The Adventures of Arian

Chapter 7 - Escape from Castle Volkihar

Arian was more awake in those few moments then he had been in the whole travel to Castle Volkihar. Despite the agony it caused him Arian shuffled his way over to the edge of his cage and stared out through the cracks. He watched as they were transported over the bridge towards the castle, the ice waters of Skyrim's north surrounding them.

Captured by vampires and taken back to their lair. That was pretty much the end of the line, Arian reasoned to himself. Everything he had been through, and this was where he was going to die. Despite the pain in his stomach from his shattered ribs, Arian managed a sigh.

As they were carried through the front gates of the caste, the moan of the front doors opening, Arian could hear the sound of excited chatter. The front entrance way was marked by more gargoyles, and Arian noticed another vampire, an older looking one, standing in front of an arch that no doubt led to the rest of the castle.

"Lord Harkon, I see your personal hunt was successful," the old vampire said, bowing low.

"Indeed it was," Harkon replied. "While the foolish mortals wage war over the meaningless crown of Skyrim, they were helpless to notice our presence."

Harkon and the old vampire walked down the row of cages, and Arian crawled away from the side of the cage. The last thing he wanted was to draw unwanted attention to himself.

"As I thought, the warriors in the Stormcloaks are largely untrained and undisciplined. Savages who believe they are righteous," Harkon explained as they strolled by the cage containing the five Stormcloak warriors. "However the Imperials are soft. They may be better trained, but many are weak in comparison to the Nords they're battling."

"So my lord, no worthy thralls?" the old vampire asked.

"I did not say that," Harkon quickly retorted.

Arian saw Harkon stop walking at his cage and Arian grimaced.

"This one killed one of my elite all on his own. He may be a worthy successor to Demontor. Or at least a good bodyguard as a thrall," Harkon said as he smiled at Arian.

They were planning on turning him into a mindless slave, Arian realized. That fate seemed even worse than death. However Arian was in no condition to escape. He'd have to find a way to buy some time.

Seeing Harkon and the old vampire were both watching him intently, Arian formulated a quick plan. He clutched his ribs and let out a little moan, putting on his best 'I'm in pain face,' which admittedly wasn't hard seeing as Arian was in a lot of pain.

"Hm…Demontor may have hit him a little too hard," Harkon commented. "If we put him through the thrall transformation now he'll never survive."

"Why don't we put him the dungeon for the time being? We can let him heal there," the old vampire suggested. "Since our cells are so full, he can stay with a Khajiit warrior we captured. Another possible thrall candidate."

"Very well," Harkon concluded.

The two then kept walking, and Arian breathed a quick sigh of relief. Maybe with a little time and healing, Arian could find a way out of there. However panic set in as he looked to Harkon to see the two had stopped outside of Frosty's cage. Frosty grew more restless, trying futilely to break out of the bonds that strapped the troll in place.

"Sir, why a frost troll? Their blood does little for us," the old vampire asked.

"This one possesses an intelligence I've never seen before," Harkon explained. "I want it trained to fight for us. Do whatever you can to break its spirit, but make sure you do not kill it."

That thought sent shivers down Arian's spine. If they did anything to change or hurt his best friend, Arian would never stop until he killed every vampire he could find.

"Very well sir," the old vampire conceded with a bow. "And as for the other men you captured?"

"To the feeding chambers," Harkon instructed. "They will last us until the next hunting party returns."

Shouts of outrage emerged from the Stormcloak cage, and Arian turned to look at them. Their reactions were mixing from terror to fury as they banged on the sides of their cage. Harkon grinned evilly then and walked over to them.

"Be silent you fools," Harkon said calmly. It had no effect on the panicked soldiers, and Harkon only continued to grin at them.

"I said, be silent!" Harkon suddenly shouted, quieting the Stormcloak soldiers instantly. "It is a gift you have lived this long. I could have left you to die in the forest, like your Argonian friend."

Arian's mind raced back to Ratar, whom he had watched Demontor kill violently. An anger swelled inside Arian, but he supressed it quickly. Ratar and all the others these bastards killed would be avenged, Arian told himself, just not yet.

"Take them away," Harkon ordered. Arian felt his cage begin to move, and as they were dragged into the next room Arian's eyes widened in shock.

It was a large candle lit room with an eerie gold glow. They emerged onto a balcony with two staircases that cascaded down from the right and left sides downwards. Across from them was another balcony that revealed another large section of the castle, and to its left was another staircase that led further in. Red banners hung down from the walls, and filling the large room itself were long tables.

Sitting all along were vampires who were sitting and talking with one another, or they were eating. Arian's stomach churned at the sight of them. He also saw several dogs which were unlike any others he had seen before. Their snouts rounded more at the front and they were pitch black with red glowing eyes. It was almost like they emanated darkness, and Arian saw one was staring straight up at him.

Then suddenly Arian felt himself sliding towards the front of the cage and he grunted uncomfortably. It sent pain reverberating through his whole body, and Arian winced and tried his best to not shout out in agony. He realized they were being taken down the stairs, and not very gently either. Each step caused him further pain and he bounced up and down. Once they reached the bottom, Arian was grateful the ride smoothed out considerably.

He heard a clunk noise, and then looked to see that he had been separated from the Stormcloak soldiers. There was a second noise, and Arian glanced backwards to see Frosty being taken in a different direction as well. With a grimace, Arian promised himself he would find a way out of imprisonment and he would save his best friend. He just needed time to heal.

Arian's mind ran through scenarios of how he'd tackle escaping the castle, and he didn't process much of where he was being taken. After another uncomfortable ride down a set of stairs, Arian snapped to and realized he was in a dungeon of some sort. Arian nervously glanced around, noting torture devices with fresh blood still on them.

"Here's your new home, meat," the vampire who had been pulling Arian along said. Arian looked up and saw a jail cell open in front of him, and his cage was pressed firmly against it. Then the side facing the cell was pulled upwards, and Arian realized he was meant to crawl in. For a few seconds Arian felt a surge of indignation, reluctant to follow the vampire's wishes.

"Get in there or you'll have more than a few broken ribs," the vampire snarled. Arian grunted in response and reluctantly crawled into the cell. The jail cell was quickly slammed shut behind him, and Arian looked back at the vampire who was already walking away with the cage.

Arian took a moment to register the surroundings of the dungeon. It was made entirely of brick, and very few torches illuminated the darkness. There was a strange humidity to it, and Arian wasn't sure if it was from the ocean surrounding the castle or the constant blood that was likely shed there. In his cell in particular there was no cot or anything to sleep on, just the cold brick floor. It was then Arian finally noticed his curious cell mate who was sitting in the darkness of the corner.

Eyes shut, he was a Khajiit sitting in the corner with his knees tucked in close to his chest. He was wearing steel plate armor, and judging from his face Arian figured the Khajiit likely had grey-coloured fur. His ears in feline form poked up from the top of his head. Arian looked at him for a few moments, not sure what his attitude would be regarding strangers. Suddenly the Khajiit's eyes opened, and there were two piercing blue cat eyes staring at Arian.

"So they have captured another candidate like myself," the Khajiit muttered. "You'll have to forgive me for not sounding more excited. These vampires are capable of breaking more than bones."

His Khajiit accent was thick, every word was rolled and Arian could hear a purr that the Khajiit had to push past to speak.

"Kharjo, do not be so rude," said another Khajiit voice. Arian turned to look to the source, and in a cell next to them were three more Khajiit. The one who had spoken was a black-furred Khajiit, a woman, who was wearing a dress and leaning on the bars staring at Arian and Kharjo.

"My apologies, Ahkari," Kharjo said, not taking his eyes off of Arian. "I just don't see the point in being friends with man I will eventually have to kill."

"What?" Arian asked, bewildered by what he had just heard.

"The vampires did not tell you? They keep the potential thralls in a cell together," Kharjo explained. "What they consider meat, they keep in there." Kharjo motioned to Ahkari's cell in that moment, and Arian felt a twinge of horror.

"But…why would they make us kill each other?" Arian questioned. Kharjo finally took his eyes off Arian and looked to the side, reflecting on what was about to be said.

"Have you seen the large black armored man? Demontor I believe he is called?" Kharjo asked, and Arian nodded in response. "They want another thrall like him. He is unstoppable, but was once just a great warrior before he was a thrall."

Ahkari continued, "He is no ordinary thrall. The transformation from man to thrall is normally a painless one, albeit one that would take away much of the warrior's fighting intelligence. What they did to Demontor was something different, it required incredible strength for the man he used to be to survive the process."

"So it is likely they plan on having us fight once you're back to full strength, to see who is strong enough to reach the same results as Demontor," Kharjo finished.

Arian looked to the floor and considered his options for several moments. These vampires were monsters, no question about that. If he managed to escape Castle Volkihar, Arian hoped he would never see another one as long as he lived.

"Well, Kharjo," Arian started. "I'm not going to fight you. We're going to find a way out of here. I promise."

Kharjo eyed Arian curiously for a few moments, and despite Arian's weak sprawled out posture on the floor, he must have managed to show enough strength in what he said to impress the Khajiit. Kharjo then stood up and walked over to Arian, offering him a hand.

"Here, let me tend to your wound. They will bring health potions I have no doubt, but I can help make you more comfortable at least," Kharjo said. Arian stared at Kharjo in surprise for a second, but then took his hand. Arian winced in pain as he tried to stand, and Kharjo used his other hand to help prop Arian up slightly, and then with an arm around Kharjo's shoulder he limped feebly over to the corner Kharjo had been waiting in earlier.

"What is your name?" Kharjo asked as he helped Arian back down to the floor.

"Arian," Arian responded as he sat down, trying to find a comfortable position.

"It is a pleasure to meet you, friend Arian," Kharjo stated with a small smile.

It was a short time later that the vampires finally brought Arian some health potions. The damage in Arian's ribs were extensive, so all parties knew it would take a couple of days of health potions for Arian to heal. In the meantime, Kharjo and Arian were well fed with hearty meals, no doubt to keep their strength up for the inevitable battle. Ahkari on the other hand wasn't treated so nicely, only fed tiny scraps to ensure her survival. Arian and Kharjo would regularly pass her chunks of their meal to ensure she wasn't going hungry.

As the days passed, Arian found it hard to sleep or rest on the cold stone floor. However exhaustion had found its way to kick in, and over the passage of time Arian managed to make himself somewhat comfortable. To make things easier and ignore the situation, Arian told Kharjo and Ahkari his story. He explained his lack of memory and his goals of trying to work up some money to go hunting for his past life, while filling them with details of Reundelf's hut, the Redguard woman, and his best friend the frost troll.

"That is quite the tale," Kharjo stated after Arian had finished telling the story. Arian was now able to sit upright comfortably, the healing potions having stitched up the worst of the damage. He was still sore however and was in no condition to be fighting, but at least he could have a conversation without feeling like a castle was sitting on his chest.

"So, what's your story?" Arian asked Kharjo and Ahkari. Their expressions saddened, and Kharjo closed his eyes and looked to the floor. Arian looked from him to Ahkari, who sighed and scratched behind her ear.

"We were part of a caravan, traveling from Elsweyr. We were ambushed on the road by a group of vampires and brought here. Kharjo is a fine warrior, but he couldn't protect all of us and we were forced to submit," Ahkari explained. "There were two other in our company, Zaynabi and Dro'marash. But…they have already been taken away."

Arian looked from Ahkari to Kharjo, and this seemed to weigh most heavily on him.

"I could not protect them," Kharjo muttered under his breath.

"Kharjo, I have said before it is not your fault," Ahkari said softly to Kharjo.

Kharjo's whipped up suddenly staring hard at Ahkari as he yelled, "I was meant to protect all of you! That was my duty! And I failed!"

His fangs were showing as yelled, spit flying from his mouth. Arian could feel his fury sitting across the cell from him, and it reminded Arian of how he felt when he realized Saadia was lying to him. He had killed all those Redguard soldiers for nothing, lives that didn't need to be ended were because of him.

"We can't save everyone Kharjo," Arian commented. Kharjo looked to him next, anger still on his face.

"Believe me, I wish we could," Arian continued, not backing down from Kharjo's gaze.

They were suddenly interrupted by the sound of footsteps walking into the dungeon, and all three sets of eyes turned to see what was going on. In the dungeon walked a group of vampires, Harkon at the helm. Arian felt his hand grip into a fist unexpectedly, the sheer sight of Harkon enough to put him on edge. They walked over to Arian and Kharjo's cell first, inspecting them for several moments.

"I would say give it another day for him to heal, and then we'll test the two against each other," Harkon instructed. Then Harkon turned to look at Ahkari, who shrunk into a croner in fear.

"Oh and bring her up. Khajiits have a funny aftertaste but the Stormcloak's are all used up," Harkon stated, and then he turned to leave. Kharjo and Arian's eyes widened at Harkon's statement as the vampire opened Ahkari's cell.

"No! Stay away from her!" Kharjo shouted as he stood to his feet. Ahkari trembled in fear as three vampires surrounded her, and Kharjo ran to the side of the cell, trying to reach through the bars futilely to stop them.

"Ahkari! Ahkari! Come here!" Kharjo yelled desperately. The vampire forcibly picked her up and started dragging out of her cell, Kharjo moving along the sides of the bars to try and stop them.

"You bastards! Bring her back! Bring her back now!" Kharjo continued to scream as she was pulled away.

Ahkari managed one wayward look back at Kharjo and Arian, tears were streaming out of hers eyes.

"Ahkari! No!" Kharjo yelled as she was taken from sight. "You savages! Animals! Monsters! I will not stop until every one of you is dead! Dead! I will tear out your throats! Massacre you and everything you and your terrible kind stands for! You hear me!? You vampire fucks!"

Kharjo yelled until there was no more air in his lungs, and then it was if the world came crashing down on top of him. He fell to his knees and sobbed uncontrollably for many minutes. Arian watched in a mix of horror and sadness. There was no idea of what to say, how to comfort someone who had just lost his while purpose in life.

After a long time had passed, Kharjo returned to his corner and buried his head in his knees, not saying a word to Arian. Arian would stare at Kharjo for many minutes, trying to say something, but knowing there was nothing to say. Then Arian knew the only way to make things right would be to escape, and he still had every intention of doing so. It may have been too late to save Ahkari, but Arian could still save Kharjo Arian took a sharp inhale of breath, and still felt a sharp wince of pain upon doing so.

It wasn't going to be easy to escape like this, but Arian suddenly realized that maybe his injury was his best advantage in escaping. If they thought he was weak, they wouldn't think he was a threat. And if he waited too long, the vampires would come back down in another group like they just had, and there would be no way Arian could overpower that many. But if Arian was smart, he could overtake at least one.

Standing up was still hard, but Arian managed to stagger to his feet and he walked to the prison door. Kharjo looked up at him in confusion, his blood red eyes and wet cheeks marking his face. Arian turned around and pressed a finger against his lips, signaling silence from Kharjo.

"Guard! Guard!" Arian yelled. "The Khajiit, he's going to kill me and himself! Guard!" Arian yelled panicky. Kharjo gave Arian an expression of bewilderment and many moments passed where no one was coming. Arian grew worried no one way buying it or that there were no guards nearby, but then as the footsteps of one lone vampire entered the dungeon Kharjo clued in to the plan.

Kharjo quickly leapt to his feet and ran at Arian, and Arian grimaced at what would have to happen next. Grabbing Arian by the collar Kharjo slammed him into the side of the cell, causing a loud ringing as Arian hit the bars.

"Not so rough," Arian wheezed out, and Kharjo managed a quick apologetic look.

The walking sound turned into running, and Kharjo returned to his fierce look, baring his teeth at Arian. Once the vampire entered into view, he hurried to the cell, and quickly fumbled to open it. Arian considered it very luck that the one vampire who came to address this was the one dumb enough to believe what was happening.

Once the vampire had opened the cell he moved to stop the two from brawling. However with lightning like agility Kharjo moved from Arian to the vampire letting out a roar like a jungle cat while doing so. The vampire was about to scream for help, when Kharjo firmly clasped a hand around the vampires mouth to stop him from crying out.

Kharjo knocked the vampire to the floor and sat over top of him. He held one hand over the vampire's mouth and the other went around the vampire's throat. The vampire kicked and tried to scream for several moments, and Arian watched nervously as he saw Kharjo's more feral side show. Suddenly Kharjo lunged down fangs bared and wrapped his mouth around the vampires neck. With a quick jerk of Kharjo's head and a sickening crack, the vampire was motionless.

A couple of seconds passed where Kharjo continued to sit on top of the vampire, and then he stood up and spat out some blood. Arian looked at him with wide eyes, and Kharjo spat out a second wad of blood and wiped his teeth clean from the vampire's blood.

"Last thing I'd want is to become one of them," Kharjo explained. Arian looked down at the dead vampire for a couple of moments and nodded in understanding, still scared but understanding.

"Come, let's finish the rest of these bastards," Kharjo said as he started to leave the cell, but Arian snapped out of his horror for a moment and caught Kharjo by the arm.

"Hold on a minute, let's think this through," Arian stated. Kharjo looked at him in anger and Arian realized he would have to win the Khajiit over.

"Look, there's about a hundred vampires in this castle and only two of us," Arian explained. "If we want to honour anything we've lost we need to escape now to fight another day. We'll need to bring the vampires down another way."

"After all these bastards have taken from me, you expect me to sit idly by while they feast on my friend?!" Kharjo hissed at Arian. For a few moments, Arian grew worried he'd see the wrong end of Kharjo's fangs like that vampire just had.

"Listen, I want these vampires dead too. But we can't do it alone and we'll die if we try. We'll need reinforcements," Arian explained.

"None of Skyrim takes this threat seriously," Kharjo argued. "Where are we going to possibly find reinforcements?" Arian thought about it for a few moments, considering his options. Kharjo had a point, no one else in Skyrim seemed to care even the slightest about the vampire threat. Then Arian remembered what Reundelf had told him.

"There's the Dawnguard," Arian stated. Kharjo raised an eyebrow, so Arian continued, "We have to find a man named Isran. He's a Vigilant of Stendarr but he was also against the vampires, maybe with him we could reform the Dawnguard."

Kharjo looked from Arian to the exit of the prison, weighing those options. Kharjo's knuckles cracked as he curled them tightly, clearly not enjoying the idea of putting off his revenge.

"These animals deserve to die," Kharjo commented angrily. "But you are right. When the time is right we will kill them all."

Arian nodded, and the two moved to leave the dungeon. They moved silently and carefully through the dungeon, and walked up a set of stairs that led out of it. The stairs curled upwards and at the top there was a door. Taking a quick moment, Arian paused and tried to catch his breath, his wounded ribs making things difficult.

"How do we do this?" Kharjo asked, and Arian put some thought to it.

"Do you think they'd still have our equipment?" Arian questioned.

"Yes, I saw them wheel our equipment way, I don't think far from here," Kharjo said as he thought about it.

"Okay, I think we should get our equipment and then jump from the nearest window into the ocean," Arian suggested. "Because otherwise the only way out is through a horde of vampires we won't be able to take." Kharjo once again seemed apprehensive, only this time it didn't seem like it was out of anger.

"What?" Arian questioned confused.

"Khajiits are not overly fond of swimming," Kharjo admitted.

"Oh, don't be a baby," Arian dismissed. Just before he opened the door Arian thought about his plan for a moment and realized there was a critical part missing.

"On second thought, you find the equipment and I'll meet you there," Arian said, and Kharjo gave him a quick confused look. "I have to find my troll."

The two then carefully opened the door, and scanned the hallway for vampires. There were none in the immediate vicinity, and so the two broke off into separate paths. The halls were made of the same brick as the dungeon, but these were kept in much better condition and illuminated much better. Arian moved as quickly and silently as his busted ribs would allow. Every corner he had to take caution there were no vampires looking for him, but much to his amazement there were none wandering the halls everywhere he looked.

Arian checked several rooms, but none led him to Frosty. Then as Arian reached a large hallway with several branching paths, he heard a commotion coming from somewhere nearby. Slowing down his search, Arian looked and saw a nearby balcony. As he approached it, Arian realized it was actually the balcony that was across the way from where they had entered Castle Volkihar. In it, he could hear Harkon talking, so cautiously Arian neared the balcony to see what was happening.

In the middle of the large feast hall, all of the vampires must have gathered. Harkon stood in the middle, his back currently to Arian. Standing in front of him was what appeared to be a young woman. She looked no older than Arian with black hair that was braided along the side. She was wearing the same red and black armor as many other vampires, and the tell-tale golden glow in her eyes sold the deal of her real identity. However there was softness to her that wasn't readily apparent in other vampires, a beauty Arian hadn't seen before. Strapped across her back was a large scroll with golden edges, but Arian wasn't really staring at that.

"Oh Serana, if only your traitorous mother could be here to see this," Harkon said. "I wonder if she will ever return to us like you have."

"I don't know father," Serana responded, crossing her arms. "She never told me where she went."

Serana looked up towards the balcony, trying to avert her gaze from her father. By sheer chance, her eyes met Arian's for a moment. Arian felt completely panicked she'd give him away, but to Arian's surprise she looked back to her father and kept talking. This made Arian realize he was a pretty easy target, and he needed to keep looking for Frosty.

Arian quickly moved away from the balcony, and decided to check a hall to his right. He ran into it and searched room after room for Frosty. There wouldn't be much more time until the vampires returned to whatever it as they were supposed to be doing Arian knew, and for a couple of seconds Arian considered abandoning his search for his best friend. The odds were they either converted Frosty to their side already, or they had kill the troll in frustration. That thought made Arian sick, when suddenly he heard a curious noise from further down the hall. It sounded like a bit of a struggle, and Arian could hear snarls and roars.

Following it, Arian found a doorway into another room. Opening it, Arian found what looked like a kennel. There were several cages and stacks of hay lying around, however what caught Arian off guard was that all over the floor there more of the dark hounds he had seen when first brought into the castle. They were lying motionless, presumably dead, and there was a vampire torn in two on the floor. Standing right across from Arian was Frosty, who had chains wrapped around its wrists but bound to nothing, and the troll was just sniffing the air.

"Did you…did you do this Frosty?" Arian asked in amazement. Frosty nodded its head and jumped up and down in excitement.

"Holy smokes you have good timing," Arian commented. "Come on buddy, let's get out of here."

Frosty ran to Arian's side and nuzzled him with the top of its head. Arian laughed helplessly and pet his friend, happy to see him too. He then led Frosty out of the room and back the way they came from. Arian was worried it'd be harder to move with a frost troll in tow, but he had forgotten how effectively quiet Frosty could be. As they made their way past the balcony Arian had almost been spotted at earlier, Arian heard the commotion grow louder and it sounded like people were starting to disperse from that room.

That meant they were running low on time, and Arian hurried his pace despite the pain to find Kharjo. Frosty and Arian then passed the dungeon Arian had escaped from earlier, and started checking around to see if Kharjo was nearby. They followed that hall until they reached a branching path, leading straight left and right, and in front of them was a window large enough to jump out of. Arian checked the window quickly and he saw the cold ocean crashing against the rocks. It was about fifty feet down and was going to be very risky, but with the vampires conglomerating so close to the only exit that would be their best chance.

Suddenly Arian could hear Kharjo whispering to him from his right, and Arian pulled away from the window to see Kharjo poking his head out from a room. Frosty growled for a moment and Kharjo looked terrified in response, but Arian placed a hand on Frosty's head to calm him.

"Easy boy," Arian said to Frosty softly. "Wait here." Arian then moved to Kharjo, and Kharjo was still staring at Frosty in shock.

"You weren't kidding," Kharjo commented. "You actually have a frost troll."

"Yeah my life is crazy," Arian responded with a small smile. "Now where's the equipment?"

Kharjo led Arian into the room, and Arian saw an assortment of swords, axes and hammers. There were several bows and arrows lying around, but Arian hunted for the great sword Olarg and Isaldi had gifted to him. Kharjo was brandishing a curved sword and a bow, his old supplies, but Arian was unable to find the sword after a solid minute of looking. Arian was about to curse his luck when suddenly he lifted a tarp that was resting over a wooden crate, he found his sword. Breathing a sigh of relief Arian strapped it across his back and followed Kharjo out of the room.

They both looked to Frosty who let out a roar as the troll stared down the hall Arian and it had come from. Arian and Kharjo ran to Frosty's side to see vampires were quickly coming, unsheathing weapons and preparing attacks.

"I'll hold them off!" Kharjo yelled as he readied an arrow on his bow. "Get your troll out that window!"

Arian nodded as Kharjo let an arrow fly. It hit the first vampire charging them between the eyes, dropping him like a brick. Grabbing Frosty by the arm, Arian led the troll backwards towards the window, and motioned for it to jump. Frosty looked outside the window, and then glanced at Arian and rapidly shook its head.

"Frosty, you have to do it," Arian said sternly as Kharjo fired another arrow. "Even the cat is going to do it so you have to as well." Frosty grunted reluctantly, but then it moved to position itself better on the windowsill. After a moment of hesitation where Kharjo fired another arrow, Frosty jumped from the window. Arian watched troll roar in terror as it plummeted towards the water, which it hit with a splash. Relieved that Frosty avoided the rocks, Arian waited for a few moments until he saw Frosty resurface.

Frosty was swimming like a panicked seal, but Arian's best friend was still alive so he could breathe easy. Kharjo fired another arrow then, and Arian turned to the Khajiit and grabbed him by the shoulder.

"Your turn!" Arian shouted.

"You go! I'll follow!" Kharjo barked as he readied another arrow. The vampires were closing in, and worst of all Arian saw Demontor at the back of the pack.

"Not without you!" Arian stated firmly. He knew full well that Kharjo would stay and fight until he died, and Arian wasn't about to let that happen. Ha had said it himself, you can't save everyone, but Arian was hell bent on saving Kharjo.

Kharjo looked reluctantly at Arian for several seconds, until he hissed and sheathed his bow. Arian followed him to the window, and the Khajiit looked down in cautiously at the water. With a whimper Kharjo jumped forward, plummeting down towards the water. Arian followed, getting himself ready on the windowsill. He looked back quickly, seeing the vampires almost upon him, and Arian leapt forward.

He felt the rush of air as he fell towards the water, and Arian did everything he could to brace himself for the icy embrace that was coming. Arian hit the water with a thud, and much to his dismay he felt one of his ribs break again. The pain went surging through his whole body, and mixed with the shock of the water Arian blacked out.

To his surprise his eyes opened to see grey sky. Arian gagged and coughed up water as he reawakened, having swallowed a bit too much of it. He continued to look upwards, but his view of the grey sky was suddenly blocked out by a concerned Kharjo and concerned Frosty. The image startled Arian and he sat up in surprise, making Kharjo and Frosty back up to give him some room. However the pain his stomach had returned in full force, and Arian instantly fell back down to his back.

"That was weird to wake up to," Arian commented as he rubbed the back of his forehead.

"I am just glad you are alive, friend," Kharjo responded. "Your frost troll carried you to shore. I will admit, I have never seen such commitment from such a normally savage beast. This one impresses me." While saying that Kharjo rubbed Frosty's head, making Frosty nuzzle up closer to the Khajiit.

"I'm glad to see you two are getting along," Arian said with a smile. He sat up more carefully and looked at Castle Volkihar. There was no sign of pursuit coming, so either the vampires thought they were dead or they never mattered enough.

"So what now?" Kharjo asked, and he and Frosty both looked to Arian.

"Now, we help reform the Dawnguard," Arian answered resolutely. Arian may have had other things he needed to accomplish in his life, but the vampire threat had to be stopped. He had seen it ruin too many lives already in the short memory he had, and Arian's burning desire to pay it back out ruled all others.

As he stared at Castle Volkihar, Arian knew the next time he'd be back he would help burn the castle to the ground.

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Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered publisher, providing a platform to discover hidden talents and turn them into globally successful authors. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books our readers love most on our sister app, GALATEA and other formats.