They stood outside the castle gate as Arthius examined the castle. "Definitely fits ancient vampires" he thought. Serana grabbed his shoulder to get his attention.
"Hey, so…before we go in there…" She started.
"What is it?" Arthius asked with some concern. "Now isn't the time to tell me that I'll be devoured the minute I step foot into your home" he thought.
"Nothing drastic, I wanted to thank you for getting me this far. After we get in there, I'm going to go my own way for a while. I think…" she said with a questioning tone." I know your friends would probably want to kill everything in here. I'm hoping you can control yourself in there." She said with a small emphasis when she said "you".
"What do you mean?" Arthius asked.
Serana gave him a look that said "You're joking right?"." Back at the camp, I saw the look in your eyes as you beheaded the orc. And in the cave, I watched you stomp on the head of the dead gargoyle. Not to mention Lokil's face…" she stated.
"Alright, I get it" Arthius stated putting his hands up as a gesture of defeat.
"Once we're inside, just keep quiet for a bit. Let me take the lead" She said simply as she approached the gate. Arthius followed as he heard a man shout to open the gate. Arthius and Serana entered the gate and pushed open the doors to the large castle and stepped inside. An older high elf with white braided hair looked up as Arthius and Serana stepped through.
"How dare you trespass here!" he started but he stopped when he saw Serana." Wait…Serana? Is it truly you? I cannot believe my eyes! "The elf turned around towards a small flight of stairs overlooking a mess hall. "My lord! Everyone! Serana has returned!" he stated loudly.
Serana turned to Arthius "I guess I'm expected" she said with a smirk.
"It appears so" Arthius said as he lost himself in her eyes." Gods, she's beautiful" Arthius concentrated. "Not the best time when I'm in the home of one of the most powerful vampire clans in skyrim"he thought.
A man in ancient armor similar to Serana stepped in between the two tables as the other vampires fed from thralls. "Disgusting" Arthius thought to himself. The man had black braided hair and a small beard covering his upper lip and chin. He was a broad man so Arthius could only assume he was strong as an orc, and even stronger due to him being a vampire. Arthius assumed him to be Serena's father.
"My long-lost daughter returns to me at last. I trust you have my elder scroll?" the man asked. Arthius was slightly taken off by how little affection the man felt for his daughter, but shrugged it off seeing he was a murderer. He still felt a little sorrow for Serana though.
"After all these years, that's the first thing you ask me? Yes, I have the scroll" Serana responded, not showing any emotions towards her father.
"Of course I'm delighted to see you, my daughter. Must I really say the words aloud?" He said "ah, if only your traitor mother were here, I would let her watch this reunion before putting her head on a spike" the man stated. "These vampires are more corrupted than I thought" Arthius thought to himself.
"Now tell me, who is this stranger you have brought into our hall?" he asked
"This is my savior, the one who freed me" she stated. He turned towards Arthius and inspected him for a moment before speaking.
"For my daughter's safe return, you have my gratitude. Now, what is your name?" he asked.
"My name is Arthius" Arthius responded carefully. "And you are?"
"I am Harkon, lord of this court. By now, my daughter will have told you what we are." Harkon stated.
Arthius held his anger not to insult Harkon." You're vampires" He said calmly.
Harkon scowled at this "Not just vampires. We are among the oldest and most powerful vampires in skyrim" he said proudly "For centuries we lived here, far from the cares of the world. All that ended when my wife betrayed me and stole away that which I valued most "Serana looked away, as if knowing he didn't mean her.
"So what now?" Arthius asked still cautiously.
"Well I think you deserve a reward for returning my daughter. There is but one gift I can give that is equal in value to the elder-scroll and my daughter" He said" I offer you my blood. Take it, and you will walk as a lion among sheep. Men will tremble at your approach, and you will never fear death again" Harkon said.
"And if I refuse?" Arthius asked with a bit of annoyance in his tone.
"Perhaps you still need convincing? Behold the power!" Harkon shouted as his body was shrouded in darkness. He emerged as a terrifying creature. He had talons, Grey skin and his face morphed into that of a bat's. It was a thing out of nightmares.
"THIS IS THE POWER THAT I OFFER" Harkon shouted.
"With that kind of power I could be unstoppable!" Arthius thought. "But at what cost? No, I will not be one of them" Arthius decided with a vast amount of rage building in him.
"I refuse your gift Harkon" Arthius stated.
Harkon scowled at Arthius before transforming back to his normal form." If this were normal circumstances, I'd spare you. But this is no normal circumstance…Dragonborn" Harkon glared. Serana quickly faced Arthius with shocked eyes.
"Your…what?" Serana asked. Harkon laughed at this.
"Thank you as well, daughter, for bringing me a mighty champion. He will make a fine soldier" Harkon stated as he turned to the rest of his court.
Arthius quickly grabbed Serana and put his arm around, holding her in front of him.
"What are you-"Serana started but was cut off by Arthius.
"Everyone stay back!" He shouted as he started dragging Serana back towards the stairs.
"Unhand her!" Harkon growled at Arthius loudly as he began towards Arthius. Serana began to struggle as Arthius pulled out a special arrow given to him by Karliah. He then stabbed Serana in the side with it.
"Gah!" she winced in pain before the darkness over took her. Dropping the arrow, he quickly pulled out a scroll given to him by Phinis Gestor. He unleashed the scroll which conjured a demora lord in front of him which immediately attacked Harkon." That should hold him off" Arthius thought as he picked up Serana over his shoulders and ran up the stairs, knocking the high elf out of the way.
"Close the gate!" He heard someone shout behind him. As he burst through the doors, he saw the gate falling before him.
"WULD" Arthius shouted as he was thrust forward to the other side of the gate. He began sprinting down the walkway and basically threw Serana on the boat as he began to paddle with all his might, going through several stamina bottles until they reached the coast. He picked up Serana and started running towards solitude. After about twenty minutes of non- stop sprinting, he laid Serana down and then sat down trying to catch his breath.
"DAMNIT" he shouted at the top of his lungs, banging into a tree until he couldn't feel his hand anymore. He looked over at the still unconscious Serana. "How in the gods am I going to get to solitude!?" he thought. And then he had an idea. He closed his eyes and thought. "Nightmother, send me your steed". He opened his eyes and looked around, waiting. About twenty minutes later he heard movement from the tree's and saw shadowmere approach him. As he was about to place Serana on top, he remembered that shadowmere was claimed to him alone, and would not allow other riders. Arthius picked up Serana and carried her while he rode on top of shadowmere.
A few hours later, Serana started to wake up. Arthius pulled on shadowmere's reins to stop. He slowly got off the horse and started putting Serana on her feet. She was a very wobbly and had to lean against Arthius completely.
"Careful now, your legs will stay loose for a few more-"Arthius was cut off as Serana used all of her strength she could muster to punch Arthius directly in the face. Arthius was sent crashing down to the snow covered ground and Serana followed, still too weak to stand on her own. Arthius lay on the ground, unconscious as Serana lay next to him.
"Damnit" she muttered to herself as she realized that she would have to drag him the rest of the way to solitude.
Arthius woke on a bed in a room. He slowly rose his head and looked around, seeing Serana sitting in a chair and reading a book in the corner. He slowly rose from the bed and put his feet to the floor.
"Good evening" Serana said plainly, eyes still on the book.
"Where are we?" Arthius asked.
"The inn in solitude. The…something skeever. "she replied.
"The winking skeever" Arthius informed her. She replied by flipping the page of the book.
"Do you mind explaining why you punched me?" Arthius asked with some anger in his voice.
Serana was silent for a moment before simply stating "To make up for the fact that you stabbed me"
"It's not my fault you were struggling" Arthius said.
Serana closed the book roughly and threw it on the drawer beside the bed." So it's my fault you decided to take me hostage!? How did you think I was going to react!?" she shouted at him.
"I took you hostage to escape the home that you wanted to enter so badly. You never told me your father was a maniacal leader of a clan of cannibalistic freaks! You should be grateful I got you out of there!" Arthius shouted back at her intending to strike a nerve.
"What in the divines makes you think I needed saving, you oblivious bastard? I was among my own, among my family, the people who care about me!" Serana screamed.
Arthius just smirked at this "Hmm…now who's the one being oblivious?" Serena's eyes glowed fiercely as she became furious. She lunged at Arthius and threw him against the wall. Arthius hit the wall with a thud and landed on his feet, he quickly ducked a punch and tackled Serana to the ground. Holding her arms down as he reached for his sword, only to find it missing from its sheathe. He looked back at Serana who now had a wicked smile on her face.
"Did you lose something?" she asked venomously. She then kneed Arthius in the side sending him toppling off of her. Both rose, and Serana pushed Arthius into a corner baring her fangs. She grabbed him by the hair and pulled his head to one side revealing his neck. She put her lips to it, savoring the pulse of blood rushing through his veins. As she opened her mouth to bite down, Arthius grabbed her hair and started slamming her head into the wall until she released him. He pushed himself out from the corner and turned back to see Serana hit him in the head with a tray that was on a desk nearby. Arthius fell back and landed with a thud cursing to himself as he looked up. Serana had a small gash on her head that she was covering with her hand. Arthius was about to say something but she kicked him in the side until she lost the strength to stand and fell on her backside. They stayed there in silence, Serana sitting with her head down beside Arthius laying on his back. There was no noise except Serana wiping away the occasional trace of blood or Arthius spitting some out of his mouth.
"I'm sorry" Arthius said in a sad tone. Serana slightly looked up before turning to him.
"Likewise" she said with a smile. She offered her hand and helped Arthius to his feet. Arthius slowly walked over to his bag and pulled out some cloth and a healing potion and handed it to Serana. She gladly took it and began to nurse her wound as Arthius put on his tunic. As he lied down on the bed, he thought about where they were going to go. Unsure that the Dawnguard wouldn't try and kill her, he decided that they should head to Whiterun and see what the circle thinks of all of it. He was brought out of his thoughts when Serana lied next to him and put her head on his shoulder saying nothing. Arthius didn't know what this meant, but he decided to accept it and not question it. "It's not like you have any complaints" Arthius just let the thought pass, as he had no objections as they lied there together.
Arthius awoke to find Serana separated from him on the bed, he was a little disappointed but it meant he could get out without disturbing her. Arthius went downstairs and sat at the booth.
"Good morning" the innkeeper said "I assume you and your friend enjoyed your stay?" He said as he gave Arthius a wink. "Well that explains why nobody bothered us" Arthius thought to himself. He had some venison steak, two carrots, and a piece of bread. He ordered a bottle of black briar mead as he paid the man. Arthius walked back up to the room to find Serana inspecting her wound."Gods, that was foolish of us to fight" Arthius thought as he opened the door. She turned to him and offered a small smile.
"Good morning" she said, before putting the mirror down and putting on her hood.
Arthius simply nodded and went to gather his belongings.
"I'll be back shortly" Arthius told her before turning to the door.
"Wait, where are you going?" she asked
"I need a new set of armor, I'm going to see the blacksmith" Arthius replied.
"I'll come with you, I've been wanting to see the city" Serana said as she walked towards the door. On their walk to Beirand's forge, Serana told Arthius about how she imagined what Solitude would look like, and how she was surprised at how large the windmill actually is. Arthius enjoyed listening to her, he felt as though she missed out on life being kept in that dreary castle. Once he received the spare set of armor that Beirand kept for Arthius, they retrieved their weapons from the innkeeper and headed out of solitude. They soon arrived at the carriage and Arthius gestured Serana to get in.
"Can you take us to Whiterun?" Arthius asked the driver.
"Sure can, try and enjoy the ride" the driver said as he snapped the reigns.
A few minutes later, Serana asked "Why Whiterun?"
"I have a few friends there that I need to see" Arthius responded.
After an hour of silence, Arthius asked "So what was that with your father?"
Serana looked up at Arthius "Well…I suppose I should start at the beginning. Do you know how vampires were created?" She asked.
"Molag Bal correct?" Arthius answered.
"Exactly…" Serana began to tell Arthius the story of her family's destruction, and her father's obsession with a strange prophecy.
"To block out the sun…gods" Arthius said as he stared down.
"The only person I can think to talk to is my mother…but I haven't seen her since she locked me in that tomb" Serana said with a hint of bitterness.
"Have you ever considered curing yourself?" Arthius asked.
Serana looked up at him. "No, it may have torn my family apart but I've done too much to simply rid myself of it" Serana stated seriously.
"I'm sorry about your family" Arthius said changing the conversation.
"What about you, where are your parents?" Serana asked calmly.
Arthius looked her in the eyes before speaking. "They were killed shortly after having me"
"I'm sorry" Serana said "I know what that's like, I mean, not having your parents around"
This caused Arthius to give her a look, but dismissed it. "Yeah…"
They arrived in Whiterun the next morning, and after paying the driver, they walked through the gates of the busy city. He started walking towards jorrvaskr and noticed that Serana was gawking at almost everything she saw, which made Arthius smile. They were about to walk up the steps of jorrvaskr when Arthius noticed Serana was no longer at his side, he turned to see her staring at the gildergreen. He walked up beside her and looked at it as well.
"It's beautiful" Serana stated looking it up and down with a small smile on her face.
Arthius just watched her. "Not as beautiful as you are" he thought. He's found himself thinking things like this more often, and can no longer dismiss them. Serana turned to him then, and smiled.
"So who are your friends we're going to meet?" she asked. Arthius tore himself from his thoughts.
"The companions" he said simply.
"Ah, the noble warriors of jorrvaskr. I'm excited to meet them" Serana said.
Arthius led her up the steps and pushed the doors open to jorrvaskr, just in time to see Njada send Torvar over a table as others cheered them on.
"Touch my ass again and you'll be sorry!" Njada said as she walked away.
Serana looked at Arthius who said nothing but pinched the bridge of his nose.
"So…these are the mighty companions huh?" She said as she crossed her arms and gave Arthius a smirk. "And you're their leader"
"The harbinger isn't technically a leader, he just gives guidance" Arthius explained.
"You keep telling yourself that" Serana said with a wink.
"I always do" Arthius said making Serana laugh. Arthius walked down the steps as Vilkas approached him.
"Greetings Harbinger" Vilkas said as he extended his hand out for Arthius to shake. As soon as he put his hand in Vilkas', Arthius placed his foot behind Vilkas and shoved him with his shoulder, sending Vilkas crashing to the floor. As the companions roared in laughter, Arthius crouched down beside him.
"Gather the circle and meet me in the underforge in five minutes" Arthius whispered.
He then got up and went over to Torvar and helped him up. He then gave him the bottle of black briar mead he held onto from solitude.
"Thought you might like this" Arthius said as he patted Torvar on the back.
"Ya' know…it's sort of difficult to preform my duties when I'm drunk" Torvar said.
"Were you going to do them anyways?" Arthius asked.
"No, but now I have an excuse" Torvar said. "Besides, I'm always drunk" Torvar said, making everyone burst out laughing again.
A few minutes later, Arthius and Serana joined Aela, Vilkas, and Farkas in the underforge.
"Why have you gathered us here harbinger?" Aela asked. "And who is this vampire you bring?"
"Please don't tell us you dragged us in here to tell us you're engaged" Farkas said in an annoyed tone.
"I've gathered you all here for an important mission" Arthius stated as he looked around at the three companions.
"Well, don't keep us in suspense, what is it?" Vilkas asked.
"We need to find a moth priest" Arthius stated.