I did! I did not want to eat you the second you walked in through that door!"
Ben chuckled and Vicente tugged them and himself in.
"Can you even still remember that we are married?"
Ben started to laugh.
"What? That is a serious question! Agh, Nevermind!"
The vampire embraced and cuddled the past Champion. In fact, it was so comfortable that Ben fell asleep in his arms in mere seconds. The last thing they heard was, "My tired hero..."