The Bounty Chronicles: Ch. 5



The morning sun peaked its way through the green trees and kissed the side of my face, waking me from my deep slumber. Glancing up from the bedroll I could just make out Serana doing the same; her hood quickly covered her head.


“The sun bother you that much?”


“Well it’s not exactly good for my skin, if you know what I mean,” she replied with an amused grin.


“This one can imagine.”


“Speaking of not good for skin,” the vampire gestured to my still exposed upper body, “you going to put your chest piece back on?”


I couldn’t help but chortle. “Seeing me like this bothers you that much?” Rising to my feet I grabbed the chest piece and put it on. Felt nice to have it over my scales again.


“A little, if only because Argonians aren’t known for their stature,” Serana said with a shrug.


“So I am an anomaly among my people now?” Tossing these quips back and forth with her was putting a light smile to my face. To be honest I didn’t really know why. Inwardly I shrugged at my thought.


“I wouldn’t say anomaly, Xian. Just,” she paused searching for the right word, “a rarity. Not many Argonians can say they have the same stature of a Nord warrior.”


‘I’ll take that as a compliment,” I smirked, kneeling down to collect my gear.


The sweet smell of the salmon had long dissipated in the night but the bones of the fish remained by the stone circle. Any wild animal would have them after we would leave.


“So,” Serana began, “what do you plan on doing after you get me home?”


Placing the two bedrolls in my bag I spoke. “I suppose I’ll head back to the Dawnguard and retrieve my payment for looking into that Dimhollow cave.”


“I see.” She sounded almost displeased.


“What kind of answer were you hoping for then, Serana?” When I looked back she had her arms folded across her chest. Her expression was one of a perturbed stance. And in an instant she became a little flustered.


“I… I just wanted to keep someone who considers me a friend close, that’s all.”


Finished packing the rolls in the bag, and retrieving a black fur cloak, I began to leave it behind a tree, not caring in the slightest about its wellbeing.


I sighed, suddenly feeling defeated and bad. “I apologize Serana, but I do not think being, possibly, surrounded by vampires is something someone like this one would enjoy.”


“How do you figure,” she asked as we started to move north.


“I am a bounty hunter,” I explained. “Taking jobs and killing for money is what I do. That also means I’ve hunted and killed many vampires as well as werewolves. So much so I started to catalog everything I learned from each encounter. Marking down everything from their weaknesses to where it will hurt the most when hit.”


“That seems a little excessive. Even for one of your profession,” she commented ducking below a branch.


“I agree, but it allows me to stay on my toes when fighting such dangerous creatures.” I turned just in time to see her wince at the word ‘creatures’.


“Does that mean you’ve already done that with me?” Her voice became worried-like.


“No,” I shook my head. “I did not catalog you nor will I.”


The Nord vampire breathed a sigh of relief; I could hear a smile creeping back onto her face. “That’s a load off my mind.”


“I’ll bet.”


“Hey,” she commented, playfully punching my shoulder, “was that a shot at me?”


“Believe me, you’ll know when I take a shot at you,” I remarked with a light smile. “I’m rather blunt at times.”


That snort could have been heard a mile away.


“You don’t say?”


“Now who is being blunt?” Laughter was being shared and it felt nice to express something other than a stern demeanor.


Time was passing quickly as we traveled past the snow covered mountain tops. With the sun getting higher its rays reflected off of the snow that crunched beneath our feet. Our conversation went from one subject to another, always trying to see if there was something new to pick our brains with.


Then a strange question came.


“May I see your… whatever you write on about vampires?”


I gazed at her with a questioning look. “You wish to see my writings on your kind?”


Serana gave me a nod, orange eyes softly glowing in the shade of her hood. “I do. I would like to see what you have.”


Giving it a moment of thought I conceded. Reaching into a pouch on my side the small black leather journal was released and placed in her waiting hand. She obviously knew what I had written and flipped through the pages until coming to something that caught her interest and read it aloud.


“’Vampires are far more active at night than they are in the morning, but an attack during the day is not unheard of. While they normally would not survive a daylight attack, what the vampires are after is to spread panic and death.’” She looked to me before looking back to the journal and flipped another page. “’A vampire’s primary weaknesses are the sun and fire of any kind. Of course silver works perfection on their immortal bodies as well. While they do have enhanced senses, strength and speed, that does not take away their regular body’s weaknesses.’”


She stopped talking which meant she was either trying to figure what to say or looking at the diagram of a Nord vampire with circles over the weakest points.


“You obviously went to a lot of trouble to make this as accurate as possible.”


“You could say that, Serana.”


“However, there is something wrong in what I read.” Her finger traced backward. “’…what the vampires are after is to spread panic and death.’ Unfortunately, it’s more than that.” My friend lowered her head in shame. “Normally vampires attack to probe for any form of weakness in a guard system.”


My eyes narrowed. “Sounds like personal experience talking.”


“You’d think that, but no. What you or others don’t realize is there is always a scout stationed away from the carnage incase none of the attackers survived.”


“Hold on,” I stopped, “so that means Solitude could be attacked again at some point?”


“Maybe, but since I was there and recognized…” She stopped, letting her sentence hang there in silence. I could piece the rest together.


“I see.”


“So returning home is the only option otherwise more people could be killed.”


“Shit.” I shook my head in anger. Things became more difficult than I originally imagined.


“Look,” she tried to reassure me, handing back the book, “if I can get back home, then the attacks could cease altogether.”


We continued on our way, trying to get our hopes back up about something that wasn’t vampire attacks. Hours past and we traveled, in the shadows, across the territory of the Thalmor prison, Northwatch Keep, and finally came to the edge of land in the north-western corner of Skyrim.


“See that castle in the distance, through the fog?” Serana asked, pointing a finger towards it.


I nodded, “I see it, yes.”


“That’s where I live.”


“Seems like a nice place.”


“Wait till you see it up close then tell me your opinion.”


“Sounds like a challenge if I ever heard one,” I mused.


“Well you could consider it one, Xian. Don’t bite off more than you can chew,” she smirked back.


“Alright, that was a shot at me.”


“Oh good, you were paying attention.”


“And it seems there’s a boat,” I pointed towards the jetty. “And I get to row. Great.”


“It’s like you can read minds.”




This woman was rubbing off on me and I had no idea if that was worrisome or I didn’t mind.


Rowing off into the, more than likely, icy water, the long ride was uneventful and quiet. Several times water lapped into the wooden carriage but what made my senses go on edge was when we were consumed by the encompassing fog that seemed to circle around the island. Even so, having me in her company seemingly made Serana feel less tense about heading home. It made me feel better somehow too.


After several long minutes of rowing the boat our feet were on dry land once again. Rolling my shoulders to get the stiff feeling free I got a better look of the castle.


It was more imposing up close. A bridge connecting the small bit of sand stretched out a long length, littered with statues on both sides. Even from where we stood I could make them out: crouching creatures with wings and twisted, curved horns and sharp, jagged teeth.


“You were right; nice place,” I said sarcastically as we started to walk across the stone bridge. Shadows of horrid looking birds flew overhead; their feathers in every which direction.


“Told you,” Serana replied in a soft voice. Before getting to the middle, she stopped me with a hand on my shoulder. “Before we go in, could I ask you something?”


I was surprised by her choice of words. “Uh sure. What is it?”


“It’s nothing. But, just let me take the lead. You never know what might happen when we head in.”


Looking her in the eyes Serana was serious and a tad nervous. “If you believe so,” I nodded. “Lead on.”


And she did. The silence while walking was eerie to say the least. If felt as if we were being watched and it drove me insane.


“Lady Serana has returned!” A voice broke the perpetual quiet causing both of us to start. “Open the gate!” The grating of gears filled the cold air as the gate was raised into its holding. Standing before us now was an old man wearing a set of leather armor with a sword on his hip.


As we passed him the Nord spoke to me. “Lady Serana’s been gone a long time. The Lord was wondering when she’d return.” Gazing into his face I saw his eyes were not the orange all vampires had. This man was a thrall. 


Giving a nod we entered the large structure itself. Inside was a hallway that seemed to lead into a great hall filled with candles that gave it a far more foreboding look than a warm welcome.


“How dare you trespass here,” a voice called out. An Altmer with white hair wearing that same noble looking leather armor with the cross walked up. His tone changed when he looked to my companion. “Wait, Serana?! I cannot believe my eyes.” Turning to face the hall he called out, “My Lord, everyone! Serana has returned!”


“I guess I’m expected,” she said with a quick glance before continuing to head further in.


Walking down the stairs the iron in the air was strong, nearly causing me to cough at the scent. Long, wooden tables were lined up on either side, leaving the middle open, with corpses strewn along their length. Men and women buried their faces into flesh, feasting on the meat and blood that sprayed from the fresh openings.


A man wearing an armor very similar to Serana spoke. His voice seemed to drip with doomed radiance. The man’s expression looked as though a long lost possession was finally returned.


“My long lost daughter has returned at last. I trust you have my Elder Scroll?”


“After all these years,” she asked with a sorrow filled voice, “that’s the first thing you say to me? Yes I have your scroll…”


The Nord raised a hand up to try and ease whatever pain he gave her. “Of course I am delighted to see you too. Must I really say the words aloud?” The man gave a sigh. “If only your mother were here. She’d be glad to see you before I put her head on a pike!” His gaze fell to me. “Now tell me, who is this stranger you have brought into our hall?”


“This is my savior. The one who freed me,” she replied turning towards me. The look in her eyes was almost desperate.


“For my daughter’s safe return, you have my gratitude.” The man smiled, his sharp canines poking between his lips. “Now tell me, what is your name?”


Despite the anxious feeling that Serana was having, I remained my usual self. “You first.”


“I am Harkon, Lord of this court.” His eyes narrowed, an extremely thin, evident threat that all could feel swell in the room. “Now you, Argonian.”

“Xian-Krie. A simple bounty hunter.”


“I know there is nothing simple about you, hunter.” The vampire looked me up and down, giving the impression he was measuring me in an unspoken manner. “There is no doubt that you know who we are, whether my daughter has told you or not.”


The man was hiding something. There was nothing simple about me and everyone who knows me knew that. Harkon didn’t know me. Could he have been told?


“How very true.” Several more wet schlorps sounded as the other undead feasted. “You are vampires.”


“Not just vampires.” That caught my attention. “We are among the oldest and most powerful vampires in Skyrim.” Harkon began to pace about, his steel tipped boots echoing with each step. “For years we have been sheltered from the cares of the world. But all that was taken when my wife betrayed me and took that which I valued most.”


Only, would that be your daughter or the Elder Scroll? “I see,” I said crossing my arms. The black haired vampire stared at me still, almost like I was a piece of meat. “So what happens now, Harkon?”


“Now you shall be rewarded.”


“Oh?” I narrowed my eyes trying to figure the man out. There was something very different about this vampire than any other I have faced.


“There is but one gift I can think of that is equal of value to both my daughter and the Elder Scroll.” He opened his arms. “I offer you my blood. Take it and you shall walk as a lion among sheep. Men will tremble at your approach you’ll never fear death again.”


Vampirism. “And what happens to this one if he refuses?”


Harkon frowned, his tone changing to a predatory growl. “Then you will be banished. I will spare your life this once but then thereafter you are prey.” He watched as I placed a hand to my chin in thought. More than a moment went by before he broke the silence. “Perhaps you still need convincing. Behold the power!”


The vampire began to convulse, coughing before becoming devoured by a layer of red. Seconds later the shell broke. Gone was the man, replaced by some sort of monster.


Long, gray arms and legs ended with sharp, lethal claws that created furrows in the stonework beneath him. Harkon’s armor was gone, a gold piece on his chest covered him; a single burnt-orange ruby in the center. Along his wait was a belt of red cloth that unfurled in the center, sides and back, embroiled with gold and gems that mimicked the one on his midsection. Atop his head was a crown that curved with his unique skull; a bright red cape draped down his back. Long, thin bat-like wings sprang up just above his shoulders, giving off occasional powerful flaps that kicked up any loose dirt on the ground.


What caught my attention most was how much his face changed. Removed was the almost regal looking visage of Harkon. It was now the face of a monster that looked like it belonged in Oblivion. His canine teeth were by far the star of his mouth, the deadly things nearly half an inch long.


Chancing a quick look to Serana I saw her take a step back. It seemed even she was scared of her father’s power.


I, however, stood my ground. Facing Alduin in Sovengarde was far more dangerous than this thing. Instead of answering outright, I started to walk in a slow circle, taking in all his glory. Making my way back around I made mental notes on any points I could exploit, any place that would cause the most pain on his body in case he and I would ever fight.


Harkon growled at the lack of a response. “Speak, Argonian! What is your answer for my gift?!”


All eyes were now on me. My smile had to be big because Harkon mimicked it, thinking he knew my thoughts.


“While this one is flattered by your offer, Harkon… this bounty hunter will have to refuse your gift. I find Vampirism and Lycanthropy interesting, but not enough that I’d become one.”


“So be it,” he sneered. The vampire lord of the court began to float above the ground, casting his shadow and dominating glare far and wide. “You are prey, like all mortals. I banish you!”


Opening his hand, a spell formed and charged before it was launched towards me. Before the world went dark I looked again to Serana. She bowed her head with closed eyes. Sorry, Serana, I thought before darkness consumed me.




Groaning, my eyes fluttered open nearly becoming blinded by the sun. Water splashed at my side stirring me to finally sit up. A quick pat down relieved me of having any items of mine gone. No injuries as well.


Looking to the left I saw the castle in the far distance become clearer as I became use to the light again. It seemed Harkon teleported me just where the boat first was. Turning the other way gave a view of the fortified fortress of Northwatch.


“Ah, dammit,” I sighed. “Just my luck. Find someone you can call a friend and loose ‘em in an instant.” An unpleasant memory from my childhood shot through my mind. I could see my parents and little brother sobbing before it was shook away with a scowl. I made the right decision then and I made it now!


Getting ahold of myself I made a plan to head for Fort Dawnguard and tell Isran my report and get my payment. It was long overdue and my coin purse was getting low.


“Hold it right there!”


I knew the accent instantly. Turning to face the noise, four Thalmor soldiers in Elven and Glass armor marched forward with their weapons drawn.


“This one is nowhere near your prison.”


“You are still trespassing on Thalmor territory,” the leader of the group said, loud and proud. “Come quietly or suffer the consequences!”


The four distractions helped take my mind off of things.


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  • Loving this story so far. 

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