Ancient Blood Ch 9

  • Ancient Blood Chapter 9

    A Dark Request

       When Jenassa enters Lakeview Manor, she finds Sebastian sitting at the dining table in the center of the main hall scribbling in his journal:


    30th of Last Seed 4E 201


      I’ve only been awake for three weeks and already find myself breaking one of my own rules… I have sought out one of my brood siblings. Shepherd. I still disapprove of her aims, but if I am to be effective in coming struggles, I will need her assistance. I wish she had never found that damned Oghma Infinium, but it is what it is. The skills she learned from the cursed tome have kept her physically safe through the ages, but her fascination with daedric artifacts has endangered her mind. She seems more stable than last we spoke, however. Time heals all wounds, or so they say. I  am unconvinced… We shall see.


      Despite a rough (and admittedly amusing) introduction to my sister's current guard force, Jenassa and I have been welcomed within the Manor. Some of these Khajiit are still mortal… None of them wield her Dark Star enchantments. I suppose that would make sense. Keeping the enchantment as rare as possible. Harkon has been after it for centuries. The rarity is likely the only thing protecting Shepherd from the brat-king’s tantrums. I doubt he could actually do her any harm, but he could make life difficult for her.


      I have been talking with the cats in here about those “Dawnguard” Jenassa and I met on the road. Seems they are avoiding the Manor for the time being. Shepherd keeps a few cattle in the basement, so feeding is not going to draw attention. The attacks the Dawnguard mentioned are said to be coming from a coven of Clavicus Vile worshipers further up the mountain pass into the Rift. Not sure why Shepherd hasn’t dispatched them already if they are causing trouble.


    I am hopeful that Shepherd will see wisdom in granting me her Sigil, but if not… I dread what  task she will devise for me to carry out to “earn” the Dark Star.

       Jenassa sits across from Sebastian as he closes his journal and she asks, “Where is your uh… ‘Sister’?” Sebastian nods to the staircase, “One of her Khajiit is in the midst of turning. She went to check on him. You look uneasy. What vexes you?” Jenassa looks around at the Khajiit guarding the entrances and exits, “Too many eyes… Not sure if they are protecting us or waiting for the moment to attack.” Sebastian takes a sip from his flask and shakes his head, “Firstly...mmmm... they are guarding Shepherd. They will attack us if they believe we pose a threat to her…. And secondly, I doubt they are particularly thrilled at us being here to start with.”


      Walking down the staircase, Shepherd is wiping blood off her hands, “So, Dear Brother. Still keeping your journals, are you?” She sits beside Sebastian and snaps her fingers at one of her Khajiit. The cat hurries down to the basement. Shepherd asks, “I’ve heard you have a library filled with those?” Sebastian puts his journal away, “Just some scribbles. You know as well as any that memories can be warped with the passing of the ages. I find a written record  to be essential. Make certain I remember things the way they happened and not the way I wish they had happened.” Jenassa notices a strange look shared between the two. There is something NOT being said.


      The Khajiit guard returns from the Basement with a goblet of blood and places it beside his mistress then returns to his post. “You have them well trained.” Sebastian says. Shepherd sips at her goblet, “ They are amiable and fierce servants….” She pauses looking off at seemingly nothing. Her eyes dart around a moment then lock on Sebastian, “Not… uh… Not that I dislike a visit from my Dear Brother, but what brings you and your very fetching companion to my home.” Sebastian just stares at Shepherd a moment, “... The Dragons drew my attention to Skyrim. I was at Helgen when it was hit…” Shepherd puts her Goblet down as Sebastian continues, “...I found a Dragonborn there, Sweet Sister. He is on his way to the Greybeards as we speak.”  Shepherd leans back in her chair, “Really… that is interesting. The beginning of a new dragon war... But it does not explain why you are here with me.” Sebastian goes over the events of the last few weeks. Leaving out the part about his missing phylacteries and the dragonborn’s blood in his possession.


      Having heard his tale, Shepherd spends a moment in quiet contemplation. She gulps down the rest of the blood in her goblet and looks to a guard, “Bring me the Cyrodilic Brandy…” and the cat hurries off. “Well now,” Shepherds says looking back to Sebastian, “but again, you have not told me what this has to do with me. I am not part of any dragon prophecy. Nor do I have any intention of involving myself or my Khajiit with fighting flying lizards.” Sebastian sips on his flask, “During our fight with the dragon at Whiterun’s Western Watchtower, I was rendered useless before the battle was over… by the sun…” Shepherds puts her goblet down, “So… you seek my Sigil… and here I thought my Dear Brother might just want to visit...” Sebastian rolls his eyes putting his Flask away, “Yes, well… Will you forge a Dark Star for me?”


       Jenassa watches Shepherd tracing her finger around the lip of her goblet, “Please, M’Lady. It’s….” Shepherd glares at Jenassa as if trying to burn a hole through her. Fearing for her very soul, Jenassa stops talking. The glare is broken by Sebastian grabbing Shepherd's hand, “Please, Sweet Sister… I need a Dark Star... Will you help me?” Placing her hand on his, Shepherd replies, “I will help you, Dear Brother, if you will help me.” Sebastian pulls his hand away, “You know how I feel about your fascination with the Daedric Lords.” Shepherd folds her arms, “I guess you don’t ‘need’ my sigil so badly then.”


       After a silent moment, afraid to speak, Jenassa reaches over and grips Sebastian’s hand. Shepherd smirks to herself. Sebastian grumbles, “What… exactly do you want… Sweet Sister.” “Can a servant so easily change her master's mind, Dear Brother?” Shepherd asks. Ignoring the question, Sebastian repeats himself, “What do you want?” Shepherd stands taking off her amulet, “I can forge you a Dark Star, if you bring me this…” She places the amulet on the table and it begins to glow. The light flickers and then sharpens to project the image of a staff. “You truly are mad.” Sebastian scowls, “You want me to bring you the Skull of Corruption? You know what that thing can do.” Shepherd smiles, “Of course I do. That’s why I want it.” Sebastian grabs the amulet and tosses it to Shepherd, “So it can damage your mind even further?!?!” Shepherd's eyes inflame with anger, “My mind is too powerful for any Daedric trinket to…” Sebastian slams his fist on the table and stands, “Who in Oblivion do you think you’re talking to? I was THERE when you got hold of the Wabbajack! I saw what it did to you… And what you did to your cats with it.” Shepherd’s look of anger gives way to shame, “No… I... That was… a long time ago. I am stronger now.”


       All the Khajiit guards are tense for the duration of this standoff. Jenassa has her blades in each hand ready to strike, certain in the knowledge that a fight in here would only prove to be the end for them both. She only relaxes when Shepherd turns away from the table. “Brother, Dear Brother.” Shepherd says regaining her composure, “I will forge you a Dark Star, but only if you bring me the Staff. That is my price. You may stay here as long as you wish, but my offer ends with the rise of the moons. Speak with Feral if you change your mind. I need to check on my new cub. Talon’s transition has been... difficult for him.” and she returns up the stairs. Sebastian sits back down and shakes his head. Jenassa walks around to her master and places her hands on his shoulders.


       After a moment of brooding, Sebastian notices Feral’s ears stick up over the edge of the table, “What are you doing, Feral?... Tell me you at least have your clothes on now.” Feral stands in a full suit of custom leather armor, “This one is cleaned and dressed,” she smiles a big toothy grin, “And you?...Have you reconsidered the mistress’ offer? Will you get her the pretty pretty staff? Yes?” Jenassa shakes her head, “Even if he had, a Daedric Artifact has a will all it’s own. It could be anywhere. Where would we even start?” Feral leans on the table and quickly mumbles, “Dawnstar…” Sebastian looks up, “What?” Feral scurries over to his side and clings to his knee, “The staff is in Dawnstar… or somewhere thereabouts. This one has heard rumors… yes yes.. RUMORS of nightmares in the city. Strange dreams over and over and over and over… Only the power of Vermena can be at work there. The skull MUST be near… Unless they all ate bad clams… Could they have all eaten bad clams? This one did not consider…” Feral begins mumbling to herself then suddenly stops looking up at Sebastian and Jenassa, “I’m fine...The Staff! You will get it for the mistress. Yes?”


       After looking at her for a moment with concern, Sebastian sits up, “If you know where the Skull is, why haven’t you gotten it for your Mistress?” Feral looks down at her feet, “This one tried, but could not find the staff. Feral tried and tried, but could not find it. YOU! You can find it. Feral knows this! Find the pretty staff for the Mistress.”

       Retiring for the morning to a guest room, Sebastian lays on what he would consider a proper bed for the first time since waking to this era. Jenassa is tapping on the walls around the room. “What are you doing, Jen?” Sebastian asks. She continues tapping, “Listening for hollowed spaces. Making sure there is no other way in here for those cats. I don’t trust them.” Sebastian shakes his head, “I know you don’t like it here, but I promise you that we are safer now than we have been since setting foot in Skyrim.” Jenassa stops then punches the wall. She walks over and lays beside Sebastian resting her head on his chest, “Are we going after the staff she wants? I know this Dark Star thing is important, but I’ve heard stories about the Skull of Corruption. None of them have happy endings.” Sebastian places his arm around her, “I know a thing or two about when dragons ruled the world… I will NOT allow that to happen again. Unless you think Alduin can be convinced to keep his ‘World Eating’ to the evenings, I must be free of the Sun if I am to be effective in aiding the Dragonborn realize his destiny and preserve this world… There is little choice. We will make for Dawnstar this evening.” Jenassa holds her breath before asking, “What happened with the Wabbajack? Why were you so angry? What did she do?” Sebastian is silent for a moment then just kisses the top of her head, “Go to sleep. We have a long journey tonight.”

       As the sun begins to set, Jenassa wakes to an empty bed. She collects her things and goes looking for Sebastian. The Khajiit she questions only point her to the main hall, telling her to wait by the fireplace. She does so, but sees no sign of her Master. “You seem anxious…” a voice from behind her says. She turns and sees Shepherd standing over her, “I uh… I can’t find my Master. I can still feel him nearby, but...” Shepherd just looks the Dunmer over, “He’s still here. I’m sure he’ll turn up soon… How long have you served my Dear Brother?” Jenassa fidgets, “He found me when I was a child in Skingrad. I was living on the streets… Barely surviving, really. Stealing just to eat… I tried to pull a coin purse off him. He caught me and I waited for him to call the guard, but he just looked at me and said ‘You’re doing it all wrong, girl.’ and took me to the Inn. First time I had a real meal since my parents died three years earlier. He taught me how to use distraction as a weapon. I picked every pocket in the Inn that night.” Shepherds smirks, “So you were a little thief? Should I check my treasury?” Jenassa shakes her head, “Oh no, Mistress. I would never steal from you. My Master would not approve.” Shepherd narrows her gaze, “Nor would I… but how did you come to be his thrall? I know my brother well. He would not take a child for a thrall. There must be more to it.” “I told him about my parents’ murder.” Jenassa says turning back towards the fire, “He hunted down the bastard that killed them. A drunken town guardsman. Sebastian slaughtered him in an alley while he was on patrol. I saw it… He turned to me with blood dripping from his lips and said that no one would ever hurt me like that again.” Shepherd looks puzzled, “You saw him feed on a man and didn’t run away? I would think that would frighten a child.” “I was afraid.” Jenassa says, “But I wanted to see that bastard die. And when it was over. I just... knew... Sebastian would not hurt me. In that whole accursed city, he was the only one that showed any care or concern for me. I would probably be dead or in prison if not for him. He didn’t have to force enthrallment on me… When I was strong enough, I asked him to do it. I wanted to be his protector. Keep him safe like he did for me.” Just then the hatch leading to the basement flies open and Sebastian climbs out. Shepherd nods, “See… told you he would turn up… My brother and I have our disagreements, but I do care for him a great deal. Do look after him for me.” Shepherd walks away.


      Sebastian approaches Jenassa, “There you are. Have you eaten yet?” Jenassa shakes her head, “There is some food in my saddle. I can eat later. Are you ready to go?” Sebastian nods, “I believe so. I’ve already spoken to Shepherd. She promised that the Dark Star would be ready in a few days… IF we can find the staff. She threatened all manner of horrors if we return empty handed.” With that, they head out into the twilight of the evening. They take their horses from the stable and begin their ride for Dawnstar. A small town that was built up around a port on the northern coast.


      It is noon, the following day, before the pair comes within sight of the town. A simple and functional port town on the northern coast. Workers, returning from their lunch breaks, heading for the two competing mines on either side of town and a ship is drifting into harbor. The hammer of a blacksmith can be heard in the distance. All-be-it small, the town is healthy and humming along… but despite appearances, one can feel a darkness looming over Dawnstar.


       A guardsman stops the travelers, “Hold... You’ve come to Dawnstar at a strange time, friends. Everyone in town has been having nightmares. Some are calling it an evil omen. You might want to press on.” Jenassa shrugs, “Evil omen? Signaling what?” “Damned if I know, Miss.” The Guard replies, “Thank the Divines, a Priest has come to help us.” Sebastian leans over his saddle, “A priest is here?” The guard points towards the Inn, “A priest of Mara came all the way from Riften. He’s been staying at the Windpeak Inn.” Sebastian leans back, “Thank you, Guardsman.” The guard nods, “Keep your nose clean while you’re here.” and continues on his patrol. The pair proceed around to the front of the Inn.


      As they dismount their horses, Jenassa says, “Are  you alright, Master? That’s the first time you’ve spoken since we left Lakeview.” Sebastian stops, “If we find this staff, I am certain that taking it back to Shepherd can only lead to her harming herself in some way. I’ve been trying to think of something, ANYTHING, else I could give her… She’s been after the Skull for the better part of five hundred years. Unlike other artifacts, this one specifically affects the mind. In trying to end one crisis, I may be triggering another.” He sighs, “I promised her a staff and a staff she shall have. I’ll deal with the repercussions when they arise… Feral has been able to contain her so far…” Jenassa looks at him confused and asks, “How could Feral contain Shepherd?” After a silent moment, Sebastian looks at her, “You asked me what happened with the Wabbajack… Shepherd used it on one of her Khajiit guards in a fight… by accident, of course. The staff increased his size, strength, and speed. Made him into a true beast. So Shepherd used the staff on the others hoping for a similar effect, but the effects of the Wabbajack are random. One disappeared, another was turned into a chicken, and the rest… It transformed them into monsters, raging killers, and... Feral was lucky. She was only driven insane. Shepherd just wouldn’t stop. A frenzy filled her and… I took the Wabbajack away and forced her to look at the carnage she had unleashed. The Khajiit wouldn’t obey her anymore… We had to kill them all. All except Feral. We found her curled up in a ball and talking to herself. Shepherd was… She was just broken, afterwards. Feral is a reminder to my Sweet Sister of what happens when she goes too far… Come on. Let’s get on with it… Let’s find this Priest of Mara.”




    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