I slowly swing my torch back and forth as I enter the cave, my clawed hand shaking. This is my first mission for The Dawnguard, and I'm terrified I'll screw it up. Isran and Tolan ordered me to go find out what was going on in 'Dimhollow Crypt', but I'm nearly vomiting in fear. Vampires are extremely powerful creatures, dragons being the only other enemies I can think of that exceed the vampire's power. No matter how strong, a single vampire couple snap my neck within a few seconds of fighting me. I long ago accepted I'm weak, but that doesn't make me any braver. My torch sputters in my hand, and I let out a single cry of fear as the light disappears. It suddenly occurs to me that I can see in the dark due to my Khajiit eyes, but I still relight the torch. My ability only last a few seconds, and a torch might spook away smaller enemies. I continue walking, and hear two people conversing up ahead. I place my still burning torch down, slink to the ground, and begin crawling forward. I perk my ears and squint, finally making out two vampires conversing near a dead body. I pull my long bow from my back, silently take a iron arrow from my quiver, and aim for the female vampire's head. I release my arrow, the projectile flying through the air. The woman staggers, but doesn't fall. Damn it. My heart begins banging against my rib cage, fear overcoming me.
Both of the vampires quickly scan the area, and I quickly grab another arrow from my quiver. One more arrow takes the woman down, blood gushing from her head. However, the male vampire is scanning the area. I curse my bright gold fur and deep blue eyes, they stand out in the dark. Sure enough, the man finds me and comes charging. I shoot five arrows at him before he's upon me, but none of them hit their marks. He bears down on me, revealing his fangs and hissing. I scream in fear and swing my bow, the vampire cursing as the wood hits his skull. I quickly back up, trying to put distance between me and my enemy. He roars like an animal, using his vampiric spell on me. I somehow manage to load my bow, hitting the man dead in the gut. He groans and falls to his knees, clutching the wood sprouting from his torso. Another arrow to the skull quickly puts an end to him. I sigh, my heart still trying to escape my body. I walk over and try to retrieve the arrows from his body, but both of them snap on their way out. I shake my head and throw the trash to the side, then grab my torch and begin heading down the stairs. A low growl to my right causes me to freeze, and when I flip around I see a death hound charging. I try to load my bow in time (my torch still in my hand), but it's no use. The monster leaps up on me, his icy fangs shredding my fur armor. My wooden bow comes down on its skull repeatedly, but it takes a few hits before it falls to the side.
I gasp in pain, looking down at my bleeding wound. Damn it. A quick healing spell stops the bleeding, but nothing can fix the gigantic tear in my armor. I briefly consider running away, but I force myself to go on. I've run away from too many things in life, I need to stick something out. I refused to go to Solstheim, I fled from High Hrothgar, and I haven't even returned to Jorrvaskr since I first stuck my head inside. Almost everyone in Skyrim talks about the cowardly Dovahkiin, but this is my chance at redemption. I manage to find the pull chain that opens the gate, and make my way through. I find a single dead dragur, her sword hanging by her side. I consider taking the weapon, but I doubt it would do me any good. If a enemy manages to sneak by my bow, then the best sword in Skyrim couldn't help me. I keep walking, but freeze almost instantly. A small stream in rushing below my feet, but a silhouette in visible in the light up ahead. I crouch down, load my bow, and fire. The person moves at the last second, my arrow clinking off the stone. I crouch even lower, the figure drawing a sword and looking around. I reach for a arrow, but find my quiver almost empty. I'll have to make these shots count. I take careful aim, wait for the figure to stop moving, and fire. The person collapses, and I sigh in relief. For once in my life something worked out for me.
However, I silently groan when three skeletons rush over to the corpse, looking around for the killer. My arrows are sure to shatter on their bones, but I can't charge them. I'm terrified of the walking dead (it's easier to say what I'm not afraid of), and I'm too weak to kill three of them before they swarm me. I simply sit still for a few minutes, debating what to do. Finally, I grab three arrows. I carefully take aim with each shot, and only head up the stairs when the last skeleton falls. I manage to save two arrows, but that's all. I take off my quiver and count my arrows. Only nine left. I may as well kill myself. I look longingly at the exit, but can't bring myself to leave. If I run out right now, then I know I'll never come back. A noise spooks me, but I keep going. I hate this, I hate everything about this. Adventuring is dangerous, vampires are deadly, and I'm running out of ammunition. Why couldn't anyone else in Skyrim be the damned Dovahkiin? Even a lowly peasant would do a better job than me. I'm snapped out of my thought by a draugr groaning, and I once again begin sneaking along the ground. I kill the monster and manage to save the arrow, heading deeper into the ruins. A vampire and death hound are patrolling some hallway, but I manage to sneak past them. I sigh in relief, but feel my already frantic heart begin picking up pace at a strange noise.
The hissing of a frostbite spider and the snarl of a vampire. I peak through the closed gate, a cowering vampire screaming as the spider bears down on him. The man dies, and I can't help cringing as the vampire's guts spew everywhere. I load my bow, aim for the spider's face, and fire. It roars and charges, but I simply leap away from the gate. For once I can feel brave, the monster that frightens me unable to reach me. I once again take aim, but this time the beast falls. I smile, pull the lever that raises the gate, and step over the spider corpse. I manage to get all my arrows back, but now I only have seven. I really should have learned some other form of fighting, but all I know is the bow and arrow. My claws are mostly for show, I can't rip my way out of a paper sack. My thoughts are interrupted by two people talking, and when I sneak forward I see two vampires speaking. The corpse of a Vigilant is beside them, but I honestly couldn't care less. I manage to shoot one, but the other comes charging. She's moving fast, and my quiver is emptied before she reaches me. I fired all six remaining arrows, and not a single one hit her. In an instant I'm fleeing, my bow useless in my hand. I barely have time to register a laugh before I feel a hand wrap around my tail, roughly yanking on it. My roar of pain echoes in the tomb, my body hitting the ground. The vampire pins me to the cold floor, revealing her fangs.
She's also casting that strange vampiric spell, the red glow sinking into my wrist. My bow slides away from my grasp, my empty quiver pressing into my back. I knew I should have stayed at home. The entire province would have continued to call me a coward, but I would continue to live. If I was lucky I might have been able to save enough to buy a mammoth tusk, give it to Ysolda, and convinced the woman to marry me. I doubt she would have considered marrying a craven, but my sense of shame dried up a long time ago. The vampire above me leans in, preparing to rip my throat out. I begin fighting, kicking and clawing whenever I can. The vampire leans back and laughs, all the while casting that spell into my veins. She once again leans in, lining her fangs up with my throat. It's only when I feel the fangs enter my neck that I finally manage to affect the vampire. An animalistic power comes over me, for once my Khajiit blood doing me some good. I roar, manage to get my feet under her, and launch her into the air. She flies into the ceiling, her neck snapping. I pant, dress my wounds, and snatch my bow. As I stand a strange sickness of the stomach comes over me, but I push it to the side and keep going. I'm almost there. I hope. Sure enough the gigantic circular monument in the middle of the cave is what I came here for. I rush down to it, examining everything I can. Eventually I find a button in the middle of the stone circles, and reach out to press it. In an instant a rusty spike shoots us, piercing through my hand. I open my jaws to roar in pain, but the spike is gone the next second. I look at my hand, a deep scar now there. I go to touch it, but a loud grinding noise stops me. I look over and see the braziers have come alive with a strange fire, but I have no idea what to do. I walk over to one, and when I slightly touch it the flaming bowl moves. It locks in place, the flame brighter than ever. Looks like I found out what to do.
I slowly walk over to each flaming brazier, pushing it back and forth until it locks. When the final bowl is in place a loud grinding and scrapping noise causes me to turn around, the center of the stone structure slowly descending. A monolith is revealed from beneath the pedestal, and I cautiously walk over to it. I'm out of arrows, but I still hold my bow in both my hands like a club. I carefully work my way around the strange structure, but freeze when one side begins sliding downward. I crouch down, my ears lie flat against my skull, and my bow is shaking in my hands. I'm not sure what I was expecting to be inside the monolith (I had hoped for treasure), but a woman is the last thing I thought would fall out of the stone tomb. She hits the ground on her hands and knees, grunting. The woman slowly rises to her feet, her red eyes looking quizzically at my bow. She takes one step towards me, but freezes when I hiss. She's clearly a vampire and I'm certain she could kill me in an instant, but she probably just stopped to avoid a confrontation. The woman sighs, looks around, then asks me, "Who are you?". I consider hissing again, but the woman might just snap my neck for it. So, I tell her, "My name is of no importance. What were you doing in there?". The woman rolls her eyes and answers with a question, "Why were you here?".
I decide not to repeat the cycle and say, "A man named Isran told me to come here and find out what was in here.". She furrows her brow and tells me, "I don't know anyone by that name.". I decide to continue the conversation and question her, "Who were you expecting?". She eyes me suspiciously and answers, "Someone else.". She looks around once again and awkwardly asks, "Do you know how to get out of here?". I shake my head, my arms tiring from holding my bow up for so long. The woman once again sighs, and I ask her, "Why were you locked away like that?". Her eyes snap back to look at me, the woman answering, "It's clear you have some questions, and want to report back to 'Isran'. Get me back home and I'll answer all of your questions.". I slowly stand up, lower my bow, and tell her, "Just don't get in my way.". She puts a lock of hair behind her ear and says, "I was just about to tell you the same thing.". She motions for me to take the lead, and I hesitantly begin guiding the way out of the gigantic circle. This mission isn't exactly what Isran told me it would be, but at least I haven't screwed it up. Yet.