Conversations with Daedric Artifacts, Volume II: Volendrung and Scourge

As it happens, the Orcs in Skyrim are literally stuffed into the corners of the province. I doubted that I would find a lead to either of Malacath’s hammers in Markarth, despite Orcs living and working there – after all, Scourge was supposed to be a “bold defender of the friendless” and city Orcs clearly aren’t that if they’re still alive.

I set out for Dushnikh Yal, which was just down the road from where Peryite had called me, only to find when I arrived that the Stronghold was perfectly happy to welcome me as long as they thought I was in the market for meat or metal. When I made my interest in Malacath’s hammers clear, I was swiftly shown the gate.

I refused to let any backcountry savages keep me from the Spiteful Mauls, so I trekked east across Skyrim to Largashbur, where I found a …different… reception.

Long story short, they were under seige from a local tribe of giants and their Chief wasn’t exactly winning, so not only was I not killed on sight, which I always appreciate, but I was even brought in as potential aid. One of them muttured that I “couldn’t exactly bring more shit to this pile” which is basically an overabundance of enthusiasm and gratefulness from an Orc.

The shaman sent me back out with instructions to find certain material necessary for getting Malacath to talk to her, a task for which I was very grateful to have Spellbreaker, which to this day reminds me that the Dremora Kynreeve would have had me were the trusty shield not steadily eating his attacks. Upon my return, Malacath spoke to us all concerning the attacks, and mentioned that one of his Hammers might be in it for us if we didn’t die horribly.

The Chief and I went off to the cave where the giants lived, and we killed them. The Chief died in the course of these events, so I wound up dragging the club – actually a tree, with roots and branches and everything – back to Largashbur, where before my very eyes it was transformed into Volendrung. I slung Spellbreaker on my back and prepared to receive the mighty hammer.

You’re not going to be able to hold me.

I wasn’t surprised by it talking to me, but it certainly was intense. Like a tornado of grit ripping words into rock, except the rock was my mind.

You have too many friends.

You can’t carry friendship and have enough strength left over to carry me.

Set Erol never backs down from a challenge, my anvilicious friend. Unfazed, I grabbed its handle and slung it on my shoulder (Volendrung is ridiculously long; there was no other way to carry it) and promptly found myself eating dirt. I struggled to get up for a few minutes, but Volendrung had me well and truly pinned.

I told you, foolish mortal. Carry your baggage or carry me.

“How… do… Orcs… carry… you?” I gasped.

“Surely you don’t demand lone wolves of them.”

ORC FAMILY ISN’T A BURDEN

“I did what your god demanded of his own, who couldn’t. Surely that counts for something.”

…You did…

The hammer sounded grudging. I didn’t dare think “petulant”.

“Are you going to let me up?”

I don’t let you do ANYTHING

Don’t worry; I’ll eat some of his weight.

And suddenly, Volendrung was no longer crushing me into the ground, but rather was just a normal, heavy piece of metal. I didn’t even know Spellbreaker could do that, and voiced my surprise.

I exist to cleanse as well as guard. Ash like this is dirty; I can cleanse it. And we were both Dwemer-forged, so I know all his tricks.

And they abandoned you, Shield.

And they threw you in the sky, Stick.

Volendrung didn’t respond, but I could feel sullen irritation radiating off of it like heat. I could also feel actual heat radiating off of it – the glowing gemstones in its faces were red like coals, and I could have sworn that they weren’t when I first saw it. That’s when I had an idea.

“What if we found your brother Scourge? If Orc family isn’t a burden, and you’re with family, you’ll stop being a burden and be helpful, right?”

We have been apart for some time.

Talk was great and all, but Scourge hadn’t been reliably seen in something like two hundred years. Rumor had it that Divayth Fyr broke it out during the Oblivion Crisis, since it excelled at banishing Daedra, but after that clusterflame all trace of it was up in smoke. My compatriots and I believed we could track down the rest of the major artifacts here in Skyrim, now that the Dragons were back and stirring things up, but Scourge had yet to reveal itself.

“I don’t suppose you’d happen to know where we might find Scourge, do you?

What, and let you just grab her like a trinket off a shelf?

Very helpful. …Wait did I hear that right?

You don’t get Malacath’s help, wanderer; you earn it.

And yes I can hear you think.

No he can’t. You mortals just get predictable after a millenium or several.

The hammer elected not to reply, so with no better plans, I struck out for Riften. If there was anywhere I could get information on Scourge’s habits, it would be there. Well, that wasn’t true. But it would be a start.


I may have misjudged Riften. I didn’t even have to reach the walls to start attracting attention. You’d think lone wanderers with artifacts of legend strapped to their backs would be given some distance and fear, but the minute I was in sight they started pestering me with hawked wares, enticements to come see this business or that, and I slapped no less than three pickpockets away before Volendrung deigned to take an interest.

These creatures know nothing of respect, do they.

That was the …quietest, I guess… I’d ever heard the hammer, uh, speak.

It was right, though. I’d heard of Riften, and this was decidedly out of character for the place, even the lowlives. I ducked into the Bee and Barb – Maven may not be a kindly or upstanding citizen, if you believe half the rumors, but she knows what inns are supposed to be – and got myself a nice corner table. I made sure to put Volendrung down first. Riften, especially a Black-Briar property, was not somewhere to show weakness, even if it was the result of a gigantic rock pretending to be a personal weapon.

With my priceless, irreplaceable, fervently-wanted artifacts leaned casually against the wall, I did what any sane traveler would do and left them alone to go buy myself a drink. The barkeep, one of those Argonian expats, had barely swept my coins off the counter before I heard a surprised “whaa—?” followed swiftly by a thud, a splat, and that curious sound you only hear once in a great while when absolutely everyone in a room shuts the hell up and focuses intently on one thing.

I turned slowly on my stool, and sure enough, there lay Volendrung, handle rising up into the air, substituting as a head for the rest of the thief’s body which lay before it. The wood around it was slowly being stained that red, grey, purple, and white mixture you only get from brains suddenly being shown the light, and farther down was a decidedly more brown and yellow stain, which frequently accompanies the first.

In case you didn’t know, gaze and attention have very physical weights. When every last head in the room turned from Volendrung to me, I discovered this for myself. Volendrung had been lighter. I coughed.

“I suppose Volendrung doesn’t like being touched. Can’t say I’m surprised by that; his owner isn’t much for close company either.”

The silence you get when people aren’t doing much besides existing is quiet. The silence you get when those same people are all focused very intently on deciding whether or not the predator at hand is something to fight or flee is incredibly LOUD. Especially when you’re not the predator — the predator is just on your leash. Volendrung might have strong opinions about his personal space, and have the clout to make those opinions known, but did I?

A woman’s voice laughed. It would have been low and quiet, not much more than a chuckle, a minute ago, but it broke the silence like, well, like Volendrung broke that skull, really.

“You idiots did this exact same thing when that other fellow came through here a few years back. Hell, you had the gall to be personally offended that an honest-to-Talos Dragon wouldn’t let you swindle him. Don’t act like that jackass didn’t get what was coming to him, or like you’re cut up about it. Let him drink and move on, and we’ll do the same.”

The crowd slowly resumed their whatever it was that crowds do in inns. Mugs and pipes went up, dice and cards went down, conversation and noise slipped back in the room like your cousin coming in late to dinner and just trying to get a seat and have everything go back to normal, don’t mind them, thank you very much.

The mead here gets me poetic.

The barstool next to me slid back, and the speaker dropped into it. She was an average woman – suspiciously average, actually – and was dressed in a tunic and trousers that were a little thinner than what you’d expect on an ordinary citizen in this part of Skyrim. Not that it was tight, mind you, or that I looked much. Just closely tailored clothes.

“Name’s Emerald.“

Pretty confident her parents don’t share that opinion, but, whatever.

“I’m Set Erol. I take it I don’t need to introduce my metallic traveling companions?”

She laughed again. “Spellbreaker and Volendrung? We’ve met.”

I felt a brief surge of jealousy. Here I was, on a painstaking quest to collect the Princely Artifacts for study and, I’ll admit, some personal reasons, and this random Riftener had already seen not one, but both, of the artifacts in my possession, and probably several if not all of the rest?

“That Dragonborn you mentioned?” I asked, trying to keep my voice even. She can talk about these things casually, so can I.

She waved at the barkeep, who brought over another mug of the honey-mead Riften pretends is its reputation everywhere else. “Thanks, Talen-Jei. How’s the family?”

If you’ve never heard Argonians speak, I can’t really describe it to you. Suffice it to say that he had a thick accent, and go speak with one yourself to hear what I really mean.

“They’re very well, thank you Emerald. I’ll never thank the Dragon enough for helping Keerava and I together, or forgive him for that business with the thieves, but I suppose that is the nature of a walking monsoon. And your sisters?”

Emerald twitched a corner of her mouth up in a smile. ”Same old same old. You know how it is.”

Talen-Jei muttered something in his own tongue, then moved off to work the tables. Emerald turned to me, eyeing Spellbreaker and Volendrung past my shoulder.

“Named after your eyes?” I asked. They were piercingly bright green.

She laughed again. “You could say that, or you could say my eyes were colored after my name.”

I thought of the stories of a face dancer living under Riften and decided not to press the matter.

“So what brings you to Riften, Set?”

You’re not seriously going to tell her…

Go for it. She knows who we are. And how to behave accordingly.

You trust too much.

I gritted my teeth. I couldn’t reply to those two – I still couldn’t really believe I was hearing two artifacts talking in my head, and it was normal to me by now – without appearing a total lunatic, since Daedric telepathy is apparently a one-way street, and gods help me if I reply aloud, in a public room.

Volendrung can’t hear you think. I never said I couldn’t.

I choked on my mead. Emerald looked at me askance.

“Personal reasons?”

It took me a second to realize that almost no time had passed since she finished her question.

“No, no. Just… wrong pipe, and all.”

No, I’m not trying to get you killed by talking to her. Why would you think that?

…That was not a thought that had yet occurred to me.

“Actually, uh, I’m looking for Daedric artifacts. After I found Spellbreaker, it occurred to me that the only time you ever hear of these things hanging around, let alone several in the same place, is with those damn Hero types, like this Dragon fellow. It doesn’t seem right, you know, having the entire world collude for their awesomeness but not helping regular folk. What if a Hero goes bad? They’ve got ridiculous levels of power and we’re just …us.“

I mean, she is kind of cute, but I would never encourage that.

Emerald nodded. “And you aren’t trying to make yourself out to be a Hero too?” she asked. “Seems to me anyone with even one Artifact, much less two, might be looking to carve a name for herself. Likely in other people’s blood.”

You mortals. This is why my master has so much work to do, you know.

Shut up Spellbreaker you can’t read minds either.

PERYITE’S A JEALOUS BIIIIIIIIITCH AND SHIELDS ARE STUPID VOLENDRUNG IS TWICE AS COOL AS YOU!

I sneered at the shield.

Drop the act moron he obviously sees past it.

Yeah but it was funny at first did you see him jump.

The hammer laughed. I hope it never does that again. It made my bones squirm.

“I’m not looking to build a skull throne. Just to prove regular folk aren’t powerless. Hopefully nobody will need to die because of me.”

I looked guiltily at the …unstained?… floor, where the would-be thief’s body had been. Talen-Jei had probably dragged it out and thrown it in the canal, but nobody mopped that quickly.

What part of “I exist to cleanse” did you not understand?

Sure enough, the white orb in Spellbreaker’s center was swirling with the, uh, colors formerly decorating the floor. Ew.

Anyways. Regular people conversations happening.

“Nobody else, I mean.” I added lamely.

Emerald took a deep pull of her mug.

“So which one are you looking for next?’

“Well, actually. I was thinking of Scourge, if possible.”

Do I tell her Volendrung was going to be rude and uncooperative without its, his, brother?

“Volendrung… asked… me… to?” I said, obviously hesitant. She nodded as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

“I figured they would talk to whoever wields them. I mean, they’re imbued with a piece of their Prince, right? Why wouldn’t they be able to?’

I held back a sigh of relief.

“I assume you’re here to head into Morrowind, then. Last time it was used was on Vvardenfell, in the Oblivion Crisis.”

I nodded and took a drink.

“You’re up for an interesting time, Set. The mainland hasn’t been the same since Red Year and the Argonians, and Vvardenfell is even stranger. But if anyone knows where to look for it, they’ll be in Tel Fyr. I know someone there you could talk to.”

“The old wizard himself had it, last anyone knew, but he doesn’t do publicity. You’ll have to talk to one of his staff, a woman by the name of Delte. My contact can introduce you.”

I waited a beat. She was definitely finished talking.

“I, uh, don’t suppose you’d tell me who that is, would you?”

She grinned. “You’ve met.”

“I’ve never been to Vvardenfell.”

Her grin stayed put.

“Oh be a doll and say hello,” she said. Not to me. Past me.

Hellooooooooooo

Spellbreaker was entirely too chipper about this.

“Told you I’d seen Spellbreaker before.” she said. There was so much unrepentant glee dripping from her voice I could almost feel it making a puddle under my boots. And my boots were resting on the bar, several inches off the ground.

Emerald clapped me on the back. “I have no idea how to get to Vvardenfell anymore, much less Tel Fyr. That’s all on you, Set, but that’s what makes it an adventure! I’ll get you past the border though. The Jarl has gotten prickly about letting folk out for some reason. Like there’s anything on the other side but ash to trouble the Hold.”

“See you tomorrow morning. Temple Gate, at dawn. And get your beauty sleep because it’s a hike. Do you have a horse?”

I shook my head. “No, should I?”

“Sweet Stendarr, no. Horse won’t make it half a day in Morrowind. If the land doesn’t kill it, the people will. Dunmer love horse steak.”


The Rift is an extraordinarily pretty forest, even near the mountains behind the city. There’s one solitary peak jutting up just behind the keep, with a canyon to the northeast of it that cuts through the border range and into Morrowind.

I strongly recommend hiking the Rift. In summer. Not just because it’s a beautiful sight, but also because this isn’t a diary. Go see it yourself.

Morrowind is… not an extraordinarily pretty forest. It’s mostly a bleak plain, in this part. Flat, dry, still lots of ash and dust instead of snow and dirt. Emerald sweet-talked the guards into letting me pass with some of her namesakes, and then I struck out on my own. There was only one road, such as it was, and I was in what I guess is farm country here until I got to the coast a week later.

The ferry runs on a bi-weekly basis, it turns out. Not the twice-a-week kind of bi-weekly, either.

If you’ve never found yourself with nothing to do in southwestern Morrowind, you’re not missing much. I got drunk a lot, Volendrung tricked me into using it him for exercise, which mostly just entailed me going about my day with him strapped to me, and the one night we chased down a bandit gang for fun. I mean, for the sake of the law and justice.

Mostly for fun.

This is my story, dammit.

Fun and CLEANSING!

And retribution.

And also for the bounty. Adventure isn’t cheap.


Well, say what you will about strange women in bars who happen to be on speaking terms with shields made by an extinct race that got adopted by a dragon-looking disease spirit, but, she was good to her word. Delte somehow heard about me before I even got off the boat, it seemed, because I was interrupted midway through haggling a room at the inn by a Fyr functionary who informed me that I was invited to Tel Fyr.

That’s not an invitation.

What, you mean a scion of the most ridiculously powerful, mysterious wizard of a ridiculously powerful, mysterious House in Morrowind, inviting a stranger into their family seat, isn’t planning on having tea with my presence entirely optional and at their convenience?

Wow.

Never would have figured that one out myself.

Also, as soon as the Fyr emissary started speaking to me, the innkeep vanished. I don’t mean in magical terms, or anything, he just bolted.

You can’t go like this. You’re covered in ash.

“I’d be honored. Please, lead the way,” I said aloud.

“I remember someone saying they lived to cleanse, don’t you, Volendrung?” I said, very much not aloud.

The hammer rumbled in agreement. Spellbreaker sighed.

For inanimate hunks of metal, they sure had attitude.

I arrived at the — by the way, if you weren’t aware of Telvanni architectural habits, you may be interested to know that their towers are, in point of fact, enormous mushrooms — central stalk, and stepped onto a spongey disk at my guide’s behest. She did not follow. She did, however, break character enough to grin at my obvious confusion.

She looked very pretty with a smile. Perhaps she put extra effort into it, to leave me with a good impression.

Because the mushroom-platform coughed up a cloud of spores, and then I fell into the sky.

Damn showy wizards.

WHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE

Did they beat the dignity out of you at the forge, instead of the impurities?

Did they beat the fun out of you at the forge, or is Malacath just so grumpy that it rubs off?

I’M GONNA POUND YOU INTO FOIL THE INSTANT HE WIELDS ME AGAIN YOU SHITSUCKER

Bring it big boy. You said it yourself; I’ll suck you right up.

If I tell them to act like the millenia-old artifacts they are I will never, ever live it down. They might even kill me.

But it would make a fantastic epitaph. “Here lies Set Erol. He scolded two Daedric Artifacts. Turns out that was kind of dumb. RIP you glorious idiot. Hope neither of those Princes got you.”

“Now now, children. We’re company.”

Worth it.

To my eternal surprise, they shut up. Spellbreaker even muttered something that, if you squinted your ears just right, might have been conciliatory.

Volendrung lept into my hands.

Quick, swing me at that ledge. We’re here.

“What makes you the expert?”

The glowing yellow gem in Volendrung’s center swirled. I got the distinct impression it was rolling its eyes at me, in its way. I swung.

Volendrung connected, hard, with an outcrop of the mushroom tower, and I spun from falling upwards to falling forwards, through the entryway and into a long hall.

Time to look even cooler, pal. Pick up your feet and drop me.

I felt like eight kinds of fool, sliding through a mushroom hall atop a glowing shield holding a comically enormous hammer, but it must have been impressive, because when I skidded to a stop in front of a stately Dunmer woman, she raised one eyebrow and actually inclined her head to me in greeting.

Wow.

“Master Erol. I had heard of your arrival, and the objects in your possession. My name is Delte Fyr.”

I figured the polite thing to do would be to introduce myself and the artifacts, though clearly she already knew who all of us were.

“Set Erol, and these are Volendrung and Spellbreaker.”

“You seem quite suited to them, Master Erol.”

I am merely a vessel, more receptive than most.

I repeated Spellbreaker’s words. It seemed like a better idea than what my response was going to be.

She smiled.

“It is rare for any man to hold one of the Tokens, especially one so ordinary. I mean no offense, Master Erol, but you are not exactly a servant of the Hidden Gate.”

I absolutely could not ask what she meant by that without proving her point, so I decided to give a non-answer. Volendrung must have agreed with me.

Mundus was made for mortals to prove themselves. If they are refused…

This quest is not to advance the opening of the Gate, but to await it.

I did not expect Volendrung to have such a way with words. I repeated his statements, trying to sound as if they were my own idea.

“It is well that you do not seek glory or power, Master Erol. Such a pursuit is unwise, in company such as this. My father, Divayth, held power beyond your imagination, and to him these Tokens were simply that. For the Incarnate, they were useful tools. For the Saint, they were peers, and that by virtue of his will alone. I do not mean to insult, Master Erol, but if you were to follow in such desires, they would destroy you, in ways subtle and disastrous.”

“So tell me, Master Erol, what brings you to this moment? And answer as yourself, if you please. A mouthpiece is not a man.”

Honestly? “I just want to honor my great-aunt’s memory. She dreamed of meeting anything of the Princes, though she never held the opportunity in life. I doubt I’ll have them all at once, or even at all, but it’s sure to be a worthwhile journey, no matter the destination.”

Well said, Set.

You speak with honor, Erol.

Delte turned and set off down a corridor I hadn’t seen, and I followed. We wound our way through the tower, and I was thoroughly lost. Who knew mushrooms look all the same on the inside? All I knew for sure was we were going down. She continued to speak as we walked.

“My father made a habit of collecting the Princely Artifacts. It was one of his few joys, you see. His work in the Corprusarium, and status as a High Lord of the Telvanni, gave him quite the demanding work, and as a peer of the Tribunal there was not much in the world to provide an adequate challenge. Hunting the Artifacts proved to be such, as the Princes are quite adept at making the retrieval of their favored items a taxing matter. Most mortals just get lucky, or unlucky, depending on perspective. Almost all only have them for a few days.”

“The artifacts are meant to be used, of course, and are rarely left idle. Most people don’t want to advertise that a legend showed up at their door, especially in modern times with attitudes towards the Daedra as they are, so one does not often hear of them. Two centuries ago, at the close of the Fourth, we had that rash of what you would call the Heroes, and they of course all held them. No Prince would fail to make one of those people wield their will, you see. It allows them to ride a surge of the raw forces of Mundrial Creation, spreading their influence and, from what we gather, providing a sensation they very nearly crave, if the Princes can even be said to experience such things.”

Words words words words words shut up and show some results woman.

Nothing wrong with a little small talk, Volly. Just because we already know all this doesn’t mean Set here can’t learn a thing or three.

Also, what happened to you being respectful? I thought Scourge was supposed to be the spiteful one.

Words bore me and accomplish nothing. Act or be silent.

Delte continued walking, oblivious. I hoped. We descended another staircase, and came out into a vast chamber, pocketed with dark windows all around its edge.

“Welcome, Master Erol, to the Corprusarium.”

My first thought was, wow.

My second was, shit, the place with all the people with that horrid volcano disease that turns them into walking dead folk with tentacles and things?

My third was, wait I have a magic disease-eating shield.

It eventually dawned on me that Corprus had vanished after that business with the Incarnate two centuries ago. This was just a regular hospital now. I suppose Fyr had built up a reputation that just couldn’t be put down.

History sure was busy back then. I hoped it wasn’t stirring up to be like that now. I swear, if Destiny knocks on my door I’m throwing each and every artifact I have at that moment in the ocean and letting the Princes clean up. That is not for me.

If Serendipity knocks on my door, though, I’m giving her a tip.

Oh yeah. The, uh, dancers in my part of Heiroc use that kind of name.

I highly recommend them, but again, this isn’t that kind of book.

We hurried through the center of the Corprusarium – I didn’t want to waste any more of Delte’s time, you see. Had nothing to do with being in the middle of a plague ward reeking of weird magic and who knows what Telvanni did in their spare time.

“As it happens, Scourge is the only guest we have at present. At least twelve are still extant in Skyrim, to the best of our knowledge, and several others are scattered across Tamriel. Scourge has remained rather stationary of late, only vanishing twice since the Crisis. It seems to like it here. I presume that you have come for it?”

There was only one polite answer to that. I just happened to be lucky it was also the honest one.

“Yes, if it will have me.”

I’m playing with forces WAY bigger than I thought. Can’t hurt to be at least a little bit humble.

Scourge WON’T have you with that kind of attitude.

Orrrrr maybe it can hurt. Okay. Add another dash of self-confidence, I suppose.

Delte stopped at a section of wall seemingly no different from the rest. Unbroken expanse of mushroom wall stretched out on either side of me.

“I’ll send an aide to see you out, Master Erol. I wish you the best of luck in your endeavors. If you would do us a favor, kindly add a clause to your will specifying Scourge’s return to us. As much as my father relishes the hunt, perhaps discretion is the better choice of late.”

She smiled pleasantly, as if making instructions upon my death were a trivial matter – and to a Telvanni, they probably were – and left.

I can feel her.

“Okay question.”

“Why is Scourge a she? For that matter, why are you two he?”

I’m an odd number. Evens are women. Irrationals get other options. You don’t even want to know about the negatives.

I just kill things. Scourge is far less pleasant to her victims.

Cheery.

Well, what are you waiting for? We’re here.

We weren’t anywhere, as far as I could tell. Feeling stupid and decidedly rude, I hefted Volendrung. No better ideas came to mind, so I slammed him into the wall.

I guess violence is the answer. A few hits later, I had broken open a hole, and there in a small, sealed room, hovered the Ebon Bane itself. Herself. Weird.

It felt incredibly anti-climactic, to be standing here alone in one of the most fabled rooms of Tamriel, holding two Daedric artifacts and staring at a third, and it was just… hovering there. Nothing was happening, so I reached out, and grabbed it.

It felt incredibly anti-climactic, to be standing here alone in one of the most fabled rooms of Tamriel, holding three Daedric artifacts and staring at where one of them had lain with literally no guards or traps or barriers to entry. I mean, I killed a man to get Spellbreaker, and helped kill a giant and maybe didn’t help defend an Orc as much as I could have to get Volendrung. Scourge was just …there.

I was more or less retired, you see.

I didn’t realize that was an option, sister.

Volendrung sounded spiteful. I wasn’t sure if it was disappointment or envy tinging his voice, but, there was something.

You kill everybody. You’re good at all sorts of mayhem. I’m a *specialist. And the current troubles with Dragons and mortals don’t exactly call for my talents.

What, mortal mine, is THAT one doing here?

Her voice shifted enough that I was reasonably sure she meant Spellbreaker, not Volendrung.

He got me first. I told him to get Volendrung. Volendrung brought us here. Besides, the Corprusarium? This place is LEGEND. Peryite sent me here maybe twice in the whole time it’s been established. And you’re here all the time? There is NO justice.

It’s your fault this place even exists, Befouler. Half the patients are infected not with Mundrial disease but agents of your master, or worse, with diseases driven by him. Do you have any idea how much work it is just to be in this room?

I know! Isn’t it wonderful?

The only wonderful thing is how many Daedra I get to kill.

And you never invited me.

I’ve missed you too brother dear. But this requires slightly more finesse than you might like. Or have.

Volendrung rumbled. Unpleasantly.

It has been getting dreary, I will admit. It will be good to roam again. And there are always Daedra to banish on the surface. Imagine what havoc we could wreak together! Father will have so many new snacks to eat.

THAT’S what you do to them? You’re a MONSTER!

Volendrung did that horrible psychic laugh again, and I tried to cower my way through the floor.

Funny how you never complained when it was us that got eaten.

Funny how altering that much AE didn’t affect your precious order then.

YOU CALL US MONSTERS WHEN YOU SIMPLY STOOD BY AND WATCHED US BE MADE THIS WAY

My nose was definitely bleeding. Hearing them speak together, that loudly, HURT.

Spellbreaker was silent. I think it might have even been afraid.

“Uh…” I coughed a little bit, trying to find my voice.

“We’re going to be together for a while, everybody. Internal bickering is at least a day eight activity. Day six, if you’re in a rush.”

Follow the attendant, mortal mine, and let me talk on the way. That goes for you two, as well.

I did. Spellbreaker and Volendrung remained silent. The one seemed cowed, the other, like a pit fighter whose opponent fainted and now was ready to go and had nothing to do. I pitied my eventual mugger.

It’s been some time since I’ve left, yes. The Corprusarium simply offered so MUCH work to do. The Corprusarium draws Daedric pestilence as much as it does Mundrial, and their families reject them so when sending them here. It was especially strong back in the Corprus days, but even today. Nobody wants a sick family member, and while you’re here, you’re a stranger to them until you leave again. Nobody in Dunmer society acknowledges visits to the Corprusarium, either as a patient or a relation. So the patients build their own society. New members are born when they arrive and die when they leave, and while they stay they live and die, love and hate, fight and befriend; all the passions and turmoils of life outside happen here as well. Family become strangers and strangers family. It’s incredible how easily they throw away their outside selves, here. Married patients take lovers. Unmarried become so. Feuding families make strong alliances, and I know they persist even after departure. I suppose I must acknowledge Peryite’s role in creating this place…

The shield seemed mollified, and radiated something almost like satisfaction. I definitely saw his central gemstone glowing a happy yellow.

It’s not just the Daedra I send on to the Ashpit, you know. Every death here is a tribute to our Father. The pestilences are vanquished foes. But the patients… the patients are soldiers returning home.

Scourge paused, seeming nostalgic.

They would make fine Orcs.