Ancient Blood Ch 19

  • Ancient Blood Chapter 19

    Ready the Trap

       Jenassa wakes, around mid morning, to find an empty bed. Feeling a gnawing ache in chest, she reaches over for Shepherd’s salve and one of her vigor potions that she left on the nightstand, but finds all the potions missing. She applies the salve to her chest then looks around the room and notices a sweet smell in the air. She picks up her negligee off the floor and wraps it around her as she follows the smell to a room on the ground floor under the stairs containing a small alchemy lab. Sebastian, wearing only a simple loincloth, stands over the alchemy station with her stock of vigor potions. “What are you doing, Master?” she asks. He looks back to her and eyes her for a moment before answering, “Don’t you look ravishing…” She smirks and flips her hair to the side, “I look ravaged… What are you doing?” He smiles and returns to working at the station, “I’m just adding some honey to the vigor potions… Should make them less… ‘blah’ I believe was the word you used.” She traces her finger tips on some of the scars on his back. Evidence of harsher times. Three long scars catch her eye, “What are these three from, Master?” she asks. He ponders to himself for a moment, “Hmmm… Oh… That was a cliff racer. Damn thing snuck up on me.” She rests her chin on his shoulder, “Cliff racer? Those flying lizard things? I’ve never seen one.” He nods, “Aye. Nor should you want to. Foul beasts of Morrowind. I believe I heard a rumor about them being extinct, now. Good riddance, I say.”


       Jenassa kisses his neck, “You’re getting pale, again. You need to feed.” “I know.” he says, “I’m going to pay the guard barracks a visit after I finish here... And as much as I simply adore your current attire, we have errands to run that will require you to wear your armor.” She pouts as she turns and walks to collect her armor off the livingroom floor, “What are we doing then, Master?” Sebastian exits the alchemy lab with a pouch of the altered potions, “The great chains in Dragon’s Reach have long since rusted. New links will have to be forged, which means we need iron… a lot of it… I overheard a pair of guards saying that a group of bandits had taken over an iron mine outside of town.” He hands her the pouch, “Halted Stream Camp. It’s just North of the city... Let the potions homogenize for a while before taking one. ” She takes the pouch and goes looking for her underclothes, “Just clear out a den of bandits?” “Well, we’ll also need some high grade oil.” he says, “Make sure the trap springs when we need it to. We won’t get a second chance. Best oil in Skyrim is still Dwemer oil. I remember there being a field repair depot, for those automatons, not far from here either. I think the locals just call it Shimmermist cave. I… uh… doubt they even… know what it... is…” Jenassa looks back and sees him eyeing her backside lecherously then throws her negligee over his head. He lifts the garment with a creepy smile, “As I told you before, my dear. You must take time to appreciate beauty.”


       Later, Jenassa goes to the Bannered Mare for a hot meal. After a quick stop at the guards barracks by the main gate, Sebastian returns to Dragon’s Reach. Entering the main hall, the Jarl and his Steward continue to argue the wisdom of trapping a dragon in the keep. The Jarl waves his Steward off, “Who’s this, then?” Balgruuf asks. Irileth stands at his side, “I know this one. Shaw, I believe? You aided us with the Dragon at the watchtower.” Sebastian nods, “Indeed, I come offering aid again… I understand the Great Chains are to be put into use once more. After setting up for so long, I can’t imagine the chains are in the best condition…” Balgruuf sits up, “And how did you… -hear- of this exactly?” Sebastian smirks, “Fear not, Jarl Balgruuf. It is not the talk of the town. There would be far more panic in the streets if that were the case. I am council to the Dragonborn. I am to aid you in preparations.” The Jarl looks to Irileth, “What do you say?” Irileth nods, “His potions protected us against the dragon’s fire. Several of our men may not have survived the battle without his aid… I say you hear him out… but know that I am watching you, Breton.” Sebastian bows to the Housecarl, “Firstly, we will need a smith. Thankfully your fine city has two forges. I would prefer Eorlund, but if he is not at the Skyforge, the city might take notice.  Best we keep notoriety down for the time being.” he looks to the Steward, “I hear your daughter, Adrianne, is a smith of some skill.” The Steward, Proventus Avenicci, looks around, “Y-Yes… I dare say she’s one of the best smith’s in the land, but.. She can’t afford to just hand over all that metal. Even for this.” “She won’t have to.” Sebastian says, “I understand Halted Stream Camp has been overtaken by brigands… I aim to change that. I will need your soldiers to mine and transport the ore itself however.” Balgruuf looks to Irileth a moment then to his Steward, “Avenicci… Summon your daughter. Shaw, is it?... You clear the mine and you will have your soldiers. You will report to Irileth when you have made progress. I have to prepare for this summit… -IF- there is to even be a summit...” Sebastian bows to the Jarl and walks away.


       A short time later, Jenassa exits the Bannered Mare and looks for Sebastian. She finds him sitting under the shade of the Gildergreen. He points up, “I told you it was a sight to see in full bloom.” The tree is covered in blooms of vibrant peach and purple hues with hints of small buds of the mysterious fruit it bears. Jenassa smiles, “It is lovely, Master.” Jenassa sits beside him and wipes a bit of dried blood from the corner of his mouth, “Your color is looking better as well. Things went smoothly in the barracks then?” He leans back looking up at the blooms, “The security there was surprisingly lax… I also checked in at the Palace. Once we have the supplies, the repairs can begin.” He turns to her with a smile, “So… Let’s go kill some bandits, shall we?”


       Crossing the plains outside of Whiterun takes longer than it should as highwaymen and wild beasts take advantage of how thin the guards are spread across the hold. The sun is hanging low by the time they get close to the mine. They follow the smoke in the evening sky rising from the campfires of the mine. Tucked behind a small outcropping of trees to the south of the camp, they tie off their horses and crouch to observe the situation. Jenassa says, “I only count five outside. No telling how many are inside.” She takes aim with her bow at one of the guards, but Sebastian lowers her arm. “Wait…” He says softly. She looks at him confused, “Master?” He nods to the west and she looks to see what has captured his attention. She sees the most peculiar sight. “How… how can those be there?” she asks, looking at a pair of Gargoyles, the likes of which she saw in the Bloodlet Throne ruins over a month ago, just sitting in the middle of the plains. Sebastian smiles, “I told you to always make note of oddities… I thought those were all destroyed...” he looks at the horizon, “Keep your eyes on those statues…”


       As the last light of the sun disappears behind the mountains, the gargoyles begin to shake and crack. With a mighty roar, flesh and blood gargoyles burst from their stone shells. “Gods!” Jenassa says. Sebastian just nods, “Put an arrow in the ground between the gargoyles and the camp…” Jenassa heistates a moment in disbelief, but does as she is told, getting the creature's attention. As they approach the arrow, they come within sight of the camp and a guard spots them, “MONSTERS!” The guard screams as he frantically fires and misses several iron arrows. The camp is roused as the beasts charge in. Sebastian raises a septim, “Want to place a wager on this fight?” She rolls her eyes and readies her bow again, “I -wager- it will be over soon and those creatures will attack us as well?” Sebastian shrugs and puts his gold away, “They are Volkihar constructs… Easy to distract, not so easy to control.” When the final bandit is slain, Jenassa releases her malachite arrow and it finds its mark in the skull of one of the gargoyles. “HA! Headshot!” Sebastian summons a Flame Atronach to keep the other Gargoyle busy while Jenassa lines up another shot and fires. It takes a couple of hits, but she drops the beast.


       They search the bandits and find one barely breathing. Jenassa holds a blade to his throat, “How many are inside?!” she demands. Sebastian taps her shoulder, “I’m certain, at this point, death would be a release, my dear. Not a threat.” He presses two glowing red fingers to the bandits forehead and the bandit groans, ”Uuuggghhh...fourrrr….” As the bandit dies, Jenassa hears a strange sound and looks back at the gargoyles, “Master?” Sebastian looks and sees the flesh of the gargoyles turning back to stone, “They’re regenerating… If left as they are, they will be restored soon…” He grabs an iron war hammer from one of the dead bandits, “Take that one’s mace… smash the gargoyles while they slumber. It’s the only way to truly kill one of these damned things.” WIth a single swing of the large hammer, he knocks off a Gargoyles head. Jenassa pulverises the head of the second one.


       After dispatching the gargoyles, they proceed inside. They find only one Nord guard at the entrance, who quickly discovers a malachite arrow entering his throat. He thrashes around briefly before bleeding to death. “Check him for a key to this gate…” Sebastian says as he pokes around a small wagon of large Mammoth tusks. “They must be poachers.” Jenassa says as she pulls a key from a chain around the bandit’s neck. Sebastian nods, “That would explain the smell in here. Hmmm… There’s also magic in here… Up ahead… It’s faint. Either a weak mage or a powerful weapon... Stand guard here a moment, I’ll be right back.” She opens the gate and crouches with her bow drawn and waits. A moment later, Sebastian reenters the mine dragging an Orc’s body behind him. Jenassa looks at him confused, “Master?” Sebastian drops the Orc beside the Nord and places their weapons back in their hands. “Stand back…” He says. Jenassa gets up and stands behind him as he raises the two corpses. They struggle to their feet groaning with new unlife. Sebastian smiles, “Do us a favor, lads... Go kill your friends.” The raised bandits draw their weapons and shuffle through the mine. Shortly after, the sound of metal clashing and flame spells being launched are heard echoing in the tunnels. Grunts and curses follow. Jenassa sniffs of an open Mead bottle, “Ew…Cheap mead... This stuff has to be a month old…” she puts the bottle back and draws her bow again. Sebastian just rolls his eyes.


       The sound of battle stops, but footsteps along with the heavy breathing of an Orc can still be heard... and it’s getting closer. Jenassa asks, “Is that your Orc or…” Sebastian shakes his head, “Zombies are finished. Ready yourself.” A large Orc appears at the far end of the tunnel. Jenassa fires, but the Orc blocks the arrow with his shield. The shield lowers slowly revealing rage filled orcish eyes and Sebastian says, “You do know Orcs are prone to a condition called ‘blood rage’, right? They consider it a blessing from the patron deity, Malacath, who fills them with additional strength and stamina for a time… Food for thought.” Jenassa draws another arrow as the orc charges at them. The arrow pierces the left side of the Orc’s studded leather Cuirass, but the Orc steams ahead unphased. She fires another into the right side, then another and another. The Orc does not fall until he is within a few feet from them and he comes to a sliding stop with seven malachite arrow heads sticking out of his back. Jenassa falls to her butt with her eyes wide and breathing heavily, “That was… What in oblivion was that?!” Sebastian pats her on the head, “Blood rage. It’s…” The Orcs coughs a dying breath and Jenassa quickly fires another arrow into the top of the Orc’s head. She nervously kicks the Orc’s head a few times. Sebastian chuckles, “See why necromancers like Orc thralls, now?” and he walks down the tunnel.


       Having cleared the mine and picked a few select valuables for themselves, they head back to the gates of Whiterun to inform the guard. “Alright, a detachment will be sent within the hour to secure the camp with a mining crew. Not sure why there’s such a fuss over an old iron mine.” the guard says. Sebastian nods to the guard and goes to the stables where Jenassa is watering their horses. “So where is this cave, Master?” she asks. “Not far.” he says, “We will need to stop at the meadery and get some large containers to carry the oil in. This whole affair is going…” Something strikes the post beside Jenassa’s horse and Sebastian mumbles, “...remarkably...well…” Sebastian pulls a small steel rod from the post. “What is that?” Jenassa asks. Recognizing it as a crossbow bolt, Sebastian looks around and hears a lone voice muttering to himself as he struggles with something.


       A young dawnguard scout is fighting to reload his crossbow, “Come on, come on… lock… Lock damn… you…” he looks up hearing the string of a bow being drawn to see Sebastian’s glowing red eyes looking down on him and Jenassa pointing her bow and arrow at his head. “I never cared for crossbows, myself.” She says, “The mechanism can jam. My bow can’t.” The scout drops his crossbow, “Just get it over with. Kill me, Monster!” The sound of the scout’s voice is curious to Sebastian. He smiles at the Scout, “I might… Or I might do worse… When I’m done with you, you will know first hand what a vampire’s thirst feels like… unless you tell me what I want to know. Speak true and I may have mercy. Lie or withhold… you will -wish- I had killed you.” The Scout slumps against the rock he was hiding behind. Sebastian smiles again, “Now then, how did you know what I am?... Honesty, Scout… Honesty.”  The Scout pulls some scrolls out of his pack, “I bought these in Dragon’s Reach… the Wizard is selling scrolls that detect the undead… I used one and you… glowed…”


       Sebastian reads one of the scrolls, “A simple spell, but an annoying one… Farengar…” he kneels in front of the scout and removes the dawnguard’s helmet revealing a manchild that is barely old enough to grow his first chin hairs. The scout looks up and says, “Are you going to kill me now?” Sebastian raises his hands to either side of the boy’s head, “...No… Hold still.” Dark tendrils extend from Sebastian’s hands and enter the boy's head. The boy trembles at first, but slowly relaxes. Sebastian says, “You do not want to be a Dawnguard scout… You do not want to fight monsters…Tomorrow you will realize you want to grow up to find a peaceful life as a farmer… You will sell off your armor and weapons then go to the farms around Whiterun and ask to work as a farmhand picking crops with aspirations of running a farm yourself one day… if anyone asks you why you deserted the Dawnguard, you tell them you decided not to die as a child… you never saw me or my companion... You never bought these scrolls… Now sleep.” The scout falls over in the grass and is left there.


       As they ride for Honningbrew Meadery, Jenassa laments on the Scout, “How? How could they use a child like that?... It’s revolting!” Sebastian shakes his head, “And they call me a monster?…” They enter the Meadery and buy a pair of empty mead barrels and a few bottles of Honningbrew’s finest to go. As they tie the barrels to the horses, Jenassa asks, “Will we really need so much? Will there even be that much oil in there?” Sebastian finishes tying his barrel down, “The field depot has a charging station. A big one. Even the colossal Centurion’s can fit in it. It has a connection straight from Black Reach feeding it steam and oil.” Jenassa rubs her neck when he says Black Reach, “It was a remarkable place, Master, but I would prefer NOT to think of it again.” Sebastian mounts his horse, “Don’t let that taint your memory of Black Reach. The city is a marvel. The Falmer are the blight that haunts it. Speaking of, you might want to drink one of those vigor potions. The cave may be home to bandits or beasts. Don’t want you to be hit with a sudden wave of weakness.” She reluctantly gulps down one of the potions then pauses a moment. “What’s wrong?” Sebastian asks. “I’m waiting…” she says. Sebastian just looks at her. “You know...” she says, “For the.. Blah… There’s no blah.” He smiles, “Honey makes everything better.” She smells of the bottle, “huh…” then drinks the rest of the potion and they proceed up the north road.


       Aside from a few wild animals, they have little trouble reaching Shimmermist Cave, but at the entrance, Jenassa recognizes a distinctive fencing at the opening. “Falmer…” she says, “Master…” “I see it.” He says, “You stand guard out here.” She looks at him, “My place is with you… Surely there is somewhere else…” He shakes his head, “Anywhere you are going to find large quantities of Dwemer oil, you will find Falmer… It’s fine. Just wait out here. I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Jenassa hesitates a moment, “No!” He looks at her and she gulps, “Forgive me, Master… If you’re going, I’m going with you… It is my place.” She checks her pouch, “Great… I never bought a curative.” Sebastian sighs then ties off his horse, “I did… If you insist on coming, let us hope you won’t need one.” She dismounts and ties off her horse. Sebastian hears her heart rate increase and her breathing quicken as anxiety begins to set in when they enter the cave. The entrance is guarded only by a Chaurus that is quickly dispatched, but they soon spot the first Falmer. An Archer sitting on a ledge above their path. Jenassa squeezes the grip of her bow  and steps forward to take aim, but Sebastian pushes her against the cave wall. She glares at him, but he just nods to the ground. She looks down and sees a string stretching across the path leading up to the trigger of a trap above her. After disarming the trap, Sebastian nods to her and she draws her bow and fires an arrow into the Falmers throat. The Falmer waves its arms wildly, spitting up foul green blood, before falling to the cave floor. Jenassa is not allowed a moment of ease as she hears scurrying of more Falmer nearby.


       They continue to delve into the cave network, striking down Falmer and Chaurus as they find them. The ground transitions from a dirt floor to stone with dwemer carvings and the grinding of gears is heard in the distance. They are close to the station, when they approach a fire with two Falmer Archers sitting around it. Jenassa aims with her bow, but her arms are trembling and she pulls away pressing herself against the cave wall on the brink of tears. Sebastian hears her heart pounding under her breastplate, he raises a hand with a green glow to try and calm her, but she smacks his hands away with a fierce scowl. She takes a deep breath and steps out and quickly fires two shots in rapid succession, each arrow finding its way to the throats of her targets. More shuffling is heard, further in, and Jenassa follows the sound. Sebastian looks at his hand and then watches her for a moment before following. The last Falmer stands between them and the automaton charging station. Sebastian watches her arms tremble as she slowly puts her bow away and draws her sword and dagger. She creeps up on the Falmer and stops a few feet away. Her head lowers briefly, then suddenly she screams charging at the creature. Her swings lack her usual grace. They are wild and savage strikes. She continues slashing long after the Flamer is dead. Sebastian watches her for a moment stabbing the corpse over and over. He leaves her to set fire runes at the entrances to the room then goes to retrieve the barrels from the horses.


       When he returns, she is sitting on her helmet by the Falmer’s campfire, covered in the blood of her enemy. Sebastian looks at her a moment but not a word is spoken. He continues on to the charging station and begins filling up the barrels with Dwemer oil. Jenassa stands up from the fire and slowly walks up behind Sebastian with her sword and dagger still in hand. Sebastian turns around to look at her. Jenassa is facing Sebastian, but her eyes are looking away and her chin is quivering. He slaps her, sharply. She sniffles and waits for more. A long quiet moment is shared in the darkness of Shimmermist. She begins shaking then drops her weapons lowering her head. Sebastian looks up, shaking his head to the stone ceiling, and opens his arms. Jenassa rushes to him wrapping her arms around him and squeezes him tight. Sebastian sighs and holds her as she silently trembles in his arms.



    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