A New Beginning
They arrived on the island a few days later. Serana seemed excited some days, but nervous the others. At least that's what Arthius thought, Serana was very hard to read. Every bandit fight, every wolf pack, every sound in the night, Arthius could hear her whispers. She continued to fuel him to a point where he considered seeing a priest. Arthius figured he would see Paarthurnax about this, the ancient dragon had become a great advisor for him. They had arrived on the island, as they heard a slight rustling. Arthius put his finger up to his lips to motion Serana to be silent.
"LAAS YAH NIR"
He saw a red life force above the tower. "A scout" he thought to himself. Arthius nodded upwards at the tower to Serana, who nodded and began to ascend it. He watched the red figure slowly ascend the tower before it was behind the one atop. After a muffled grunt, the first life force disappeared. Serana exited the tower with a nod. They began walking around the side of the castle, passing old crates and barrels, as Serana continued to look at the castle.
"What is it?" Arthius asked.
"The castle looks so big from down here. Well- it is big but…even bigger" she said.
"Well put" Arthius said with a smile. Serana rolled her eyes in response. They turned the bend upon a port, filled with skeletons and draugrs.
"Of course" Arthius said as he equipped his crossbow. He readied it as he aimed at the head of one of the skeletons before firing. It struck the skeleton directly in the skull. Arthius smirked at this, until the skeleton turned around with the bolt in its skull.
"Well, that's new" Arthius said surprised as an arrow whizzed by his head. Serana began to shoot spikes at the skeletons that were firing arrows at them as Arthius charged with his sword and shield, deflecting arrows that were shot at him. He slashed down at a skeleton, only for his blade to be stuck in the shoulder as the skeleton bashed the handle of its Warhammer at Arthius' skull. Arthius fell on the ground as the skeleton raised the hammer to crush him. Arthius rolled out of the way and grabbed the sword by its handle and pulled the skeleton down with him. Arthius flipped the skeleton onto its back as he stood up and put his boot to the skeleton's chest as he jerked his sword free, and began to stomp on the Skelton's skull until it broke from its body, dead. Arthius backed up to Serana as she finished off her magicka and pulled her behind a large stone.
"So" Arthius said out of breath "How many did you get?"
"Um…" Serana began to count the fingers on her hand "Oh, one" she said looking at Arthius. Arthius pinched his nose before he turned the corner to see the skeletons begin to descend the steps.
"Why are these skeletons so strong?" Arthius asked.
"I think they're specially raised skeletons, probably put here by my father to keep out intruders" Serana replied as Arthius handed her a few magicka potions.
"Well, we better come up with something soon" Arthius said as he watched the skeletons approach. Serana searched for an idea, and then she found one.
"Arthius, give me your crossbow bolts" Serana demanded. Arthius looked at her questioningly before handing over his bolts. Serana began to use her magicka on the bolts.
"What are you doing?" Arthius asked.
"Putting fire runes on your bolts" She responded, looking at Arthius who had a dumbfounded expression on his face.
"They'll explode" Serana said with an annoyed expression.
"Oh, alright" Arthius said as she shoved the bolts into his hands. Arthius quickly turned around, loading a bolt. He shot it at the horde of skeletons, the bolt exploded just as Serana said it would. It destroyed multiple skeletons at once, sending bones everywhere. Arthius continued to launch bolts until all the skeletons were destroyed. Arthius turned back to Serana who was simply sitting down, resting her head on her palm as she twirled a spike in her hand.
"Serana" he stated. She looked up at him, dispelling the ice spike.
"All done?" she asked.
"Yeah, great idea by the way" Arthius said as he helped her to her feet.
"Arthius, you truly flatter me" she said sarcastically. Arthius rolled his eyes as he followed her up the dock.
They entered the undercroft and were immediately greeted by a skeever. Arthius stomped on its head before looking around. The sanctum was even more disturbing than the castle itself, but it's probably because it hasn't been tended to for who know how many centuries.
"Bloodhounds" Serana shouted. Arthius turned to see a pack of the canine creatures he saw before begin to charge them. "So that's what they're called" Arthius thought to himself. Serana put down the first one as Arthius rammed the second one as it was in midair, sending it crashing to the floor where Arthius stuck his blade through the beast, killing it. As Serana shot down the last bloodhound, Arthius was shot with a ray of red light from behind. He felt his strength waver before he turned with his shield, deflecting the magic. He saw a feral vampire casting the spell before it was struck in the chest with an ice spike and sent to the ground. Arthius smiled before walking over to it as it began to try and crawl away. Before Arthius could grab it, Serana sent another ice spike through its chest killing it. Arthius turned to Serana with anger in his eyes as she met his glare with her own. They stayed like this until Arthius regained himself and nodded at Serana with a huff. Serana gave him a smile before looking back and forth between the hounds and the vampire.
"What were they doing here?" Serana asked. Arthius pulled out a note handing it to Serana.
"So…his plan was to train these three blood hounds to kill my father and the rest of the clan?" Serana said with a smirk. "What a fool" she said as she followed Arthius down a corridor. They came across a pathway over a pile of skeletons.
"Might want to take a look around" Serana said peering over the ledge. "There's usually a lever around here somewhere" Arthius turned the path and walked into another room with a flight of stairs. "This place is massive" he thought to himself as he ascended the stairs and walked into another chamber. He soon saw cobwebs on the walls as he continued walking. He came upon the room with a lever to the closed gate, and a giant frostbite spider guarding it. Arthius smirked as he pulled out his sword and charged the creature. It shot venom at him as he ducked and rammed into its side. The spider tried to bite him with its large pincers but Arthius bashed it in the face with his shield. He then stabbed the spider through the skull, killing it. He flipped the switch, and walked back to Serana who was waiting for him.
"You know, I always used to come down here when my parents would fight. I guess a vampire girl was enough to scare the rats away" Serana said as Arthius approached, she kept looking around as if it were her old home. Arthius thought about this for a moment, unsure of how she feels to be back…home.
"You talk about being lonely quite a bit" Arthius said as he leaned against a corridor.
"Well, growing up the way I did, you get used to it" Serana said plainly.
"But, do you still feel that way?" Arthius asked. Serana looked back at him.
"A little bit. That's…one of the reasons I stayed with you" she said a bit awkwardly "But…what about you?"
"What about me?" Arthius asked.
"I mean, do you get lonely?" she asked. Arthius never thought about that. People praised him, people hated him, there were people who wanted him around and people who only needed him to complete a task. He never really…felt cared about. As if people would only care for their own goals.
"Do you…have people in your life?" she asked. Arthius thought of Aela but, she was just a lover. Even though there wasn't any love involved.
"I…try not to rely on others most of the time" He responded. Serana looked at him for a moment.
"Does it bother you that I'm here?" she asked plainly.
"No" Arthius responded immediately. "I'm glad you're with me" Serana smiled at this.
"Me too" she said as he smiled back.
"Anyways" Serana said tearing her eyes away "This is all very touching, but I think we have more important things to get to right now"
They entered the courtyard and Serana emitted a small gasp. The courtyard was in ruins, what could have been a beautiful garden for all sorts of ingredients was now a crumbling shadow of what it was before.
"We've made it to the courtyard" Serana said plainly. "What happened to this place? Everything's been torn down…the whole place looks…well, dead. It's like we're the first to set foot here in centuries" Serana began to walk around, looking at the ruined courtyard. She walked up to a corridor and looked at it.
"This used to lead to the castle's great hall. It looks like my father had it sealed up. I used to walk through here after evening meals, it was beautiful once" she said as she walked over to a ruined garden. She looked at it with saddened eyes.
"This was my mother's garden. It…do you know how beautiful something can be when it's tended by a master for hundreds of years? She would have hated to see it like this" Serana said as she walked over to a sun dial in the middle of the courtyard.
"There's something wrong with this moon dial" she said as she inspected it. "Of course it's a moon dial" Arthius thought to himself.
"Some of the crests are missing and the dial is askew. I didn't even know that the crests could be removed. Maybe my mother's trying to tell us something" Serana said as she paced around it. Arthius began to look around the courtyard and found three crescent pieces to the dial. He returned to Serana with them in hand.
"What do you have there?" She asked.
"What do you think would happen if we put these back?" Arthius asked. Serana's eyes shot open.
"Yes, that might work. Here, give me some" she said. Arthius handed her two of them and she immediately placed one down in the correct spot. Arthius then put his down as he looked over to Serana who stood over the last spot it could go, she had a hopeful look on her face as she placed it. The dial began to turn and Serana and Arthius jumped back in surprise. It then began to open up, revealing a spiral staircase leading down. Serana stood there staring at the dial with a large smile on her face.
"Very clever mother, very clever" she said.
They descended the stairs into what seemed like a cellar, it had a bloody table and a few hanging ingredients. Arthius ascended the stairs to a dark dining hall with skeletons sitting in the chairs. The candles suddenly lit, and the skeletons came to life, scaring the life out of Arthius. He quickly charged with his sword and killed one of the skeletons as it rose from the table. Serana quickly dispatched two more, but there were many as Arthius began slashing at everyone that came near. As Serana shot a few off from Arthius, another attempted to behead her. She quickly ducked, but was hit in the face with the blunt of its sword, sending blood from her face onto the floor. She collapsed as the skeleton raised his sword. Arthius was being overwhelmed as he looked over to see Serana on the ground with a skeleton above her. Arthius' rage found him again as he broke free and charged at the skeleton, screaming to get its attention. It turned just as Arthius decapitated it, sending its head flying. He then turned to face the other four skeletons and both forces charged at each other. Arthius side stepped as he slashed another's head off before he turned around and cut down the one behind him. He then turned back to the remaining two as he was hit in the side of the head with a mace, sending him crashing to the ground. Serana looked up and quickly shot an ice spike, killing one of them before she raised the largest skeleton before blacking out. She awoke sometime later to find a room of bones scattered everywhere. She looked around until she saw Arthius lying in the same position he was when he collapsed. She panicked as she hurried to him, she knelt beside him and lifted his head slowly. There was blood seeping from the side of his head and he wasn't breathing. After removing his armor, she put her head to his chest and listened for his heartbeat. It was there, but it was faint. Serana placed his head down slowly before searching his pouch for anything that could help. She quickly bandaged his head with the fabric of his tunic and pulled out several healing potions. She doused his wound with one of the bottles before she put his head on her lap as she poured the liquids into his mouth, down his throat. She held his head as she placed her head on his chest again. "Please, please, please…" she thought to herself. She heard his heart begin to thump loudly in his chest, and she sighed in relief. She stayed there, with his head on her lap a while, before Arthius' eyes opened. Serana stared into them, she always loved his green eyes. She thought of them as emeralds, and found it amusing how they are so pretty compared to his brutish nature.
Arthius opened his eyes to see Serana's staring back at him, he smiled as he saw those beautiful gold orbs once again before looking around. Unsure of what had happened.
"Thank the gods, I thought I lost you for a moment" Serana said with a relieved tone. Arthius smiled again, and then was slapped across the face.
"How were you dumb enough to get taken down by four skeletons?" she asked plainly. Arthius laughed at this before adjusting his head, looking straight up.
"You're one to talk, you were knocked down by one" Arthius smirked. Serana suddenly stood up, sending Arthius tumbling to the floor.
"Protecting your hide" she said with a smile. She extended her hand out and Arthius took it as she basically lifted him off the ground to his feet. Arthius looked around for his shield and sword before hearing Serana shout to him.
"Catch" she said as she threw his armor at him. After readying themselves, they ascended the stairs as a gargoyle came to life, sending debris and stone into their faces. As Arthius recovered, he was charged and knocked to the floor, the gargoyle then swiped at Serana who ducked and sent an ice spike through its gut. It roared in pain as Arthius tackled it to the ground before stabbing it repeatedly until it died.
"Teamwork right there" Serana said smiling down at the creature. They entered another room with two skeletons perched, waiting to strike from a few steps above them. Arthius simply blocked the arrows as Serana dispatched of them. They ascended the stairs as more torches lit up suddenly, once again making Arthius jump. He turned back to Serana who gave him a small smirk. As they continued down another corridor, another gargoyle came to life as Arthius passed it by. Before he could do anything, he was shot in the back with an arrow. He turned to see a skeleton above him growl down. He became furious as he ascended the stairs. The gargoyle looked at Serana with a roar. "Great, leave the large stone monster to me" Serana thought as she equipped her dagger and readied her ice spell. The beast charged her as she sent ice spikes into its body. it flew into her, knocking her down. As it stood over her, she stabbed it in the leg before sending a spike through the bottom of its skull, killing it before it collapsed on top of her. "Perfect" she thought as she struggled under the body of it.
Arthius charged, ducking an arrow before impaling the skeleton and letting it crumble. He side stepped a blade before he decapitated the skeleton. Another sent an ice spike that he blocked with his shield. He approached it slowly, savoring how it began to back up, stumbling over itself. He then threw his shield, striking it in the face as it crashed to the floor. He stood over it and grabbed its skull, placing his boot on its chest preparing to pull its head off. Then he saw Serana watching from a distance, he quickly snapped back into reality as he let it go, and stabbed it quickly through the chest. He turned to Serana as she gave him a large smile.
"Good boy" she said. Arthius laughed before he walked across the platform. They continued on like this, killing any skeletons or gargoyles that got in their way until they came across a dead end in a dining hall. They looked around the room before Arthius noticed a candle that wasn't lit. He walked over to it and noticed it wasn't really attached to the wall. He grabbed it and twisted it. The fireplace beside it suddenly opened up as Arthius moved out of the way.
"Leave it to my mother…always smarter than I gave her credit for" Serana said as she walked through the passageway as Arthius followed. They went up several flights of stairs before she opened a door to a large room with ingredients of all sorts scattered throughout it. It had a large spiraling circle in the center of the floor.
"Look at this place, this has to be it!" Serana said as she looked around the room "I knew she was deep into necromancy. I mean, she taught me everything I know. But I had no idea she had a setup like this. She must have spent years collecting all of these components. And what's this?" She asked as she walked over to the circular structure in the center. She looked at Arthius who simply shrugged.
"I'm not sure about this circle, but it's obviously…something" She said as Arthius pinched his nose.
"Brilliant observation" Arthius said with a smirk as he plucked a book from a bookshelf. Serana chuckled at her own idiotic comment before continuing.
"Let's take a look around. There has to be something here that tells us where she's gone" Serana said at Arthius who was simply flipping through the pages of the book he had.
"Arthius, pay attention" she said as Arthius tossed her the book.
"She's in the soul cairn" Arthius said plainly as he looked around the room for the ingredients he had just read off.
"Arthius, there's an issue" she said as he turned to her. "We need a sample of her blood. Which… if we could get that, we wouldn't even be trying to do this in the first place "Arthius huffed before walking to the other end of the room, throwing his shield down. They stayed in silence for a while before Arthius spoke up.
"You're her daughter so…maybe-"he began.
"Maybe, that's all we can hope for, C'mon, let's get started" she said walking off, searching for the ingredients. Once they gathered them and placed them in the vessel, Serana approached it.
"The rest is up to me." She said "Are you ready to go? I'm not entirely sure what this thing is going to when I add my blood"
"Serana, can I ask you something first?" Arthius asked.
"Of course, what is it?" she asked.
"What will you do if we find your mother?" Arthius asked with concern. Serana trailed a bit before answering.
"I've been asking myself the same thing since we came back to the castle" she said looking at Arthius with troubled eyes. "She was so sure of what we did to my father, I couldn't help but go along with her. I never thought of the cost"
"It sounds like she was just doing what she thought was best for you" Arthius said with a smile. Not truly believing it himself.
"Possibly, I guess a vampire mother is still a mother. She always worried about me. About all of us. But she wanted to get me as far away from my father as possible before he really went over the edge" Serana said plainly.
"Well, there's no telling until we find her" Arthius said as he lifted his shield.
"Yes…yes, you're right. I'm sorry. I just…didn't expect anyone to care how I felt about her. Thank you" she said smiling at Arthius. "Now let's get that portal open" she said as she opened her palm. "Alright, here goes" she said as she slit it, dropping blood in the vessel. The center began to spiral and emit a iridescent purple as the stones turned into stairs to the balcony to a large portal in the ground.
"By the blood of my ancestors…"Serana said shocked "She actually did it…created a portal to the Soul Cairn. Incredible" Serana said turning to Arthius.
"Ready when you are" Serana smiled at Arthius. He began to descend the steps before he felt a pain shoot through him. It quickly drained as he began to collapse. He was pulled from behind up the stairs.
"Are you alright? That looked painful" Serana said with some concern.
"What happened?" Arthius asked.
"Now that I think about it…I should have expected that. Sorry. It's hard to describe. The Soul Cairn is…well, hungry, for a lack of a better word. It's trying to take your life essence as a payment" Arthius rubbed his forehead for a moment, annoyed at all the barriers.
"So there's no way in, then" Arthius said looking around with frustration. Serana looked at him nervously before replying.
"There might be, but I don't think you're going to like it" Serana said with concern "Vampires aren't counted among the living. I could probably go through there-"Serana said. Arthius had heard enough.
"So you're saying I'd have to become vampire" Arthius said with an annoyed tone. "Is there another way?"
"Maybe" she began "We could just "pay the toll". I can temporarily soul trap you but-"
"No, I'm not doing that" Arthius said as he began to look around the room.
"I'm sorry. I wish I knew a better way, something that would be easier for you" she said with an empathizing tone. Arthius looked at Serana a moment before responding.
"I'll become a vampire" he said with a serious tone.
"Are you sure? You'd become the very thing you've sworn to destroy. I don't know how the Dawnguard will react"
"To oblivion with the Dawnguard, let's do this" Arthius said a bit nervous. Serana looked away before speaking.
"Turning someone is a very… personal thing for vampires. It's intimate…for us" she said looking back at Arthius "I don't want you to feel like I'm forcing you into this "Arthius smiled at Serana.
"Then, I'm glad you're the one doing it" Arthius said. Serana smiled back.
"Let's not waste too much time, then" she said as she leaned in. She carefully put Arthius head to the side, putting her lips to his neck. She inhaled his scent before opening her mouth. She bit her tongue to release blood before biting into his neck, carefully. She swallowed a small amount of blood, savoring the taste. It was by far the best she's tasted. It was fresh yet aged, she could taste his soul in his blood. She let her blood enter his system before she felt a sudden energy pulse through her. She…felt him, she felt the pain, the loneliness, the hurt and even…love. She pulled her mouth from him. He wavered slightly and she had to prop him against her. He began to stand and he looked her in the eyes. She watched as his skin paled. She listened as his heart beat ceased. And she almost let out a gasp when she saw the eyes she admired turn gold. She was sad for him, but she also felt closer to him than ever before. She felt as though she should back away when he put his hands on her hips. She looked at him with sad eyes as he put his palm on her cheek, and wiped away a tear she didn't know she dropped. He began to lean in slowly, as did she. Their foreheads touched as they stared into each other's eyes. They stayed like this until she began to lean in further, he soon followed. Their lips met and locked, Serana never wanting it to end. And Arthius gladly obeying if she asked.