Friday, June 5, 2015

Oblivion Day 9 - A Familiar Foe

5 Heartfire, 3E433

I had never previously stayed at the Wawnet Inn, but as I was leaving the owner, an Altmer named Nerussa, asked me to return if I found any bottles of a rare vintage she called 'Shadowbanish Wine'. The stuff was made by an alchemist years ago for the Legion and the wine was not only said to be excellent, but also to provide the imbiber with a temporary ability to see in the dark. Obviously useful for the Legion during cold, dark hours on watch. Nerussa said that any surviving bottles would likely be found within the ruined forts that have always dotted the land and should I find any, a handsome reward was waiting. If I ever have the time perhaps I shall search for this wine.

As soon as I stepped out of the inn I felt as though I was in danger of drowning. I have never before experienced such rain as I have today. It started before I left the inn and let up late into the night in time for me to finally write this.
The Imperial City's bridge remained as imposing as ever, but the patrols of guards and the watchful eyes of the archers stationed atop the bridge's towers were absent, further disquiet to a province rapidly losing itself to a war with Oblivion itself.

A Dunmer woman approached me while I was huddling under an awning in the Market distract waiting for the shops to open and trying not to get too wet. She introduced herself as Ralsa Norvalo and apologized for bothering me, but stated that she had been sent by her husband to ask for my help. When I asked what it was they needed help with, she said that she did not know, but that her husband had described the task as one critical to the safety of the entire City. 

The critical business was with an Altmer named Seridur and his group of individuals known as 'The Order of the Virtuous Blood', a vampire-hunting organization that had so far failed to hunt a single vampire. Somehow my deeds in Kvatch followed me to the Imperial City and Seridur had been dispatched Ralsa as soon as he had heard I was in town.

Today was a banner day for the Order: they finally found themselves a vampire in the form of one Roland Jenseric, an Imperial. Seridur said he had been roaming the city at night as he often does on his quest to root out vampirism and heard a scream coming from the gardens near Roland's house. Seridur rushed to the scene to find Roland struggling with a woman he had been previously courting, but Roland's vampiric strength was too much for Seridur, who was overpowered and thrown aside. 

The next part of the story was odd though: Seridur said he then ran away and hid, returning twenty minutes later to find the dead body of the woman with two puncture marks on her neck and Roland no where to be seen. Why would he flee and hide instead of summoning the Watch? As a quasi-ex-watch-khajiit, the story triggered some alarm bells in my mind. Something about the story was off, but I did not yet know what.

My quest, of course, was to find Roland and slay him as the Order's newest and soon-to-be most successful member. Seridur suggested I search Roland's house to see if I could find any clues to point me towards the vampire's hiding place. He also recommended that I speak with the Argonian, Grey-Throat and Ralsa's husband, Gilen, before setting out.

Grey-Throat pointed out that vampires would suffer greatly under the sun and hoisting one out into the day was the only way to be certain someone was infected with the disease. Gilen seemed like he did not want to be bothered, so I did not speak with him.

Roland's door was locked, but it surrendered even to my meager lock-picking ability. Evidently the man lived well, he had a fully stocked bar in his basement with expensive-looking vintages. I found a letter on a table written to him whose flowery script and language suggested a woman deeply enamored with the man. The letter writer longed to visit their cabin in the woods once again and the back of the letter had directions to the place, though written with a different, harsher hand, probably Roland's.

The cabin was close to where the road around the Imperial City forks towards Cheydinhal and seemed like an easy trip, especially via my faithful horse, which has yet to abandon me. The rain started up again just as I mounted my horse and I endured a boring, wet ride to Roland's cabin.
No one answered my knocking at the door, so I opened it and stepped inside, startling an Imperial man that looked to be about middle age. This was the supposed vampire, Roland Jenseric. He rather fearfully demanded that I go away and leave him be, but when I confronted him about being a vampire he laughed and told me that it was Seridur who was the vampire, not him. 

Roland had been successfully courting a young lady named Relfina for some time when she suddenly started taking walks in the City's gardens late at night. Suspicious, Roland followed her one night only to witness Seridur casting a Calm spell over the woman before sinking his teeth into the side of her neck. Enraged, Roland burst out of his hiding place and attacked Seridur, but a man's bare hands are a poor weapon against a vampire and he was knocked down with a single blow, quickly losing consciousness

When he woke his lover's body was gone and he realized he was being set up for the crime. So he fled to the cabin to panic and do nothing useful. At my invitation he stepped outside the cabin and into the somewhat overcast sunlight to no harm at all. Clearly he was not the vampire. He argued that Seridur's "order" was the perfect cover for an actual vampire but that Seridur did leave the city now and again to parts unknown. He suggested that I speak with the owner of the 'First Edition' bookshop where Seridur would occasionally frequent prior to his trips.

So it was back to the Imperial City once again. I fear I shall not have fur on my legs if I am to ride any more than I have today. The rain had turned to a thick fog, a small blessing that I was grateful for as my horse and I galloped around the bay to a small bridge just south of the ruins of old Fort Empire which led to the City.
The bookshop's owner, Phintias, freely told me that Seridur regularly frequented his shop in the evening, always with a large satchel full of food for his regular trip to Memorial Cave. I had not heard of this cave before, but Phintias explained that it was a natural cave just outside the City that used to be a place of internment for fallen soldiers. Curious, he had looked it up in an old atlas of his and was able to mark its location on my own map across the bay directly east of the Arcane University. Very helpful of him.

If I had any doubts as to whether I was on the right track, the hanging corpse just inside the cave dispelled them. Vampires are normally a subtle collection of creatures, but when they decide to let go, they really enjoy embracing their new "lives", I suppose.
Memorial Cave was swarming with vampires, but aside from Seridur they were all weak, possibly new. Shots from my bow would physically drop them, allowing me to safely rush forwards and land a dispatching blow from silvered blade.

When I found Seridur he seemed annoyed, saying that he knew it had been a mistake to bring me into his Order, which genuinely existed to find vampires, only not to kill. He said that it was his plan to lure me to Memorial Cave so that it would be easier to hide my body and that he deplored loose ends, intending of course to kill Roland, but also the other members of the Order. Having said that, he attacked with unnatural speed.

But not skill. The man was a vampire, but only his comrades had been warriors. A strong parry of his blade sent him reeling and I followed through by impaling him on my blade, killing him instantly, as is my way. With Seridur dead, I had only to inform Roland of his sudden change in fortune before returning to the Imperial City.

But by then it was late into the night when I left the cave, but when I arrived at the cabin the sky was as bright as day...and red. A gate to Oblivion had opened up just over the hill from Roland and the man had wisely locked his door, refusing my entry until the gate was closed. Evidently news my talent for descending into Oblivion and coming back alive somehow made it into Roland's cabin in the woods.
So I now am readying myself to step into Oblivion once again, but that will be for the next day's entry, for it is early in the morning already and I need to find some place to rest for a few hours.

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