The Bounty Chronicles: Ch. 9

*~Serana Volkihar~*

The wet sloshing of boots drowned out the buzz of the insects and croaking of the wildlife as I trudged through the swamp, the heat of the sun warming my back up to unpleasant temperatures. Thankfully with my hood up it would not burn my face nor nearly blind me. The last few days were, as far as I was concerned, filled with family drama that even vampires couldn’t withstand.

For five agonizing days my father went on about the prophecy that would be ‘our salvation’. Ha! ‘Our salvation’. Our death more like it. ‘Blot out the sun this,’ ‘Blot out the sun that’, over and over. Nothing was healthy about it. And to be completely honest…

It broke my heart.

Coming to the realization of what transgressed through my mind I shook my head.

“Snap out of it Serana. You know better than that,” I kept telling myself. Father, why did you have to be such a sadistic bastard? Why? I enjoyed it when he was a- somewhat- caring father before we fully gave ourselves to Molag Bal.

Vampires no longer would need to fear the sun… Bullshit! We would have to fear the rest of Tamriel! Armies to-to…! Gods, damn it all to hell!

My thoughts jumbled within their prison, making me grow in irritability. I only succeeded in driving them away after shaking them free. All I really knew was I’d be safe, far safer away from father and the rest of the court. Blame the vampire side of me for being untrusting of them.

So precious few people in this world that I could even begin to trust. Xian could be a helpful ally, seeing as I had no such thing to my name.  Little did I know that would escalate to something far more than my gut telling me otherwise.

It was midafternoon and there was still a lot of terrain to cover before I would be able to reach that little town Xian brought me to before heading for Solitude. I believe he said it was called Morthal or something similar. The inn we stayed at would probably recognize me though I had my sincerest doubts.

The bugs began to take flight even more as the sun set more and more. They buzzed around my ears and face like annoying flies which, no doubt, were among the bugs trying to bite me.

“Little flying bastards,” I grunted between my swatting them away. This seemed only to redouble their efforts in trying to get at my flesh and blood. The insects served only to annoy me even more before I drew a spell.

The Electric Cloak traveled and crackled around my whole body. Normally I’d use this little number to deter people with melee weapons from getting to close but it worked wonders on the bugs. They dropped like little black rocks to the swamp ground beneath me; the smoke that some trailed was able to reach my waist.

My little victory was short lived as I quickly realized I was still in a swamp-infested land. Water and electricity never really mixed well together and I didn’t feel like giving myself a real taste of my power. Until the cloak wore off my eyes never seemed to leave the ground, trying to avoid any stray water puddles that laid before me.

“Good work Serana,” I muttered to myself, “you really didn’t think that one through.”

But the upside to the cloak was that any insects that came too close merely fried and dropped dead to the muddy water and gray plants and grasses. So a win for me, I thought with a rather pleased grin. As I progressed further into the swamps north of Morthal, the more I could see the insects becoming fewer in number. It was a relief to my cloak-less self. At the rate I was going I would be able to reach the town before nightfall; not that I was complaining about it but being there before then gave me a safe feeling.

I feel like Xian rubbed off on me a little. Habit wise anyway.

The black Argonian had said it himself, he was an enigma. So strange and mysterious… Now I’m sounding like some fawning courtesan. Gross. But it didn’t derive from the fact that he was. And it felt even stranger that he considered me a friend only after traveling together for about three days.

Attachment problems maybe?

My thoughts helped drown out the passage of time. By the time I collected myself, the dim lights of the sun were seizing their last before setting and the rising torch smoke signaled Morthal just ahead. Always nice when something like that happens and you get a treat for it.

Proceeding from the end of town, even from where I stood there wasn’t much of one. The lumberjack was hard at work, splitting the numerous logs by his feet only to stop and stare at me. I stared right back; maybe he was fascinated by the Elder Scroll on my back? His long black beard was filled with wood chips and bark from his long day of working in the sun. The scent of sweat was palpable as well, radiating mainly from his torso and head.

“What brings you here from the swamp?” He asked. The man didn’t relinquish his grip on the axe.

“Forgive me, but is it a problem for me to emerge from there?”

“Just suspicious. We don’t like strange folk in our midst.”

Strange folk?

“Are strange people often in Morthal?” I asked with a curious look. Having been awoken after centuries of slumber, any knowledge was new knowledge.

“No. Unless you count that Fallion wizard.” The Nord became more temperamental. “We’ve no need for wizards in our town!”

“I-I see,” I responded with a weak nod. Maybe if he can see my dagger he won’t become hostile towards me.

“What is that anyway?” He pointed the axe at the Elder Scroll.

Even if I did lie I was sure he knew what it was. “An Elder Scroll. And it’s mine.”

“What’s a lass like you doin’ with one of them?”

“That is none of your business,” I remarked with gusto. The same kind I gave Xian when he asked the similar question.

He took a step back, but the man’s eyes narrowed all the same.

“I’ve got my eye on you, lass.”

“Whatever,” I shrugged before heading over the nearby stone bridge.

Despite Morthal being a small, quiet town, it had many guards on patrol. It later occurred to me that it was probably just to make sure no creatures from the swamps can attack and kill the citizens. At least my first visit here was fairly recent and finding the inn wasn’t that much trouble. Several guards glanced my way many times, more than likely wondering why I was looking from one building to the next.

Opening the door to the inn, my ears where the first to be assaulted with an awful racket. Ughh, what in Oblivion could make such a horrid noise?! Looking left then right I saw the cause of the travesty: a singing Orc. A quick look to the innkeeper and seeing that she didn’t have hands over her ears, the poor woman was used to it.

Oh Gods, how am I going to survive a night in this place with what Molag Bal would even consider kicking out of Coldharbor, I thought to myself with gritted teeth.

The Orc quickly saw me standing by the fire before speaking up.

“Why hello friend.” His smile was off putting. “What brings you here to dreary old Morthal?”

I could have insulted him by saying not his singing, but that would definitely make me stand out like a nirnroot among jazzbay grapes.

“Just a place to stay for the night.”

“Well then you’ve come to the right place. For there’s nothing more fair then laying your head against a soft pillow accompanied by a bard’s tongue.”

Oh crap, he’s a bard… Shit.

“Why how… how nice,” I lied. The “good” mood quickly changed after slapping his green hand away from the Scroll. “Hands off.”

“Ow!" The Orc cried out in pain, his hand tensed up as he tried to quell the pain away. "Why’d ya hit me for?” Already the slap mark on his hand was turning red.

“Because you do not touch what isn’t yours.”

“Alright, fair enough,” he shrugged, rubbing the back of his hand. “But still you didn’t have to-“

“I’m uneasy of strangers.”

“Ok, but you didn’t have to hit me,” he remarked.

“Lurbuk, just leave her alone already.”

Both of us turned to the Redguard innkeeper. Her hands where folded across her chest. “You pay to keep a room and sing, not harass customers with questions or trying to take their possessions.”

“But I didn’t,” he protested.

“That still doesn’t give you the right to try and touch what isn’t yours.”

Oh thank you my savior!

Lurbuk groaned in minor pain. “Sorry miss.”

“Thank you for the apology,” I said before heading for the keeper. “You have no idea how much trouble you just saved me.”

“Oh believe me honey, I do,” she smiled. “And don’t worry about Lurbuk. He’s just a curious soul.”

“Curious maybe, but still can’t sing with a damn.”

“You’re tellin’ me.” We both shared a laugh at the expense of the Orc who had gone back to hitting his drum. “Anyway, what brings you back here?”

“Well…. I’m looking for the Argonian I came with that day.”

“Ah, Xian-Krie. The both famous and infamous Dragonborn.”

“’Infamous’?” I asked, cocking an eyebrow. “Why that?” I already knew but more confirmation never hurt.

“Well, he was kind of slept around back in the day.”

“And he became infamous for that?” Well what Xian told me about his sleeping days were true. Straight from the lizard’s mouth, priestess’s, and now this innkeeper’s.

“Oh yeah. But he quit hiring the tavern wenches some time ago but people still tease him about it.” The smile of her face lit of the otherwise dreary bar. Only a couple of civilians were in having a drink and bite to eat. “I try not to indulge in that and he seems to be happy about it. Oh, by the way, name’s Jonna.” She held out her hand.

“Serana.” I grabbed her hand and gave it a shake before retreating. “Have you seen him since we came in?”

“Actually I haven’t. But then again he is a bounty hunter. Probably took off by horse for his next payment.”

“Damn, back to square one,” I pouted. “Why did I think it would be easy to find him?”

“Could it be perhaps because of his importance to Skyrim?”

“Well… sure why not,” I shrugged. Had no better answer.

Ada chuckled. “Be that as it may, he can be difficult to track down. That wily Argonian can slither his way out of most situations with that tongue of his.”

“How so?” This could be useful later on.

“It’s just as it sound honey, he can talk his way to anyone. He tends to give off the imposing stature more than anything, but deep down he is down to his roots.”

All of this was good information on Xian. I had no idea. But, at the same time, she only gave me glimpses of his attitude.

“Jonna, may I rent a room?”

“Of course you can. Have the gold to?”

I reached to my belt but felt no coin purse. “I- oh shit. Ugh.”

She simply smiled again. “Don’t worry your pretty head. I can put the room, and a meal, on Xian’s tab.”

“Wait, he has a tab?” I asked in confusion.

“He does now.”

The two of us shared a good laugh at the expense of Xian’s “generosity”. The meal was good but it didn’t do anything but keep up appearances. A vampire can’t gain any good nutrients from food humans and elves eat. It is all in the blood for us and thankfully my thirst was fine. The soup and bread made for excellent taste though. It had been even longer than my locking up that I had regular food. A nice reminder of what that was like felt nice.

“So,” I asked, placing the wooden spoon back into the bowl, “do you know anyone that would happen to know where Xian went?”

“What’s your interest in that lizard, if I may ask,” Jonna questioned with a fold of her arms. She looked like some sort of mother looking out for one of her children.

“I’d rather not go into too much detail, but all I’ll say is that I trust him. More than… certain people.”

“Sounds serious.”

More than you realize. Think of something, daft woman! “Just someone I can confide in about some subjects,” I replied, rubbing the hair out of my eyes. “As I stated, he’s the only one I trust.”

“Ok. It sounds a bit shady to me, but it isn’t my business to pry details from customers.” Jonna smiled at me.

“I appreciate that Jonna,” I returned the favor. “Really I do.”

“Don’t mention it honey. And as for who you can ask,” the Redguard rubbed her temple in thought before taking a wet cloth and wiped down the bar. “You can try to ask the guards. They know plenty about the goings-on of this town and a majority of Skyrim.”

“I’ll try in the morning then. Oh uhh… which room is mine then?”

“Sorry for not saying sooner.” She pointed to the left room with the closed door. “That one. It has a double bed for more legroom and whatnot. Enjoy your night.”

“Thank you for your generosity,” I smiled, taking great care not to show my fangs.

“Don’t mention it,” she said with a friendly wave.

Sleeping in a regular bed was… an experience. The wooden boards beneath the soft, large bag of hay felt eerily familiar. Apart from the hay mattress, it felt like a coffin despite the absence of the walls. Surprisingly, I didn’t find it all that difficult to fall asleep. It was probably one of the better nights of sleep I ever had!

Night left and morning took its place. The sun shined in through the window nearby, nearly blinding me and causing my blood to heat up beneath my skin. Gods, how I hated that! Only being covered up really protected me from the evil rays of the bright bastard in the sky. While outside anyway.

With a groan of dismay, I begrudgingly got out of bed and rubs my eyes. It was so soft, so pliable… oh well. Quickly getting dressed and grabbing the Elder Scroll, my thanks was given to Jonna once again before heading into the bright outside world.

Ugh, Gods and Blood, that sun was bright! Donning my hood, the shade provided the protection my sensitive eyes and skin deserved. At the same time I couldn’t help but feel suddenly bad. The warm feeling of comfort the sun gave was not only bittersweet, but if Father has his way, eradicated.

Everything has to be difficult.

The sound of footsteps on the ground brought me from the horrid possibilities swirling around in my head.

“Excuse me, ma’am. You alright? Look a little worried.”

The guardsman had a green suit of armor with matching helmet and shield to go with it. Judging from the tone in his voice, the Nord was really just doing his job and making sure the citizens were alright.

“N-no. I’m fine,” I lied, scratching the back of my head.

“Alright, ma’am,” he nodded. “Only making sure.” The man turned to leave.


“Hmm? What is it?”

“Do you know anything about the whereabouts of either Xian-Krie or a group known as the Dawnguard? He said if I wanted to find him, that’d be where he’d be,” I said walking down the inn’s steps. Lying is nothing new to a vampire. And it wasn’t like I didn’t tell the truth either by asking Xian’s location, along with the Dawnguard’s.

“The Dragonborn. And the Dawnguard?” The guard turn to face me directly. It was kind of strange, what with that helmet of his. “I’m afraid I don’t know that Argonian’s location.”


“But the Dawnguard,” he said in a strained voice. “What in Oblivion did they say!? Ahh, that’s right. My fellow guards said the vampire hunters are in an old fort near Riften.”


“Yes. Do you have a map?”

“No,” I grimaced.

The man put his head down, almost like in defeat, and then back up.

“Ok, so you do not have a map. Do you know the holds of Skyrim?”

“A little bit, but not completely,” I answered honestly.

“But you understand of our holds. Good,” he answered happily. “Riften is to the south-east of Hjaalmarch, the hold Morthal belongs to. The city of Riften almost hugs the Jerall and Velothi Mountains, if that helps you too.”

“It does! I know where those are.” I smiled, knowing the directions now. “Thank you very much.”

 The Jerall and Velothi Mountains was something commonly used as a map marker for many things in the distant past. The latter also acted as a type of border between Morrowind and Skyrim. This helped me drastically!

“Not a problem, kinsman,” the Nord nodded, no doubt smiling behind that helmet of his. “I’ve considered joining the Dawnguard myself once or twice. But… eh we’ll see. Have a good rest of your morning, kinsman.” He turned and continued on with his rounds of the town.

“Likewise,” I called out to him before heading off.

Well, that wasn’t so bad. Learned a little bit more of Skyrim’s layout and seemingly made a new acquaintance.

Heading out of Morthal, the sun was to my left, giving me the returning of uncomfortable warmth. Still, it was better than being in the darkness of that cave. Anything was, really. And the foreboding thoughts returned once again, filling me with a sickening discomfort that nullified the sun on my body. Even a tear fell from the corner of my eye.

Please don’t take the shining light away from everyone. Return to your senses.



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  • I liked how you interwove the Lighting Cloak for a use other than combat and accounted for problems it could cause for the caster as well. Very well thought out.

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