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In a Strange World

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"Ah, just the person I wanted to see!" Sheogorath said. She waved Irina over, who of which was frozen solid at the doorway. "Come sit, sit!" She exclaimed. "I haven't got all day, you know!" She paused for a moment and then giggled. "Well, actually, I do." 

This was undoubtedly the last thing she had expected to see when she got home. In a daze, Irina slowly moved towards the table where the mad goddess was seated and sat down. This action only served to make her more uncomfortable, as the god's smile seemed to grow wider.

" Soooo, " The woman continued, idly playing with the ends of her hair "What ya been up to? Heard, you finally  got around to killing your big brother after- what?" She looked up in mock thought. "Weeks? Months? Years? Pretty hard to keep track when you've been living for an eternity."

"What do you want?" Irina choked out. She was racking her mind trying to figure out if she had offended the Daedric Prince. How do you even offend the Daedric Prince of madness?

"Oh, don't be so uptight. "She fell back in her chair in exasperation. "You're even worse than Jyggalag, and his sphere is order mind you."  

"With all due respect," Irina said. Her throat felt tight as she talked. "You're not exactly giving me a reason not to be afraid."

Sheogorath waved her hands in the air. "Oh, reeeeaaallllly ?" She said, "I ask ya how life's been treating ya so far, and you get aaaallllll  tense." She pouted and twirled her hair around her finger. "Can't a homicidal maniac ask her champion how life's been?"

Irina rolled her eyes internally but didn't show her displeasure on her face. "We both know Daedric Princes don't exactly appear for friendly chats." Sheogorath smiled.

"You always were a smart one." She leaned back in her chair, white hair cascading behind her. "You remember that brother you killed, right? Big, scaly, mean? A typical older sibling?" 

Irina shifted in her seat. The mention of Alduin didn't bring up any pleasant memories "I do," Irina said. "What about it?" 

"Weeelllll," Sheogorath said, focusing intently on her hair. "What if I told you, he's not  really  dead?" 

Irina shrugged." Of course, he isn't, he's a dragon god after all. I didn't even get his soul when he fell. He just sort of-  poof - disappeared."

"That's what I said when your daddy told me that." The mad god replied. She had stopped twiddling her hair and sat up straight now. Her whole posture was rigid. Irina's mouth tilted downwards. That can't be good. 

"But he surprisingly didn't go back to his realm either, or Akatosh's for that matter." Irina shifted uncomfortably under the stare of the mad god. "He simply vanished. It caused quite an uproar among the Divines, especially Akatosh." She paused. "So, they did some digging ."

"And what does this have to do with me?" Irina said quietly. It was unnerving to see the Daedric Prince of madness so somber. 

"I'm getting to that." She snapped. "After all that digging, they found- How to put this? A new realm." Irina widened her eyes. 

"As in-"

"As in a new Nirn, so to speak." Sheogorath smiled. "Of course, you can only imagine the chaos that soon followed, and that was everybody . Even old Jyggalag had his knickers in a knot, demanding answers." Irina shuddered at the thought. "But there's a tinsy little- hmm, how to put this-problem we have."

Irina swallowed. "And that's?"

"We can't get there. And when I say we, I mean no god." She said, "Not Daedra, not Aedra nor a Divine. But -" Cold sweat began to form on Irina's forehead. She can't be suggesting - "We haven't tested it out on a mortal. And who better to test it out on than the Dragon person herself!" Sheogorath exclaimed.

"No." Her answer was immediate. "I am not  doing this."

Sheogorath began to pout again. " Well , too bad, you don't have a say in the matter." Irina wanted to cry. "You can thank your daddy for that one. He volunteered you."

She spoke through gritted teeth. "I don't care what he did, already did my part." She got up from the table and stomped to her bedroom. However, she neglected the fact that the woman she was talking to was literally a god and nearly screamed when she appeared in front of her. 

"Aw, Irina," She cooed. She draped an arm around her shoulder and snuggled her. "Don't be so angry . Think of it this way; A vacation! A new world full of new shiny things with-"

"People and animals and demons, who will probably want  to kill me." She flung her arm off. "I've saved this damned world three -no- four times, and you tell me that there is no one else on this entire plane of existence who can go into this new place?" 

She started pacing. "What about the Nerevarine? The man killed two gods and destroyed the Heart of Lorkhan. I've heard about his recent escapades all over the damn taverns, so he's alive and well. Why not him?" Irina didn't care it was a literal goddess she was talking to, she needed to get this off her chest. 

"What about The Champion of Cyrodiil?" Irina barely noticed the frown that came to Sheogorath's face. "The woman literally went into planes of Oblivion, she'd be perfect for this." She looked back at the madwoman. "Didn't she end up in your realm or something? Go get her to do this, I , on the other hand, want my damn break." She shoved the woman out of the way and stalked off to her bedroom.

A sigh from behind her and a mumble in Daedric, and suddenly Irina was unable to move. She struggled a bit until she heard the mad god talk. "It's useless. You won't be getting out of that one until I say so." Irina cursed the Daedra in her mind as Sheogorath stood in front of her. "It's funny that a mortal thinks they have a say in what the gods have decided. You almost remind me of-" She stopped and then smiled. 

"Never mind. Putting that aside, I've got to tell you what exactly you'll be doing in this mystery land." She summoned a note and then squinted at it. "Let's see here. You are too, by Auriel's decree, seek out you- oh, you what? Damn this." The note went up in flames. 

"Basically, we're sending you to the rats end of nowhere to retrieve your brother. And before you ask, we haven't exactly thought of how you'll get him back, all we know is that it's probably a good idea. What else? Oh, I almost forgot!" Irina watched as a long staff appeared out of thin air, two faces were on the top. One screaming in agony, and another laughing in hysterics. That isn't-"You'll be needing this, you're very own Wabbajack. Well, it's the only Wabbajack, but you catch my drift. It's how you'll communicate with home. And unless I forgot something else, that's all. You can speak now." Irina wanted to kill her when she laughed. "Oh yeah! I forgot that!" With a flick of her wrist and some more daedric, the spell was lifted.

Irina struggled to maintain her balance when the spell was finally removed. Glaring at the laughing maniac before her, she gathered her bearings. "Okay," She breathed. "Before I ask anything else, why me?"

Sheogorath shrugged. "As I said, bring that up with your father. Or is it step-father? Adoptive? Dragonborn business is confusing, even to me."

Deciding to ignore the woman's ramblings, she continued with her next question. "So how exactly am I supposed to talk to you with this thing?" She gestured towards the Wabbajack.

"Just cast it onto any unsuspecting creature, and I should appear." She crossed her arms, looking very distressed. "Funny story behind that actually, it took me a week to get it to work. A week! I was locked in a room by my bastard of a brother. No clue how he got in my realm in the first place, probably Haskill. And-"

Irina clapped." Moving on," She said. "So, any idea what I'll find there?"

Sheogorath waved a hand dismissively. "As you said, the usual things that want to kill you. I can name them if you want." Before Irina could say 'no,' the woman started "Let's see here, people, bears, chickens, bees, necromancers, children, trees, bear-people, wolves, dragons-"

Irina clapped her hands together again. "Alright, I get it!" Talking to mad god was going to be fun, to say the least. Why they chose her for this job was beyond Irina. "One last question. When do I leave?" 

"After you get your things together, dear." She said. "I'll be sitting at the table if you need anything else."

Irina nodded. She made her way to her bedroom and paused for a moment. She looked back at the mad god. "One last, last question." She said. Sheogorath motioned for her to continue. " How  will I be getting there?"

"Good ole' Daedric teleportation. It's the best way to travel!" She said. Her smile seemed to fade, and that same severe expression came back. Irina shivered. It wasn't a side of Sheogorath she was familiar with.

"Here's my final piece of advice; be ready." She said. "We truly don't know what's over there."

**********

The hours leading up to their departure was unnerving. Irina shoved everything into her satchel that she thought would be useful; Potions, books, amulets, rings, weapons, armor, anything she could think of. She neglected packing much food, however, coming to the decision that if the new world was anything like Tamriel, there'd be plenty of animals to hunt and as a pure-blooded Bosmer, hunting was second-nature to her.

She made sure she packed two things that had always been essential to her; Auriel's bow and sunhallowed arrows. Of course, these are to be used together, only in cases of emergency. It'd be best to avoid unwanted attention, after all.

Sleeping that night was unobtainable. She was kept up by her constant thoughts and questions. What was this place?  Where exactly was this place? She knew asking the Daedra in the foyer was useless; she was just as clueless. The only way to find out was regrettably to go there.

After dressing in her usual clothes, Irina took a deep breath and walked downstairs into the foyer. There, Sheogorath seemed to be attempting to balance as many cheese wheels as she could find on top of each other vertically. Irina watched this spectacle for a moment, curious about how she was managing this feat without the use of magic, and even more so at the fact that there were so many in her mansion.

"So-" The woman jumped three feet, and the leaning tower of cheese collapsed, leaving behind only anger and sorrow. 

Sheogorath glared at the Bosmer, who was frozen at the bottom of the stairway. She was fighting the urge to laugh hysterically. "Do you have any idea how long that took me? To gather all of this in the first place, and to make a tower with it?" She yelled. Irina bit her lip. "The whole damn night." Irina could take no more and burst out into laughter. That only served to make Sheogorath madder. "I ought to turn you into an ugly toad for this! In fact-" It wasn't until she heard the Daedra mumbling again that she realized the actual danger she was in.

She immediately went to remedy the situation. "You told me to get up at dawn. I was just trying to ask if you were ready to go!" Immediately the mumbling stopped.

"Oh yeah, I did, didn't I?" She looked to be in thought. "Well, I guess we better get going. It's already six." 

She walked up to the Bosmer and grabbed her hand. Before Irina could ask a single question, she felt weightless. A myriad of lights and colors appeared before her, flashing and intermingling. Then she fell down, hitting the ground hard. Above her, she could hear Sheogorath laughing.

"Ah, you ought to've seen the look on your face! All agony and confusion!" She did a mock expression and then fell out laughing. Irina was not impressed. 

"Where in Oblivion are we?" 

Sheogorath wiped a tear from her eye. "I can tell you we're not in Oblivion, but we're not really in Nirn either. We're in Aetherius."

Irina halted. "Are you serious?"

Sheogorath frowned. "I don't really fancy lying." She said. "Plus, you can feel it in the air. All the magicka that is."

It was true. Irina felt powerful, almost immortal. The only other place she had felt this way was Sovngarde, the place where Nords go in the afterlife. A realm of Aetherius created by Lorkahn himself.

"And they let a Daedra in here?"

"There's always Daedra here. It's just that all of them are locked in prison."

She lifted herself off the ground, first checking to make sure her satchel was still there, and second to make sure all of her was still there. Call it paranoia, but from the numerous old folk tales and the person who transported, she wasn't taking any chances.

After making sure everything was in order, she looked around. They were standing on a rock. To be more specific, the edge of a cliff seemed to give way to a waterfall. Irina looked down. There was no ground to speak of, at least visibly. Only a foggy mist that seemed to stretch on for eternity. All around her, she could hear the roar of dragons, the rush of water, and like in Sovngarde, the melody of a song except this one seemed to be fainter. The real breathtaking thing though, was the sky. In the dead center laid the sun, only it was much bigger than in Tamriel. The sky behind it seemed like a mural, painted with red, purple, blue, and green hues. Adorning the sky beside the sun, were tiny little stars, each one glowing intensely. 

Irina sucked in a breath. "Are we in-"

"On the borders of Akatosh's realm, yes." Sheogorath started walking, leaving behind a startled Bosmer. Irina ran to catch up with her. "The old coon won't let me teleport any further in." She grumbled.

"Isn't it like that in every realm?"

"Yes, but I reeeaaallllllyy hate walking. Takes too long. Too much thinking time", She said. "Lucky for us though, the weird green thing we found should be around here somewhere."

"Weird green thing?"

"You'll see."

The pair walked for what felt like hours until they came upon a large cave. At its mouth lay two dragons, both seeming to be on edge at the new arrivals. 

Sheogorath pushed Irina forward. "Before you go breathing fire at me, I brought your sister like your dad asked." Her brow furrowed. "Or is it half-sister? Two-thirds?"

The dragons ignored her and cleared out of the way. They regarded Irina with the customary greeting "Drem Yol Lok, Dovahkiin."

Irina smiled. "Drem Yol Lok." She said, before being pulled into the cave by the impatient mad god.

Inside the cave was- precisely what Sheogorath had called it, "a weird green cut." It seemed dormant until the pair walked up to it. The cut seemed to open, lashing out green lighting, which glossed over Irina but seemed intent of harming Sheogorath. The god quickly put up a barrier.

"Here is your portal, or 'miiraak' as the dragons call it." Irina stared in awe. She had been doing that a lot lately. 

"How do you know it's a portal?"

"We don't."

Irina whipped her head around. "You don't?"

"All, Akatosh said was that he could 'Feel Alduin's presence' from the other side of the portal." Sheogorath shook her head. "Now whether he's been hitting the skooma, or he's actually right, all depends on you."

"So what you're saying, is that you truly, and I mean truly , don't know what's in that? If there's anything in that." She pointed at the portal, of which was still spewing out green lighting. 

"Nope," Sheogorath admitted to Irina's horror. She went into this knowing the gods didn't know what was in this New Nirn. Now, she's learning that they're not sure it even exists. 

"Don't be so shocked. I'm sure you'll find something there. Maybe it's a world full of cheese? Maybe chickens? Perhaps-"

"I wanna go home." She was going to have to be damned before she went into that portal.

Sheogorath sighed. "Just understand I didn't want to do it this way." She mumbled.

Before she could even register what was happening, her feet were off the ground. She kicked and screamed to be let go as if a child, but the Daedra was uncaring. They stood in front of the portal now, the occasional bolt of lightning hitting Sheogorath. The Daedra didn't seem to mind. Irina felt as if she was looking at death itself.

"You have the Wabbajack, right?" Her question was only met with screams of terror, curses, and numerous prayers to Y'ffre. "I'll take that as a yes."

She hoisted the bosmer up, preparing to throw her. "Remember to watch out for dragons, wolves, wolf-people, chickens, children-"

"Just throw me in already!" And she did. 

Irina flew into the portal, leaving Sheogorath behind by herself. She exited the cave, bidding the two dragons at the entrance farewell before she did so. After she made it back to the Shivering Isles, she immediately summoned her Chamberlain, Haskill. 

"Yes, my lord?" He asked in his usual uninterested tone.

"The cheese Haskill, where's the cheese?" She held her head as if it was aching.

"I'm sorry, Lord Sheogorath, I'll-"

"Oh, never mind that." She said. She walked over to her desk, dove into a compartment, and emerged with a stack of letters. "Make sure these get delivered."

"I will, at once, my Lord." He said, and disappeared. It was quiet in the castle now. It gave room for Sheogorath, and now she had to. She took out a piece of paper and scribbled on it to aid her thought process. Those two Dragons must've already reported back to Akatosh. It won't be long now before he tells her what's next. She stopped scribbling and looked at her paper. She burned it in her hands, staring at the ashes for a moment, before taking out another and starting writing something coherent, albeit in Daedric.

Plans, she needed to make plans. It came naturally to her, a perk of being not only the mad god but arguably the god of creativity as well. The only thing that seemed to ruin her plans was her own inability to follow them, that was Jyggalag’s territory.

And this time, the fact that she had no clue what she was making plans for.