Categories > Games > Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion > The Quest For The Ruby Throne: Book One

Chapter 6: Family

by karnag_gro_gornish 0 reviews

Karnag and Serana leave for Morthal to find some answers, and meet up with some friends along the way. But things rarely go according to plans, especially when the kind of dark forces that are in p...

Category: Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion - Rating: R - Genres: Drama,Fantasy - Warnings: [!!!] [V] - Published: 2019-09-20 - 6166 words - Complete

Chapter Six: Family
I laid awake, staring at the ceiling, as Serana slept soundly next to me. The occasional pops of the dying fire overshadowed the sounds of the birds and the insects from outside. I couldn’t sleep, not after the months I’ve been away. Surely not peacefully.
I’ve heard many names, battle fatigue, combat sickness, shell shock, to name a few. But whatever it is, it keeps me awake. Whenever I try to sleep, I see the faces of men I’ll never see again. The best, the brightest, the bravest men the Empire had to offer. So many good men lost, and for what? The traitor Ulfric lies dead but is Skyrim any more whole? Where once there was open rebellion, now there is military occupation.
The rebuilding process will be slow, it always is. But I never thought it would bother me so. It may be age getting to me, but I don’t remember having this much difficulty during the first war, the war against the Dominion.
Maybe it’s because I was fighting foreign invaders with hate in my heart, not the native Nords that also call Skyrim home. I don’t know. By Talos, I’m tired.
But I can forget all of those feelings when I look at Serana. Her smile, her laugh, she brings me back from the brink of self-destruction every day. As I lay here, just feeling her soft breath against my leathery skin is enough to bring me endless comfort. I love her more than anything. I don’t think I can tell her just how important she is to me.
Valerica’s words still resonate within me, how she called me her son. Could she really replace the mother I never got to have? Time will tell, but Serana trusts her more than anyone, and I trust her. I think Valerica will make this house, these houses, rather, homes. Apparently, the citizens of Falkreath helped build the second cottage while I was away. I really should introduce myself in the morning. I barely know these people, but they’ve been so receptive to Serana and I taking up residence, I have to meet them.
But Valerica’s other words haunt me, somewhat. How after being turned, she never conceived again. I guess it makes sense, seeing how dead flesh cannot create life.
But Serana is no longer one of them, she’s cured. Why wouldn’t she be able to conceive? I know it isn’t a problem with blood, I’ve known of many half-Orcs living in Tamriel. But could there be a deeper issue? Something greater than a matter of flesh and blood? I need to make a point to speak to Falion in Morthal. I’ve heard from my fellow Dawnguard members that he is the man to see regarding vampires. Might be able to convince him to join.
I closed my eyes and it was morning. I hate it when that happens. Sleep without rest is a waste of time. The birds sang their morning songs, and slivers of light peeked in through the cracks. I should patch those up, they let in the cold.
I rose first, but Serana remained comatose. I’ll let her sleep. She deserves it. The circles under her eyes tell me she’s been as restless as I have been. Not that we did much in the way of resting last night. It’s been so long, but I hope we didn’t wake Valerica with the sounds of our...activities.
I got up out of bed and stoked the fire. Serana stirred awake. She rolled over and looked at me and smiled. “Good morning, my love,” she said. “How did you sleep?”
“Like a stone, darling.” I dislike lying, but I didn’t want her to be concerned. “And you?”
“The same. I’m so glad you’re home.” She got up out of bed and sat down, cross legged beside me on the floor. “What happened out there? You’ve barely spoken about it.”
“It was war, my love,” I said as the smile left my face. “And war, war never changes. I fear that the blood of the men lost will stain the Skyrim soil for a long, long time.”
“No more blood, Karnag. No more blood has to be shed. Ulfric is dead, and the Empire will restore order.”
“I hope so.”
There was a knock at the door, and we threw on some clothes. It was another courier. “Karnag gro-Gornish?”
“Aye. What can I do for you, lad?”
“Letter and gold from His Eminence, sir!”
“The Emperor?”
“Yes sir. Paid me handsomely to get it to you all the way from Cyrodiil.”
“Much appreciated.” I took a couple of Septims from the leather pouch. “Here, for your trouble. Safe travels.”
“Thank you, sir! Long live the Emperor!” I shut the door and opened the letter. “What does it say, Karnag?” I looked it over quickly. “It says, ‘Legate gro-Gornish, in recognition of your service above and beyond the call of duty in bringing the rebellion in Skyrim to an end, I hereby award you a sum of five thousand gold Septims.’” Serana and I stared at each other, wide-eyed in disbelief. “‘You have served the Empire well, and have secured the future of Tamriel. With Skyrim firmly under Imperial control, we may one day be strong enough to push back against the Aldmeri Dominion and restore the Empire of Tiber Septim. Once again, I give you my deepest gratitude for your faithful service. Your humble ruler, Emperor Titus Mede II.’ Five thousand Septims, by the Nine, this is great!”
“What should we do with it?”
“Well, the house could use some improvements. I’m thinking of an addition. A proper great hall and kitchen. Maybe an armory.”
“And space for a little one!” Serana said with a grin. I smiled back at her. “Absolutely. I actually wanted to talk to you about that…” The smile left her face. “Oh Karnag, don’t. Please. I’m sure we just need to try harder.”
“I’m making a trip to Morthal to speak to Falion, the mage. I’ve heard he’s the expert on vampires.”
“Don’t say it. Please. I want to leave that part of my past in the past.”
“I just want to find some answers, Serana. I want to be sure.”
“Then I’m coming with you.”
“There’s no need-”
“I won’t take no for an answer, Karnag. I want some damn answers too.”
“Are you sure?”
“As sure as I’ve ever been.”
“It’s settled then. We ride for Morthal.”
We packed our traveling gear and got ready to leave. Valerica wished us off, with a stern, “Take good care of her, young man.”
“Young man?” I said indignantly, “I’ve walked Tamriel for forty-three winters. I’m no young man.”
“And I have for over four thousand. You’re just getting started. Now, for the love of Sithis, be careful. The roads are still dangerous.”
“We will, Valerica. I promise.”
Serana had saddled my horse, but turned to me and said, “Karnag, are you getting on or what?”
“Not exactly.” I raised my right hand and made a fist. As I unclenched it, I focused my energy into a single thought: I called out to the depths of Oblivion, to summon my undead steed, Arvak. I spread my palm in front of me, and in a flash of blue light, Arvak materialized in front of me. His blue-tinged bones gleamed in the morning sun, reflecting the cerulean flames that leapt from his joints. He whinnied, and I mounted the infernal beast. “Now we have two,” I said, with a certain amount of bravado. “Where in Oblivion did you learn to do that?”
“I met a wayward soul in the Soul Cairn, he taught me how. He was a brave battle steed in life, and serves me so in death.” My horse that became mine after my service to the Legion, which Serana was riding, didn’t seem to mind Arvak. And so, we headed north to Whiterun, then onwards to Morthal.
The trip to Whiterun was fairly uneventful. We stopped in Riverwood for some breakfast at the Sleeping Giant. Orgnar has taken good care of the place since Delphine left to become Grandmaster of the new Blades order. I really do need to stop by one of these days. She was rather upset that I refused to kill Paarthurnax, but it felt wrong, after all he did to help me defeat Alduin, even if he is a dragon. But I didn’t dwell on it long, because we set out for Whiterun as soon as we were done. It felt strange being back in Riverwood after all the time that’s passed.
The road to Whiterun was clear, and the sun filtered through the trees almost like starlight. The city stood resolute on the plains, dominating the landscape. As we made the turn for Morthal, we spotted two familiar riders on the road. It was Lyanna and Farkas, heading the same direction as we were. I hailed to them, and they held back as we caught up to them. “Hello there, stranger,” I joked, “Nice to see you again!”
“Likewise, Karnag. Would I be correct in assuming this to be that wife you were going on about?”
“Indeed. Serana, meet Lyanna and Farkas. Friends of mine.”
“Very nice to meet you both!”
“Haven’t seen you in a while, Karnag,” Farkas said, “What have you been up to?”
“Well,” I said, “many things. Slayed an immortal dragon, toppled a clan of vampires, ended a civil war. Not much.” Our party laughed at my casual attitude towards my deeds. I try not to claim too much credit for my accomplishments. “What brings you two out our way?”
“Well, we’re on the way to Morthal. Companions business, at the request of the Jarl. They seem to have something of a vampire problem.”
“That so? We’re going to Morthal as well. We need to see a man there. Personal business.”
“You mentioned toppling a vampire clan? Would the two of you be willing to lend a hand?”
“Sounds good to me.”
“Excellent. Those vampires won’t know what hit them.”
The road was quiet on the way to Morthal. Lyanna and Serana got to know each other and discussed magical theory as Farkas and I caught up. It had been quite some time since the death of Kodlak Whitemane, and I had no desire to go back to the Companions after that. There had been a change in the air in Jorrvaskr, and I wanted no part of it. But Farkas was still my shield-brother, and a dear friend.
We crested a hill, and saw the town in the valley below. We rode to the edge of town and dismounted our horses. Farkas and Lyanna left to attend to their business with the Jarl, and Serana and I found a guard to ask nearby. “Excuse me, friend. We’re looking for a man named Falion. Do you know where we could find him?” The guard recoiled at the mentioning of his name. “Yeah. He’s in the second house on the right, down that way.” He gestured to the east, and somewhat sneered at us. “Something wrong?” I asked.
“That Falion’s a weird little man. Only daedra worshipers go to see him.”
“Trust me, we’re no daedra worshipers. Just looking for some information.”
“Yeah. That’s what they all say…” The guard turned and walked away before I could say anymore.
We made our way to the small house on the waterfront, and I knocked on the door. It opened just a crack. “Who are you?” an old man barked, “What do you want?”
“My name is Karnag, I’m looking for Falion. Does he live here?”
“What’s it to you?”
“My wife and I are in need of his assistance.”
“He isn’t home.” The door slammed in my face. “Please, sir!” I shouted through the door. “I’m with the Dawnguard!”
The shuffling on the other side of the door stopped, and there was silence for a moment. The door creaked open a little. “The Dawnguard?” he asked, his voice brightening up a bit. “That’s different then. Please, come in.” The door opened fully, and the old man beckoned us inside.
The fire crackled away in the hearth, casting long shadows in the small house. “Now, what can Falion do for the Dawnguard?” the old man asked, as he took a seat next to the fire. “I hear that you’re the expert on vampires and vampire physiology.”
“An astute observation, and not an undue one. What answers do you seek, vampire hunter?”
“It’s my wife, Serana. She used to be a vampire.” His eyes flicked to her for a moment, then darted back to mine. “I can see that. Tell me, child, how did you loose yourself of that foul curse?” Serana took a deep breath, and said, “I am- was, a Daughter of Coldharbour,” the old man’s eyes widened at her words, “and I was cleansed by ancient Elven magic. I now humbly serve Auri-el, in thanks for his blessing.” Falion stood up and studied her. “Remarkable. Simply remarkable! I’ve never seen a more flawless transformation. To be honest, it took me a moment to figure it out. But my curiosity aside, what do you wish to know from me?”
“Well, my husband and I want to start a family. But I fear that I may be...barren. My mother, Valerica, was never able to conceive again. I suspect I may have the same condition.” The old man stopped for a moment, looking pensive. A look came across his face, as if suddenly enlightened. “It’s hard to say. If I may ask, were you part of a clan of vampires?”
“Yes, I was,” Serana said, with a tinge of sorrow in her voice. “We were known as the Volkihar clan.” Falion immediately went white as an ice wraith at the utterance of the word. “Oh. Oh my.” He turned away from us. “I’m afraid there is little I can do to help you. I know the Volkihar clan well. They tried to kill me more than once. Are you saying they are no more?”
“As far as I know. My father, Harkon, has been eradicated. The others of the clan were killed by the Dawnguard. Only my mother remains.”
“I see. I won’t lie, I am glad to hear they are gone. But I digress. That strong of binding to the will of Molag Bal changes the body. Even after the soul has been cleansed, you will never again be completely alive.” I watched tears begin to well in Serana’s eyes. “I’m sorry, my dear. I wish I could say otherwise.” She took my hand, and I turned to face her. She threw herself into my arms, and for the first time, I felt her sob into my shoulder. I placed my hand on her head and held her close to me. The sorrow inside her was chilling to me. I thanked Falion for his hospitality, and we left. Serana wiped the tears from her eyes as we walked up the waterfront to the Jarl’s longhouse.
Lyanna and Farkas met us just as they were leaving. “Well, any good news?” Lyanna asked. Serana breathed a deep sigh, and she knew that the answer was no. “We’ll just have to try something else,” I said, trying to comfort her. “We can’t lose hope, my love.” Serana smiled a half smile, but kept her eyes to the ground. Changing the subject, I turned to Farkas. “Well, what’s the situation here?”
“The Jarl tells us that there has been a string of vampire attacks around here in recent weeks. A young girl was killed in a house fire, as well. The Jarl thinks them to be connected in some way, but the guards are all too frightened to investigate.”
“Well, let’s see what we can dig up.” Lyanna took Serana to the inn, so they could speak, and have a drink. Farkas and I made for the burnt down house, across the way. Walking inside, I felt a chill, and almost a whisper. I looked around and found nothing to indicate that vampires had anything to do with the fire. But as I was leaving, I heard a small voice behind me say, “Mister, can you help me?” I whipped around but saw nothing. My skin began to crawl, was I imagining things?
I turned to leave again, but as I did, a pale blue shadow of a little girl blocked my way. “Please mister, can you help?” she asked again. I won’t lie, I was a bit startled. But the fear subsided into curiosity. I crouched down, and asked her, “Hey there, little one. What’s your name?” She hesitated for a moment, I have to guess she was just as afraid of me as I was of her. “H-Helgi,” she said, “My name is Helgi.”
“Nice to meet you, Helgi. My name is Karnag. Where are your parents?”
“They’re, they’re dead. Alva killed them.”
“Alva? Who is Alva?”
“She’s a mean lady that lives in a cave north of here. She tried to take my papa, but mama fought her off. So she burned down the house! It was so hot, I couldn’t breathe. Then everything went cold…” I looked to Farkas. “The Jarl was right. We have to find these vampires before they kill again.” I looked back to Helgi, “You’re very brave, little one. Do you think you could take us to the cave?”
“I think so. But I’m scared, Mr. Karnag.”
“Don’t be afraid, little one. You have nothing to fear anymore. Trust me. My friends and I are going to get rid of the vampires.”
“Really? Oh, thank you! Papa would like you.” The ghost child grabbed my hand. Her grip was as cold as ice, but I didn’t mind. I asked Farkas to get Lyanna and Serana, we had vampires to hunt.
As dusk approached, the five of us set out north from the town. We walked a fair bit, all the while, Helgi and Serana held conversation. Serana seemed to really get attached to the girl. I can’t say that I blame her. She has a mother’s instinct. One of the things that made me fall in love with her. We approached the cave, and Helgi stopped mid-sentence. “Is this it, little one?” I asked her. “This is it,” she replied with a shudder. I crouched down again. “You’ve been very brave, Helgi. Thank you for bringing us here. You can rest now.”
“Rest? What do you mean?”
“You don’t have to stay here anymore. You can head into the light. Be at peace, little one.”
“I can’t. I don’t see any light.” I was unsure how to respond. I always thought ghosts were destined to cross over into some light or something, once their business on this plane was finished. “Maybe not yet. I tell you what, stay here. We’ll be back soon.”
“No! Please! Don’t leave me alone! I don’t want to be alone anymore!” Serana put her hand on my shoulder. “She’ll be fine, Karnag.”
“Are you sure?” She knelt down beside me, and said, “You can come live with us, if you want, Helgi.”
“Really? Oh, thank you so much! I promise I won’t get in the way!” My old heart softened just a little bit, as this little girl, this little ghost girl, was so excited. I suppose there was no harm in it. “Now Helgi, just stay behind us, okay? We’re going to kill these vampires. Then we can go home.”
“Okay, miss- I mean, mama. I’ll stay here until you get back. I promise.”
“Now, let's get down to business,” I said as we made our way into the cave. I handed Dawnbreaker, my favorite sword to Serana, and I took out my crossbow. Lyanna unsheathed her sterling silver sword, a family heirloom from Markarth. And Farkas drew the battle-axe Wuuthrad from his back, the blade of Ysgramor himself. “I’ll take point. Lyanna, Serana, get behind me. Farkas, cover our rear. Let’s make this clean.” We crept through the cave, and I took out a sentry with a bolt to the chest. The dead thrall dropped silently, dead before he hit the ground. We went through several tunnels, as quietly as possible. But at the end we came to a large open chamber with several vampires at a long table, dripping with blood. Not the first time I had seen it, but it never ceased to make my stomach turn. I took a bottle of a special poison I had made up by Florentius back at Fort Dawnguard, specially designed for vampires. I dipped the tip of a handful of my bolts in it, and used the rest of it to coat the blades of my comrades. “Get ready. They outnumber us two to one,” I whispered, “But I’ll bet my last Septim that the leader is the one at the head of the table. If I get him, the rest should fall easily.” I got my crossbow ready, and took an extra couple of seconds to compose my shot. I aimed right at his heart. I took a breath, and as I exhaled, I fired. The bolt tore through the air, but as fast as lightning, the master vampire plucked it out of the air. I was dumbstruck. “You’ll have to do better than that, Dawnguard!” the creature bellowed. The other vampires drew their weapons, and the only thing that came to mind was to shout, “Charge!” And the four of us ran into the chamber, blades at the ready. I summoned up a Shout, “Tiid klo ul!” and immediately, time began to slow down, as if reality itself was freezing. I took advantage of the few seconds, and with some carefully aimed shots, took down three of the vampires. But time quickly reverted to normal, and the fight continued. Serana cut through one of the fledglings with Dawnbreaker, it’s holy light burning the undead flesh. Lyanna cut through another, the silver of her blade shining bright red with the blood of its foe, while Farkas drove Wuuthrad through the skull of another. Now, only one remained, the master vampire. He stood at the head of the table, laughing. “You think you can honestly defeat me? I am Movarth Piquine, none can stand against me!”
“Surrender, foul beast! You cannot win against all of us!”
“Yes, yes. Always the noble vampire hunter. I was once like you. But those days are long behind me!” He lunged, faster than I’d ever seen, at Lyanna and sunk his fangs into her neck. She shrieked in agony, and thrust her sword through his belly as she fell to the ground. In as many seconds, Serana drove Dawnbreaker through his heart and Farkas swung for his neck, cutting the head off the beast.
Lyanna clutched her neck, in pain. The bleeding was profuse, and she had already lost a lot of blood. I tore a strip of cloth from the tunic of one of the dead vampires and pressed it against her neck. “Hold pressure on it, Lyanna! You’re going to be okay, hold it there!” I could see the anguish in her eyes, and the fear. Not of death, no. All Nords welcome an honorable death. She was afraid of undeath, the living nightmare that would come soon. I felt her fear.
But I wasn’t going to let that happen. “Alright, we need to get her to Morthal now. Serana, take Helgi, get Lami, the alchemist, maybe she can help. Farkas, help me carry her to Falion. Let’s go!” Serana ran back out of the cave, and Farkas grabbed her left arm and I took her right. Her body was almost limp, she was so weak from the blood loss. “Keep pressure on that bandage! That puncture went deep.” She was conscious, but only just. The two of us carried her as fast as we could out of there.
As we approached the town, Serana and Helgi brought Lami in tow. She handed me a bottle of salve to help stop the bleeding. Farkas and I set her down. “Okay, Lyanna, stay with me here! This is going to burn like Oblivion.” She nodded her head in silent acceptance, and shrieked again in pain as I dropped the salve onto the wound. Immediately, the blood began to clot, and the bleeding slowed to a stop.
Farkas stood and said to Lami, “Thank you, divines bless you, Lami. How much do I owe-” She cut him off there, “No, Farkas. I don’t need your gold. Just get her somewhere safe.”
We picked her up again, as her strength came back somewhat. We approached Falion’s house again, and Serana knocked hard on the door. “Mr. Falion open up please, it’s an emergency!” The door swung wide open and he beckoned us inside once more. We sat Lyanna down next to the fire, and Falion grabbed a blanket to keep her warm. “What happened here? What’s going on?” He stammered, confused. “She was bitten. Can you stop it?”
“I can try. I’ll need a filled common soul gem.” Farkas dug around in his satchel and produced one. Falion waved the gem around the bite wound, and the gem glowed. He looked confused, and turned to me and said, “Do you know the name of the vampire?”
“He called himself Movarth. He’s dead now.”
“Movarth? By the Eight, Movarth Piquine? Oh dear.”
“What is it?”
“Movarth is- was, a very powerful vampire. We’re too late. The disease will have to run its course.”
“But isn’t there-”
“I’m sorry. Even I can only do so much. We’ll have to wait until dawn.”
“But by then she’ll have turned!”
“I know. The infection has already progressed too far to cure. She’ll have to turn and be cleansed.” Lyanna picked her head up off of her chest, and in a weak voice, whispered to Farkas, “My love, don’t let me die. Please.” Farkas got down on his knees and grasped her hands. “You’re going to be alright, my love. I promise. Just rest now.” She shut her eyes, and I could tell Farkas was just as scared as the rest of us. “Are you sure there isn’t anything else we can do for her?” He asked Falion, with tears welling in his eyes. “All we can do now is wait, Farkas. In the meantime, take this,” he went to a shelf, and took a black soul gem from a sack. “You’ll need to fill this. It’s not my business how. We’ll need to trade a soul for hers from the Ideal Masters. Go get a soul, and we’ll cleanse her.”
“I’ll do it,” I said to Farkas. “Give me the gem. Stay here with Lyanna. She needs you.” I took the gem from Falion. “I won’t be gone long. I know a bandit hideout around here.”
Serana and I left the cabin, and made our way west, towards an old Nordic ruin. Bandits come a Septim a dozen, no one will miss one.
The stones rose up out of the ground as we got closer. I could see one bandit, all alone, guarding the entrance. I looked at Serana, and gestured towards him. She snapped her fingers, and a violet bolt of energy shot through the night air towards him. Before he had time to notice, I drew my crossbow and fired a bolt through his heart. In another moment, a sound like fire burst from his now lifeless body and a stream of light flew towards the gem, his soul trapped inside. Silently, we walked back east, leaving the other bandits to wonder.
Dawn broke the next morning, and the six of us made for the summoning circle just outside of town. Lyanna leaned against Farkas, her strength somewhat returned. The two of then stood in the middle of the circle, and I handed the gem to Falion. He placed it on the stone dais at her feet, and stood back. “I call upon Oblivion Realms, the home of those who are not our ancestors. Answer my plea! As in death there is new life, in Oblivion there is a beginning for that which has ended. I call forth that power! Accept the soul that we offer! As the sun ends the night, end the darkness of this soul, return life to the creature you see before you!” The gem shuddered on the ground, but did not shatter. “Wait, something is wrong. It didn’t work! It always works!” Just as Farkas was about to lose his temper, Serana intervened. “There is another way. We’ll need to head north, though.”
“What other way?”
“The same way I was cured. We need to see Knight Paladin Gelebor at the Chantry of Auri-el.”
We bid our farewells to Falion, and once back in town, we saddled our horses. As the sun rose, I could tell Lyanna was in pain. Serana handed her a hood to cover her head with. “It makes it better. Trust me. I’ve been there.” Lyanna pulled the hood over her head and breathed a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Serana. But how can Gelebor help us if Falion couldn’t?”
“Because Gelebor has something that Falion doesn’t; Snow Elf magic. An ancient and pure kind, untainted by the daedra. He cured me, and I have no doubt he can do the same for you.”
By mid-day we reached Darkfall Cave. I remembered the passage well. It wasn’t too long ago when Serana and I walked this path, searching for Auri-el’s Bow. We arrived at the wayshrine, and I ushered them through. We arrived at the Sanctum balcony instantly. Gelebor greeted us there. “Good to see you again, my friends. And who might they be?” I shook Gelebor’s hand, and turned to introduce the others. “This is Lyanna and Farkas, and over here is little Helgi. She’s staying with us until we can help her cross over. Friends, this is Knight Paladin Gelebor, the last of the Snow Elves.” Farkas took Gelebor’s hand. “An actual Falmer, how about that!”
“I prefer the term ‘Snow Elf,’ if you don’t mind. The word ‘Falmer’ has taken on a different meaning these days, I’m afraid.”
“Sorry friend, didn’t mean to offend.”
“Think nothing of it. So, what brings you all here today?” I turned back to Gelebor. “We need your help, my friend. Lyanna here has been infected by a very powerful vampire, and Falion in Morthal couldn’t cure her. Please, Gelebor. You’re our only hope.”
“I see, I see. Let’s not waste any time.”
Gelebor took Lyanna by the hand and led her to the shrine of Auri-el. “This will not be a quick, nor easy ritual. You must fully devote yourself to Auri-el if you are to succeed. Are you willing?”
“I will do whatever it takes, Gelebor. Anything.”
“Very well. First, you must make a prayer to Auri-el, beseech his ear so that he may hear our prayers.” Lyanna knelt before the statue, and prayed. The statue began to glow. “Good, good. Now you must confess to Auri-el the nature of your transformation, in as much detail as you can.”
The six of us sat in a circle around the shrine, as Serana and I had done before. “There really isn’t much to tell. We were on a job for the Jarl of Morthal, and when we went to clear out this nest of vampires, the master vampire, Movarth, sunk his fangs into my neck. It was more painful than anything I had ever experienced before. They were sharp and jagged, and tore through my flesh. I could feel the darkness flowing into me.” I took Serana’s hand as Lyanna recounted the feeling. Her grip tightened on my hand. This was a sore subject for her, I knew. “Please, continue. I know it’s difficult.”
“Well, things went dark after that. I remember being in pain, and Karnag pressing a cloth against my neck. The next thing I remember, they’re putting some kind of potion on my wound to seal it and stop the bleeding. Then I remember the fire in Falion’s house, but not feeling any warmth. And then I woke up, as we were heading to the summoning circle to try and exchange another soul for mine, but it didn’t work.”
“You say it didn’t work? Why not?”
“I don’t know. Maybe because I’m Dragonborn?”
“Dragonborn you say? That changes everything. No wonder, the Ideal Masters would never trade a dragon soul for a mortal one. You need Auri-el more than ever now, child. Come, let’s get the ritual started.” We stood, and Gelebor brought Lyanna and Farkas to the balcony, just as he had with Serana and I. “Farkas, in order to transact this cleansing with Auri-el, you will need to bind your soul with hers. Are you prepared?”
“Anything. Whatever it takes, I am prepared.”
“Karnag tells me that you are both members of the Companions of Whiterun. Are you still willing, even if it means giving up your beast blood?”
“Absolutely. Anything for Lyanna.”
“Very well then. I trust you remember the vows you took in marriage? They will suffice for the ritual. Farkas, will you raise your shield in her defense?”
“I will stand at her back, that the world may never overtake us.” He said, gazing long into her eyes. “And would you raise your sword in her honor?”
“My blade stands ready to meet the blood of her enemies.”
“And will you raise a mug in her name?”
“I will lead the song of triumph, as all of Sovngarde revels in her stories.” The two of them both began to tear up slightly, as a sense of love and hope coursed through the air. I held Serana close to me, as little Helgi gripped my hand. “And Lyanna, will you raise you shield in his defense?”
“I will stand at his back, that the world may never overtake us.”
“And will you raise your sword in his honor?”
“My silver and steel stand ready to meet the blood of his enemies.”
“And will you raise a mug in his name?”
“I will lead the song of triumph, as our mead hall revels in his stories.”
“Then I call upon the might of Auri-el, he who was here before man or mer, who always has been and always will be, to bind your souls together, that you may both be cleansed and be seen as holy in his eyes. Farkas, you may kiss your wife.”
The two embraced and kissed deeply, and instantly I saw color return to Lyanna’s skin. The curse had been lifted, and she inhaled deeply of the cold Skyrim air. Tears of joy streamed down her face, as she was once again alive. Farkas hugged Gelebor, and lifted him slightly off the ground, to his discomfort, but all was quickly forgotten as we rejoiced in the miracle we witnessed.
We prepared to depart the chantry once again, and Farkas and Lyanna thanked Gelebor for his assistance. “Think nothing of it, my friends. As children of Auri-el, you are welcome back here at any time. May his wisdom guide your path all the days of your lives.” We set out to leave, but something stopped me. It was little Helgi. “I can’t go with you, I’m sorry.”
“What is it, little one?” Serana and I both knelt down next to her. “I see the light, papa. Its drawing me near!” With a bittersweet smile, Serana said, “Go to the light, Helgi. I hope we’ll see you again someday.”
“Thank you, mama and papa. Thank you so much. I’ll never forget you. Bye!” And with a small rush of the wind, she was gone. Out of our lives as quickly as she came in to it. I could tell Serana was sad to see her go, but happy for her all the same. Thanks to us, Helgi could finally rest in peace. And that was a greater reward than any amount of gold.
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