The Adventures of Arian

Chapter 2 - The Hermit

The next few moments were a blur to Arian. He felt like his body was breaking over and over again each time in a new way as he crashed into the ground. His world was flipping over top of itself, one minute he'd see snow, the next the sky, then snow again.

Arian had no idea when he was going to stop falling. That didn't really matter too much to him, he just wanted the pain to go away. There was again a weightless feeling and Arian knew he was going over another cliff face. Only this descent lasted a long time and the wind rustled through his hair as he limply fell.

Then with a hard grotesque sound like an egg being shattered, Arian's world went dark.

He still felt awake but could see nothing, really feel nothing. A warm tingling in his head was all he really knew. It was a strange sensation, followed by a cradling sensation. It was like he was being rocked back and forth in the arms of a large woman. Or like was drifting along a river in a boat while lying down.

Color came back to him in spots. It was like he was seeing polka dots wave in and out of his vision. Then they seemed to blend together into a fuzzy image. Squinting, Arian could see a large form walking forward with his back to Arian. He was holding Arian's leg up and dragging him along he realized. Who this stranger was and what he or she was going to do him worried Arian but there was no strength in his body to even muster a word. He closed his eyes and let himself crawl back into darkness.

Arian had a strange dream.

He was standing on a misty plain, watching fog roll over the rocks and the hills. There was no sun but in the sky dark colors rolled across it illuminating the valley. Arian looked around but his sight couldn't penetrate the fog that permeated around him. He was adorned in the clothes he had fallen off the mountain in he realized, and looking at his arms he saw snow still covered them.

"What in the-" Arian asked in confusion. It was like he knew he was in a dream. He knew his body was still being dragged across the snow but it was like his subconscious was there standing in the lush green grass.

A large booming sound erupted from behind Arian. Arian turned his head slowly to see what was coming as the booming grew louder and louder. The sight sent shivers for his spine. According to his memory, Arian had really only been a person for a couple of hours and now his short life was taking a turn for the weird.

Looking back at him through the fog, Arian could see a pair of large ominous red eyes. Behind them Arian could see the silhouette of a monster much larger than the dragon that had nearly killed him on the mountain. And that dragon was big.

"Mortal…it is not yet your time," said a voice coming from the monster that was so deep and terrifying, it made Arian's knees buckle for a moment. But a strength surged through his body and he was able to stand tall. He wasn't sure what courage had overtaken him but he wasn't about to back down to whatever this monster was.

It seemed to read Arian's mind as it continued, "It doesn't matter how tall you stand, all men will fall. All of Skyrim will fall. All of Tamriel will fall. You will help me bring about it."

"Yeah? It's going to take a lot of convincing for that to happen," Arian retorted, his voice and tone not even quivering.

"It shall be fate. You will bring me the soul of the Dragonborn. I will devour it. Then nothing will stop my conquest. Dragons will once again rule over man," the voice stated. It said it with such force and conviction, there was no way to argue with it.

"We'll see," Arian responded. A moment passed where the voice said nothing. Then with a terrible roar jaws shot forth through the fog. Just before they clenched around Arian's entire body, he woke up.

He bolted upright, or tried to, but it felt like his body would snap in two if he got any further then two inches off the ground. Arian let himself fall back down and he realized he was lying on something soft and plush. His head was nestled in a pillow and a blanket was strewn over his body. He could feel bandages all over his body constricting his movements but they were probably keeping him alive so he wasn't about to complain.

As his vision began to return in pieces, he looked around his new location. He looked to be in a wood cabin of some sort, the walls and floor made from oak wood. There was a small candle sitting on the table beside his bed with a couple of books to compliment it. Shelves hung from the wall with an assortment of things on display such as a sabre cat skull that seemed to stare at Arian. On the opposite end of the cabin there was small kitchen with a big black pot hanging over a small fire pit. Next to it was a large cabinet presumably filled with cooking supplies and a table with two chairs.

To his left was a window, and through the darkness of the night Arian could see a blizzard. Just thinking about it made him feel cold and Arian curled up tighter in his blanket. He seemed safe and taken care of, whoever had found him made sure he hadn't died a crumpled wreck on the side of the mountain. But where was he? Arian still didn't even know that in the larger sense, let alone wherever this cabin was.

However the aches throughout his body told him he wasn't going anywhere anytime soon. So for now it would have to remain a mystery. As the blanket lulled him into a comfortable warm embrace, and Arian knew this tingling sensation didn't mean he was dying, Arian wasn't opposed to falling back asleep.

Arian didn't know how long he slept for. This time there were no dreams of terrifying dragons or misty plains. However, in the middle of the darkness at some point in his rest, a small light shone in. In it there was something silhouetted, a dainty figure. As the light got brighter, so did the figure, and Arian was able to see it was a young woman standing in front of him. He was able to begin to make out her features, her shoulder-length straight red hair, her cute small nose and her amazing green eyes. His heart skipped a beat as she looked at him, and a familiar feeling washed over him.

"Who…are you?" he asked.

She looked at him and smiled, she was wearing a white and green dress that fell down just past her knees. Clasping her hands together with a twinkle in her eye, she seemed to look through Arian's whole being.

"Do…do I know you?" Arian continued to question.

Finally she spoke, "You do. I am both very close and very far."

"I feel like you're the piece, that I'm missing," Arian remarked, the words not even making sense to him. This girl was someone important Arian knew but he didn't know who she was. How could he, he still didn't comprehend who he was.

"We will meet again someday," the girl said, her voice gentle and quiet. "Then we'll be together again. Just like we were always meant to be."

Then she turned and walked back into the light.

"Wait, no! Come back!" Arian yelled. He tried to run towards her, but his feet didn't seem to take him anywhere. Outstretching a hand he tried to reach for her, but she kept getting further and further away.

"Who are you? Who am I?" Arian shouted after her.

She stopped walking and looked back at him, smile still on her face.

For a moment, Arian thought he'd get the answers to his questions.

But suddenly the door to cabin flung open with a loud bang, forcing Arian's eyes open. A harsh wind blew in as the blizzard continued outside, but daylight snuck in through the door as well, signifying there had been at least some passage of time. Arian groaned as he realized he was back to reality. Even though he didn't remember anything, he was pretty sure his dreams were never that lucid. Or strange.

Then he realized the door didn't open by itself, and Arian turned to see who had entered. Standing in the doorway was that same large figure who had dragged him before and he was a giant of a man. A large scraggily grey beard fell down from his chin which complimented a large bushel of unkempt grey hair that fell down past his shoulder. Despite his hair's grey tone he didn't look that old, his eyes still seemed young and full of life. He was wearing what looked like a whole bear and as he took off that fur coat he revealed another one, and then another underneath that one.

When he walked the whole cabin seemed to creak and moan in protest of him. He hung up all his jackets on a coat rack by the door, revealing his short sleeved tunic and suspender pants. On his belt there was a small mace which he place down by the door.

As he walked over to his kitchen he opened his cabinet while grumbling, "Damn winter. All the food goes south except sabre cats. And sabre cats aren't good for cooking, too meaty." His voice was full of grit and sounded tired.

Arian just watched the large man in silence, not sure what to say. The man pulled out what looked like a large cabbage from the cabinet, and sat down on a chair by the table. It looked like the chair would shatter under the man's tremendous weight but surprisingly it preserved and held him. He took a big bite out of the cabbage and chewed it like a horse as he stared off in the distance. Then for the first time since he entered he looked over at Arian and noticed he was awake.

"Ah, so you're not dead," the large man said, bits of cabbage falling out of his mouth.

"Yeah, doesn't really feel like it though," Arian responded.

"Don't blame ya. I saw you fall down the mountain. It looked like quite the tumble," the man said as he put his cabbage down on the table. He stood up and walked over to the cabinet and began to rifle through it.

"How long have I been here for?" Arian asked.

Not turning away from the cabinet, the man responded, "A few days. I gave you a few healing potions when I first dragged you here so you wouldn't die. I'd say now though you could probably stand to have some more."

Finding what he was looking for, the man brought out a round glass vial with a pink liquid inside. Arian eyed it fearfully, he wasn't sure for a moment what it was. Then like almost everything else he had remembered, it came to him suddenly that it was a healing potion.

"Why did you save me?" Arian asked as the man approached him.

"I couldn't just leave you to die in the snow. Would have weighed too heavily on an already burdened conscience," he responded, and then forcefully he took Arian's mouth and opened it. Arian grunted in surprise, but it turned into a gurgle as the healing potion was poured down his throat. Once the vial was emptied, the man let go of Arian's mouth and Arian coughed to get breath back.

"There. Now your body will heal a bit quicker. We give it a few days and you can be out of my hair," the man said as he walked back to the cabinet.

"Thanks," Arian was finally able to sputter out. "My name is Arian."

The man paused for a moment, seemingly hesitating about something.

"I'm Reundelf. And you are welcome," he responded, and then he put away the glass vial.

Arian felt a new surge of strength, no doubt because of the healing potion and he was able to sit up. He turned to look at the blizzard outside which obstructed his view of seeing anymore of the wilderness. There was still that burning question he had to ask.

"So, where am I?" Arian asked.

"In my hut. We're just a few miles north of Whiterun," Reundelf responded.

"Whiterun?" Arian said out loud. This one wasn't coming back to him. It didn't have any familiar connotations to him.

"Aye…" Reundelf responded slowly, Arian's confusion confusing him. "In the Whiterun region."

Arian still gave him a blank stare.

"In Skyrim?"

Arian looked down at the blanket. Skyrim? Where in the heck was Skyrim?

"I…I don't know where that is," Arian muttered, almost ashamed to admit it.

"You don't know where Skyrim is? Do you know where Tamriel is?" Reundelf asked disbelievingly.

"I don't really know anything beyond a few minutes before I fell off that mountain," Arian explained.

Reundelf pulled the chair over beside the bed as Arian told him about the events that had led him to being in the hut. It felt weird to say out loud like he was able to sum up his whole life in less than two minutes. Once Arian finished, Reundelf nodded slowly, digesting the information.

"So, you have no idea where you came from or who you are, but you expect me to believe you were able to fight off a group of bandits?" Reundelf asked.

"I don't know how I did it. It's like muscle reflex I didn't know I had took over," Arian responded.

"And there was a dragon at the top of the mountain?"

Arian nodded awkwardly, getting the impression Reundelf didn't believe him. Reundelf looked at him skeptically for another few moments but then stood up.

"Bah, I'll believe you. You seem honest enough and I can smell through a lie. They said a dragon destroyed Helgen, so it's not unbelievable," Reundelf said. "And I get the impression you're not from Skyrim."

"Well…thanks. For not letting me die and letting me stay here a little while," Arian responded.

"You are welcome. But you cannot stay long. I have already put myself at much risk for you," Reundelf said as he walked back over to the black pot.

"What do you mean?"

Reundelf inspected his black pot, and then smelled it quickly. He immediately winced and gagged as he stepped away from it. Arian continued to stare at him with interest to what Reundelf's cryptic words meant. Picking the pot up with both hands, he walked over to the door and awkwardly opened it. With a heave he dumped the contents of the pot onto the snow in front of the house and then visibly relaxed as the pot lost a considerable amount of weight.

"I used to be a vampire hunter. One of the best. But I've made a couple of enemies and it wasn't safe for me to be near other people," Reundelf explained.

"So that was…what?" Arian asked, motioning to the cauldron.

"A means of keeping them off my scent. Which raises the issue of you being here," Reundelf continued.

"What do you mean?"

"You're a fresh scent, something new in the area the vampires might be able to pick up, even despite my means of crippling them. So they might be able to find me," Reundelf explained while putting the cauldron back down.

Arian looked blankly down at his sheets, not sure what to think.

"I'll give you three more days, then you need to leave," Reundelf concluded as he put his jacket back on.

"I understand. You've done so much for me already I'd be a dick to ask for more," Arian said with a small smile.

Reundelf returned the smile with a gentle little grin, a smile that seemed like it had been lost behind his beard for years. He then opened his door again and said, "Good lad. I'm going to see if I can find any better meat for dinner, I'll be back soon."

As the wooden door shut Arian fell back into bed and stared at the ceiling. He was starting to feel a little spryer and thought he could attempt to walk but didn't want to risk it. There were three days before he had to leave, so that was going to give Arian time to think and contemplate his next move.

Arian knew two things. For starters, he knew he needed to avoid dragons. Since that nightmare and his encounter on the mountain he had the sinking suspicion dragons had it out for him. Secondly he needed to find out if that girl in his dreams was real or not and if she was he had to find her.

However he needed resources to go about doing this. That meant he would have to hunt down some form of work to make enough gold to be able to freely travel around Skyrim and invest in hunting and camping supplies. His first goal would be Whiterun, the city Reundelf mentioned. Maybe he could kill two birds with one stone by searching for the girl and a job there.

Over the next few days, Arian continued to heal as Reundelf explained the current social status of Skyrim to Arian. Arian learned about a civil war that was taking place between the Imperial army from the continent's capital, Cyrodil, and the domestic race the Nords. The Nords were led by an upstart named Ulfric who claimed to be the High King. This was causing most of the turmoil in Skyrim, explaining he rampant bandits and crime.

Arian also had a lot of time to read and Reundelf had a surprisingly big collection of books. There he read about the races that inhabited Skyrim, the regions and the holds of Skyrim, and of the Daedric and Aedric gods. One thing he noticed however, was Reundelf's large collection of books about vampires.

There were details about how vampires came to be, their strengths and weaknesses and their presence throughout history in Tamriel. Most notably, Arian read about the Dawnguard. It was an awesome sounding organization and Arian wanted to know more.

"The Dawnguard?" Reundelf questioned when Arian asked.

"Yeah, whatever happened to them?"

"I guess they just weren't really needed anymore," Reundelf shrugged. "Vampires became scattered and unorganized, and so did the hunters. I always worked independently because I could without the fear of vampires gaining up on me."

"So what changed?" Arian asked.

"Well…they started gaining up on me I suppose. They took note of me and decided I was a threat," Reundelf explained while spinning a log over a fire that had a stripped wolf corpse tied to it. "A Vigiliant of Stendar, Isran I believe, said he would turn to the order for help, but they wouldn't listen. So here I am."

On the third day, Arian tried to start walking. However the moment he got out of the bed he fell face first into the wood floor. It took all of his effort to drag him and his bruised chin back up to his bed. While he rubbed that and his ego, Reundelf walked into the hut and looked stunned. He tried to absently mind grabbed a chair but missed it with the swipe of his hand and almost fell as he tried to sit.

Arian noticed the movement and looked at Reudnelf concerned but with a shake of his head Reundelf managed to arrange himself properly to sit on the chair. Reundelf let out a sigh and Jet raised an eyebrow in curiosity.

"What's up?"

"I…I wandered down south… by the Western Tower near Whiterun," Reundelf started. "It was destroyed, burned to the ground. By a dragon."

"Told you they were real," Arian commented.

"Aye but that was just the start of it," Reundelf stated, making Arian shut up quickly. "There was a battle between the Whiterun guard and the dragon, and it looked like the dragon would kill them all one by one."

"But then in the last desperate moments it was slain by a warrior, he wasn't a Whiterun guard is all I know. He then…absorbed the dragon's essence. Power flowed from the dragon into him as the dragon's skin burned away like ash. I've never seen anything like."

"Power…flowed?" Arian asked disbelievingly.

"He…he ate the dragon's soul. He must have been a, the, dragonborn," Reundelf reasoned. The term rang a bell in Arian's head from the books he had read. Dragonborn were supposed to be capable of killing dragons for good and eating their souls.

"Really? You think he was a dragonborn?" Arian questioned, to which Reundelf nodded. Arian didn't know what to say. He knew this was a big deal, but he didn't really feel like he comprehended what a big deal this must have meant for the world at large. Arian barely knew his own place in this world he had woken up in, he didn't want to think about the place of the dragon born.

After a moment's pause Reundelf slapped his knees and stood up saying, "Well we can't spend all day pondering the fate of the world. You need to leave by tomorrow morning."

"Ah…about that," Arian said while putting a hand behind his head. "I don't think I'll be ready."

"What do you mean?" Reundelf asked, a grim tone sneaking into his voice.

"I tried walking earlier and I got the black and blue mark on my chin to prove it. I need one more day," Arian explained.

Reundelf judged Arian sternly for a moment and let out a low sigh. Grabbing his cauldron, which had been brewing more of the vampire repellant, Reundelf said, "Fine. But the next morning you're gone at first light. Even if I have to pick you up and throw you."

"Fair enough," Arian responded.

Arian spent the whole next day practicing standing. He received a few more bruises while attempting it but he was stubborn and persisted. By mid-day he could stand for at least five minutes without being sore. At the end of the day he could walk around the hut and was able to actually sit at Reundelf's table with him to enjoy one last meal.

The two sat there eating brown beans from wooden bowls and talking about Arian's future plans. Reundelf recommended going to see a Jarl's Steward or a local tavern for some work, they had bounties or other odd jobs Arian could chase after.

"But if you're smart, you'll travel in groups," Reundelf commented. "What with the dragon attacks, bandits and wildlife that'll tear you limb from limb, you won't be safe on your own."

Arian mewled over the idea while he chewed on his food. He could join a mercenary group, or maybe a guard patrol or something. But he wanted to be able to stay on the move to find the girl he was looking for, so there'd have to be a compromise there.

"Well I'm sure I'll figure it out," Arian replied. "Thanks Reundelf, I couldn't have done this-" Reundelf suddenly raised a hand and stopped Arian mid-sentence. Arian looked at Reundelf in confusion and followed Reundelf's eyes to the window. A tense moment past as Reundelf stared at the window in a mix of terror and anxiety.

"Gods curse me. They're here," Reundelf muttered. Arian's bewildernment only grew and he narrowed his eyes.

In the dark of the woods a small spark emerged. Then three others followed. Arian stood up from his chair, preparing himself for whatever was coming next. Guilt washed over him like a cold wave. They were coming for Reundelf. Arian had lingered for too long and now Reundelf would pay the price.

"Get down!" Reundelf shouted and the two dove as arrows with points on fire shattered through the window. Arian heard one whiz by his head when he crashed into the ground. Reundelf shook the whole shack when his stomach hit the floor and Arian was just grateful the giant hadn't landed on him.

Looking up, Arian saw the arrow hit a self on the wall. It was the one holding the sabre cat skull which was now split in half from the arrow. The fire from the arrow spread into the wooden wall and Arian looked over to where the other arrows hit and watched as the flames grew. Arian looked back over his shoulder and saw another volley of arrows fly through the window, while he heard the thumps of the arrows hit the outside of the cabin.

Sweat began to fell down Arian's face as the fire began to engulf the house. The wood underneath him already was already beginning to feel hot but Arian was weary to stand because he didn't want to get pegged by an arrow. Then suddenly he heard a large crack above his head and Arian turned to see what had caused it. Above him one of the hut's support beams splintered in several places under the pressure of the blaze. He rolled over onto his back but before Arian could even try to scramble to freedom the beam snapped and fell. It landed directly on top of him and pinned Arian to the floor.

"Oh crap…this is heavy," Arian commented in between exasperated wheezes. The fire was now attacking him like little bee stings on his face and the sweat poured down his face. In his obscured position he could Reundelf stand up, the large man's body bobbing up and down as he coughed from the smoke inhalation.

Reundelf began to make his way to the door and Arian yelled, "Reundelf, help!" Reundelf turned to look at Arian scornfully and Arian could feel his heart fall into his stomach.

"You did this. You brought the bastards to my door. So you can die here!" Reundelf shouted. He then turned and ran for the door and Arian looked up hopelessly. He tried to lift the large beam off his chest but it was too heavy for him. Arian let out an exhale, taking a break from pushing but then strained and tried again.

He could feel the beam shift, but only a little. Then he couldn't push anymore and let the beam fall back to where it was, further pinning him. The roar of the inferno engulfing the house overwhelmed him and the heat was too much for him to bear.

From the cold of Skyrim's tundra to the oven of hermit's hut, Arian was wondering what would happen next to him. If he even survived this encounter that was. But he thought about Reundelf's accusations, the anger in his voice when he left Arian to die, and Arian couldn't give up yet. He needed to make amends, needed to earn Reundelf's forgiveness no matter what it took. Reundelf had been kind to him, and Arian knew in his heart he had to repay that.

Inhaling deeply and ignoring the smoke, Arian strained with all his might and pushed against the beam. It shifted again only slightly but then Arian dug deep. Mustering all the strength he had in his body and combining it with the will to live he found on the mountain, Arian pushed the beam. With a mighty heave he threw the beam off of himself.

Arian allowed himself one moment to take a breather and relish in his victory as he fell back onto his back. But his smile was short lived as he looked up and saw another beam, a bigger one, had splintered and was about to fall. He quickly somersaulted forward and managed to escape the entrapment of another beam. Not taking any more chances Arian ran to the door. He managed to jump through it as the house finally gave in under its own weight.

He landed on his belly in the snow but considering how hot it had been in the house the chill of the white fluff was a welcome relief. Just to give himself more distance from the house Arian jumped to his feet and moved away from it but he couldn't resist a look back at his home for the past few days. The fire was beginning to extinguish itself from contact with the snow but Reundelf's hut was in ruins. The roof had caved in and the walls looked like they were ready to fall over.

Arian breathed a heavy sigh and shut his eyes in shame. If he hadn't been so weak and fought through the pain of trying to walk like he had lifted that beam, he could have left before. Then Reundelf would still have a home.

Then suddenly he heard a sick maniacal laugh a small distance away. His first concern was the vampires were nearby and then the more immediate concern became Reundelf's life. Arian wasted no more time and ran to where he heard the sound. As he grew closer he could see the glimpse of a few figures through the trees and slowed his run down while taking cover behind the trees. If he wanted to have any chance of taking on vampires without a weapon he'd need the element of surprise.

Hidden behind a tree only a few feet away from the scene, Arian cautiously popped his head around the corner. In a small clearing he saw three vampires with four presumably vampire corpses on the ground judging by the similar attire, and in one of the still standing vampire's hands was Reundelf. The giant of a man was only being held up by one hand, the vampire seemingly lifting Reundelf off the ground with great ease. That vampire had pale white skin while the other two were the shade of ebony of dark elves, if their pointed ears weren't enough to give it away. What caught Arian off guard were the vampire's disturbing yellow eyes that glowed in the night.

"I will congratulate you Reundelf. You were a fighter until the very end," the vampire who held Reundelf up stated. "Lord Harkon will be pleased to hear of your demise."

Through gasps of air, Reundelf retorted, "You must be Groatian. Shame I never got to you."

"Yes, a pity," Groatian responded, sounding a little bemused. "Though I imagine the outcome of that encounter wouldn't have been dramatically different. I mean even in your prime you stood no match for a vampire of my strength."

Arian meanwhile scanned his enemies looking at their weapons to see what he could use. He counted two daggers on one, a short sword on the other, but the leader Groatian carried no visible weapon.

"Strength isn't the desire to stomp out smaller creatures," Reundelf responded. "It's the desire to defend them." This stopped Arian from scheming for a moment, the profoundness of Reundelf's words hitting Arian in the chest. He couldn't pin down what it was, but that resonated with Arian in a way he didn't quite understand.

"Well you're the one about to die so I don't think you're in a position to tell me what strength is," Groatian said. Then Groatian opened his mouth and Arian could see the fangs protrude out from his mouth. It was now or never.

Scooping up a handful of snow, Arian leapt out from behind cover and threw it at Groatian. The force enough was to surprise Groatian and Arian took that moment to run at the first vampire. Groatian turned to look at the attack and he dropped Reundelf to the ground.

"Kill him," he commanded and the other two vampires charged at Arian. Arian had read that vampires were fast but he hadn't anticipated their level of speed. His only hope was to act as fast as possible and deal damage quickly. The vampire with two daggers swung out at Arian as he approached and Arian quickly ducked low underneath the attack as he stopped in his tracks. Arian then jumped backward and avoided another attack from the vampire as the vampire swung vertically with one dagger.

He barely dodged that attack and could do little as the vampire came in for a third swing with the other hand. The attack would have cut Arian's jugular wide open but Arian brought up a hand and blocked the attack at the vampire's wrist with his forearm. The vampire struggled for a moment, but Arian's strength held true and with his free hand he punched the vampire across the face. Then using his blocking arm he grabbed the wrist of the hand he had just blocked and forcefully stabbed the dagger back into the vampire's chest. The vampire hissed in response and Arian kicked the fiend in the stomach knocking him back.

Arian only had a moment to contemplate his next move as the other vampire with the short sword swung in. There was a moment where Arian thought he'd lose his nose from the attack as the vampire's sword swung down in front of him. He barely dodged the attack but he managed to move quickly in response. Arian dropped his shoulder and charged forward at the vampire while he was still prone. The vampire recoiled in response and Arian reached down and grabbed the hilt of the short sword. Spinning with a mighty tug he pulled the sword from the vampire's hand and then pivoted back in the other direction. There wasn't time for the vampire to react and Arian's swing with the sword decapitated him.

The first vampire had pulled the dagger from his chest and was charging back at Arian even as blood squirted out. Arian spun the short sword around in his hand, getting a feel for it. While he still didn't know where he learned to fight like that, he could tell already he felt more comfortable using a great sword instead of a short one. However he was able to make due as the vampire charged him and Arian parried a jab with the dagger that would have badly stuck him. The vampire swung wildly with his second dagger, rage fueling its movements. Arian managed to back step away but swung upward with the sword. His sword connected with vampire's attacking arm and he sliced it clean off. Howling wildly the vampire recoiled in shock as blood shot out of its stump. Arian then lunged forward and stabbed the sword in the vampire's chest, leaving it there as the vampire fell backwards into the snow.

Arian had barely broken a sweat and he looked up from his last dead opponent up at Groatian, who was now keeping Reundelf on his knees and holding him with a choke hold. Reundelf and Groatian seemed to both be taken aback at Arian's fighting prowess, who stood there slightly covered in the vampire's blood.

"Let him go and I won't do the same to you," Arian offered.

Groatian laughed, almost maniacally, and barked at Arian, "You are overly confident you fool. Those were lesser vampires, mere cogs in the machine compared to me."

"Yeah that won't stop me from smacking your face into looking like an ass. Let him go now. Last chance," Arian deadpanned back.

"Did he tell you how many vampires he's killed? How many of my kind he vanquished before retiring to hide in cowardice?" Groatian asked. He was obviously playing for time but Arian was also using the time to look for options to save Reundelf.

"Oh I'm sure you've killed your fair share of just about everyone else. What makes vampires so special?" Arian shot back. His eyes darted down for a second, looking down towards the daggers in the vampire's hands.

"We are the chosen of Malog Bal!' the vampire yelled indignantly at the question. Good, I pissed him off, Arian thought to himself as let smirked slightly.

"We are the ones who will usher in an age without the sun in his name! We will-" Arian rolled forward suddenly over top of the vampire's corpse and grabbed the dagger out of his hands. Groatian was too caught up in his moment of anger he couldn't react fast enough as Arian finished his roll and threw the dagger. The dagger hit Groatian right between the eyes, making Groatian stumble backwards and release Reundelf from his grip. Reundelf let his body slump forward and he coughed for air.

Arian ran to Reundelf's side to try and help him to his feet but Reundelf angrily slapped away Arian's hand. Taken slightly aback Arian gave Reundelf room to breathe as he shakily stood up. Groatian had collapsed onto his back, blood trickling from the knife wound in his head.

"Yeah you were tough bananas weren't you?" Arian asked the corpse, and Reundelf shot him an angry look.

"You don't get to make jokes," Reundelf angrily stated. Arian eyes went down to the snow, and Reundelf continued to glare angrily at him.

"I lost my home because of you. I never want to see you again," Reundelf said and then he turned and walked away. Arian watched Reundelf leave, feeling as guilty as ever.

However he took solace in the fact that despite the odds Reundelf was alive. The vampires would have to try again and next time Reundelf probably would be better prepared Arian reasoned. Guilt wasn't going anywhere anytime soon, but there wasn't anything Arian could do about it. It was time to take solace in the little victories, Arian thought to himself. Because it would be a long time before he found whatever it was he was looking for.

Despite the bitter parting, Arian would always think in a way that Reundelf the hermit had taught him that.

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