Mending The Wound
It had been three days since Arthius had cured himself, and all three were miserable. Arthius had refused to take a carriage to solitude so they were forced to walk halfway across skyrim to reach dark fall cave. They had not spoken to each other since the first night, and Serana was growing weary of this. She wasn't attached to Arthius the way she was…before, but she still knew when he was troubled. She could feel his anger building as each day progressed, and she knew it was only a matter of time before he snapped. She would have said something sooner, but her own anger towards Arthius was keeping her from doing it. Every night since the curing, Arthius had been suffering through intense night terrors. Serana could hear his whimpers as he slept, and she saw how he sweated heavily. She knew that she could just shake him from his dream, or even hold him as that would relieve most of it, but she couldn't help to just sit there and watch with a smile. She resented Arthius since that night he had hurt her, she could almost compare him to her father. "If this is the gods' way of giving me comfort, so be it" she would think to herself as she watched him. She wasn't proud of herself for enjoying his suffering, but it just felt too good to pass up. Arthius paid her back during the day, whether he knew it or not. All they did was walk, not speak, not do anything, just walk. Serana never felt so alone during these times, even back when she lived in the castle. She would find some ways of comfort then, whether it be in the undercroft or tending to her mother's garden by herself. But now, it was just walking. It was sort of like reading a book, she knew about all of these fascinating things now as they walked through the province, but she had no one to share it with. That night as Arthius had finished up setting their camp, Serana had decided she had enough.
"Arthius" she called to him. Arthius stiffened as he had his back to her, but he did not respond. Serana walked to him slowly, cautiously.
"Arthius, we need to speak" Serana said as she was directly behind him now. She slowly put her hand on his shoulder, unsure if he would attack her.
"Arthius…I don't know if you're angry at me, or the situation, or just magicka itself. But I know that you're angry" Serana spoke softly. Arthius turned slightly, making a small smile appear on Serana's face.
"I know that you're hurt, I am too. I swear I would have stopped it, but-"Arthius turned to her suddenly, catching Serana by surprise. His face said it all as he stared at her. Serana winced slightly before she continued.
"I- I told you what it was before hand and-"Serana slightly stepped back as she felt the rage growing in Arthius.
"Arthius, we both knew what it was, but we chose to ignore it. We- we should have known-"Serana grew nervous as Arthius took as step towards her.
"Arthius!" Serana screamed at his face. Arthius was taken aback by this as Serana paced at him.
"We both knew the stakes, and we both chose to ignore them, so don't you damn dare this on me!" she shouted. Arthius' expression changed to a surprised one as Serana continued.
"Do you really think that I chose for this to happen?! That I wanted this?! How about you take your head out of your own ass and think!" Serana was now furious. She never knew that this much rage had been building in her, but she was ready for a fight if Arthius chose to give it to her. And she would be sure that it didn't end happily like last time.
"I was hurt just as much as you, and I'm genuinely sorry that it happened…in more ways than one" Serana said with a calmer tone. Arthius eyed her for a few moments before huffing. He closed his eyes and Serana saw his hand change to a fist. Serana knew that this would turn into a brawl, and she wasn't against it. But something changed in her, she once again thought of Arthius' pain and anger, of what she had promised to Lydia, even if things weren't the same. Serana quickly wrapped her arms around Arthius, pulling him into hug. She tightened her grip, holding his arms down. She was unsure what would happen, and was feeling a little uncomfortable. She slowly pulled away, to find Arthius' hand firmly grasping his sword. Serana quickly looked up at Arthius as he had his head held down. He slowly let his hand drop from his handle before turning to his bedroll. Serana watched him as he lied down, not feeling as though she accomplished anything. Arthius lied down, readying himself for sleep. He knew that the terrors would return, but he had no choice.
Arthius opened his eyes to darkened skies. He was lifted from behind and pushed towards a crumbling tower. He turned to see his executioner turned savior be grabbed by the beast and lifted it to the air. Arthius knew this scene all too well, but as he turned back to the tower, it had changed. Instead of the tower being there, all he saw was darkness. Fire was burning all throughout it as he saw faces in front of him. Farkas, Vilkas, Aela, Cicero, Astrid, Rena, Karliah, Brynjolf, and …Serana. Not the one with him now, the one he loved and cherished. All the darkness and fire faded as she stood in front of him. Arthius quickly embraced her as they kissed, holding her tighter than ever before.
Serana leaned into Arthius as they lay on the bedroll, she felt uncomfortable at first but as she felt him calm down as she wrapped his arm around her, nuzzling into him. Arthius was warm, and she felt more comfortable in his arms. She thought of the Arthius before the vampire Arthius. She thought of how close they were, and though it was nothing like what they had, they were still close. She couldn't say she was happy being where she was right now, saying that she liked Arthius was an exaggeration, but she hoped that they could be close as they were before. Arthius was her only friend, and she was unsure what she'd do without him. Serana sighed at the thought of this as she closed her eyes.
She awoke the next morning to find Arthius absent and already eating his meal. Serana huffed as she sat up, and that's when she noticed the sweet roll beside her. She looked at Arthius who didn't look back. She smiled as she picked it up and began eating it. Arthius sighed as he heard this, hoping it would help with how he's been acting. Arthius still hated Serana, he loathed her for everything that had happened. He knew it wasn't her fault, it was both of their faults, and Arthius hated himself just as much. She didn't deserve what he had been putting her through, but he wasn't in any mood to start speaking to her openly. As Arthius finished his meal, he kicked dirt onto the fire, extinguishing it. As he began to pick up his supplies, he was tackled by an enraged Farkas. Arthius landed on his back as Farkas began punching Arthius in the face. Farkas was absolutely livid as he continued his assault. Serana ran over to them as Vilkas intervened.
"Let me handle this" Vilkas shouted as he ran into the camp. Arthius struggled, but his immense strength was now gone. Vilkas rushed in and grabbed his brother from behind and began to pull him off as Farkas kicked Arthius as hard as he could. Arthius lied there, beaten and bloody. Serana rushed to kneel beside him and placed his head on her lap. She quickly grabbed the pouch beside Arthius and grabbed a large healing potion. She uncorked it and held it away to avoid the bitter smell. She then began pouring it into Arthius' mouth. Farkas struggled wildly as Vilkas held him to the ground.
"Calm yourself, brother! Calm yourself!" Vilkas yelled at Farkas. Farkas continued to struggle until he saw Arthius begin to rise. Farkas grew furious then and threw his brother off of him before charging once more. Serana placed herself in-between the two as she began to speak.
"Farkas, please-"she was silenced as Farkas smacked her across the side of her face. Arthius instantly grew enraged as he ducked a punch from Farkas while unsheathing his sword. He grabbed Farkas' arm and held it in place as he pierced his sword through Farkas' hand. Farkas howled as Arthius kicked the back of his knees, sending Farkas to the ground. Arthius went behind Farkas as held his sword to Farkas' throat, completely blinded by rage.
"I warned you damn it! I told you that if you harmed her again, I'd take your hand!" Arthius shouted into Farkas' ear. Farkas struggled as Arthius pressed the blade closer to Farkas' throat. Vilkas carefully approached them as Arthius turned to him. Farkas gagged as a trail of blood went down his neck. Arthius growled as he removed the blade from Farkas' throat and bashed him in the side of his head with the hilt of his sword. Farkas collapsed as he was struck, barely conscious. Arthius turned to face Vilkas with a scowl. Vilkas stared at Arthius with a serious expression, making sure that Arthius didn't take him lightly.
"Arthius, don't do anything foolish" Vilkas said as he unsheathed his sword. Arthius spit out some blood before smirking at Vilkas.
"Funny, I was going to say the same to you" Arthius said grinning. Serana quickly stepped in front of Arthius.
"Arthius, you have to calm yourself. These are your friends" Serana spoke calmly.
"Move out of the way Serana, you're not in a great place in my mind either" Arthius growled. Serana stood her ground, looking at Arthius in the eyes. Arthius scowled back before huffing.
"What do you want Vilkas?" Arthius asked. Vilkas looked up from his brother to look at Arthius.
"We're just trying to protect you Arthius" Vilkas spoke.
"From yourself. Arthius, this vampire situation-"
"I'm not a damn vampire anymore Vilkas! I was cured three days ago" Arthius growled. Vilkas kept his expression as he turned to Serana.
"That's not what I was speaking of" Vilkas said. Arthius quickly grabbed Serana by the wrist and placed her behind him.
"So it's true then" Arthius spoke. "You're trying to take her"
"Arthius, this is a bad path that you're walking. Kodlak wouldn't-"
"Don't tell me what Kodlak would think! I'm trying to save all of Tamriel, the least I should get is the support of my comrades!" Arthius shouted. Serana was growing tired of this. She knew that Arthius would handle it as he usually does, but they don't need this at a time like this. When they are so close to the end.
"We're leaving now, and unless you'd like to be hurt, I'd suggest you stay-"Arthius was cut off as Farkas tackled him and Serana from behind. Arthius landed on his front as Serana was on top of him. She turned to her back as Farkas held her throat.
"Vilkas!" Arthius shouted. Serana gagged as Farkas tightened his grip.
"Just give yourself up Arthius, then we can end this as I snap this whore's-"Farkas was cut off as Serana snapped his hand. Farkas screamed as he rose from Serana. She then kicked him hard in the chest, sending him toppling back. Serana rose and helped Arthius onto his feet. As they rose, they heard a strange noise behind them. They turned to see Farkas had turned into his wolf form. Arthius was immediately swatted aside, leaving Serana to fend for herself. She slowly walked back as Farkas growled. As he was about to lunge, Arthius tackled Farkas from his side. Farkas growled as he struggled against Arthius' blows, but wasn't fast enough to escape another shot from the hilt of Arthius' blade.
"Vilkas!" Serana screamed. Vilkas watched in shock, frozen in place as he watched his brother and his closest companion battle. Serana turned back to see Farkas get a hold of Arthius and lunge him at a tree, making Arthius collapse on impact. Serana began to rush over to him but Farkas appeared in front of her in a heartbeat. Serana's eyes widened as Farkas grabbed her throat and began lifting her into the air. Serana gagged and kicked viscously while trying to free herself, but Farkas' hold on her never extinguished. Serana was choking now, gagging for any air she could get as Farkas growled with delight. Serana's eyes began to flutter as her kicks weakened. Her arms slowly fell to her sides as she began to lose her struggle. She took a glance at Arthius who lay there, hoping that he would forgive her for all that she'd done to him. Just then, Farkas howled in pain and dropped Serana. She landed in a heap as she collapsed. Farkas slowly turned his head to see Vilkas holding a silver dagger to his back.
"I'm sorry brother" Vilkas whispered. Farkas dropped to his knees as he began to morph back to his human form. Farkas collapsed as Vilkas looked around. Arthius lay broken as Serana slowly began to pick herself up. She coughed heavily on all fours as Vilkas approached her. She looked up at him as she raised her dagger, pointing it up at him. Vilkas crossed his arms as he looked down at her.
"Listen, we did not come all this way to just simply leave with nothing" Vilkas spoke in a gruff voice. Serana scowled at him as she quickly rose.
"Well, I guess it must be a burden to come all this way and go back with nothing but few scars" Serana said with a smile.
"If you do actually go back, I mean" she said grinning, baring her fangs. Vilkas scowled back at her before speaking.
"Don't tread over me so lightly vampire, be more respectful" Vilkas said. Serana smiled at him as she played with her dagger.
"Respectful…do you know what has happened recently? Well, as it turned out, everything I thought was true turned out to be a lie" she said with a grin. Vilkas shifted uncomfortably as he eyed the dagger. Serana winked at him, noticing it as she continued.
"And also, I didn't even have my own opinions at the time. I basically shared every one of Arthius '"she said, nodding to Arthius.
"So…I did respect you for a time. I even sort of like Farkas. But guess what?" she said as her eyes widened. Vilkas gulped as he watched her, knowing that he was feeling the anger and the frustration she had been holding for who knows how long.
"I'm me again, and I don't plan on changing that. So tell me Vilkas, do you really want to attempt to take something?" she said as she put the pointed end of her dagger to her thumb. She pressed slightly, sending a trail of blood down her hand as Vilkas watched.
"Or would you rather take your naked, unconscious brother back to Whiterun where you and your dirty pack of mutts belong?" she said plainly. Vilkas was frozen, unsure if this was the same woman that he helped back at the underforge. He took a quick glance at Arthius before turning back to Serana who was now standing directly in front of him. He fell back as she smiled down at him. He quickly rose and grabbed his brother, then turned and began into the woods. Serana waited for a few minutes before coughing up a bit of blood. She fell to her knees, too weak to stand.
"Gods, I can't believe that worked" she thought to herself. She looked up at Arthius to see him reposition himself to sit against the tree. She walked over to him slowly before collapsing beside him. She sat with a huff as they stayed in silence.
"That was brilliant" Arthius spoke. Serana looked over to him to see him smiling as he faced forward. There was a trail of blood going down the side of his head and his face was bruised, but she couldn't help but smile back. She stopped as she thought of something, making her more serious.
"Why are you speaking to me?" Serana asked.
"Because you're angry at me" Serana spoke. She couldn't believe him.
"You were furious! You didn't even speak to me for three days" she said as she stared at him.
"Exactly, I didn't speak to you for three days" Arthius said as he looked over at her.
"And it seems as though it wasn't easy for you" he said with a small smile.
"Besides, it was three days ago. The past is the past Serana" he said as he turned back forward. Serana stared at him, unsure what to say. She thought of how Lydia said he was forgiving, but…this is something else.
"So…we're alright?" Serana asked. Arthius looked over at her with a smile.
"Yes, we're alright" Arthius said. Serana leaned back with a sigh, getting a small chuckle from Arthius.
"I think I'm about to vomit that sweet roll" Serana said plainly.
"I'll do my best to ignore that" Arthius said. Serana did not have time to reply as she doubled over and vomited. Arthius kept looking straight forward with a large grin on his face. After a few more minutes, Serana helped Arthius up as he began using his healing spell. They walked as Serana held Arthius up, leaning him against her.
"See? I told you that you should be the one leaning on me" Serana said with a smirk. Arthius looked up at her with a raised eyebrow.
"I'm still taller" he said with a smile. Serana stopped walking and turned to him with a grin. She then dropped him, sending Arthius to his knees. She looked down at him with a smirk.
"Not from this angle you're not" she said. Arthius looked up at her with an annoyed expression.
"I'm not very fond of you right now Serana" Arthius said. Serana laughed as she crouched down and helped him back to his feet. They continued until they were back at the path, Arthius was healed enough to walk then.
"I must warn you Serana, Vilkas isn't to be taken lightly" Arthius said as he glanced over. Serana scoffed as she turned to him
"I can handle a mutt"
"But he isn't a mutt. Vilkas was cured, so that whole "binding rage" thing isn't an issue to him" Arthius said seriously.
"So, you want be to be afraid" Serana said looking forward again.
"No, I want you to be prepared. The only reason Vilkas followed us was to get an idea of what he's dealing with. And now he's organizing the best way to deal with the situation" Arthius said. Serana pondered this for a few moments before turning to Arthius.
"I don't want any trouble" Serana spoke, almost in a whisper. Arthius walked over to her and placed his hand on her shoulder, getting a quick glance from Serana.
"I'm sorry you're in this situation, all of it" he said, giving her shoulder a small squeeze before continuing walking. Serana sighed before she followed. They soon arrived at the mouth of the cave, it was late after noon and night was approaching. Arthius looked to Serana to find her shaking slightly.
"What is it?" Arthius asked. Serana's head jerked up before she looked down again.
"I… I haven't fed in some time" she said shakily. She avoided Arthius' gaze as she looked around the area, hoping to find some sort of nourishment. As she did this she heard a cork pop. She turned to see Arthius holding out a blood potion.
"I uh…was keeping it in case- well, this" Arthius shrugged. Serana raised an eyebrow before reaching out and taking it from him and uncorked it, drinking all of its bitter liquid sealed inside. Serana looked back up at Arthius when she was done, looking for an explanation.
"I…thought you might be needing them, so I uh…stole a few from your mother…" Arthius said as he glanced down. Serana smiled widely before laughing aloud.
"When did you do that?" Serana asked once she finished laughing,
"When she was opening the case for the scroll" Arthius grinned.
"You dirty thief" Serana smiled as she tossed the bottle aside. Arthius shrugged before turning and entering the cave. They walked for a few moments in darkness until they saw a torch mounted on the wall. They walked along a path, passing a waterfall coming down from the ceiling. They came across a few frostbite spiders, to which Arthius grinned as he stomped their heads in. They soon reached the end of the path to find an underground ravine, with an old rope bridge to lead them across. Arthius and Serana looked over the edge to the rushing waters below, before looking back up at the bridge.
"Alright…Damnit" Serana spoke. Arthius sighed as he placed a foot on the bridge, getting a look from Serana. He gently placed his other foot in front of him, making the bridge whine slightly. He then began shuffling slowly across it, hoping that it wouldn't snap beneath him. Once he made it across, he motioned for Serana to follow. She nodded as she simply began walking across it, getting a nervous look from Arthius. Serana grinned as she was halfway across. Suddenly, there was a large creaking sound that made Serana freeze. She quickened her pace as the sound became louder, and she slipped slightly. As she was about to fall over the edge, Arthius reached out and grabbed her arm before pulling her into him. Arthius wrapped his arms around her as they stood, breathing heavily as they looked at the bridge. After a few moments, Serana noticed that Arthius was holding her closely
"Arthius, I'm sure you're afraid of heights, but I think we're good now" she said plainly. Arthius looked at her, before releasing his grasp and backing away. Serana cleared her throat before speaking.
"Alright, now where do-"she stopped as she turned to see nothing but a wall. From across the bridge, it seemed like an opening in the cave, but it was just a dark formation. Serana gulped as she looked back at the bridge.
"Well…take two" Arthius shrugged as he approached it. Serana watched as Arthius crossed, before they heard the rope snap. Serana's eyes widened as she instinctively ran to Arthius as he turned to her. She grabbed him, just as the bridge collapsed. They fell into the darkness as they screamed, unknowing to what might come. They landed in rapids as they were pushed down a tunnel. Arthius surfaced to see that they were approaching a waterfall. He looked for Serana before he felt her grab him. He wrapped his arm around her waist and pulled her into him as he closed his eyes. He opened them as they were launched over the side of the waterfall into more rapids, getting more screams for them. They rushed down another tunnel as they saw another fall approaching, getting a whimper from Serana. Arthius held her closer to him as they neared it. They went over to see the cave expanding, making them land in a small amount of water. It was silent for a moment before Arthius surfaced, gasping for air and coughing as he heard Serana doing the same behind him. He slowly crawled out of the water and collapsed on the rocky shore. It was then that he noticed Serana was on his back, clinging to him tightly. Arthius wanted to say something, but he had no energy to make a joke. They stayed there in silence as they breathed heavily, hearing nothing but the water crashing behind them.
"All of this…because of the damn…elder scrolls" Arthius huffed out in-between breaths. Serana slowly rolled off of him, onto her back.
"I don't even…know what…they are" Arthius turned to Serana.
"Do you?" She turned to him, her teeth were chattering as she laid there.
"N-no…I g-guess you don't learn much…from j-just sleeping with something" Serana spoke, shivering. Arthius smiled as he stared at her.
"I guess…you really wanted to know…what happened in cyrodiil that night" Arthius said chuckling. Even in the darkness of the cave, Arthius could see Serana's cheeks blush heavily. He laughed before noticing her constant chatter of teeth. He slowly undid his chest plate and tossed it aside. He then reached over and pulled Serana into him. Serana's eyes were closed, but then she suddenly felt warm all over. She thought she was dreaming for a moment before she opened her eyes. She blushed again as she saw Arthius' arm wrapped around her midsection. She turned slightly to see that he was holding her closely against his bare chest as he lied on his back. He was sleeping now, and Serana was unsure if she should detach from him. She didn't know what she wanted when suddenly, Arthius sighed as he pulled her closer. Serana was frozen at this, until she slowly nuzzled into his chest. She felt warm, and she felt safe. She couldn't deny that she was glad to see Arthius back to his former self, but at this moment…she wondered…if Arthius, and the man she loved, were the same person. She shrugged the thought off as she wrapped her arm around his waist and rested her head on his shoulder. As she drifted off into sleep, she couldn't help but smile at one final thought.
"I guess I really do want to know what happened in cyrodiil"