Friday, November 11, 2016

Skyrim Day 054 - The Unhappiest Family Reunion

9 Frostfall, 4E201

If I had to choose between Lydia and Serana as my companion, I would be hard pressed to make a decision within the week. Lydia may wear an expression that suggests mucking out stables is preferably to traveling with me, but at least she is quiet about it. Serana complains about getting up too early, starting out too late, the sun being out, the sun not being out, and also refuses to follow me inside anything resembling a cave or a tomb. In favor to Lydia she seemed to enjoy bashing Draugr into pieces.

Due to our relationship we were both eager to be on our way out of Morthal at first light. We left the inn before the sun burned away the morning's cold fog and made our way towards Dragon Bridge. A dog was waiting for us between Morthal and Dragon Bridge, immediately reminding me of Barbas. I nearly slew the dog right then and there, but it ran a ways into the trees, stopped, and looked at us, evidently waiting for us to follow. He led us to a small cabin in which his master lay dead, the man's journal revealing that he left his home to die in solitude of Rockjoint, accompanied only by his dog.
It is ceratinly the oddest suicide I have witnessed, Rockjoint is easily curable at any Temple or alchemist. The dog continued to follow Serana and I until we reached Dragon Bridge, after which it rushed off towards a farm and likely its new home.

A Khajiit caravan was leaving Solitude as we approached, irritating Serana as I stopped to chat and trade with them. After that she was free to direct our path over the hills to a small dock on the coast which faced an imposing, if somewhat foggy and blurry, island castle in the distance.
Naturally it was up to me to man the oars. but once we landed on the island she broke her normal silence to discuss what would happen inside Volkihar Keep. Serana thanked me for accompanying here thus far and announced that she would be staying at the Keep once my business inside was concluded, which was not a surprise. She suggested I say as little as possible inside and rely on her to speak instead. I was not willing to concede to this advice from someone who has barely said anything to me within the last few days, so I shrugged and walked up to the gatehouse.

I was challenged by a haggard-looking guard, but his demeanor changed once he saw who I was with. In a voice I can reasonably described as 'suffused with awe', he babbled about how great it was to have Serana back and welcomed her, and her "friend", to the Keep.
The gate opened and a blast of warm air stinking of death and blood rushed out of it to greet us, causing me to retch. Inside was worse: Bodies lay upon long tables next to blood-filled silver goblets, with the bloody remains of previous feasts scattered about the floor. I was glad to have Serana talking in place of myself for fear of being a poor guest via vomiting all over the hall.

Her father, Lord Harkon, greeted us cordially and demanded to know if Serana still carried his Elder Scroll. If I had not been so nauseous I might have been surprised to hear she had an actual Elder Scroll. The reunion was not a happy one. Serana was obviously annoyed at the Scroll being inquired after before her well-being, but Harkon brushed her concern off with a laugh, instead asking who I was.
Serana introduced me as her "savior" and Lord Harkon explained that his late wife had stolen his "greatest treasure" from him long ago. One could think the treasure was Serana, but was obvious that the treasure is the Elder Scroll, not the daughter. He offered me a reward of dubious value: vampirism, in exchange for my having returned it.

But this was not to be an ordinary exchange of blood. Lord Harkon bade me to behold his true form and with a crackling of magicka transformed himself into what could be described as an incredibly ugly half-giant, half-bat form.
I have no desire to look like I live inside of a child's nightmare so I rejected his offer as politely as I could while mumbling as few words as possible, but he did not take offense. He explained that in gratitude for my service I would be allowed to leave, but would never be welcome in his Keep again. Another crackling of magicka and I found myself back on the castle's jetty, for once glad to be breathing the freezing sea air of Skyrim. I gratefully took a deep breath...then promptly lost my breakfast on the shore. Heroic.

Isran will need to know that Serana's Elder Scroll was the true treasure of Dimhollow Crypt, though I have a feeling that the ancient vampiress still has a part to play in whatever the future brings. My more immediate future after rowing back to the mainland involved a room at Solitude's 'Winking Skeever' inn, but not before I was ambushed by three of the mask-wearing Dragon cultists I met in Whiterun.

Fortunately it was dark by then and they were foolish enough to use fire magicka, making it easy for me to circle around the group and eliminate them one-by-one. Warriors these cultists are not.

I reached Solitude, in solitude, just before midnight and handed over my ten Septims for a room. I need to speak with Isran, but he is on the opposite side of the province. I also should speak with the Greybeards, as well as investigate this Dragon cult that seems to be stalking me. Then there is also the matter of the Dark Brotherhood assassins I seem to be plagued with.

The list goes on and on.

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