The Grip of Madness [Quest]

Faction: Aldmeri Dominion
Province: Valenwood
Location: Grahtwood
Required Level: 18

Text of the Quest:

Southpoint citizens are killing one another in the streets. Dominion soldiers cordoned off the town, but are in dire need of assistance. I should speak with Captain Elonthor, the person in charge of the Dominion forces


Talk to Captain Elonthor

Soldier Garion: Southpoint is currently off-limits. You'll need to keep back, for your own safety.
Hero: What happened?
Soldier Garion: The citizens of Southpoint are killing each other in the streets. It's ... I've seen nothing like it. Captain Elonthor may need help evacuating survivors. You'll find him by the road, outside the town.
Hero: I'll speak to your captain.

Captain Elonthor: Turn back, citizen. Southpoint is ... I don't know what to call it, exactly.
Hero: What happened?
Captain Elonthor: I sent three of my best scouts into Southpoint to answer that very question, but none returned. Until I know their fates, I can't request reinforcements. But I won't send anyone else inside until I know what happened to my scouts. You see my predicament.
Hero: What if I found your scouts?
Captain Elonthor: I certainly won't stop you. One of Southpoint's citizens also offered to help find the scouts, but she seemed a bit... eccentric. Perhaps she has something to offer beyond alarming theories.
Hero: I'll speak with her.
Captain Elonthor: You should know Daraneth has some sort of position in Elden Root. Seems to think her reputation precedes her. No need to kiss the hem of her robes, but she's far less prickly if you show her some respect.
Hero: I'll keep that in mind.
Captain Elonthor: Last I saw Daraneth, she was taking shelter in one of the tents. I could do without this damnable rain. It's been storming since we arrived, and it shows no sign of letting up.
Hero: Can I ask you some questions?
Captain Elonthor: Ask what you will.
Hero: What do you think is happening in Southpoint?
Captain Elonthor: I don't care to speculate.
Hero: Why not?
Captain Elonthor: I can only act upon what I know. It's apparent that the townsfolk have caused harm to themselves and others within Southpoint. Yes, it seems they've all gone mad. But until I know for certain, all I can do is hope to contain it.
Hero: How long has Southpoint been like this?
Captain Elonthor: Strange reports arrived in Elden Root a week ago. Little things, people acting oddly. But when a Southpoint guard delivered his own severed tongue to the Altmer Embassy, someone noticed. If we weren't spread so thin, we'd have been here earlier.
Hero: Why are you spread so thin?
Captain Elonthor: General Endare pulled her entire company from the Haven and left for parts unknown. In her absence, we've filled the gaps. I tried to commandeer forces from the Gray Mire, but the Thalmor Inner Council considers Argonian refugees a greater threat. In their wisdom.
Hero: What can you tell me about Southpoint?
Captain Elonthor: Centuries ago it was an Imperial stronghold, but now it's known as a sleepy coastal town with a big cathedral. You'll find mostly Colovians who've been here for generations and a handful of Wood Elves who don't pay much heed to the Green Pact.

Daraneth: Did Captain Elonthor send you to mock me? Did you come to tell me I don't know the work of a Daedric Prince when I see one?
Hero: Daedric Prince? What Daedric Prince?
Daraneth: Isn't it obvious? Madness swept through Southpoint like a plague, and so quickly! Only one Daedric Prince has such power.
Hero: Sheogorath.
Daraneth: No, it's ....Wait, yes, that's it exactly! The Daedric Prince of Madness himself, here in Southpoint. It's all rather exciting, isn't it?
Hero: You don't seem concerned about Southpoint.
Daraneth: I'm exceptionally concerned. It is my home, after all. But I'd rather show my concern by doing something about the problem. The captain wanted to find his scouts, didn't he? We should get going!
Hero: You want to come with me?
Daraneth: Of course! You need someone who knows the town, and I need someone with whom to take a stroll in this lovely rain. No use arguing, I've been getting my way since before you were born. Or do you want a sweet old woman to show more courage than you?

Lieutenant Hervarion: It's not time yet! The mayor said you can't eat me until dinner!
Hero: We're here to free you, not eat you.
Lieutenant Hervarion: Praise Arkay! This entire town has gone mad. We should have informed Captain Elonthor immediately, but I insisted we press on. If we'd fallen back, maybe my scouts would still be themselves.
Hero: What do you mean?
Lieutenant Hervarion: The mad people brought us to their "mayor." I don't know how he did it, but he turned my scouts into bears. Bears! I thought he'd do the same to me, but he changed his mind. Said the townsfolk should have me for dinner!
Hero: What can you tell me about the mayor?
Lieutenant Hervarion: He locked himself in that big cathedral. Saw the doors flare up briefly, glowing as bright as the sky, and then it faded. Magic keeps them shut, I'm sure of it. I've had enough of this place. Please, untie me. I need to warn Captain Elonthor.
Hero: All right. I'll untie you.

Daraneth: Soldiers turned into bears? People setting themselves on fire? And now a mad mayor, locked in a cathedral! I know I should be horrified, but it all sounds so exciting.
Hero: What can we do about those scouts?
Daraneth: Hmm? Oh, I suppose I can reverse the effects of the mayor's magic. After many, many years of honing my craft, this should be a simple matter. But if we're hunting bears, I'll need you to be the bait.
Hero: You want me to be the bait?
Daraneth: I'm an old woman! And such magic requires precision. Wrestling with bears impedes precision. Slap them about their faces, throw sticks at them, call them harsh names. However you must, keep their attention while I do the complex part.
Hero: What can we do about the mayor?
Daraneth: I have an old scroll tucked away in my basement laboratory. If we have it in hand, it won't matter how tightly he's locked that cathedral door. But first we should rid Southpoint of its bear problem. Shall we?
Hero: Let's go.

Daraneth: We won't make it inside my laboratory unless we can stop the lightning.
Hero: This storm isn't natural. How can we stop it?
Daraneth: If someone conjured this storm, they'd do it from somewhere they could see everything in Southpoint. There's an old Colovian tower nearby. It's the highest point in the town, aside from the cathedral.
Hero: Let's check the tower.

Rufinus: What are you doing here? I don't know you.
Hero: Are you causing all of this?
Rufinus: So what if I am? They called me an angry drunk, said I'd never amount to anything. But now I have the lightning, and I'll give it to anyone who makes me mad! Shut your mouth and walk away, or you'll get the lightning. Just like all the others.
Hero: You need to end this storm.
Rufinus: I don't need to listen to this. I'll show you, like I did them. Nobody pushes Rufinus around!
Hero: Push him over the edge. [Rufinus dies]

Daraneth: I don't remember how I came to be here in this cell. When I woke you were just standing there, foaming at the mouth. Count yourself lucky that Sheogorath had no desire to treat you like a puppet. Unlike myself.
Hero: Why would Sheogorath inhabit your body?
Daraneth: I was in Elden Root when I heard some of the strange rumors coming from Southpoint. When I returned here, I recognized the signs. But when I arrived at my laboratory, Sheogorath was already there ... dancing. Then I was dancing. After that, it all went dark.
Hero: What happened next?
Daraneth: I saw and heard everything we did, but I couldn't affect a thing. It was a waking nightmare! My own mind, a prison. I expected him to kill us both, but we're here, aren't we? Best not to think of it. Applying logic to the Mad God is ... unwise.
Hero: So what happened to Southpoint?
Daraneth: "Mayor Aulus" happened. He's always blamed others for his own shortcomings, but I never realized he'd been touched by Sheogorath. The only way the madness will end is with his death.
Hero: Do you really think he has to die?
Daraneth: He has the power to remake Southpoint in his image, to the Mad God's delight. Where Mayor Aulus goes, Sheogorath won't be far behind. I see no other way. Unless you convince Sheogorath to take him back to Oblivion, but arguing with the Mad God is folly.
Hero: We need to get out of here.
Daraneth: I don't see how. Those bars are thicker than sword blades. We aren't going anywhere. It seems Sheogorath made a few changes to these catacombs. There were never any prison cells below the cathedral.
Hero: Can't you use your magic to open the door?
Daraneth: I already tried. It seems Mayor Aulus bound my magic somehow. I'd say it's maddening, but less so than having a Daedric Prince steer you around like a carriage. When they come for us, we can try to fight our way out. If they come for us.

Sheogorath: Well, if it isn't my old friend Hunts-For-Books! Now don't look so glum, or the skeevers'll notice. Then they hit you up for spare gold, a few shin bones, your best pair of cheese-filled slippers. Insufferable beasts! They can't hold a conversation.
Hero: What do you want?
Sheogorath: Mayor Aulus is a curd in the soup. A real fly in the whey, don't you say? Made a mess of me gift, the kind from the wrong end of a dog. I tried to encourage him. Even brought him a hero to destroy! But he couldn't go through with it. Can you imagine?
Hero: You're talking about me.
Sheogorath: I led you right here to make it all boring again. And what did he do to stop you? Nothing! There I stood in my best old-lady suit, and he said it was all my fault! Ah, he just needs motivation. What better than an escaped prisoner seeking vengeance?
Hero: You want me to kill him?
Sheogorath: Could you kill someone you love? I can't! Well, I have. But not Mayor Aulus, it would be too pedestrian. No, I want you to try killing him.
Hero: Why should I try to kill him?
Sheogorath: I want him to reach deep down, below all the marmalade and crushing failures defining his life, to find a seed of confidence, and grow it into a tree of gumption he'll use to beat your brains to paste. But if not, any brain paste'll do. Even his.
Hero: I'll do this if you swear to leave Southpoint forever.
Sheogorath: Deal! Oh, and one more thing. Daraneth stays behind. If you bore me too much, I'll turn her into a goose, roast her, and feed her to you covered in fine Eidar glaze. The goose, I mean. It's a might bit chilly for my Eidar-pants.
Hero: Whatever you say.

Sheogorath: Oh, you can't seem to catch a break, can you? Chin up, just like the bridge! Adversity is the brother-in-law of propensity! As they say.
Hero: Why are you doing this?
Sheogorath: Eh, a proper hero needs obstacle. Struggle. Repeated attempts at bodily harm! You're going to play the proper hero so Aulie can shine! Or our deal is off. And if it's off, so is Daraneth's head. To Skyrim! In a field! With berries growing from her eyes!

Sheogorath: I can never decide between Choice and Free Will. Which will triumph in the end? But why not settle the matter for me? Or you could yank a lever, but that's hardly fun for either of us.
Hero: You asked me to kill the mayor. Why are you playing these games?
Sheogorath: I just told you! Choice and Free Will are subjects I hold quite dear. So, you could fight a very good friend of mine. Or you could pull another lever. You're Choice!
Hero: I'll fight your friend.
Sheogorath: Wonderful! Just say the word and I'll bring him here.
Hero: I'm ready to fight.

Mayor Aulus: It's not fair! I never wanted this, any of this, and now I'm to die for it! But you're reasonable, aren't you? We can talk about this, work something out?
Hero: Sheogorath didn't give me much choice.
Mayor Aulus: You do have a choice! Not like me. Sheogorath listened to me, said he would take me down a golden path. Nobody in Southpoint ever respected me, or gave me a chance to prove who I could truly be. What choice did I have but to make them all see who I really am?
Hero: Are you saying you had to do all of this?
Mayor Aulus: My family ruled Southpoint for generations. But after we lost everything, where was my birthright then? They wouldn't bow to me as they should, so now I've made them bow. It's the burden a true leader must bear. I shouldn't have to die for it!
Hero: [Intimidate] If Sheogorath won't take you to Oblivion, I'll send you there myself.
Mayor Aulus: Wait! That's it, I'll go away with him, if he'll have me! Just let me try to convince him. Besides, there's not much of Southpoint left. It's a bit used up, don't you think?
Hero: No, you've gone too far. [Mayor Aulus dies]

Sheogorath: And that's why you're my new favorite mortal. When you kill something wonderful, you keep it interesting. Fresh! Dare I say, jovial? Makes me wonder if I should stick around, see what wonderful things you'll kill next.
Hero: We had a deal.
Sheogorath: Think I don't remember, you daft little sprig? Call me a debt-hedger, will you? A deal-fondler? Ah, but you're forgiven. I've always said grudges are like a good cheese. Hold them inside for too long, and you're the one to suffer.
Hero: Complete Quest.

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