Through The Cave
Serana drifted off into slumber, awaiting whatever dreams she may come across. She instead found voices, voices that were arguing to each other. She soon realized that both voices were her own. She wondered what it meant for a moment before coming to a conclusion, they were her mind deciding on what she really wanted. Serana listened as the voices spoke.
"There is obviously more important things to worry about right now! How can you put aside the fates of mankind and vampires alike for these false feelings?!" one spoke angrily. Serana decided that this was her logic speaking. She then heard another voice, sounding as though it was pleading.
"But you don't know that! How can you say they were false when-"
"Because they faded as soon as the bond was broken! You have no attachment to him at all! The only reason you've grown close to him is because he's the only person so far that isn't trying to kill you!"
"To say that I don't love him is understandable, but to say that we are not friends is a lie. He cares about me, he understands how it feels to be alone"
"Open your eyes, he never showed any feelings towards you until you turned him. Why do you think he resents you?!"
"He doesn't resent me, he said-"
"And you believed him?! The only reason he told you that is because he feels sorry for you! He knows that you have no one, and he's doing his best to fill in the space"
"And he's doing a fine job. He's caring, wise, humorous, and kind. He's exactly like Arthius"
Serana was taken aback by this. She was sure that they were speaking of Arthius the whole time. And then she realized, they don't think of the mortal Arthius to be the real one, but the vampire Arthius she cared more for. She accepted this as she listened further.
"Arthius doesn't exist! Why can't you see that?!"
"He does exist, and I love him with all-"
"No you don't! You don't love anyone, you never did! That wasn't you and that wasn't him!"
"He acts as he does-"
"He acts as no one but himself. He can't act like someone who never existed in the first place! There was never love to begin with, and you have to accept that"
Serana waited until she realized that the other voice had nothing to say. Serana knew it to be true, and that was painful to realize. It was true, she still resented Arthius for what happened. She still didn't trust him to be honest, and she couldn't blame herself for doing so. But that didn't mean that she didn't care for him. Arthius was the only person that cared about her. If he wasn't there, she was alone. Serana knew that her own happiness was false, as she hadn't any idea what she really wanted. She knew only one thing for certain, they had to stop her father, it was too important. Serana came to peace with this decision as she opened her eyes. It was probably morning now as she began to remove herself from Arthius. She rose slowly, noticing that her dagger was missing. She assumed it had been taken in the rapids, so she began searching through the water. After about an hour, Serana had found her dagger, Arthius' sword, and their satchel of supplies. She had also found the bag of potions, but was frustrated to see that the bottles inside were smashed, leaving nothing but broken glass. After a few moments of attempting to dry her clothing, she heard Arthius groan as he rose. As he sat up, before he quickly turned to his left and coughed up a mouthful of water. He wiped his mouth as he looked to Serana.
"I hope you weren't offended" Arthius spoke.
"It was to keep me warm, correct?"
"Of course" Arthius nodded. Serana nodded back, knowing it to be true. Arthius gathered his armor and put it on, groaning slightly.
"Can you hand me a stamina potion?" Arthius asked. Serana looked at him with a calm face.
"The potions were smashed against the rocks, there were none remaining" Serana said. Arthius stared at her for a moment before smiling.
"And the blood potions were in there as well" he said as he placed his hands on his hips as he turned around. He walked forwards a bit before throwing his shield against the wall as hard as he could.
"GODS DAMNIT!" he screamed. Serana winced, not expecting his sudden outburst of rage.
"I'm sorry, it's just…things are pretty bad" Arthius said as he put his hand to his face. Serana knew he meant more than just the potions, or even the cave. Nothing had been good lately, and it seemed to just get worse.
"Arthius…before we continue…can I ask something of you?" Serana asked. Arthius sighed before looking up at her. He gave her a small smile before replying.
"Please, don't speak of anything that happened between us" Serana said plainly as she crossed her arms. Arthius' smile faded as he stared at her.
"Yes, I mean when you were a vampire" Serana nodded.
"Of course…but, we shall remain friends correct?" Arthius asked. Serana could list the many reasons why she didn't want to be friends with him at the moment. It's not that she hated Arthius, she just resented him slightly. It wasn't as though she wanted to, she was just too hurt by what he had said to be close to him again, even though her recent actions had said otherwise. Though she knew spending a small amount of time with him would wash away all of her resentment towards him. If Arthius was good at anything, it was to cheer her up. She put on a small smile and nodded at him, making Arthius smile back.
"Alright then, let's continue" Arthius said as he grabbed his sword from Serana and turned down the cave. Serana sighed before following. They barely took ten steps before two giant frostbite spiders jumped out at them. Arthius smirked as he charged one, dodging its webs. He faked left before leaping into the air and bringing his sword down through its skull. The other one was torn apart by spikes, not even getting a single shot. Arthius pulled his sword out of the spider as he grinned. Serana began to walk once more, getting an odd glance from Arthius.
"What, no comments?" Arthius asked with a smile. Serana looked back at him with a raised eyebrow.
"You seemed to be enjoying yourself, didn't want to ruin the moment" she said before turning back. Arthius shrugged with a smile before sheathing his sword. They continued following the stream until they reached an opening in the cave. They walked through the tunnel until they came across a small camp setup. It was deserted other than the dead bodies.
"I wonder what happened to them" Serana said as she approached. Arthius read a page that was nearby and handed it to Serana.
"Trolls" Arthius said plainly.
"These people were…why would anyone want to set up camp here?" Serana asked.
"Maybe they had their own reasons" Arthius spoke before turning back to the dead bodies. "Obviously they weren't good enough"
Arthius crossed his arms as he looked at the scene before him. He wasn't thinking of the people, but of something else entirely. He was thinking of the vampirism. He wasn't upset at Serana for the romance, but at the same time he wasn't torn up about it. He knew he didn't love her the next day, but he was thrown off a bit when he dreamed of her. He felt angry at the fact that he became a vampire, and almost vomited when he thought of the woman he fed from. He was literally the thing he hated, and was now simply shrugging it off for Serana's sake. The biggest question that repeatedly came to mind was "Why did I stay?" He remembered his answer previously, but after all of this, he questioned himself. He now forces himself on the belief that he needs to stop Harkon, but there's no reason for Serana to be there. It's best though, as she has nowhere else to go. He just wants all of this to be over. Go back to his normal life. Drink his ass off with Farkas, relax at home with Lydia, go hunt down bandits with Vilkas, go on a killing spree with Cicero whenever he needed to relieve some stress, and ravage Aela all through the night. But the way things are now, he won't even consider drinking with Farkas after seeing his true colors. Vilkas won't speak to him, Lydia will have questions, and Aela…well he can't stay away from Aela. "And how could I when she has such a firm, round-"
"Arthius" Serana spoke loudly, pulling Arthius from his thoughts. He looked at her surprised.
"I asked if you were ready to continue" she said a bit annoyed. Arthius quickly nodded before Serana turned and walked up the path. Arthius followed, feeling a bit morose after his thoughts. They walked down the cave until they saw a construct with what appeared to be an elf in ancient armor standing beside it.
"What's that? I can feel some sort of power coming from it" Serana said. Arthius looked at her with a raised eyebrow before shrugging.
"I'm not sure, but there's only one way to find out" he said as he walked forward.
"You mean, the easiest way to find out" Serana spoke.
"Exactly" Arthius replied, making Serana pinch her nose. The elf then noticed their presence as he was worshipping a shrine. Arthius assumed that it was the shrine of Auriel as the elf spoke.
"Come forward, you have nothing to fear here" the elf spoke. Serana scoffed slightly at his choice of words. Arthius smiled quickly before approaching the elf.
"I am Knight Paladin Gelebor. Welcome to the Great Chantry of Auri-El" the elf said professionally. His skin was white except for the pink covering the front part of his face. His hair was put upwards, leaving a clear view of his features. His eyes seemed kind yet at the same time cold, reminding Arthius of a thief.
"What is this place, a temple to Auriel?" Serana asked. The snow elf turned to her before replying.
"Auriel, Auri-El, Alkosh, Akatosh…so many different names for the sovereign of the snow elves" he spoke. Arthius' eyes widened as he heard this.
"So wait, you're a falmer?" Arthius asked. Serana kept her attention on Gelebor as she was just as curious.
"I prefer snow-elf. The name "Falmer" usually holds a negative meaning to most travelers. Those twisted creatures you call falmer, I call the betrayed"
"So, I'm assuming you know why we're here" Serana said, crossing her arms.
"Of course I do, you're here for Auriel's bow. I can help you get it, but first I must have your assistance"
"Gods Damnit!" Arthius and Serana thought simultaneously. Gelebor then went on to explain the story of his brother, as Arthius and Serana listened patiently.
"What's a wayshrine?" Arthius asked. Gelebor simply turned around to the construct. He used some sort of spell, making it rise out of the ground to show that it's a passage way of some sort. Arthius and Serana watched, a bit surprised.
"So…this is snow elf magic, incredible" Serana spoke as she observed.
"This structure is known as a wayshrine. They were used for meditation and for transport when the Chantry was a place of enlightenment. Prelates of these shrines were charged with teaching the mantras of Auri-El to our initiates" Gelebor explained.
"What's that basin in the center signify?" Serana asked
"Once the initiate completed his mantras, he'd dip a ceremonial ewer in the basin at the wayshrine's center and proceed to the next wayshrine"
"So these initiates had to lug around a heavy pitcher of water. Marvelous" she said in an annoyed tone. Arthius smirked at her for a moment, making sure she saw it before he turned back to Gelebor.
"And how long would they have to do that?" Serana continued.
"Well, after the initiate's enlightenment was complete, he'd bring the ewer to the Chantry's inner sanctum. Pouring the contents of the ewer into the sacred basin of the Sanctum would allow him to enter for an audience with the Arch-Curate himself"
"All that just to end up dumping it out? Makes no sense to me" Arthius said, getting a nod of agreement from Serana.
"It's symbolic. I don't expect you to understand" Gelebor said, showing his elven arrogance.
"So, basically we have to do all that nonsense to get into the temple…then kill your brother…then claim the bow" Serana said with an annoyed tone. Arthius sighed as he played it over in his head, frustrated at the mass amount of hurdles.
"What did you expect? We just spend a day looking through a hazardous cave system and defeat its guardian to claim it? Of course not, we have to lug around a heavy ewer, go to some damn wayshrines and fill our ewer with the contents inside. Then travel through a wasteland filled with who knows what to enter a sanctum to fight an insane snow elf and whatever damn army he has. And THEN we get the bow!" Arthius said before breathing in heavily. He raised his hand apologetically at Gelebor as he turned away.
"If there were another way I'd have done it centuries ago" Gelebor said to Serana. She nodded, trying to keep her own frustration at bay.
"The first lay at the end of Darkfall Passage, a cavern that represents the absence of enlightenment" Gelebor continued.
"And how many wayshrines are there?" Serana asked.
"Five in total, spread out all across the chantry"
"So what, that's it?"
"Yes, once you've located a wayshrine, there will be a spectral prelate tending to it, they will allow you to draw the waters from the shrine's basin as if you've been enlightened" Gelebor said before handing Serana the ewer.
"Best we be on our way then" Serana said before turning to Arthius. She caught a glimpse of him before he stepped through the portal. Serana sighed as she quickly rushed into it after him, holding her breath slightly. She appeared on the other side in a cave. She saw Arthius rubbing his forehead, attempting to soothe his anger. Serana tried to take his mind off of whatever was bothering him with some common chatter.
"That…wasn't as unpleasant as I thought it would be. Kind of soothing, actually. I feel a bit warmer now" she said with a small smile. Arthius looked up at her before sighing and turning down the path. Serana followed, feeling a bit uncomfortable.
"You know, I feel as though he could have at least made his way through to the other wayshrines with all the free time he had" Serana teased. Arthius made a small nod as he continued. Serana thought as though she should try and help Arthius, but had no idea how to do so.
"Arthius, is something troubling you?" Serana asked, making Arthius stop. He turned slowly and Serana could see a small smile.
"No, but it made you forget that you're the one holding the ewer" Arthius said with a smile. Serana smiled awkwardly as he took it from her. She knew that wasn't the truth, that he had been pretending. But she simply let it go as she didn't want to bother him about it. As she was about to speak, an egg exploded to their left, revealing a chaurus fledgling. It looked like a praying mantis that was the size of a dog. It beat its wings rapidly making it appear to float. Arthius and Serana jumped back as it happened, unsheathing their weapons almost immediately. Serana shot a spike at it but it dodged to the right, sending the spike whizzing by. Arthius swung with his sword, making it fly upwards to avoid the blade. Serana used her drain life spell on it, weakening it. Arthius took this to his advantage, pulling out his crossbow and sending a bolt through its stomach. It fell to the ground with a thump as it began to bubble. Arthius' eyes widened as he turned to Serana and tackled her to the ground. The fledgling exploded into guts and ooze, splattering the walls. Serana violently shoved Arthius off of her before scowling at him.
"Did you use the rune bolts?!" Serana asked. Arthius laid on his back with a chuckle, smiling widely.
"Yeah, sorry about that" Arthius said as he stared up at the ceiling. Serana huffed as she rose, not lending Arthius a hand. Arthius rose as well, making sure to not step on one of the puddles of fledgling. The tunnel cave they went through continued to dip into small pools of water, annoying Serana. As they were passing through a pool, something reached out and grabbed Serana's ankle and pulled her. She yelped slightly before being pulled under the surface. She struggled as it held her down, grabbing her arms. She was suddenly let go and she kicked to the surface as fast as she could. She appeared out of the water, gasping for air. She looked around to see that Arthius was nowhere in sight. She quickly took one more mouth full of air before diving back in. She searched around the darkness to find Arthius struggling with a falmer. She took out her dagger and swam down behind the falmer. She stuck her blade in its neck, causing it to let go of Arthius as it died. She then grabbed Arthius and pulled him to the surface with her. They both gasped for air as Serana began paddling to the other end of the water. She dragged Arthius onto shore as they collapsed. They lied on their backs, gasping for air before Arthius spoke up.
"You know…that's the second time…this week…that I've almost drowned" Arthius said between intakes of air. Serana smiled as she began to breathe normally. Arthius slowly rose and held his hand out to Serana, making her raise an eyebrow as she took it. As she rose, Arthius side stepped and pulled harder, holding his foot out. Serana fell over Arthius but grabbed him by the hair, bringing him into the water with her. They surfaced, Arthius maintaining a large grin.
"Damnit Arthius" Serana said. Arthius laughed heartedly as Serana slowly made her way out of the water with a small grin. As they got out, they immediately heard movement and readied themselves. Two more falmer lunged from the darkness at them, clashing weapons with Serana and Arthius. Serana backed up slightly as the falmer she was fighting wasn't giving her any chances to strike as it swung at her. Arthius rammed his shield against his falmer and pinned it to the wall. It swung wildly as Arthius began smashing the falmer repeatedly. Arthius continued until the wall was covered with its blood. He turned to see the falmer swing once more, winded as it had no chance to rest. As it swung forward, Serana sidestepped, letting it fall over itself. It landed on the ground and Serana quickly crouched and stabbed it through the back of the skull. Arthius smirked at her, getting a raised eyebrow.
"I finished first" Arthius said with a smile.
"I'm sure that happens quite often" Serana said with a smirk back. Arthius was stunned by this as Serana walked past him. She patted the side of his face as she walked by, making Arthius blink. He watched as she turned the corner, unsure of what to say. He then heard her shriek and quickly rushed after her. He entered an opening in the cave, a large room with connecting tunnels. He looked left to see Serana trying to fend off two chaurus reapers. He rushed in and tackled one from the side, sending it into the other one. He quickly stabbed it through the stomach but it snapped up at him, unfazed. Arthius backed away, protecting himself and Serana with his shield.
"YOL TOOR SHUL" Arthius shouted at the creatures. They were engulfed in flame, and charged with their last breaths. Arthius held his ground firmly as they bashed into his shield, trying desperately to get him or Serana. They slowly stopped as the fire consumed them, and died. Arthius let himself fall unto his backside, completely winded by the attack. Serana crouched beside him as she looked at the dead chaurus reapers.
"Quick thinking" Serana said with a small nod. Arthius looked up at her with a raised eyebrow.
"What? You wanted a comment, so I gave you one" she said as she turned back to the burnt remains. Arthius chuckled as he placed his hand on Serana's shoulder for support as he rose. They looked around the room, observing the pink flowers that glowed brightly. They used them as a light source as they continued down their path. They turned a corner to be attacked by a falmer, to which Serana pelted with ice spikes as soon as it moved. Arthius grinned as he stepped over it, not minding her company so much. He was still concerned about the blood potions, but saw no trouble as they were going to be in dark caves the whole time anyways. They came across another opening, a huge room that appeared to be a falmer village. There were ramps that led upwards and a pen of chaurus reapers living beside them. There were several huts in the dark room with a large waterfall making a wall in the back of the village. Arthius and Serana smirked at each other before charging forward with their blades drawn. The falmer didn't notice them until two were pelted down with spikes and one was slit open by Arthius' blade. There were about nine in total, but Serana raised one making it three on nine. Arthius and Serana went back to back as the falmer circled them, Serana's zombie awaiting its attack.
"I feel as though we've been here before" Arthius said with a small growl in his tone, excited for the fight ahead.
"We might have, but I feel as though this will be more fun" Serana said with a grin. Arthius huffed as he decided he had waited enough, and pulled out his crossbow.
"Let's test that" he said as he quickly raised his crossbow and shot a falmer through the chest. Everything was muffled out by the screams and clang of metal with the additional sound of a whizzing ice spike. Arthius bashed a falmer in the face with his crossbow before pulling out his sword and parrying a strike. He then kicked his attacker in the stomach before ducking a swing and turning around to uppercut the falmer with his shield. A falmer attacked from his side, but he brought his sword up and held it there as the falmer pushed in with its mace. It got up close in Arthius' face, and Arthius smirked before spitting violently in the falmer's face, making it back away slightly. Arthius then lifted his blade and swung sideways, taking its head off. Serana side stepped, avoiding a slash before kicking the falmer hard in the face as it was bent over. She readied an ice spike as another charged her, making her change targets. She parried its sword, right before it was tackled by her zombie. They wrestled on the floor for a moment before Serana sent the spike into the other falmer. Her zombie rose and grabbed his sword, readying itself as another charged it. Serana turned to see an axe coming her way, intending to take her head off, making her duck out of the way. She then stabbed the falmer in the stomach before sending an ice spike through its chest. She heard her zombie shriek and turned to see it was killed by two falmer. She shot one through the skull as the other charged her. Arthius blocked a stab with his sword before kicking the other falmer in its chest. He then hit the attacking falmer in the side of the head with his shield, making it drop to its knee. Arthius looked back and parried a downward slash before bringing his blade back over to stab the fallen falmer through the back of its throat before turning back to the one he parried to quickly stab it through the stomach. He turned to Serana as she parried a sword before she ducked another. He charged in and bashed the falmer behind her with his shield, sending it to the floor. Serana quickly used an ice spike on the knee of the falmer in front of her. As it fell, she rose her dagger and stabbed it through the bottom of its jaw. She turned to see arthius place his boot of the falmer's chest as it struggled.
"Arthius, just kill it" Serana spoke, trying to act annoyed but having an eager grin on her face. Arthius smirked as he raised his blade and stabbed it completely through the skull. He pressed his boot to its chin as he yanked his sword from the falmer. He turned to Serana with a wide grin.
"Satisfied?" Serana asked.
"Yes" Arthius replied, making Serana snicker. They made their way through the camp, stopping so that arthius could work on his target practice with the penned chaurus'. They crossed a bridge that went through the water fall to another part of the cave. They came across a boulder blocking the tunnel with two levers beside it. Serana pulled one of the levers sending smaller boulders tumbling towards them. Arthius quickly grabbed her and pulled her to the side of the wall, holding her there while the stones passed.
"What was that for?" Serana asked once the rocks fell by.
"I was just…moving you out of the way" Arthius said with a shrug.
"Arthius, I can defend myself from inanimate objects" she said as she pulled the second lever. On the other side of the wall stood a saber tooth that was black as the night. It had two purple streams going down its back as it stood elegantly there, as Arthius stood in awe of it. Serana turned to be pounced on by the beast, shocked as she landed on her back. She put her hands up and pushed it away as it snapped at her.
"Arthius!" she shouted at him.
"You know, there's a thing to be said about irony here" Arthius said as he watched.
"ARTHIUS!" Serana screamed as it grabbed the scruff of her armor.
"RAAN MIR TAH" Arthius shouted. The saber tooth paused as Serana shoved it off of her. She readied her ice spike before Arthius jumped in front of her.
"Arthius, what are you doing?!" Serana questioned him.
"Serana, have you ever seen such a creature? Look at it, it must have been developing for thousands of years!" Arthius said as he turned to the sabre cat as it lay watching them. Serana raised an eyebrow at him as she crossed her arms.
"By the gods Arthius, what are you going to do? Keep it as a pet?" Serana asked sarcastically, making arthius grin widely at her.
"Oh gods" Serana thought to herself.