Arthius readied himself as Durnehviir flew towards them. He peered back at Serana and her mother, noticing that their stances were exactly the same. "Guess that's where Serana learned to fight"Arthius thought. He then thought back to the companions teaching him to properly wield a blade. He also thought of Kodlak and…"oh gods, Farkas is going to kill me for becoming a vampire" Arthius' eyes shot open as the dragon roared a wave of purple flames down at him. Arthius raised his shield to block it just in time to protect himself. He turned to see the vampires creating a large ward to fend off the flames. As he turned back around, he barely had time to duck a mist man's sword before slashing its waist and destroying it. The next was shot down by ice spikes, as was the next. Arthius watched as the mist men in front of him were picked off by the spikes. His mind drifted back to the companions and…"Oh gods, what will Aela think of me having feelings towards another woman? Then again, should she care? Gods, I need to have a talk with her. Then again, what does Lydia think in all this? Does she have feelings towards me? Or is she just filling out her-"Arthius was cut from his thoughts as Durnehviir landed in front of him. "Not the damn time!" he thought as he charged forward. Durnehviir snapped at Arthius but he blocked it. Arthius then ducked left, then jumped right while slashing Durnehviir across the face. Durnehviir roared as it turned to smack Arthius with its tail. Arthius ducked the large tail before shouting.
"FUS RO DAH" Arthius shouted, sending Durnehviir head first into the ground as the beast tried to regain its balance. It turned and roared fire at Arthius. He barely had enough time to raise his shield, and as the fire stopped, Durnehviir struck Arthius hard in the upper right side of his body with its tail. Arthius basically did a midair cart wheel as he was flipped over onto his side. Durnehviir turned back to Arthius before it was shot in the face with an ice spike. Serana charged it with her dagger, stabbing him in the face. Durnehviir roared as it shook its head violently, knocking Serana back and onto the ground. Durnehviir took flight once more as Serana helped Arthius to his feet.
"This bastard's tough" Arthius said as he watched Durnehviir fly through the air. Serana grabbed his face, squishing his cheeks as she turned it to face her.
"Arthius, you're a vampire now. Meaning that fire will hurt a lot more than it did before" she said as she turned his face checking for burns. Arthius put his hands up and pushed her hands off of him.
"I can wear my masque if you want" he said. She looked at him shocked.
"Your what!? How long have-"she was cut off by her mother's scream.
"Serana!" she screamed as Durnehviir roared as it flew down behind them, holding its claws out preparing to grab them. Arthius quickly pushed Serana out of the way before he was snatched by Durnehviir.
"ARTHIUS!" Serana screamed as she watched him be carried away. Arthius struggled to free his sword. "Not like this" he thought as he feared what might happen once he was carried too far off the ground. He then thought of his life up to this point. He thought of the companions, Alduin, and Serana. When Serana came to mind, he grew furious, he still had to try and save her. He wouldn't allow himself to die now. "Not like this!" he grew furious as he freed his arm and began to stab Durnehviir in the stomach. Durnehviir roared in anger as Arthius continued until there was a decent gash in his stomach. Arthius readied himself before he looked up and shouted.
"VEN GAAR NOS" he shouted into Durnehviir's stomach, forming a cyclone within. Durnehviir roared as it felt its insides being torn apart. Durnehviir gave one last roar before it crashed into the wall of the keep, sending Arthius plummeting to the ground. Serana watched in horror as he fell, feeling the life force drain from him.
"Arthius" it was basically a whisper as tears fell from her eyes. She covered her mouth as her legs wobbled beneath her. She then felt a small trace of his life force within her. Her eyes sprang open as she began to sprint towards the wreck of the destroyed wall.
"ARTHIUS!" Serana screamed as she approached the wreckage. She tore away rubble and stone until she found a steel plate gauntlet. She grabbed it and pulled until Arthius was dragged out of the rubble. He was a bloody mess and he wasn't breathing. Serana emitted a small gasp as she put her shaking hand on his face. Valerica approached her daughter, looking over her daughter's shoulder at the man in front of her.
"Serana…" Valerica said as she put her hand on her daughter's shoulder. Serana violently shuck it off as she began to remove Arthius' chest plate and gauntlets.
"No" she said calmly as she put her head to his chest. She listened for a heartbeat before she realized that vampires had none. She slammed her fist down in frustration.
"Damnit! How in the bloody divines am I supposed to know if he's even alive, if he doesn't even have a damn heartbeat?" She said with an annoyed tone.
"Serana…" Valerica said again.
"No" Serana said calmly again.
"Serana" Valerica said sternly.
"NO!" Serana screamed back at her mother, snarling, baring her fangs. Valerica shivered at her daughter's outburst. Serana turned and began to breathe air into Arthius' mouth, and then pumping his chest. She continued these actions for minutes, and Arthius still wasn't showing any signs of life. After an hour, Valerica grew tired of this and felt as though her daughter had done this for long enough. She crouched down and grabbed her daughter by the back of her armor and began to drag her away.
"Mother, release me" Serana said as she struggled.
"This is enough Serana, for the sake of the gods, if you want him so badly just raise him as a zombie" Valerica said with an annoyed tone. Serana simply put her feet down and brought Valerica to an abrupt stop. Serana looked her mother in the eyes before punching her straight in the face as hard as she could possibly muster. Valerica flew back and landed hard on her back. Valerica stared into the sky, completely stunned, both physically and emotionally. Serana simply turned on her heel and walked back to Arthius and knelt before him. She looked down at him, no longer feeling any life force from him. She didn't cry, she just felt empty. She soon felt anger build in her as she pounded down on Arthius' chest. She looked up, half expecting him to cough up blood and begin to breathe normally. Her mind began to swerve as she feared she might pass out on top of his corpse. "His corpse…" Serana grew furious at herself. "No! I'm not giving in that easily!" Serana thought as she began to breathe into his mouth again. She didn't bother to pump his chest as she knew she wouldn't be getting anywhere with it. She continued for what felt like hours…and then he inhaled. She knelt back in shock, she began to breathe into his mouth with rapid breaths until he sprang up and coughed before falling back and taking in a large breath before his eyes sprang open. Serana let the tears fall as she cradled his head, laughing. She pulled him into her, holding him to her as her laugh turned to sobbing. She put her forehead to his as he slowly put his hand behind her head. She laid him back down, her tears falling onto his face. Arthius smiled up at her, his left eye swollen. Serana gave a small laugh before embracing him again.
"Well" Arthius wheezed "it…could have gone-"Arthius was cut off as Serana laughed again as she kissed him. Her eyebrows twitched as she tried to make a serious expression.
"Arthius. If you ever do something so…stupid again-"she stopped as she sniffed "literally kill you" was all Serana could get out as she lied down beside Arthius, holding him tightly.
"Do we have any more healing potions?" Arthius grunted. Serana looked at him.
"We used them all back at the tower" she said as she nuzzled closer to him.
"Don't worry, vampires heal much more quickly than others" she said. Arthius huffed slightly as he looked up at the sky, putting his arm around Serana. Valerica watched with a scowl, wiping away another small trail of blood. "How this fool has somehow enthralled my daughter is beyond me" she thought bitterly. "But…I've never seen her so happy" Valerica's mood softened as she thought about this. He had definitely been keeping her safe, allowing himself to be captured by that damned dragon in order to protect Serana. She still couldn't truly believe Durnehviir was defeated, but for how long? Valerica huffed before walking over to her alchemy table, preparing a few healing potions and grabbing a few bloodpotions before walking back to them. As she approached, Serana gave her mother a look of both apology and warning. Valerica nodded as she knelt on the opposite side of Arthius. She grabbed the back of his head and tilted it upwards, making Serana slightly wince as she rose to kneel. Valerica then poured two healing potions into Arthius' mouth. Arthius slowly began to sit up, feeling the affects immediately. Serana tore another piece from Arthius' tunic and began wiping away the blood that covered him. Valerica stood and began to walk back to her table, leaving the blood potions next to Serana. Serana finished up as Arthius pushed her hand away feeling like a child. Serana laughed, wiping away the last of her tears as she hugged Arthius again.
"I truly thought you were dead" she said as she began to hand him his armor. Arthius gave her a bold look before putting on his chest plate.
"It'll take a lot more than some undead dragon to kill me" Arthius said with a smirk. Seeing Serana still have an uncomfortable look, Arthius gently put his hand to her cheek.
"I'm not leaving you, I promise" Arthius said calmly.
"Don't make a promise you can't keep Arthius" Serana said plainly. Arthius smiled kindly at her.
"I'm not" Arthius stated. Serana smiled as she placed a quick kiss on his lips before standing up and holding her arm out at him. Arthius chuckled before smacking her hand away and slowly rising to his feet.
"Don't be a woman" Arthius grinned as he put on his gauntlets. Serana laughed heartedly as she began to walk towards her mother.
Valerica stood, looking at the rubble of the wall. Serana approached her mother, followed by a limping Arthius. When she said nothing, Arthius cleared his throat. Valerica looked at them a moment before turning back to the ruins.
"I never thought I'd see the death of that dragon" she said simply. Arthius and Serana didn't respond, they just stood there and waited.
"I must warn you, you probably didn't kill it" Valerica said plainly. Arthius and Serana looked up suddenly, eyes wide.
"What do you mean?" Serana asked.
"It's possible that your killing blow has merely displaced Durnehviir's physical form while it reconstitutes itself"
"That explains why I didn't absorb his soul" Arthius said. Valerica looked up at him questionably.
"You what?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.
"He's the dragonborn" Serana said plainly. Valerica looked at Arthius, looking him up and down with a shocked face.
"Well, that's…interesting" she said, her expression turning back to a calm one.
"Anyways, let's just not wait around to find out when Durnehviir returns" Valerica said as she walked into a small hole in the wall with an alchemy table and a large case. She then unlatched the case, opening it to reveal the elder scroll. She turned to Arthius and nodded, allowing him to retrieve it. Arthius began to limp forward, but Serana grew tired of it. She paced forward and picked up the scroll, making Arthius give her a small grunt of annoyance.
"Now that you've retrieved the Elder Scroll, you should be on your way" Valerica said. Serana merely nodded as Arthius stepped closer.
"And what about you? Are you staying here?" Arthius asked, getting a look from Serana.
"I have no choice" Valerica responded "As I told you before, I'm a daughter of Coldharbour. If I return to Tamriel, that increases Harkon's likelihood of bringing the Tyranny of the Sun to fruition " Arthius looked towards Serana who had her arms crossed and was looking at the floor.
"We could use your help in Tamriel" Arthius stated, ignoring the glance from Serana.
"As much as it pains me to send you and Serana back alone, I can't take the risk. Just remember that Harkon is not to be trusted. No matter what he promises, he'll deceive you in order to get what he wants" Valerica said looking towards her Serana "And promise me you'll continue to keep my daughter safe. She's the only thing of value I have left" Serana looked up slightly at this. Arthius smiled, before nodding and turning away from Serana's mother.
"My name is Valerica by the way" she spoke. Arthius turned to face her, holding out his hand smiling.
"Arthius" he said as she shook it. Arthius continued out of the entrance as Serana followed, only for Valerica to speak.
"If I may have a moment with my daughter, Arthius?" Valerica spoke. Arthius nodded at Valerica before limping away. Leaving the mother and daughter by themselves. Serana crossed her arms as she looked at her mother.
"What would you like?" Serana said with a plain tone. Valerica looked at the entrance of the opening before replying.
"It's about your little relationship with him" Valerica said. Serana scowled slightly at her mother before responding.
"Mother, I understand if you're concerned but I can reassure you that Arthius is a good man"
"That's not what I'm trying to speak to you about Serana"
"Then what? What could possibly be the reason you want to speak about us?"
"Serana, if you'll just understand-"Valerica was cut off by her daughter.
"I know you worry about me, I understand that you don't want me to get hurt. But separating me from the things I care about is obviously not the way to do it. Arthius has been protecting me better than you have in your existence. He actually cares about how I feel, and unlike you, he doesn't ignore me and then try and corrupt me" Serana said with venom. Valerica scowled at her daughter, never feeling so hurt. But she brushed it off as she continued.
"Serana, I need to know. Are you the one who turned Arthius?" Valerica asked plainly.
"Mother, if you are insisting that this is just lust-"Serana began.
"And I'm assuming these feelings didn't appear until immediately after you turned him" Valerica said. Serana's eyes widened slightly at this.
"What are you-"
"Serana, this was your first time turning someone. Which means that this will be extremely stronger than any other time. What you both are experiencing is a blood bond. Nothing more" Valerica said as she crossed her arms. Serana stared at her mother questionably. Feeling her head spin as she tried to take this in.
"A blood what?" Serana said in a whimper. To believe that what she felt was anything but real was…heartbreaking.
"A blood bond is a magical attachment that a vampire has with another that it has turned. Like a mother's instinct. Honestly Serana, with all the books you read I expected you to-"Valerica's voice faded out as Serana's head ached increasingly. She thought of every kiss, every embrace, and every second of pure joy she shared with Arthius. The man who truly understood her, the man who truly cared, the man that loved her. All of it was a lie. Another side effect of being a vampire. Serana nodded at her mother and began to walk away, out of the opening. Towards the entrance of the barrier, still deep in thought and panic at what she had just heard. As she walked through the entrance, she watched as Durnehviir flew away from Arthius. Serana simply continued to walk down the steps, staring at Arthius, unsure of what to say. Arthius looked up at her with a smile, tearing Serana's soul out as she watched it fade as he saw her face. She walked down the steps and immediately pulled Arthius into a tight hug. Arthius held her there before looking at her with questioning eyes.
"What did she say to you?" Arthius asked as he began to fume. Serana made a small smile at this before responding.
"It's nothing Arthius"
"Serana, you're paler than usual" Arthius said with a stern face. Serana sighed slightly before looking around her.
"May we speak about this in a more comfortable area?" Serana said with a small smile, though she knew Arthius could tell that she was hurting.
"Yes, I think I've seen enough of this place" Arthius nodded. He then summoned Arvak and began to mount him. He held his hand out to Serana and she took it quickly. As Serana sat atop the skeletal horse, she rested her head on Arthius shoulder as she fell back into her deep thoughts. Arthius shuffled at how she was acting but he ignored it as he would soon find his answers. Serana feared the entire ride back to the portal, unsure of how to even tell him. The horse stopped and Serana looked up to see the portal. Arthius dismounted and began to hold his hand out to Serana, but brought it back. Serana cleared her throat, getting Arthius' attention.
"Are you going to help a girl out?" she said with a raised eyebrow. Arthius smiled as he helped her off of the horse. They climbed the steps and through the portal. They arrived in Valerica's laboratory, same way as they left it. Serana began to walk towards the exit, hoping that Arthius somehow forgot.
"So what is it that's troubling you?" she heard Arthius say. Serana slowly turned to face Arthius, preparing herself for what would come next.
They stayed silent, Serana was leaning against a railing. She watched Arthius as he sat on the steps, head down. She had been as gentle as possible, but it was more for her than him. She wanted to curl up in a ball like a child, it was all she could think of. Arthius didn't take the news very well either, she had never seen him like this before. She expected rage, for him to curse the divines. But he was just…sad. She felt the spirit in him flood away, as he heard everything she had to say. Afterwards, he just sat down. They were like this for several hours before Arthius suddenly stood up. Serana stared at him before he turned. She could tell what he meant by her looking pale, as Arthius now seemed pure white. Serana stared into his eyes for several moments before speaking.
"So…what would you have us do?" she asked. Arthius just shrugged as he picked up his sword.
"What is there to do Serana? We don't know anything about this. Just that…I'm not even sure about that" Arthius said, looking towards the wall. Serana looked at the floor, confused at what to say.
"Let's just focus on getting to Whiterun with the scrolls for now" Arthius said plainly. Serana looked up, she eyed him for a moment before nodding. Arthius began to limp up the stairs, but soon had to stop for breath. Serana seeing this smiled slightly, she then approached him and put his arm around her shoulder to help him walk.
"Something happen to you recently?" Serana asked sarcastically. Arthius gave her a look before replying.
"Had a bit of a near death experience" Arthius smirked.
"This coming from a vampire" Serana smiled.
"This coming from a vampire" Arthius repeated, getting a laugh from Serana.
After a few hours of slowly walking through the under keep, they soon reached the boat in front of the castle. Arthius was sweating heavily, and Serana knew that they had to stop at a hold to get help from a healer. Arthius began to place himself to row, when Serana grabbed him by the nape of his armor and pulled him to the other seat. Serana then sat in the boat and began to row, grinning widely the entire time.
"I can still row a damn boat" Arthius said with a huff. Serana rolled her eyes, but as she did, a snowflake landed one her left cheek. Serana slightly winced, making Arthius laugh. Arthius' laughter ended with a rough cough. Serana looked at him, worried that they may not make it to a hold. Arthius then began shivering violently, looking at Serana with a surprised expression.
"Gods, when did it get so cold?!" he stated. Serana laughed aloud before replying.
"You're a vampire, you might want to get used to feeling cold" Serana said with a smile as she rowed. Arthius didn't take the joke as she would have hoped as he just looked away shivering. Serana thought back to when he was mortal, how she would feel the warmth off of him. If he were mortal now, she'd probably just cling to him all hours of the day. Or she would if she had the same feelings for him as she did now. Serana couldn't think about anything else besides the blood bond. She thought back before Arthius had turned, searching for a sign he had feelings then. But all she could come up with was the night she lied on his shoulder when they fought. She thought about how he had taken her, and how she reacted when she discovered he was the dragonborn.
"Arthius, why didn't you tell me you were the dragonborn from the beginning?" Serana asked. Arthius looked up questionably.
"That was long ago Serana. What does it matter now?" Arthius asked. Serana stared at him for a moment, making Arthius look away.
"I didn't think it mattered" Arthius said.
"How could it not matter?"
"I just didn't think it would get you home any sooner" Arthius answered with an annoyed tone. Serana huffed before continuing.
"Well if you would have told me, I wouldn't have let you enter the castle. I would have guessed my father would try to use you. Then we wouldn't have had to run away and you wouldn't have had to stab me"
"Look Serana, we both know you didn't want to stay there, so stop with the act" Arthius said. Serana eyed him curiously.
"What's on your mind?" she asked
"You've been a little off since the tower. What's bothering you?"
"I said nothing"
"There's obviously something bothering you. So what is it?" Serana asked crossing her arms, refusing to continue rowing. They sat there in silence, in the open waters, floating. Arthius looked at her with an annoyed expression, as she looked at him with her calm blank face.
"Just give me the damn oars" Arthius said as he reached out. Serana gave him a more serious look, showing no retreat in her pursuit. Arthius sighed as he hung his head.
"It's…it's not that I think I'm like Harkon" he said.
"A long time ago, I allowed myself to become a werewolf "Arthius stated. Serana wasn't shocked since he was the leader of the companions. Arthius continued.
"My rage has always been a hurdle, now try and imagine that and the beast blood at once. There would be times that I would grow furious enough to attack anything" Arthius slowly spoke. Serana knew where he was going with this.
"One night, I stumbled upon a small settlement of farmers in the wild. At first, all was well. Then the next minute…" Arthius drifted off, staring at the bottom of the boat. Serana pondered this for a few moments, realizing why it was such a large impact that he now had the power of a blood thirsty vampire lord screaming for release. She eyed him before he continued.
"I was responsible for the deaths of three families" Arthius said as he looked up at Serana with a shrug.
"It's behind me now. I know it wasn't me, it was the beast. But I won't allow it to happen again" Arthius stated. Serana slowly nodded, she knew that others would think Arthius to be cruel for not feeling miserable for what he had done. But she knew that he had not overcome the realization easily. There has to be a way to move on, and Arthius' way was to make sure history did no repeat itself. She nodded at Arthius before picking up the oars and continuing rowing, after a short while of silence, they reached land. Serana rose and slowly helped Arthius out of the boat. As they walked along the shore, Serana thought of what Arthius had said. She looked over at him, seeing that he was just looking down. Suddenly, a bolt stuck itself into Arthius' midsection. Serana's eyes widened as Arthius collapsed. She suddenly heard Arthius' name being said aloud and she turned to their attackers. There were two men and one woman dressed in in custom leather armor. Serana slowly rose as the man and woman in front raised their crossbows. The man in the back held his, but did not draw. Serana began to sprint towards them as their crossbows shot the bolts. Serana let herself fall, avoiding the bolts as she summoned an ice spike. She stood up and launched it through the chest of the male. The woman began to frantically reload her crossbow as Serana charged another spike. The woman seeing this, threw her crossbow at Serana's head. Serana ducked just in time and looked up to see the woman leap at her. Serana brought her dagger up quickly, stabbing the woman midair. Serana was knocked to the ground, pinned by the woman's corpse. The third man approached her, looking down. Serana eyed his crossbow, struggling to free herself. The man suddenly dropped his weapon and helped Serana pull off the woman on top of her. Serana quickly rose and held her dagger out at the man. He made no movements as she inspected him.
"Are you the one who said Arthius' name?" she asked.
"Yes, I met him a while back. We have- or I have a campsite nearby "The man began to walk towards Arthius, Serana unsure of his intentions followed. Once he was near, Arthius looked up at the man. His eyes sprang open as he realized who this man was.