The Bounty Chronicles: Ch. 1



The arrow pierced through the air, straight and true, puncturing the vampire’s left eye. She could not let loose a sound, the head destroying the brain. Dropping to the ground like a stone, her partner had his warning, readying himself for any threat, sword in hand.

“Ready, vampire?” I asked, stepping out of the shadows of the snow-covered cavern, armor rattling lightly. “Because I know I am.”

“Tell me, lizard,” the undead Breton snarled, baring his pointed teeth, “how is it that you were able to hide so quietly in that heavy of armor?”
With the visage of a dragon, my armor was a thing of both beauty and presence. A mixture of steel, corundum, ebony and quicksilver (which gave it a certain shine when in the light), it was nothing to scoff at.

“I’m good at my job,” I replied, readying my bow. “I have faced many of your kind. Nothing special about you, really.” I walked towards the undead man, stepping over the bodies of large, black dogs. Disgusting creatures, whatever they truly were. Rows upon rows of dagger sharp teeth and beady-red eyes… they and vampires went very well together.

The creature snickered, amused by my statement. “Special enough to bring you down, lizard! With years comes experience!”

I could not help but chortle. “Any particular reason for searching this specific cavern? Dimhollow does not seem that special to this one.”

“You’ll not know our mission.”

“‘Our’? So there are more of you further up.” I now stood a few paces away, staring the blood sucker down. He was clad in a gray leather-make armor. It looked very noble and pristine what with its collar and buckle that looked the shape of a cross.

“They will not be bothered by you!”

The Breton lunged, bringing his weapon in for a diagonal slash. Quickly, I lifted my bow by means of interception. The sword clanged against the metal that outlined my weapon, keeping it safe from splitting. While he snarled I smiled, very confident in my abilities.
Again, he tried attacking but it was easily blocked. Our blow-by-blow fight continued for what seemed like hours. It was at long last that the vampire was able to overpower me and pin me down to the cold, hard ground beneath our feet. The quiver around the small of my back spilled some of its lethal contents underneath me.

With both hands on my bow, ceasing his sword’s decent to my neck, I was unable to push him away. The vampire laughed, having won. Beads of sweat could be seen forming on his forehead and the same could be said of me. “Any last words, Argonian!?”
I smiled as a plan instantly came forth. “Three, in fact.”


“YUL… TOOR SHUL!!” Fire cascaded from my maw and encompassed the vampire’s face and upper torso. He screeched in pain, dropping the sword, as his flesh was set alight, starting to roll over on the ground in a desperate attempt to put it out.

I chuckled, calmly standing up as the fire on the body beside me continued to roar. Brushing off whatever snow was on my armor, I turned to see the dead vampire, flesh continuing to burn. The smell was… not the worst thing I have ever smelt, but it was also not the most pleasant.
Chancing a glance at the now dead undead, his face was charred beyond recognition, eyes staring up in what looked like horror and pain. “Guess that means you were not special enough, eh vampire?” I questioned the corpse, grinning. Who knew this was simple money? If the Dawnguard only wanted to hire me as a bounty hunter and tracker and not recruit me as a member, that Isran fellow must not have liked me that much then.

I glanced to my bow, checking the outside metal for any damages. Made of composite wood, mahogany and ebony metal to reinforce the limbs made it a very viable close combat weapon in a pinch.

I looked to my left, finding an opening to continue further down the cavern. Picking up whatever custom made arrows that were not snapped in half, I trudged my sorry ass over to the opening.

A single spot of orange-red light was near the entrance, illuminating something on the ground. Placing the bow around my back, I knelt down when I got closer. I grimaced: Vigilant Tolan. His mangled corpse almost made the poor Nord unrecognizable.

“Seems they made you pay dearly,” I uttered, turning my head to see several more corpses of vampires, “for killing their… friends.” The dead vampires had multiple injuries that looked like they were assaulted by large rocks: protruding bones, caved in skulls, splintered femurs, and what looked liked shattered rib cages. Seems you gave them hell, eh Tolan? But the same can be said for you.

Looking at his body, Tolan’s hands were void of his hammer. When I spoke to Isran for the first time, the Redguard was speaking to the Nord. Both men wielded a war hammer. No man lets their weapon out of his hands; it is our life-line.

My hand traced over Tolan’s, feeling the tips of his fingers and going in the direction of which they faced. Not too far from him, within a cusp of darkness, was his war hammer. So, the blood suckers killed you while mid-swing. Would explain the woman’s fatigue and adrenaline before I took her life. I looked back to the Nord, now realizing his eyes open in a terrified stare. Go to Aetherious now, Tolan, I thought, closing his eyes for the final rest.

Standing from the Vigilant, I began the long traversing of Dimhollow. The layout of the ruins I stepped into was nothing short of a Nordic one. By the Hist, was the ruin filled with twists and turns, undead and more undead. Thankfully each one fell without letting out as much as a whimper of shock and surprise. Had several close calls with those hounds of theirs’. Always will send a chill down my tail when those red eyes stare at me.

From what I could tell, I was nearing the end of the Nordic ruin. The statues that had been dotted throughout the place had not shown up for the last few rooms. It seemed too strange, making my tail twitch and breathing came out in long stretches, not wishing to be heard by more vampires and hounds. Climbing up more steps, a surprise awaited me: a large dead Frostbite Spider and a half dissolved dead body. That is… not what I expected but ok, I thought.

The arachnid, when I crept closer, had long cuts and gashes spread out through its body. It’s fangs, from what I could tell in the dim light, had drops of dried venom still attached. Something in the back of my mind said to look at the thorax, which I inevitably did. That section of the spider’s body was shrunken a little, looking as if it was drained of bodily fluid. That thought made me grimace, shaking my head lightly. Upon closer inspection, I could not find any puncture marks on the thorax; check off a vampire taking a new type of drink.

“I’ve seen these kinds of ‘wounds’ before,” I spoke to myself. “Vampires and their unique spell to drain the life from their victims.” I nodded, concluding that the thorax showed the structural-collapse of drained life. Which meant that the dissolved fellow was a vampire.

With bones poking from the melted flesh and ribcage, the vampire grossly underestimated the spider. But, he took it with him to Oblivion, so it is a win-win for me. Inside his body, the flesh that was dissolved had a tint of green-blue blood mixture while the rest was the regular red.


My eyes darted to the side, finding a door. Frowning, I made way for it, going to try and figure out the source of the yell of pain. Opening the slightly ajar door, the cavern that greeted me was… different.

Past the stone balcony, I could just make out marble arches in the middle of something. Speaking voices cut my observation short and forced me to slowly creep towards them.

“I’ll never tell you anything vampire! My oath to Stendarr is stronger than any pain you can inflict on me!” Looking over the edge of the ledge, I could see a Vigilant and several vampires. The paladin was a bloody mess, his life-liquid sprayed across his face, chest and red receding hair. That had to be Adalvald; he matched Tolan’s description to the letter. A glob of blood-mixed spit landed in front of a vampire’s boot. Adalvald gritted his red stained teeth. “Do your worst, filth!”

The undead in front of him cackled a bit. “I believe you, paladin, that you won’t tell us anything. With your Hall destroyed and friends dead, you have little to offer me besides a plaything to toy with until I grow bored.” Behind him, two of his friends laid in wait; their very will for him to break the man filled the cool, empty air of the cavern. I was antsy at what would happen next, but a personal wish was to just see Adalvald die. I didn’t have anything against the Vigilants of Stendarr; didn’t have anything for them either.

The vampire drew his sword, the iron reflecting the light coming from the cracked and hole-filled ceiling. “And now, I have become bored with my new toy. Say hello to your beloved Stendarr for me!” Iron met flesh as the weapon was plunged into the paladin’s chest cavity. Blood oozed from the sides of the wound before almost gushing when the sword was extracted.

I could not properly hear the Nord, but I swore he muttered, “Peace at last...”

“Are you sure that was wise, Lokil?” An Altmer vampire in red asked as Lokil walked away from the body, going for the bridge connecting the ‘island’ to where we all were; she sounded agitated by his actions. “He still might have told us something. We haven’t gotten anywhere ourselves with-”

“He knew nothing of this place that could help us. He served his purpose in leading us here… and being my plaything.” Lokil chuckled. “Now it is up to us to bring Harkon the prize. And we will not return without it! Vingalmo and Orthjolf will make way for me-”

The vampire’s companions jumped as an arrow pierced through Lokil’s temple. His lifeless body went to its knees before falling, blood trailing in the air, into the blackness below. A faint splash was heard by all. The Altmer vampire and her companion looked to see where the projectile came from. They soon found me at the platform, bow drawn taut.

“His speech was getting long and boring,” I stated before letting a second nocked arrow loose. The weapon flew out and found her companion’s chest. He fell onto his back and roared in pain: it had struck dangerously close to the heart.

My instincts suddenly yelled at me to move and go down the steps. Good thing I did, a lightning bolt clipped the end of a white feather on my head; mere inches from where my head was. Just keep moving and don’t stay still, I told myself. Staying still made one a prime target for magic and other projectiles. I knocked another arrow as the Altmer let out a cry, releasing a second bolt of lightning in my general direction. Thankfully my reflexes were on point and I rolled behind some cover just beyond the first set of stairs.

“I will drink you dry, mortal!”

“Gotta catch me first!” Coming from cover to fire the weapon, the Altmer skillfully dodged before releasing yet another bolt of electricity. It hit the stonework with a wicked crack, causing loose stone and dust to fall and splitting the work of the pillar. “Well she’s on her toes,” I said, gritting my teeth.

The Altmer chanced a glance to her injured vampire friend. He was on the verge of death, writhing in a puddle of his own blood. In a fit of anger, she blindly stormed over, took the arrow from his chest and shoving it into his eye. “Your screams were getting distracting,” she spat.


The undead elf was violently thrown from her standing position to pitifully roll on the ground as I rammed into her back. The woman yelled in agony, trying to get back up only to fail. I chuckled as it instantly dawned on me exactly what I had broken: her back. “You won’t be getting up, sweetheart.” Striding over, I knelt down beside her. “Sorry, but… distraction is a curse to some and blessing to others.”

She reached a hand for me, trying to clutch at any part. It glowed an ominous red. “I’ll kill you... if it’s the last thing I do, lizard!” The vampire’s hand grabbed onto my left arm and started to drink my very life away.

I groaned in pain, feeling a sudden tiredness beginning to take form in my body. She laughed maniacally between bursts of pain in her own body. My limbs started to feel numb as more of my life became her’s. Quickly, you fool! With as much speed as I could muster, I managed to take a dagger from my boot and stab the blade into her neck.

As swiftly as it entered, the dagger left, spraying blood left and right with each heartbeat. It coated the rocks and was absorbed by the unquenchable thirst of the soil and dirt. The magic in her hand instantly ceased its drink of me. The vampire tried in vain to staunch the flow of blood, only managing to make more drip between her now red fingers. Within moments the amount of blood in her lungs became too much; the elven vampire slumped against a rock as her last breath left in the breeze that swept by.

Panting, I pulled and uncorked a red bottle of a potion and drank its contents. The healing potion did its job and restored to me what energy was stolen. “Phew… That feels a lot better.” With a groan, standing up took more out of me than I would have hoped. The cavern swirled around in circles, bending and morphing with each piece of architecture. “Nevermind.” Falling back to my knees, I stayed put until more strength could return to my limbs and body.

Alright, body, you good now? I asked myself after several long moments went by. Straightening my legs, slowly, the room remained still. Thank the Hist, that gave me such a headache before! Slowly still I paced for the dead Altmer vampire and, ripping a sleeve of her’s off, cleaned my dagger of the blood that caked it. There we go, I thought before placing it back in the sheath on my boot. Dropping the now coated sleeve, my trek across the bridge to the ‘island’ started and quickly ended.

The many arches that made up the outside of the structure gave it a menacing, yet regal, look. My attention was soon drawn to the braziers and center most contraption. What in Oblivion? Treading lightly for the device, a smooth button was atop it, waiting to be pressed. I could not shake the sense of foreboding that came with wanting to place my hand on top. “Xian… you are going to regret this with every fiber in your reptilian body.” I groaned, shaking my head and removing the gauntlet from my right hand. If anything did happen, it would not ruin the protection the gauntlet provided.

With an exhale I placed my palm on the button. Pain raced through my hand and arm as a spike punctured through my palm. “AAGGH!!!” I cried; muscles in my arm tensed, trying to fight the pain that coursed through me. Blood crept from the spike and pooled on the edges of the device before said spike disappeared back where it came.

Immediately bringing my hand back to observe the damage, I groaned as I peered through the hole that went through the center of my hand, nearly half the size of a septim. “Fuck… I immediately regret that decision. Ugh…!” Dropping my gauntlet, I searched for another potion of healing along my vial bandolier. Looking to my waist, I could see none. I used the last one when trying to shake that vampire’s spell. “Gods dammit.” I was hasty with drinking it and I should have known better than to rush.

Reaching into the bandolier across my chest, I pulled out a roll of white linen cloth and began to wrap it around my hand. Tying it tightly, and tearing off where the knot was made, I let out a moan mixed with pain and relief. At least with the wound covered it could begin the long process of healing itself… at least until I could find another healing potion.

So busy and wrapped up in my own pain, I didn’t even notice the purple light that emanated from the well placed cracks in the floor. Not very professional, Xian, to be blind to your changing surroundings. Just… what is this? Some sort of puzzle? The five braziers were lined up in a circle around the same path the light was. Taking a look at where it began, it didn’t take for me to figure out what to do. Wincing and gritting my teeth, I put my gauntlet back on before getting to work on the puzzle.

It was simple: push each canister to where the light ended and it would continue on its path. Easier said than done as each one of the damn things seemed to weigh more than an elk. Maybe it was the pain in my hand that made the shit more difficult, who could say.

Minutes went by before I finally finished. My hand felt like it was going to burst from the exertion I forced upon it. There was an audible click before the stone floor began to move and shift. Each section of stone that make a circle began to sink down and form steps. An opening sprang from the very center of the monument, pushing out a large stone… thing. “The hell?” I asked.

Approaching it, I noticed there was a seemingly innocent button along one of the stone (I decided to call it a casket) casket’s sides. Groaning, I drew the dagger on my left boot, seemingly ready for what trap it may have been. Once up close and set, I pushed the button. The casket opened, its sides sinking into the ground to reveal a woman. A vampiric woman
Before I could swing my dagger, she started to fall forward. “Shit! Got ya,” I said, catching her and dropping my weapon to the ground. She began to wake up, shaking her head lightly, sending loose black hair free to tumble over her finer features, and mumble inconsistencies. “What the hell?” I could not help but ask aloud. The woman began to try and stand and I did the right thing and helped her do so.
“Who...,” she asked rubbing her eyes with two fingers, “who sent you?”

Well shit.

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  • I regret never really paying attention to the content in the story corner from the old vault. This is really good Ben. A very engaging story. I cant wait to read more.

  • very interesting, looking forward to what's to come
  • I enjoyed how funny Xian is. It's something I lack in my own writing too often. I'm always in awe when people are able to pull it off and it doesn't sound forced like you did.

    Thank you for sharing and I look forward to reading more!
  • "sending loose black hair to tumble over her finer features"
    So, we talking her face or...
    • Definitely her face and not her assets 

      • Just maing sure, thanks.
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