“Will this do?” Serana asked, picking up a nirnroot.
“Absolutely not. Nirnroots are poisonous,” I replied with a shake of my head.
It took a little over an hour for Serana and myself to make our way down the mountainside and into Hjaalmarch. Now within the swamps, the two of us tried to find some alchemical ingredients for a healing potion, but luck was not on our side. My amount of blood loss did not make any of it easier.
“Mhm, right,” I said. “I thought you said you were an alchemist?”
“Hey, that was a long time ago. Don’t blame me for not remembering some of my training as one.”
I shook my head, stifling a chuckle. “Look, just forget about trying to find helpful herbs in the swamp. The inn keeper in Morthal is bound to have what I need.”
“You sure?” the vampire asked sloshing through the murky waters back to me.
“Very sure. We are not far from the small town, I assure you.”
“If you say so, Xian. How far and which direction?”
Taking a step forward I pointed to the north-west. “That way. Only about a half-hours walk from here.”
“Then what are we waiting for, let’s go already.”
I couldn’t help but chortle again. “Now who’s impatient?”
“Xian, I swear…,” she spoke with a smirk.
“That’s what I thought.”
“Well, you know the path.” She let out an arm in the direction I gave. “Lead on, bounty hunter.”
The walk to Morthal was filled with the two of us speaking about one thing to another. Getting in the inn was like something I already didn’t know. The patrons stopped their drinking to simply stare at me and Serana. Several quick, glaring glances from me caused them to return to their drinks.
Paying the innkeeper for the room, I also paid for several required alchemy ingredients required to make the potion my hand desperately needed. Serana offered to create the potion, to which I did not refuse. She did it even quicker than me, offering the bottle to me after a mere few moments.
Removing the bandages and tossing them aside, Serana placed a hand under my palm and carefully poured a bit of the potion onto the open wound.
“Doesn’t that sting?” Serana asked, looking at me.
“Barely,” I said looking at the container.
“If you are sure, Xian.”
“Very, I assure you Serana.” Looking up from the hand, I looked her in the eyes and nodded.
I had to admit, her attitude to making sure I was comfortable was pleasing to say the least. Always traveling alone for my entirety as a bounty hunter left me with my thoughts. But traveling with someone? It never crossed my mind until now. It felt nice to say the least.
The night went by without much of a ruckus. Setting off with a bit of food from the innkeeper, we continued on our way to Solitude. Despite leaving at the first rays, we just managed to reach the gates of the city.
My companion was having the time of her life, seeing the sights that Solitude gave.
“I’d read stories about the Solitude windmill, but I didn’t expect it to be that big!” A smile was on her face and her fangs seem to catch the last beams of sunlight, causing them to almost shine in my eyes.
“You look completely different now,” I commented, observing her attitude change.
“What do you mean?” She turned, still smiling, placing a hand on her hip.
“You are completely a different person already from the one I met in Dimhollow.” Several patrolling guards walked by, giving me a nod.
The Nordic vampire gave me a simple chuckle. “Well when I find something beautiful and worthwhile, I can’t help it.”
“I see.” Looking out over the harbor, the sun continued to sink below the horizon, slowly vanishing from sight. Though there was light from the torches and cased candles, it felt too eerily dark. Perhaps my imagination, but that did not shake the feeling from me.
And Serana seemed to sense my unease; her happy perky smile vanished. “Hey, you alright?”
“It’s nothing,” I replied, turning around to walk into the city.
“You sure?” Her footsteps were behind me, speeding a little to catch up.
The city was just like how it was the last time I was there: the streets thinning out as work finished to head into the local inn for an evening drink or more.
“Wait inside while I head for the temple for healing, alright?”
“Why should I wait in there with no one I know while the only person I know heads off?” She asked defiantly.
“Do you want to go into a holy temple while I get my hand healed?”
“I rather would, yes.”
I did not expect that answer. And I knew arguing with her would only end up being more trouble than what it’d be worth.
I sighed. “Alright, fine. Come along then; maybe you’ll find something more to gaze upon in the Temple.”
Before I turned around to lead the way, noticing her facial expression, however slightly, Serana looked uneasy.
The walk was a peaceful one, even though several citizens nodded my way and tried to have a light conversation. Brandishing my hole-filled hand caused them to shut up rather quickly and allowed the two of us to continue for the Temple.
Pushing open the Temple of the Nine’s doors, the first thing that came to my eyes was the candlelight illuminating the wooden benches that sat in front of the many Gods’ and Goddesses’ holy statues. My vampire companion seemed intrigued at, not only the statues, but also the interior of the Chapel.
“Wow. This is… beautiful.”
“You should see it when the light of the sun shines through our windows,” came a feminine voice. Serana and I turned to see one of the many priestesses walking toward us, her orange holy robe flapping with each step. A smile was on her face. “Forgive me, I did not mean to interrupt anything.”
“You weren’t,” I chimed in. “Good you are here. I am in need of healing.” Taking the gauntlet and white cloth off of my right hand, I showed her the hole that poked through it.
“By Mara,” she exclaimed, taking and examining the hand. “What in Oblivion did you do, bounty hunter?”
“Business. That’s what,” I replied sternly. “Will you be able to heal and seal the hole or not?”
“I can, but it’ll require herbs that are not chea-”
“Coin is not an issue. Just get it.” Even though she was behind me, I knew Serana was sporting a facial expression that was mild shock.
“A-alright.” The woman walked off to, what I assumed was, where the herbs were. Serana and I stood there for several moments before the priestess returned with a bowl and white cloth in hand. Setting it down at a nearby table, she looked to me. “Please. Sit and I’ll get you healed up.”
“Thank you,” I said, heading over and taking a seat.
The healer gently took my hand and examined it again, as if looking at something. “It looks as if someone tried to heal this…”
“Yea, that was me,” Serana chimed in, walking up to us. “Xian asked me to heal him as best I could. As is evident, I’m not that skilled, heh.”
“Well you certainly seemed to know what you were doing. The scab here looks to be a few days old. You may have helped the healing process by a lot.”
I smiled at the comment, as I’m sure Serana was beaming herself. “Well how about that Serana,” I said, turning to face her. “Thank you and good job.”
“Thanks, Xian,” she smiled, making sure not to reveal her fangs even a little.
The golden light of the priestess’ hands began to shine and spread its healing properties that seemed to reach all the way up my arm. During this the healer spoke. “She seems like a real catch, Dragonborn.”
Oh shit, I know where this is going, I thought.
“Is she going to be lu-”
“No. No she is not.”
“Shame. She’s beautiful.” Finishing with her magic, the mage took the wooden bowl, smeared some of the mixture onto the cloth and wrapped it around my palm. “Alright, that should do it. Now it’s a waiting game.”
During all of this, Serana just looked from me to the priestess, her orange eyes trying to figure out what either of us meant. “Should I ask?”
“No. At least not now,” I answered, inwardly sighing and rolling my eyes.
“What’s this? The mighty Xian-Krie now caring whether discrete information is about to be leaked?” The priestess couldn’t help but laugh at this.
“Oh gods dammit,” I muttered, facepalming.
“Ok, now I have to know otherwise I’ll just bug you until you tell me,” Serana giggled.
“Of course you are. Except I said I’ll tell you later. We’re done here.” Standing up, I pulled a coin purse from my belt and placed it on the table before taking the gauntlet as well. “That covers what I owe and more than likely some left over. Use it however you want.”
I walked out of the Temple, Serana hot on my heels.
By the time we got to the Winking Skeever Inn, Masser was high in the sky bringing its glowing light to the world below it. Once again, I paid for our rooms along with something to eat and drink. With mead and several plates of food before us, I helped myself. My gauntlet laid on the table while the bow and arrow quiver were propped up against the table and chair.
“So,” Serana began, taking a drink from her mug of ale, “what was the priestess talking about?”
I swallowed down what drink and meat there was in my mouth, giving a very satisfied sigh before answer my vampiric companion. “She was talking about how I used to pay for tavern wenches.”
“O...oh.” She gave me a surprised look. I could tell she felt awkward now.
I let out a sigh. “If it makes you feel any less awkward, though I don’t know why, I do not do that anymore.”
“It’s not that. It’s just anyone else would have not wanted any personal information like that out.” Serana took a drink of her ale again, but didn’t touch her food.
I gave her a shrug before taking a bite out of the juicy chicken on my plate. “This one does not care what others think of him. They still hire me for my skills.”
“Basically, how you just put it, everyone knows all about you.”
“I never said that.” I took another drink of ale. Weak stuff, however. “Just because I do not care whether people know who I lay with or not doesn’t mean they know everything about me. Just like I don’t know much about you.” I pointed the fork in my hand at her for extra emphasis.
She smiled and let out a laugh. “Alright, fair point.”
“This one thought so,” I chuckled with her. In the back of my mind, however, I was wondering why.
The door suddenly burst open, causing every patron to cease their drinking and looked towards the man who entered. Before he could get a word out, a blade emerged through his chest killing him. The people screamed in horror as the attacker made their way into the inn.
He wore a what looked like very familiar gray robes with a cross-looking buckle on its collar. I hissed lightly, recognizing the vampire instantly.
Just when I thought things could not get nicer, things took a turn for the worse.
Instantly getting up from my chair I ran for the attacker, dagger in hand. Reaching the blood-sucker, I brought it in for a quick stab to the chest. The murderer quickly dodged the stab and tried to slash at my neck, smiling with murderous glee. The sword bounced off the gauntlet that I placed in the way and quickly threw a punch into the threat’s neck.
The attack hit him right in the center of his throat, causing the man to gasp and cough frantically. A lightning bolt soon hit him in the head, dropping him in an instant. Turning I saw Serana walking towards me with the magic pulsing through her hand.
“Next time, attack together,” she mused. Cheeky woman indeed.
“Come on, there’s probably more outside! Everyone else,” I turned to the fearful crowd pushing themselves further to the back of the inn, “stay here! We’ll take care of whatever is going on!”
“Let’s go already Xian,” Serana said sternly drawing her own elven dagger. “People are dying out there. I can hear them!”
Making our way out the door, the two of us were greeted by guards either fighting or dying against more villains.
Solitude’s dark history was about to get even darker.