Elder Scrolls Lore: Daedric Prince Vaermina

There once lived an artist by the name of Darius Shano, who had used his vivid dreams to inspire others for years through song and spoken word. This Breton had garnered much fame due to his use of beautiful imagery and elegant language. The Daedric Prince Vaermina was very proud of her artist, seeing as she commanded the Breton’s dreams, and thus served as his inspiration.  While Vaermina held great affection for him, the attentions of a Daedric Prince often leads to mischief, and this tale is no different.

Vaermina, and the Daedric Prince Sheogorath, looked down upon the Breton as he slept. The Madgod said that it was not people’s love that made Vaermina’s artist great… but their hatred. If great men are usually hated as much as they are loved, then could Vaermina conjure hatred in the artist as well?

Vaernima conceded that mortals were indeed foolish and petty insects, given to despising those among them who have great vision. She also believed that she could sow such seeds of hatred in the heart of the artist and those around him.

To prove her point Vaermina accepted a wager offered by Lord Sheogorath. She would enter the mind of Darius Shano, and poison his thoughts with horrific nightmares. Then, in ten years’ time, she would allow Sheogorath to do the same, and they would see whose talents were the greater. Vaermina was supremely confident, for she knew the Madgod could never be as suited to the task of crafting nightmare visions as the Dreamweaver herself.

Darius had always been afraid of the night, but now the terror of darkness was overpowering, absolute. No peace was to be had in his slumber, only horror and an empty, unnamable dread. He would scream at the top of his lungs, only to find his shrieks had been smothered by the cold and eternal dark. When Darius clawed his way to wakefulness the fear would be gone, for his faith in Vaermina was steadfast and resolute. In time Vaermina visited him directly, and whispered softly in his ear.

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“Watch carefully, my beloved.”

Vaermina tore away the veil she had mercifully put up and revealed to her disciple visions of death and anguish so profound it made Darius’ former night terrors seem pale and small by comparison. The Daedric Prince showed him visions of murder, torture and creatures so intensely horrific their anguished screams would fill his mind each time he closed his eyes. These agonizing nightmare images tore at his soul, and soon revealed themselves in his compositions. The grotesque images filled his work, and the horrors they held transfixed his audience with the ghastliness of their impressions. The public was disgusted by his words even as they were undeniably compelled and fascinated by them. They trembled in delicious indignation, fretting over every detail even as they condemned the imagery itself. Some gloried in the lurid spectacle, and Darius Shano found his popularity surging even as it fed the flames of righteous outrage in others. This continued for ten years while Darius grew increasingly infamous and then, as suddenly as his nightmares had begun, all at once… they stopped… Vaermina’s time was up you see, it was now Sheogorath’s turn to play with poor Darius.

Darius was relieved that his night terrors had finally ceased, but he was confused as well. He wondered what had changed to make his mistress Vaermina forsake him. He made heartfelt prayers to her, pleading for just a sliver of the inspiration she had once bestowed upon him. No answer ever came, and Darius’ devastating nightly horrors faded away into long, empty periods of deep, dreamless sleep.

In time, the ever-present self-doubt every artist feels, no matter how inspired their work, surfaced in Darius’ pieces. With it came bitterness and cynicism as his goddess continued to ignore his supplications.

As the prose and imagery in his work grew stale, interest, however contentious, in Darius Shano’s work began to decline. His abandonment by Vaermina had led him to a place where he could no longer provoke the outrage and indignation he once had. As his notoriety began to fade, his resentment increased, directed at the muse who had forsaken him. Sacrilege was close behind, and in short order hatred followed. This manifested as sarcastic ridicule then finally disbelief, as Darius came to believe his mistress Vaermina had never truly spoken to him at all. It had been in his mind all along, the ravings of a lonely, maladjusted man. His shame and anger and guilt were overwhelming. The man who had once touched the heart of a deity slowly drifted away into irreverent disrespect and even heresy.

As Darius’ desperation grew, so did the intentionally outrageous behavior in his subsequent work. He became purposely offensive, trying in vain to approach his former infamy. He focused on the gods, challenging their might and mocking them obscenely. He dared them to strike him down for his blasphemy and insulted them all the more when no such punishment appeared. More, he targeted public figures, officials, and even his adoring public, skewering them with venomous caricatures, sparing none and attacking all. His audience for their part hated him all the more, meeting his attacks with ever more indignation, for while he had once assaulted their sensibilities, he now struck directly at their hearts, and insulted their very spirit.

Before long he had committed his final offense by scorning the Emperor God Tiber Septim in the piece he called “The Noblest Fool”. He mocked the Divine Emperor for his integration into the cult of the Nine Divines. After twenty years, Darius’ fate was sealed. The king of the High Rock sept Daenia who had been sullied by this insignificant worm on more than one occasion, seized this opportunity. For the offense of sacrilege against the Empire, Darius’ throat was slit with a ceremonial knife, and his final, gurgling words spewed forth on a torrent of black blood. The crowds cheered his demise, for they hated him.

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Twenty years after their initial wager, Vaermina and Sheogorath met again over the headless, bloodstained corpse of the artist, Darius Shano. The Dreamweaver was livid, for in the name of their wager she had tormented the mortal endlessly for 10 years, yet Sheogorath on the other hand, had spoken to him, not once.

“Nonsense,” croaked the Gentleman with a Cane. For Sheogorath had been by his side all along. He had replaced Vaermina’s subtle whispers with absolute, deafening silence. Darius Shano had been cut off completely from that which gave him comfort and meaning. For 10 long years Sheogorath denied the artist the attention he had craved so desperately, the attention of a god. Without Vaermina’s dreams to guide him, Shano had been cast adrift, and his rage had ripened under the withering heat of hate and resentment. Before his death, Darius was a madman. This artist, who was once Vaermina’s most prized mortal, now served Sheogorath as his servant, bound forever to the Shivering Isles.

And thus did Sheogorath teach Vaernima that without madness, there are no dreams, and no creation.

…It is said, Vaernima has never forgotten this lesson…

Vaermina is the Daedric Prince of dreams and nightmares and it is she from whom evil omens issue forth. Referred to as “Vaermina the Gifter”, and” the Dreamweaver”, she is seen as one of the most demonic of Daedric Lords. Scholars have claimed that her sphere of influence is connected to psychological torture. She has been historically associated with Molag Bal in regards to a cure for the curse of vampirism, though the details of the connection is as of yet unknown.

Vaermina’s plane of Oblivion is known as Quagmire. It is a realm of nightmares made flesh where reality shifts regularly, and each random incarnation is more horrifying than the last. It is the realm most easily accessible by mortals, who enter by way of their dreams but usually forget the experience upon waking. From her citadel in the center of Quagmire, Vaermina touches sleeping mortal minds, collecting memories and leaving foreboding impressions of despair and horror in her wake.  It has been said that after a truly memorable encounter with Vaermina in the realm of Quagmire, nothing on Nirn can ever frighten a mortal again, for nothing could be as horrific as being in the presence of the Dreamweaver. It is conceivably possible to enter Quagmire while awake by means of magical teleportation, but the dangers associated with it make it an impractical avenue for most mortals to pursue. There have been times when Quagmire and Mundus have appeared to merge, during times when Vaermina’s influence has been particularly strong or where her artifacts have been in close proximity.

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The Skull of Corruption is Vaermina’s primary artifact. Appearing to be a staff, the Skull of Corruption creates a duplicate of whomever or whatever it is cast upon. This copy then attacks the original for the sake of the wielder. It is rumored that the staff can feed on the memories of those around it, and sometimes will act of its own accord.

Vaermina presides over the world of dreams and speaks to all mortals at some point in their lives. For some she provides inspiration while others cringe in horror at the merest mention of her name. Her night terrors lay bare the darkest aspects of the mortal mind, leaving even the bravest among man and mer to tremble at the revelations revealed. Those who follow Vaermina know that the mortal mind is like clay, and very easily molded. Many are eternally changed after the Dreamweaver touches them, released from the grip of fear forevermore. But while Vaermina controls the insubstantial world of dreams, there are others who control the darkness of the true and waking world. He is the Daedric Prince of hedonism, and is allied with Vaermina as the depths of the mortal soul reveals themselves in the dark desires of the mortal heart. This Daedric Prince gives voice to the deep and hidden impulses some mortals will only acknowledge in their dreams.

But that- is a story for another day…