Ancient Blood Ch 5

  • Ancient Blood Chapter 5

    Bleak Falls Barrow

       Making their way up the mountain pass leading to Bleak Falls Barrow, Sebastian and Jenassa come across a body in the snow. Jenassa gets off her horse to inspect the corpse, “Another nameless bandit… Is honest work so hard to come by in this frozen province?” Sebastian looks further up the path, “I would imagine him to be a former rebel soldier. How many bandits are armed with a Steel war axe of any quality?” Jenassa looks over the Axe and it is well crafted, “Why would a Stormcloak go from protecting his lands from invaders to robbing his countrymen on the roads?” “In my experience,” Sebastian says, “those who fear death flee the battlefield and seek anonymity among the dregs of society… Come… There is more blood on the ice ahead. I can smell it from here.” Jenassa mounts her mare and they continue on.


      Arriving at an old ruined watchtower they find only more dead bandits. And a single set of faint tracks leading away. “These have scorch marks around their wounds.” Jenassa notes as they search the tower. “Seems our boy has an enchanted weapon.” Sebastian says, “Lightning or Flame… hard to say. Not very powerful, but does leave it’s mark. A flame weapon would serve him well against the Draugr that are, most certainly, roaming the tomb above.” Jenassa looks out, “It’s beginning to snow. We should go. We’ll lose the tracks soon.” Finding little of value they return to their horses and pick up the trail.


      Jenassa finds the mountain wind to be bitter cold, cutting like a knife. She clings tight to her cloak. Sebastian, by virtue of his dark nature, is unphased by the wind and snowfall. The sound of her chattering teeth draws his attention. He takes the reins of her horse from her and ties her horse to his then lifts her off her horse placing her behind him. “I’m not warm, but I can block you from the wind.” She leans against his back, “I’m s-sorry, M-Master. I failed t-to prepare prop...properly.”


      When they reach the ruins of Bleak Falls, they find only more bodies. Sebastian ties off the horses, collects a few items from the saddle bags, placing them into his supply pack, and walks Jenassa to the Barrow’s entrance. While protected from the wind, the cold still chills her bones. Sebastian sees a light further in. While the smell of old death assaults his senses, he makes out the scent of a wood fire. When the flames are in sight, Jenassa rushes from her master and kneels before the weak flames and tosses what little firewood is left on the fire. Sebastian looks over the area, “More bodies… Treasure hunters or bandits... Both perhaps?” He takes a heavy cloak off one of the bodies and looks it over, “At least one is a treasure hunter. This one is the only one to wear something sensible.” He lays it by Jenassa’s side, “Let it warm up first.” She removes her cloak, “I apologize again, Master. I will NOT be caught unprepared for the elements again.”


      Sebastian silently looks around the chamber and begins sketching in his journal, “You know… I don’t think I’ve ever been in this Barrow before. Seen it several times, but I don’t recall ever having a reason to come up here.”  Jenassa adjusts the heavy cloak around her, “When you are ready, Master, we should press on.” Sebastian continues drawing, “We have time. I can hear him fighting a… Spider? Big one by the sound of the shield thuds.” Jenassa tries, but can only hear the howling of the wind outside.


      Putting his journal away,  Sebastian pulls out a torch from his pack and lights it on the campfire. “Here,” He says, “You’ll need this.” She takes the torch and follows him down the passageway. Carvings and cobwebs line the stone passage walls. Jenassa grips her sword tightly, “This place makes me uneasy. We delve into the very bones of the Earth. Our footsteps will echo in every chamber.” Sebastian shakes his head, “You spent a hundred and seventy eight years in a tomb like this. NOW you are uneasy?” “Well, I...” She pauses a moment, “It was different! I never felt unwanted by the spirits there. This place makes my skin crawl.”


      Reaching a new chamber, they find a dead Nord near a lever, pelted with poison darts. Sebastian looks around, “Not our boy… Seems this poor fellow picked the wrong sequence.” “Sequence?” Jenassa asks. Sebastian stands and points to idols on the walls, “Those images match up with those on the pedestals over there. Line them up and the gate opens. Get it wrong and… well. The Atmorans have always loved their puzzle games.” Jenassa searches the body, “No septims… Just a bundle of.. EWW… Skeever tails?” Sebastian grins, “Alchemists pay well for those.” He tosses her the supply pack, “Put them in the pack. I can make a powerful poison from those if we can find some Death bell or Night Shade.” WIth a disgusted look on her face, she does as she is told and they proceed deeper into the barrow.


      They pass more webs, dead giant rats, and crumbling walls. Sebastian ponders his surroundings, “The draugr are meant to maintain these passages. This place is in shambles.” Jenassa looks around, “Where are they? I haven’t seen one yet. This barrow is much bigger than ours. There should be hordes of them.” Sebastian stops, “Our barrow? That place wasn’t built for me, you know.” She just rolls her eyes, “You know what I mean… I don’t like this place. It’s… wrong.” Coming to a room with the corpse of a giant Frostbite Spider and walls lined with egg pods, Sebastian nods “It’s certainly not right… but not without uses. There are vials in the pack. See if you can get any venom from its fangs. I’m going to see if there are any eggs worth taking.”


      After stripping the area of things Jenassa finds disgusting and very odd, Sebastian unleashes a torrent of flames on the room. With the room ablaze, Sebastian shakes his hands free of fire, “Don’t want anything crawling after us…” Jenassa finds the heat a welcome sensation until the stench of burning spider assails her nostrils. They make their way deeper in, finding a dead Dunmer on the stone floor and the Dragonborn fighting several Draugr on the far side of a sizable Chamber lined with alcoves for the dead. “Should we…?” Jenassa whispers. Sebastian shakes his head as he studies the Dragonborns fighting style... and finds it wanting. Enough for the more withered Draugr, but against one better preserved, he would be overwhelmed. Corpses they may be, but they are corpses of some of the best fighters of their age. “Nord pride. He should not have come without a second at his side.” Sebastian mutters.


      The Dragonborn strikes down the last of the draugr, or what he believes to be the last. A withered draugr rises from a nearby alcove and raises its ancient battle axe. The Dragonborn tries to catch his breath, unaware of the enemy at his back. Sebastian whispers to Jenassa, “Get back. He knows you. Stay out of sight unless I call for you.” Doing as she is told, she watches as a spark jumps between her Master’s fingers and a bolt of lightning crosses the chamber striking the Draugr. The rotting corpse is thrown against a far wall. The Dragonborn spins around with his flaming sword in hand, “SHOW YOURSELF!” Sebastian steps out from the shadows, “Now now. Is that any way to greet your rescuer?” Looking at the axe at his feet, the Dragonborn relaxes slightly, but remains focused on the stranger before him, “I know not what brought you here friend, but you should leave. This place crawls with evil.” Sebastian crouches over the Dunmer’s body, “True, but the General store owner in Riverwood had something stolen from his shop… AH… This, I believe.” He holds the item up to the Dragonborn, “Do you know what this is?” The Dragonborn looks it over, “Gold obviously. I’m sure you will get a fair reward. You have what you came for. You should leave.”


      Sebastian stands and turns the claw over, “This is not just some gold trinket. This dragon’s claw is a key to this barrow. From your attire and determination, would I be wrong in assuming what you seek is deeper in? The main chamber perhaps?... Then you are going to need this. You saw what happened to the fellow with the poison darts in him, I trust? This place is saturated with such devices.” The Dragonborn ponders a moment, “You seem to know a great deal about this place. Who exactly are you?” Sebastian puts the claw into his satchel, “At present, your savior. Tomorrow, I may be someone else. But for tonight, you may call me... Sebastian Shaw… And you are?” The Dragonborn, while clearly distrustful of Sebastian, replies in kind. “Thou’Var Silvermane. I am seeking something in the main chamber. A dragon stone. Do you know of it?” Scowling, Sebastian asks, “Now why would you need to know where the dragons are buried?” Putting his sword away, The Dragonborn says, “It’s for Farengar. Court Wizard of Dragon’s Reach. He believes it can help him find a way to protect Whiterun from the Dragons. The Jarl agreed and asked me to come find it.”


      Sebastian pats his satchel, “I don’t have a time limit on this thing, but I do require it. If you are to get what you came for, you too will need this. How about I join you for the remainder of your visit to this crumbling ruin…. For a fair share of whatever reward the Jarl gives you for this errand, of course.” The Dragonborn looks the man over. Sebastian reaches into his satchel pulling out a small book he stole from Farengar's study, “As a sign of good faith, here. A tome that will teach you a minor healing spell to help with those gashes on your arms. Give it a read while you think it over. I’ll be back here… These carvings are curious…” Confident in the knowledge that the Dragonborn cannot proceed without him and does not seem the sort to kill someone without cause, he walks back down the passage he came from.


      Still crouched in the darkened corner, Jenassa glares at Sebastian. “What?” he whispers. She responds in an equally hushed tone, “Now? You’re going to bullshit him now?” He shrugs, “A charm won’t work on him. His blood would protect him from any illusion I could conjure. So… Yes. Bullshit it is.” The squabbling is interrupted by the sound and glow of a healing spell. They both peek around the corner and Jenassa mumbles, “That is… very bright.” Sebastian smirks, “I told you. Divine blood. He has the power of a dragon within him... if he would only learn to use it… and he must.” He leaves Jenassa and walks back toward the Dragonborn.


      “So, Thou’Var...” Sebastian says, “...Better?” The Dragonborn nods, “Indeed, but… when I got the spell to work, the book dissolved in my hands.” Sebastian looks at the dust pile on the floor, “Yes, well. Spell tomes do that. Means you performed the spell properly and the book had nothing more to teach you. So, shall we press on, my Nord friend, or are you going to try to navigate this maze of death traps and undead horrors on your own?” The Dragonborn looks at the swarm of undead that he had to fight already, “Very well. I don’t know how the Jarl will reward me. I am really only….“ Sebastian interrupts, “...doing a powerful Jarl a favor. Infinitely more valuable than a few septims… Alright. How about my pick of what we find here, excluding the Dragon stone of course. If your wizard is right, and that’s a big IF, about the stone actually being here.” The Dragonborn agrees and they proceed down the back passage. Jenassa follows, firing arrows into the skulls of the Draugr, “He’s absolutely mad…”


      Sebastian points out traps ahead of the pair, in the hopes the Dragonborn would come to recognize them, as they descend into the bowels of the barrow. The air becomes thick and stale. Only the smell of rotting flesh fills the passages. Between sword and spell, the two make steady progress until faced with a large black puzzle door, three rings at the center lined with symbols, with no way around. “Is this the door to the main chamber?” the Dragonborn asks, but Sebastian is looking at a wall. “Shaw!” the Dragonborn barks. “Hm?” Sebastian turns, “Oh. That. Yes, I was just admiring the hall of stories.” The Dragonborn frowns, “The what?” Sebastian holds up his torch, “What you are standing in. These murales on the walls. They speak of those who built this place and who it was for. Which god or gods they worshipped… Odd thing. All the barrows I’ve seen before only have three sets of murales. This one has four. Wonder what that means... You should show more interest. These are your Nedic ancestors after all.”


      Sebastian hands the torch to the Dragonborn and pulls the claw from his satchel, “Let’s see here… The Bear, the Moth, and… the Owl….” Sebastian moves the symbols into place then hands the Claw to Thou’Var, “You care to do the honors?” The dragonborn places the claw at the center of the Black puzzle door, “You are sure about this?” Sebastian smirks, “You might say I’m an old hand at this. Spent a lot of time in tombs like this one.” then takes a few steps back, “Go on… I’m sure it’s fine.” The Dragonborn scowls then inserts the dragon claw and a mechanism shifts. The symbols swirl and the massive door begins to lower revealing the main chamber. “It worked.” the Dragonborn says. Stepping forward and snagging the claw, Sebastian replies, “Of course it worked.”


      They step into a vast cavern. “No living soul has set foot in this hall for an age or more, yet it’s almost empty.” the Dragonborn states.  Sebastian looks at him, “You almost sound disappointed. What were you expecting?” The Dragonborn shakes his head, “Jewels, gold, weapons, something to merit all the things keeping us out.” Sebastian stops, “You got that ass backwards, boy.” The Dragonborn looks at the Breton with an expression of confusion. Sebastian takes a breath, “The gates… that puzzle door… They could only be opened from the outside. Even the traps are easy to identify. The puzzles aren’t particularly difficult to solve...They aren’t meant to keep you out.” He starts walking again as he says, “They are meant to something in… make no mistake, boy. This place is a prison.”


      The Dragonborn is quiet as he ponders Sebastian’s words, “If what you say is true, what would cause the ancient Nords to fear something so that they would build such a prison?” “Oh… That’s easy.” Sebastian says dismissively as he looks back with a slight grin, “The only reason to go to such lengths… They couldn’t kill it.” This stops the Dragonborn in his tracks. Sebastian keeps walking, “Too late to turn back now, Silvermane. The Draugr have likely already regenerated, reset the traps, and returned to their alcoves by now. Only way out is through the back passage.” The Dragonborn follows, “How do you know there is a back passage?” Sebastian puts his torch away as he steps into the well lit chamber, “It’s the first order of business once you complete a dig. Make a second tunnel leading out in case of a cave-in. We just have to find it. Now where would one place a Dragon stone?”


      The two approach the center of the vast chasm where sits a large chest, an oddly placed wall, and a Sarcophagus set on a raised platform in the center. The Dragonborn says, “A chest!” he rushes over, “Some gold… a soul gem… and some boots? No stone... no map.” Sebastian ignores him and observes the granite wall standing by itself with other worldly markings in the stone. The wall crackles with a foreign magic. Useless to Sebastian, but what of a Dragonborn. “Thou’ Var… Come look at this would you?” As the Dragonborn approaches he says, “That better not be the dragon… dragon stone…” A strange feeling washes over him. His stare is a thousand miles away, “Where is that sound coming from?” he asks. Sebastian looks at him inquisitively, “What do you hear?” “Voices…” he says “Chanting… A strange word… Fus...”


      They do not notice as something stirs in the Sarcophagus. Then the seal cracks and the lid flies off getting the attention of the pair. A Death Lord rises wielding a massive Ebony Battle Axe. “Better find that back passage,” The Dragonborn says, “I’ll try to hold his attention.” Sebastian moves around the platform slowly, “Good idea…” The Dragonborn readies himself, “You’re different aren’t you?” The battle is fierce, but the Dragonborn holds his own while Sebastian races around the outer wall searching for the hidden passage. “FOUND IT!!!” he shouts as a thunderous sound rings out in the chamber. He looks to see the Dragonborn fly across the Chasm and crash into a far wall. Sebastian jumps to the top of the granite wall and summons a Frost atronach on the platform below to occupy the Death Lord while he checks on the wounded Dragonborn.


      Sebastian finds the Dragonborn struggling to get to his feet, “Still alive?” he asks. The Dragonborn grunts, “Hurts too much to be dead…” then raises his hand. Waves of restoration magic swirl around him. His broken bones and torn flesh slowly mend. “How long can your beast last against that thing?” Sebastian knows he can incinerate the Deathlord with a wave of his hand, but this is the first real test the Dragonborn has faced. He must be the one to defeat it. “Not long. Focus on healing. The Atronach might be able to wear it down, but the ice of its body is already cracking… and I’m out of magicka.” A lie, but a lie with a purpose. A few precious moments later, the Dragonborn stands fully restored. He picks up his flaming sword and steel shield then charges at the undead monstrosity. After several exchanges, the dragonborn cripples one of the Death Lords' legs dropping it to a knee and finishes the attack with a swift decapitation.

      Sebastian walks over calmly as the body slumps to the ground and the head rolls around the Dragonborn’s feet, “Not bad…” then moves to the corpse and begins patting the armor. “Not bad? That’s all you have to say?” the Dragonborn breathlessly says. “No…” Sebastian replies reaching into the Death Lord’s breastplate, “To the victor goes the spoils… Your dragon stone, I believe… and the exit is over there.” The Dragonborn takes the stone, “This thing had better be worth the pains I will feel in the morning.” Sebastian smirks and notices the shadow of Jenassa near the entrance to the chamber.


       As they make their way out, Sebastian sees daylight at the cave opening. “You go on ahead. I want to study those strange markings while I can. I have a room at the Bannered Mare. Leave whatever portion of your reward from the Jarl you feel is fair with the Innkeeper.” The Dragonborn looks back, “Not worried that I will pocket it all for myself?” Sebastian bows, “I believe you to be a man of honor… If I can make a suggestion… If you are going to be delving into dangerous ruins and battling monsters, try joining the Companions. They are a band of some of the best warriors in the land. They can hone your skills as a warrior like no other in Skyrim… They also get paid well for their adventures... Think about it.” Then Sebastian disappears back down the tunnel. The Dragonborn shakes his head, “What a strange little man.”


      Sebastian reseals the exit and finds Jenassa kneeling over the Death Lord, hacking it into pieces. “What... are... you doing?” He asks. She raises her head slowly and with a cold tone says, “Making sure it stays down… We’re going to be here a while I assume? It must be morning by now... If you are quite finished risking your life, perhaps you can find a way to block off the entrance.” Sebastian shakes his head, “Alright… Suppose I deserve that… Well, you take the head and arms behind the wall and toss the legs and torso into the gorge then setup a camp. I’ll go set fire runes in the hall of stories to keep the other draugr out.” With a simple grunt, she returns to chopping up the Death Lord.




    The Story So Far:

    Ancient Blood Ch 1   Ancient Blood Ch 2   Ancient Blood Ch 3   Ancient Blood Ch 4   Ancient Blood Ch 5   Ancient Blood Ch 6   Ancient Blood Ch 7 Ancient Blood Ch 8   Ancient Blood Ch 9   Ancient Blood Ch 10   Ancient Blood Ch 11   Ancient Blood Ch 12   Ancient Blood Ch 13   Ancient Blood Ch 14   Ancient Blood Ch 15   Ancient Blood Ch 16   Ancient Blood Ch 17   Ancient Blood Ch 18   Ancient Blood Ch 19   Ancient Blood Ch 20   Ancient Blood Ch 21