Love & Loss

Calling All Healers

Max felt pathetic as he stumbled his way through the woods. He kept blinking to try and clear the mysterious fog he was in, but it would not leave. He was blind. How could he be so complacent? He knew the risks going in, but did he give them a second thought? No, not even when Serana pointed them out. He should have listened, especially someone as versed in ancient magic as she was. Especially since Serana wasn't the worrying or motherly type. Max knew he was hard headed, that was his father's blood in him. He knew that was also why he was trying so damned hard to deny his feelings for Serana.

Yes, Max, you do have feelings. Though you wish you didn't, you are still human after all.

It was sad, but Max came to the conclusion early on that Serana was more human than he was. Max shook his head at himself. He was less emotive than a vampire. He knew why he lost himself seven years ago, and he still couldn't move on. He let the Night Mother invade his mind and destroy what he was. He murdered his mother's emperor for money.

Max's head hung low as he wordlessly followed Mjoll through the forest. He didn't know how he got here for Mjoll wouldn't right out tell him. She must be waiting for something, maybe she didn't want the twins to hear.

Where did it all start? Max wondered to himself, but it didn't take long for him to recall the civil war that tore his people apart. All of the lives that were uselessly lost while the Aldmeri Dominion continued to move in.

Max ascended the steps of the Palace of Kings, Windhelm burning and his people screaming in agony behind him. He had tried to negotiate lasting peace, but as soon as Alduin fell, everything went right back to square one, leaving him with no choice but to pick a side. With each stair step he thought back on each battle he fought to get here.

The Jagged Crown…Rikke was right, the Jagged Crown would only serve to boost Ulfric's ego further. Tullius didn't understand what it represented to the Nords, but seeing the men they lost…and killed…just to keep the crown from Ulfric it seemed futile. Hadvar and Max had never forgotten the horrors they faced within Bleak Falls Barrow. Disturbing their long dead ancestors was crime enough, but they had entered the barrow, stepping over the bodies of their brothers…Stormcloaks and Legionnaires alike.

The Battle of Whiterun…Maximus and his fellow legionnaires stood outside of Whiterun's walls, waiting nervously for the Stormcloak offensive. Rikke had sent Max's unit out to meet them before they reached the walls. "If they breach the walls many lives will be lost." She had said. Her speech was moving, but Max couldn't help but wonder what his life, or any soldier's life meant. Surely it was less than that of an innocent civilian. It was the Nord way to go down fighting, but to attack those who could not defend would bring you no honor. By the battle's end, Max was the only man left standing of the thirty brave men and women sent out to meet the Stormcloaks. But they had won and what Stormcloaks had reached the walls were quickly dispersed.

The Battle for Fort Dunstad…That battle had been close to home. Tullius had overlooked Dunstad, thinking it strong enough to hold on its own against a Stormcloak attack. Max was just happy that he didn't recognize any of the dead on either side. He knew many Hjaalmarch boys that could have been on either side of the war, he wasn't sure if it was good thing that he didn't recognize anyone.

The Battle for Fort Greenwall…After successfully blackmailing the Jarl of Riften…that had taken more subterfuge and stealth than Max thought he possessed. He didn't like playing politics but he did it anyway. With Mjoll's help, Max had stopped a shipment from being attacked and stolen. Shortly after, Max fought at Fort Greenwall. The promotion he received after was not worth how much work he put in or the lives he was forced to take.

Fort Kastav… Rikke just loved taking him out of his comfort zone. Sneak into a Stormcloak base and free the captured legionnaires Tullius hung out to dry. The General had opted not to reinforce the Fort and as a result it was taken. Upon reaching the fort, a thought occurred to Max that would stick with him for the rest of the war. The legionnaires he freed should have been dead, but for some reason, the Stormcloaks did not kill them. Max knew why, the Stormcloaks didn't want to kill their brethren nor the Imperials. They simply wanted them to pack up and leave. It pained Max to fight something his father once stood for, but the lines had become so blurred. The Stormcloak idea was noble, but it was foolish. Now was not the time to seek independence with the Thalmor on their doorsteps. The exile of non-Nords was also something Max couldn't condone. So he fought his brothers, wishing every second he didn't have to. That was the sickness of civil war. Sometimes he wished he were born in Hammerfell, at least that way he didn't have to worry about the Thalmor.

The Battle for Fort Amol…It had been the last hold the Stormcloaks had outside of Windhelm. They fought valiantly, but the legion onslaught was too much. Having the Last Dragonborn on their side shifted the advantage strongly to the Imperials.

Finally, here he was. Windhelm burning all around him as he confronted a man his father died fighting alongside. Max, followed by Rikke and Tullius, entered the Palace of Kings.

Ulfric still sat on his throne calmly and said nothing, Tullius beating him to it.

"UIfric Stormcloak, you are guilty of insurrection, murder of Imperial citizens, the assassination of King Torygg, and high treason against the Empire. It's over!"

Max couldn't help but feel sheepish at this, he didn't believe that Ulfric had murdered the King. Torygg was an Empire puppet and he would not be missed, but Max knew Ulfric needed to be stopped. No matter which side he chose, Max knew it was the wrong one.

Galmar Stone-Fist stepped between them and drew his warhammer.

"Not while I'm still breathing!"

Rikke tried to dissuade him but the bold warrior would not yield.

Ulfric professed that he would not surrender to a dying empire. A fair point, but Rikke countered him well.

"Skyrim does not belong to you, Ulfric."

"No, but I belong to her," Ulfric said. Throughout the exchange, Ulfric looked not on Rikke or Tullius, but Maximus. His eyes studied Max.

"Enough!" Tullius cut them off, "You are traitors and shall die as such!"

Max was nearing his wits end with Tullius. The old man was too entitled, even for a general. He wasn't what Skyrim needed either.

"Either stand down and face public execution or resist and die by my hands. Either way your heads will be sent back to Cyrodiil."

Max shook his head slightly. The last thing Skyrim needed was its people's heads being sent to an Imperial court to showcase. This he would not allow. He looked up to see Ulfric's eyes locked on his.

Galmar shouted something and suddenly the room was engulfed with the sounds of battle. Tullius and Rikke against Galmar and he was pitted against Ulfric.

Max and Ulfric matched one another blow for blow, but Max could feel Ulfric's age taking its toll. Ulfric began to tire allowing Max to land a kick, sending the rebel leader back a few feet.

"The Empire cannot protect us, Dovahkiin, surely you see this," Ulfric said before mustering his strength and striking back. Max put him down easily with a counterstrike.

"What choice do I have? We need all our strength for the Thalmor." Max said quietly. Striking back, aimed at Ulfric's midsection. The rebel king blocked and swung for Max's head.

"They build their numbers within our borders thanks to the Imperials," Ulfric retorted.

Max knew he was right, but still, there had to be another way. He ducked Ulfric's attack and swept his feet out from under him.

Ulfric yielded finally, growing too tired to fight any longer.

"They would follow you, Dovahkiin."

Max gave the rebel a questioning look.

Tullius turned to Ulfric, having slain Galmar.

"Any last requests before I send you to…where ever you people go when you die," he said spitefully.

You people…The general's wording rung in Max's head to this day. Tullius didn't even take the time to learn anything about the Nords when he was sent here. He had no business ruling her. Max could see a similar disgusted look in Rikke's eye.

"Sovngarde, sir," She corrected, casting a forlorn gaze in Max's direction.

"Right," The general said, sounding annoyed.

Ulfric looked at Max, "Let the Dragonborn be the one to do it. It'll make for a better song."

Max knew he owed Ulfric this respect. Tullius only shrugged, "Song or not, I just want this done."

"I will do it," Max said. Tullius held out his sword, "Here, use my sword. I sharpened it just for this."

Max shook his head and drew his own sword. He said nothing to the general as he turned towards Ulfric.

"Talos be with you," Max said, ignoring Tullius' outraged grunt.

Ulfric nodded at this, making eye contact with the Dragonborn. Max would not understand what it was he saw in Ulfric's eyes for years to come.

Max raised the sword above Ulfric's bowed head. Just before Max's sword fell he swore he heard Ulfric whisper, "She's yours."

"Talos be with you," Rikke said solemnly. She and Max exchanged a look before Tullius reprimanded both of them. Moments later, Max would leave his Legion armor there on the floor, resigning from the Empire. During his time in the Brotherhood, he would steal Ulfric's body from the Empire fort in Solitude and bury at Markarth where his father rested.

Those words from Ulfric Stormcloak still haunted Max. Perhaps they always would, for Max knew he had failed. Sure, Tullius had since died and Rikke had taken over the post. The Thalmor Embassy had been wiped out by an unknown attacker and the Stormcloaks imprisoned there would be set free, but no one actually saw their savior. Skyrim was free, for now. But no matter what Maximus did, there was always someone seeking to take power and he was always the one to stop them. Over the years, Max simply got tired of holding up Skyrim by himself. He sometimes would lie up at night, wondering if he'd made the right decision.

Max could feel himself being led down what felt light streets beneath his feet. He could feel a large hood pulled over his head, probably so when people saw him, they would recognize him. Seeing him blind could rattle people, understandably. After a while he could hear wooden steps under his feet and the murmurs of the crowds of people behind him. He must be at Jorvaskrr. The creak of a wooden door and quiet salutes of 'Harbinger' confirmed his assumption. Max was lead downstairs to the sleeping quarters and was helped into a chair. Max loathed being waited on but he accepted the help graciously.

"Care to inform me of what's happened?" Max asked, trying not to sound frustrated.

"We were hoping you could tell us what you've been doing as well," Farkas said.

Max rubbed his forehead tiredly.

"Well, nothing out of the ordinary. Just saving Skyrim from certain doom."

Vilkas was not so amused.

"What possessed you to turn someone outside of our order?" he demanded.

Max shot an annoyed look in the general direction of Vilkas' voice.

"Do you think I would have done it had I any other choice? She was dying," Max said irritably.

Vilkas' reaction was rather delayed, "I suppose not," he admitted.

"Mjoll's better than half of our guild," Farkas provided, obviously directing that at his brother.

"Uh huh." Vilkas said sarcastically.

Max's brow knitted together, "You'd be foolish to underestimate Mjoll. I've known her a long time."

"I know that, Max. I'm just giving Farkas here a hard time because he carries a torch for our newest member."

Farkas scoffed, "I do not." He said defensively, "Besides, the way that flimsy Imperial follows her around, I know not to get my hopes up. We had to throw the guy out of here daily until Mjoll finally convinced him to go."

Max laughed silently, "Ah, Aerin."

"Yes, Aerin." Both of the twins said in unison, both sounding equally irritated.

Max then proceeded to tell the twins of his most recent quest.

Serana was quite saddle sore by the time she stiffly slid from Shadowmere. She forced her tender legs to carry her forward as she led the exhausted undead horse by his reins. She noted the suspicious looks she was getting from the Dawnguard members as she tied the horse up and headed for the entrance. She knew the risks she was taking by coming here alone, but at this point, she didn't care. Serana had grown accustomed to Isran's icy manner, it had never scared her before, why start now? She was a bit worried at how he'd react to her coming alone. She didn't want to know what sort of methods the vengeful vampire hunter used on his subjects, especially after the glimpse she got the first time she arrived here. Luckily, Max had stepped in just in the nick of time, but she knew this time she was on her own.

"You have great nerve coming into my fort alone, vampire." Isran said with his usual coolness, his voice echoing off the castle walls.

Serana wasn't in the mood for this.

"I wouldn't be here if it wasn't important." She said irritably.

"And what is that?" Isran asked, sounding acidic as ever.

"There's been a slight…complication. I require Dexion's help."

Isran had by this time descended from the upper level into the main atrium.

Serana was looking around for the moth priest, but she could not find him.

"The Moth Priest set off for Cyrodiil shortly after you and the Dragonborn last left."

Now Serana was really worried. The way Isran was looking at her, she wasn't sure what he was going to do.

"What complication?" The icy Dawnguard leader asserted.

Serana fumbled for an explanation. She knew it didn't matter what she said.

"Max was reading the Elder Scrolls at the Glade and as it turns out…"

"He is blind." Isran finished for her. He paced before her menacingly.

Serana nodded and cleared her throat, "Yes, but I intend to fix that."

Isran looked mildly amused. "How?" he demanded.

"I had hoped Dexion would be able to help. Seeing as that's not the case…I'll have to improvise."

"You're foolish if you think I'm going to allow blood magic on one of my own," Isran said gravely.

Serana instinctively placed her hands at her hips, one hand wrapped itself around the hilt of her dagger.

"Not blood magic," She said with a shake of her head, "I deserve better than your distrust. Without me, you would still be grasping at air while my father turns Skyrim upside down," She said coolly.

Isran looked mildly impressed, "Don't be so sure."

Serana didn't have time to debate, there was one thing the two could agree on.

"That doesn't matter. Right now, your best Dawnguard member is blind and incapable of performing normally and he has the location of Auriel's bow in his head. If he can't see, then he cannot guide me there." Serana said, hoping Isran could see reason.

"It doesn't have to be Maximus that goes in search of the bow, nor need it be you."Isran said.

Serana sighed, "I'm the only one who can stop my father and I only trust Max to help me."

Isran looked at her indignantly, "Again, what makes you think you're the only one who can stop Harkon?"

Serana narrowed her eyes at him, "My father is a powerful, pure-blooded vampire with centuries of experience in the dark arts. Who do you think would know how better to defeat him, you with no prior knowledge of his abilities or his own daughter whom he trained himself?"

Isran clearly like her words, "That may be, but I have killed more than a few of your kind. Your father would be no different. Molag Bol cultists killed my family when I was young. I spent years preparing for my revenge and they died just as easily as the others."

Serana could see how this had twisted Isran into who he was, "Being a vampire was not my choice, and as horrible as it is, I am not responsible for your family's demise."

Isran didn't seem to believe her, "Why not cure yourself?"

Serana shook her head, "If that's even possible, what opportunity have I had since Max found me in that crypt? I've been running and hiding from my father for centuries."

"Why?" Isran demanded.

"Because it is my blood he needs to darken the sun," Serana said, trying her best to stay composed. She hoped she could get past this man's blind hate and make him understand.

"I thought the bow was the key."

"My blood must be on the arrows for the bow to take effect."

Isran ran his hands through his beard as he pondered this.

"Dexion mentioned something about the Divines before he left. I believe he specifically named Kynareth the goddess of the wood. Perhaps you should speak with one of the ladies at the temple in Whiterun." Isran said, his voice sounding tired as though relenting to her was taxing. He handed her a book titled, The Effects of Elder Scrolls.

"He left this," Isran added as Serana took the book.

"And if that doesn't work?" Serana asked.

"You're a dark arts master, you'll think of something," Isran chided.

Serana gave her thanks and headed for the door.

"Don't think this means we're friends. Your kind is a mistake," he called after her.

"Of course not," Serana said with a smirk, not bothering to turn back.

As she rode, Serana thought about how odd it was going to be entering a temple of the Nine Divines. Apparently they were new gods. Maybe she would just elect not to for fear of holy smites or some such. But what praying and healing wasn't enough. Would she be forced to turn Max? She knew the neither Companions nor the Dawnguard would stand for such a thing.

Serana then remembered a time with her mother where she learned about the practices of necromancy and other dark forms of magic…


Ten-year-old Serana stared at her mother, mouth agape in horror.

Her father was covered with blood. It was everywhere. She was used to the blood… That was not the reason she was so upset.

The corpse of the stray dog that lay on the table was one Serana knew well.

When she was out among the village she had fed the shaggy gray dog. He was friendly and gentle and let her pet him. After a while, he would follow her around the city loyally. She named him Seamus. He wasn't the most attractive dog, especially since his fur was matted with mange and the bald spots where no fur grew were covered with nasty abrasions and scabs. Seamus was also quite underfed and his ribs were easily visible. Serana had often seen the other kids in the village kick him and chase him around, but she had put an end to that. Seamus was a lonely, abused dog until he befriended Serana, another outcast like him, she could see it in his eyes. Seamus couldn't follow Serana into the shops or the shopkeepers would chase him out, sometimes the ornery ones would beat him too. She would always make sure to bring him some scraps of food.

Serana made the mistake of letting Seamus follow her home one night.

"All life comes from death," Her parents had said time and again.

"I don't care," Serana had cried, "He was my friend. You didn't have to eat him!"

Harkon looked sympathetic, but only for a moment.

"He was just a mortal, Serana," Harkon said disdainfully.

Serana felt hot tears falling down her face.

"You seem to have forgotten than I am too, father!" Serana had barked, running from the castle.

"Not for long," She had heard her father mutter in her wake.

Serana was alone again. She sat outside in the bitter cold crying her eyes out as she looked over the sea before her. It just wasn't fair. She had not chosen this life. She missed when her parents were normal. Molag Bol's blessing had changed them. They were…harder now.

Serana felt a cold hand on her shoulder, it was her mother's.

"Serana, dear," Her mother started, "You're right in being upset with your father. He's just trying to teach you a lesson. A cruel one, but pay it no mind."

Serana continued to stare at Seamus' brutalized corpse as it floated in the water near the docks below.

"I want to show you something," Her mother's husky voice soothing.

Serana watched as the hand that did not rest on her shoulder turned blue. Her mother waved a spell at Seamus' corpse. The blue aura swirled around the corpse and slowly the dog began to rise as if lifted by the spell. He floated onto the dock and found his feet. Although he was still pretty beaten up, Seamus panted happily and ran towards Serana. He reached out and nuzzled her arm. Serana's tears turned to delighted laughter. Serana hugged the dog happily. She looked at her mother with a thankful expression.

"Spend your last moments with him, then say goodbye," Valerica said.

Serana enjoyed her time with her furry friend, though it was short lived. It gave her closure. As quickly as the dog had returned, he vanished into a pile of ash.

By the end of her teen years, Serana had a large lockbox full of vials containing ashes of friends she lost. Eventually Serana began to isolate herself, for no matter who or what she grew close to, her father would destroy it. Serana would then sneak out back where he father dumped the bodies, reanimate them and say her goodbyes. Sometimes she could hear the voices of her friends speaking to her as they laughed and moved about with her. She had always been careful, but no matter what, her father found them and sucked the life from them. None of them were ever worthy of keeping alive. Not until Maximus entered Volkihar had they ever had the option. Then again, at that point they were merely acquaintances. She had thought at first that this was why he was allowed to live. Now, she knew it was the power her companion possessed that even her megalomaniac father couldn't ignore.

Mjoll was waiting for her in the forests near Whiterun when Serana arrived. The newly minted Companion greeted her with a curt nod.

"Where is the priest?" Mjoll asked.

Serana frowned, "He's already left Skyrim."

Mjoll frowned, but didn't let it dishearten her too much.

"He is doing better now, he remembers much. He still struggles with his demons though. Being incapacitated give you time to think on your regrets," Mjoll said in a knowing tone.

Serana nodded, "Have you tried taking him to healers?"

Mjoll nodded, "He is there now. The healers at the Temple of Kynareth owe him for fixing the Gildergreen anyways."

"The what?"

Laughter flickered across Mjoll's grey eyes but it did not reach her features, not with her oldest friend in such a state. Serana could feel the sense of urgency that radiated from her, even from being away from his side a short time. Serana could empathize.

"The Gildergreen is a sacred tree in the city's wind district. Max did it as a favor, mostly because his parents were big Kynareth followers."

Serana nodded and followed Mjoll towards Whiterun's gates. Serana adjusted her hood so it shrouded her face more.

As she walked past, Serana could feel the guards watching her. Were they that good at detecting a vampire in their midst?

"That armor! Its like forged midnight!" one of the guards exclaimed from behind her, it took her a moment to realize he was talking about hers.

Mjoll kept a brisk pace as they headed through the city.

Serana couldn't quite wrap her head around the beauty of this city.

"What a curious city. It's so…open," Serana mused to no one in particular.

Mjoll looked back at her, "Yes, I noticed that the moment I arrived here. I think this is why Max has always been so drawn to it. He has many friends here. That or simply because he captured a live dragon in the Dragonsreach over there and rode it to Sovngarde, just like Olaf One-Eye once did," Mjoll said, a hint of pride in her voice as she pointed to the massive longhouse at the top of the hill. Serana recognized it from her mortal days, though only in passing. She never knew it was possible to fit a dragon in there. Mjoll's story sounded like a fable to her, but with Max she knew anything was possible.

Riding dragons. Only Max was crazy enough to attempt it…that and reading Elder Scrolls. Whoever this Olaf One-Eye was she must have been too old to recognize the name, but from the way Mjoll told it, he sounded ancient…like her.

Serana followed Mjoll to the Gildergreen, marveling at how gorgeous the ancient tree looked. It was probably as old as she was, but something told her it was even older. Mjoll told Serana to wait while she entered the temple, which was quite relieving. Serana as much as she wanted, didn't want to dodge wooden stakes and cloves of garlic the healers would no doubt be donning if she set foot in there.

Mjoll came out with an unreadable expression.

"He is recovering so they do not know how he will be until he wakes up. The healers are hopeful though," Mjoll said, though her tone suggested she was not so optimistic.

The tall Nord woman gazed down at Serana with her strong arms folded at her bosom.

"You cannot stay among the Companions at Jorvaskrr. While not all of us have the moon blood, they know a vampire when they see one. I know a place where you can stay, though it's not the nicest."

Serana shrugged, "I slept in a stone obelisk for an era or two, can't be much worse than that."

"Point taken," The Lioness responded.

Serana followed Mjoll to what looked like a secret place of ceremony. The rock outcropping near the Companion longhouse was a well-designed safe house of sorts.

Serana could smell large amounts of dried blood in the stone basin before her.

"This is where most of the Companions' inner circle are given the gift of the wolf blood. Max was turned here."

Serana suspected as much. She watched as Mjoll paced about the room. She finally turned and faced Serana, her expression was intense.

"I don't care what you have to do. Even if you have to use necromancy or blood magic…I would give blood or my life if you need it. Skyrim needs him."

Serana could see clearly how much Mjoll cared for Max (and vice versa). It was the type of bond Serana had yearned for her entire life. She had never seen it so raw and out in the open until now.

"I do not intend to use blood magic, but that's not to say what I am doing is in any way legal...or safe, for that matter."

Mjoll seemed nervous, but she didn't say anything to indicate it.

"I'm going to check on him."

Serana nodded. After Mjoll had left, she cracked open the book Isran had given her.

Serana began to peel through the different theoretical stages of affliction.

The second stage was called 'Group Two: The Unguarded Intellects'

This group was of intelligent people whom received no ancestor moth training but is keen enough to make out some of the symbols of the scroll, but since they are not trained and did not seek any protection they go completely blind and insane having seen a glimpse of eternity.

Serana was relieved that Max did not fit in that category. That would require her to take drastic measures to save him.

The third study group was labeled: The Mediated Understanding and was referring to those who understood how to protect their minds properly. They still become blind but at a less severe level. Their vision is said to fog slightly but after the initial shock they can make out shapes and colors. After meditation they can fully understand what it is they saw.

This one felt the most like Max's experiences, but Serana couldn't be sure until she asked him. The only thing that made her doubt this in the slightest was the fact that Max seemed to know where they needed to go immediately after reading the scrolls.

She read on to the final group: 'The Illuminated Understanding'

The more she read the more Serana was convinced this wasn't the case. To reach this stage, Max would have to 'withdraw to seclusion in order to reflect upon a lifetime of revelations'.

Serana thought for a few silent minutes. There was nothing mentioned in the book about reversing the effects, even Dexion had not known if the effects were permanent. She knew this was not something she could wait around for. Her father was preparing to destroy the world now. Who knows how long it might take Max to recover? For that matter, would his vision ever return?

Serana realized there was only one option left, but…could she do it?

Serana thought long and hard about this. Maximus was such an amazing individual. He meant so much to the people of Skyrim. The Last Dragonborn had fought all his life to bring peace and prosperity to the land and lost so much to these efforts. The possibility of a family and retirement never seemed to be in the cards for him, for there was always some evil waiting to fill the void.

Not only that, but on a personal level, Serana was not sure she could bring herself to end his life…in a manner of speaking. Max was the first real friend she had ever had for a decent length of time. All of her other friends either died or 'disappeared mysteriously'. Since waking up in that ghastly tomb, Serana had been able to confide in Max and he would always listen. Sometimes she felt bad about going on about her life when Max had more than his fair share of harrowing experiences and loss. It was nice to have met someone who had to struggle all his life as she had.

Could she really bring herself to destroy that beautiful work of art that was the legendary Last Dragonborn?

Especially now, Serana couldn't deny her feelings for Max. He was an attractive and powerful man. What Nord woman in her right mind could resist that easy charisma coupled with brute strength? Her initial attraction had grown to more than that, though. Max had followed her without question or hesitation, something she had never had before. No one had trusted her so willingly or stuck by her through the madness of the prophecy. Before that, the only one who felt on her side at all had been her mother. But when Serana had woken from her ages long slumber, where had her mother been?

Maximus was the first thing she saw when she woke. He had been startled at first, but the fact that she didn't attack him on sight made him less wary. For a moment, Serana nearly mistook him for Ysgramor. But the more she looked at him, she could see he was not an Atmoran, but something mixed instead.

Serana did not want to see Max's brown eyes turn to a burning orange, nor his incredibly warm skin to turn cold. That was part of why she liked him so much. He was alive. She sighed at the thought of this. Why was it the most intimate thing a vampire could do was take the life from another? Was this the only to reverse his blindness and save him from Hircine?

She was taken from her deep thoughts by Mjoll entering the Underforge with a hopeful look on her face.

"He has regained some of his sight. Things are still blurry, but he can navigate around pretty well," Mjoll paused for a moment, as if observing Serana's expression for the first time since entering.

"He wanted to see you," Mjoll said with a small smile.

The Dragonborn stepped through the entrance slowly, taking his time and feeling his way through the cramped doorway. He was wearing fine clothes that fit his broad frame tightly. He looked comely in this attire, yet it was odd seeing him without armor.

Max smiled at Serana, though his eyes struggled to find a place to focus on.

"I'm glad to hear you're alright," He confessed.

"Did you speak with Dexion?"

Serana was glad that he could not see her meek expression.

"No, Dexion left for Cyrodiil a while ago. He was long gone by the time I arrived."

Max's gaze fell to the floor, "I understand. What did Isran have to say? I'm honestly surprised he didn't try and attack you."

"I am too," Serana said honestly, "He recalled hearing the priest speak of Kynareth."

Max nodded, "Well, it seems to be helping. Being blind is dreadfully boring."

Serana gave both Mjoll and Max a puzzled look. Mjoll only shrugged. It was strange to hear Max complain, but he sounded surprisingly chipper.

Max sighed and looked around the room…to the best of his ability.

"I'd rather not spend much time in here, if at all," Max said, clearly not wanting to elaborate.

Mjoll turned to Max, "Well, what did the healers tell you?"

"They said I should relax. Which is funny really, it seems I've forgotten how to do that," Max said with a shrug. Serana realized how much he sounded like Dexion right now.

Mjoll gave Max a narrow look, "Not from what the rest of the Companions have said. Especially the twins," she said, quite obviously dreading something.

"Ah, yes," Max said with a smile. "I've really missed those two."

Mjoll and Serana were both looking at one another with stunned expressions.

Max smiled at no one in particular.

"Would you two care to join me? I was hoping to get some fresh air."

Mjoll and Serana obliged following Max from the Underforge. There they could see the twins sparring in the training area.

Max called out to them and the two came over.

"The healers tell me I am to relax," The twins both looked at Max warily, then to Mjoll who shrugged.

"What do you say we relive some of our better days in Whiterun? I believe it's time the Wabbajack comes out of retirement."

The twins' expressions both turned to mischievous smirks.

Serana and Mjoll both silently agreed to check with the healers about what potions they were giving Max.

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