The Elder Scrolls

Sheogorath – More than he’s made out to be…

TheElderScrolls14 - Sheogorath - More than he's made out to be...
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“I am a part of you, little mortal. I am a shadow within your subconscious; a blemish on your fragile little psyche. You know me, you just don’t know it. You can call me Anne Marie but only if you’re partial to being flayed alive and having an angry mortal skip rope with your entrails. If not, then call me Sheogorath, Daedric Prince of Madness.”

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“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. 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.”

– Jyggalag

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WARNING

There is no other entity so fascinating nor terrifying than the Daedric Lord known as Sheogorath. As such, dear Reader, this is your warning. The Mad One’s mind games are full of subtlety, they may even be whimsical. You may see a man transmogrify before your eyes into something as ordinary as a wheel of cheese – a punishment that may be enforced upon one for the mere act of growing a beard. Another may fall from an impossible height only to splat against the stone surface of Punishment Point for the mistake of wearing too much cologne.

There is a simplicity to Daedric Prince’s like Boethia, Hircine, or Molag Bal even while they remain almost impossible for mortals to understand. When it comes to these Princes it is possible to make an effort to unearth their alien motives or rationale. Sheogorath, however, is another story altogether. No amount of research nor mental flexibility can make him simple or predictable. His insanity is purely arbitrary.

Insanity is far more volatile than any evil could ever hope to be due to the sole fact that it is something that can never be prepared for. Despite this, there is one conclusion regarding this Prince in relation to his subtleties that one may come to. Sheogorath coaxes the vulnerable and feeds their weaknesses. He lures them into the arms of paranoia and anxiety. He guides them on the path to insanity and subsequently right to his realm of the Shivering Isles.

Sheogorath encourages them to retreat within their own minds and to seek an escape from reality. As a result, I caution you with this…

If you have ever been engrossed within something, be that something imaginary or your own ambitious nature and felt yourself being immersed within this kind of “illusionist” experience; you are at great risk – for Sheogorath is already lurking within your subconscious. Waiting to pull you under to envelop you in the folds of your conjured fantasy until the real world becomes one of falsity.

After all, the Mad God is actively working on corrupting each and every one of us at any given time.

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INTRODUCTION

Sheogorath is the Daedric Prince of Madness, the Lord of the Never-there, and the sovereign ruler of the Shivering Isles. This Prince also features as the fourth corner of the Dunmeri House of Troubles. The Dark Elves wisely identify this Daedra as one to be wary of. There is a common ideology found within many of the stories and mythos regarding this pantheon as a whole; the idea of duality.

Lorkhan’s duality may be seen through the form of the moons. Azura’s, in the form of the positive and negative sides of vanity. Sheogorath’s relam is chock full of this same concept through the imagery he conjures. His suit, split down the center is coloured purple and red. The Shivering Isles themselves are split into two parts; Dementia and Mania. The Golden Saints and Dark Seducers, the very protectors of either version of the Isles, also reflect this theme of duality to an extremity.

It is also the most extreme edges of duality that brought Sheogorath into being to begin with. For at one time, he was only known as Jyggalag. Opposing the essence of madness, Jyggalag is the Daedric Prince of order. He is the representation of logical order and deduction. This Prince takes into account every detail of the world and of absolutely every action that has ever taken place on Mundus and Oblivion long before the events come to be. This establishes Jyggalag being the embodiment of the concepts certainty and determinism. Through this, it is the concept of individuality believed to be the greatest of all apparitions.

Jyggalag’s control is what made him ever more powerful than his fellow Princes could allow to go unchecked. It is this reason that the Daedric Lords decided to combine their power and curse Jyggalag in the worst way possible given his core nature. By becoming Sheogorath, Jyggalag became the antithesis of his fear; Order and logic replaced with discord and chaos! Sheogorath’s creation allows us to encompass just how scattered this Prince is. With him being the farthest fathomable thing from order and certainty he is entirely incapable of acting logically, in any way.

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THE SHIVERING ISLES

Sheogorath’s realm: The Shivering Isles has many names. A few others that may be heard are The Madhouse or The Asylums. Just like the Prince himself, the Isles once belonged to Jyggalag and once was the embodiment of utmost logic. Currently with it’s new Lord, the northern half of the Isles is known as Mania. A silly place which represents the more lighthearted whimsical side of insanity. In Mania, the grass basks in the daylight and tall kaleidoscopic mushrooms decorate the landscape. What little structure that manages a place here, is enforced by the Golden Saints. Feminine beings who strive to accomplish Sheogorath’s will.

The southern half of this realm are the lowlands. An aliphatic haze hangs over the swamps and leafless trees dot the climate entangling the land with their roots. If ever do you travel here, landmarks such as the Hill of Suicides may be seen. Here the ghosts of those who chose the easy way out linger in a tortuous limbo. These souls are cursed to think eternally on their suffering. Patrolling this dreary realm is the Dark Seducers whose purpose is just as the Golden Saints of Mania. This, dear Reader, is Dementia. Its’ half of the Asylums displays the darker side of insanity. The sorrow and self mutilation that oftentimes accompanies mental instability.

Dementia is intriguing due to the paradoxical nature of Sheogorath’s fear. By definition one would believe that insanity is impossible to replicate or understand, yet the Mad God is not unlike the countless mortals found on Nirn who are mad. Meeting a person enveloped in insanity is rather similar to the meeting of Sheogorath. In a way, their unpredictability makes them predictable. Look only to the tale of Pelagius the Third.

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SHEOGORATH, HIMSELF

Just as there are two halves of the Shivering Isles, this dichotomous autonomy exists within The Mad God. Although you could call Mania the ‘better half,’ if you will, it’s also primarily the one he exemplifies. At least that’s as he first appears to encapsulate. How our convoluted Prince operates provides the truth of the matter.

Sheogorath’s power and his ability to erode the psyche of his victims is done gradually. He slowly pulls them into the embrace of madness. It isn’t something done with a snap of the fingers and it is the vulnerable who are the most susceptible to his brand of trickery.

Pelagius is one such example. His issues were back-breaking, gut-wrenching, and mind-melting components of his mental turmoil. Paranoia, anger, and night terrors brought him all the way down from the title of Emperor to being an isolated individual inhabiting a mental institution. This process was a slow one. As if every step of the way Sheogorath was right there within his mind taunting and goading him to the next step closer to the final dive down the rabbit hole.

Going back to Sheogorath’s own words, “I am a blemish on your fragile little psyche. You know me, you just don’t know it.” These are not the words of a Prince that comes barreling into your frontal lobe and mutinies the conscious mind before operating his victim like a marionette. No, no, dear Reader for Sheogorath wields his abilities with great subtlety. Paranoia is his weapon and it doesn’t kill in one fell sweep. Instead, it drains one’s life-force… one agonizing drop at a time. In some cases one might move into the Isles so slowly that they aren’t even aware that they’re losing it all. It’s insidious, and continual. Patient, even kindly guidance leads you to step down a deep spiraling case descending into the clutches of his world.

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When life gets to be overwhelming, frightening, or even maddeningly boring it’s not uncommon for an individual to retreat within their head. Or within yours. A world that may be escaped to. With your head elsewhere and your consciousness in a world tailored specifically to you, the harsh truths of reality are unable to grasp you. At this point, what makes the physical any more real than the conjured realm within you? If you’re lucky and truly gifted in escapism, you can even leave your own inferior world and join pre-made dreamscape of the Shivering Isles. In this light, Sheogorath’s Mania is far more enticing than the counterpart that is Dementia.

You wouldn’t go galivanting with the Sheogorath that influenced Dementia but the one that influenced Mania is much more pleasant. One would be far more enticed, even if it were purely curiosity. One may find themselves following him to the Asylums. In this regard, the smiling and entertaining Mad Prince that is usually seen, is infinitely more terrifying than the darker half he could present himself as.

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CHRONICLES OF SHEOGORATH

It is true that Sheogorath is often portrayed as happy-go-lucky, eccentric, and queer but stories regarding the Daedric Prince of Madness are quick to reveal the much darker side of him. Dear Reader, you need only refer to the Sixteen Accounts of Madness. In these tales our seemingly delightful Sheogorath is anything but the playful personality he may seem to be. His trickery is far more akin to cruelty than felicity. The Twelfth Accord stands out as being particularly brutal in nature.

The Tale of Pelagius

Pelagius Septum is known for being completely deranged. It must not be forgotten he was not always perceived this way. During youth, Pelagius was described as being a handsome personable boy who enjoyed sports, magic, and even music. Years passed and he eventually became the King of Solitude while his cousin ruled over the Empire. It was shortly after taking the crown that Pelagius’ … shall we say – ‘eccentricities,’ came into the view of the public.

Throughout his rule, he was known to lose and gain weight sporadically and within a mere five-month period, the new King was described as a possessing a hearty soul with a heart so big that it widens his waist. Then while being greatly emaciated, the visiting Princess of Firsthold wrote back home, “the King gripped my hand and it felt like I was being clutched by a skeleton.” Pelagius was greatly emaciated indeed. Alongside this he was known to have locked the Princes and Princesses of Silvenar within his rooms. He also proceeded to remove all his clothes upon a standard addressing of the masses at a local festival.

As he was crowned Emperor, Pelagius fainted during the ceremony. He insisted on speaking to an ambassador from Blackreach in a series of grunts and squeaks. To top it all off, Pelagius was seen defecating on the floor in a misguided attempt to remedy the boredom of the servants that had just finished cleaning. The Mad King’s antics soon became a burden. Due to this, he lived out the remainder of his days within an asylum. Appropriately so.

The Twelfth Accord…

This story begins with a young Orc well in the process of forging his legacy. The humble born underdog was named Emmeg Gro-Kayra and he famously saved merchant caravans from bandits. He liberated enslaved beast folk and was on the fast track to becoming a Tamrielic Legend. There is no doubt that this immense potential drew Sheogorath’s attention.

The Lord of the Isles materialized before the young hero and offered him an artifact; Neb Crescen. His identity remained completely unknown but for the slight parting of his cloak revealing only faintly glittering buttons on that moonlit night. This strange visitor reached within his cloak and his hand emerged withdrawing a bundle. A bundle hastily tossed to the side of a small fire separating the two beings.

Emmeg cautiously removed the rags that swaddled the object and was dazzled to discover the wide, curved blade with an ornately decorated handle. This blade had heft and Emmeg was quick to realize that the elaborate pommel was meant to disguise the more practical purpose of balancing the considerable weight the weapon had. Although it was nothing much to look at in its present condition, once the Orc cleaned away the tarnish and replaced the few missing jewels, Neb Crescen indeed revealed itself to be a blade worthy of a champion. One ten times Emmeg’s own worth.

Sheogorath preyed upon this young Orc’s desire to be a heroic warrior and presented him with a generous gift. An act of benevolence any would cherish. In that moment the Mad God may have even seemed like a father, but this Prince’s gift soon turned sour.

Neb Crescen’ sinister properties caused Emmeg to commit a great crime. He butchered an innocent girl and Emmeg’s potential at a glorious future died along with the spilling of her blood. Malacath, the proud patron, was then forced to put down his most promising disciple. In the end, Sheogorath promoted all of this violence with the sole purpose of scorning another Daedric Prince.

This side of him isn’t seen too often. Only briefly in stories such as Emmeg’s. Most of the time when interacting with this Prince we see him displaying signs of Mania rather than Dementia’s darker more sinister side. There is a reason as to why Sheogorath acts this way or is at least perceived this way through the eyes of others. In the words of his chamberlain, Haskill,

“My Master is the Prince of Madness yet for some reason you expect his realm to follow the same rules that regulate your own bland little world. Do you wonder why I have no interest in visiting Nirn? It’s an act of mad charity that Lord Sheogorath pays it any attention at all. Sheogorath has a fondness for the flawed nature of mortals within the mortal realm and that’s the reason why his own realm mimics some of Mundus’ quirks. Like the presence of time, for example. If one of the more belligerent Princes successfully managed to bring about the apocalypse on Nirn, the Mad God would lose so many mad souls to toy with.”

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ARTIFACTS

This complex Prince is in possession of seven known artifacts – it is likely that more exist without mortal knowledge. However, take heed, these trinkets are born from our fickle Prince. They are to be regarded as warily as he.

The Neb-Crescen a blade that gives the wielder an insatiable compulsion to kill.

The Folium Disconitum, a thick tomb full of knowledge written in the form of completely incomprehensible manic ramblings.

The Staff of the Everscamp summons four Everscamps in service of the wielder.

Staff of Sheogorath. An artifact required to assume the title of “Mad God” and is necessary to permit one to sit upon the Throne of Mdness in New Sheoth Palace.

The Gambolpuddy is a glove that makes the wearer stronger and weaker simultaneously.

The Fork of Horripulation is one of the most well known of all Sheogorath’s artifacts. It is fondly referred to as “forkie” by the Mad God himself. This fork has a unique relationship with the forces of magicka. It can drive the wielder to do some unusual things. Throughout time, Sheogorath has forced the wielder of this particulate artifact to commit some heinous acts.

The most noteworthy of all these Daedric artifacts is the Wabbajack. This staff is carved with the gaping mouths of three faces. It is also notorious for its unpredictable effects when used. It can make the target vanish or turn the victim into an animal. An inanimate object may be turned into a beast or set the target on fire or it may of cause a frenzy – the possibilities are endless when it comes to the Wabbajack. When using the Wabbajack, you are privy to the knowledge that…

“Cats can be bats can be rats can be hats can be gnats can be that can be this is and that doors can be boars can be snores can be floors can be roars can be spores can be yours can be mine.”

Such profound knowledge could surely be worth the side effects resulting from this intriguingly random artifact.

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