Bleeding Sun - Chapter 4: The My Friend

  • //Author's Note: After taking a long hiatus from writing to stabilize my grades, I'm back with a violent, violent, violent chapter of Bleeding Sun. I hope I'm doing the fight scenes right, they were the toughest things ever to write.//

    Warning: Contains descriptions of graphic violence

    Sorine and Adam made a slow, but steady descent into the crypt. Despite her fear, she was able to focus a minute amount of magicka around her body and kept her breaths low and stable, a standard technique among the Dawnguard standard techniques that allowed for near-total concealment of one’s aura. It was one of the most useful tricks up a vampire hunter’s sleeve as it meant that few of the bloodsuckers could notice them at first glance, even with their enhanced senses. That precaution should keep her safe from scrutiny, at least. But what about Adam? The infant hadn’t stirred from his sleep, though shivering out of the unnatural chill of the dungeon. Starting to worry, she held him closer to her chest, in the hopes that he would be concealed along with her. Wishful thinking, but what else could she have done?  

    Thanks to her astounding memory, the layout of inner Forelhost hadn’t been truly forgotten; she had practically turned the ruin inside out looking for that Whet-Fang. Every nook, cranny, corner and trap was as familiar to her as the alleys of Daggerfall. Her path was also unhindered by the lingering Nordic dead, draugr. She never expected that, for that had been the case even four years ago. No, she mostly expected to find vampires and their thralls, as well as survivors, if she was lucky enough. Dying of loneliness in a practically dead world was a real possibility. Indeed, she missed her old company already.   

    As they went deeper and deeper, small details alien to her sowed seeds of dread within her subconscious. That dart trap shouldn’t still be working; Sorine vividly remembered disabling it. There shouldn’t be this much blood on the walls of the corridors. Most unsettling was a scent most recognizable to her, but absurdly out of place given the circumstances. The smell of death; not aged, but fresh. People had been here and their fate seemed to be obvious, but the certainty hadn’t lessened the Breton’s fear in the slightest, for it came out of concern for the babe in her arms. Adam was, in every way, her only real connection to life. To her, he was all of humanity. What would she be if she couldn’t keep him alive?  She was reminded of a distant memory of something her father once said just months before she left for Skyrim. When you’re starting to outlive your youth, you’ll start to fear more practical things than monsters or myths. You’ll fear for the safety of your family, your relationship, your community and whether or not you can get through the day with a decent meal. What Sorine was experiencing now was exactly that, a mature fear. Paranoia.

    Still, she couldn’t stop now. There was the world on the line and something….important was in here.  The next part of her destiny. Heralded by raven hair. She laughed a little to herself. Back then, teenage Sorine had been a sucker for black haired beaus. The Gods must be toying with her.

    The dungeon gave way to a large mausoleum-like area. It was here that she confronted the Whet-Fang and killed him with a crossbow bolt to the face. It hadn’t been that hard. The lizard was a bloody coward. Once he stopped scurrying around like a rat, she just pulled the trigger and wrote murder. Sorine wondered whether the headless corpse she left here still remained, but she doubted it. It had been four years. Surely it would’ve decomposed by now.  Empty coffins dotted the ancient floor, with a raised platform bearing one special sarcophagus.

    The final resting place of the Dragon Priest.

    Or it would have been, if the Vigilants hadn’t exorcised his soul and burned his dusty remains to the ground, along with every other Nordic dead here. The practice caused widespread controversy among the native Nords, but frankly, this wasn’t an honored tomb or a protected crypt. It was the hideout of an evil dragon-worshipping cult. Of all the things those bastards should’ve gotten, peace in Sovngarde, the Nordic paradise, wasn’t one of them.

    Built around the Dragon Priest tomb was a makeshift refuge. Several sleeping bags as well as bandages, healing potions and an assorted plethora of medical and alchemy supplies. The area was lit by slow-burning embers from a pyre. Sorine was relieved to see apparent signs of life and infinitely grateful for the healing equipment. The Breton had enough experience with non-magical medical treatment and had some know-how on brewing healing potions from meager reagents, but her grasp on Restoration was shaky at best. Her control over magic was more suited for Alteration and, by virtue of Breton blood, Conjuration.

    Even with all this, the absence of people was disconcerting. The place looked until recently inhabited and obviously someone must have placed them here, but where were those survivors? Killed? Thralled? Worse still, could this have been an elaborate trap placed by the vampires, to give a false sense of security?

    As if to answer her, something shifted in the darkness behind her, causing her to rapidly turn around, aiming down the iron sights of her crossbow no matter how quivering her arms may have been. There were only coffins, still and unmoving as she had previously seen them. It was too quiet, a stifled silence. In spite of the lack of movement, her heart was pounding. Something…or someone was coming for her and she wasn’t fully sure she would be ready.  Her eyes glanced down to see if Adam was awake. He wasn’t, thankfully. Then, the silence was broken by slow footsteps. And they seemed to come from the other side of the darkness.

    This was too much for her. Confrontation was inevitable, Sorine was sure of that. Immediately, she hid Adam among a pile of linen bandages and placed him in the coffin of the Dragon Priest. That should keep him safe until she took care of whatever was on the other side mausoleum. The Dawnguard agent took cover behind one of the many metal coffins. Aiming her crossbow at the dark side, she took a deep breath and waited.

    It seemed like an eternity before a figure stepped from a shadow, walking towards her at a snail’s pace. A thrall. She waited for the others to appear. From her observation of thralled individuals, they never went alone and hunted in groups, sometimes accompanied by a caretaker vampire. Almost like a group of schoolchildren.

    True to her judgment, another figure appeared from behind the first. And another. And another. Their paces were equally sluggish.

    The Breton hurriedly casted a magelight to their direction. The orb of white luminescence lit up their lumbering bodies, allowing for clearer scrutiny. There were six of them in total; three in Rift guard’s armor, two in heavy armors and one in light hide armor.  The thralls were decently armed, some with steel weapons and one wielding a bow. The guards were all male Nords, it seemed. One of the heavily armored thralls was an elderly orc and the other, a Redguard, female. Lastly, the bowman was-

    No. There was no such thing as race barriers or allegiances anymore. They were all out to get her. Enemies. Thralls. There was only the living and those who seek to end the living. Keeping those thoughts with her kept her at risk of refusing to act against a former comrade. Everything was, could and would be out to get her and Adam. Sorine found that fact the hardest to swallow. Still, not even that could keep her heart from lurching at the sight of Gavinrad among the thralls. An old acquaintance, the once happy-go-lucky guardsman had been aspiring to join the ranks of the Dawnguard once he improved his skills enough. Now, he bore a blank look that bespoke tacit fury of the worst kind; misguided fury. She knew that he would stop at nothing to end her life. All thralls were like at the sight of the untainted living. And the man hadn’t been a pushover in battle, either. This will be a tough one, she thought to herself before uttering a prayer to the Divines, readying her psyche for combat. She tapped thrice on the crossbow trigger.




     She took a deep breath and fired at the group of thralls, her first bolt since the massacre at Fort Dawnguard, the metal projectile embedding itself on the heart of one of the guards. The man dropped dead instantly. As the first casualty fell, the thralls went into full sprint towards her, their features twisted by hate and murderous intent, mouths spewing indiscernible snarls and battle cries. Like animals. That was what the vampires reduced them to. She swiftly loaded another bolt into the dwarven metal crossbow and fired again, this time hitting the Redguard square in the chest. The woman recoiled for a moment, but continued unhindered. Another bolt in and another bolt fired. A guard’s leg was hit and he was reduced to stumbling. A bolt collided with an arrow in mid-air and the wooden arrow broke into splinters, the bolt hitting the archer square in the eye. I’m the better shot here, bitch, she taunted.

     Her hands broke into a natural rhythm, loading and firing and reloading. Years of practice with the crossbow gave her a distinct muscle memory when working with it. Her firing speed easily matched one of an adept marksman on a bow and arrow. But the thralls engaged faster still.

    They were closing in. The old orc let loose a spirited roar, holding up his mighty greathammer and swung down at her. She saw the strike coming and managed to roll out of the way. The hammer made a dent in the metal sarcophagus. A drop of sweat rolled down the Breton’s forehead. That would surely have been the end of her. Recovering quickly, she performed a counter attack, slamming the blunt stock of her crossbow into his head with as much force as she could afford to muster. Terrible damage. The right of his face was broken, blood seeping through the cracks on his skull. Grey hair became stained with red. Sorine could’ve sworn that was brain matter she was seeing. With an exhale of his last breath, the elder too fell and didn’t rise. Three down. Three to go. She glanced back to the wave of thralls. Only the Redguard and Gavinrad were immediate threats. Getting out of her cover, she loaded one last bolt into her crossbow, preparing to see if her close quarters combat was of any merit. 

    The heavily-armed woman struck first. She bore a grisly spiked shield and her armor looked tough, not to mention expensive. She swung her mace at the Dawnguard and she in turn blocked it with her crossbow. Unsurprisingly, it held without so much as a dent. With a heave, she pushed the Redguard down to buy time. Gavinrad then came at her with a lunge whose speed caught her off guard. She could barely raise her own weapon to block it, but instead hit him at the hand, disarming him instantly. The pain made the former guard cry out.

    Not the first thing she had in mind, but that worked just as well.

    Glancing over to the Redguard, Sorine put her out of her misery with a bolt to the head, stiffening her body briefly before going limp as the soul left her. Now there was only Gavinrad. The Nord recovered quicker than expected and used his left hand to replace his probably fractured right hand. His strikes were no less sloppy, she observed. Such was his swordsmanship. Sorine dropped her crossbow and drew a dagger from her hip and stood off against her former friend.

    The two spoke nothing and went into a clash of steel, illuminated by blade sparks as the magelight died out. Sorine was on the defensive, parrying his slashes and lunges. The grimace on his face told the Breton that it was useless reasoning with him. He was thralled. Unless she could use an Illusion spell that trumped the vampiric control, Gavinrad was beyond saving. The spars they once had to prove he had what it takes was nothing compared to this. He was much stronger than before. It was as if he was fighting without restraints. Fighting to kill whereas she was fighting to live. One strike broke through her defenses. Sorine’s dagger flew right off and the Nord backhanded her to the face, making her stumble backwards.

    The Nord didn’t hesitate to lunge at her while on the ground, but she read that. Rolling to the side, she rose to her feet and grabbed her fallen dagger, dashing forward to slash him in the neck. Poor Gavinrad grasped at his neck uselessly before dropping.  Silence set in and as the tides turned in her favor, she braved herself to end him right there. Sorine stood in waiting, chest heaving as she took in deep breaths. She could barely give him one last look in the eye. The red-hair rose to his feet and charged in desperately, a futile last fighting effort. Not content with waiting, she took up his steel sword and rushed into him.

     I’m so sorry.

     She brought it down on him hard and both of them crashed into the floor, the blade piercing his chest. The Nord unleashed a guttural shriek and Sorine could only stare, horrified, as he continued to glare lividly and seethe through the blood in his mouth. His hands tried desperately to pry the sword out of his chest, but to no avail. Still, he persisted, pulling until the rest of his fingers broke apart, severed to the bone. Within seconds, Gavinrad was no more, the glare of a man possessed lingering well after his heart stopped beating. Breathing heavily, the Breton closed her friend’s eyes and stood up, tearing her gaze away from the dead Nord. She scanned the aftermath of the bloodshed. The remaining Rift guard bled out. The others lay motionless, dead. She exhaled the breath she had been holding since she clashed blades with him. The worst of it was over.

    Slowly, she walked over towards the Dragon Priest sarcophagus, stooping to grab her crossbow and dagger. Both were horribly bloodstained. As she sheathed the two weapons in their proper places, she caught sight of something ahead of her and the air left her lungs.

    Another one.

    The short figure was cloaked in black, moving steadily through the mausoleum floor a fair distance away. Too far from her.

    But much too close to Adam.

    Without even thinking, Sorine charged blindly into the figure, panicked blue eyes fixed on the black blur she was rushing recklessly towards. Gathering what strength was left, she used the blunt of her crossbow as a mace and swung at his head. The sound of her footsteps was all it took to alert him of the oncoming assault and moved out of the way with astounding grace. He then leapt over her with only his hand on her shoulder as leverage, displaying agility that struck her with awe.

    The shock partly blinded her, but her senses had become hyper-aware from the previous battle. The sound of blades cutting through air compelled her to raise her crossbow up. Three metallic sounds rang through and she saw through squinted eyes that three throwing knives had lodged into the crossbow. I need to close in for a killing blow, she decided, but before she could put that plan in motion, the mysterious combatant performed a flying kick, not to her body, but to the crossbow. He meant to throw her off balance.

    The force of that kick barely did the deed and it didn’t take long for her to recover. But Sorine couldn’t avoid the sudden volley of knives hurtling towards her, feeling most of them stab at her Dawnguard armor.

    She fell to the cold, dusty floor, overcome by the sudden fear of losing her life. She could barely scream in horror as she saw him step towards her.

    But then, Adam suddenly cried out.

    The shrill sound cut through the tension like a knife, stunning the man into stopping in his tracks. His gaze averted towards the source of the cry and that was all it took for her to end him. She found her chance to close in.  Rushing in with the will to live, she didn’t give him time to recover, only catching him by surprise through the raw brutality of her attack.

    The baby’s cries were drowned out by the desperate shriek of effort that tore out of her throat when she raised her crossbow and rammed the stock into his chest. She could feel his ribs and sternum caving in from the blow, shards of bone splintering his inner organs. He was sent flying back and slammed into a coffin with a satisfying ‘thud’.

    It was an instant kill, one she was less than proud of.

    The amount of energy exerted from that one move utterly fatigued her. Her limbs went weak like jelly, the overworked muscles stinging with heated pain. She couldn’t tell if she was breathing violently or sobbing by this point.  Her sounds were uncontrollably loud and harsh in the cold of the ruin. That was the last straw. She wouldn’t be able to face anything more after this. She would welcome death the next time she faced it.

    Hearing Adam’s wailing made her flinch. She grabbed her crossbow and used it to help stand up. Staggering to her feet, she lifted her gaze and saw movement. The air left her lungs.

    He was getting up again.

    The crossbow escaped her grasp, falling to the floor with a resounding clang. Sorine merely stood there, petrified beyond reason. That should’ve killed him. He couldn’t be alive now, unless…unless he was…

    He made one step towards her.

    Run, her survival instinct screamed. Run, run, run, run, RUN!

    She finally obeyed and ran for Adam’s hiding place. Picking him up without further thought, she dashed for the way out as fast as her legs allowed her, only to stumble and almost trip over the Redguard’s corpse. She recovered, stalling for only a fraction of a second. And a fraction of a second was all the man needed.


    Despite herself, she froze.

    Her erratic pulse hammered in her ears, blue eyes wide and unblinking as she could practically feel his gaze prickling at her back. Little Adam whimpered into her chest and she held him closer to her, bracing herself as much as she was bracing him. Slowly, she turned to face him.

    Isran taught her that the ideal vampire hunter never stopped or reconsidered a course of action on account of an enemy’s words, especially in battle. This was common sense. This was how the ideal fighter fought.

    But thralls didn’t, couldn’t, wouldn’t talk.

    She gulped, legs nearly trembling from the waiting. The baby’s whimpering gave way to crying and his tears soaked her sweat-and-bloodstained armor. Slowly, she used one hand to cast a magelight toward him, and she knew exactly what he was the instant she saw his pale ashen skin in the light. He stepped forward, allowing himself to be revealed and her suspicions were confirmed. The mage light bled over his face and eventually, his body.

    Black sclerae and red pupils. The sure mark of an Impurity, the elite special forces of the Volkihar court.

    His slow gait bespoke caution and wariness, the features of his face clearly showing that he was just as surprised to see her as she was him. That look only intensified as he gazed at the infant held against her chest. Belatedly, she saw, through a gap in his black cloak, his chest, caved in and busted open it had been, begin to regenerate at a hyper-fast rate, new bones forming and organs repairing themselves. Restored skin bubbled against the wound and began to cover it completely. It was as if she had done nothing to him. She was far too shocked to be revolted by the process.

    Her eyes then took in the rest of him. He was everything the intel spoke of. The skill. The world-weary expression. The distinctly attractive face. The black hair. Sorine was instantly reminded of the line that Psijic monk told her. Another part of your destiny shall unfold, heralded by raven hair.

    She had just encountered Cato of the Flash Step.

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  • LokaCola
    LokaCola   ·  November 14, 2015
    Huh, somehow I managed to miss this chapter. Oh well, it was a very good read, nice other uses of the crossbow and you did the fight scenes really well.
  • Lazy
    Lazy   ·  October 30, 2015
    Thank you, Sotek. I'll try to make steady progress with Vault activities, but with 12th grade studies, it ain't easy.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  October 29, 2015
    Fight scenes are always hard to write, let alone write well. Which is exactly what you did +1 from me Lazy. Nice use of the crossbow. Glad it didn't break like Sotek's bow did.
    Great effort and glad to see you back.
  • Sindeed
    Sindeed   ·  October 29, 2015
    +1 for bloodier combat
  • Lazy
    Lazy   ·  October 29, 2015
    Teehee, moar praise for the battle. Thanks, Shy Guy. Expect more and bloodier combat in future chapters :D
  • ShyGuyWolf
    ShyGuyWolf   ·  October 29, 2015
    Dang son what a battle, I could picture it in my mind. I also bash my opponents with my crossbow, expecially sine the mod I have makes them fly. Glad to read more from you. :)
  • Lazy
    Lazy   ·  October 29, 2015
    And yes, all of Tamriel is affected. Every living vampire is having the time of their unlife right now. Except Cato, of course. 
  • Lazy
    Lazy   ·  October 29, 2015
    Most of the dragons were slain sooner or later as the World-Eater came to an end. Paarthurnax is wondering what in the world happened to the Shul. Odahviing is looking for the (dead) Dragonborn. And Durnehviir is chilling in the skies of Ke...  more
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  October 29, 2015
    Oh yeah, you can totally whack somebody with a crossbow. It's fun. Curious to see how these two interact. And also, what do the darn dragons think of all this? You've made a real mess of Skyrim. Probably of all of Tamriel. Looking forward to seeing how yo...  more
  • Lazy
    Lazy   ·  October 29, 2015
    Thanks, Liz. I'm glad the battle scenes were pulled off right. The dwarven crossbow seemed heavy enough to make for a deadly blunt weapon. And the tags thing? Good lord, this is nothing.