Ancient Blood Ch 8

  • Ancient Blood Chapter 8

    The Shepherd

       Dismounting their steeds at the northern end of Brittleshin Pass, Sebastian says, “We’ll have to walk the horses through here… Assuming the passage hasn’t collapsed in the last two hundred years.” Jenassa dismounts and is disturbed by the ground rumbling. She looks around, “Master, over there… Giants!” She takes aim with her bow. Sebastian looks and sees a pair of pale Giants leading a set of Mammoths across the plains of Whiterun, “Relax, they’re just herders… Moving their cattle to another camp. I believe Secunda's Kiss is down the road from here. The giants are strange creatures. Savage in appearance, but nuanced in cultural practices. Majestic in a way… Odd thing. You’ll never see one of their females out of the hidden settlements in the mountains…. Come now. Put that away and leave them be. Don’t bother them, they won’t bother you.” Jenassa lowers her bow and  they lead their horses into the dark tunnel.


       Once inside, Sebastian senses a disturbance in the ether. “Hold...” He says. Jenassa readies her bow, “Trouble?” His vampiric vision pierces the cavern’s shroud of shadows, “Possibly…Something is moving. Be ready.” With those words, a walking skeleton comes from a shadow swinging an ancient nordic sword. Sebastian grabs the blade with two fingers, wrenches the blade away from the skeleton, then uses the sword’s pommel to knock the skull off the skeleton. “What crap magic is this...” He scoffs. “Is there a barrow here?” Jenassa asks. He drops the sword and looks down the passage, “No, but this was a popular spot for bandits way back when. Plenty of bodies in the darkened corners, I’m sure… Someone has been toying with necromancy… there is a mage in here.” They leave the horses at the entrance and creep through the passage dispatching several other feeble walking skeletons armed with decrepit weapons.


       Whispers can be heard coming from the top of a ramp leading to an opening to a higher level in the pass. Sebastian moves up quietly with Jenassa shortly behind. An Altmer mage, clad in simple black robe with a Green skull emblazoned on the front, is found huddled over a stone altar with bones laid out before him. The mage is mumbling to himself trying to raise another skeleton. Jenassa takes aim with her bow, but Sebastian shakes his head and takes her dagger. She keeps her bow raised, but watches as he vanishes and his footsteps in the dirt ease up to the babbling mage. Something catches Jenassa’s attention from the corner of her eye. She leans forward slightly and sees a pair of rusted iron cages against the far wall. One of which contains a dead Nord and evidence that there has been more than one captive held here. She cannot help but wonder, “Are these skeletons of old bandits? Or poor fools this mage has captured to experiment on?”


       The Altmer leans on the altar repeating a chant he is reading from a tome, but nothing is happening to the skeleton. The Elf grits his teeth in frustration and tries again. While Sebastian can sense a fair amount of power within the Elf, it is clear that he is but a novice hand at the art of manipulating the dead. Sebastian pulls a second dagger from the mages belt and swiftly drives a blade into each of the mage’s hands pinning him to the altar. “AAHHH!” The mage screams and squirms. Sebastian reappears grabbing the elf’s head and yanking it back. The red hue of a fear spell glows from Sebastian’s hand, “Foolish boy. Dabbling in the Dark Arts in the dark. Didn’t you know…? This is where the monsters are.” Flashes of vile horrors fill the Elf’s mind. Sebastian quickly bites the mage's neck. Jenassa relaxes her bow and looks around the mage’s make-shift study ignoring the screams of the High Elf, “Not much here, Master… A few scrolls and junk weapons… I’ll go get the horses!” She leaves her master to enjoy his meal.

       Jenassa returns a short while later with their mounts. She finds the Elven mage on the ground and Sebastian smiling as he reads the tomes the mage was practicing from, “These spells aren’t worth the paper they were scratched on… It is a sign of how far Necromantic magics have coming in the last six hundred years though.” Sebastian puts the tomes in his saddle bag. “If the spells are worthless, why take the books?” Jenassa asks. Sebastian shrugs, “They might be of some historical value to someone… Or  I might be able to convince a merchant that they are actually worth something. Someone clearly convinced him they were of value. He was a wealthy one. Not very bright, but wealthy. There is some quality mead over in that crate by the altar if you want it.” After inspecting the mead selection, the pair continue on through Brittleshin Pass.


      Exiting from the Southern opening into the mountain, Jenassa takes a deep breath, “Ahh…. fresh air. How much further, Master?” Sebastian points to a large house across Lake Ilinalta before them, “It’s just there. Bigger than when I last saw it. Someone’s been busy... We will have to go around, but there has never been much around this lake. Not sure why, but we shouldn’t have any trouble getting there. Once we do get there… then we might have some trouble.” “Trouble?” Jenassa asks, “From an old cat lady? I think we'll be fine, Master.” Sebastian just smirks to himself, “Right… Once more, I admire your confidence in your skills, my dear.” They mount their horses and proceed on their journey around the lake’s edge.


       They arrive at a logging mill at the East end of the lake, Sebastian stops to speak with the staff. The Miller smiles and says, “A guest? Oh my… Why don’t you stay a while?” Sebastian smiles in return, “I don’t think the ‘company’ you are wanting is that of one who shares your thirst and your curse.” It is only then that Jenassa realizes that the Miller is a vampire. The Miller stops smiling, “What do you want?” Sebastian dismounts, “Relax, I’m not with a clan come to run you off. I just  need to ask you something about the area.” The Miller picks up a tree trunk and hoists it on her shoulder, “If you can walk and talk… I have work to do.” Sebastian grabs a tunk and follows her to the mill. Jenassa tries to lift one of the trunks, but it is far too heavy. She looks over to make sure no one saw her and then hurries over to catch up.


       Waiting for the trunks to be split, Sebastian says, “I haven’t been to this hold in a few hundred years. There was a vampire that lived on this lake with several cats…” The Miller turns her head, “OH!... Her…” Sebastian perks up, “So she’s still here then?” The Miller looks at him, “Yes. She never leaves. Most people just assume she’s a hermit. She’s even respected by the Jarl for some reason. I can’t begin to tell you why. I just work my mill and try to avoid her and her damned pets. And you’d do well to avoid her, too.” Sebastian smirks, “Not a fan then…?” Jenassa snickers to herself. The Miller just looks at them, “You want to get killed? She’s in the big house down the road.” Sebastian nods “Thank you.” and he returns with Jenassa to their horses.


       Mounting their horses, the pair hear the stomping of heavy boots approaching. “What’s this?” Jenassa asks as a patrol of oddly clad warriors cross the bridge leading to the Mill. “Not sure…” Sebastian says. The leader of the patrol stops, “Good evening, travelers. You should wait the night out indoors. Vampires are said to be stalking these roads.” Sebastian nods his head, “Thank you for the warning, Orsimer… If you don’t mind me saying, you lot don’t seem like Hold guards.” “We’re not.” the Orc replies, “We’re with the Dawnguard. We hunt vampires wherever we find those blood sucking fiends.” Sebastian leans on his saddle, “Vampire hunters? Really? I’m new to the province, but not to vampires. Is it really such a problem out here?” the Orcish Dawnguard folds his arms and says, “Indeed, citizen. The demons attacked the Hall of the Vigilants recently. Some have claimed attacks even at midday … If you’re willing, The Dawnguard could use all the help we can get. We are recruiting at the old fort East of Riften. Speak to Isran. He’ll decide if you’re Dawnguard material.” With that the Orc and his troops return to their patrol. Jenassa just looks on, “Those are the worst vampire hunters in history…” Sebastian laughs, “Come on…” and they continue on the path around the lake.


      As they move, Sebastian looks up to the heavens, “Fools though they were, their armaments were no joke. Crossbows… Silver etched Axes… well crafted armor. They are all likely trained fighters, to boot. Even if they are fools, enough of them together could be problematic. Someone is marshalling forces to slay vampires.” Jenassa looks behind her and then back to her master, “Should we go back and kill them then?” Sebastian shakes his head, “No… if they don’t report back, it would bring unwanted attention to the area. Keep your ears to the ground in taverns and the like for more about this Dawnguard and Isran. If they become a problem in the future, we will need to address it. At present, however... the Auroras are quite  beautiful tonight.” Jenassa looks up to see brilliant green and yellow ribbons of light streaking across a clear star filled sky, “Damn, that’s… quite a sight.” Sebastian rambles on about the thief star cluster as they make their way around the lake to the distant manor.


       When they come to a faint path leading away from the road, Sebastian gets off his horse, “Leave the horses here for now.” They tie off the horses to some trees and proceed up the path. Jenassa gets an uneasy feeling as they approach the large manor, “I feel eyes upon us, Master.” Sebastian seems unshaken, “That would be the cats… Just stay...”  Sebastian jerks around and catches an arrow meant for Jenassa’s skull, “...calm…” Jenassa grabs her blades, but Sebastian pushes her behind him, “Come out… It’s just me…” A Khajiit's head pops up out of a shrub and a fast gibbering female voice says, “Me? This one knows me. This one loves me! You! You are not me…” the head ducks back down into the shrub until only the eyes and ears are sticking out of the top and the tone of the voice deepens as the ears pull back, “Who are you?”


      Jenassa fidgets behind Sebastian, “This is not what I had in mind when you said crazy cat lady.” Sebastian rolls his eyes, “It’s Sebastian!” Mumbling from the shrub can barely be made out, “We know Sebastian. Do we know Sebastian? Of course we know Sebastian, he is there. Can you not see him? Shut up. SHUT UP!” Sebastian flings a small ice spike into the shrub. The Khajiit leaps out of the way and quickly stands with her bow drawn and hisses. Sebastian looks away as Jenassa says, “Good lord…” The Khajiit is naked with her bow drawn and a fist full of arrows. “Hello, Feral… Where are your clothes?” Sebastian asks. “This one was going to bathe in the lake.” Feral replies, “You! YOU interrupted! You did. You!” Sebastian shakes his head. Jenassa asks, “You bathe with your bow?” Feral lowers her bow for a moment, “You don’t?” then quickly raises the bow again.


       Sebastian rubs his eyes, “I need a suit, Feral.” Feral switches her aim between Sebastian and Jenassa, “Why tell this one? This one does not even have clothes.” She looks down at herself then jumps back into her shrub. The top of her head pokes out the shrub again, “Go away!” Jenassa steps out from behind Sebastian, “This creature is useless, Master. Let’s…” Feral leaps from the shrub tackling Jenassa and pins her to the ground. The dark gift burns in the Khajiit’s eyes as she bares her fangs, “This one will pluck your eyes, eat your heart, and….” Sebastian places a finger under Feral’s chin and lifts her head to meet his gaze. He very calmly says, “I need the power of the Dark Star… Go inform your mistress… Please.” He smiles. Feral blinks and is silent for a moment then says, “...Okay…But this one does NOT like the Elf.” She hisses at Jenassa and then hurries up to the manor.


       Sebastian helps Jenassa to her feet, “She is not the only Khajiit guarding this place. Some are vampires, most are hidden, each is unwaveringly loyal, and ALL are absolutely lethal. Shepherd is very particular about her guards.” Jenassa brushes herself off and looks around for more hidden crazed Khajiit, “And their Mistress? This Shepherd?” “The Shepherd, actually,” A voice from behind Sebastian says, “...and she is quite perplexed…” Recognizing the voice, Sebastian turns slowly, revealing a woman appearing to be a tall mature nordic woman with a regal presence emanating from her as if nothing in Mundus could ever touch her. She is as beautiful as she is imposing. Jenassa is struck speechless by the visage before her. Whatever she was expecting, it was not this. Sebastian slightly nods to her, “Hello, Sweet Sister... Do you have time for an old Vampire?” Shepherd’s expression is cold as she approaches Sebastian and raises a hand to his cheek. Her eyes flare a bright golden hue, “I know this face…” She says with a smile, “Welcome to Lakeview Manor, Dear Brother... The sun rises soon. Come inside.” She turns and heads into her manor. “Sister? That Nord is your sister?” Jenassa asks. Sebastian looks at her a moment, “She is not a Nord. She is a Ned. And yes, she is also my Brood Sister. Try not to piss her off... Now go, collect the horses and bring them to the stables. Join us inside when you’re finished.”




    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