Serana leaned against the wall of the cave as she watched Arthius pet the beast. She sighed as she watched him pet it, a bit stressed at their lack of achievement. She was growing weary of this, and not just watching Arthius pet the sabre cat. She was growing weary of following Arthius through all of his distractions. All she had wanted to do was stop her father and yet, somehow Arthius had sent them both off course. It had started with the fighting, then the pointless traveling, then the damn romance, then all of the frustration after he had cured himself. Not to mention the idiotic hounds that continued to hunt them for reasons she still didn't understand. Most of all, she was tired of trying, trying to help Arthius with his rage. Trying to help Arthius with his loneliness, and just trying to be a friend to Arthius. He had caused her so much pin in the short time they've known each other than most have in her entire existence. But yet, no one else had given her so much happiness.
"No" she thought to herself as she shook her head. "Don't let that influence you again" she thought as she returned to her previous thoughts. She wasn't sure how she felt about Arthius exactly, but she knows that she's not happy to be with him. Maybe if the companions weren't chasing them, maybe if he weren't a vampire hunter, or if she wasn't a vampire…or maybe if he was still a vampire…
"I love you Serana, and I always will" Serana shut her eyes tightly as the words went through her head. She felt pain rush through her as she tried not to think back to it, to any of it. She just wanted to forget it, yet she couldn't stop thinking about it. Why? Serana searched for the answer as Arthius began to approach her. She opened her eyes to see him walking over to her with a small smile. She sighed as he approached, putting off her thoughts for the moment.
"It's going to stay here, I figure I can pick it up once all of this is done and over" Arthius said with a nod. Serana simply nodded, not really caring about what he did with the creature so long as they can continue. They walked to the end of the tunnel to come across a large open area in the cave. The entire place had a bit of dark green as the light reflected off the water. There were paths that sort of went throughout it all, rising and falling. Arthius looked around the area, a bit immersed in it all. They began walking down the path until they came across a shaking plant. Serana reached out and touched it, making its leaves real back and a gas emit from its center. Serana immediately felt sick to her stomach as she felt Arthius pull her out of the smoke. She coughed heavily, dazed and unaware what was happening around her. She then realized she was on her back as Arthius was pouring a bit of water into her mouth. She drank slightly before coughing heavily again. She breathed deeply and slowly exhaled, remembering her mother's teachings. After a minute or so, Serana began to breathe normally again as Arthius removed the rag he had placed on her forehead.
"Do you need to rest?" Arthius asked a bit concerned. Serana shook her head as she began to sit up. "Damn poisonous plants, let's fill the ewer and get out of here" Arthius said as he took her hand and helped her up. Serana stood, a bit woozy still. As Arthius turned and began down the path again, Serana's mind went back to her previous thoughts. "I want you to get cured" Serana huffed as she thought of her exact words. The words that led to so much pain and anger, or maybe it just woke them both up. Either way…they're making much more progress than usual. Serana pushed her thoughts aside as she settled on stopping her father to be the only thing she wanted to care about. They continued up the curving path, passing large glowing mushrooms and plenty more of the plants. As they walked, a group of deer rushed past them. Serana observed them, noticing they too were decorated in black. They then reached the top of the walkway, only to be ambushed by another sabre cat. It was waiting for them as it leaped on top of Arthius, sending him crashing to the floor. Serana chuckled as the previous scene was now in reverse, Arthius pinned down as she watched.
"Serana" Arthius said as he avoided the snapping jaws of the beast, making it bite down on his gauntlets.
"You know, Arthius, there's a thing to be said about irony here" Serana grinned at him. Arthius looked at her, shocked as she just stood there. He then became enraged as he punched the sabre cat roughly, knocking it to the ground. He quickly stood, unsheathed his sword, and sent it through the beast without hesitation. Serana sighed, knowing that she shouldn't have done that, especially after he had just saved her.
"Arthius-"Serana began. Arthius simply nodded as he sheathed his sword and continued to walk, Serana followed as she silently cursed to herself. "You just saved her, and that is how she chooses to repay you?! You are a weak fool, strike her down where she stands!" Arthius froze in place as he heard the voice he has been dreading. She had been absent for so long, Arthius had hoped she had vanished. Ever since he had become a vampire, she was no longer present, making Arthius a bit worried about what would happen once he was cured. After hearing nothing after everything that had happened between him and the companions, he had assumed she had finally let him be. He was wrong, as the Nightmother had once again returned, attempting to corrupt him. He clenched his fists as he sighed, hoping that she would leave. Serana watched from a distance, unsure of what Arthius was doing. He then opened his eyes and continued walking as if nothing happened. She followed, not wanting to bother asking what was troubling him. They finally came across the first wayshrine, a spectral snow elf standing in front of it as they approached.
"Welcome, Initiate" the elf spoke. He was wearing simple robes and had his long hair loose, falling just below his shoulders. "This is the wayshrine of Illumination. Are you prepared to honor the mantras of Auri-el and fill your vessel with his enlightenment?" he asked.
"Yes" Arthius spoke as Serana stood behind him, inspecting the wayshrine.
"Then behold Auri-el's gift, my child. May it light your path as you seek tranquility within the Inner sanctum" he spoke. He then turned around, summoning a spell. He casted it on the wayshrine, making it rise out of the ground. Arthius and Serana watched, interested with its magic. Arthius then entered the wayshrine and filled the ewer with its contents. He shrugged as serana approached him.
"Well…that was a bit overdramatic" Serana said as she crossed her arms. Arthius looked into the portal in the wayshrine and nodded towards it. Serana sighed as she nodded, turning towards it as Arthius stepped through. She quickly took in a breath of air before following him. They appeared on the other side of the cave, much brighter than the one before. Arthius cursed aloud as he realized that it was day out, and they were close to the surface. There were still a few mushrooms surrounding the area as Arthius inspected their surroundings. He sighed as he heard Serana place her hood over her head, feeling the warmth of the sun. As they began walking, Arthius felt the need to strike up a conversation, knowing that Serana was feeling a bit lonely.
"You know, it's a bit ironic that were "helping" these priests" he said as they walked. Serana smiled as she followed him.
"To be honest, I doubt they even care what we do with Auriel's bow. They seem to be lost in the past. So as long as we can get this "Brother" out of the Sanctum, I think they'll be glad to just give it to us" Serana spoke.
"Well, we can hope for as much" Arthius replied. They walked until they came across another opening, making Arthius pause as he noticed that the path narrowed around the walls. If he wasn't paying attention, it would have been quite the fall. They walked up the path, circling the room as Arthius looked up. They were now outside, and he knew that it might be a problem for Serana. As they climbed out of the cave however, Arthius noticed that the sun was blocked out. He looked around, seeing that the land may have been even more of a tundra then skyrim. The entire place looked gray, and Serana stepped beside him as they observed.
"It's like a whole new world…" Serana said as she looked around. After a few moments, Arthius immediately felt the cold. He shook violently as the wind went through his armor. Serana glanced at him before speaking.
"Come one, the bow must be somewhere around here" she said as she began to go down the trail. Arthius shivered once more before following, wishing he had a hood. They were almost immediately attacked by a frost troll, making Arthius curse as he brought out his sword. It charged him as Serana shot ice spikes at him.
"Might want to change your strategy Serana" Arthius shouted as he lunged at it. He stabbed it through the center, only for it to swat him across the side. He recovered as he ripped his blade free, sending blood splattering across the snow. It stood there barely standing as Serana shot a lightning bolt into its chest, killing it.
"That works" Arthius grinned. Serana smiled as he continued to walk down the path. "If only it were always like this" Serana thought as she watched him walking. They walked through the rocky valley, noticing that it was almost night. Serana smiled as she realized this, but also frowned as she thought of Arthius. There was a good chance that he was completely exhausted from the day and was hoping to set up camp.
"Arthius-"Serana began. He turned to her with a smile.
"I'm fine, I doubt there's much we can do anyways" he spoke. Serana was a bit surprised at his answer, but was completely grateful. They passed by a frozen pond and a few crumbling pillars until they reached a small hill. At the top stood a group of frostbite spiders, making Arthius grin. He charged forward and stabbed one through the skull, killing it instantly as another leaped at him. It was shot in midair by Serana who felt her strength rushing back to her. She charged forward with her dagger as another leapt. She shot a bolt into it, knocking it to the floor before stabbing it through the skull. She smiled at Arthius as he watched, a bit surprised at the scene before him. As they stared at one another until they heard a crunch in the snow. They turned to see a giant frostbite spider approaching them. They glanced at one another before charging forward, shouting as they brought their blades down. The spider didn't stand a chance as they both pulled their weapons out of its skull. They stood there in silence, savoring the victory. Arthius then began laughing, and Serana followed. They waked over the hill to see a large valley, with a beautiful frozen river following across the mountain side. Arthius and Serana looked around, lost in the scenery.
"This is the kind of thing I've been waiting to see" Serana spoke silently. Arthius didn't bother to look at her, knowing that she was just as lost in it as he was. "It makes almost everything else worth it" she continued. Arthius paused as he thought of this.
"Almost…" he thought. They continued down the path to see that the river wasn't entirely frozen, surprising Arthius. He looked around and saw another wayshrine, making him grin as he rushed over to it. The spectral elf had his hair in a bun and nodded as he approached.
"You have reached the wayshrine of learning, Initiate. Are you prepared to honor the mantras of Auri-el and fill your vessel with his enlightenment?" he asked.
"Yes" Arthius spoke, a bit annoyed at the process. He zoned out as the elf spoke again, waiting for the wayshrine to just open already. He quickly rushed inside and filled the ewer with its contents before walking back to Serana who was waiting outside.
"Not as interesting as the first time, is it?" Serana asked.
"It's beginning to be damn annoying" Arthius said as he shook his head. Serana smiled as he passed her and turned to follow him back along the path. As they walked down the path, Arthius observed the lake. He slowly approached it and put his hand inside. He was shocked to find that the water was almost warm. It felt just the same as the water from Riverwood.
"Serana, feel this" Arthius said as Serana approached him. She sighed as he was once again distracted by something else. She placed her hand in the water, just as shocked to find its temperature so different than it should be.
"That's…odd" she said as she ran her hand through it. Before she could say anything else, Arthius began rushing away from the path, following the river. She sighed as she rushed after him. They followed it until it flowed into a cave. Arthius grinned as he approached it, making Serana call his attention.
"Be careful. If you fall down that thing I'm going to have to drag you out of…well…wherever it leads" Serana said as she crossed her arms. Arthius grinned as he grabbed her wrist.
"Let's find out" he said as he placed his foot in the water. He was shocked as it pulled him down, clutching Serana as he was pulled into the rapids.
"No!" Serana screamed as they were pulled into them. As they passed over the entrance, Arthius discovered that it was no simple cave, but a waterfall. Arthius pulled Serana into him as they both screamed as they fell. This was much worse than the rapids at the beginning of Dark fall cave. They landed in a heap of water, knocking the air from Arthius. He choked as he opened his mouth for air and began paddling to the surface, not releasing Serana for any reason. They reached the surface and coughed heavily as they gasped for air. Arthius saw that there was another fall approaching and he held Serana close to him as she stiffened. They went over the next fall and everything after that was a blur. Arthius was under water as he felt the rapids pushing him, knocking the wind out of him once more. He smashed into rocks and saw nothing but darkness. He opened his eyes to rushing water, trying with all of his strength to surface. He was then sent over another fall, sending him crashing to the water below. Arthius didn't know where he was for several minutes until he opened his eye to see that he had washed up on shore. He was in a deeper segment of the cave that lead to a small lake. Arthius guessed that he was washed up from the current from the splashing water. He could barely remember the events after he had stepped in the water, like as if it was a dream. It was at this point that he noticed that Serana was no longer in his grasp. He attempted to stand, but only collapsed back to the sand. As he attempted once more, he heard Serana's voice.
"I…knew…" Serana was barely able to speak with a mix of exhaustion and loss of air. Arthius looked up to see Serana collapsed above him. She was soaking wet and shivering heavily. Arthius regretted his actions, hoping it would help him cope with the unquestionable anger that would come from Serana. Serana lie there, tired, bruised, and angry. She then raised her leg and exhausted all of her energy into kicking Arthius in the face. His head sunk into the dirt, but did not attempt to strike back. Serana stared at the ceiling of the cave, inspecting the roots of the mushrooms above while she rested.
"I'm sorry" Arthius barely uttered the words. Serana huffed as she heard this, not because it annoyed her, but because she was irritated that she did. She had already forgiven him, like the many times before. "Damnit! What is it with this idiot? There's been mortals before him, back before my family fell apart but with him…" Serana thought of their first interactions again. "He wanted to kill me, I wanted nothing to do with him. Skip three days later, we're hugging and being each other's best friend. Skip a week later, we're romantically involved. Another week, I'm in his bed getting ready to…" Serana sighed at this. She tried to stand again but was only able to sit up. She was stuck to her thoughts, and she hated that. Arthius lie on his back, wondering how they were going to get out of the cave. He then realized that they were in the same cave as before, the one with the second wayshrine. He grinned as he slowly rose, getting Serana's attention. He noticed how much she was staring and raised an eyebrow at her, to which Serana motioned to her nose. Arthius put his hand to his face to see that Serana had made a large gash on his nose from the kick. He stared at his bloody hand before sighing. He shrugged at Serana and held out his hand to her. "And of course, he forgives me as well" Serana thought as she reached for his hand. As she rose, she instantly felt the need to fall down again, but Arthius wrapped his arm around her midsection and her arm around his shoulder.
"What tired you out?" Arthius grunted as they slowly walked. Serana kept her eyes to the ground, avoiding looking at Arthius.
"Pulling you out of the water" she replied. Arthius mulled this over as they approached the wayshrine. He grinned widely as he saw that it lead to the other wayshrine as well, and they both went through. On the other side, they realized it was morning and Serana was already feeling weaker than before. Arthius felt this as her legs dragged and she wasn't able to keep her head up any longer. He gently placed her down and leaned her against a pillar inside of the wayshrine before lying down on the other side, hoping to sleep through the day. As Serana dozed off into slumber, she thought of the day they had. And she was happy to think that they might make it through the rest of their journey without incident.
"You're not my brother…I've seen it, it will be you who…He's all I have" Arthius' eyes shot open as he awoke from the dream, only to find Serana sitting next to him covered in blood.