The Fearless Vampire Hunters
Convinced that everyone was as well armed and armored as possible, Katja led them out the Suite’s front door and transported them all to the steps near the entry to Fort Dawnguard. From the light in the sky or lack of it, it must be early evening here. But when the small party went in through the massive front doors, they found Isran standing erect in the circular entry hall as though he’d been awaiting them. Katja smiled internally at this thought. The quest for the bow had taken days, and suppose they’d decided to spend a few more days enjoying themselves at the Suite before returning? His feet should be killing him.
Isran’s curiously pale eyes lit as she strode forward to greet him, and he immediately spotted what was slung over her back. “The bow,” he said half-unbelieving, “you have Auriel’s Bow!” She nodded quietly and held it out for him to get a better look. It might not be the most deadly weapon ever crafted, but it was certainly lovely to behold. After examining it for a moment, Isran continued “I’ve heard it described in tales, but I could never have imagined its beauty.”
Katja recalled why they had come here, and in typical fashion got right to the point: “We need your help, Isran.”
“Indeed,” he responded. “The war hasn’t been won while Harkon still walks Tamriel.” As if for the first time he noticed her companions, and his gaze went to the woman among them. “But what of Serana?” he asked. “Can she be trusted to lift a blade against her own kind? Her own family?”
“I trust her to do the right thing,” Katja replied.
“I suppose that’s as much as I can hope for,” Isran said. She sensed that his attitude was beginning to soften. Now that she had proven herself as a person who could get things done, he was finally starting to accord her respect. “Let me address the Dawnguard,” he continued, “and then we’ll be off. The men deserve to know that we’ve finally gained the upper hand.” Hey, Katja thought. What about the women?
Not-a-soldier Isran had now gone into full-blown not-a-commanding-officer mode, however. “Everyone! Gather ’round!” he called loudly. “Come on, then, we haven’t got all day!” From rooms around the perimeter of the hall, figures began to appear. Some Katja recognized – Agmaer, Sorine, Gunmar. There were some new faces as well, but overall it was a pretty small group. No larger than the number of vampires and their minions she’d seen in Castle Volkihar’s grisly dining hall, when she’d first come there with Serana. She hoped that was going to be enough – but then, with herself and her companions including Serana, it certainly ought to be!
Isran had now launched into a compelling speech, evidently intended to fire up the not-troops for their forthcoming battle. Facing the people arrayed before him, he spoke with emotion: “For too long we’ve allowed these vampires to poison the night and kill our people! Now, we finally have the means to strike back!” He continued, “We now have Auriel’s Bow. The gods themselves have favored us and now we must answer with action!”
Katja thought he was overstating the case. The Bow was a powerful weapon in the right hands, and with the Sun-hallowed arrows she’d obtained from Gelebor it packed an even bigger punch if you were fighting vampires in daylight. But why vampires would choose to fight under such adverse conditions she could not imagine; and there were plenty of other weapons, the bows enchanted with Meridia’s Retribution for example, that were almost as deadly. The main point of getting the Bow had been to assure it would not fall into the hands of Harkon, who wanted to use it with the blood of a Daughter of Coldharbour (his own daughter, in fact) to blot out the sun.
Still, if Isran wanted to bill Katja’s acquisition of Auriel’s Bow as the turning point that would finally allow them to take on Lord Harkon, let him go ahead. She and Serana needed all the help they could get if they were to defeat the vampire lord. Katja’s attention refocused on Isran as he went on, “The time has come to finally put an end to Harkon and his unholy prophecy! We will march on their lair and destroy those wretched abominations so they can no longer corrupt our world!”
Murmurs of approval went up from the Dawnguard members gathered in a half-circle in front of their leader. Really beginning to get into it now, Isran continued in impassioned tones, “This is our fight and this is our fate! This is the time of the Dawnguard!” Oh, puhleeze, Katja thought. She was vividly reminded of the speech given by Ulfric Stormcloak when she’d gone to persuade him to come to the peace conference several months ago. She wasn’t sure why it was, but whenever she heard somebody going off like this her mind just pulled back, unaffected by the emotion that was being expressed, and analyzed what was really being said. Which, she noted, was usually to be found wanting.
Lacking in rational sense as it might be, Isran’s address had had the desired effect on the gathered not-troops. Cries of “Kill the abominations!” and “Give him a crossbow bolt between the eyes for me!” were heard, as the fired-up members of the Dawnguard worked themselves into a killing frenzy. Katja glanced at Serana, wondering how her friend was taking the characterization of her people as “wretched abominations,” but the woman seemed unmoved. Likely she was already getting used to these attitudes, having thrown her lot in with people determined to destroy vampires.
Isran now turned and spoke to Katja. “It’s time we take the fight to their door,” he said, steely resolve glinting in those strange blue eyes. “Gather your things and rest well, my friend. We meet outside Castle Volkihar.”
“Until then,” Katja replied. She led her small band back out through the front doors and took a moment to consider her weaponry. They had all (with the possible exception of Serana) recently awakened from a good night’s sleep and eaten breakfast, so they felt in no need of rest. “Is everybody ready to go?” she asked, and got responses ranging from quiet assent to gleeful menace (that would be Wyll).