The girl's eyes stared blankly ahead, pale face a mask of terror. Her throat had been ripped open, the flesh so torn her spine was visible. Her arm was extended, as if reaching for something to save her. "Damn monsters." Gently closing the girl's eyes, Kaius stood.
Hefting his large shield in one hand, he gazed around the wrecked room. Blood drenched the floor and was splattered liberally across the walls. The body of the girl's mother was visible, her leg sticking out from behind an overturned table. It was surprising; his quarry must have been near starved if it drained an entire family. It had been feeding regularly and this sudden bloodlust was unexpected.
Stepping over the shredded remains of a man, Kaius exited the ruined farmhouse. A young boy was sprawled in the yard; he appeared to have been dragged across the ground, leaving a trail of blood and entrails. Even the farm animals hadn't escaped the monster's wrath. The stench from the barn was enough to attest to that fact.
Throwing his torch to the ground he issued his challenge. "Where are you?"
Silence was his only response.
"I know you're here coward!"
Even the wildlife was silent.
"What's wrong? A 'great hunter' like yourself should never run from his prey! It makes him look weak!"
Without warning his quarry appeared before him, standing just on the edge of the fire's glow. Despite the shadow its features were enshrouded in, Kaius could see its eyes clearly. They glowed with an inner light, smoldering like the embers of an infernal fire. It wore a heavy cloak, no doubt to weaken the sun's gaze when it was forced to travel by day. Its nails were claw like, a dark liquid dripping from their tips. White teeth stained red revealed themselves suddenly as the beast loosed a sibilant hiss.
In a flash, Kaius pulled his sword from its scabbard. Bashing the pummel onto his shield he taunted the monster to enter the ring of light. "What's wrong? Afraid of a little fire?"
The beast flicked its wrist. A frigid wind blew through the yard; seemingly bypassing Kaius' armor and clothing it chilled him to the bone. The torch's fire flickered and died.
The sudden loss of light temporarily blinded Kaius; his only warning before the beast was upon him was the padding of its bare feet as it ran across the grass.
Roaring in fury for the slain family, Kaius charged towards the monster. With enough force to break the bones of a lesser being, the Vampire crashed into his shield. The beast was barely fazed by the savage blow. Snarling it dug its talons into Kaius' wrist, keeping his sword at bay, while the other hand scrabbled at his shield trying to find enough purchase to relieve him of his first line of defense.
Pulling his arm back, Kaius slammed his fist into the beast's face. With an audible snap the monster's bat like nose was crushed into its face. As it reeled backwards from the unexpected blow Kaius slammed his shield into its stomach. The monster doubled over, almost throwing its forehead into Kaius' rising knee. A sharp crack signaled Kaius' armor clad knee impacting the beast's skull.
Sprawled on its back, the monster was barely able to roll out of the way of Kaius' blade as it descended towards its head. Leaping to its feet it thrust a hand forward. An invisible force slammed into Kaius' chest, sending him flying through the air.
"You're rather bold for cattle. I like that in my food."
The soft rustle of fabric was Kaius' only warning as the monster leapt atop him. Unfortunately for the monster, he was able to position his sword in between the two of them. The creature loosed a pained howl as it impaled itself on his blade. Its head lunged forward, elongated teeth bared. It was frustrated when instead of the delicate flesh of its prey's throat, its teeth bit into the unyielding steel of his gauntlet.
Utilizing all of his considerable might, Kaius heaved the beast off of him and got to his feet. Unfortunately he had been unable to maintain his grip on his blade, and it was now lying on the ground in between the two of them.
The beast's glowing gaze flicked to his sword and back to him as, despite the pain its injury was giving it, it grinned. "Drop something?" Still smiling its sick smile, the monster thrust its hands out and a purple energy surged forth. To Kaius' surprise the energy when it passed through him did nothing but tingle unpleasantly.
Warily watching the demon smiling at him, Kaius reached for his sword. When its only response was a widening of its smile, he grabbed his blade. Readying his weapon and shield he glared at the amused abomination. "I'm going to kill you, you monster."
The monster actually had the nerve to laugh. "Oh, I doubt it. They won't let you."
Spinning, Kaius raised his shield, barely in time to deflect the makeshift club being swung by the reanimated corpse of a man. His eyes glowed with an eerie purple light and stared vacantly into the distance. Shoving the man's violated corpse away with his shield, Kaius turned back to the smirking abomination. "What have you done?" Groaning softly, the boy's mangled corpse began to pull itself across the grass, a trail of ropy intestines being left in its wake.
"An insurance policy; wouldn't want some uppity prey getting lucky." A mocking bow. "My gift to you." The moans of the young girl and her mother heralded the imminent arrival of their tortured remains.
Growling Kaius swung his sword, separating the man's head from his shoulders. His body collapsed, turning into ash as the unholy energies that fueled the reanimation burned themselves out. Roaring in anger he charged the smiling Vampire. Unnaturally strong fingers wrapped around his ankle tripping him up. Before he could recover, the dead boy was upon him, snarling as it tried to sink its teeth into his flesh.
Desperately trying to get the dead child off of him, Kaius was unable to react as the Vampire crouched next to him. "Hold still cattle, it will hurt more if you struggle."
The monster's mouth opened unnaturally wide, elongated teeth gleaming in the twilight. Before it could feed however, a blinding light filled the clearing. Shrieking in surprise and agony the monster covered its eyes and fell to the side. A slight whistle was followed almost immediately by a crossbow bolt punching through the reanimated boy's skull.
Leaping to his feet, Kaius sunk his sword into one of the reanimated girls. Pulling it free from the mother he cut down the little girl as she lunged at him. Turning around, he saw a man in familiar armor fighting the Vampire. He wielded a mammoth war hammer as if it weighed nothing, attacking so quickly that the beast had no time to retaliate.
Much to Kaius' amusement it seemed almost as if the man was toying with the monster. It was panting, limbs shaking slightly, its attacks becoming more and more sloppy and desperate. Without warning the man swept the monster's legs out from under it. Raising his hammer over his head, he ended its life with a wet crunch.
"That was impressive, reckless and idiotic, but impressive." The large man turned to Kaius, hefting the bloody hammer in one hand. "Not many can hold out against an elder Vampire as long as you did. You've come a long way."
Sheathing his blade, Kaius nodded towards the new arrival. "Yeah, thanks…I could have taken him though."
The familiar man raised an eyebrow and hummed disbelievingly. "You'd have gotten closer then most, but it would have killed you. Trust me, I've seen it before."
Kaius crossed his arms, unconvinced. "Just keep telling yourself that old man"
A soft chuckle or grumble Kaius couldn't tell which. "You are learning well but it would have killed you."
"Whatever you say Isran."
When he had first seen Fort Dawnguard, Kaius had been decidedly…unimpressed. The large castle was built into the mountainside, giving a slightly oppressive feel to it. Despite that, it would be rather hard for someone to stumble across it due to its location in an out of the way canyon. Even with the impressive stonework, it had been apparent that it had been abandoned for some time. Cobwebs had hung from the ceiling and walls everywhere you looked, and a thick layer of dust had coated everything. It had taken months, but as the Dawnguard grew in size they managed to transform the fort from a barren ruin into a well supplied and comfortable home.
"How did he do Isran?" A familiar brown haired Breton greeted Isran and Kaius when they arrived. It was obvious even to a casual observer that Isran and Celann had been fighting alongside each other for some time; they shared an easygoing comradery that was impossible to fake. The man was smaller then both of his companions, built with a lithe strength that made it clear that he was in good shape. He was an excellent archer and master scout, preferring subtlety where Isran and Kaius preferred brute strength.
"He did well, almost killed the bastard without my help." The Breton smiled at that, slapping Kaius on the back in congratulations.
As the massive doors to the fort boomed shut, Kaius caught sight of several other members of the guard. Most were gathered around the dinning table, eating and drinking as they blew off steam. Agmaer, the latest addition to the guard, sat next to Beleval. The inexperienced man was talking animatedly, obviously smitten with the only elf in the order. To her credit, the pretty Bosmer looked more amused then anything else, refraining from dashing the obviously unsuccessful man's hopes as she nodded and laughed at all the right times. The petite elf caught Kaius' gaze, smiling slightly in acknowledgment of their shared amusement.
The massive Durak was talking animatedly, sweeping his arms around as his booming voice recounted an exaggerated tale of battles past. The large Orc's massive hand slammed down on the table, jostling the food resting on it and spilling Ingjard's drink. The Nord swatted him on the back of the head, playfully admonishing him as she motioned for Kaius to bring her another drink.
Kaius excused himself from Isran and Celann. Grabbing two steel mugs, he filled them at the keg before sitting down next to the smiling Nord. "My hero!" With a broad grin, she snatched a mug from his hand and took a swig. "Whatever would I do without you?"
"Die of thirst from the look of it."
Ingjard snorted dismissively before taking another gulp of ale. "Evidently."
"So, how'd it go little Imperial?" Wide smile showing of his tusks, Durak turned to Kaius.
While the sight of an Orc baring his teeth would intimidate those unfamiliar with their kind, Kaius was aware it was just a friendly grin. "I almost got the damn thing; I was winning until it resurrected the corpses of the family it slaughtered. Isran had to step in then."
Durak laughed loudly, slapping Kaius on the back causing the smaller man to spill some of his ale. "Well done! My first elder Vampire gave me a run for my money, and I was a warrior with years of combat under my belt."
"The Legion right?"
The white haired Orc frowned, grabbing his mug he drank deeply before answering. "Aye, fighting those damn elves."
Ingjard looked like she had tasted something sour. "And Nords defending their home…Imperial bastards."
Durak glowered at the frowning Nord, his green eyes narrowing. "I left long before that girl, a fact you already know."
"There's an Imperial sitting right here, you are aware of that right?"
The tall Nord grimaced, eyeing her Imperial friend apologetically. "Sorry Kaius, nothing personal. You know I have nothing against you. It's just that your people tend to think they know what's best for others. I'll worship Talos if I want, no Elf apologist Imperial is telling me otherwise."
Beleval laughed at that, joining the conversation. "So now you're insulting both Imperials and Elves. Friends don't insult friends' people…no matter how arrogant or overly controlling they may be."
Ingjard nodded, grinning ruefully. "You're right, I'm sorry." She turned to Kaius, grin turning playful. "I hope this doesn't impact your ale fetching services."
"I would never dream of it, I know how you Nords can be when your alcohol is threatened."
Ingjard raised her mug in a mock salute. "Wise man!"
Several hours later Sorine Jurard watched Kaius curiously as he approached her work station; the quirky Breton was wearing goggles of Dwarven make that increased the size of her eyes considerably. She blinked slowly, the motion amplified by the bronze goggles. Kaius was unable to stifle a chuckle at the strange sight. "What?" Grinning, he motioned to her face. "Oh." Looking taken aback, she pulled the bulky contraption off.
"I was trying to understand how this worked." She said by way of explanation and gestured to a strange instrument lying on the table before her. It was bronze, like all other Dwarven devices. The device was long and thin, about the length of a man's palm, and widened considerably on one end. "I believe it is designed to cut the hair off a man's face. See?" She pressed a button on the back of the strange contraption, almost immediately the larger end began buzzing. She turned it over and pointed to a series of minute blades that were spinning rapidly.
"That or it's a torture device."
Sending Kaius an unamused look, she deactivated the device and set it down. "Who's the expert on Dwemer technology here?"
Kaius rolled his eyes. "You."
"So we'll assume my hypothesis is correct, yes?" The Imperial nodded, grinning at the quirky woman's antics.
"Good." Resting her elbows on the desk, she clasped her hands together expectantly and smiled. "So what did you need?"
"Beleval wanted me to remind you of your training session later today."
Sorine grimaced. "That woman is quite possibly the worst archer I have ever seen, she has effectively disproved the all Wood Elves are excellent archers myth. Still…she's persistent, I'll give her that. I'm going to need a bit more time with this experiment. Tell her to meet me at nine in the training area."
Giving Sorine a parting nod and a smirk, Kaius headed into the forge. Gunmar was waiting for him when he arrived. The blacksmith grinned widely at his approach and motioned him over. "Just the man I wanted to see! Come here lad, I've got something I want to show you."
Motioning for his Imperial friend to follow, Gunmar headed to a recently constructed wooden enclosure. "One day, I got to thinking." They reached the enclosure, Kaius studying it curiously. "I had just hunted down a troll; nasty bastard had damn near ripped my arm off and had bitten clean through my calf." The two friends began to climb stairs leading to a platform overlooking the enclosure. "I had this funny thought. What could be worse then fighting a pissed off troll?" Gesturing proudly to the interior of the enclosure, the redheaded man introduced his latest work. "This was my answer."
Meandering about the enclosure were roughly a dozen trolls, some white furred some black. Kaius was shocked to see that the lumbering creatures had been outfitted with bulky iron armor. Leather straps held it together, clearly thick enough to offer considerable protection by themselves. The most intimidating part of the display was the massive gauntlets Gunmar had fashioned for the beasts. Mammoth blades protruded from the wrist, though they were not particularly sharp, the beast's strength more then made up for that fact.
"This might be the single greatest idea in the history of Man and Mer!"
The middle aged hunter laughed loudly, clapping his hands together. "I knew you would appreciate this! Now since you've managed to butter me up with your honeyed words, I'll let you take out the first one."
Kaius nodded with a grin. "I knew I was nice to you for a reason old man!"
Motioning for Kaius to stand back, Gunmar opened the gate to the enclosure. The trolls immediately began to shamble towards the exit, grunting and hooting in excitement. Gunmar stood calmly, confidently staring at the apelike beasts. Holding a hand up, he barked, "Stop!" They looked amongst themselves; heads tilted to the side unsurely, but ultimately complied with the command.
Still radiating calm, he pointed to the largest of the beasts, a massive white furred alpha male. "Follow."
The troll huffed irritably but obliged, shuffling from the enclosure it stopped next to Gunmar. It studied him as he closed the gate, its three coal black eyes watching the man intently. Saying nothing, Gunmar motioned for Kaius to step forward. The troll growled low in its chest as it saw the other human, baring three inch canines. "No!" The troll glowered at the Nord but obeyed, its lips retreating back over its teeth.
Gunmar pointed to Kaius, voice still booming. "Master." Leaning slightly towards the suddenly cautious Imperial, he whispered. "Tell it to follow you."
Voice not showing his unease, Kaius followed Gunmar's orders. "Follow." The troll turned its full attention to Kaius, black eyes surveying him with surprising intelligence. After a moment it grunted dismissively before shuffling over to his side.
Slowly, wary for signs of hostility, Kaius extended his hand towards the hulking beast. Its three eyes followed the progress with disinterest as it neared its head. After a moment, his hand landed on its helmet. Giving it a tentative pat, he broke out in a grin. "I always wanted a pet."
Gunmar gave him an exasperated look. "That troll is not domesticated. It is a dangerous animal that often hunts humans for food, not a pet. It understands basic commands, stay, follow, attack, stop, that sort of thing. It can and will loose patience if you leave it alone for too long. If it does it could very well wander off and kill someone."
Kaius grinned widely, looking like a kid in a candy shop. "I know Gunmar; I'll treat him with care."
The Nord released a relieve sigh. "Good lad, last thing we need is a troll rampage blamed on us."
Kaius nodded, motioning for the troll to follow him. To his surprise, the beast understood the gesture and followed obediently. Smiling at his new pet, Kaius patted it on the back earning an ill tempered grunt. "I am going to name you Fluffy."
Unnoticed by the Imperial and beast, Gunmar shook his head with a bemused chuckle.
Beleval frowned into the mirror, running a hand through her somewhat tangled hair. "Damn thing has a mind of its own."
Ingjard snorted in disinterest at her friend's complaint, unconcerned with such feminine issues. "Are you not ready yet? You're going to go shoot a crossbow, not court some little elf man who would fall over in a breeze."
Sending her human friend a halfhearted glare, Beleval tucked her rebellious hair behind a pointed ear. "I care about my appearance, unlike Nord women it seems."
Ingjard laughed. "Milk drinker."
"Barbarian." Retorted Beleval with a smirk.
The sound of someone clearing their throat anxiously brought the girl's attention to the door. Agmaer stood in the doorway awkwardly, as they watched he shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot before speaking. "I'm looking for the cave; I uh…wanted to go for a swim. Could one of you tell me how to get there?"
Ingjard smirked at the petite elf, before jerking her head towards the nervous human. Rolling her eyes at her friend's antics, Beleval stood and motioned for the larger Nord to follow her. "Come on, I'll show you to Drop Dead Falls."
The duo walked in silence, Beleval moving confidently, obviously familiar with the Fort. "Beleval!" Both the Nord and Bosmer jumped and spun around. Kaius was standing at the end of the hallway; the large Imperial smirking slightly at their surprise. "Am I interrupting something?"
"No, you horse's ass! What do you-" The petite elf noticed the troll standing behind Kaius for the first time. "-what in Oblivion is that?" She yelled, her voice reaching a truly remarkable octave.
"What? You mean Fluffy?" Kaius glanced over his shoulder casually before looking back at his elf friend and the newcomer.
"You named it Fluffy?" Agmaer said in a disbelieving deadpan.
Kaius chuckled, grinning crookedly at Agmaer. "He's covered in white fuzz, what else would I call him?"
"Did Sorine find some sort of Dwarven mind control machine?"
"Nope." A chuckle. "That's all Gunmar." Beleval shook her head with a speechless laugh as Agmaer watched the troll warily. "And besides, he's harmless." Kaius slapped the troll good naturedly on the shoulder, earning a snarl in response. When the Imperial didn't move to hit it again, the troll turned away in disinterest. "See? Like I said, harmless."
"Right. What was it you wanted?" Clearly unconvinced Beleval decided to ignore the apelike beast.
"Sorine would like me to 'give you an update'. She believes that she is nearing a breakthrough on the latest Dwemer device she's working on and would like to postpone your lesson until nine." Clearly growing bored, the Troll began to scratch at the wall with a finger, its sharp talon leaving slight gouges in the stone.
Beleval grimaced but nodded. "At least it sounds like we'll be getting access to some new Dwarven weapon soon."
"If by Dwarven weapon you mean some sort of shaving instrument, then yes."
The elf groaned in exasperation. "How am I supposed to learn how to shoot a crossbow if Dwarven hygiene equipment is more important?" Kaius shrugged noncommittally, and motioned for 'Fluffy' to follow him. With a parting wave and a grunt from the beast, he left.
When the Imperial was out of sight, Agmaer turned to his smaller companion. "What's his story?"
Beleval glanced at Agmaer, raising an eyebrow. "Kaius?" When the Nord nodded she continued. "He was found by Isran back when he was still a Vigilant, I don't know the specifics and I haven't asked. All I know is Isran took him under his wing and left the Vigilants soon after with Celann. He's been here longer then anybody else, though he was just a kid at first so he wasn't trained much until he got older."
"How did he…" Unsure how to word his question Agmaer motioned to the side of his face.
Beleval grimaced, crossing her arms protectively around her torso. "He's been like that for as long as I've known him. He never talked about how it happened, and I don't think anyone's ever asked." Sending Agmaer a pointed look, she continued. "We all know we each had a reason for joining the Guard, and most of them are unpleasant. Unless it has bearing on a mission or endangers someone, we leave the past where it is."
Looking suitably cowed, Agmaer nodded.
Feeling a twinge of guilt, Beleval continued in an effort to apologize in a round about way. "I uh…saw him without a shirt once." Agmaer opened his mouth to comment, but Beleval ignored him and continued. "You know how it is, you walk in on a member of the Guard putting on their armor and you ignore it. It happens to all of us at one time or another. Only I'd never heard of someone walking in on him."
She shifted uncomfortably, her red eyes pained. "I stumbled on him in Isran's private quarters; I wanted to grab a tome on Vampiric lore that Isran had been reading. Apparently he had been letting Kaius change in there knowing no one would walk in on him. I only saw his back before he grabbed a cloak but it was enough."
Having realized where this was going Agmaer paled noticeably. "By the eight…"
"The scars on his face are far from the only ones." They stood together in silence for a time. Agmaer trying to come to terms with what he had learned about his companion, and Beleval trying to forget the shame she had seen on Kaius' face in the split second before she had slammed the door. It went without saying that they would not discuss what they had talked about with the others. With a world weary sigh, Beleval motioned for her companion to follow her.
They continued in silence, weaving through the fort's hallways as they neared the cave. Beleval watched her companion from the corner of her eye; he was pale, eyes wide with fright. She had forgotten how young he must be. She had never been good at telling age in humans, they aged so differently from her own people and valued their age so much more. She didn't even know how old she was, she knew about how old she was but it had never really mattered. "How old are you?"
Agmaer sent her a surprised look, clearly unsure how to respond he blurted out. "Twenty five."
Beleval raised an eyebrow in surprise. She had thought he'd be older, but then again maybe twenty five was a reasonable age for a human. "Really?"
The Nord cringed in response, thinking he had been found out. "No…I'm uh…nineteen."
Beleval's eyes grew to the size of dinner plates. "What?" When she was around that age she had been playing in the woods with her siblings, sculpting with her mother, arguing with her traditionalist father (She would eat vegetables and fruit if she pleased! Pact with forest spirits be damned!). She had not been training to fight the monsters that went bump in the night. "That's young isn't it? For a human I mean."
Agmaer shifted uncomfortably. "Well yeah…but Isran knows. And my father was a blacksmith, I know how to use weapons." Seeing that Beleval was staring at him dubiously, he continued. "And besides, you can't be older then your early twenties."
The Elf laughed at that, smiling at Agmaer in amusement. "You don't know many elves, do you?"
With another laugh, Beleval turned from the large human and increased her pace. "I'm forty something, maybe even fifty something. When I was your age I was too busy harassing my brothers to even contemplate going monster hunting."
They continued in silence after that, reaching the entrance to the cave soon after. Beleval gestured to the cave mouth. "It's down there, you can jump down the falls, don't worry its safe. There is a path on the far side of the lake that will take you back up to the entrance level when you're done."
Agmaer nodded, he began to head down the path before stopping. "Do ah…do you want to come?"
Beleval smiled, brushing her stubborn hair back behind her ear. "Sorry, no. I need to go harass Sorine until she agrees to put down her Dwarven rubbish long enough to train me."
"Okay, I understand." He said softly, hoping the relative darkness would mask his blush. "I'll ah…see you later, yeah?
Beleval smiled, red eyes twinkling in amusement. "Well we are both members of a small but elite group of vampire hunters, so I'd say yes."
The idea for this story has been bouncing about inside my head for a while now, I'm posting it for shiggles. For now my main focus is going to be on my Bioshock story Humanization, but this will be updated sporadically.
A bit of information on the main character. Kaius takes the place of the Dragonborn for the purpose of this story but isn't necessarily the actual Dragonborn. While from a gameplay perspective I can understand wanting the player character to be able to do everything, it makes for a generally overpowered and unbelievable character in my opinion. If anyone objects I can always remove the Dragonborn as one of the selected characters but I doubt anyone will care enough anyway.
This will be a novelization of the Dawnguard storyline, I'm going to take some liberties with it. After all, who would want to read it if I didn't add my own spin to the story.
Anyways as always please leave a review, they are very good for the motivation and all that jazz.
Oh and just going to throw this out there, I DO NOT OWN ANYTHING! (Except for my characters, storyline, and other stuff I actually created.)