Hey, it's Destana. Serana and I just walked into the Soul Cairn. It was a sad, purple landscape.
We traveled across the land for a while, fighting bonemen, until we came to a structure. Valerica was inside, hidden by a barrier.
"Mother!" Serana said.
"Maker! Serana! Then I must've failed. Your father found out how to decipher the prophecy, didn't he?" She asked.
"No. We're going to fulfill the prophecy our way, not his," Serana replied.
"You've brought a stranger here? What were you thinking?" Valerica asked, then she said to me, "Come here."
As I stepped to the edge of the barrier, she said, "What is a vampire of mixed blood doing with my daughter?"
"Mixed blood? Not really sure what that means, but I've been keeping her safe," I replied.
"You call her being here safe? Do you know nothing? Serana sacrificed everything to keep Harkon from fulfilling the prophecy."
"I think you sacrificed everything for her. But that's why I'm here for the Elder Scroll," I said.
"The key to the 'Tyranny of the Sun' prophecy is Serana herself. I locked her up to protect her, and all of us. Not just the Elder Scroll," Valerica explained.
"What?" I asked.
"The blood of Coldharbour's daughter will blind the eye of the dragon," she said.
"Molag Bal's realm, Coldharbour. That refers to Serana doesn't it? How does this work? Does he plan to kill her?" I asked.
"Once he has Auriel's Bow, he can use her blood to make Bloodcursed Arrows, to darken the sun," Valerica explained, "He would see her death as for the glory of all vampires. How do you plan to fulfill the prophecy? By killing her yourself?"
"Well, now that I know, I guess I'm not sure. But we could use your help," I replied.
"I don't think I believe you. You want to use her in your quest for deification, just like Harkon," Valerica said.
"Serana believes in me, why can't you?" I asked.
"Serana. This stranger knows nothing of our plight. Why should I entrust you to her?"
"This 'stranger' has done more for me in brief time I've known her than you've done in centuries!" Serana said angrily.
"How dare you! I gave up everything to protect you from your father," Valerica responded, "The moment your father discovers your role in the prophecy, you'll be in terrible danger."
"You never asked me if hiding me was the best choice. Everybody's making decisions for me, including you!" She exhaled, "I wish we could be a family again, but maybe that's not for us. We need to stop him, and for that we need the Elder Scroll."
Valerica took a deep breath. Maybe she'd been in her self-imposed imprisonment here for far too long, or maybe she was just willing to trust her daughter.
"I'm... sorry. I allowed my hatred for your father to blind me when I locked you up. If you want the Elder Scroll, I'm willing to put my faith in you," Valerica said.
She turned to me, "Your intentions are still somewhat unclear to me. But for Serana's sake, I'll help you."
"Do you have the Elder Scroll?" I asked.
"Yes, in here. To bring down the barrier, locate the three tall spires in the Cairn. At their base, there's a guardian each. If you defeat all of them, I will be released. A word of warning: an undead dragon named Durnehviir is charged with protecting the keepers by the Ideal Masters, the lords of this place."
"Don't worry. I've killed dragons before," I smiled. I mentally counted the dragon souls I'd accumulated. Somewhere north of 25 now. Without much knowledge to spend them on, I'd been stockpiling them.
So we set out to do this thing, so I made a circular pattern, going east first, walking towards spires. I was quickly attacked by a group of mistmen and bonemen. They had been surrounding an altar. With a horse skull. So I was like, "Cool." And took the thing.
"Oh you found him!" A voice said from behind me, and I found a blue spirit standing there.
"Thank you for saving him from those men. He was ever my faithful steed in life. I can teach you how to summon him, if you like," the ghost said. He did, then he vanished.
Of course, I immediately summoned the horse. And Arvak was cool! And I could summon him in here.
"Hey Ser..." I looked around. Valerica had entrusted me with her daughter and already I'd lost her somewhere. So I readied, 'Summon Serana,' which she taught me a little while after we started to work together.
"Gee, I wonder if I could cast Summon Inigo and Sofia in here?" I grinned devilishly.
But I only cast Summon Serana.
"Okay, that felt... better than expected. Cool horse!" She said.
Some of the things that'd been attacking her followed, but we rode off.
The first keeper's place teleported us high atop the spire. I strode up to the guardian as he shot arrows at me, backing up all the while. I grinned and moved in closer, "FUS - RO - DAH!" He fell about 80 feet and crumbled to dust.
Then upon getting near the second guardian, I realized I could use Vampire Lord to speed this up a bit. I shifted and decimated the two others. Then I returned to Valerica with Serana, barrier already down.
"Good, follow me," she said, and we stepped into the boneyard beyond.
Immediately, a horde of bonemen were running at us, so I shifted back into Lord form. I use Blood Storm (the improved form of Raze) from my right hand to mow down a large amount of them, then Durnehviir swooped over us. I aimed the storm at Durnehviir, who'd been perching on the rooftop of a mausoleum and shooting breath attacks from time to time at me. He swooped around a minute, and I thought I might need to shift out, but he perched again and I let him have it with Blood Storm. He landed, ready to come at me, and I went with the same strategy - Blood Storm. He had his life drained. Then - he vanished!
"What? It's not doing the thing," I said. When I stepped back through the doors (for some reason Valerica hadn't come with me), Durnehviir was perched atop a nearby structure.
"Forgive my saying this, but I never thought I'd see that dragon taken down," Valerica said.
"Yeah, well, I did tell you I'm kind of an expert at killing dragons. And I kinda cheated."
We ventured forth to the boneyard and I picked up the scroll, then back out.
"I suppose you want to fight me some more? I figured that was a little easy," I said to Durnehviir.
Durnehviir replied, his voice a great old rumbling, "Stay your blade. I believe in a little bit of honor amongst warriors. I find you a worthy opponent. I was giving it my usual effort in battle. My claws have felled innumerable foes, but not once have I fallen in battle. I therefore give you the honor-name Qahnaarin, Vanquisher."
I nodded. Love it.
"You're not so bad yourself," I replied.
"You honor me. I would ask a favor of you," he said.
"What kind of favor?" I asked. Now even my fallen foes are giving me quests.
"I've been here for countless years. I wish to return to Tamriel, but I fear I am too tied to this place. I would die if I ventured for too long. Call upon me in battle, and I will come to your aid for a short while."
"Just call?" I asked.
"Trivial in your tongue. But calling a dragon's name in the Dragon's Tongue has great power."
"Right. Because shouting speaks things into being," I rubbed my chin, "Like yelling at the laws of reality to sit down and shut up."
"I don't require an answer now. Just speak my name when the time is right," he said.
"Dur - ne - viir," I said it, not shouted. Curse - never - dying was his name. I was starting to get the hang of figuring out the meanings of these words now. He'd gifted me the knowledge like the Greybeards.
"Of course, and thank you for the challenge," I said, then I summoned and mounted up on Arvak, heading with Serana toward the portal.
We were back in Volkihar Castle in a few moments.
I sighed in relief, "Well, now we have another elder scroll."
"Any leads on the last one?" Serana asked.
"Well, they call it the dragon scroll," I sighed again. This time, it was a sigh of inevitability, "I imagine it has something to do with the dragon attacks. And Alduin. And me defeating him."
It was time to pick up an old quest thread I'd left buried for years. I opened up my tome of quests on the table and flipped through it to deep in the book.
"What are you looking for?"
"Trying to remember what they wanted me to do next," I replied, "Let's see... Horn of Jurgen Windcaller, Slay Saloknir, ah, last quest in this tab."
I had named it 'Diplomatic Immunity,' jokingly, because I figured if I slipped up and killed a Thalmor at the embassy, I'd end up killing them all, thus making me immune to prosecution due to no witnesses being alive. The mission was: Delphine, the cheeky lass that stole Jurgen's Horn and left me a note, wanted me to infiltrate the Thalmor Embassy at one of Elenwen's parties (the Thalmor ambassador).
"So, want to go to Riverwood?" I asked Serana while we stepped out onto the balcony.
Serana frowned, "You know, I wasn't sure if we'd make it out of there in one piece. I was scared, for both of us. The Ideal Masters can do anything. Trap us there forever for one."
"You do believe in some higher power, huh?" I asked playfully, harkening back to a conversation we'd had about Talos.
"Don't make fun of me. You could be a pile of scrib jelly. But the Ideal Masters are real. We saw what they can do to people... to dragons! And of course we didn't see them. They're called the unseen masters of the Cairn for a reason," Serana paused, then laughed, "You're just messing with me aren't you?"
"Well maybe this time you get trapped forever you'd have better company than an Elder Scroll," I laughed.
"Next time I'll soul trap you in the cairn!" She was smiling, "How would you take that?"
"With panache, of course," I replied.
She looked down, smiling, "I appreciate that you're keeping my spirits up."
We paused, looking at the Sea of Ghosts for a moment with the snows falling, wind howling. Then she said, "You like me right? Not just as a friend, but, something else?"
"Well, remembering what happened before we went in, it seems pretty obvious," I smiled at her.
She leaned in and kissed me this time.
"Sorry," she said finally, "I just needed to do this on my terms this time. It's something that gives me nightmares... trusting other people. But I trust you. All my life I've only ever seen people use intimacy as a way to manipulate and dominate others. Thank you. And I'm no fan of the sun. But it'd be better than this cold. Let's get out of here."
Seeing her subtle cues, I realized we should get on the road. I don't get hypothermia, but damn being very cold is still uncomfortable.
We got on the road, me on Arvak and her on Shadowmere and found they have comparable speed. But the bones aren't very comfortable against my butt after a few hours.
Anyway, when we got there, I decided for the first time in probably a week I would sleep. I was definitely thirsty, but I could sleep to gap the time a little. It actually wasn't clear how long we'd been in the Soul Cairn.
I looked around. Two random guys fighting. Embry, drunk and passed out on the floor.
"You finally going to go forward with our plans, Dragonborn?" She asked as I approached. I blinked, balking at her treatment of me.
"Geez, Delphine, could you just call me Destana? I'm not that special. I'm just helping people. Just a regular girl," I said, "And yes. But I would like to stay the night at your Inn first."
"Sure," she offered me a bed, free of charge.
While I was waiting for Delphine to get things ready, I spied a strange thing - a Dunmer sitting across the Inn. Not that dunmer were strange in Skyrim, but he was wearing armor, had a decent weapon, had a certain haughty appearance to him. So I immediately knew he wasn't the usual lowlife dunmer that finds himself estranged from Morrowind and now lives in Skyrim.
"Hey traveler," I said to him, "Who're you?"
"Do I stick out that much?" He asked, "I'm Mandyn Hlaalu. Representative of the House Hlaalu. I have a mission here in Skyrim, then I'm returning to my homeland."
"Anything I can help with?"
Serana giggled a little bit, "You're getting distracted already. You really don't want to deal with this dragon thing, do you?"
Mandyn shook his head, "No. I need somebody with power beyond measure to take care of this."
"Okay. I'm listening," I said, really reaching for a challenge at this point, "Would the... dragonborn suffice?"
"Yes, I imagine it would," he replied, "When a famous criminal from Morrowind was spotted in Skyrim, I was dispatched to find and apprehend him. A fool's errand. He is known for being extremely deadly."
"Deadly sounds like it requires a fee," I replied.
"How's a thousand septims?" He asked.
I grinned a little, "He sounds really deadly."
"Okay, two thousand, but that's all I have to offer," he said, agitated, "You can start your search at a town called Little Vivec, southwest of here."
"Alright. I'll take the case," I said. I've always wondered what Morrowind looked like. Maybe I would get a little taste of their architecture.
We walked to our room and Serana immediately said, "You actually going to do it?"
I smirked, "It would be pretty funny to take all the guy's money and just not do the job. But no, I'll check it out. This sounds like a short jaunt, maybe a day or two."
"Don't forget we have elder scrolls to find," she said, laying down.
"Right. I mean, it's not as if I've been putting this off for nearly ten years, doing exactly this thing that just happened," I chuckled, "I'm going to do the Diplomat thing first though. Sleep, then I guess you can wait here, if you want."
"Yeah, I'll be waiting honey. Wouldn't want to keep your love waiting for long, right?" She giggled, "Sorry, don't know what came over me. I think I'll come to Solitude, actually. I've been meaning to visit the new clothes store there. Though I guess everything is new to me."
"Yeah! I should probably grab something for the party."
We slept, then I got up to Delphine, standing over me, already in her armor.
"Alright, I figured out how I'm going to get you in that embassy. Elenwen's next party is hosting for all the Elites in Skyrim. Once you get inside, slip away and get her files. I have a contact inside the embassy, he'll assist. Malborn - he'll meet you in the Winking Skeever in Solitude.
We traveled to Haafingar Hold and I bought a short purple dress at the UNP shop and wore Shrouded Shoes (which looked normal, but were sneaking shoes from the brotherhood). Oh yeah, got attacked by a dragon at Riverwood. Then got attacked by a dragon at Solitude, and I had to fight it. In my new dress. I may or may not have talked about this before, but killing a dragon around a large population of weaker people can sometimes whip them into a frenzy, which can cause them to start undressing and having sex. Usually, if I absorb the dragon's power fully, I have the ability to stop it from happening. Riverwood was too far from a group - everybody ran away when battle started. But Solitude, I didn't absorb hard or fast enough, I guess. So when a large group of men and Serana, (surprisingly) started to get a little heated, I just joined in. Why not? DKO (Dragon Kill Orgy!)
So I went to the Inn, but Serana approached me with am armful of drinks before I could go find Malborn.
"Cliff Racer, Dragon's Breath Mead, or Velvet Lachance?"
"Surprise me," I said, "Did you make those?"
"Well I'm going to make one of those with the available ingredients," she smiled, "Velvet Lachance, as venomous as you can be."
"Thanks, I think," I said. I tasted. It was very good. I smiled at her, "Amazing, just like you."
"Well, way to turn my quips around on me," she replied, and I sat down across from Malborn.
"Our mutual friend sent me," I said.
"You're who she picked? I hope she knows what she's doing," Malborn replied.
I set down my drink, "Hey, look at the guy who can't discern how strong a person is just by looking. I literally just killed a dragon outside."
"Oh," he said nervously, "Well, sure you're up for a stealth mission?"
"Stealth is my area of expertise," I replied.
"Alright. Give me what you can't live without and I'll pass it to you at the party," he said.
"Oh, I don't need anything," I said. I checked my spell list refreshing on tomes I'd gone over recently: bound dagger, bound bow. Still had my summons and invisibility. I had unlocking spells...
"Actually..." I started to tell him I should probably bring lockpicks, but he was already out the door. Oh well. Winging it. That's my forte!
"Sure I can't come?" Serana asked.
"Yeah. It sucks, because I look really good in this dress, even if there is a little dragon blood on it," I said, "I should take you on a real date sometime."
She smiled, "Grab me a bottle of something vintage from the party."
I walked up to Delphine by the carriage.
"Ready?" She asked.
And we were off.
When I got there, a man named Razelan said, "Ah, fellow latecomer to the party! And arriving by carriage, no less. My lady, I salute you. I usually like to arrive early to a party..."
"Invitation please?" The Thalmor guard asked.
I showed it to him.
"Thank you, ma'am," he said and I walked inside.
Elenwen was standing near the doorway, mingling with guests when I walked in. She turned to me, "Welcome. I don't believe we've met. I'm Elenwen, thalmor ambassador to Skyrim. And you are?"
Quick! Make up a name. I looked around. Chair... table...Desk. Desk! A man using thongs. Desk tonga. Destana!
"Des....."I started, immediately realizing what I was doing, "Des.... is the first time we've met, yes, but it's amazing because I've heard so much about you!" Whew.
"Hopefully only good things," she replied, walking with me in to the party, "Please, tell me about your...."
"Ma'am," a steward bothered her.
"What is it?" Elenwen asked, and I casually backed toward the crowd.
"It's that we've run out of the Alto wine, do I have your permission to open the..." I had already walked too far away to hear them. I deposited myself between Maven Black-Briar and Erikur, the jerk from Elisif's court.
"Elenwen always throws the best parties," Erikur said. Ok, not my best decision.
"Hey Maven," I said.
"I don't recall seeing you at one of these before," she replied, "And I know everyone who's anyone in Skyrim (I don't know what you're doing but I can't help you right now.)"
Hmm... I nodded, playing it cool. Maybe she was running her own job with the guild right now. Spying on the Thalmor? Casing the joint? I looked around. Then I sidled up between Elisif the Fair and Jarl Balgruuf, hoping he wasn't too mad at me still about deposing him. He didn't seem to notice me.
Elisif smiled at me, grabbing my arm, "Didn't think I'd see you here. You look pretty good under all that armor."
"Enjoying the party?" I smiled, taking the compliment.
"Very much. Her parties are always so elegant. She should host them more. When I married Torygg, he promised we'd go to lavish parties like this. I wish he were here now," she sighed.
"Hey, want to have some fun?" I smiled at her, "Maybe liven your spirits a little."
Elisif blushed, "What, right here, at the party?"
"Oh, no no. Not that," I said, "Maybe later. Could you cause a scene? I want to play a joke on Razelan."
Elisif giggled like a schoolgirl, "Okay."
She walked up to Razelan and said, "Sorry about this. How dare you speak to me like that?"
"Uh what? I wasn't doing anything," Razelan replied.
"What is it this time Razelan? You were told to behave!" Elenwen approached him, and I realized all eyes were on Razelan. I casually walked over to Malborn at the bar, then behind and out the back door without anyone being the wiser. I snagged a Colovian Brandy on my way through (for Serana).
"Alright. Now, go. Do your thing," Malborn said, leading me through the kitchen. He locked the back door behind me. I readied Bound Dagger in my right hand and Invisibility in my left, which I casted. It was a simple hop through the back door, skip across a courtyard and jump behind a guard who was leaning next to the door. I witnessed a Justiciar talking angrily to a Nord informant, and I looted a chest with dossiers and keys, then I went downstairs. The Justiciar walked by, but I'd kept up with recasting invisibility and I followed him down to the prison in the basement level.
"Please, no! I don't know anything!" The man yelled. A thalmor guard was torturing him when the Justiciar sat down. Still invisible, I ransacked the chest sitting behind him. It had the dossier of Esburn, another man I'd not heard of. I figured it was probably time to start piling up bodies now. I would start with the dagger and go into Lord form if things got bad.
I slit the Justiciar's throat and he fell out of his chair.
"Justiciar?" The Thalmor guard asked, and walked out, sword in hand. I renewed invisibility and let her walk past me, then I gave her the same treatment. Then I walked into the cell.
"Please, stop. I don't know any more," the man Etienne said. He was sitting with his arms bound in some kind of rack above his head with his head down.
"I'm not here to torture you."
"Oh, who are you?" He looked up.
"I'm here to find out what the Thalmor know," I popped his rack off.
"If it twists these guys up, I'll tell you they're looking for a guy named Esburn. They think he's in Riften. Something to do with dragons."
"Alright, let's go," I said.
"This way, I saw them dragging bodies over here," he lead me to a body chute.
"Be still! We have your traitor friend!" Another thalmor guard shouted, and a group of them stormed down, chasing Malburn.
"Go on!" I said to Etienne, but the trap door was locked. I summoned a bound dagger and waited for the guards to come. Malburn passed, then the first guard, then the second guard and I struck. I jumped out and stabbed him in the back of his neck, killing him. The second one turned and I fought him for a minute, but even without armor I bested him. I looted a trap door key off one of the guards' corpses.
"Let's go, both of you!" I shouted as I opened the door to the reeking cave below.
"Now the Thalmor are going to be hunting me for the rest of my life. I hope this was worth it!" Malburn shouted as he followed.
Etienne growled, "Let's just get the hell out of here."
First thing I came upon was an Elder Ice Troll, but we were on a ledge and safe. Bigger than a normal troll. I conjured a Bound Bow and took a couple shots, but he hid behind a pillar. This one was smart. Ready to play cat and mouse for a while, Malburn said, "Aaaah!" And promptly fell down to where the troll was. I sighed, hopping down and conjuring a Bound Sword. I got the Troll's attention, trading swipes with the sword, but without my armor he was proving to be a tough challenge, and I was getting beaten. And Trolls regenerate, so my withdraw and thrust tactic wasn't working. I readied Pride of Hirstaang, but I was too low in magicka (with no potions of any kind). I growled, I hate using this in front of people I don't know.
I took a swipe at the troll with the bound sword and waited until he was guarding, backed off then I roared and transformed into a Vampire Lord. He was already charging at me and I took a swipe at him with my claws. I could tell he felt it, but he clawed right back. I shifted to hover, and let loose a Blood Storm. The Troll frantically attacked at me to try and bring me down, but the draining effect overcame whatever damage he could deal, and in a few seconds he was down. Of course, Malburn and Etienne were already out the end of the cave.
"Vampire!" Malburn was screaming and running away. You'd have to be an idiot not to notice I was a vampire even without the transformation, but, ok.
Etienne stopped and turned to me, realizing I was back to my normal state now, "You didn't have to do that for me. But thanks."
I sighed, "I don't like to show that form to everyone. But that was a tough guy in there, and I only had my magic."
"I understand. I don't really know what ... THAT... was, but you saved me. So you get a pass as far as I'm concerned. Malburn doesn't seem the brave type," Etienne said.
"Been in there a long time?" I asked.
"Months," he replied, "I came to Skyrim to try and join the Thieves' Guild."
I grinned, "You're in luck."
He tilted his head.
"In addition to anything else you may have heard or know, I am also the Thieves' Guildmaster. Tell them I sent you," I said, "Ratway, in Riften. Oh yeah, I'll probably see you there, since I need to go find this Esburn guy. After I get my stuff with Delphine."
I figure I'd just go do that before I go back and get Serana.
Romance from Serana mod. Very tasty. A lot of the dialogue between Serana and Destana is straight from the mod. I enjoyed myself very much.
A couple of the shots made it in because they were very cool action shots. Example: view with sword very close to the camera during kill shot.
I was thinking I might also tackle getting Esburn and the temple during this Entry, but I guess it'll have to be next time.
It doesn't affect gameplay or story, but I added the mod, 'Personalized Music.' This lets you drop in your own music to different situations, like 'Town' or 'Combat.'
Current music for the Soul Cairn (which gets it's own category):
Edited by EnragedBard