The Shinigami: Act 7 "Arriving Storms"


“Halfdan-Senpai, good morning”, unsure what to say because of his surprise when he arrived home, he just greeted him immediately. “Fresh air, Taichou. Had one too many drinks last night”, he added, blurting out a lie.

“You weren't at the tavern”, Halfdan replied blankly.

“I was at home, drinking, reading”, another obvious lie from Eljar.

“You just arrived.”

“Are you stalking me, Halfdan-Taichou? Sorry, but I prefer folk with actual holes in between their legs”. The jest made Halfdan smirk. Then he laughed out loud. Eljar too, somehow managed to laugh awkwardly, realizing he was actually a tad more serious with his last comment than joking.

“You got me there Eljar”, the captain managed to squeeze words in between his laughs. When he abruptly stopped, he said something that made Eljar nervous. “I know you're lying, Eljar”. He knew something. The captain was smarter than he looked being a former Blade. “Careful with fooling around with the Lady. I don't want her to get hurt”, Halfdan added.

Alright, maybe he knew something else, Eljar thought. But he didn't know if he was to be relieved or not. “I.. I wasn't.. Of course, Senpai. I'm sworn to protect the Daimyo”, he answered.

“Good”, Halfdan replied then walked away. That was close, Eljar thought. But the captain got the wrong idea. That was an awkwardly embarrassing situation. But no matter as long as the real secret was safe.

The following night was windless and foggy, perfect for hunting vampires, Risa thought. It had been days since the Shinigami was last in action. Looking at herself in the mirror, she donned her usual black Kunoichi armor. However this time, she wore a horned Kabuto over her head. This was going to be a tougher mission. She had finally pinpointed the assailant of the child, Ingrid, a master vampire and worshipper of the Daedric Prince, Clavicus Vile.

The monster was also spotted residing with another coven in a cave close by, the Volkihar clan. The Shinigami knew that this was going to be her toughest quest to date.

Deep in the wilderness to the northeast of the Pale Pass, Eljar was already on to something. He got word that the one he had been tracking for weeks was headed towards a cave nearby called ‘Haemar's Shame’. With a black soul gem in hand, this time, he was ready to take his first vampiric soul. And what better place to go to for the cave hosted two vampire clans.

There was no doubt that the cave was infested with vampiric scum. Risa had to be more strategical this time instead of going on a rampage. Besides the vampires, there were thralls, men of different races under some vampiric spell. Vile's vampires were definitely extraordinary. They were also powerful mages.

The Shinigami started to sneak upon the thralls first then proceeded in cutting their throats. She did attempt to free them from the enthralling spell, but it was too powerful for her knowledge of the arcane. And trying to free the thralls from dark magic revealed her presence to some of the vampires.

“Screw this stealth mission. I'm not good at it, anyway. Come at me arse fuckers”, she said while preparing to engage the vampires. Four vampires rushed towards her, but did not draw weapons. Instead, the fiends let loose waves of frost magic coming from their hands.

These were master class vampires with magical capabilities, Risa thought. There were more of them deep within the cave. She had to think fast for the ice spell was about to hit her, and she needed to deal with them quickly to avoid getting too much attention. Fortunately, she brought another handy weapon, or armor, an enchanted shield that resisted all incoming destructive spells.

She just simply raised her shield. The moment the frost spell collided with it, everything seemed to explode into a mist. Only the Shinigami and vampire dust were left when the mist cleared.

She was being followed. Risa knew it from the very beginning. The shadow was there the whole time, occasionally revealing itself then disappearing. Whoever this stalker was, it might not have any intention of killing her, or it could be waiting for the right moment to engage. She could not afford to be less vigilant. She was fighting enemies on all fronts.

Eljar's situation in Haemar's Shame was a little more successful though. Tracking his target got him to find what might be the mastermind of the vampire gathering. He listened intently to the conversation between the possible figurehead and another master vampire.

“The lord of the Volkihar wants to push through with my plan. The time is at hand”, the Volkihar vampire said, revealing himself to be the head of what seemed to be an organized event to come.

“We're still not very sure here. It's a waste of human cattle. That settlement is the largest in the area”, the other vampire replied.

“It's a necessary sacrifice for what's to come, my brethren. Once my master fulfills his destiny, you can have all the blood you can drink.”

“I still have my doubts. Destroying the Pale Pass also means cutting us from Cyrodiil. I don't know if this would go well for my followers. Many of them thrive on living amongst the common folk of the Imperial City.”

“Why disguise yourself amongst the sheep if you can be the wolf that hunts them down? There is plenty of meat in Skyrim. A civil war is rampaging for crying out loud.”

“We already got the power we wished from Lord Vile. We just want to keep this power and live normally.”

The Volkihar master sighed and was silenced for a few moments. He looked at the other vampire with disappointment then said, “It's your choice, brother. I'm giving you seven days. If you side with us, you know you get to keep that power for eternity.”

Eljar could not believe what he just heard. “This is bad”, he thought. The vampire menace was not brought upon by the Shinigami's actions. They were planning to go here all along.

Eljar thought that they were going to need more firepower both literally and figuratively against a coordinated vampire invasion. “Seven days”, he thought. There was no use hiding his activities from the Daimyo. Even if he got suspended from the job, at least he got to warn the people of an impending attack.

Then it happened, a rare and slight miscalculation from Eljar. A vampire appeared out of nowhere, and it was behind him ready to strike. Fortunately, Eljar was able to anticipate the strike at the right moment. “What have we got here? Meat..”, the vampire said.

“Were you talking to me? Keep your voice down. I was trying to listen to them”, Eljar said, jesting and referring to the talking vampires. He blocked another strike from the vampire's sword, then another, and some more. “And the name's Eljar. You must've mistaken me from someone called ‘Meat’. Nice to meet you”, he added, still joking while blocking strikes. This was the perfect opportunity for Eljar to fill his gem. However, this was something he did not expect.

He was decent with his katana, to say the least, but not the best. He was still able to hold his own against this vampire, but if it went longer, he knew he would surely die. "Might I add that this 'Meat' must be a very handsome looking lad", Eljar squeezed some words in between the skirmish, hoping to distract the monster.

The blows were fast and heavy, expected from the supernatural human abilities of a vampire. However, it was more difficult in person than how it was told in the books.

Lady Risa did not expect to hear swords clash behind her. She was already close to the main room of the vampire hideout, but the noise got everyone's attention. She decided to track back, and go to where the sound of the skirmish was coming from. Everyone in the cave did the same. But the Shinigami avoided to reveal herself to prevent complications.

The noise did not come from near the entrance of the cave. She realized that there was a hidden pathway going upward. She went through with it. The opening revealed a view of the entirety of the main hall. Whoever found this path was clever. But the place where the clash of swords was coming wasn't seen yet. But close, very close.

She knew at that moment, her stalker found an enemy in the cave, concluding that he was definitely someone the vampires did not like. She knew now who he was.

The vampire's killing blow did not make contact. Surprised, Eljar looked up to see the vampire slowly turning into dust. While it slowly disintegrated, a dark figure revealed itself from behind it.

“I do not have a knack for hiding behind taverns, Eljar. That was a one time thing”, the shadow spoke.

“So you've known for quite sometime I've been following you, Daimyo-Sama”, Eljar replied, realizing he was talking to the Shinigami, Lady Risa.

Both Samurai warriors sheathed their swords. Then the Shinigami removed her Kabuto, revealing a very disappointed look. She gave Eljar that same glaring face.

“Hey, I've got everything under control 'til you came along”, Eljar jested, desperately trying to diffuse the tension.

“You're crazy”, Risa replied blankly. Then out of the blue, she bashed her shield towards Eljar.

“Ouch! What was that for? It hurts”, Eljar cried in pain as she continued to bash him even more. “Stop it! I get it. You're pissed”, he added.

“Pissed? Oh yeah, I'm fucking pissed! I really actually thought I was being targeted, you bastard. If this was one of your pranks, Eljar, it was not funny at all”, she exclaimed while still pounding him to the ground.

“You got scared? Ouch! Alright. Ack. I got it. I'm sorry”, he replied as she gradually stopped hitting him with her shield. She stared at him for a while as he stood up straight slowly, hesitating he might get hit again. She even faked hitting him again, and he staggered a bit. “I'm sorry, milady. Since I was the only one who knew, it was the least I could do to protect you”, he added apologetically which somehow toned Risa's fury down.

But she was still very angry, and Eljar realized it when she suddenly grabbed him by the arm and dragged him. He could barely keep up the pace. She was very strong for a tiny woman. It reminded him of his younger years when Lady Risa dragged him out of class by the ear whenever he did something appalling.

“Wait. Where are we going? The target is over there”, Eljar said as she dragged him towards another exit.

“Home”, she answered coldly as she dragged him while they walked fast.

“But we're close. That's why I was gone at the start of Ingrid's pyre. I've been tracking this one. It's the one that turned her. Ouch! That hurt”, he replied, but was silenced immediately with a violent whack to the head by the Shinigami.

“Been tracking it using me, then what? You think you can take him on? You're going to get yourself killed. You're mad to even think about it.”

“I've gone mad? Who goes into caves full of monsters at night alone?”

“I already told you why I do this.”

“What? I didn't say it was you. Why are you being defensive?”

“Stop toying with me, Eljar.”

“Well it was worth trying to lighten things up. You're seriously fucking hyped about this”. She didn't answer after that. She just kept walking towards the cave exit, but she let go of his arm. “Look. Relax. I really had it under control. I'm confident with what I can do, Sensei”, he added, hoping she would finally let up.

She stopped right before the exit. Then she faced him. “It was about to kill you, Eljar if I hadn't come”, she finally spoke, but with a softer and sadder tone.

Eljar was going to say that he was actually waiting for the killing blow to strike at the perfect moment, but he kept it in. Even if he completely knew what he was doing, he realized that he had a difficult time taking just a single ordinary vampire out. The argument was going to get longer if he answered back.

“Then we could just take them on together”, Eljar said, instead of being argumentative.

“You'll just get in the way. Let's just go home. That vampire will have to wait for its turn”, she said harshly implying the truth.

Lady Risa was right. Eljar had been following her in different dungeons and caves for weeks, and he saw everything. She was very impressive with the katana. He would've done nothing if they fought together. She was far too superior, and he was only a match for a fledgling vampire. He would've been just a distraction, and she may have to save him from certain death many times over.

They were already far from Haemar's Shame by the time the vampires caught wind of what just happened. A strong blizzard was blowing as they traversed the Jerall mountains going to the southwest towards home. Eljar was still struggling to keep up with Lady Risa. She walked on the snowy and rather stormy slopes of the mountain range like it was a summer stroll. She was far ahead, not bothering to look back and talk. She was still very angry with him.

Many times Eljar had to stop himself from going back to the cave to fulfill his initial purpose since Risa was far ahead. He did not push through to not infuriate the Daimyo even more.

The ruins of Fort Neugrad loomed over them as they pushed through the icy storm. They were almost back in the Pale Pass. However, Eljar felt uneasy. Something was knocking at the back of his mind. He tried to push all of his thoughts behind to uncover whatever it was bothering him. Then a realization came upon him.

He envisioned a road map going to his house. He remembered reading about roads and settlements around the Pale Pass when he was a child if ever he got himself lost in the wilderness. He looked around, and realized that they were still a few miles northeast from home, somewhere in the middle of Falkreath Hold. They were not walking along the usual road, but he knew where they were exactly as Fort Neugrad stood as an enormous landmark to the north.

“Wait”, he thought. “If Neugrad is to the north. That means.. Oh shit”, it finally occurred to him. They were walking on a frozen lake. As soon as he realized it, he ran over to Lady Risa and shouted to warn her. But the wind blew the sound of his pleas. He kept trying though. She did stop to look back just in time to see Eljar get pulled down by something under the lake.

“Oh god”, Risa mumbled as she rushed towards where Eljar was. The ice was barely cracked and was freezing solid quickly. She lodged her katana on the crack immediately, then desperately pounded on the hilt using her shield. The ice covering the lake was thick. To get Eljar down there cleanly was no doubt, the work of a Volkihar vampire.

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