(A/N: Alternate title being, "How to isolate your vampire/brotherhood/Martin-loving friends". Cough. Sorry, I couldn't resist writing this, had a blast.
Rated for the inclusion of naked fangirls. Should probably be T, but I wanted to be safe. Don't worry, there's nothing nastier than that.)
"Introducing," said the mazken, standing stiffly opposite his Lordship and Haskill. The chamberlain wondered if the straight-faced mazken was as despairing, inside, as he was. "Ella of Cyrodiil, hero of Kvatch."
Haskill maintained his own neutral expression, but it was hard not to twitch into a frown when the bosmer girl slipped into the hall from behind a pillar, giggling a little. Oh dear. Ella, was it? He'd heard of her. Two of her previous victims lived in Dementia, and a third in Mania, thanks to her and her ilk.
And he could only imagine what was running through her mind right now. His Lordship had been having fun tormenting his would-be mortal champions for almost a week now.
And it was safe to assume from her hungry expression that Sheogorath was next. Or rather, thanks to the art the Mighty Git had put up on the walls, they both were. Haskill had already known that she was a fan of slash, but to see her embodied…
Ugh. If the art hadn't made him ill already, the sight of her did.
"Why, Ella!" Sheogorath spread his arms out wide, in that annoying way of his. "I'm so happy to see yeh!"
"And you, my Lord," Ella bowed, but that giggle still played on her crimson-painted lips. In the few weeks the portal had been open on the bay, and the week since the art of doom appeared on the walls, Haskill had learned to identify a fangirl on sight. Not that he needed to with Ella, her reputation preceding her like thunderclouds. Martin Septim had alerted Haskill to her existence when he took up residence only a few days before. Apparently she had a thing for certain remarkable individuals…
He'd hoped to never, ever be unfortunate enough to meet Ella in his life. Most of the species rabidus fangirlus went after Sheogorath himself, or ran into Martin down in Mania (the poor sod), but the occasional freak thought Haskill's dry wit simply amazing. Like that creepy girl in purple that had met Sheogorath's excecution table the day before. While hurtling a hundred miles an hour towards it out of the open sky.
And Ella kept looking at them both with a smirk on her face. Fantastic. Haskill refused to let his mind dwell on what she might be thinking…
"So, y'think you've got it in yeh to be my mortal champion, eh?" said Sheogorath.
Sheogorath always seemed saner when he had his mind set on something. Usually he'd make some offhand comment by now, but his sentence had the desired effect on Ella and Haskill, who cleared his mind to stop it wandering into the gutter. "Of course, my Lord," Ella winked.
Really. This was revolting. Haskill kept his face as straight as he could manage.
Then Ella glanced at the Prince of Madness and started to giggle. Haskill assumed the daedric prince was making some obscene sexual gesture behind his back. Haskill pretended not to notice. When Sheogorath was in one of those moods, he was better off ignored (it encouraged the shippers if he let it get to him). Instead, Haskill focused all his will on staring at Ella as unnervingly as possible.
Then Sheogorath cleared his throat, and Haskill wished he could cover his ears because he knew what was about to…
"The Greymarch are coming!" said Sheogorath. And the fangirl burst into giggles.
Haskill covered his whimper. His poor, gutter-inhabiting brain would never, ever be the same again. If Sheogorath was trying to drive him insane, he was succeeding. Haskill had always prided himself on being the only sane person in the Isles, but he wondered if he was still in that position. This week had tested him more than any of Lord Sheogorath's previous fancies ever had.
"What would you like me to do about it, my Lord?" said Ella, smiling sweetly. She looked… almost disappointed? But then she seemed to brighten up, looking back and forth from Haskill and Sheogorath.
Oh dear. She was looking for signs that they were fancy for each other. Wonderful. Haskill stopped himself just in time from rolling his eyes.
"You got here in fine time," said Sheogorath. A glance from Haskill told the breton that his Lordship had stood up, his hands behind his back, clasping his cane. He walked slowly down the steps in front of his throne, moving around Ella as if to inspect her. The fangirl giggled, and Sheogorath said in a low, husky voice, "But we'll have to test you, if you get my meaning." He rose his voice a little. "Right, Haskill?"
"Right, my Lord," said Haskill, deadpan as the fangirl collapsed into more of those blasted giggles. But, unfortunately, he was in Sheogorath's employ and so was required, as ordered, to say, "And how do you plan on testing her?"
Oh dear. Here it came.
And not in the right way, either, thought Haskill before he could stop himself.
"Why, Haskill!" said Sheogorath, spreading his arms wide as he strode back to his throne, turning around and flopping back into it, his legs apart, his hands folded on his cane in between them. "The same way we test every mortal champion!" he tilted his head, then added, "Though, they certainly prove themselves to be mortal about five hours into the event… Haskill tends to tire them out."
Ugh. If only lawyers existed in the Isles – he could probably get a nice settlement for his suffering – but they all ended up in Dagon's realm.
"Take off your clothes!" Sheogorath barked.
And Haskill turned his eyes to the ceiling as the fangirl tittered, her hands flying to fumble at her buttons. Fantastic. At least it would end in a few minutes…
Anyone would think this was fricken Sanguine's realm. As it was, Haskill had that almighty git to thank for it.
"Haskill!" said Sheogorath. "This is a fine specimen, don't you think?"
Oh, no. Haskill wasn't going to fall for that trick. It was a new addition, but Haskill knew his master well (though, thankfully, not in the way the fangirls thought). If his Lordship wasn't trying to get him to look so he could taunt him for a few decades about it, Haskill was an elephant. But he thought quickly, and said dryly, "Her beauty is so radiant I have to avert my eyes, for she is like the sun."
"Ee-hee!" said Sheogorath, clapping his hands. "Why don't we share her, mmm? I believe we have some of her previous acquaintances living in Dementia as we speak…"
This was a good sign. If Sheogorath was varying it a bit, it meant he was getting bored. "Of course, my Lord. Who do you have in mind, my Lord?"
Sheogorath interwove his fingers and placed them beside his cheek. "Why don't we fetch Lucy, hmm?"
"Lucy" had to be the only individual in the Isles who'd tried to kill his Lordship and lived to tell the tale. "I'll get him, my Lord," said Haskill, and before Sheogorath could answer, Haskill was on his way – dodging a grope from the fangirl and hopping up the steps.
Sporadic was the time that Haskill had the opportunity to pay Sheogorath back for all the hell he lived through, but leaving his Lordship in the company of a fangirl for five to ten minutes was worth years of it. Haskill's lip curled in a rare smirk.
Dementia was as trashy as always, with bad smells hanging around like a preacher of Akatosh in the temple district, and a sewer-like appearance that made Bravil look like the city of kings. Haskill deliberately took his time as he walked to his destination, chewing on images of Sheogorath suffering at the hands of the rabid fangirl. Unfortunately, he got to the house he was looking for all too quickly for his enjoyment.
He rapped on a door. What looked like a dead rat hung, nailed against the wood by the tail. Probably to ward off fangirls. Crossed his arms as he waited.
The door opened a crack. Frightened, pink eyes looked out at him, underlined by the chain that shielded the face beyond from the outside world. "Haskill," the owner of the eyes said out loud. "What do you want?"
"I'm looking for Lachance. Is he in?"
"Depends," the eyes narrowed.
Haskill sighed. "The coast is clear, last I checked."
"Then he's in," the eyes disappeared. Haskill heard scraping as the chain was pulled out of the way, and the door opened inwards, revealing a pink eyed, pale man.
"You shaved your head again," said Haskill, as he stepped into the abode.
"The last one recognized me!" the man squeaked. "I've been feeding every night to stop my appearance growing gaunt, but they still recognize me! I thought it might be the hair."
Haskill just nodded – then peered at him, forehead creasing in a frown. "You have glitter on you."
The man burst into tears and fled from the room, slamming a door behind him. Haskill heard muffled cries, "It's that purple girl! She put glitter on me! Said I should sparkle!"
Haskill sighed again.
Then he felt the hair on the back of his neck rise. He turned and glanced up, and saw a man in a black cloak and robes on top of the stairs that led into the main room. "Lachance," said Haskill. "Lord Sheogorath requires your company."
Poor Lachance would be a gibbering wreck for days after this. Sure, he looked sane now…
A pair of angry eyes glared at him. "You're taunting Vicente again. How many times have I told you not to do that?"
"Lachance, I was merely making an observation," Haskill folded his hands together. "I am not to blame if your vampire takes offence."
Lachance rolled his eyes, descending the steps and taking his place beside Haskill. He craned his head a bit to look at the door through which Vicente had disappeared. Haskill heard running water and sobbing. "Perhaps I should… comfort him…" the ex-Speaker murmured.
Haskill refused to let his mind go there.
The poor Cyrodiilics. Ever since Ella had discovered their affair, their lives had been made miserable by the fangirls who'd hunted them down (and the Night Mother, who'd turned out to be a shipper). They had forsaken even Sithis in order to hide in the Shivering Isles.
But nobody ever said fangirls were sane, and they'd pursued them. Even the Gatekeeper hadn't stood a chance.
Haskill said, "It's better if we get this over with as quickly as possible."
"Get what over with?" said Lachance, as Haskill stepped out of the door into the dingy streets. "I don't like leaving Vicente alone in the house," Lachance said as he followed, pulling his hood over to hide his face. He activated the chameleon charm on his robes, as if the hood wouldn't make a difference – but fangirls were very good at sniffing out celebrities. "They might break in, and he's so fragile."
"Lock the door…?"
"Some of them are from the Thieves Guild, you know," said Lachance, but followed Haskill's advice nonetheless, the key clicking before he slid it from the lock. "Armand Christophe's having people go after him too. Vicente reckons it's only a few weeks until we have a roomie."
"How unfortunate," said Haskill, turning from the stoop and striding towards the stairs that would take them to the palace.
"Why are we walking?" said Lachance, irritably, trotting to keep up. "Couldn't you poof us there?"
"I can only 'poof' me, Lachance. And as it is, I'm leaving Sheogorath to… ah… enjoy himself." Haskill stopped himself from snickering.
Damn it. Ever since this had begun, his mind had lived in the gutter.
They passed the time on the walk back to the palace catching up. Lachance told Haskill that Vicente was still afraid to venture out of the house, and Haskill told Lachance that Sheogorath was more intolerable than usual. They talked in low voices until they reached the palace, after which Lachance went silent mid-sentence.
He was like that for a good two minutes, before he said, "Uh, Haskill?"
Oh dear. Haskill had known this would come. "Yes, Mr Lachance?"
"Why did somebody draw porn of you and Sheogorath and put it on the walls? … Actually, why is there more than one picture?"
"Sheogorath has been taunting those who wish to become his mortal champions," said Haskill. "He finds it… amusing." Ugh, the royal git.
"You didn't have to, uh… model, did you? I mean, those pictures look pretty realistic."
"No," said Haskill. "Sheogorath commissioned a fangirl to draw them. And she went overboard."
"Oh, dear. Is this his latest attempt to drive you to insanity?"
"I would not be surprised."
When they entered the hall and Lachance caught sight of a certain naked fangirl, he let out a horrified "Eep!" and hid behind Haskill, who ignored him and strode to his Lordship's side, with as much dignification he could muster with Lachance clinging to his clothes.
Sheogorath looked very irritated, and somewhat… ruffled. Ella stood, still giggling, on the carpet, and Haskill occupied his eyes by staring at the ceiling again. "Haskill!" said the daedric prince. "What took you so long?"
"LUCY!" squealed Ella. (Huh, thought Haskill. So the chameleon didn't work.) And "Lucy" shrieked. And Haskill blanched as the fangirl bounded towards them both. "It's so good to see you! Where's Vitchy?"
Lachance dove behind Sheogorath's throne. Ella followed, still squealing.
And Sheogorath actually facepalmed. "Enough!" he said. "Both of you – actually, Haskill, you too – stand in front of me, on the carpet, now."
Whimpering, Lachance emerged from his hiding place – only for Ella to grab him by the arm and drag him. Once placed, she clung to him and buried her face in his neck, snuggling viciously. Lachance whimpered, and the chameleon charm faded.
Haskill sighed, and made sure to put Lachance in between him and Ella. He didn't want to catch anything.
"Goody!" said Sheogorath. He stood up, and picked up his cane. He moved to stand in front of them, making sure to eye Ella appraisingly. "Now we can finally begin!"
"I've never joined in on an orgy before," Ella giggled.
Sheogorath cackled and waved his hands. Haskill and his companions vanished.
Cold, brutal wind was the first thing Haskill was aware of, along with the mortified yell of the fangirl beside him as she looked down. Unworried as he plummeted to certain death, Haskill looked down.
The hill of fangirl sacrifices was getting a bit large.
Just before he joined them, Haskill vanished in another puff of smoke.
He reappeared beside Sheogorath's throne.
"I didn't see Lachance, there," he remarked, as Sheogorath sukily threw himself into his throne. "Why did we bring him at all, my Lord?"
"I was bored," said Sheogorath. "I made him appear in his bathtub. If the vampire's scalding himself again, it ought to give him a fright."