Skyrim Story - Of Dawn And Dark: Part 6: Three Scrolls Reveal
Deep inside the Ruunvald Excavation, an hour or two north of Riften. A peculiar man wearing simple brown priest robes is standing by himself locked away in his cage. He looks around and notices his surroundings as he has done the last few days. His cage was connected to the raised platform where an altar stood atop of many steps leading to the floor of this room.
The only concern than this man had where the four people in the room with him. Two of them were vampires and the other two were charmed vigilants under their thrall. As he looked out to account for everyone, the voice inside his head began to speak.
"Yes, yes, I've heard you before. I asked for help when I was captured a few days ago." He heard the voice's reply, "Arkay, really? Is this really the time to get into this? You remember that time? Oh yes, you do and what happened then? Don't deny it, that time it was all your fault."
In the midst of his heating debate with the voice only he could hear, the vampire working at the altar, shrugged his head and stood up with an annoyed expression on his face. He approached the prisoner's cage and put on the best fake smile he could muster.
"Sorry to interrupt your 'discourse', but could you shut up!"
"Don't look at me! He's the one being the chatterbox, I'm perfectly content with staying here in silence waiting for my rescue to come."
"There's not going to be a rescue. No one knows you're here and all the vigilants are under our thrall. So make yourself useful and tell us where we want to know."
"I don't know what you're referring, Arkay is the one with the knowledge you seek. I'm just his hand here on Tamriel. The only thing he tells me is that I'm soon to be rescued."
The vampire was close to pulling his own hair out in frustration, but he recomposed himself and grabbed onto the cage's door and spat, "Listen, let me make one thing clear to you. No one is coming, you're all alone here, and so, there's not… going to be…any rescue”
Just then, he heard the death cry of one of his thralls with the noise of his sword clattering to the ground. The other vampire and the other charmed vigilant drew their weapons to inspect the dead body. A bolt of lightning flew into the neck of the vampire silencing her forever. A second arrow took care of the next thrall. The head vampire look to his prisoner who had a smug smile.
"You are saying?"
When he looked back to the floor, there flew an arrow heading straight for his eye. Hitting its mark perfectly, the last enemy lay dead. The men held himself against the bars to catch a gleam of his rescuers. He could barely make them out until they stood on the same level as him. Derbana took the keys from the head vampire's corpse and unlocked the prisoner's cage.
"I knew it! I knew Arkay would save me. I asked for help, and he sent you! You are very welcome addition to this dreary place, my friend. I'll you both and Arkay a great deal. I'm sure I'll managed to repay him later, but you…what can I do to thank you?"
"You can meet me at Fort Dawnguard.”
"I suppose I could…what, praytell, is there?"
"Isran needs your help."
"Isran? My help? Is this…some kind of a joke? Did Arkay put you up to this? Isran's done nothing but mock me. He's never given me the respect I deserve.”
“Please, we need your help.”
"Look, I've just gotten myself out of quite a mess here, in case you haven't noticed, and while I appreciate your help, I…" He turned his head to the side as if someone else was there, "What's that? No, that's not what I…Yes, but…Are you sure? Really? Fine." He turned to the two female adventurers, "Arkay says it's good idea for me to go. I don't agree, but he's not the sort of fellow you can just ignore. I'll see you at Fort Dawnguard, then. Don't worry, Arkay will show me the way.”
Without another word spoken, the priest made his way down the stone stairs. The two women stood there for just a moment and waited for them to leave the room.
"Arkay? More like Sheogorath if you ask me.” Derbana commented.
"Well, Gunmar and Sorine did warn us that he was a little...weird. We were fortunate enough that he was so close to Fort Dawnguard, only an hour or two out of our way."
“Still, this Florentius...at least, he seems cheerful more so than the other members of the Dawnguard. And frankly, we all could use some cheering up right now.” Derbana dipped her head.
"I agree, none of us expected to find what happened when we returned to the Fort.”
The incident to which Serana was referring took place just a few hours ago when they return to Fort Dawnguard. They were returning from Castle Volkihar, they had just landed at the Icewater Jetty and they prepared themselves for the long journey back. Seeing the imposing mountain range, Derbana got an idea on how to overcome it.
"Are you sure this is the best way?" Serana asked.
"It might not be, but I don't want to walk around this, do you?" After receiving a shrug from Serana, Derbana took a deep breath and shouted, "Dur Neh Viir!”
Her shout echoed into the ground, creating a small wide purple tornado the last of the second. Not a moment later, do the roaring of a Dragon resound against the mountain. Durnehviir circled the sky once before landing in front of Derbana.
The Dragon breathed in the fresh air, "Ah, it has been such a long time. I had forgotten what this world felt like. And as promised, Qahnaariin, the first word of my Thu'um is yours."
The familiar swirling essence of a Word came from his soul into hers. This Word felt malicious and yet not dark. When it was over, Derbana opened her eyes once more.
"This first Word means essence as in that which you are to tear away from your enemy."
"Thank you for the Word, but we need your assistance."
"Oh? And what might that be?"
"We need you to fly us as far as you can to the southeast."
"Very well. As promised I am your Grah-Zeymahzin, your ally. However I must warn you that my time here in Tamriel is limited. I will try to stay in your world is much as possible, but even now I can feel the Soul Cairn calling me back."
"Then let us not waste anymore time."
Derbana and Serana quickly mounted their Dragon friend. Gathering up the strength and the wind beneath his wings, flight was soon achieved. He followed their instructions to the letter. They were both amazed that an hour later, they were just south of Whiterun. However just as Durnehviir warned, the hour of flight had started to take its toll. Slowly over that time, his body began to decay until it resembled the form when they first fought him.
"Qahnaariin, I cannot stay in the sky any longer, I need to land." He shook from side-to-side as they quickly dropped.
His two passengers were struggling to stay on as they gripped his exposed skeleton. Durnehviir knew that they would fare worse than he, so he took the brunt of the crash. The two adventurers flew into the air, but not before he grabbed them in his claws. Bringing them as close to him as possible, he tucked into a ball and rolled across the ground. After several seconds of this, it was over.
The world spun around Derbana as she struggled to get her footing, she looked around and saw Serana had also survived the crash. Getting close to one another, they use each other for support as the world slowed down gradually.
“Qah...naar...iin...” Durnehviir spoke weakly.
They looked upon the Dragon and gasped, never before have they seen such a form disfigured. He trembled as he spoke, echoing the state of pain he is in. Derbana knelt down toward his head and brushed her hand across his nose.
"Are you…going to die?” She asked earnestly.
Even in pain, he smiled, "I cannot die again. This pain for me shall pass, I will return to the Soul Cairn and be healed there. If you are your companion had this pain, there would've been no amount of healing to set it right."
"Thank you for getting us this far, we can take it the rest the way.”
Durnehviir smiled, "It's my honor, Qahnaariin...nay, Grah-Zeymahzin.”
Derbana held back a tear, "See you soon…friend."
His body already began to fade and looked on Tamriel one last time, "I'll hold my breath until then."
His last words echoed as he disappeared completely. Though it was tragic, it wasn't permanent and they would see him again and soon. Summoning Arvak, they mounted the faithful steed and rode south, following the road. Taking the familiar pass south of the Throat of the World, they crossed into the Rift and made it to Fort Dawnguard only a day after leaving the castle.
However, they didn't receive a warm reception. The main chamber of the Fort was empty as the various Dawnguard members went about their duties.
"Dexion? Are you here?" Derbana's question echoed down the chamber.
"I'm back here in the sleeping quarters." They heard his voice echoed back.
"We've brought the Elder Scrolls."
"I'm sorry, my friend. I can no longer be of use in this matter." They were close to sleeping quarters now and heard his voice clearly.
"Why? What's happened?" Derbana asked.
They got their answer is soon as they turned the corner and were shocked at what they saw.
"It's my fault. In my haste to read the first scroll, I neglected the careful preparation required." Dexion sitting down in the wooden chair, a blindfold tightly wrapped around his eyes, "I thought I'd be able to allay the after effects, but I was wrong. Now I'm paying for it."
"That covering on your eyes. Are you…"
"Blind? Yes. I'm afraid so." He took a drink from his tankard ably.
"Can anything be done to help you?"
He shook his head, "No. It'll have to run its course, and there's always the chance I may never recover."
"Then we're stuck."
The Moth Priest shook his head again, "No, there's another way. The question is, how much are you willing to risk to find Auriel's Bow?”
Derbana closed her eyes, thinking only of her husband and their unborn child, then she thought of Harkon and if the Tyranny of the Sun comes to pass. She opened her eyes and answered.
"What do I need to do?"
"I can't guarantee you'd be free from harm. Becoming blind could be the least of your worries."
She thought of Harkon choking Sondas who was helpless in his enemy's arm.
"Don't worry about that. Just tell me."
"Scattered across Tamriel are secluded locations known only as Ancestor Glades. There's one in Skyrim, in the Pine Forest, south of Falkreath on the border between Cyrodiil and Skyrim. Performing the Ritual of the Ancestor Moth within the Glade should provide the answers you seek.”
"Explain this 'ritual'.” Serana asked.
"It involves carefully removing the bark from a canticle tree, which will in turn attract Ancestor Moths to you. Once enough of the moths are following, they'll provide you with the second sight needed to decipher the scrolls."
"Carefully gather the bark? How?"
"In keeping with tradition, you must use a specific tool in the Ancestor Glade, and implement nose and as a draw knife. Every Moth Priest is taught this ritual, but few ever get the chance to perform it…you should consider yourself fortunate if it works for you."
"Do I need to read the scrolls in any particular order?" Derbana asking another important question.
"From what I saw in the vision, the Elder Scroll which foreshadows the defiance of the gods with the blood of mortals is the key to the prophecy. This is what you need to know about the ritual."
Seeing the blindfold tightly wrapped around his eyes, Derbana needed to ask this question.
"What went wrong with the reading?"
"Deciphering one of the Elder Scrolls is nothing like reading a simple book. There's quite a bit of ritual and concentration required. It can take months or even years to complete a single scroll and even then, months to recover."
"Is it normal for Moth Priests to go blind?"
"Sadly, yes. It's the inevitable fate we agreed to pursue when reading the Elder Scrolls. It generally doesn't occur until a Moth Priest is in his latter years, but in my case I simply wasn't preparing myself properly."
"Thank you for your time and everything else, Dexion. We hope your recovery goes well."
"Good luck. I hope you find the answers you seek."
They left him alone to enjoy his drink, Derbana couldn't help but feel sad for him, but her wish for his recovery was sincere, though the tragedies didn't seem to end there. Before they left for the Ancestor Glade, there was one last place Derbana had to visit. She walked up the many spiral steps and went back to Jerthar's room where he still laid peacefully asleep from the first ordeal in Castle Volkihar. She didn't even question why at this point, all she cared about was his recovery. She knelt down to his side and held his hand.
Serana knew this was a private moment and left them alone. Seeing his still and peaceful face, Derbana held back tears as she saw her brother so.
"I don't know why you're like this, brother. But I do hope you come back to me for I really miss you. You were the first family I have had since our mother and I really hope to see your eyes open again. Regardless of what may happen to me, I want you to know…" She wiped tears from her eyes, "I…I love you.” She let go of his hand and stood up, "I really hope to see you again, my brother."
She yawned loudly, having realized she hasn't slept since before journeying into the Soul Cairn. Taking off her helmet, it fell to the ground through her sleepless fingers. Too tired to move, she brought her arms in and resting her head softly on her gauntlets, she drifted off into sleep. In her dreams, she felt something soft brush her hair and she didn't know why, but she smiled and felt more peaceful.
The next morning, she awoke with a yawn and smacked her lips as the wave of grogginess washed over her. Looking up to see if it was him in her dream, she was disappointed to see Jerthar in the same position he was in last night. Without another moment to pass, she put her helmet back on and walked to the first floor where Serana was waiting with Gunmar and Sorine. They heard their request to recruit Florentius. Upon their steed, they hurried to Ruunvald and then to the Ancestor Glade where the next lap of their adventure awaited.
Galloping at full speed, the Rift was behind them in a few hours as the very familiar mountain pass once again was set before them. Unlike the other times where they could avoid it when traveling north, the quickest way to Falkreath was through the abandoned fortress Helgen, a place that didn't hold many fond memories, but she felt it was the place where her destiny truly began.
Dismounting off the horse, Derbana unlocked the east gate and it swung open. Serana gasped, this was her first time seeing the aftermath of a Dragon attack. The destroyed burnt houses and the corpses ruined by flame, they were everywhere as they proceeded deeper into the fortress. Turning left down the trench, they soon emerged to be greeted by another ruined house much larger than those they passed them and the stone watchtower where she first met Ulfric Stormcloak before realizing who he was. It was also the place where Alduin unknowingly saved her life.
"What happened here?" Serana asked.
"This used to be an Imperial stronghold until two years ago." She looked around at the execution grounds, "This was the first place that fell to a Dragon attack. I was heading into Skyrim from Cyrodiil through the Pale Pass. The cold was freezing and I was tired from two straight days of running. A bunch of Stormcloaks were trying to make it through there when I spotted the Imperial ambush waiting for them. I couldn't wait for them to pass, the cold would have killed me before it was safe to leave. I walked right into the ambush and let myself get captured. It was here they sent me.”
“You...captured? That's a sight I have a hard time believing.”
“It was that or death by frostbite. I was lined up with the rebels and was about to be executed. I still remember the sight of looking at the executioner and his axe before he could lower it, Alduin landed on that tower there, knocking everyone to the ground. The chaos that ensured next left this fortress a burning ruin and it started my destiny here in Skyrim.”
“I must have been buried much longer than I thought for there to be an Empire and from what you described, Cyrodiil being a seat of power, that's something I could not have imagined either.”
“Regardless, it's still true. From here came the Rebirth of the Dragons and everything after was played out as destiny had foretold. But just because my prophecy came true doesn't mean I'll allow Harkon's to came true either.”
“I know, but still...how can one fight against their own father?”
“I wouldn't, I never met my father. He died before I was born. But, I know how you feel...if there was ever a time I would have fought my mother, it would be the hardest thing I'd ever have to experience, she was the one alongside my caregiver who raised me. Though I hate to say this, Serana. If we are to end this prophecy, Harkon will have to die.”
“I understand, Derbana. I've understood since what my father tried to do to you at my home. Still, it will not be easy.”
“We've deal with it when the time comes and not a moment before. We should stay focused because after Helgen fell, it became a...”
“A bandit fortress.”
“You two, give us everything you got or we'll...what in the Eight is with your horse?”
Derbana brought one leg over and kicked off Arvak, drawing her sword in mid-flight, she slew the first bandit when she touched the ground. Distracted by this unexpected move, Serana took one out on the other side with a lightning bolt and drained another dry with her blood spell. The two remaining bandits cringed in fear and dropped their weapons, running away as fast as they could. With the battle over, Derbana sheathed her blade and got atop Arvak.
Riding along the southern border of Skyrim, Derbana pointed out the places she has been and avoided the roads leading up to them. It was when they saw a place she hadn't seen before, did they follow the road south. Both of them dismounted Arvak and seconds later, he disappeared.
Derbana looked around at the other places along both ways across the mountain range. She had a good feeling that they were in the right place.
Entering the cave, a sudden warmth greeted them, making their every sore muscle feel relaxed after their long rides. As the tight entrance stopped after a few steps, they saw the Ancestor Glade beneath them. A small growing forest of canticle trees growing along the leveled slopes descending toward the center where a few trees encircled the ritual site.
Without a second to lose, they quickly followed the stone steps leading down to the ritual site, which was a column of light in front of a stone sculpture that resembled an eye with the draw knife almost hovering in the middle. The knife had two handles, connecting them was a scrapping blade that protruded forward slightly.
As per tradition, Derbana took the draw knife in both hands and turned toward one of the nearby canticle trees. Slowly scrapping the bark piece-by-piece, it took a few minutes until the bark came free and fell to the ground. Picking it up, Derbana felt a small tingle, but not much else. Now, the groups of ancestor moths seemed more apparent to her. Visiting each tree, more swarms of moths came to her.
“Unless I'm seeing things, you're starting to...glimmer.” Serana said.
The more moths that attracted to her, the more her body glowed. Though she did her best not to swat them out of the air as they flew around. Up and down the area, Derbana walked until she felt right and this was true when Serana said.
“Woah! I think that might have been what we were waiting for. Let's head back there and see if you can read the scrolls.”
“Agreed.” Derbana nodded, taking one last look at her gauntlet that now glowed a fierce white.
Back at the bottom of the glade, Derbana walked into the column of light. Serana had the three Elder Scrolls in hand and gave her the first scroll, her mother's scroll.
Derbana looked at Serana who nodded. Not knowing what was going to happen to her after this, she took a deep breath and thought of all those who've helped her throughout her journey. Her eyes opened and she was ready.
Holding it high in one hand and pulling open the scroll with the other. Just like the vision where she learned Dragonrend, the mystic concentric circles filled with strange gylphs and symbols glowed off the scroll and filled her vision entirely. A new image started to make itself out with the faint detailing of mountains.
She held out her hand for the next scroll as the other was passed back to Serana. The next scroll was Derbana's, the one she acquired a year ago from Blackreach. With this scroll's magic overlapping the first's, more details came to the image. The river systems drew themselves before her eyes and she almost could recognize the area, she was sure this was in Skyrim, but it was on the tip of her tongue.
Serana had put away the first scroll and readily handed the third scroll in exchange for the second, which was quickly put away as well. Derbana would be glad to end this for her head was starting to ache. Revealing the third scroll, all their magics lined up with each other and the final details were made clear.
The remaining waterways were defined and then the image itself turned into a small reflection of Skyrim. Two red symbols glowed on the map, she knew these as the symbols for Markarth and Solitude. There was a third symbol that she didn't recognize, just west of Solitude, in the mountains. But she had a feeling this is where Auriel's Bow would be and a soft voice whispered the name of this place into her ear.
Then everything went white as if a blinding light enveloped her. Holding a hand over her eyes, she hobbled her way against the large stone and supported herself on it. Her headache had gotten even worse she grasped it instead of her eyes.
Another hand fell upon her shoulder, she knew it was Serana trying to help.
“Are you okay? Almost thought I lost you there...you went white as the snow.”
“And with me...that's saying something, right?” She took a moment to breathe, “Aside from the splitting headache and the stabbing pain in my eyes, I'll be fine.”
Serana shrugged, “I never trusted those damn scrolls. These things could have made you a lot worse...just look at Dexion. But don't mind me, what about Auriel's Bow? Do you know where we can find it?”
Derbana placed both hands on the stone and stood up, “Yeah, it's in...” She screamed, gripping her head once again, but this time she wasn't the only one. Serana grabbed her head as images bombarded her as well.
“Serana...we have to go now!” “Mother!” “We need to hurry, this is for the best!”
Derbana could see and feel everything. She was asleep until she heard her door swiftly open with a loud creaking sound and torchlight nearly blinded her. Blocking the light with her hand, her vision became clear. Valerica stood before her with her hood up and a torch in her hand.
“Mother! What are you doing up?”
“Serana...we have to go now! Your father just fell asleep and we have precious little time.”
Forced out of her coffin, Serana was dragged along to the front of the room. Her mother passed her a potion, Derbana could feel the texture of the glass and metal as she saw it through Serana's eyes.
“Drink this!” Valerica commanded as she drank one of her own.
“But...father said drinking these weakens us as vampires and should we feed, we should feed on fresh blood as intended.”
“We need to hurry, this is for the best! Here!” Valerica uncorked the potion and practically stuffed it into her daughter's mouth, feeling the blood potion pouring down her throat. Slamming the empty potions on the table, Valerica dragged Serana into the hall until they were at the main doors. Pulling up her daughter's hood, they both exited the castle...into sunlight.
“Mother, what are you doing?”
“Saving your life from that madman you call a father.”
“Father would never hurt me, he just...wouldn't...”
“I don't have time to explain, we have to leave now!”
They were already at the end of the dock when she said this, a rowboat was already waiting for them with a long sack laying on the bottom.
“This is too strange, I don't want to go!”
“Serana, please. Listen to me, I don't want to see you die!”
As Serana hesitated, they heard the doors opening again and they saw a pair of death hounds charging down the stone bridge.
“Why? Why are they attacking us?”
Valerica grimaced and pulled her daughter into the boat before kicking it off into the water. She pulled out an oar and started paddling as fast as she could. Serana was still confused as the Castle started to get further away.
“Serana, grab an oar and paddle if you want to survive!”
She obeyed her mother and with both them paddling, the boat went faster atop the ocean. The two looked back to see the death hounds were at the dock. One looked out and slid to a halt as the other leapt through the air, nearly missing them. It whimpered and frantically struggled as it sunk to the bottom of the water. The remaining death hound just paced back-and-forth barking.
“Why? What just happened?”
“Your father sent them after us. He will do anything for his mad ambition.”
“But...” Serana curled into a ball, remembering how he laughed and smiled when she was a little girl, “But, he...” She cried a tear.
“He is no longer that man you remember, Serana. No loving father would send his attack dogs after his daughter. The man you knew...he's gone.” Her voice wasn't sure who she was trying to convince, Serana or herself.
She sat in the boat quietly as they made their way to shore.
Another spike of pain rattled in their minds as the scene shifted to the deepest chamber of Dimhollow Crypt.
“At last, we are here!”
“Mother, what is this place?”
“I discovered it many years ago, I'm not sure who built it, but I know it was one of our kind. I hoped not to use it, but your father's self-destructive desire to fulfill the prophecy has a cause for this.”
“What prophecy? What are you on about?”
“This is not the time. I must hurry and prepare my arrangements after I'm finished with yours.”
When they arrived at the center of the platform, it was just above the water slowly wading through the chamber. She looked to see the stone coffin waiting for her.
“What are you doing?”
“Here is where you'll be kept safe from him. Here is where you'll keep it safe.”
“Keep what safe?”
She opened the long sack and revealed the Elder Scroll.
“But, that's father's...”
Valerica turned her daughter around and placed the Elder Scroll on her back, “Now, it's yours!”
“Mother, I don't want...”
Her mother placed a finger on her lips, “Please, Serana. I need you to do this for me. I promise I will come for you before long. But until I do, I need you to stay here.”
She never forgot the look of worry and concern in her mother's eyes, Serana nodded her head.
“Yes, Mother.” With that said, she stepped into the stone coffin and faced outward, crossing her arms as if readying for sleep.
“Should you waken before I come for you, know I will be somewhere safe...somewhere your father would never search.”
Those were the last words she heard before the lid slid up, locking itself in place before the coffin buried itself into the platform.
The vision ended and Derbana looked away from her companion, hoping not to repeat what just happened. Keeping a hand over her eyes, she did not see Serana's disapproval.
“Not...a...word...” Was her only warning.
Then a frostbolt crashed nearby the prone Serana who got back to her feet from her ordeal. She saw Derbana who was still reeling from the aftereffects of the three Elder Scrolls and took it on herself to deal with the attackers.
“One gargoyle, three thralls, and two vampires. I should be able to...” Then she heard the loud roar filling the cave, “And the Vampire Lord...this may be a little too much...” She thought.
The gargoyle roared and flew toward Serana who overcharged a lightning bolt in both hands. She waited until it was very close before discharging the spell. At the close range, the gargoyle felt its heart explode before dying. The three thralls ran closely behind and Serana did her best to fight three-to-one.
Meanwhile the two vampires, one male and one female, looked down at their thralls with amusement as if watching gladiators fight to the death.
“Shouldn't we help them?” The woman asked.
He shook his head, “No, let them have their fun.”
Just as he finished smiling, a loud crack filled the air as the Vampire Lord raked his head so hard that his neck snapped. The woman looked at the Vampire Lord who daunted over her.
“No, he's gone crazy again! AH!” She screamed before his claws raked down her front and his fangs drove deep into her neck, blood gushing down her clothes as he feasted.
Serana saw this as the last of the thralls fell. She knew that she was next, but she wouldn't make the fight easy for him. The Lord jumped down with a loud crash as the ground shook. Standing tall, he looked at Serana and then...at Derbana.
The menacing aura that he portrayed seemed to vanish as he stretched out a hand toward her.
“Derbana!” Serana warned.
The Dark Elf looked up at him. The splitting headaches returned for her as the Vampire Lord gripped his head and fell to his knees.
“I'm feeling better, thank you.” “Look out, it's a trap!” “Take care of our child!” “We don't have time, go! Go now!” “Derbana...I love you...”
This time she saw the world through his eyes just as she did with Serana. He was sitting on a rock just outside a wooden door built into the rock. In his right hand was a tankard of ale and in his left...he winched just before taking a sip.
“Oh, don't be such a baby!” A female Argonian's voice rung out.
His left forearm was uncovered and the Argonian was healing a large bite mark that made his gray skin look red.
“How are you feeling?” She asked as her hands emitted a white light, the clear signs of a Restoration spell.
“I'm feeling better, thank you. You always do such fine work, Ligola.”
“Flattery will get you nowhere. But still, none of us thought a black bear could move that fast.”
“That's it, they shouldn't. Something must have spooked it and spooked it good. Thankfully, we are far from the road, so no travelers should be in danger.”
Ligola sat down on the ground, “Well, all done. Now, we just need to wait for the others to get back. They should be done scouting the place soon.”
“They only left a moment ago, I'm sure they'll...they're back!”
Derbana was taken aback, she could hardly believe it. The two people who stood before them now was her mother and Petrallus.
“Are you okay, dear?” Derbana II held his hand.
“I'm fine, don't worry about me. It will take more than one black bear to take me down.” He said, taking his ebony gauntlet, putting it back on his left hand as he stood, “I'm just worried about you being here...since...we...” He held her close and kissed the top of her head.
“I'll be fine as long as I got Petrallus watching the back...” She smiled as he passed, grabbing a cheek, “and me watching your back.”
Ligola and Petrallus rolled their eyes as Derbana was put in this awkward position as she had felt the entire thing.
“If you two wouldn't mind until we got back to the inn, can we finish this mission?”
That's right, the mission...she knew what it was. Cropsford and other nearby villages were missing people. When one of them managed to escape, he told them it was the Abandoned Mine where they were all dragged off to. It was deep in the Nibenay Basin almost on the border of Morrowind. They were sent out to investigate and that was why they were there.
“Right...” She said, “The bandits are in the main chamber, no sign of the villagers. I couldn't get any closer without raising the alarm. We came back to get you both.”
“Okay, dear.” He checking the straps on his left side and put on his helmet.
Afterward, the ambush went without a flaw. The bandits were caught off-guard and slaughtered without resistance. They pressed deeper into the caverns in search of the missing villagers, however the quiet started to get to them, it was too quiet. Tightly gripping the hilts of their greatswords, the two warriors advanced slowly while Derbana II notched an arrow at the ready. Ligola raised her hands casting a spell, but soon she slumped down to her knees. Derbana loosened the slack of her bowstring and went to her side. The group stopped to assess their healer.
“Ligola, you shouldn't press yourself.”
“My detection spells are necessary, they've saved us a time or two.”
“True, but you must rest.”
“Ack, I can rest when I'm dead.” She stood up and looked into her pack, “Well, this is inconvenient. I'm out of magicka potions.”
“Strange, didn't the quartermaster give you the supplies?”
“Who? Him? That racist Imperial bastard...” She looked up at Petrallus, “Oh, sorry, Petrallus. I didn't mean you...I...”
“Don't worry about it, Ligola. We're not all like him. Some of us can see the whole picture.”
She smiled, “I've recovered some of my magicka. Let's continue.”
Ligola struggled to stand, but she did get on her feet. A few minutes later, they ventured into a large chamber much like the one they ambushed the bandits in. Many cages capable of holding twenty people stood scattered about this place, all of them empty. The group tried not to feel it, but they were disappointed, they were too late.
“G...G...ah...” They heard a faint voice echoing from the back of the chamber.
“One of them is stay alive!” Ligola shouted and dashed ahead.
He ran after her. Petrallus wasn't far behind nor was her mother. When they got to the back of the room, Ligola was kneeling over a woman who was sitting, shackled to the cave wall.
“Here, have some water.” Ligola offered from her water pouch.
The woman looked up terrified, “G...Go...Run!”
“Don't worry, you're safe now.” Ligola started healing her.
“No...Run! They're...coming!” She desperately shouted.
Her warning came a moment too late, a large crash happened behind her as the cavern dust floated into the air. Ligola turned to see the massive scaly Daedroth, a daedra that resembled an alligator-man with razor-sharp claws and teeth. It opened its mouth and snapped down on her waist.
Derbana from within inside felt his sense of shock and dread as the Daedroth opened its mouth while lifting its head, Ligola was flung into the air before the vice-like jaws snapped down on her midsection, thrashing around hard several times, letting his prey flew free and crash on a nearby wall.
“No!” He shouted and raised his ebony greatsword.
He glanced from the corner of his eye to see Petrallus running alongside him. Together, they glared at their enemy. Almost like a mirror image did they strike, both greatswords straight down severing both its arms, diagonal down cutting the legs off at the waist, down stroke cutting an X into their opponent's torso, and both stabbed down, finishing off the vile creature.
Despite the death of this Daedroth, he ran over to look at their fallen companion. He didn't even need to lay a finger on her, she was dead. Bottling away the sorrow for now, he turned to see Petrallus cut the shackles, freeing the woman. Hoisting her over his shoulder, he approached.
“We need to get out of here! Can you take Ligola's body, I got her.”
“I can, but our mission...”
“Jerthos! We don't know how many more are out there! We need to leave now!”
“Okay, but we're coming back!”
“Without question. Now grab her...”
Petrallus was cut short by the series of large crashes that echoed through the chamber. Jerthos turned back to Ligola and heaved her body over his shoulders.
“Look out, it's a trap!” Derbana shouted from where they entered.
They could see through the cages and the torchlight that more Daedroths appeared, about ten. Jerthos looked around and followed Petrallus, both with a person on their shoulders. The daedra roared and snarled as they waited for whatever reason. However it didn't last long as they hoped as the Daedroth chased them.
Running through this labyrinth of cages, they hurried as their enemies could descend on them at any second. A claw raked from down a side way, which they managed to avoid. One of them fell on the cage, breaking it and struggled to get back to their feet. Another jumped from the high ledge and an arrow pierced through the roof of its mouth and fell dead.
Derbana stood at the entrance and fired arrow after arrow at any Daedroth she could see.
“Follow my voice, dear! You're close!” Just then, a Daedroth landed behind her, she turned to fire, but its claw raked low across her legs. She screamed as her arrow fired, missing it completely, but causing it to stagger.
“Derbana!” Jerthos ran faster and was soon there.
The Daedroth lorded over the wounded woman and roared in victory. Jerthos lifted Ligola in both arms and threw her. It was hit by the corpse of their friend, knocking it on its tail. Jerthos did this not only as a means to buy time, but to draw his blade. With one clear shot, the blade stabbed down into the Daedroth's heart and it died.
Petrallus lowered the woman onto her feet, “Can you run?” She nodded, “Then run! The way's clear!” The woman did so as he turned to Jerthos, “What do we do now?”
He looked at the Daedroth, another ten must have come after the others. Time stood still as he closed his eyes, thinking of everything and everyone, then time moved.
“Petrallus, take Derbana and Ligola, run as fast as you can! I'll buy you some time!”
“Jerthos! No!” His wife shouted as she was hoisted over one of Petrallus's shoulder.
“Take care of our child! I know you will do great!”
He swiped his blade across, beheading another Daedroth, “We don't have time, go! Go now!”
“Right!” Petrallus having both Derbana and Ligola over his shoulder, started running as fast as he never had before.
Another Daedroth fell before his blade, Jerthos chanced to take a look back, “Derbana...I love you...” Turning back to the battle, he raised his arms, “Ancestors! All of you who will fight with me! Come here now!”
As he lowered his arms, five specters materialized as if fog emerging from thin air. They drew their weapons and charged the enemy. Jerthos dropped his blade and brought his arms back, overcharging his spell. The ancestors were clear from the main aisle as he pushed his arms forward, lightning burst forth from his hands and traveled to the back of the chamber, killing all daedra there.
His ancestors fought with all the vigor and valor as they had in life and maybe more. However, their time on this plane was brief as soon as the spell wore off, they vanished as quickly as they came. Jerthos pooled the remaining magicka he had into one last fireball that he threw at the largest group. With that, he held his greatsword and readied to die.
He was sure that he gave Petrallus ten minutes or more, that's enough time for them to have escaped into the wilderness. At least, they knew now what was spooking the animals. Retreating into the narrow hall, he forced the daedra to fight him one at a time. Here is where he would make his last stand. One after another, the Daedroth faced him and they, one after another, fell to his blade. However as the time passed, there seemed to be no end to them. His muscles sore, his bones on the verge of cracking, it was only a matter of time before his death.
The claw flew and cut him across the face. His ebony helmet fell to the ground as he did. This was it...the moment he died. Still, he was happy. It must have been...twenty minutes. That's just enough time for them to get to Cropsford maybe and Derbana could get some help. He smiled as the Daedroth stood over him, baring his claws as the drool of salivating the kill dripped down his maw.
The claw was raised, he closed his eyes. Then...a whistle. The Daedroth froze as the rest of them parted ways for their master. Through his eyes, Derbana remembered this woman, she was the same from her dream in Riften.
The Daedroth who wanted to deal the killing blow spoke in its guttural tongue. She lifted a hand and a frostbolt dove into its chest, killing it instantly. The others shivered and fell back. She knelt down to him and caressed his face.
“Such a shame to waste such a handsome elf, but my lord demands it. Still, I don't see why you have to have this.” She passed her hand over his face and the wounds healed, “There, you're even more handsome this way. Though not for long...” She stood and ordered, “Bring him to the altar.”
They obeyed and carried him passed the cages into the next room. Here there was the altar she spoke of, a flat slab of stone with a chained shackle at each of the corners. When he was laid down, they ran away, leaving only him and the woman alone. She delighted in each moment she took undressing him, watching each piece of armor fell from her fingers to the ground, exciting her. She stopped only when the last article of clothing was left, his brown pants. Locking his wrists and ankles down, she unveiled her many tools with an aroused smile.
“Tell me...handsome boy...where did your friends run off to?”
“Like I would tell you...”
She brought her hand over his midsection, letting it hover just above the skin as she slowly walked alongside, her fingers gliding up his body.
“You know, you're the first person in a long while that's excited me like this. I've been getting women, old men, people I don't care about. But you...you possess all that I desire. So, tell me where your friends have run off to and I'll...” Her smile widened, “reward you greatly. Just tell me, I don't want to make this handsome...manly body so bloody and I will do it.”
“Go to Oblivion, you demon-humping whore!”
“Tsk,tsk,tsk, bad boy. It looks like I've have to make you bloody, after all.”
The hours of torture were slow and long, but were mere flashes to Derbana. The evil woman delighted in causing him pain and loved it more when he screamed. However the night was ending and it was time to finish this.
“Tell me...where did they go?”
He panted, exhausted from the seemingly endless torture. Throughout all of it, he refused to tell her one word that would be useful to her.
“I'll never...tell you...”
“Fine, then. You leave me no choice...”
The woman pulled out the black and evil-looking dagger from the folds of her robe. She raised it high overhead and plunged it into his heart. The last few seconds of his life he thought of his beautiful wife, cradling their child, both having a happy smile on their face.
“Upon this night, I sacrifice this elf in the name of my lord, Molag Bal! Take him, oh great one, to your realm of Coldharbour where he will do your bidding for all eternity!”
With that, he passed from Tamriel and the vision ended.
Back in her own body, Derbana was still leaning against the sculpture as the Vampire Lord writhed in agony, turning back down into his mortal form. He stood before them both, his gray skin littered with whip marks and torture scars. Falling to his knees, he sat there in his brown pants looking at Derbana.
The headaches were gone, though this feeling of woe was too powerful as she clung to the sculpture in a desperate attempt to remain on her feet.
“I'm...” Jerthos spoke, “I'm so happy...to see you...at last...my...daughter...”
“No...” Her single despair-filled word was greeted by a single tear rolling down her cheek.
He stood up with a small smile before his body convulsed again. Derbana gripped her head, feeling his pain and something else.
“Should he cause any trouble...” It was Harkon's voice, “kill him!”
The vision was disturbed, scrambled not like the last one. A female vampire smiled in the dungeon as she raised the head of their prisoner, “Oh, that will be so much fun!”
“You...won't break me...”
Derbana recognized that voice and wept. The vision flickered, that night in Whiterun. They just escaped as he roared, failing to do what he was told. He turned to the crowd in the market. The Vampire Lord's head twitched.
“Take him...the Dark Elf...he reeks...of the Dragonborn...” A voice whispered in his head.
He swooped down and took him back to Castle Volkihar. There he was imprisoned and slowly did they feed on his Dunmeri blood. He loomed over this prisoner as if a shadow hanging over his head. The vision was over and Derbana fell to her knees, broken.
Jerthos's convulsion was him turning back into the Vampire Lord and he gripped his head, ignoring the many voices as he clawed his way up the rock wall, fleeing the glade and left it far behind him. Serana approached her friend and shook her.
“Derbana!” She shook her harder, “Derbana! Get a hold of yourself! What happened? What did you see?”
“They have him...They have him...” She repeated like a broken record.
“Your father? We know they do, but now's not the time to...”
Derbana gripped Serana's collar hard, “They have him...they have him...”
“Who? Who do they have?” She yelled.
“My husband!” The glade became silent, “They have Sondas.”
Laying down on the ground, Derbana let all her tears fall as she cried with Serana sitting there in silence. Looking at her companion, She wasn't sure if they could continue...maybe this was it...maybe...Harkon has won.