Bleeding Sun - Chapter 5: Good Intentions

  • Her muscles ached like crazy, all but burning from fatigue. Frantic voices screamed at her mind, urging her to run for the hills and get away from the unmoving vampire lord in front of him. But Sorine refused to budge, obliviously ignoring her survival instinct and the muffled whines Adam was emitting against her chest. Cato stood about ten feet away from her, still as a statue and watching her with subdued surprise. She in turn stared back at him, unable to put into words the mixture of bewilderment, desperation and pain she was feeling.

    A tense silence rang throughout the room. He was the first to break it. “You’re hurt.” It was a marvelous observation. No less than ten knives were lodged in her, one of them dangerously close to her heart. He had obviously been fighting to kill. So why show concern now, of all times? What changed? Before she could put those questions into words, her legs finally gave way and she collapsed, but the vampire caught her mid-fall, practically teleporting to where she had been standing. He really is that fast. With Sorine in his grasp, he led her towards the refuge. He lay her down gingerly upon a mat, placing Adam right beside her. The baby seemed to be alright and knowing that made her ordeal that much easier to bear. Though the pain was nigh unbearable, her eyes didn’t waver in the slightest, scanning his face for signs of ill intent. She found none. The vampire’s features, though predominantly plain and lethargic, still held a sliver of genuine concern, most evident in his blood-red eyes.

    Sorine almost could’ve mistaken that concern for guilt.

     Cato begun to remove the daggers lodged into her body. She was shocked at how deep they had stabbed into her, even though most of the impacts had been absorbed by the respectably hardy Dawnguard armor. Either the blades were sharp as fuck, or he had thrown them at an extreme velocity.

    After he had finished taking out the last of the knives, he then held a pale hand over her body and murmured something under his breath and, to her shock, a red aura connected the two. A subtle heartbeat resonated in her ears. Vampiric Drain! Out of pure instinct, the Breton struck at the vampire hovering above her with her clenched fist, but Cato managed to catch it mere inches from his face. He gazed at her with those macabre eyes, red meeting blue. His expression was still an impenetrable, unassailable, infuriating calm.

    “What are you trying to pull, vampire?” she asked through gritted teeth.

    “Restoring your health,” he replied. At first, the information confused her as that wasn’t how the spell worked, last time she was affected by it, but as her anger faded, she noticed the pain all throughout her body fade, color returning to her skin. Conversely, she also saw Cato grow paler and paler with every second he sustained the spell. He clenched his free palm, ending the spell and, strangely enough, his skin returned to its ‘normal’ paleness in a few seconds.

    “Now do you believe me?” he asked, the question edged with a pained venom. It was hard to grasp, but he appeared to be hurt by her distrust of him. Cato rose and shuffled towards the corpses. Once he was far enough away from her, Sorine grabbed Adam and pulled him close. The infant’s whine lessened as he was surrounded by her familiar warmth, but he was still shivering from the cold. So was she, but not from the cold of the room. Something in her heart made her body tremble uncontrollably.


    She was loath to admit it, but she was afraid. Of him. Sorine had been pitted against a number of vampire lords in her day and she knew what to expect in them. Most tended to be power-crazed, arrogant and smart-asses. Even Serana, the closest to a friendly vampire to her until now, had been a small exception. Cato was something else altogether. He only seemed unfeeling, but she knew that beneath that expressionless exterior lied a plethora of emotions. And it made him more alive. More…human.

    And that scared her.

    Looking at the being that managed to invoke fear in her, she saw that he was tediously placing each and every one of the corpses into empty coffins, as if to assure a proper and peaceful passing. The act was laudable. Vampires weren’t supposed to do laudable things, damn it!

    Minutes upon minutes passed. Adam eventually found comfort and ceased his whining. Cato had long finished ‘disposing’ of the bodies and had taken to sitting silently opposite her, unmoving and tranquil. Almost meditating. Sorine still couldn’t believe how young he looked. From what she heard, he died 50 years ago at the age of 25, only 4 years younger than her now, but the kind of face he bore made him appear barely 20. To think that one such as him had been a soldier, an assassin, since long before his death. He lived in a High Rock rife with turmoil, deceit and bloodshed. The horrors he must have been exposed to…

    No wonder he always looks depressed. Suddenly, she felt more than guilty for her earlier reactions to his ill-perceived kindness. She owed him an apology. Mentally, she repeated that statement. I owe a vampire an apology. A loud sigh of frustration escaped her lips. This kind of dilemma was the absolute last thing she needed. Sorine let go of the now sleeping Adam, placing him beside her. Then she just lay there in fetal position, wondering what she had ever done to deserve this mess.


    Twenty-seven days, thirteen hours and seven minutes before Harkon achieved his victory, Sorine and her second division had succeeded in destroying the Bloodspring and, consequently, the skooma den above it. A crucial part of the operation was Fultheim, one of Arngeir’s most recent disciples of the Way of the Voice since the Greybeards opened High Hrothgar to aspirants following Alduin’s downfall. No one could deny that the Thu’um was a fearsome power, but who knew that three words was all it took to bring down an entire underground cave system? They’d sent off a messenger hawk to report the essentials back to HQ and they had been quick in responding. No small feat for combating the Volkihar resurgence had the Dawnguard in full force. Between recruitment, fending off vampire attacks and getting support from various benefactors, mostly jarls and easily-swayed bands of brigands, their forces were spread far too thin. But they were doing just fine. Harkon publicly declaring all-out war on them had a hand in that. After all, the threat of another province-wide bloodbath made for a rug that truly brought the room together.

    Having been ordered to return to Fort Dawnguard immediately, they arrived to be greeted by members of the recovering first division who had previously been busy fending off a Volkihar assault on the Fort, aided by the Dragonborn himself, Viktor. The skirmish had been five minutes of bloodshed, with multiple casualties on both sides, but without his help, the battle could have dragged on for much longer. The group of worn but spirited warriors was all clustered near the forward camp, taking turns in showering a sheepish Viktor with praise and adulation.

    A smirk made way to Sorine’s lips at the sight of the sounds of admiration and his weak attempts at modesty.  She was sitting in one of the refugee’s tents, taking a moment’s respite as Isran conversed with an envoy from the Jarl of Morthal. She didn’t know exactly what they were discussing, but their voices held a positive undertone. He entered a few moments later, accompanied by Viktor and the noise of the troops trailing after him. The flap fell closed and the voices died down to a lull, carrying a confidence that betrayed their current, disarrayed state.

    “Jarl Idgrod has just given us an update on their situations,” the steadfast Redguard stated. “Her troops are finding commendable success in Hjaalmarch and surrounding areas. The group of soldiers led by Celann succeeded in seeking out the notorious Movarth Piquine and gave him and his coven the destruction it deserved.” Isran remained impassive, but Sorine knew him far better than most. The calmness in his face and his relaxed stance clearly showed his relief, as well as pride, in Celann’s triumph over one of the most well-known vampires in history. “With him gone, a few of his thralls have broken free from his control,” he continued. “I’ve now tasked Celann with interrogating them to see if Movarth’s little conspiracy was a personal ambition or a plot connected to the Volkihar.”

    Viktor made a small grunt of approval. “This is wonderful and all, but I can guarantee that he’s going to start bragging about it the moment he gets here.” Sorine chuckled knowingly. Celann, like most Bretons, was profoundly full of himself. It didn’t make him any less of a vampire hunter, but damn if it didn’t annoy her sometimes.

    “So, you two have anything else to report?” she inquired. They were on to a fantastic streak this past week and gods knew that everyone here would benefit from good news. She wildly assumed that it would come from Viktor, what with him already claiming a victorious defense.

    So both she and Isran were taken aback by the tense look that loomed over his face. He seemed to be anxious about something.

    “You got something on your mind, Viktor?” she prompted.

    The Dragonborn’s lips thinned into a grim line “Before I arrived here, I was with Serana at an Ancestor Glade in Falkreath, a secluded grove where one could divine and decipher an Elder Scroll with the aid of Ancestor Moths. There, we were…intercepted by an Impurity. One who doesn’t fit any of the descriptions in our intel.” Sweat formed in her brow. The Breton had read intel concerning them, Harkon’s personal special force of vampire lords. It was estimated that one Impurity had the capabilities equaling that of two hundred Dawnguard soldiers. They were no force to be underestimated and Isran had made that fact clear to everyone. She thought that was all, but what he said next caught them both by surprise. “He is not an enemy.”

    Isran scoffed in disbelief. “Not an enemy, you say? I find that hard to believe. The bond of loyalty formed by the Impure Blood Reincarnation ritual is unbreakable. And Serana aside, since when did vampires become allies of vampire hunters? It’s improbable.”

    “You weren’t there, Isran, so let me finish!” Viktor retorted. The two looked ready to start a heated debate until Sorine intervened.

    “Isran, be a good listener. Now isn’t the time to discuss the mechanics of a ritual we know next to nothing about. Viktor, tell us more about this Impurity. As of now, you are the only one who has encountered an Impurity and lived.”

    The Nord looked at them both, voice now calmly solemn. It was polarizing to hear him talk in this manner. “At first, he came at me with full strength. He was fast, faster than even my Elemental Fury swipes. The bastard could dispatch Serana without even having to draw a weapon. He managed to push me into a corner and then…” he paused to take a breath.

    “Then he did something to my mind. Illusion, no doubt. Before I knew it, I unleashed a Shout at him. One called Bend Will. I have no idea how he came to do that, but because of it, he stopped fighting completely. In all respects, he became…friendly.” He paused to take a deep breath. Everything about him clearly showed the impact the encounter had on him.

    “I don’t care if you believe me or not,” he continued. “But he actually had a chat with me. Introduced himself as Cato of the Flash Step, which explained his-,” Now it was Sorine’s turn to be struck with disbelief. 

    “Cato of the Flash Step? Impossible, he’s been dead for fifty years!” The Breton was especially shocked because the fact that such a legendary figure had been among the Volkihar was grave news indeed. There wasn’t a soul in High Rock who didn’t know Cato of the Flash Step. A martyr to some, a traitor and murderer to most, he was a man shrouded in myths and tall tales. He was notorious for being a cold-blooded assassin who made an attempt to take the then-Emperor’s life. It took no less than a hundred capable Penitus Oculatus agents- the Emperor’s personal task force and guardians- to slay him. With his death, countless stories had been spun concerning his abilities and reputation. Some even believed Cato was still alive, cheating death with dark magic.

    Apparently, they were right.

    Viktor shrugged casually in response. “I don’t care if you believe me, but that’s the truth. From what I can gather, he retained a shred of humanity even though he’s been subject to….you know what. Maybe that’s why he compelled me to Bend his Will. So that he could-”

    “Break free from Harkon’s control,” she finished. “Viktor, this is a major development, where is he now?”

    The mighty Dragonborn flustered. “Uhh…I-I’m not really supposed to tell anyone that,” he sheepishly said. “But he has a plan. Cato’s going to help us from behind the scenes. Misdirection and sabotage sort of things. I trust him, that’s for sure,” he declared, beaming a proud and almost defiant smile, one that mirrored on her own lips. Isran shot glances at them both and sighed in defeat.

    “I suppose if you trust him, anyone can trust him, myself included.”    


    “How did you make it?” Cato’s demure baritone snapped her back to life. He was seated beside her, hugging his knees.

    “E-Excuse me?”

    “How did you survive? The purge,” he clarified. Of course he would ask that.

    Sorine sat up, her face meeting his.“It was…mostly luck, I suppose. I was stuck beneath rubble before they could put an end to me.” Cato nodded in response. “And him?” he gestured towards Adam. “Is he yours?”

    The offhand manner of the question almost made her laugh. “No, I found him abandoned in a farmhouse. It’s sad, really. He should’ve died with his parents. He shouldn’t have to live a life like this.”

    He made no reply, but she could see he was troubled by her statement. The man stood and walked towards her rucksack, lying neglected next to the medical supplies. “A wise man once said that the seeds of an apple are worth no less than the tree from which the fruit came. One life is worth no less than life itself.” His profound words took her by surprise. He moved back to sit next to her again and took a haunch of salted meat from the bag, which he held out to her. “It was true then, it is still true now. Even more so, in fact.” An awkward silence ensued.

    “Eat,” he said.

    She grabbed the meat from him, a bit too roughly, and took rushed bites from it. She was tired and hungry, no other words for it. Him watching her while she ate furiously so was more than uncomfortable, but she didn’t care.  As if taking the tacit hint, Cato inched away and took to examining the infant serenely resting.

    “Does he have a name?” he asked.

    “I just call him Adam,” she replied between bites. Before long, she was finished. Not quite full, but sated for the time being. “It’s what I would’ve named my child eventually. So I gave it to him instead.”

    The vampire lord’s lips parted as if to speak further, but before words could form, fast-approaching footsteps came into earshot. Both of them stiffened in shock. Even Adam seemed to stir. Sorine immediately pulled the baby into her grasp. Her heartbeat jumped. They couldn’t stay here for much longer. Enemy reinforcements were coming, fast. Cato stood and offered her his hand.

    “Follow me.”

    Her mortified expression did nothing to hide her surprise upon hearing those words. Blue orbs were fixated on the dark-cloaked man in a scrutinizing stare. Had she truly heard those words right? A vampire lord was offering to help her in a time of grave need? For the second time in a row?

    “We can’t stay here for much longer,” his demanding voice sharpened by a fraction, echoing her own thoughts.

    Yes, yes I did. She hesitated for just a moment before taking his hand, the other helping him up. As she went to get her crossbow, her legs didn’t seem to comply and as a result, Sorine walked with a slight limp. This did not slip past Cato. “Can you run at all?” The question came across as…naïve to her. She would’ve gladly offered him a snarky retort, but the status quo didn’t exactly leave much time for wordplay, forcing her to reply with a tact nod as she holstered the weapon at her back and adjusted Adam back in his sling. “I hope.”

    His lips curved into a faint smile. “Hope can get you far. Let’s go,” he urged and with that, the two Bretons ran towards the way out. 

    Next time on Bleeding Sun...

    "This lodge has been abandoned long before the purge. It's safe."

    "You can't just keep me in here like some....some prisoner! There are people out there who need help!"

    "I can teach it to you. If you'd like."

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  • Lazy
    Lazy   ·  November 18, 2015
    Naruto's own Itachi Uchiha, an unsung hero with a heart of purity in a world of darkness and bloodshed. What inspired that question? :P
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  November 18, 2015
    That tag is just silly, but part of me really wants to see that happen. What inspired Cato of the Flash Step? 
  • The Wing
    The Wing   ·  November 18, 2015
    Haha, I like the promising tag.  Another awesome chapter!
  • LokaCola
    LokaCola   ·  November 17, 2015
    Great chapter, I'm really curious to see how the alliance (if that is the right word to describe it) between Sorine and Cato are going to pan out.
  • ShyGuyWolf
    ShyGuyWolf   ·  November 17, 2015
    Awesome chapter man, glad Sorine is alright.