Alice’s Adventures In The Shivering Isles: Part 8
End At The Ending
In part seven of this diary, Alice discovered that Sheogorath (the prince of madness) and Jyggalag, (the god of order) were actually the same person, a twist so shocking it could be used as electroconvulsive therapy. Then Jyggalag took over Sheogorath’s body so he could begin the cyclical destruction of the Shivering Isles called the Greymarch. The only way to prevent it is for Alice to stop unsuccessfully trying to throw a tea party long enough to create a staff of office so she can replace the Prince of Madness as ruler of the Isles. To do that she needs to visit a library. (A good tea party would be more exciting, that’s all I’m saying.)
The great library of Knifepoint Hollow isn’t that great, and it isn’t really a library either. It’s actually just one man, a servant of order named Dyus who was imprisoned here by Sheogorath. Dyus was once Jyggalag’s librarian, which is why he knows essentially everything there is to know. An entire library inside one man’s head. You can call that perfect order if you like, but I think it just sounds fussy. What kind of a man would want to know everything?
A very pompous man, of course.
What was that, Dyus? I was too busy picking your nose with the mouse cursor to listen.
Dyus the librarian says he even knew that we were coming to see him, and why – to remake the staff of Sheogorath, if you’ve forgotten. Dyus says that will require two items: an eye belonging to a woman who has seen things no one else has seen, and wood from the Tree of Shades.
First, the eye. It belongs to Ciirta, who lives in The Howling Halls. Those Halls were once an temple in the real world where the insane were brought to be cured. Because they love irony as much as they love moping, inhabitants of Dementia stole the temple brick by brick and reassembled it here in the Shivering Isles, where everybody’s insane and nobody gets cured.
Now the Howling Halls are inhabited by heretic cultists who, like all cultists, conveniently leave some of their spare robes lying around. It’s time to wear a disguise.
The difference is, I make this look good.
The disguise serves us well, until we cross paths with one of the heretics who notices that Alice is still wearing the same extravagant hat she wears everywhere. Busted.
Luckily this cat-man is an ambitious heretic, and he has a plan to overthrow Ciirta, who is their leader. That sounds like a good idea, since I do need one of her eyes and that may be harder to get while she’s alive. He’s already convinced a few cultists to side with him, but they’re unarmed novices. What they need are some nice pointy daggers like the ones the senior heretics carry.
Remember way back in part four when Alice helped a nice man named Hirrus commit suicide and then took his ‘ring of happiness’ as payment? It gave her the ability to walk on water, but it also lit her up with a cheering glow that’s been useful in the various dungeons of the Isles. It’s less useful when trying to pickpocket robed cultists in the dark.
Somehow we pull it off though, and Alice manages to arm the rebellious apostles. They launch an attack on their seniors and while the Howling Halls run red with blood, Alice saunters into the quarters of their leader to ask politely for her eyeball.
If you’ve been wondering what these heretics have been heretically believing here in Heretic Town, Ciirta’s happy to explain. She survived the previous Greymarch – when everyone else was wiped out by Jyggalag and the Knights of Order, she hid in the palace until it was all over. Ciirta saw that the throne was empty when Jyggalag arrived to clean house, and that Sheogorath only returned to fill the place with crazy people again after Jyggalag was gone. She’s been preaching that Sheogorath abandoned his people, which is broadly true.
Since Alice is one of Sheogorath’s servants, Ciirta isn’t pleased to see us. Which isn’t too bad, because when she attacks it gives us an excuse to stab her to ribbons.
Now we have an eye. And also a pelvis? For reasons of their own the Demented who stole this building brick by brick took the pelvis of mad Emperor Pelagius while they were at it. It’ll look nice in the throne room, I guess.
Next stop, the Tree of Shades.
The Tree of Shades grows in and feeds from a font of madness and mystery called the Grove of Reflection. The Grove is alive and apparently doesn’t like visitors, creating a shadowy Looking-Glass reflection of Alice to defend itself with. ‘Black Alice’ summons a Flesh Atronach to attack with while Alice Alice summons a Golden Saint. Knowing when to delegate is important.
Basically this is a game of chess. Haughty Amazon takes Baldy Fleshmonster and that’s checkmate. Alice does feel bad about having to kill her own mirror-
Ooh look, she’s got a magic sword! YOINK.
With a new sword, a branch from the Tree of Shades, and Ciirta’s goopy eyeball, we trek back to Dyus the librarian. Dyus is prepared to help us slap together a powerful Daedric artifact the likes of which a mortal has never held before. Except here’s the inevitable complication – the fly in our ointment, the mercury in our production of felt. The staff needs to be consecrated in the Font of Madness, which Sheogorath conveniently kept behind his throne. Problem is our enemies have tainted that font’s pure, life-giving madness juice by getting order into it. (Order is a liquid now.)
Yet again they saw us coming because their leader is basically our leader in a silly beard. So we descend into the Fountainhead under the palace, another insufferable dungeon I’m afraid, to find out who has done this thing. The answer is Syl, former Duchess of Dementia and now priestess of Jyggalag. She thinks we won’t be able to stop her.
Or I may summon one of my servants to distract you while I shoot arrows into your face using the bow you gave me then steal your magic hammer.
With the Font of Madness cleansed, we can finally consecrate this staff and technically ascend to something resembling godhood. Sitting on the throne, I don’t feel much like a god. I’m holding a stick with an eyeball on it.
Before we can figure out what to do with this unfathomable power, the Haughty Amazons of the Golden Saint brigade march in with bad news. There is, as they put it, a “developing situation”. What they mean is that the Greymarch is here and there’s an invasion going on in our front yard. Obelisks of Order are growing out of the ground like ugly flamingos, bringing knights and priests with them.
Time to be a queen. We’ve already got into the habit of using the royal ‘we’, the rest should be easy-peasy.
Golden Saints fight alongside their sworn enemies the Dark Seducers in what would seem like a touching display of solidarity if we weren’t too busy trying not to get decapitated to appreciate it. As the knights fall we grab their hearts and jam them into the Obelisks to deactivate them. Everything is going swimmingly.
Until a bolt of energy blasts down out of the sky, sends everything shaky, and takes out our entire force.
Leaving us alone against a god.
The only thing to do is run away. Jyggalag is a 10-feet tall chesspiece monster and has a sword that’s bigger than us. Also, did we mention he’s a god?
Alice leads him on a merry chase around the palace’s walls while desperately trying to think of a plan. A cunning plan. A plan as cunning as a fox who has just finished his doctorate in Cunning Studies at Cunning University, Cunningbridge.
A caterpillar taught us something very useful once. He taught us to get high, and I don’t mean stoned. I mean to get on top of a very tall mushroom.
From here, Jyggalag can’t reach us. We, however, can reach him. The Staff of Sheogorath shoots energy that weakens him, making him vulnerable to a pincushioning with the arrows from our magic bow, Ruin’s Edge.
Those arrows have random effects. This one makes him demoralised. This one makes him frenzied. This one paralyses him, and that foolishly oversized sword he’s carrying makes him topple to the ground.
Several minutes of constant arrowing are enough to destroy his physical form, but not kill a god. Shattering the physical form he was trapped in while he was manifesting in the Shivering Isles has only freed Jyggalag and made him even more powerful. It’s also made him into a floaty head.
Enough! I am beaten. The Greymarch is ended.
At least you’re not grinning. I knew a floaty head who grinned; it was insufferable.
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.
Who was obsessed with cheese. Don’t forget that. One of his most admirable traits.
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.
If I were a god of order I probably wouldn’t give myself a name whose spelling so obnoxiously tampers with the Queen’s English. But do go on.
I will take my leave, and you will remain here, mortal. Mortal…? King?
*Cough* QUEEN *Cough*
God? It seems uncertain.This Realm is yours. Perhaps you will grow to your station. Fare thee well, Sheogorath, Prince of Madness.
*Cough* PRINCESS *Cough*
With that, the head of Jyggalag fades away, leaving only his frown to vanish last of all.
We have saved the day, and now Alice takes the mantle of Sheogorath and becomes ruler of her own mad Realm. Which is nice. Haskill fills us in on our new privileges, which include wearing Sheogorath’s own regalia. Conveniently, it’s a perfect fit.
And also a dress now. Magic, eh?
The Greymarch is cancelled, and peace returns under our whimsical rule. The Gatekeeper crushes interlopers into jelly while his mother proudly looks on. Jayred the hunter chases creatures across the hills, muttering about their bones. Muurine the traitor is resurrected as a zombie, and shares a duplex with her undead Uncle Leo. A fork-shaped monument to Big Head the lizard is erected in New Sheoth’s graveyard. Amiable Fanriene relaxes on a hobo’s bedroll under the open sky. Yngvar Doom-Sayer stops preaching doom and finally puts on a shirt. The caretaker of Xedilian runs another party of adventurers through The Temple of Elemental Insanity. In the village of Split, the divided locals return to plotting each other’s murders. On the Hill of Suicides, a quiet bistro opens.
And Alice sits on her throne while Haskill explains her new powers. She has access to a court healer and and entertainer; can request Dark Seducers and Golden Saints to be her escorts; will magically return to the palace if anything happens that would otherwise kill her; can reshape the weather in the Isles if it doesn’t suit her whim; and may carry the Sword of Jyggalag.
Another magic sword? Throw it on the pile. You said something about escorts?
I shall call you Hatter, and you Hare. What adventures we shall have!
Finally, with permanent escorts as well as magically summonable friends, we have enough guests to do this right. The table has been set. Have some wine. There’s plenty.
You have no idea how long I had to hold down the Z key to drag all these items into place.
Would you like to take a seat everyone? Well you can’t, because there’s no room. No room! Well, there’s room for one of you. Begin fighting to decide who deserves the privilege of sitting with me.
Someone wake the Flesh Atronach, he keeps falling asleep.
I want a clean cup. Let’s all move one place on. Yes, I know there’s only one other table setting, but I want it.
This has been a lovely tea party – the best I was at in all my life – but it’s time for you to go. Not you, Haskill. You may stay. Sit down and entertain me by singing my praises with your lovely voice.
Does this hat make my head look mad? I don’t need a beard to be Sheogorath do I? If I start growing one, I may quit. Cheese! Ha ha, see, I mentioned cheese for no reason; I’m perfect at this already. No beard needed. We’ll make a perfect Queen of Madness. What do you think, Haskill?
“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense. Nothing would be what it is, because everything would be what it isn’t. And contrary wise, what is, it wouldn’t be. And what it wouldn’t be, it would. You see?”
— Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland
Part 1: We’re All Mad Here
Part 2: Splitsville
Part 3: The Fork Of Horripilation
Part 4: New Sheoth, The Town So Nice They Named It Once
Part 5: The Duchess & The Duke
Part 6: A Question Of Eating & Drinking
Part 7: Putting Him Together Again