Serana stared at the mess of bodies as Arthius sat, defeated. "We were so close, and they captured him for who know what" Arthius thought. Serana put her hands on one of the corpse's necks.
"Arthius" she stated "They couldn't have gone far, maybe we can catch them" Arthius never looked up.
Serana huffed as she searched the bodies. She soon found a note and read it aloud.
"I have new orders for you. Prepare an ambush just south of Dragon Bridge. Take the moth priest to Forebears' Holdout for safekeeping until I can break his will." Serana read as she looked up at Arthius.
Arthius' head jerked up suddenly as he got up and started running straight into the woods. Serana just stared before releasing an irritated sigh as she began to follow. They arrived at the cave within two minutes. Arthius listened closely as he heard voices from within, making him smile.
"See" Serana said with a smile "No reason to lose hope" she said with a wink. Arthius smiled back at her, feeling foolish for losing hope.
Arthius heard a whisper in his head, but shook it away. They entered the cave slowly, they soon found the vampires waiting among the hold across the bank of water. It was a circular stone structure with high walls. There were stairs to a platform with a strange magical orb keeping something trapped inside.
"You are growing weaker with every moment that passes by, let your anger rule, and your strength will be unmatched" Arthius once again shook his head, unknowing to what was causing this.
Serana looked to him "Are you okay?" she asked in a hushed tone.
"I'm fine" Arthius said plainly as he took out his crossbow and readied it, aiming up at one of the vampires. Serana readied her ice spike and aimed for one of the bloodhounds circling the area.
They both released their projectiles, killing their targets. Another hound began to rush up the steps but was soon shot down by Serana. Arthius readied another bolt as he descended the stairs. He ran up to the fortress, as ice spikes were being shot by Serana. Arthius shot a vampire in the head before he noticed a Gargoyle spring from the inside of the fort.
"Oh, great" Arthius thought as he took out his blade. The gargoyle rushed Arthius as he jumped out of the way. The gargoyle roared as it clawed at him, Arthius ducked and bashed it in the stomach. The gargoyle was knocked back slightly, it then leapt forward on Arthius. It pinned him to the floor as it began clawing viciously at him. Arthius was barely holding the claws with his shield. He was going to lose the strength to hold it back, soon. With every bash, he grew tenser. With every bash, he became angrier.
"Let it take you my child, let it control your every being" it whispered again.
Arthius let loose, letting it devour him before he responded.
"Yes night mother"
"FUS RO DAH"
The gargoyle was sent flying across the room. He rose, grabbing his sword. The gargoyle also rose, roaring at him. It charged Arthius, as he waited. As it grew near, he quickly side stepped as it stopped beside him before he thrust his sword through the top of its skull. Killing it instantly. Ice spikes were launched at him as he dropped his shield and dodged them, running towards the casters. Serana finished off her second vampire ash she turned to see Arthius moving through the spikes like as if he knew when and where they would be placed. Arthius approached two more, as he hit one in the face with the blunt of his sword, he ducked another spike and stabbed the caster through the stomach before bringing his blade back and chopping the head off the one that was stunned. She watched before another one attacked her, she parried his sword with her dagger. Arthius quickly grabbed a vampire by the wrist before stabbing it repeatedly. The last vampire dropped it sword and began to cower as Arthius approached it with fire in his eyes.
"Please, have mercy. I surrender, take the priest" she pleaded.
Arthius smirked at this as he grabbed it by the throat and lifted her, pinning her to a wall. He slowly put the tip of his blade in front of her eye as she pleaded wildly as tears rushed down her face. Arthius then slowly pushing as the blade made contact, burning as sizzling her skin covering her eye as she screamed wildly. Arthius smiled wildly as he continued.
"ARTHIUS!" Arthius turned to see Serana staring at him with a shocked expression. Arthius quickly looked back at the vampire before slashing his blade down through her shoulder to her chest. He released it as it fell to the floor dead. Arthius simply looked at Serana before picking up a strange stone from the vampire, and taking it up the stairs to place it on the pedestal. The field of magic soon dispersed as Arthius approached the priest. As he was about to say something, the priest attacked.
"Die!" the priest shouted as he lunged at Arthius, Arthius quickly ducked a punch before laying a hard uppercut knocking the old man down. The man looked around, before speaking.
"Please, forgive me. I was not myself then" he stated as he rose. "Thank the divines, bless you, I don't even know why these brutes attacked me"
"It's because they need you for the same purpose that we need you" Arthius stated. "We need you to read an elder scroll"
"You have an elder scroll, remarkable! I will be happy to assist you with your scroll, just tell me where you need me to go"
"Head to solitude, meet with the companions of jorrvaskr and ask for the circle. They'll understand."
"Very well, I'll head there before more vampires show up. By the way, my name is Dexion" He stated before turning and hurrying out of the cave. Arthius watched him go, after a few moments of silence, he turned to face Serana as she stared a t him seriously.
"What in the divines was that?" she asked. Arthius simply turned and walked towards the exit.
"Arthius" she said as he continued to ignore him." Arthius!" she said as she placed her hand on his shoulder. Arthius grabbed her hand and threw it to the side roughly as he turned to face her. She stared him in the eyes for a moment before speaking.
"What is wrong Arthius? I've told you before, if you're angry-"she began.
"Serana" Arthius said, cutting her off "Do me a favor and keep your mouth shut"
Serana just stared at him with an open mouth, surprised at what he just said. She then slapped him hard across the face. Arthius smirked as he stared into her eyes furiously.
"Quit, trying to control things Serana, it just makes you a pain in the ass" Arthius stated as he turned to walk away.
"Is that why nobody ever cared enough to ask about your past?" Serana with sad eyes. Arthius paused at this.
"Is that why your parents don't care about you?" Arthius asked as turned to face her.
She grew furious at this, she grabbed Arthius by the throat and lifted him off the ground. Arthius was surprised by her great amount of strength. She held him there for a minute before dropping him. He fell to the hard stone, coughing but smiling as he knew she had lost her temper with him. He looked up smiling, until he saw her face. He had expected fury, but what he saw was pure hurt. She held in any tears she may have had, but couldn't help but stop her lip from quivering slightly and her brow from twitching slightly. She began to walk away, as Arthius rose from the ground. She quickened her pace as he rushed after her. He grabbed her arm and she tried to free it. Arthius walked behind her and held her arms down as she struggled. He then pulled her in to him as he hugged her tightly from behind and rested his chin on her shoulders. Serana stayed stiff as he looked down. "I've done it, I've officially went over the edge She'll never forgive me and I deserve it" Arthius thought to himself.
"Serana-"Arthius started. Serana quickly leaned into him with her eyes shut closed. She turned to him with a serious expression. She again slapped him in the face, but not as rough. She looked him in the eyes.
"I know…when someone doesn't mean what they say. I'm no better for what I said to you but…" Serana said as her eyes drifted. "I forgive you" Arthius couldn't believe what he had just heard.
"Why?" he asked. Serana looked at him, as if searching for an answer in his armor.
"Because I can't afford to not forgive you" she said with a smile. Arthius stared at her dumbfounded. He couldn't believe how forgiving she was, yet stern. He wrapped his arms around her then and pulled her into a short yet strong hug. She let out a small yelp as he pulled her in, when he released her she had an amusing surprised face.
"How about we get back to Whiterun" he said with a relieved smile.
Serana looked out the cave before saying anything." Not exactly the calmest environment is it?"
Arthius chuckled as he began to walk away. "Thought it would suit you"
They opened the doors to jorrvaskr as the circle and the moth priest were waiting.
"Congratulations on finding the priest before us Harbinger" Aela said.
"The carriage driver of Whiterun, great job on that one" Arthius stated as he looked at the companions.
"And yet you didn't think of it until we arrived in Winterhold" Serana said, causing everyone to grin at Arthius who slightly blushed. He turned to Serana who simply shrugged. He walked to the priest who was looking around the room.
"Glad to see you made it here safely Dexion" Arthius said. "Have the companions made you feel welcome?"
"It's not exactly the kind of hospitality I'm used to, but your man Vilkas has seen to my needs well enough" He said.
"Are you ready to read the elder scroll?" Arthius asked.
"Oh, most certainly! Let's find out what secrets the scroll can tell" Dexion pulled the scroll open as he asked for silence.
"I see before me, an image of a great bow. I know this weapon, it is Auriel's bow. Now a voice…whispers, saying "Among the night's children, a dread lord will rise. In an age of strife, when dragons return to the realm of men, darkness will mingle with light, and the night and the day will be as one". The voice fades and words begin to…shimmer, and distort, but wait, there is more here. The secret of the bow's power is written elsewhere. I think there is more to the prophecy, recorded in other scrolls. Yes, I see them now. One contains the ancient secrets of the dragons, and the other speaks of the potency of ancient blood. My vision darkens, and I see no more. To know the complete prophecy, we must have the other two scrolls." Dexion said as he closed the scroll. "I must rest now, the reading has…mad me weary"
As the group dispatched, Serana walked to Arthius' side.
"Arthius" she said calling his attention
"What is it?" he asked.
"That moth priest, Dexion. He said we needed two other elder scrolls. I think I know where we can start looking." This caught Arthius by surprise.
"Why didn't you say anything earlier?" He asked. Serana crossed her arms.
"I don't exactly trust your pack of hounds. That doesn't exactly make me want to open up. I got a warmer welcome from my father, and that's saying something" she said.
"Do think he cares about you anymore?" Arthius asked feeling uneasy as he thought about what he had said earlier. She looked at him for a moment, giving him quick reassuring smile.
"You know, I've been asking myself the same thing, I thought…I hoped that if he saw me, he might feel something again, but I guess I don't really factor in at this point" she said " I don't think he even sees me as his daughter anymore. I'm just…a means to an end" Arthius didn't truly understand how she could say any of this without it fazing her at all, but he could only assume that she had gotten used to it by now.
"So where's the other scroll?" he asked, getting back to the matter at hand.
"We'd need to find my mother, Valerica. She'll definitely know where it is. And if we're lucky, she has it herself" Serana replied. Arthius was joyed at first, but then he remembered something.
"You said you didn't know where she went" he said.
"The last time I saw her, she said she'd go somewhere safe…somewhere that my father would never search. Other than that she wouldn't tell me anything" Serana said as Arthius rubbed his face. Serana continued "But the way she said it…"someplace he would never search." It was cryptic, yet she called attention to it"
"We don't exactly have time to decipher cryptic clues" Arthius said.
"If you've got a better Idea, I'm all ears" Serana replied with an annoyed tone, "Besides, I can't imagine a single place my father would avoid looking. And he's had all this time, too" She said as she looked at Arthius. "Any ideas?" Arthius thought for a moment "Someplace he would never search"
"Well, what about Volkihar castle?" Arthius asked. Serana gave him an annoyed look before her face lit up.
"Wait…that almost makes sense" Serana said "There's a courtyard in the castle. I used to help her tend a garden there. All of the ingredients for our potions came from there. She used to say that my father couldn't stand the place. Too…peaceful."
"Don't you think that that's a little risky, staying around the castle?" Arthius asked, unsure of her thoughts.
"Oh, absolutely. But my mother's not a coward. That is…I doubt we'll actually trip over her there. But it's worth a look" Serana said
"They're not just going to let us poke around you know" Arthius said.
"True, but I a way we can get to the courtyard without arousing suspicion. There's an unused inlet on the northern side of the island that was used by the previous owners to bring supplies into the castle. An old escape tunnel from the castle exits there. I think that's our way in" Serana said.
"Alright, we'll head out in the morning" Arthius said. Serana gave him an upset look.
"Why morning why not now?" She asked.
"Because we've been travelling for many days now and I'd like to relax for one night. Besides, it's the middle of the night. Morning is in a few short hours" Arthius said smiling as he descended the steps to the lower levels. Serana son followed.
"You can stay in my room, I'll take one of the bunks with the others" Arthius said, nodding to the room. Serana nodded before walking to the end of the hall. Once she entered the room, she closed the door behind her before removing her hood and throwing it to the side. She stretched slightly before lying down on the soft furs and buried herself beneath them.
"Hello Arthius" she heard a woman say from the corner of the room.
As Arthius prepared for bed, he heard a scream from his room. He quickly grabbed his sword and ran down the hall, bursting through the door. There was nothing to prepare him for what he saw. Serana was facing the wall, hand covering her mouth, a Aela covered herself with the furs from the bed, a surprised look on her face.
Arthius couldn't help it as he burst out laughing. He soon doubled over on himself as he couldn't control it. Aela huffed before marching out of the room. As Arthius sat there laughing, Serana turned to make sure the woman was no longer in the room before looking at Arthius. Once he finished, he saw Serana looking down at him with a smirk.
"I see being the harbinger has its perks" she said raising an eye brow. Arthius simply laughed as he went to the dresser and pulled out more furs.
"Good night" he said as he left the room. Serana smiled at him before lying down in the comfortable furs once again. Sleep soon found her. After leaving the room, Arthius opened the door to Aela's bedroom, where she still had the furs around her. Looking rather insulted.
"It's not funny" she said sternly "What do you want anyways"
Arthius smiled as he removed his tunic. "I need somewhere to sleep for the night" he said. Aela smiled as she opened the furs and let Arthius step inside. She wrapped her hands around his head before kissing him deeply. Arthius pulled her up and laid her down on the bed. He then laid beside her as they continued to kiss. He then pulled the furs on top of them, where they would find little sleep.
Arthius awoke the next morning to find Aela resting on his chest with an arm around him. He stayed like this for a few moments before she awoke, smiling up at him. Arthius kissed her before rising out of the bed and dressing, Aela just watching him with a smile. Once he finished dressing, he turned back to Aela and kissed her again.
"Farewell Aela" he said as he turned to face the door.
"Farewell harbinger" Aela said before settling back into the furs.
Arthius walked out into the main hall where Serana sat with her arms crossed as Farkas was talking to her about something. Whatever it was, Serana didn't seem happy about it. Arthius approached as he overheard.
"- and if I he returns with a damn bite mark, I swear on the divines-"Farkas said before Arthius grabbed him by the shoulder.
"Enough Farkas" Arthius said sternly with a low growl. Farkas looked at him before jerking his shoulder free and walking away with a huff.
"Good boy" Serana said smiling, showing her fangs.
"You're pretty good at making friends" Arthius said as he crossed his arms.
"All I had to do was hit you with a tray" she said smiling at him. Arthius chuckled as he held out his hand. Serana took it and stood up.
"Shall we?" Arthius asked
"Let's get going"