What Happened In Cyrodiil Part One
"So when did it happen?" Arthius asked. He was sitting beside Agmaer as they rode in a carriage down the path towards Solitude. Many other carriages rode alongside them, filled with Dawnguard and whatever guards they could round up. Arthius sat in the front carriage, leading the four other carriages with Agmaer. It was still early morning, the sky a dark blue as the night began to end. There was a small breeze but nothing else, leaving them in silence along with the soft sounds of crunching snow under the hooves of the horses.
"Two days ago, just outside of Riften. He was hunting with a few others, hoping to catch any vampire foolish enough to come near Riften. Well, some did, quite a few actually" Agmaer said with a cold tone, like a man would do when they speak of a close one's passing.
"Apparently they were expecting them, knowing that they'd be hunting that exact night" Agmaer added on. Arthius mulled this over for a bit, sighing at the thought of the men who died. He knew that Isran would get himself killed, almost certain of it, but it bothered him to know that Isran's foolishness caused others to die as well.
"So then…no survivors" Arthius spoke.
"No, by the time we went to check things out…" Agmaer's voice faded out as he stared downwards. Arthius glanced up at him, waiting for Agmaer to continue.
"It was a message, the bodies were in pieces" Agmaer said. Arthius imagined the scene the best he could, cringing at the thought.
"Anyways…what about you?" Agmaer spoke up, hoping to change the conversation. Arthius looked up, raising an eyebrow at Agmaer.
"What do you-"
"I mean your travels, especially whatever happened between you and the twins" Agmaer spoke. Arthius sighed as he slowly turned his head back, eying Farkas as he sat beside his brother.
"Nothing but a few disagreements here and there is all" Arthius smirked as he thought of how he beat the two into submission without breaking a sweat, feeling confident that he could do it again, without the vampiric strength.
"That's not what some of the others were saying…" Agmaer said as he watched the road ahead. Arthius chuckled, crossing his arms as he sat back.
"Well then, let them think what they want. As long as they focus when it's time to battle, I couldn't give a damn. Hopefully they make up some story that makes me look like an unbeatable warrior, give them some courage to fight" Arthius said. Agmaer chuckled, glancing at Arthius.
"They've made a few. My favorite one is the one where you fought them both simultaneously in a blizzard, and Vilkas accidentally stabs Farkas through the stomach" Agmaer said, making Arthius laugh. After a few moments, Agmaer looked over to Arthius.
"So what about the girl?" Agmaer asked. Arthius glanced over at him, making Agmaer turn his gaze back to the road. Arthius sighed as he closed his eyes, scratching the side of his head.
"It's better this way, even if she would disagree. Either way, I'll take the blunt of it once this is all over" Arthius said. It was his choice to leave Serana behind, he made the plan before going back to his home. He didn't have any trouble convincing the rest of the group, not that it surprised him.
Serana wrapped her arms around herself as a strong wind blew. She eyed the trail of tracks left from the carriages in the snow, sighing as she saw that they were beginning to fade.
"Have to quicken my pace, otherwise I'll lose them" she thought, almost forgetting that she already knew where they were headed. She remembers waking up, panicking and in a sweat. She had the same dream again, and it seemed slower this time around. She clenched to the furs as she attempted to calm herself. She slowly rose from the bed, slowly walking towards the stairs. She descended, hoping to find Arthius as soon as the room below came into view. After a moment of looking around, she knew he wouldn't be there, or anywhere in Whiterun. She was able to find their tracks out of the Whiterun gates, but not after destroying half of the house. Serana sighed as she thought of it, such a childish act. Still, Arthius knows how this would affect her, and he went along with it anyways. Serana clenched her hands into fists as her pace quickened.
"Damnit, I will not let him see his plan through!" Serana thought, unsure of who she was referring to.
"Well make them go faster!" Arthius shouted at Agmaer. They were at the shore, just north of Solitude. Arthius could see the castle in the distance, the thick fog covering the water between him and the castle.
"We can't. We just have to wait for them to show up, nothing we can do" Agmaer said as he leaned against the carriage with his arms crossed. Arthius ran his hand through his hair as he sighed, glancing back at the group behind him. As they arrived, a few other carriages were awaiting their arrival. Agmaer explained last night, a few ships were to be sent from Riften's port to carry the amount of soldiers they had, which was around 40 to 50. Unfortunately, word was a bit late as to when the ships were to be expected to be at the shore.
"Well, that's alright, nothing we can do about it, it's nobody's fault, just…happens" Arthius mumbled as he slowly paced back and forth, trying his best to calm himself. As he did this he closed his eyes, blocking out all noise best he could as he repeated the thoughts in his head. He continued this in his head as he sat on the carraiges about an hour later, that is until he heard someone shout "vampire". Arthius opened his eyes and slowly turned to the path along the shore to make out a figure walking towards them. Arthius sighed as he put his head in his palm, swinging his other arm violently to the side, hoping to make contact with something. As he slowly removed his palm and looked back up, he noticed how much she was shaking as she walked. Arthius immediately hopped off the carriage and strode forward, picking up his pace into a jog.
"Agmaer, set up a tent, now!" Arthius shouted back as he jogged before he turned back forward to Serana. As she opened her mouth to speak, Arthius immediately wrapped his arms around her, helping her walk back to his carriage. Arthius shuddered as he could feel the cold through his armor, basically carrying Serana as they walked towards the men as they quickly built the tent. Arthius grabbed a large fur from the carriage before turning back to the tent as the final posts were being put up. They waited for a few moments before the tent was set, Arthius getting a nod from Agmaer once they finished. Arthius nodded back as he brought Serana through the flaps to find a bedroll laid out on the floor. He began to open it up until Serana grabbed him by the shoulder, letting herself down to sit on top of it. Serana crossed her arms, staring down at the ground. Arthius sighed as glanced around the empty tent, removing his gauntlets as he did. He turned back to Serana as she continued to stare blankly at the ground, almost frozen in place.
"You understand why I did it, correct?" Arthius asked.
"I understand your reasoning behind it, but I don't understand why you did it" Serana simply replied without moving an inch, in a way that Arthius slightly thought that she didn't open her mouth to say it, though she obviously did.
"What do you mean?" Arthius asked, looking down at her. Serana motioned slightly, still hidden under her hood.
"I understand the thought of having a girl kill her father, I understand why someone would try to keep that from happening. What I don't understand is why you would do it" Serana spoke. Arthius held his breath for a moment, Serana continuing before he could think of something to say.
"You've seen what my father has done, to me specifically, you've seen how he's impacted me. Anyone who'd seen that would have done the same thing you did, but I had hoped you weren't the same as they were" Serana paused for a moment as Arthius spoke up.
"I promised you're mother I'd protect you, and that if means-"
"Hurting me" Serana cut him off. Arthius' brow lowered as he stared down at her.
"If necessary" Arthius said in a lower tone. It was silent for a few moments, the wind being the only thing that made sound, aside from the small chatter or crunch of snow beneath boots. Serana rolled her shoulders a bit, still feeling the cold. Arthius sighed, shutting his eyes as he lowered himself and sat beside her.
"So what is it going to take?" Arthius said. Serana glanced to him, unsure of what he meant.
"What must I do to make sure you don't accompany us?" Arthius said. Serana glanced back down at the ground, putting her hands under her arms in attempt to keep them from freezing.
"That's not an option, Arthius. This is something I have to do, and there's nothing that will convince me otherwise" Serana said, low but with determination, as she usually speaks.
"This is something I have to do, and there's nothing that will convince me otherwise"
The words echoed through Arthius' head, making his core shake.
"Of course I'd remember that now, of all times" Arthius thought, the bittersweet memories filling his head. He clenched his fist as her voice echoed through his head, not in control of himself as he slammed his hand down into the snow. Serana turned to him to see him bent over, his eyes shut tightly and his breaths paced.
"Arthius, what's-" Serana began but stopped as Arthius raised his hand to silence her, recovering from whatever had just overtaken him. After a moment, Arthius opened his eyes to meet Serana's as she stared at him. Serana could immediately see the pain in his eyes, something racing through his mind as he opened his mouth.
"Serana…I think it's time I told you what happened in Cyrodiil" Arthius said in a low tone. Serana made no movements, she just continued watching Arthius. He sighed once more, clearing his throat before opening his mouth again.
"I suppose I should start at the beginning"
Arthius stood outside of his former home, bitter tears rushing down his face as he reached down and picked up another rock before throwing it as hard as he could at the aged log house. He couldn't feel his feet as he stood on the rocky path, the cold night air overtaking him. As the rock made a loud thud, he could hear movement inside as the man who was supposed to be his uncle rushed towards the doors.
"Damnit boy, if you keep this up you can rest easy in the damn dungeon!" The old man threatened in his rough Imperial accent. Arthius replied by hurling another rock, this time smashing through the window.
"Damnit!" The man yelled as he marched towards the door, kicking it open. Arthius was waiting for him as he flung another rock, striking the Imperial in the bridge of the nose. He was very tan and had light gray hair that went down to his shoulders. He had a square, rough, face. Some would say he looked like a warrior but Arthius only saw him as a cruel coward. The man bent over as he put his hands up to his nose, the blood dripping through his fingers.
"YOU BASTARD! GAURDS, GAURDS!" The man screamed. Arthius quickly turned and ran up the trail and into the woods, hearing the rushing of footsteps from the path. He quickly rushed through the woods, wiping his tears as he ran. After what felt like hours, much time after the footsteps ceased, he stopped and sat down beside a tree, leaning his head back as he panted.
He was eleven years of age, all he had was a blue tunic, dark brown pants, and an old pair of shoes that his adopted father had made him in bed. Arthius thought back a week ago, he stood inside the house beside his dying father as he lied in bed.
"It will be all right Arthius…your uncle will care for you once I am one with the divines"
Arthius held back his tears as he listened.
"He should have been here, he should have been here all along" Arthius said with resentment in his voice. The old man chuckled as he slowly raised his hand, placing it on Arthius' shoulder.
"It matters not now, just-"The old man paused as he coughed heavily. Arthius reached for the glass on the table beside the bed and quickly raised it to the old man's lips. He drank a small amount before raising his hand. He smiled at Arthius before continuing.
"Just remember to be strong, Arthius. Have your wits, no matter what. Things will be much better from now on, you'll see" The old man grinned. He had a very weak smile, but it was no surprise considering his health. He looked much like his brother, but his eyes were much kinder and he had a sincere but goofy smile.
"Things are fine as they are" Arthius said. The old man laughed, making Arthius grin.
"You'll hear no complaints from me, but you'll see. Things are only going to get better from here"
Arthius curled up as the tears swelled up, making him clench his eyes. The cold air blew, making him shake uncontrollably. Arthius lied down, moving the brush around to cover him from at least a bit of the wind. He was surprised how tired he felt as he lied on dirt and rocks, feeling sleep taking over him.
"Please watch over me, Malin. I love you, and I miss you" Arthius thought as he drifted off to sleep, hoping that he would wake from this nightmare in the morning.
Arthius sighed as he stared blankly at the wall of the tent. Serana was now facing Arthius as she sat, waiting for him to continue. Arthius tore himself from his gaze and glanced over to Serana.
"Anyways, I became a thief as I already told you. Just trying to survive, keeping my wits as I was instructed to do so. I was pretty good at too, though I never stayed in one place long enough for people to notice. That was until I had a reason to stay"
Arthius laughed loudly as he ran through the streets in the evening. He glided past the citizens with his bag of goods, hearing the guards behind him shout as they crashed into the crowd. He laughed again before taking a quick right into an alley, being sure that the guards didn't spot him turning. He pressed his back against the wall and waited, almost blowing his cover as he watched the guards rush past him. He waited a few moments before snickering. He was covered head to toe in dark leather, a silk hood on his head. He had a large dagger strapped to his side, just in case. He was now sixteen years of age, living in the shadows of the Imperial city, the last place a thief is welcome. As Arthius was about to make his getaway, a voice behind him made him pause.
"Nice goodies, hard to believe someone dressed like yourself could afford a sack full of jewelry" he heard a soft voice speak, but he could tell it wasn't the real thing. He turned to see a young Imperial girl, not much older than him with pale skinned and red hair that waved down past her shoulder to her light blue dress. Her face was serious as her eyes that matched ice itself sent chills down Arthius' spine. Arthius smirked as he leaned against the wall.
"Well, you could say that I'm a man who gets what he wants" He chuckled, being sure that he brought his mask up to cover his mouth and nose so only his eyes were showing. The woman's eyes widened as he said this.
"Wait, you didn't steal them, did you?" she asked, a nervous expression on her face. Arthius grinned widely behind his mask, hoping to get a kick out of this girl.
"Of course not, I simply borrowed them without the owner knowing" Arthius said, almost laughing himself silly.
"Borrowing it means you have the intention of returning it" The girl said as she crossed her arms.
"Well I never said I was any good at it" Arthius said. The woman glared at him, huffing as she glanced past him.
"I could report you, and you'd be sent to prison" she said with venom. Arthius chuckled loudly as he tilted his head.
"Listen sweetheart, by the time you tell them I'll be long gone" Arthius said, crossing his arms as he raised his eyebrow at her. The girl looked at the ground, her eyes moving about as she searched for a reply.
"Well then…you're going to have to give them to me, then I'll give it to the guards" The girl said, placing her fists on her sides matter-of-factly. Arthius couldn't hold it as he burst out laughing, seeing the girl's cheeks turn red as she glared at him.
"You- you're going to stop me?" Arthius said as he regained himself. The girl's cheeks immediately paled once more, her expression turning cold, and her hands raising from her sides. Only one of them held a large dagger.
"Yes, now drop the bag" The girl said as she held out the dagger towards Arthius. Arthius' smile faded as he quickly reached down to find his dagger missing from his side. He quickly looked back up to the girl to see she was the one smiling now.
"Bitch" Arthius said, glad that his mask covered his features so she couldn't see the stupid face he had. The girl made no movement as she held the blade out towards Arthius.
"Bag, now" She said. Arthius hesitated before slowly reaching down and grabbing the small sack he was carrying. He brought it up slowly, eyeing the girl before quickly throwing it at her. The girl barely had time to reach up and grab it, just as Arthius rushed her. She dropped the bag as she struck at Arthius with the dagger. Arthius quickly pushed the blade to the side as he raised his boot to kick her in the stomach, but not before she moved aside with the blade and swept him. Arthius fell onto his back with a loud grunt, looking up to see the dagger coming down at him. Arthius quickly raised his hands and caught the girl's wrist, struggling to hold it away. The girl quickly tossed the dagger to her other hand and swung down at the exposed Arthius. Arthius clenched his eyes, almost whimpering. After a moment, he forced an eye open to see the dagger just a few inches above his head. He slowly turned to see the girl staring at something. He raised his head slightly to see her staring at the contents of the bag on the ground. Bread, cheese, packed meats, packed wines and other drinks along with a few sweet rolls scattered the ground. The girl slowly released her grip, and slowly rose. Arthius waited for a moment before quickly rising and shoving the girl to the floor before quickly throwing the contents back inside the sack and running down the alley. He ran with all his speed down the alley, turning any chance he got before he climbed up the side of a wall and into an abandoned building with no surface entry beside the roof. He quickly climbed on top, opening the hidden hatch and jumping inside. He quickly sealed the hatch, leaving him in darkness. Arthius sighed as let himself collapse, lying on the hard floor. He waited for a few minutes before getting up and lighting a wall scone with the small bit of magicka he had. He sighed as he slowly descended the steps from the attic to the main floor, containing an old dining table and chairs around it. He lit the scones as he went until he turned to the one doorway which led into a kitchen with freshly cleaned pots and an old wood burning oven. Arthius sighed as he dropped the bag onto the counter before going over and lighting the fire for the cauldron and the wood in the oven.
"Alright, time to get to work" Arthius thought
A few hours later, Arthius finished placing the fruits, cheeses, and freshly baked loafs of bread along the table on wooden plates. He placed a set of plates, dining ware, goblets, and fresh napkins along the table at each seat. He went back and tossed off his hood and mask before leaning against the archway, the only sound being the bubbling of the cauldron as it cooked the meat he had collected. After a few moments, he heard the knocking and quickly strode over to the hatch in the corner of the room, unlocking it and opening it to see the face of a young Nord boy. He had a worn out blue tunic along with a very old pair of pants, though he was clean. Arthius stared down at the boy for a moment before speaking.
"Did you make sure everyone washed up, Roggar?" Arthius asked. The boy nodded, glancing down for a moment. Arthius inspected him before nodding and stepping back. The boy climbed up and more children followed. They too had worn clothing, though not as much as him. He was twelve, the oldest among the other seven children. Following him was two younger Nord boys, one girl, a young Khajiit girl, a Breton girl just a bit younger than Roggar, and two Imperials, boy and girl who were the youngest. Arthius leaned back as he saw them quickly take their spots at the table, waiting for him as per the usual.
"Arthius?" the youngest girl said. Arthius glanced at her, raising his head.
"Yes, Selvia?" He asked. She was a small girl, brown eyes that matched her hair which was short, just above the shoulders. She wore a red tunic and a brown dress, which matched the boy's red tunic and brown pants.
"Did you bring any sweetrolls?" she asked with a small grin. Arthius did return the smile as he moved himself from the wall and walked inside the kitchen to grab a dish for the meat.
"I told you already, all of you, you need to eat right, and you can't be eating those kinds of things" he said in the kitchen, making sure only she saw him as he winked. She giggled slightly, making him smile widely before using a large wooden spoon to take out the meat from the cauldron and put it into a small pot which he brought to the table. He began preparing plates and handing them out to each of the patiently waiting children, placing a kiss on the side of the youngest girl's head as he went by. Once everyone was served, Arthius poured himself some whine and leaned against the arch, taking a small sip. He looked up to see the children just staring at him.
"Well then?" Arthius said before taking another sip. The children then dove into their meals, as it was probably the first they'd had today. Arthius sighed as he watched them, pausing as a voice came from above him.
"Can I join?" He heard the voice, the same one from in the alley. The kids almost immediately jumped from their chairs, but Arthius was quick on his feet.
"It's all right, she's a friend. Keep eating" Arthius said. The kids looked up, unable to see the source of the voice as they moved back to their seats. Arthius kept his eyes on the stairs as he prepared another plate, watching as the older girl descended the stairs. She was now wearing slightly similar clothing as he was, common thief look. Her red hair was now put in a neat bun behind her head. Arthius gave her a smile, the kind that looks kind from someone else's perspective, but was completely serious. The girl gave him a subtle nod before moving to the table and sitting down. She almost immediately stuffed a piece of bread in her mouth, scarfing it down quickly. Arthius sighed as he leaned against the arch, wondering how hungry she was. After a few moments of silence, it was the Khajiit girl who broke the silence.
"You're really pretty" she said softly to the older girl. There was a small pause before the other children broke into laughter.
Another hour later, the children slept in the attic as Arthius sat on the roof, staring at the night sky.
"So what's the deal?" The older girl asked as she sat beside him.
"You just steal food for the orphans, and that's it?" she asked. Arthius sighed as he stared at the night sky.
"If I want something, I'll steal it. But for the most part, yeah, that's it. I used to move around a lot, until I found a few kids just hiding in this house. After a while, the rest heard about it and it jumped from three to eight in no time" Arthius said. The girl looked at him before shaking her head.
"That's ridiculous. Why, I mean what made you do this?" she asked.
"Nothing made me, I just…I don't know. These kids need a home, and I think we can both relate" Arthius said. The girl sighed as she glanced around, watching the lights go off in the city.
"Thank you, and I think it's great what you're doing here. Just…be careful, those kids-"she paused before speaking again.
"You have to look out for them, so don't get killed by some girl in an alleyway. They need you, all right?" she said as she placed her hood over her head.
"About that" Arthius spoke. She turned to him, placing her mask over her face.
"What is it?" she asked. Arthius sighed deeply.
"I doubt that this will be the last of the kids, meaning that there's going to be more mouths to feed, meaning that it's going to be a lot more difficult to feed that many mouths, at least on my own anyways" Arthius said. The girl stared at him, paused as she thought about what he had said. She could see the smirk he had in the darkness though it didn't help her decide anytime sooner.
"All right, but just for a few days. I could do with the rest" The girl said. Arthius smiled as he stood, walking over to her and extending his hand.
"Arthius" He said with a genuine smile. The girl eyed him for a moment before taking off her mask and hood and shaking his hand.