Blessed Mother Ch 2


    Blessed Mother

    Chapter Two: Eternity is Waiting

       Fenrir exits the Black Door of the Sanctuary and kneels to pick a pair of Nightshade flowers. He has none of Babette’s poisons this time and this contract is beyond dangerous. A vampire is no simple target. Fenrir will need to strike during the day when Hern and Hert are weakened by the sun. It will not be easy getting either of them outside or alone, but to attack when they are at their strongest or together is unwise, to say the least. But Sithis is owed a soul, and a soul he shall have. One way or another.

       Fenrir stops in the city of Falkreath before proceeding to his assignment in hopes that the shops may have something to aid him in his kill. Solaf, owner of the general store, Grey Pine Goods, greets him as he walks in. “Ha! Fenrir. You're looking well. Looking for something specific, today?” the storekeep asks. Fenrir looks around, “Have you gotten any items from Winterhold lately?” Solaf turns to a crate behind the counter, “From the Mage’s College, you mean? I got a few things in yesterday. Not much of a selection, but with what those damned mages charge for these things, I can’t afford more than a few pieces.” He lays out an assortment of enchanted goods. Of which Fenrir picks out a Silver Sword that hums with the power of a fire enchantment, a Steelplate helm said to allow one to breath underwater, and a necklace with a gentle aura emitted by an enchantment of mending. “Are you sure?” Solaf asks, “Those three are worth well over four thousand Septims.” Fenrir nods and hands him a purse with several gemstones inside, “I think that will cover it and then some. Consider the rest an investment… I want first pick at your next shipment though. Fair?” Solaf looks at the rubies and sapphires in the purse, “Wha… Of course, of course. That is more than fair. With this I can order another shipment. Should arrive in a week or so.” Fenrir puts on the necklace and waits for Solaf to wrap up the sword and helm.

       Outside the general store, Fenrir straps the Silver Sword to his back as to hide it under his black cloak. Vampires are weak to both silver and fire magic. If his targets spot this weapon, they will immediately be on the defensive. The helm is simply tied to his belt. The stream that powers Half Moon Mill is fed by Lake Ilinalta directly behind the Mill. If Hern can be slain without Hert’s notice, a watery escape may be in order. The Helm will ensure he can hide in the lake’s depths from a pursuit. This is still no guarantee of success, but it is the best that can be done for the moment. After checking the other shops, he buys a few more ebony arrows from the smith before leaving town.

       A mere hour’s walk and Fenrir reaches Half Moon Mill, at the northern border dividing Whiterun and Falkreath Hold. He is shocked to see Hert outside. She is at the mill loading logs onto the splitter track. He looks over the area thoroughly, but sees no sign of Hern. Though he is unsure, he walks up to Hert and greets her with a smile. “Good day, M’lady.” he says. Hert turns and smiles, “Oh my. A guest?” Fenrir bows, “A humble traveler, Madam. I hate to impose, but my water skin was punctured in a tussle I had with a Frostbite Spider up the road. Might you have another? I would gladly pay you for it, of course.” Hert looks the man over and her bloodlust flares within her, “With the war on, and the dawnguard patrols roaming the countryside, we get so few travelers. Why don’t you stay a while?” Both share a murderous smile when Fenrir says, “I would be honored, M’lady. I am called Fenrir. Might I help you with those logs? Not my first time at a mill.”

       The two converse for only a few minutes before Hern exits the house across the stream powering the Mill. He snarls as the sun’s light begins to boil his blood… then he sees a mortal being -worked- by his mate. “My beloved has found diner, I see.” He approaches the pair, “Hert, my dear. Who is this?” She turns, “You’re up earlier than usual, my love. Fenrir, this is Hern. Fenrir is a traveling priest on his way to an ailing friend. His water skin was torn and he wished to earn one of ours.” Fenrir nods, “Aye. Bad luck all around, I’m afraid. The poor man will die soon, I believe. I simply must minister to him before his soul passes on, but without water… well… it’ll be a short trip.” Hern finds the tale ridiculous, but cares little. “Is that so? You are well armed for a priest.” Fenrir shrugs, “Never know what sorts you will find wandering the roads of Skyrim. Bandits, trolls, Saber Cats, cultists, or even the undead if you can believe it. Why, I spotted a few walking skeletons down the road. One must be prepared for anything out here.” Hern eyes Fenrir with a ravenous hunger building inside him, “Such a noble soul… Come into the house and I’ll see what can be done about that water skin.” Hert pats Fenrir on the shoulder, “Once I finish these logs, I’ll be right in. Perhaps I could make you a stew for your trip.” Fenrir nods, “That would be most kind.”

       Following his target into the house, Fenrir readies himself for the attack that is certain to follow entering the doorway. The door barely closes before the vampire reaches to grab for him. Fenrir dodges easily, he draws his Silver Sword, and says, “You haven’t fed in sometime, Vampire. You’ve grown slow…” Hern scowls, “Not a priest then… You are one of those damned Dawnguard fools.” With his blade in hand, Fenrir paces around Hern and says, “Oh no. I am much worse.” Hern snarls as his claws begin to grow from his fingertips. The vampire fights with savageness while Fenrir fights with honed finesse. A vampire is no base prey, but weakened by his lack of feeding, he struggles to keep up with a Dark Brotherhood assassin’s skill. A deep cut from Fenrir’s enchanted blade sends the vampire tumbling onto a dining table that breaks under the impact. “Silver enchanted with flame? Bastard!” Hern says. Fenrir walks over cautiously, “I’ve been called worse by better.” When Fenrir goes in for the killing blow, Hern gets a lucky kick into Fenrir’s chest sending the assassin back several feet. He slams into a wall, knocking his sword from his hand.

       The Vampire raises his hand as he gets off the floor and a foul spell reaches into Fenrir’s very heart. Fenrir can feel his strength leaving him. The wound on the Vampire is healing as he drains Fenrir’s life essence. Hern says, “Your pride has led to your undoing, mortal fool. Your blood will taste ever so sweet.” Fenrir looks down and sees the head of a single arrow that was knocked from his quiver. From the angle, Hern does not see him grab the arrow. He endures the spell’s effects and grips the arrow’s shaft tight. He prays to the Night Mother that the beast will reach him before the last of his strength is sapped away. Fenrir falls flat to the floor. Hern grabs one of Fenrir’s arms and slams him against the wall. As Hern moves to bite him, Fenrir uses all of his remaining strength to drive his arrow into the vampire’s ribs. Be it luck, skill, or the will of Sithis, the arrow is planted deeply into the bottom of the Vampire’s heart. Hern staggers back a few steps before dropping to his knees and says, “No… not like this…Who… what are you?” Fenrir begins crawling towards his sword then uses it as a crutch to get to his feet. “I… I am your deliverance” Fenrir utters breathlessly, “...and these will be the last words you’ll ever hear… Blessed Mother…Your humble messenger offers you the soul you seek. Take him into your bosom and deliver him unto the Dread Father in the void.” Hern struggles to raise his head up to see the Dark Brother gripping his silver sword. “Blessed be!” Fenrir says as he swings.

       Shortly thereafter, Hert enters the house with a smile that quickly vanishes when she finds her love’s head beside his burned body, an ebony arrow sticks out of the ash, and a Nightshade flower in Hern’s mouth. She looks around then rushes out of the house. She can find no sign of Fenrir and the air reeks of the foul stench of Frostbite Venom preventing her from making out Fenrir’s scent. She screams a primal howl out into the forests of Falkreath. A sound that echoes out into the wilds sending every animal for miles fleeing in fear. The men of a nearby hunting camp feel a cold chill run through their souls.

       Almost half an hour later, Fenrir crawls out to a distant bank of Lake Ilinalta. Exhausted, he collapses on his back and clutches his chest. Something is wrong. He can feel it inside. He pulls off the helm and struggles to get to his feet. Using a broken branch as a walking stick, Fenrir starts stumbling through the woods heading back to the Sanctuary. Falkreath is closer, and perhaps the alchemist or priest could help him, but they would ask far too many questions. No, he needs the aid of his family.

       After a long and grueling slog through the forests of Falkreath Hold, Fenrir makes it to the ridge overlooking the Sanctuary’s entrance and falls over the edge. The drop is twenty feet down and he lands flat on his back. He crawls to the door and issues the pass phrase. When he reaches the bottom of the stairs, he looks up to see Gabriela studying the map of Skyrim on the table. “S-Sister...” he calls out weakly. The Dunmer witch turns, “Fenrir? VEEZARA!!!” They quickly take him to Babette. Though she looks like a mere child of ten, she is well over three hundred years old and is a master alchemist that few can compare to. Over her long life, she has forgotten more about poisons and healing potions than most alchemists will ever know. Fenrir is laid upon her stone bed in her chambers. It does not take long before Babette gleans what has led to Fenrir’s state and begins to treat him. Gabriella asks, “Can you help him, Sister?” Babette begins mixing a tonic, “Of course, I can. Leave me to do my work.” Veezara tells Gabriella, “Come, Sister. We’ve done what we can.” And they leave. Cold blooded murderers, they maybe, but this is a family. And they take care of their own.

       Several hours later, Fenrir’s eyes open. He sees the unchild sitting beside him and he says, “B-Babette?” She stands up smiling and strokes his forehead, “Easy now. You are not yet fully healed. If not for this Amulet’s healing properties, you may not have made it home.” Fenrir stares at the stone ceiling, “I feel… strange…” Babette nods, “You should. Going after a Vampire without a curative was foolish… You’ve contracted Sanguinare Vampiris… You have begun the turning. It will take some time yet.” From behind her, a voice asks, “Can you stop it?” Babette turns to see Astride in the doorway. “I -can-…” Babette replies, “-IF- that’s what he wants.” She turns back to Fenrir, “Vampirism isn’t so bad, you know. It does take some getting used to, though. I can help you…” Babette’s words become harder for Fenrir to hear before he passes out again.

       It is evening before Fenrir awakens again. The pain is dulled, so he sits up slowly. He is thirsty, but there is no water to be found in Babette’s room. Not surprising. So he heads for the dining hall. A natural spring from Lake Ilinalta runs through the hall. He drinks several tankards of water, but the thirst simply will not be quenched. “That won’t help…” a small voice behind him says. He turns to see Babette standing with her arms behind her back. He puts the tankard down, “You mean… so this feeling is…” She smiles, “A vampire’s thirst? Not exactly… not yet. That is much stronger. Your body just doesn’t know how to process the craving yet… But once the dark gift takes hold... it will learn.”

       Fenrir sits down at the dining table, “You think I should let the disease take me, then?” Babette scowls, “It is NOT a disease… it is simply a different kind of life. Just as being mortal has its drawbacks, so too does being a vampire. I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a preferred outcome here, but the decision is yours to make, Brother.” Fenrir looks down, “Though weak from the sun and being blood starved, Hern was powerful. A single slip and he nearly killed me… but… I… don’t know.” Babette put her hand on his knee, “You still have time, Brother, but that time is closing. You must make a decision and you must do so soon.” She hands him a small bottle, “If you wish to be restored to your old self, drink this. If you wish to become more… Just wait…” She begins to walk away when Fenrir asks, “Why have you never turned one of us, Sister? You’ve never even offered.” She pauses a moment, “I… Looking like a child can be a boon for a murderer, but I lack the strength needed to properly turn others. My body simply doesn’t have the capacity for it… Now if you’ll excuse me, Festus was asking for some potions. Seems the old man isn’t as vigorous as he was in his younger years… something to keep in mind, Brother.”

       Looking down from the sleeping quarters above the hall, Gabriella waits for Babette to leave. She enters the dining hall and says, “Babette is the exception. Not the rule.” Fenrir looks up, “What?” Gabriella sits in the chair next to him and takes the bottle Babette gave him to see if it truly is a curative, “Most vampires do not live to their first year. Those that do can be driven mad by their bloodlust.” Confident the bottle contains a curative, she hands it back to Fenrir, “You should drink this. It’s not worth the risk.” Fenrir takes the bottle and looks at her, “Is that what you have seen, Seer? Does some vampire hunter get lucky and kill me in a year? Do I live on and go mad?” Gabriella sits back in a chair, “What I see is you ending and… something else taking your place. Will it truly be you? Even my sight cannot reveal this.”

       Fenrir places the bottle on the table, “Eternity is a tempting offer. You would have me turn it down?” Gabriella scoffs, “You were infected by a vampire you killed. Does that sound like an eternity to you?” He simply holds out his hand. Gabriella folds her arms and looks away. Fenrir sighs and says, “...Gabriella…” She stands and takes his hand. She is pulled over to him and he says, “You are afraid I will be taken from you?” She looks away from him, “I am concerned about the family. You are one of Astrid's best. If something changes that…” Fenrir’s voice lowers, “Then why won’t you look at me?” Gabriella shakes her head before looking down, “Don’t try your tricks on me, Nord. This is not the time.” Fenrir shrugs, “Can’t be helped, I’m afraid… There is no version of me that will not want you. Does the idea of having each other for centuries, rather than a few decades, not appeal to you? Think of the cloud of death the pair of us could bring down on this world in centuries to come.” Gabriella smiles, “You and your damned honeyed words…” She kisses him then slaps him across the face, “Drink the damned potion.” Fenrir just rubs his jaw and smiles.

        Footsteps are heard approaching. Gabriella pushes away from him, “To be continued…” and she walks back up stairs. Cicero enters from the otherside of the Hall, “THERE you are, Brother… Cicero is to understand you faced a Vampire? Do tell Cicero about the kill, won’t you? It’s been such a long time since my blade was soaked in blood.” Fenrir tucks the bottle in his pocket, “I would, Brother, but I am not feeling well today. Perhaps you could tell me a tale or two, though. I understand the Night Mother’s Tomb was destroyed years ago. How have you managed to keep our mother out of the hands of defilers?” Cicero pulls up a chair, “Oh Cicero was very clever. The fiends in Bravil had broken into Mother’s tomb, but her Sarcophagus remained intact. Sweet Cicero was able to slay the lot of our Matron’s attackers. Cicero snuck her coffin out of Bravil on their own wagon and…” Fenrir doubles over as a pain rushes through him. Cicero stops yapping, “Brother? You ARE ill… Cicero shall fetch the unchild…” Fenrir takes out the potion again, “Is it really worth it?...” He struggles to his feet and heads back to Babette’s room.

       He digs through some of Babette’s things, “I know there is one in here…” Babette steps into the doorway, “And what are you wrecking my room for?” Fenrir looks back, “I apologize, Sister… I am looking for a phylactery. I know you have some. I’ve seen them.” She folds her arms, “And what do you need such a thing for?” He sits on her stone bed and grips his chest, “The bottles can preserve blood. I wish to store some of my blood in them.” Babette lowers her head, “I see… then you wish to cure yourself, but have an option to reinfect yourself later. Is that it?” Fenrir breathing gets heavier, “Yes… I need to learn more before I can decide if I truly wish to become a vampire. If I change my mind, I don’t want to have to fight another vampire to do it… you were hoping I would turn, weren’t you?” Babette reaches into a vase by her bed, “I will not lie. I was hoping you would. Immortality can be a lonely thing.” She hands him a large bottle, “Slit your wrist and put as much blood as you can stand to lose within. I know a spell to heal the wound after.” Fenrir notes the sadness in her voice. He had not considered her feelings on this, but it does not deter him. He draws his dwemer dagger across his wrist and watches his blood begin to fill the magically infused glass bottle.



    Blessed Mother

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