Story of a Breton Farm Girl from Cyrodiil, Ch.05, part 28

  • 6th of Frost Fall, 4E201

    The Caller stepped back from the table and languished in her frustration. An apprentice brought over a clean rag so that she might wipe the blood off her hands; another brought her a cure potion. In front of her lay a dead Imperial vampire, its viscera on display and nothing more to reveal. She glanced at the other station and the work being conducted by one of her lead researchers. He repeatedly cut into a Dunmer vampire who screamed in vicious agony in reply. Once their observations on healing ability was complete, the bloodsucker would be cut open like all the others. One of his helpers turned to leave the room, unable to hold his meal or see past their mortal masks.

    Someone will have to talk to that one...

    Of course, if vampirism had been properly studied, none of this would have been needed. She could have simply amassed the information through texts and gone on to hunt vampires herself. The lack of knowledge meant she had to sacrifice her own desires for the greater good of solving the age old menace. It meant becoming a restorationist rather than a destruction mage. Capturing them instead of killing them; and always looking for unique specimen's, vampires of different races, or different diseases.

    Walking through Fellglow Keep, the Caller stopped in the testing chamber to observe a 'volunteer' become enthralled by a caged specimen. It was an interesting power, equal to Illusion spells, but there were some distinct differences. A Calm spell for example, would leave a victim's personality completely intact but would strip away aggression. Enthralling a victim tended to compromise the personality, yet the victim acted with more judgement and flexibility, often reacting to their masters needs without an explicit command. Vampires also had an advantage in not having to be taught the power; it was innate to their birth.

    Her mind cleared, she returned to her personal chambers and sat before her desk. On the table lay two notes, one of which was delivered earlier in the day. It had informed her that the group of Cyrodiilic vampires in Morthal, a strain said to be impossible to detect, had been destroyed. The note also asked for an update on findings regarding the Breton mage.

    The Caller reached for parchment and pen and scribbled off an encrypted reply:

    Alva was unsuccessful.

    Sealing the note with wax, the scholar set the missive aside and reached for another parchment, this time to write a letter to a certain contact. She needed to gather a group of men, bandits, mercenaries, anyone that might be interested in tracking down prey. They would be instructed to capture a Nord warrior and a Breton mage alive. Failing that, a lesser sum of gold could be had for bringing their heads. The losses she had incurred by this pair was too much to bare. Either outcome would be satisfactory, especially in light of her benefactors likely position on the matter. She would never find out of course but her interest in the Breton had continuously come at the expense of Estiredain's assets and research capability and this, needed to stop.

    The scholar looked at the other note on the table, the one from Alva. Her cursive had been jagged and hurried and the fear in the script was notable. She wondered if it was possible for a newborn vampire to frighten an older sibling.

    *     *     *     *

    Five days of travel had lead the mage and the warrior south of Ivarstead. They hiked a remote highway winding its way between a crowd of whistling peaks. The sun still held court but only a few enjoyed its majesty, the Throat of the World being chief among them. All the others gathered in her deep shadow hoping to bask in her reflected radiance.

    Nephili glanced over her shoulder at Lydia and tried not to think about what may come. There was no literature on dealing with daedric princes and she did not know what the Nord warrior might discover. Since leaving her behind was not possible, she decided to tell the housecarl two truths. The first was that they were following up on a lead discovered in Morthal of a possible vampire coven. Lydia had heartily agreed to this hunt as just and worthy. The second was that the vampires had usurped a daedric shrine which she intended to study. To this, Lydia's expression had changed but the Nord warrior did not object and only replied, "As you wish my Thane." It was probably the best response that Nephili could have expected.

    Magnus was starting to unravel against the horizon when the mage and warrior finally stopped before a cave. Haemar's Shame conversed mournfully with the surrounding peaks as it sat alone, away from the roadside. Nephili looked to the housecarl who drew her sword. The warrior nodded and followed her Thane into the icy fissure. Thirty steps in, Lydia waited for her eyes to adjust to the darkness. Up ahead, the tunnel turned a sharp left and a dim light could be seen flickering against the walls. Stretching out her shield arm, the warrior crept up to the corner and slowly exposed the wolf emblem of Solitude. An arrow punched into the wood, causing the Nord to hiss at the attack. She glanced to her Thane who responded by throwing a conjuration spell against the far wall.

    The flame atronach and the sentry exchanged pleasantries giving Lydia the chance to turn the corner and run towards the attacker. Out of the tunnel was a large chamber at least partially chiseled out of the rock. A platform designed for archers had been erected against the far wall and atop the ramparts stood the lone guard. Running to the bottom of the scaffolding, she held her shield up to protect against his projectiles and pressed on to where a ramp would allow access to the sentry deck. The daedra and her Thane continued to lob fireballs at the guardsmen who decided to drop his bow in favor of sword and shield. The Nord warrior stepped onto the ramp and then looked up to the top of it in shock. The sentry stood there with half his body charred to a crisp. Arkay had already claimed him but he raised his sword anyway to lunge down the ramp, hoping to impale one last enemy before dying. He fell over and slid down, leaving a trail of blood and skin.

    Lydia examined the corpse. "Mortal." She stood back up to see her Thane approach, her familiar trailing behind, afloat upon its own heat waves.

    Nephili expressed no pity and responded with hardened words. "All the more despicable for aiding them. Enthralled as they are, they no longer know right from wrong. Better that they die as a mortal."

    . .. ...selfless protectors... .. .


    The next tunnel wound it's way to a short, downward ramp. At the bottom stood another guardian, this one a vampire come to investigate the strange noises. The Breton willed her familiar forward and then threw a giant Fireball at the enemy. The explosion blasted the vampire off her feet to land against the wall. Lydia followed after and thrust her sword into her chest, ensuring its death.

    The trio traveled down the next passageway and stopped just inside the exit into the biggest chamber thus far. Wooden stairs lead down to the floor below. The large L shaped room was host to a small fire pit at its center. In the grand corner was an elevated platform containing shelves, a desk, chair, books and grisly remains. Standing out front were two individuals, a Bosmer vampire and an Orc thrall, waiting for the intruders to appear.

    Lydia watched as the familiar entered and threw Firebolts at the enemy. The vampire quickly erected a magic barrier and retaliated with Icespikes while the thrall pelted the daedra with arrows. The daedra was quickly overwhelmed and exploded before ever stepping off the staircase. Her Thane followed the explosion by conjuring a more powerful daedra of ice and directed its attacks against the thrall.

    The Nord warrior quickly descended the stairs and ran for the vampire who was attempting to drain the frost atronach of its life. It turned towards the housecarl and impaled her shield with axe, kicking at the Nord to separate herself. Lydia flashed her sword and sliced the bloodsuckers thigh open and rolled backwards to lessen the damage of her kick. Firebolts flew overhead against  the vampire who responded with screams of pain.

    "No, this is not the way! You fight without und..!" A fireball landed at the vampires feet exploding with force. The firepit and chairs scattered about as the vampire blew over backwards, landing against the side the elevated platform.

    Lydia got up and ran towards the stricken foe, brushing aside the axe with her shield before impaling another vampire through her chest. It stared up at the Nord with absolute hatred, the blood of countless victims spilling out from every orifice before relaxing into Arkay's arms. Stepping on its face, the warrior pulled her weapon and turned towards the fight between the familiar and the orc.

    The Orc held onto a wooden and leather shield unable to do anything else as the frost atronach repeatedly pounded the thrall. Falling over backwards, the daedra took one final swing and impaled the Orc through his stomach, splitting its spine. The familiar stood back up, it arm coated in thick blood. Her Thane momentarily paused at the bloody mess before continuing on-wards, the housecarl in close pursuit.

    *     *     *     *

    The last enemy to die was a master vampire. He had stood with four others as they were suddenly forced to engage a frost atronach appearing within their circle. The two thralls fiercely defended their masters as the vampires began searching for the conjurer. One died immediately of firebolts and arrow. The other tried to Drain the Nord warrior who responded with fatal bladework. The master vampire resurrected a fallen ally then engaged the warrior, pressing Lydia with fierce attacks of his axe. The resurrected one turned to resurrect another, only to be engulfed in an explosion killing her and one of the thralls. The Aged One kicked at Lydia who tumbled over, exhausted and bleeding. Turning around to survey the scene, the master vampire saw his one remaining ally die as a new conjuration appeared before him. Looking to the Breton, he cursed at her as he defended against the daedra. He resurrected another of his allies but it was too late as he too fell under fire and ice.

    The battle over, Nephili worked on Lydia's injuries as she sat with her upper body exposed. The Nord grimaced against the familiar queasiness. “Thank you... for this. It’s been sometime since... since an adversary got the better of me.”

    Nephili reached out to support the swaying Nord even as she struggled to fight the heady intoxication of so much blood. She concentrated with all her might on the largest injury across the housecarl's stomach. Apart from the injuries themselves, patients sometimes passed out from the healing process itself. They often described magical healing as feeling like their flesh had gained independence and was crawling around their bodies. It was enough for a some to swear that they would never want to feel it again.

    Standing back up, she reviewed her work and finally looked into the Nords eyes and gently smiled. "Thanks are not needed from you. You’ve saved me more times than I can remember.” The housecarl rubbed her wounds, pink seams of flesh still hot and angry, before redawning her armor.

    The young Breton sighed in relief. Good job Nephili.

    . .. ...goood jooob Nephili... .. .


    With Lydia out of danger, Nephili turned to face the center of the room. Haemar’s Shame was indeed a temple to a daedric prince. Before her were four columns carved and stacked out of the surrounding rock. A small, low altar stood to the front and behind it was the idol. Roughly hewn, it was a towering presence in the shape of Clavicus Vile holding aloft his mask, a grotesque visage with two protruding horns. The Breton mage walked over to stand before the altar and gazed up in hope and wonder. She could feel... something. There were no other magic users nearby and no other artifact called to her except for the statue. Goosebumps traveled down her spine. Will my nightmare end? Will I be free...

    Nephili wondered what she had to do to commune with a daedra. A voice spoke from the void.

    Whyyy, just like that, of course.


    Fire clapped through her body. She turned to make eye contact with the housecarl who stood up with sword and shield. "My Thane, while you're here, I'm going to go on ahead and investigate the upper concourse. I can see a passageway and there may be more vampires to kill."

    She blinked in surprise. Am I... hallucinating?

    You're not hallucinating. Speak your miiind for I can hear your thoughts.

    Her heart began to pound in her chest. Last nights meal coursed heavily through her veins. This... this is real isn't it? The, then, please, I have a request!

    By aall means, let's hear it. It's the least I could dooo, since you already helped me grant one final wish for my last worshippers...


    She looked down at the dead bodies. The vampires were supplicants.

    Why yes! They were suffering so from vampirism, and begged me for a cure.


    . .. … ha ha ha ha … .. .

    Her blood quieted as a chill ran down her spine. Silence pressed against her ears. She looked again at the ashen faces of the dead worshippers. They stared back at the young one, their faces no longer the mask of monsters. Each was now a story of death, rigored in horror. Imperials, Nords, Orcs, Altmers, Dunmers, she had burned them all. They were all supposed to be monsters, unthinking, unfeeling and unwilling to grasp at their humanity... selfish, lost in their own bloodlust.

    Her throat was dry.

    ... I... I'm, I'm different... I'm, I'm... I’m not like them. I... wanted my humanity...

    . .. ...not so different... .. .

    She looked again at the idol of the daedric prince. These monsters, they could not have been begging for a cure...

    Oh but they were! But now you came and ended their misery! I couldn't have planned it better myyyself.

    The meal from the night before drained away from her face and limbs. She stood rooted, unwilling to comprehend the truth that lay inside her.

    . .. ...delicious, wasn't he... .. .

    No... this isn't...

    So, what's your heaart's desire? What kind of deeaaal can wee striiike?

    *     *     *     *

    "Evil, I think, is the absence of empathy"


  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  September 28, 2012
    Ok, I have been thinking about this, and I think the Haemar's Shame part could work, but since you are the author, it is always completely up to you.  I think a parallel could be made between Haemar's conversion and Nephili's.  I know that she is stunned ...  more
  • Jake Dassel
    Jake Dassel   ·  September 26, 2012
    Glad to see you posting again, Love the battle scene, Lydia and Nephili seem to have a near flawless synergy together in combat. 
  • Eviltrain
    Eviltrain   ·  September 26, 2012
    @Ricardo - I was struggling to like this this chapter so I was probably grasping to hold onto any aspect I liked. So now the legend is gone.
    In most cases, I wanted my characters to have personalities and history which the in game events do not refu...  more
  • ricardo maia
    ricardo maia   ·  September 26, 2012
    And yet another vampyre subplot in the game added to your tale. There are so many undead plots that you get to understand why nobody fears death in Skyrim - nobody seems to stay dead!
    About the Caller, I've played this quest 4 times with different c...  more
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  September 26, 2012
    I am glad that you included the part from the Caller's perspective.  I feel like you dropped a lot of hints there, but I will not know for certain until the end of the story.  I like vague little ideas that spark in and out like fireflies...that is part o...  more