The Night Before
Serana opened her eyes to a deep darkness, which after a moment turned to a gray. She felt cold, numb, and very tired. She felt stiff as she lied on something hard, yet a small cushion between her and the surface. She then noticed a small breathing beside her, and slowly glanced to her left to see the top of a head poking above the edge of the surface she was on. It was purplish with two small ears sticking out of it. Serana figured she was on a stone table of some sort. She glanced downwards to see that she was lying on a pelt of what appeared to be a deer. She turned back to the top of the head to see it lower, out of her view. Serana attempted to turn to her side when she felt a sharp pain, sending her back in place on her back. Serana took in a deep breath before scanning herself. It was then that she noticed that most of her upper body clothing had been removed except for her under clothing. There bandages neatly wrapped around her abdomen, and she noticed a half empty blood potion beside her. She strained as she slowly reached for it, feeling as though her arm weighed more than anything else. She sighed as she was able to grab it and slowly pull the top off. She tilted it to her lips, and swallowed the bottled potion until the bottle was empty. Serana felt better as she shoved the bottle off the table, making it shatter on the ground. It was then that the head rose above the table, allowing Serana to see the sabre cat that stood beside her. Her core screamed as she pushed herself away, almost toppling off the table. Serana let out a loud grunt as her back made impact with the table again. She heard rushing footsteps and a faint shouting growing near.
"…must stay still, your wounds won't allow you much movement" she heard a familiar voice say. Serana was then gently grabbed under her arms and was carefully placed back in place. She glanced upwards to see Gelebor put his hand to her forehead.
"No fever, but I'm unsure what that would mean for a vampire" the elf said as he placed another bottle beside her before petting the sabre cat. It purred as the elf stroked its head. Serana felt immensely more tired as she struggled to think of something to say. She wasn't able to say anything as her eyes shut and she drifted to sleep.
She awoke once more to the same surroundings, feeling a bit better. She looked down to see that her bandages we changed. She scanned around to see that they were back in the cave they met Gelebor in, and soon spotted Gelebor himself, praising his shrine. She attempted to call for him, but it only came out as a whisper as her mouth was incredibly dry. It seemed to be enough as Gelebor turned towards her and walked to her side.
"Greetings, how are you feeling child?" Gelebor asked. Serana opened her mouth, but was unable to speak. Gelebor walked over to a nearby table and poured water from a pitcher into a drinking cup. He then walked back to Serana, helping her lean upwards slightly as he put the cup to her lips.
"Drink slowly, don't strain yourself" Gelebor said as he tipped the cup so the water entered her mouth. Serana did as he said and sipped the water until the up was empty. Once Gelebor had placed her back down, she cleared her throat as she attempted to speak.
"How did I get here?" she asked. It came out very rough and her throat hurt once she said it.
"Once Vyrthur was defeated, I was able to open a wayshrine to the balcony. You were both in terrible condition and needed to be traded immediately, so I brought you both here" He explained. Serana lied, staring at the ceiling as she felt the soreness throughout her body.
"How long was I asleep?" Serana asked.
"Since the time you woke up, two days" Gelebor said as he walked back to the table, setting the cup down. Serana's eyes widened as she attempted to sit up again. She grunted loudly before falling back into her spot on the table. Gelebor seeing this, rushed over to her.
"You must remain still, your wounds will heal much more slowly if you don't" Gelebor said softly as he inspected her bandages. Serana shut her eyes tightly, hoping that she had somehow misheard him.
"I've been asleep for two days…great" Serana said to herself under her breath, catching Gelebor's ear.
"Actually, it's been five days since I brought you here, you woke momentarily two days ago" Gelebor said softly. Serana shot up once more, sending her legs over the side of the table before the pain struck her. Serana screamed in agony as she pushed herself off of the table, barely able to keep herself on her feet as she made contact with the ground. Gelebor sighed as he went around the table to Serana, carefully placing his hands on her shoulders.
"You must lie down. As I already told you-"
"Thank you for what you've done…we must leave now…where's Arthius?" Serana said in-between breaths as she pushed herself from the table, screaming on the inside as she stood with no support. Gelebor wrapped his arm around her, helping her stand.
"If you demand to leave I will not stop you, though I don't believe Arthius has the same attitude as you do" Gelebor said as he basically carried Serana to another segment of the cave. Serana focused her sight on the table in front of her. Arthius lied across it, the Sabre cat sitting obediently beside him. As she inspected him more, she noticed a large part of his chest was darker than the rest of him. All of his Armor was removed but a fur covered him from the waist down.
"What happened to him?" Serana asked, readjusting her arm that she had around Gelebor's head for support.
"He was shot with a powerful blast of electricity. Normally it would have effects against your magicka above all else, but this was different. Normally, electric magicka would scatter, hitting different spots and sometimes the bolts wouldn't even make impact. Compare it to a wave of arrows being shot at you, except Vyrthur's attack was more like a large spear. May Auri-El guide him to recovery" Gelebor said. Serana stared at Arthius, unsure of what to say. She slowly looked around the room to see a wooden chair near the wayshrine.
"Gelebor, can you please retrieve that chair for me? I'd like to stay by Arthius" Serana said simply. Gelebor glanced in the direction she was looking before looking back at her.
"Well, it's better that you sit than stand" Gelebor said. He slowly moved Serana over to the table, letting her lean against it as he walked over and plucked the chair from its spot before bringing it and setting it down beside the stone table Arthius lied upon. Serana smiled at Gelebor before nodding to him. Gelebor simply nodded back before turning and walking away to another part of the cave. Serana sat, watching Arthius' chest slowly rise and fall.
"All of this, all the things you've sacrificed. You're either an idiot or just plain stubborn" Serana thought to herself as she wrapped her arms around her body.
"Still, I wonder why you do it. Why you choose to put up with it, or at least try and look as though you do" She thought, remembering what he said about how his life was before he had met her.
"Of course, that was during the blood bond experience, and the following days when we questioned everything else" she thought back to when they first broke the bond. How they were both emotionally lost. At one minute feeing nothing but hatred towards each other while the next they would be in love, believing in the possibility that some of what they had was actually real. She thought of the dream she had with the voices that argued with each other, realizing not too long after that the one that spoke of the reality was her, and the one that spoke of hope was the lingering effects of the blood bond. She sighed, but also smiled back at some of their moments. She realized that she could now find it funny, something to look back and laugh at. She glanced downwards at Arthius, smiling as she thought of all the ways he had tried to hurt her, and the ways she had tried to hurt him. It seemed as though they were different people then, maybe they still are, either way, Serana still trusted him. She couldn't recall, even in their false identities, that she didn't. As though she always knew she could. She looked back at Arthius with a sigh as she leaned back in the chair, shutting her eyes.
"Don't make me wait too long" Serana said as her thoughts went back to when she had first Arthius in Dimhollow crypt.
"I feel like I've done my share of waiting already"
Serana slowly opened her eyes, the smell of smoke filled the air. She sat up, couching heavily as the thick air surrounded her. She looked around but saw nothing through the smoke, a distant roar of screams caught her ears. She slowly lifted herself from the ground, barely able to stand. Serana covered her mouth as she walked towards the screams, making out a doorway in the distance. She rushed towards it, using all of her strength to push it open to reveal a large courtyard filled with people. The screams had ceased, and the door had vanished behind Serana. The crowd was looking away from Serana, staring in one direction. She slowly made her way through the crowd, noticing that they all were wearing hoods that covered themselves. As she made her way to the front, she paused at the scene before her. Harkon was standing beside…her, holding Auriel's bow. Serana's eyes widened as she stared at the scene, watching as Harkon raised a chalice to the other Serana's throat before slitting it, holding her in place as the blood filled the vessel. The screams continued as the scene before her changed once more, the lands were barren and dead, the sky was black and all the buildings were burnt to the ground. Serana stood alone, glancing around the gray world she now stood in.
Serana's eyes opened, she stared at the roof of the cave.
"Just a dream" she reassured herself. She looked down to see that she was now lying on the table that Arthius was lying on, only the fur had been changed. She heard a voice in another segment of the cave, slowly rising to sit up. Serana was slowly able to swing her legs off the side of the table and push herself off of it. She leaned against the table as she walked, moving slowly towards the voice.
"Hello?" she called out, the voice ceasing. She heard footsteps and Gelebor appeared, looking rather irritated. He walked to her side, allowing her to wrap her arm around him.
"How are you feeling?" he asked as they slowly began walking to the other part of the cave.
"Better, thank you Gelebor" Serana spoke. At this point, she heard a small clinking sound.
"As you might be aware by now, Arthius has woken up. He refuses to rest at all, and he's in no condition to even be moving. Perhaps you can convince him to lie down, as he will probably collapse soon" Gelebor said.
"Of course, I'll try" Serana thought to herself sarcastically as they turned the corner. They stopped walking as Serana saw Arthius. He was wearing his torn steel plate armor as he swung his blade, practicing his swings. With each swing, he nearly fell over, barely able to stand as he held his blade. His movements were slow and inaccurate, it seemed as though he was just swinging his limp arm in a general direction. After a moment, he spotted her and Gelebor. Arthius stood up straight, sheathing his blade as he limped over to them.
"Glad to see you're awake" Arthius grunted, still pained by his wounds. He quickly glanced down at the small amount of clothing Serana was wearing, due to her injuries. He ignored it as he focused on what was important. Serana smirked as she leaned on Gelebor, glancing at his torn armor.
"I could say the same to you" she smiled. Arthius' face turned serious once more as he nodded to her.
"Alright, let's continue. Gelebor, have you located the bow?" Arthius said as he glanced at Gelebor. Gelebor closed his eyes, sighing as he did.
"You are in no shape to go anywhere, please rest" Gelebor said with annoyance. Arthius ignored him as he crossed his arms and looked over to Serana. Serana nodded to him as she slowly pushed herself away from Gelebor, almost falling as she moved to lean against the wall.
"He's right, there's no time to waste on resting. We must stop this prophecy once and for all" Serana said as she stared at Gelebor. Gelebor put his hand to his forehead for a moment before simply turning and walking away.
"Follow me, if you must" Gelebor said as he walked away, ignoring the fact that Serana couldn't walk on her own. Arthius grinned as he walked Vyrthur walk away, glancing at Serana as she leaned against the wall. He forcefully made himself walk straight as he moved to Serana. She raised her arm, letting Arthius place it around his neck. He couldn't stop a pained grunt coming from his mouth as he raised Serana from the wall, propping her against him. Serana chuckled as they began to walk at a snail's pace after Gelebor, noticing Arthius' heavy breathing as they did.
"You'd think..after five days..this would be easy" Arthius grunted as they walked around the corner. Serana made no attempt to speak as she herself had trouble since she was carrying some of her own weight. They soon arrived at the wayshrine as Gelebor stood beside the entrance.
"The bow is yours, but be advised that you are in no shape to-"Gelebor began.
"Thank you for your concern Gelebor but I am in no mood to be talked to like an ignorant child not knowing any better, now SHOW US THE DAMN BOW!" Arthius shouted, catching both Serana and Gelebor off-guard. Gelebor quickly glanced at Serana for a moment, Serana keeping her gazer strong on him. Gelebor sighed as he walked away, the bow appearing in the wayshrine as he did. Serana and Arthius stared at the bow for a few moments, staring as it spun.
"You know, it's…not as-"Serana began.
"Serana…please" Arthius said, a bit tired. Serana sighed, keeping her thoughts to herself. Arthius slowly leaned Serana against the entrance to the wayshrine as he slowly stepped in, slowly reaching upward and grasping the bow. Arthius held the bow in his hand, feeing the same power he had felt when he had first grabbed his sword or shield, the weapon of a god.
"Alright, let's get going" Arthius said, still looking down at the bow. He turned to Serana, slowly walking over to her and grabbing her waist as she pushed herself from the wall.
"You know what we have to do now, right?" Serana said as she leaned against Arthius.
"Yes, it's time that we kill your father" Arthius said in a cold tone. Arthius glanced down at Serana to see her head was down.
"I'm sorry, I know that-"Arthius began.
"No, you're right. I've been thinking about this for a long time. And…no, it's not easy, but we don't really have much of a choice. This has to end, now" Serana said, determined in her words. Arthius sighed, nodding to himself. They stood there in silence for a few more seconds before Arthius made a small whistle. He then began walking forward, the sabre cat soon following them. Serana sighed as she realized that Arthius meant for her to lean on the sabre cat for the time being. They slowly made their way through dark fall cave, Arthius limping while Serana walked while putting most of her weight on the sabre cat's back after she had retrieved her armor. As they grew close to the exit, a loud roar came from behind them. Arthius cursed under his breath as he turned to see a large troll charging towards them. He heard Serana let out a grunt and turned to see her on the ground as the sabre cat charged the troll. The troll lunged forward, swinging his heavy arm to swipe at the sabre cat. The sabre cat leapt over his arm pouncing on its chest and knocking it onto its back. As the sabre cat went down to bite its neck, the troll swung its arm again, slamming into the side of the cats body. The sabre cat was sent crashing into a wall as the troll quickly stood and charged it, planning to crush it.
"FUS RO DAH" Arthius shouted, sending the troll flying through the air, then crumbling to the ground on its stomach. The sabre cat wasted no time as it pounced on the troll's back, sinking it's fangs into the side of its throat and ripping it out, killing the troll almost instantly. The cat panted for a bit before shaking itself and slowly walking over to Serana, putting its head down for her to reach it. Serana gave it a small smile before grabbing it and placing herself back into position.
As they left the cave, Serana turned to see the mountains that stood in the way of them and the shores to the castle. She sighed, knowing that it is still not the right time to do so.
"So, where are we going now?" Serana asked as they slowly walked down the path.
"We'll stop by Solitude and hire a carriage to Whiterun, but I have to do something before we head to Whiterun" Arthius said as they slowly walked.
"And what's that?" Serana asked.
Serana stood by the carriage with her arms crossed. She and Arthius had seen a healer and Arthius had gotten something to eat while Serana had bought more potions for the two of them. It was now late afternoon as the sky was a light orange. After a few more minutes, Serana saw a figure walking down the path to the nearby path that the carriage stayed. She smirked as she saw the ebony clad warrior approach her.
"Nice armor" Serana said as Arthius stood in front of her.
"I thought you told me that you strayed from this because of how some people may look at you?" Serana asked with a smirk. Arthius sighed as he lifted himself up on the carriage, minding to be careful not to step on the sleeping sabre cat. He moved over to allow Serana to sit across from him.
"Yes, well…as you've seen, people aren't exactly fond of me anyways. That, and I sort of stopped giving a damn" Arthius said with a cold expression. Serana smile widened slightly at this.
"Driver, Whiterun" Arthius said.
It was night when they arrived in Whiterun, the driver being paid went on his way. Arthius and Serana stopped by his small home in Whiterun to put the sabre cat for the time being. They slowly made their way up the road, noticing the absence of people. Arthius paused, Serana staying by his side. A figure stepped out from behind Carlotta's stand, bathed in the moonlight. Arthius squinted his eyes, trying to make out who it was. Serana moved her hand over her dagger, ready if the figure decided to attack.
"MOVE AWAY FROM THE GIRL, ARTHIUS" The figure shouted. Arthius growled as he pulled out his sword.
"Vilkas, this has gone on long enough. End this feud you have or it will end badly for us all" Arthius shouted. It was then that figures began to appear all around them, raising swords and crossbows alike.
"Don't make it come to this Arthius" Vilkas said. Arthius smirked as he grabbed Serana by the shoulder, moving her behind him.
"It seems as though I already have" Arthius said with a smirk. Serana turned, pulling out her dagger as she eyed the figures behind them. She bared her fangs, snarling at the shadows.
"Once again, we're surrounded Arthius" Serana said as a smile appeared on her face.
"And just as before, we're going to send everything that steps forward TO ITS ANCESTORS!" Arthius shouted.
"Damnit Arthius, don't make me do this, don't make me hurt my brother!" Vilkas shouted. Arthius clenched his sword, overwhelmed by rage.
"You not my brother, NOT ANYMORE" Arthius shouted. Serana spotted a movement amongst the shadows and aimed her spike at it.
"Don't move unless you'd like a fucking hole in your chest!" Serana growled. Arthius' mad grin widened at this, fueled by rage.
"STOP THIS YOU FOOLS" Arthius heard a familiar voice shout. He turned to see Agmaer standing at the steps leading to the gildergreen.
"He is an ally, and probably our only hope of defeating the vampires. Now all of you, back to jorrvaskr, now!" Agmaer shouted.
"NO, WE MUST STOP THIS NOW. WE CANNOT-"Vilkas began.
"YOU'RE NOT IN COMMAND VILKAS, I AM. NOW GO BACK TO JORVASKR!" Agmaer shouted at Vilkas. Vilkas huffed as he turned towards Arthius, glaring at him before walking up the path to jorrvaskr. Arthius and Serana watched as the figures stepped out of the shadows. They were all dressed in Dawngaurd armor and Arthius knew none of them. Arthius sighed as he sheathed his sword, being sure to remember what happened. He slowly turned to meet Agmaer's gaze, wondering about something.
"Greetings Arthius, we're here as you requested" Agmaer said with a kind smile.
"Agmaer, what did you mean when you said that you were in command?" Arthius said. Agmaer's expression changed as Arthius asked this, sighing as he crossed his arms.
"Arthius, Isran is dead"
Serana sat on Arthius' bed in his home. She couldn't stop thinking of what would come of tomorrow. She was staying in the home to rest for the night as Arthius would stay in Jorvaskr. She couldn't help but stay awake, though it was well past midnight. She was nervous, excited, and scared. Mostly scared of what might happen after the battle, of what might happen if they defeat her father, of what might happen to her or Arthius once they were no longer "useful". Serana was torn from her thoughts as she heard the door open and hear footsteps on the stairs. She slowly moved over to the staircase to see Arthius waling up the steps, wearing a basic tunic.
"Arthius, what's the problem?" Serana asked. Arthius sighed as he moved past her leaning against the wall as he crossed his arms. Serana stood silently, awaiting for Arthius to say something.
"I can't sleep. There's just…too much on my mind" Arthius said. Serana sighed as she moved to the bed, sitting down at the edge as she was before. Serana contemplated this for a few moments, trying to think of the right thing to say.
"Arthius, just answer one thing for me" Serana said. Arthius looked up, raising an eyebrow.
"What will you do once my father's defeated? I know I've asked before but…I was hoping you could actually give me an answer this time" Serana said as she stared at him. Arthius continued to lean against the wall, staring at the ground as he did. He then slowly pushed himself off of the wall and walked over to her, sitting beside her on the bed.
"I'm…I'm going to keep my promise" Arthius said. Serana looked at him, waiting for him to continue.
"I'm going to do all I can to protect you, I'm keeping my promise to your mother" Arthius said. Serana nodded, the corner of her mouth rising slightly.
"Thank you, Arthius" Serana said. Arthius nodded back at her before rising from the bed.
"Well then, I think we could both use some rest. I'll see you in the morning, Serana" Arthius said as he walked to the stairs.
"Arthius" Serana called. Arthius paused as he turned back to her. Serana stared at Arthius for a few moments before speaking.
"Could you…stay in the house? I mean…it's not that I don't trust your friends not to slit my throat as I sleep but…I'd just be more comfortable" Serana said. Arthius sighed, slowly nodding afterwards.
"I'll be downstairs if you need me" Arthius said. Serana nodded to him, smiling as Arthius descended the stairs. Serana waited a few minutes before beginning to undress. Once she was comfortable, she settled into the furs in Arthius' bed. It wasn't long before she fell asleep, feeling better knowing that Arthius was close. Arthius stayed standing on the stairs as he's been since he first descended them.
"No, not tonight. I'm not going to try tonight. Especially not right before what I'm about to do to her"