After a few more moments, Serana slowly detached from Arthius but did not release her grip on him. As Arthius smiled down at her, she looked up at him. She then buried herself in him again, getting a chuckle from Arthius.
"Serana…" Arthius slowly said. Serana replied by nuzzling him. Arthius sighed as he put his hands on her shoulders and slowly began to push Serana off of him. She grunted playfully as she tightened her grip. After a few more minutes of struggle, Arthius was able to get out of Serana's grip. She sighed as she overlooked the scenery once more.
"I guess I got a bit carried away didn't I?" she asked as she wiped her eye.
"Yes" Arthius said boldly as he crossed his arms. Serana glanced at him, then slapped him hard across the face. Arthius stumbled, almost falling to one knee as he held the spot where he was slapped. He looked up at Serana who once again had her usual blank expression, showing no signs of her previous emotions.
"That…really hurt" Arthius said as he rubbed the side of his face.
"I'm aware, now come on" she said as she turned and began walking down the path. Arthius watched her go as he ran his hand across his face before rushing to catch up to her.
"You know, other than the spring there, this place isn't that amazing" Serana said as she crossed her arms. Arthius glanced at her with a raised eyebrow.
"Are you joking? Look at this place, it is beautiful" Arthius said as they continued down the path.
"The waterfall, the stream, the trees-"Arthius began.
"The rocks, the dirt, and- oh, the rocks again" Serana said unimpressed. Arthius rolled his eyes as he slightly shoved her into a tree. Serana gave him a warning glance as she walked beside him. Arthius smirked as he wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her into him again. Serana huffed as she leaned on his shoulder once more.
"You know, you should be the one leaning on my shoulder since I'm taller than you are" Serana said plainly. Arthius halted as he turned to Serana.
"You're not taller than I am" Arthius said raising an eyebrow. Serana chuckled as she looked at him with a small smile.
"Arthius, yes I am. I remember having to look down at you a lot"
"Maybe when I'm sitting down" Arthius spoke up.
"It's not important Arthius, do you think that I care?"
"Alright, let's see then" Arthius said as he dropped his shield and turned towards Serana. She smiled at him as they stood in front of each other. Arthius put his hand to the top of her forehead and brought it slightly below the top of his. Arthius smirked as he began to turn from her.
"That doesn't count. You have to measure from the top of our heads" Serana said as she crossed her arms.
"I can't, your hair is in the way"
"How does your hair count when it's based on height?"
"It just does"
"Just face it, I'm half an inch taller than you" Arthius said smiling. Serana rolled her eyes as she crossed her arms.
"Alright, I feel as though we've wasted enough time doing…that" Serana said smirking. Arthius was about to say something, but then caught her smile.
"Are you…stalling on purpose?" Arthius asked. Serana smiled at him.
"I just wanted to see how easy it was to manipulate you" she said with a smile. Arthius pinched the bridge of his nose before walking over to her and placing his foot behind hers as he pushed. Serana landed on her backside, laughing slightly as she stared up at Arthius.
"I'm not very fond of you right now" Arthius said, getting more laughter from Serana. He helped her up as they walked to the tree in the center. They found a stone structure with a draw knife placed inside. Arthius took it and approached the tree as Serana watched curiously. Arthius scraped a bit of bark off from the tree and held it in his hands.
"Alright, so now what?" he asked, turning to Serana. She sighed before looking around the area.
"I'm not sure. Maybe it has something to do with all these moths flying around. You know, moths, moth priests, maybe they have some sort of…" she trailed off as she saw the look Arthius was giving her.
"I have no idea, just- try something" Serana said growing annoyed. Arthius chuckled as he approached a swarm of moths. As soon as he got near it, the moths began swarming around him, surprising him and Serana at once. Arthius began to swat at the moths but couldn't get a single one as Serana chuckled at the scene before her.
"Damnit! What are they doing?!" Arthius shouted. Serana's laughter died down slightly.
"Oh, don't be so rude. They seem to like you" she said giggling. Arthius shot her a look that made her huff as she stopped giggling.
"Fine, just try and gather a few more" she said with a smirk. Arthius returned shortly after with a large swarm of moths flying around him. Serana watched him approach with wide eyes.
"Arthius, you're glowing" she stated.
"What do you mean?" he asked from within the swarm.
"I mean that you're literally glowing. Look at your reflection" Serana nodded towards the water.
Arthius looked down to see that he was in fact glowing. There was a bright golden aura surrounding him and he somehow just barely noticed it. He looked all around as the canyon somehow seemed more alive than ever before.
"Serana…remember when you said that it wasn't very beautiful in here?" Arthius asked. Serana nodded before Arthius grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her into the swarm. Serana looked at him with a raised eyebrow until she looked past him. Serana then slowly turned around, staring at everything from within the aura.
"Gods" she said as she stared at the tree in the center. Arthius pulled her into him and kissed the back of her head as he began to pull out the elder scroll. He held it in front of them, earning a nervous glance from Serana. He began kissing the back of her neck, trying to reassure her as he began to unravel the scroll. He opened it, receiving a flash of light. He readied himself as he opened it again, maintaining a few images. He opened it once more, as dozens of images flashed before him. He saw figures and heard whispers but only in flashes until he got a clear view of the location of Auriel's bow. And then…he heard voices, from somewhere else. He didn't know who said them or to who they are saying it to.
"-it's time we stop this, before all of skyrim falls into peril…always be there, no matter the cost. I promise…continue what I started, and you shall reign…He's all I have" and as quick as they came, the voices faded. Arthius' vision slowly came back as he opened his eyes to see the ceiling of the cave. He looked around and saw Serana on her hands and knees at his feet. He slowly rose as Serana turned to him with a pained expression.
"Arthius?" she slowly asked as she began to open her eyes.
"Yes" he replied as he reached out and placed his hand on her shoulder. She gave him a small smile before rising to her feet slowly. She held her hand out to Arthius, helping him to his feet. Arthius thought about what he had heard, but decided to not mention it to Serana.
"Are you alright? You were as pale as the snow for a minute there" she asked with a raised eyebrow. Arthius nodded as he regained himself, holding his head. He suddenly shot his eyes open as he looked at Serana.
"Did you see it?" he asked. Serana nodded as she held her head.
"Yes, dark fall cave correct?" she said as she picked up the scroll from the ground. Arthius nodded, making Serana's expression turn serious.
"Then it's almost over. We can put an end to this prophecy once and for all" she said as she began to walk up the path.
"And then?" Arthius asked after her. Serana paused as he said this. She slowly turned around at Arthius with a blank expression.
"I guess we'll have to figure that out when we get there" she said before continuing up the path. Arthius sighed before following her, taking a final glance at the scene before them. As they walked the path, Serana continued to glance back at Arthius. Once they exited the cave, Arthius questioned her.
"Is something bothering you?" Arthius asked. Serana paused as she was putting on her hood, as the sun was well high in the clouds.
"It's nothing" she said as she put on her hood and began walking.
"You know I won't let it go" Arthius said as he walked beside her. She sighed before looking over to him.
"Arthius, did you see anything else while reading the scroll?" she said. Arthius glanced at her a moment before she continued.
"It's just…I think you should get cured" she said with a serious expression. Arthius raised an eyebrow at her as he was about to say something.
"I know that there might be reasons for you to stay a vampire, but right now I think it would be best if you were mortal. We don't need more enemies than we already have" she spoke before he could. Arthius pondered this as they walked before speaking.
"is this about the companions?" Arthius asked.
"No, well- yes but…it's not just that. There's just not many good reasons for you to be one. Especially with all the reasons not to be one" she said. She looked at Arthius as he gave her a concerned look.
"Just- please do it. If you know a way, then please do it. For me" she said with a small smile. Arthius knew that there was more to it than she was letting on, why else would she want him to become mortal again? Arthius knew that he she didn't want to tell him so he decided to let it go. Arthius turned to her and grabbed her hand. He slowly raised it to his mouth and kissed the back of her hand, getting a bright smile from Serana.
"Alright, we'll travel to get me cured tomorrow. We'll stay at my home for the night and we'll depart in the morning" Arthius said. Serana nodded as they continued towards his home.
"So what to do you actually know about Auriel's bow?" Arthius asked.
"Not much" Serana said plainly.
"If you read any history, it shows up from time to time, but it's a hard thing to track. As far as I know though, it's never been held by a vampire. That would be a new one" she said.
"So how does it help us? Auriel is an elven god but then what?" Arthius asked.
"Well, the way I heard it was that the sun represents the connection from our world to theirs. Supposedly, the bow draws its energy from the sun itself, which is why it shows up in the prophecy" Serana explained.
"So then, what does it do?" Arthius asked.
"That part, I don't know" Serana explained as she glanced at him.
"Well, maybe it'll be obvious once we have it" Arthius said. They soon arrived back at the house in the early evening. Arthius was surprised at this but then figured that they were unconscious for longer than he thought.
"Hey, before we go in there…" Serana spoke up. Arthius looked at her smirking.
"This again?" he said with a raised eyebrow. Serana smiled before she spoke.
"I just need to know, what do you think will happen if we defeat my father?" she asked.
"You mean once we defeat your father"
"Yeah, that" Serana said. Arthius looked down before speaking.
"I don't know Serana. With everyone else, I could just say that everything will be fine, and that we won't have anything to worry about afterwards. But with us, right now…" Arthius trailed off as he looked around. Searching desperately for the answers she was seeking for.
"That's what I was afraid of" she said as she knocked on the door. Arthius sighed as Lydia opened the door with a welcoming smile.
"Welcome home my thane" she said. After a long explanation and more bottles of mead one should drink. Lydia basically carried Arthius up the stairs to his room. Arthius fell asleep almost as soon as he hit the bed as Lydia descended the stairs. Serana was sitting in Arthius' library reading one of the books he had there as Lydia walked into the room and sat across from her. They stayed there in silence as Lydia watched Serana read.
"Clever old woman to pull off a trick like that. I'd love to learn that recipe" Serana said with a small smile as she began to put the book aside. She then looked up at Lydia with a plain face as Lydia stared back at her. The small candle in the room flickered slightly, shadowing the better half of their faces as they looked at one another.
"I'm unsure of your exact intensions, so I won't assume anything" Lydia said plainly. Serana nodded before Lydia continued.
"Just know that Arthius is a forgiving man. You may lie to him, steal from him, hurt him, or worse, hurt the ones he cares about, but he'll let it go completely if you believed it to be the right thing to do. This has caused many to think him weak, but those who are wise see that he is stronger than us all. It has also caused him much pain and grief. The kind that you can never understand, and the kind that one should never have to burden with. He's been deceived by those he's let close to him, and betrayed by those he cared for. And yet, all he ever wants to do is help those around him" Lydia spoke as she looked to the candle. As she turned back, Serana saw the tears in her eyes. As she spoke, her voice cracked.
"So I beg of you. Please, please don't hurt him. From the small time I've known you, I can see the way he cares about you. He would gladly die for any good person, but he would do so much more for you. So just…" Lydia trailed off as she placed her head in her palms. Serana grew teary at Lydia's words and moved over to her to comfort her.
"I understand" Serana spoke as she placed her hand on Lydia's back. She understood now. Lydia was always doing what was expected of her, protecting her thane. That's why she always wanted to be near him, to know where he was, to care for him in any way she could. She knew all the pain he had suffered and how she must have felt for not being able to stop it. It was true, Lydia loved him. But not as a woman would love her husband, but the way a mother would love her son. Because that's what she is, his protector.
Lydia looked up at Serana for a moment before standing and walking to the doorway, but not before hearing something from Serana.
"He needs you, more than you can imagine" Serana spoke. Lydia froze at this, before continuing out the door. Serana sat there in silence, smiling as she stood and looked through Arthius' vast assortment of books. ""The Cabin in the Woods" sounds interesting" Serana thought to herself as she plucked it from the shelf. Once she had finished the book, Serana found herself basically in a ball as she sat. She jumped at every crack or chirp that came from outside. Serana took a deep breath before she walked to the door and opened it. On the other side was the silhouette of a woman, making Serana scream as she fell back. As she looked up, she saw Lydia staring down at her with a raised eyebrow.
"The cabin in the woods?" Lydia asked. Serana gulped as she nodded. After a few moments Lydia began laughing cheerfully as she held her hand to Serana. Serana smiled slightly as she took Lydia's hand as she was helped to her feet.
"One that will keep you up is "The Locked Room"" Lydia said with a smile. After sitting down and waiting for Serana to finish, Lydia almost laughed as Serana looked up at her.
"How did she get it around his neck?!" Serana asked. At this, Lydia laughed heartedly as did Serana. After a pleasant discussion about the books they enjoyed, Lydia ascended the stairs to her bedroom. Serana sat there for a few moments before ascending the stairs. She slowly opened the door to Arthius' room as she peered inside. He was sleeping peacefully on his bed. He had changed his clothing sometime during the night as he was now wearing a blue tunic as his armor was set aside. Serana slowly began to leave as Arthius shifted to the other side of the bed, leaving a space bigger than she would need. Serana stood there for a few minutes before slowly walking over to the bedside, slowly removing her boots, hood, and cape. She slowly slid into the furs as she began to lie down in the soft bed. As she began to close her eyes, she jumped as Arthius wrapped his arm around her mid-section and pulled her into him. She found herself warmer than ever as she nuzzled into him.
"Were you awake this whole time?" she whispered to him.
"I just wanted to see how easy it was to manipulate you" Arthius whispered. Serana turned to him, staring into his eyes as she put her hand on the back of his head. She pulled him into a deep kiss as he wrapped his arms around her and brought her on top of him. She quickly threw off his tunic as she kissed his shoulders. Arthius chuckled as he straightened her as he carefully undid her bindings on her armor. He quickly untied the strings, getting a small smile from Serana. She leaned into him and kissed him as he removed her leather from around her torso. He ran his hands around her as he kissed her neck, getting a small moan from Serana. He began to remove her top just as they heard Lydia yawn before she settled in her bed. Serana looked down at Arthius with a smile.
"I think we got a little carried away Arthius" Serana said. Arthius looked up at her with a sigh, as she began to leave the bed.
"Oh to oblivion with that" Arthius said as he reached over and grabbed Serana by the wrist, pulling her back to him. Serana laughed in delight as Arthius laid her down as he got on top of her, burying himself in her neck. Serana bit her bottom lip as Arthius continued down her jaw line and began kissing next to the fabric of her top. He began slowly removing it as he kissed every inch on the way. Just as Arthius was going to reach her breast, there was a loud knocking on the door.
"Are you alright my thane?" Lydia boomed from the other side. Arthius fell onto his back with a huff.
"Yes Lydia, we were a little busy" Arthius said annoyed.
"I know" Lydia said with a laugh. Serana sighed with a large smile as she looked to Arthius. She then kissed him on the cheek before curling up next to him, resting her head on his shoulder.
"Good night Arthius" she said.
"Good night Serana" Arthius said with a huff.
They awoke the next morning and dressed and descended the stairs to see Lydia setting them am meal.
"I assume you had a good sleep" Lydia said with a smile.
"Yes, sleep. And that was all" Arthius said as he looked at what she was doing.
"Lydia, vampires don't eat regular food" Arthius said.
"I know you don't need it, but I'm sure you can still enjoy it" Lydia said as she placed down a bowl of horker stew. Arthius almost immediately sat in front of it and began spooning mouthfuls. Lydia laughed as she looked to Serana.
"Oh, no thank you" Serana smiled. Arthius looked to Serana in-between mouthfuls.
"Lydia makes amazing sweet rolls" Arthius said with a wink. Serana glanced at Lydia as she followed her into the kitchen. After two bowls of horker stew and a new batch of sweet rolls for the road, Arthius hugged Lydia goodbye as he boarded the carriage that resided outside of his home. Serana gave a nod to Lydia before taking Arthius' hand onto the carriage. They made their way down the trail, as Lydia watched them leave. "Please, keep him safe for me" Lydia thought before she entered the home.
They travelled for a few hours until the driver suddenly halted. Arthius was about to speak until he looked in front of the carriage. "Well, looks like the mutts have found us"