Skyrim Story - Of Dawn And Dark: Part 3: Expanding The Order
To Derbana, the two weeks were a blur, much like her training sessions after hearing the Imperial City being sacked so many years ago when she was a girl. She walked up the dirt path leading to Fort Dawnguard. When she left, it was not on the best of circumstances.
She dipped her head, remembering it well for it is something she will be unlikely to ever forget.
Standing over Jerthar's body under the healing of Isran, she worried for her brother as this concoction of worry and hate boiled inside her. If she had been able to fight, then it would have been possible to escape on foot and Jerthar needn't have over-strained himself with that spell. Just as it looked hopeful for Jerthar, the doors slammed open as Celann stepped inside.
“I'm busy here, Celann.”
“Don't worry...” Derbana's harsh, firm tone spoke, “leave them to me!”
She stomped out the door and saw Durak fighting three vampires by himself. Derbana ran up to the first fledgling and stabbed her through the back, pulling out her sword, letting her corpse fall to the ground.
The next fledgling noticed her and charged. She ducked fast and forward, getting the vampire to roll over her as she stood back straight. Then with a quick twirl, she stabbed her sword down, hearing his death rattle as the second was no more.
Durak backed off as Derbana charged the master vampire, he held a spell in his hand and threw it forward, watching the frostbolt glide through the air. Derbana sidestepped around it, bringing her sword down, slicing off his left hand. Even with the pained scream of her foe, she pressed her attack with a shield bash across his face and a quick stab through his abdomen followed not a moment later. Run through on her blade, the master vampire's face contorted in hissing rage as Derbana's eyes were emotionless and did not flinch for a moment. Pulling the blade out and a quick turn around, the master vampire's head flew into the air as his body collapsed on the ground.
The three who dared to attack Fort Dawnguard were put to an end as Derbana stood there, very still and heaving. It took a moment before Isran emerged from the fort and immediately gave her the next assignment.
With the courage of the vampires growing, it was time to bring in old friends of Isran...or people who knew him too well. She trekked her way to the other side of the Rift to Honeystrand Cave, just south of Ivarstead, she and Jerthar passed it on their way a few days ago. A male Nord moved silently in front of the cave. All she remembered from their conversation was he was tracking a bear for two weeks and finally cornered him.
“If I kill that bear, can you come to Fort Dawnguard and help Isran in his cause?”
“If you can kill that bear, I'll meet you there.”
Derbana sighed and walked into the cave. All Gunmar heard was Derbana's groans from blocking and swinging her blade, the sound of a sword cutting through flesh, and the bears' death roars. After only two minutes, Derbana emerged from the cave and into the moonlight.
“There were three of them, by the way. See you at Fort Dawnguard?”
He nodded his head in surprise. As she left to go south, then west into Falkreath Hold, she shook her head, whispering, “Two weeks...”
The first member she was after had been recruited, but the second person Isran asked for was far away on the other side of Skyrim. The northernmost part of the Reach, just touching the southern border of Haafingar. It took her four days running through the landscape without rest.
Looking at her map, she knew she was only an hour or two southeast of Deep Folk Crossing. A woman was standing next to a Dwemer stone stump riddled with Dwemer artifacts.
“Excuse me, are you Sorine Jurard?” Derbana asked.
The woman didn't respond right away as she looked around the area of the stone. Derbana got closer and tapped her shoulder, making the woman jump for dear life.
“Oh, gracious. Please, don't do that again.”
“Sorry, but you seem distracted.”
“Well, yes. You'd be too if some darn mudcrabs stole your satchel, now wouldn't you?”
“Mudcrabs...stole your satchel?”
“Yes, I was sleeping peaceful when the nasty blighters strolled along and took my bag. You haven't seen it, have you? The mudcrabs usually linger by the river south of here. It is absolutely vital to my research.”
Derbana snickered, “You sound just like my...brother...” Her voice trailed off.
“Yes, well...it's easy to be fascinated by the mysteries of the Dwemer. I'd like my entire satchel, but I'd be satisfied with a single Dwemer cog if you've got one.”
“No, why don't I look for your satchel?”
“You could, like I said, it should be south by the river.”
Derbana nodded and went over the next rock to see the river and a tree that grew on its bank. Without much further looking, Derbana found Sorine's Satchel and gave it to her unenthusiastically,
“It was literally over that rock, you didn't look over there?”
“Well, I thought it wouldn't have gone that far, but regardless...thank you for bringing it back to me. What can I do for you?”
“Isran needs you.”
“Really? I don't see why, he always laughed at my work and...”
“Look, I don't have time for this. Vampires are on the loose all over Skyrim and the Dawnguard...”
“You needn't say anymore. I'll meet you at Fort Dawnguard.”
Simply as that, Sorine left her field camp without another word. Derbana traveled with her down the hill.
“By the way, do you know anything about crossbows?” Derbana asked.
“Why, I do. That's the work Isran laughed at before I left. In fact, I noted several Dwemer ruins that may hold schematics I need for my work, but I'm not strong enough to retrieve them.”
“I can do it, so...how many are there?”
“According to my research, six. Give me your map, I'll mark their locations for you.”
As the women walked east out of the Reach, they prepared for the side adventure they had ahead.
Bringing herself back to the present, Derbana grabbed the large metal ring and pulled open the door. Sorine noticed Gunmar standing in the main chamber waiting while three portcullises raised from the floor, cutting off the main chamber from the rest of Fort Dawnguard. As Sorine stood across from her friend, Derbana held back closer to the shadows. They all looked up at Isran who was leaning over the railing of the second floor.
Gunmar questioned, “All right, Isran, you've got us all here. Now what do you want?”
“Hold it right there!” Isran exclaimed.
The next second, a white light came out of the floor and bathed the entire room.
“What are you doing?” Sorine asked as the light spread around them.
“Making sure you're not vampires. Can't be too careful.” The light faded and nothing happened to any of the three, “So, welcome to Fort Dawnguard. I'm sure you've heard a bit of what we're up against. Powerful vampires, unlike anything we've seen before. And they have an Elder Scroll. If anyone is going to stand in their way, it's going to be us.
“This is all well and good, but do we actually know anything about what they're doing? What do we do now?” Sorine asked.
Isran's tone was firm, “We'll get to that. For now, get acquainted with the space.” He pointed to her, “Sorine, you'll find room to start your tinkering on that crossbow design you've been working on.” He pointed to him, “Gunmar, there's an area large enough for you to pen up some trolls, get then armored up and ready for use.” He looked at Derbana, “In the meantime, we're going to get to the bottom of why a vampire showed up here looking for you. Let's go have a little chat with it, shall we?”
As the portcullises lowered, the three began to head inside. Derbana stopped Sorine.
“Here...” She pulled out several pieces of parchment, “The schematics you asked for.”
“Great...” Sorine took them in hand, “these will do just nicely.”
“If it's not so much asking, could you...” Derbana whispered into Sorine's ear her request.
“Yes, I can do that. Tell me when you want it.”
“Thanks, now to see what Isran wants.” Derbana knew what conversation lied up those stairs. She walked up to the second floor and followed Isran. After a few short turns, they were in a makeshift torture room and who stood there was...
“Serana?” Derbana asked in astonishment.
“So, you know it. This vampire showed up while you were away.” Isran said, “I'm guessing it's the one you found in Dimhollow Crypt. Says it's got something really important to say to you.” He turned to Serana, “So, let's hear it.”
Serana turned a cold shoulder to Isran as she faced Derbana, “You probably weren't expecting to see me again especially after my father...you know...”
“What are you doing here?”
“I'd rather not be here either, but I needed to talk to you. It's important, so please just listen before your friend, here, loses his patience.” She side-glared at Isran, “It's...well, it's about me. And the Elder Scroll that was buried with me.”
“What about you?”
“The reason I was down there...and why I had the Elder Scroll. It all comes back to my father. I'm guessing you figured this part out already, but my father's not exactly a good person. Even by vampire standards.”
“Yes, using a vampire's seduction would be a little bit over the line, wouldn't it?”
“He wasn't always like that, though. There was...a turn. He stumbled onto this obscure prophecy and just kind of lost himself in it.”
“What sort of prophecy?”
“It's pointless and vague, like all prophecies. The part he latched onto said that vampires would no longer need to fear the sun. That's what he's after. He wants to control the sun, have vampires control the world.”
“Like the vision said.”
“Vision, what vision?” Serana asked.
“My brother had a vision of this prophecy coming to pass, he pushed himself in order to get to me on time. That last teleport must have been the last straw for him. I'm...sorry...” She wiped a tear aside, “Please, continue.”
“Anyway, my mother and I didn't feel like inviting a war with all Tamriel, so we tried to stop him. That's why I was sealed away with the Scroll.”
“You took a big risk coming here.”
“I did. But something about you makes me think I can trust you. I hope I'm not wrong.”
“No, you're right. We just have to convince the others you're on our side.”
“Well, let's move then. I'm nothing if not persuasive.”
Isran interjected, “All right, you've heard what it has to say. Now tell me, is there any reason I shouldn't kill this bloodsucking friend right now?”
Derbana sternly looked him in the eye, “Because we're going to need her help.”
“Why,” Isran wasn't happy with that answer, “because of that story about the prophecy? About some vampire trying to put the sun out? Do you actually believe any of that?”
“Why else would she risk her life to come here?”
“Who knows, maybe it has a death wish. Maybe it's just insane. I don't really care. It can stay for now, but if it so much as lays a finger on anyone here,” He pointed at Derbana, “I'll hold you responsible. Got it?”
Derbana nodded and Isran turned back to Serana, “You hear me? Don't feel like a guest because you're not. You're a resource. You're an asset. In the meantime, don't make me regret my sudden outburst of tolerance and generosity, because if you do, your friend here is going to pay for it.”
“Thank you for your kindness. I'll remember it the next time I'm feeling hungry.” Serana said sarcastically before speaking to Derbana, “So, in case you didn't notice the giant thing on my back, I have an Elder Scroll with me.”
“Yes, my brother made that abundantly clear.”
“Well, whatever it says, it will have something that can help us stop my father. But of course, neither of us can read it.”
“Wait, I heard about this before. A Moth Priest can.”
“Well, the Moth Priests are the only ones I've heard of who can do it. They spend years preparing before they start reading, though. But how did you know of them?”
“My grandmother had uh...liberated something from their temple. It was in one of my mother's stories. But it doesn't really help us as they are half a continent away in Cyrodiil.”
Isran interrupted, “Some Imperial scholar arrived in Skyrim a few days ago. I was staking out the road when I saw him pass by. Maybe that's your Moth Priest.”
“Do you know where he's staying now?” Serana asked.
He crossed his arms, “No, and I'm not going to waste men looking. We're fighting a war against your kind, and I intend to win it. You want to find him, try talking to anyone who'd meet a traveler. Innkeepers and carriage drivers in the big cities maybe. But you're on your own.”
“Any idea how you're going to find a Moth Priest, Derbana? Skyrim's a pretty big place.”
“The best place would be the College of Winterhold, I'm their Archmage, so getting the information I need won't be difficult, but I'd prefer the innkeepers and carriage drivers. It would take a week to get there at best. Time we all may not have.”
“Actually, now that I think of it...I'm going to come along with you. I've been really wanting to get out and explore a bit.”
“You're more than welcome to, but there's one thing I need to do.” She turned to Isran who was already leaving, “Isran, I need to ask you, how is my brother?”
“The High Elf? I managed to treat his wounds, he'll live, but he hasn't awakened yet.”
“After two weeks?”
“I've been keeping an eye on him here and there, but he hasn't stirred. Would you like to see him?”
Derbana nodded softly. They only needed to turn right once to see that corner. It used to have crates and barrels, now it has two dressing walls set up to act as a temporary room. Inside was a small night table and a cot with a blanket that wrapped around Jerthar from the chest down with his arms laying over it as he slept on his back.
“See, hasn't moved an inch since we put him here. All his valuables are kept here in a knapsack underneath the head of the cot. His breathing is fine and consistent, but he hasn't awoken yet and I'm not guessing on when that will be.”
“Thank you, Isran. He really means a lot to me. Can you...” She wiped her cheek dry, “bring him some books? He loves to read. So he can have something to do when he wakes?”
“Well...” He scratched the back of his head, “I'll see what we got laying around. It won't be much, but it will be something. While I take care of that, you two better find that Moth Priest of yours.”
Derbana nodded, “Consider it done.” She looked at her brother, “Goodbye, Jerthar. I'll be back soon.”
With that final line and a last look from both her and Serana, they departed and headed for the first place to gather information, the city of Riften.
Taking into consideration Isran's advice, Derbana decided to go to the best place for information. She left Serana with the duty of talking to the carriage driver and the innkeeper of the “Bee And The Barb”. Derbana walked around to the graveyard next to the Temple of Mara, touching the four-sided diamond stone protruding out of what seemed to be a stone coffin. The diamond was in fact a button that made the stone scratch as it slid back, revealing a hidden stair. Walking down the tight space, she pulled on the chain to retract the secret passageway, so no one could follow her.
Climbing down the manhole cover, she was back in a familiar place, The Cistern behind the Ragged Flagon, a shady tavern operating in the Ratway, the sewers beneath Riften. The Cistern, however, was the main headquarters for the Thieves' Guild in Skyrim. She walked toward the desk in the back, knowing a friend to be there.
He raised his head, “Oh, sorry, lass. I'm really busy at the moment. We can talk later.”
“You always say that, but I only need a piece of information and as always...” She pulled out a flawless diamond from her pouch and held it in the light, making it shine, “I'll make it worth the Guild's while.”
“Look at that, my schedule just cleared up. What do you need?”
“Surprise. I need information about an Imperial scholar that came by Riften a few days ago, I need to know where he is headed.”
“Yeah, I heard of him. However...” He leaned back in his chair, relaxing, “One flawless diamond maybe not be enough to cover it.”
“Brynjolf...” She said as if a mother to a child.
“All right, lass. They say this scholar friend of yours is in fact, a Moth Priest and according to our contacts, he was headed for Dragon's Bridge. I don't know if that would help, it being on the other side of Skyrim.”
“Well, that's a start. Thanks, Brynjolf, as always.” She dropped the payment on his desk.
“No worries, lass. Just let me know if you need anything.”
“Your appearance at my wedding and paid information now-and-again is all I will ever need. Goodbye, Brynjolf.”
As he saw Derbana leave, he looked down to see three flawless diamonds on the desk, taking them in hand, he smiled, “You've always been good to me, lass. That much is true.”
Soon after, the two women met in the middle of the Riften Market.
Serana shook her head, “The driver and the innkeeper refused to tell me anything. I can only hope that you had better luck.”
“Yes, I did. My contacts told me of the Moth Priest. He was heading to Dragon's Bridge last they heard. Great, heading back to the Reach and I just returned from there.”
“Well, it will take us some time for us to get there.”
“About a week or so.”
“How would you know that?”
“I've been adventuring in Skyrim for two years. I know how long it takes to get around. We need to hurry if...” She rubbed her eyes and yawned, “get there in time.”
“When was the last time you slept? I didn't see them because of the tattoos, but you've got black rings under your eyes.”
“Not...not since...Jerthar...I just....” She yawned.
Serana put Derbana's arm over her shoulders, “Come, let's get to bed.”
“My house is over there.” Derbana nodded in the direction of Honeyside.
Once they were inside, Serana took a look around, “Not exactly what I was expecting, but cozy. There's your bed I take it.”
“Yes, just put me down here.”
Derbana laid across the sheets and fell asleep as soon she was on the bed. Serana sighed and took a seat, waiting for her to awake.
“AH!” A shout pierced the darkness.
She awoke and looked around to see only her bed in a spotlight, “What's going on?”
Before she could think, another scream echoed. Getting off the bed, she ran forward. Hearing a clunk sound, she saw behind her as the bed and the light disappear with only darkness there.
“This has to be a dream, I fell asleep and I wound up here.”
A third scream got her to run toward the source. After what felt like an eternity of running, she saw another light on the horizon.
“Tell me....where did they go?” An evil woman's voice resounded as if off a cave's walls.
“I'll...never...tell you...” It was a man's voice.
“Fine, then. You leave me no choice...”
Derbana was so close now, she saw the woman. She was mysteriously cloaked in dark robes and stood over a dying male laid down on an altar, she couldn't recognize him, all his features were indistinct, even his race. However it didn't matter as the woman pulled out a black and evil-looking dagger and plunged it into the man's heart. It was here, the scene ended and she was left in darkness once again.
However it didn't last long, as another light appeared only a few feet from her. It was a gray skinned person hunched over kneeling, facing away from her. He only wore roughspun pants and his short black hair was nicely combed back. His arms gripped around his sides, his head bobbed up-and-down as he cried.
Derbana felt pity for him and reached his hand out to his shoulder. Only an inch away did the male convulse as his skin and pants were wrapped in a blood cocoon, covering his entire body. In an explosion of this cocoon, there should the Vampire Lord and as she wiped the blood smeared on her face, his claws raked her across the eyes. The last thing she saw was his face contorted in rage.
She awoke with a start as she sat up, surprising Serana slightly.
“You must have had a bad dream.”
“Yeah...” She panted, catching her breath, “Serana, tell me something.”
“Sure, what is it?”
“That Vampire Lord...the one in the castle, standing in the shadows. Was he in your father's service before you were sealed away?”
“No...he wasn't. Besides, it would seem he wasn't my father's servant long. The way he rebelled against him to save you...he was definitely new to the court.”
“So, you wouldn't know what he looks like...” Derbana waved her hand in front of her face a few times, “when he's not in that form.”
“Your guess is as good as mine. Look, I'm sorry I couldn't give you the answer you were after. But I have to ask, are you rested enough?"
Derbana nodded, “Aside from the nightmare, it was a peaceful sleep. We should get going. We've got a long journey ahead of us.”
Serana nodded back, “That we do.”
Leaving Riften behind them, they journeyed through the pass in Falkreath Hold, through Riverwood, following the road west to Rorikstead, and then north toward Solitude and Dragon's Bridge. After six days of running and battling their way through this harsh land, they were only an hour or two south of Dragon's Bridge where the next step in their adventure should have took place.
“What is that?” Serana asked to the object in the distance, a beast was roaring up in the torchlight on the ground.
Derbana drew her sword, “Let's find out.”
The two women moved silently through the night as they crept closer to it. When they were a few dozen feet away did they recognize it as a carriage and the beast that was rearing was a horse in panic as the torch was almost under its feet. Kicking it away, the torch illuminated something else, the dead body of an Imperial soldier. She knelt down next to the young man and felt his pulse.
“His body isn't warm, but it couldn't have been for long with the horse here.”
“Well, we know who killed him.” Serana was kneeling next to another body.
Derbana got up, petting the horse to calm him before standing next to her. It was a female vampire, she laid on her back with a sword slash cutting diagonally across her torso. With only looking, Derbana examined the vampire.
“Wait...” She knelt down next to Serana, “What's that?”
Pulling a note that was sticking out of her pocket, she read it. It was her orders and after reading it, she folded it and put it away.
“The vampires have the Moth Priest and they are holding him in a cave not too far from here.” Derbana explained as she got back to her feet, “Follow me, I'll lead the way.”
Serana nodded as Derbana went east and found the cave known as Forebears' Hideout.
Inside the large cavern, the stone floor they were on, gave the best vantage point to the layout of this place. A small fortress was housed here with the same gargoyle statues as every other vampiric site. In the back fortress courtyard, a stone formation with swirling green energy bathed that entire back corner of the cavern. Derbana noticed the vampire patrolling the top of the front ramparts. Sheathing her sword and taking her bow, another iron arrow flew through the air, making a hard thump noise as it pierced through the chest and heart of the vampire.
“Is someone there?” Said the nearby thrall who drew weapons and ran to his master's corpse.
Derbana drew another arrow and the thrall followed his master in death.
“You've got to be kidding me.” Serana whispered, “Does that work all the time?”
Derbana smiled, “More than you imagine.”
She turned to the stairs and saw the death hounds down below. They were standing in the middle of a stone pillar formation of five-by-five.
“Three of them, this should be good.” Derbana drew three arrows, holding two as straight forward as she could between her fingers of her drawing hand as the third arrow was in the string. Drawing her arrow back, the first death hound received it in the skull. Pulling back another arrow, the second death hound got it in the neck. The third death hound knew where the enemy was and started running to them. The third arrow was released and went into the mouth of the hound, killing it.
Serana nodded her head, “Impressive, but try not to make that a habit.”
“Very well, let's go.”
Moving stealthily through the fortress, they found little resistance as they made their way to the back courtyard. Hearing voices, Derbana threw her arm to the side and Serana stopped as they listened.
“Malkus, he isn't going to cooperate. What are we going to do with him now?”
“A woman...” Derbana whispered.
“Oh, he will or else I will feed on him tomorrow night.”
“An orc male...” Derbana opened her eyes, “There's at least two of them talking and there's another one...shifting their weight on an old creaky wooden board.”
“This time, we're both going in.”
Agreeing to Serana's suggestion, Derbana switched her bow for her sword and ran up the steps, drawing her blade. The enemy caught by surprise turned toward Derbana as Serana charged her two lightning bolts without notice. Releasing her spells, the silent vampire flew into the air and crashing to the ground hard, dead again.
Derbana ducked down beneath Malkus's spell. While she passed him, her sword cut through his side and continuing momentum, Derbana fully spun around and decapitated the female vampire. In one move, she took down two enemies. Serana turned to the stone formation emitting the strange light.
“Let's see...this is an old Weystone Prison. If I remember correctly, the only way to turn it off would be with the Weystone Focus used to create it.”
“Like this one...” Derbana held it overhead as she knelt down, looting Malkus's corpse.
“One of the things I picked up adventuring, the thing you're usually looking for is either on the boss's corpse or in the final treasure chest.”
“Well, we need to find the Weystone Source and use the Focus to turn it off.”
“That looks like it could be it.” She gestured up the stairs to the raised platform overlooking the courtyard. Here indeed was the Weystone Source which looked like a bowl dimly lit with the green light and slanted toward her. Placing the Focus inside the Source, the energies dissipated as the Weystone Prison sunk beneath the earth. But she didn't receive the welcome she expected, the Moth Priest drew the sword at his waist and ran toward the pair.
“Derbana! He's still enthralled!”
They leapt apart to avoid his strike, “And we can't kill him, what do we need to do?”
“I sense the enthrallment isn't very strong, you need to jar him loose of the control somehow.”
“I got an idea.” She whistled and the Moth Priest turned from Serana, “Hey! Come here!”
The enthralled Priest did so and ran at her as she sheathed her weapon. Drawing his sword overhead, it came down on a readied Derbana's shield. With her free hand, a strong punch met the side of his head so hard that he spun off his feet and onto the ground. As he groaned in pain, Serana ran over to Derbana's side.
“Yeah, that did it.” She remarked at her ally's unorthodox style.
“Ah, what happened?” The Moth Priest asked, coming back to his senses.
“Here, let's get you back on your feet.”
With an arm from both of the ladies, the man got back to his feet.
As he caught his breath, he looked up at his saviors, “Thank the Divines for you!”
“Are you all right?” Derbana asked.
“I'm quite alright, thanks to you. Dexion Evicus is my name. I'm a Moth Priest of the White Gold Tower. These vampires claimed they had some purpose in store for me, but they wouldn't say what. Probably hoping to ransom me, the fools.”
“I know why they needed you, because we need you for the same purpose.”
He shrugged his shoulders, “You do? Alright then, enough mysteries.”
“We're called the Dawnguard, and we need you to read an Elder Scroll.”
Dexion was taken back, “You have an Elder Scroll? Remarkable! If my knowledge of history serves me, I recall that the Dawnguard was an ancient order of vampire hunters. I will be happy to assist you with your Elder Scroll. Just tell me where I need to go.”
“You can't read it here? We have the Scroll with us?” Derbana asked.
“I need to prepare for the reading and any possible aftereffects. Besides, I don't want to stay in this place a second longer than I have to.”
Serana whispered, “And we need to get him to Isran, anyway. We'll just have to wait until then.”
“Then, let's get back to the carriage. We haven't a second more to lose.”
Running back west toward the road, the two ladies slowing their pace to allow Dexion to keep up, they returned to the carriage to see it still there. Derbana petted the horse again, taking a few carrots from the nearby knapsack and feeding it, it would need all its strength to get them back to Fort Dawnguard in a hurry. With Serana and Dexion in the back, Derbana cracked the reins and drove south down the road. Derbana hoped to solve the mystery of this Elder Scroll and to see her brother, awake and smiling once more.