Welcome Guest ( Log In | Register )

2 Pages V  1 2 >  
Reply to this topicStart new topic
> Order Vampyrum: Daughter of Coldharbour
Darkness Eternal
post Jul 22 2019, 01:10 AM
Post #1


Master
Group Icon
Joined: 10-June 11
From: Coldharbour



Author's Note: Order Vampyrum is one of the first stories I have written here in the forums, and Raven and Draken Decumus were among the first Elder Scrolls characters I have created. As usual I try to stay close to lore as possible, and thankfully, Elder Scrolls:Online and Skyrim have introduced new and awesome additions to the Elder Scrolls world. Of course I want to make a unique and different take, and I won't be exploring Main Quests or side quests, as the time period in which this story takes place is in a certain unexplored time. But since our protagonists are undead, well, we'll see familiar time periods and crisis further along the road.

Bear with me, since this story is mostly for fun and to get back in the swing of things. I am a little rusty hehe.



Characters:

Raven Decumus: Raven's a young Nibenese noblewoman. She's a Daughter of Coldharbour, a pureblooded vampire. She's a sorceress and a necromancer. Worshiper of Molag Bal and Clavicus Vile.

Draken Decumus: Draken's a young Nibenese nobleman. A pure vampire and brother to Raven, and son to Crassus. Follower of Molag Bal and Clavicus Vile.

Crassus Decumus: Crassus is a nobleman from the Second Era. A vampire patriarch of his family, members of the Order Vampyrum Clan.

Ornery: A Daedric Banekin. Serves as Raven's bound familiar, and loyal companion.



”On Our Order:
Know first that we are no simple tribe of savages, tearing throats with the orgiastic abandon of our scattered, tribal brethren. Ours is a civil fraternity, to which we are bound - every one - by our dual hunger for flesh and influence. By the virtue of Imperial structure and bureaucracy, Cyrodiil has become our stronghold in the third era, and we suffer no savage rivals within our boundaries, reveal ourselves to none, and manipulate the hand of society to mete out our agendas.”


On Our Conduct:
To preserve our ideals and way of life, two primary edicts shall be observed. Above all, reveal thyself and our Order to no other, for discretion is the greatest of our virtues. Do not feed where you may be found out, or on those who may not suspect your passing. Avoid daylight by lifestyle; dispel common belief in our kind, and maintain supple appearance through satisfaction of the thirst. Second, devote your pursuits to the procurement of influence, political and otherwise. Our strength is not in physical numbers, but in skillful manipulation of society. Always be mindful of our Patrons, and preserve the Order. Devote yourself to these ideals always, and the Order shall count you amongst our own.
-Manifesto Cyrodiil Vampyrum.

"There was but one tribe in Cyrodiil, a powerful clan who had ousted all other competitors, much like the Imperials themselves had done. Their true name was unknown, lost in history, but they were experts at concealment. If they kept themselves well-fed, they were indistinguishable from living persons. They were cultured, more civilized than the vampires of the provinces, preferring to feed on victims while they were asleep, unaware.”-Immortal Blood.

“However, romantic notions of noble, virtuous vampires persist in Imperial traditions, and vampires are thought to pass unrecognized in the Mages Guild and the Imperial aristocracy.”


~Chapter 1: Journey to Coldharbour~


"When thou enterest into Oblivion . . ." I whispered as my eyes burned upon reading the names inscribed in the ritual circle, covered in glowing symbols. My hand also burned with the names and markings etched on the flesh of my palms. Sower of Strife. Lord of Brutality. Corner of the House of Troubles.

Holding the bitter taste of splintered Daedroth tooth, and the bone of an unfortunate specimen, as a draught in my mouth, I inserted a purified needle in my left ear at the pace of a snail. The sick feeling in my innards turned darker as the portal opened beneath my feet, and the worldly sounds around me made way for the cries of those in Oblivion.

I have been waiting for this for a long time.

"You forgot knapsack. Your potions. Here." A voice said at my feet. "My Mistress. Ravine!"

"Gratitude, Ornery, but I quite honestly believe these are unnecessary. And my name is Raven," I corrected.

"Like the bird." he said.

"Ye—not quite—More like the Direnni sorceress of old."

Amidst the shifting air, I heard a snort. "I forget Mistress. Mortals have dumb names. Unmortals, too."

"Immortal, but I appreciate your candor." I said, preparing to cross over. "If it closes, you know what to do. You are still bound to obey my orders, remember that."

"Yes, mistress."

As I said these words I was aware that Ornery had handed me my knapsack with the potions inside, as he hovered around my legs, murmuring something I could not comprehend—the incomprehensibility being, in part, due to my heart pounding like battle drums in my ears and perhaps also to the fact that, both abstracted and petrified, I paid small heed to anything save for the extraordinary jellylike weakness in my legs and hands, which had begun to spasm beyond control.

And yet I moved. The Ritual of Resonance worked.

When thou enterest into Oblivion . . .

The portal devoured my cold breath, my strength, my boldness; it swallowed everything that went through, and it was emptier and hungrier still. Where all my desires, all my love, all my dreams, all my conviction that had ever been was now a void, filled at the fullest with the inanimate voraciousness of this door. I did not even have the will to even cry out.

I hung in the azure vortex for a second, exploring the spectrum of a new reality. In such a transition, I found cinders of thirst that scorched my throat as I fell to the left, right, up and down all at the same moment.

Seconds passed, or perhaps eons. Within Oblivion, difference was not found between the two. The twisting corridor condensed in my sight, ignited, exploded, burned, and withered as I went through, all between one breath and the other. Eternity began.

Oblivion entereth into thee.

The familiar chambers where I stood was replaced by another landscape that was alien. On the precipice of Oblivion, I looked up to a dark, haunted burning sky and an infinite expanse of cold, dead ground. The clothing I wore felt dank and freezing, and piercing air blew through the shrouded forest, but I barely noticed the gusts. Tall wind-wrenched trees, bare and skeletal, reached out like claws to me as I made haste into the woods, wasting no time.

They must be here. Somewhere.

I did not stick that needle in my ear for naught.

Though my instincts that told me to avoid danger were screaming at me, and all I longed to do was to find some nice dark room in which to fold myself and sleep—preferably a sturdy but cozy coffin, with a locking mechanism from within, that could be welded shut—I found myself nonetheless skulking through a foreign wilderness past what appeared to be a perfectly macabre banner of Molag Bal made of human skin and fleshly remains. It evoked the horned image of the long-tongued Lord of Domination, the Prince of this realm. I was not deterred. This was, in fact, an outrageously dangerous decision for any sensible young mage be doing, but I kept going because I needed to find her.

And many sensible and successful young mages were often gifted with a modicum of madness.

My heart pounded so loud I felt certain it would burst from my breast. Glancing back over my shoulder, I saw vague and indistinct figures moving through the mists. An azure light, distant and ethereal, shone through the barren tree branches overhead, yet my sight was limited here, even more with the dark clouds drifting across the scorched sky like a veil. Sharp, floating stones dotted the heavens, these dark promontories. Inconceivable islands shrouded in crackling storms.

Is it night or day? It was hard to tell.

I raced over a carpet of dry, veiny ground cracked with markings and glowing fissures. Even the landscape itself and the ragged rocks that had sprung from it, like the spine of a Wamasu, seem to have felt the brand of torture. Thunder grumbled off somewhere, and a jagged bolt of lightning severed the sky in two. Snow fell all around me, freezing the air, covering me. The ground turned to mud beneath my feet after several careful steps. Sludge oozed between my pale toes and I had to battle to maintain my balance on the slippery dead leaves.

Bloody damnation! I cursed myself for my recklessness as I struggled through the mud. My father warned me on end against carelessly trafficking with Daedra, and even thinking of traveling through the planes of Oblivion at my young age was enough to incur his ire, yet the longing desire to flee the claustrophobic confines of my castle, as well as the constrained proprieties and expectations that came with being a nobleman's daughter, had driven me to ignore his advice on plenty of occasions. This hour, it seemed, I had tempted fate once too often. By the Maker, I shall not hear the end of this . . . should I be fortunate enough to survive.

Several steps ahead made me realize that the surface beneath my feet was was no longer composed of sludge, but was a hardened bed of skulls, from Man to Mer to Beastfolk. A heap of charred bones, with empty sockets and deathly grimaces, stared at me from the dirt. They clattered their teeth as if in mock laughter, like a macabre audience, as I danced and skipped over and about them.

The wilderness made this stroll seem perilous, there was no doubt about that, and I felt— for a fleeting second, that I had been traipsing in a negligent abstraction, a lengthy evening’s walk—now, however, I felt concrete dread inch away into my bones, accompanied by the chill of the realm. I shuddered, and felt both surreal and disoriented.

Perhaps I was just so tired. Freezing Azure PlasmChaotic Creatia—moved beneath my feet as I traversed through the preposterous cold in the midst of Coldharbour. The black mountains cast titanic, distorted shadows against the impermeable landscape of the realm in a sight so sinister that, when the wind blew, its raging noise had the sound of a storm at sea preceding complete devastation.

Where am I? North? South? I blinked at the questions I asked myself, thinking: in Oblivion, does such a thing even matter? The notion of any sense of true direction made me feel juvenile and absurd. This is eternity. This is infinite.

Father is going to kill me! I thought. If something doesn't get to me first. Either way I am already dead.

A loud, lost wail of something struck my ears, joining with a roar of some reptilian beast, much closer now, to the shriveled tree where I stood by; another chill wind sent dry twigs skittering across the wilderness as if even the dead debris wanted to flee this place, and as the leaves went, the screams came. A tortured multitude of cries of souls in anguish filled my ears, and if I concentrated closely enough, strident cracklings, roars, cackling and shrieks—a whole forest full of noise an inch from my ears and across which, like a thread of madness, was played like a song—blown in from whatever prison in this realm, someplace beyond reckoning. Many charnel houses and slave pens dotted this realm, and if I was not careful, I would be thrown in them.

My reality was now contained even more: I was tired. Worse, something weighed on my mind like a mountain; there was something I had forgotten, something I was meant to do . . .

"Was it this bad the last time I came here?" I murmured. "No . . . I was here for only half a minute."

I shuddered, and felt as if I was adrift at sea in a shadowy, windowless crate, unaware of direction or of kinds, and with no manner of discovering. What I had been and had for these last years—daughter, sister and home—seemed to have existed in the infinite past or, in a lost dream. What I had done just now, moving with caution through one peculiar forest to a field and through the blue depths of some even stranger pool, had no sequence, like the fevered nightmare of one fraught with calenture. Time and space seemed for a period to be distant, unanchored and deprived upon a vast and compassless ocean.

Ahead of me in the distance, moving about in unison, was a gathering of people.

I approached in haste.

There you are!

Decrepid husks. All of them. Emaciated, skeletal . . . dead. They were many. Empty bodies, driven only by distorted purpose instilled by the masters of this realm. The wind brought their words to me, they spoke slowly and with timorous whispers; their tongues were cut in half. Daedrats scurried and nipped at their feet. Forms beyond saving, but with the flicker of a living soul. Pathetic shells. Afraid, sad, and lost.

They were laboring away with pickaxe and shovel.

Eager to find the information I sought, I approached a cadaverous adolescent with a beanpole of a frame. The lost souls stood idle, watching me as I advanced toward her. I noted a black smear on her lips; she was offering gloomy, almost inaudible speech in a raspy, hoarse voice, telling me to leave her to her work.

I ran a limp hand down her wizened back in wonder. A tactile impression of this creature: the osseous outline of her spine, each vertebra open exposed, an entire sinuous length operating up and down in rhythm with her tortured breathing. Fascinating specimen, I thought. The woman bared her teeth, rotten and broken, at me. It seemed she wasn't pleased with my necromantic inclinations.

The snow continued to fall, which collected in piercing flakes against my face. Then I heard her say, "Leave this realm . . . leave!"

I tried to get her attention with an assertive voice. "Lady Decumus! Daughter of Coldharbour! Do you know who she is? Where is she?"

"Leave!" The soul shriven uttered with a sneer. "Or die."

The others were gathering bones and remains that littered the landscape as others seemed to be building some manner of construct. Their arduous labor allowing them to acquire a haggard, bizarre-looking fellowship of wan and shrunken flesh.

A raddled, slab-shaped beast with a prognathous jaw and great hands was the only one that looked at me now. He was weary from the task of gathering the stones. He was an Orc late in his years, perhaps sixty, perhaps centuries. His face was worn and thin, as if this terrible task had drained his mental reserves along with the physical. His eyes were white sockets that regarded me with pity and then looked back at the stones he was meant to carry. There were dead people amidst the rocks.

"You should be there with them," the old Orc mumbled, though whether he was talking to me or himself, wasn't clear. "You should join their ranks. You belong there . . . All of the dead."

The man turned his head, fixing his vacant stare at me. "You look just like her. The undead sorceress."

Mother? I thought. Could it be her?

To my total chagrin at his words, I found that I could offer no reply. I was demoralized for a moment as his cryptic words. I made a queer sound in the back of my throat and closed the distance between us in a weak-kneed manner, a graceless flounder. Feeble and vain, I struggled for words that would not come.

The knot in my gut, after awhile, had untied itself, and I looked at the Soul Shriven in his empty, milky eyes. "Where is she?"

The orc bared his teeth, a grimace or a facsimile of a smile, and said no more words. Something above cast a grim shadow over us. A huge and terrible creature flew above, weaving between the floating plateaus, unfurling great tapestries of wings, swooping and circling above only to disappear somewhere over the black mountains.

A behemoth, a Daedra titan; keeper of the black soul gems for the Father of Vampires.

All at once a kind of shudder passed through my body, and I realized that I had to return home lest the portal closes, trapping me in Oblivion. I still had a family out there in Tamriel, after all. They wouldn't want to lose another member to Coldharbour.

There was power in this place, I could feel it in my bones: the source of Oblivion that covered me in billows like vapor down a path of frozen air. Within me, I could feel the even colder wave of power, colder than the frost on an ice wraith's teeth, that slithered over me like a dagger of ice into my spine.

A moment passed, and I found myself using the Dark Gift adrift my veins, the realms of power introduced to me beyond my most spectacular fantasies. I gathered and wrapped the ancient power of night around myself, and held it as it turned within my core, seizing down upon it until I could feel the whirl of the realm around me.

The real power vampirism, the gift I had suspected even as a girl, had longed for through my adolescent years until my parents had shown me the way. The power of Oblivion within me. I drew on this power that was the essence of my innermost being until everything and anything out there existed only to serve my will. Once the Dark Gift enveloped me in a powerful hold like the fists of Molag Bal himself, my entire vision blackened for a fleeting second, and my form took upon that of a swarm of bats—and I was gone, taken to flight to jump from floating stone to stone until I came to a pause atop a floating black island covered in blue lichen.

Taking the measure of the landscape around me with exhilarating precision, I knew I had to keep moving.
The view of Coldharbour was vast, though I saw the uncanny portal in the distance. Yet open.

Do not close. Do not close. Do not close!

From floating rock to floating rock, I at last came to the final one closest to the portal.

A frosty wind rustled my long, sable locks as I took a step at the very edge.

And do not look down, I thought.

In spite of my sage counsel to myself, I was unable to resist peering down from my elevated perch on the skies of Coldharbour. Any mortal who would leap from these precarious heights would be smashed asunder beyond any doubt.

Thank the Prince of Rage, I was no mortal.

As I took a deep breath to calm my rising nerves, I closed my eyes, and stepped off the floating rock with an impulse. Gravity seized me and I plummeted downward at breathtaking speed past a hundred feet below.

Stone-Fire—Molag Bal—preserve me!

The cold air rushed past me, bellowing in my ears. Snapping my eyes open, I saw the ground surge toward me like a battering ram until a surreal mist covered the skies. I raced through absolute fog; there was no telling how far I might be, nor even which direction might be up from the rate I was going. My fleeting, nugatory life raced before me as I feared that I had become a victim to some cruel joke on the behalf of my Daedric Lord. Would it amuse Molag Bal to suspend my abilities in his realm and see a pile of my bloody ashes and dust splattered on the ground?

Perhaps.

Through the thick fog, gathered perception, and absorbed within me the instinctive, precociousness intuition that was the among the boons of my condition. Seconds before impact, my entirety became a mist that surrounded me like an aura, and my physical form vanished away. The impact didn’t even knock the breath from my body, let alone destroy me. As my body materialized again, I looked down at my preserved flesh and blood in astonishment, gasping in relief.

I am yet here! I rejoiced. Thank Lord Molag for small favors!

My jubilation was cut short, however, when the last of the fog dispersed, and the gateway ahead began its final throes. At this range, all I could see was the glowing door on the ground within the center light up with disintegrating energy. In horror, I stared as the crimson shimmer of energy begin to wink. I registered belatedly what I was was looking at.

The portal to Oblivion that I had opened was closing.

Fast.

I thought, Oh, this is bad. With a slight push, I burst into speed; my limbs moving me faster than the the mortal eye could see; when my leg moved after the other, I was no longer in the same spot. . . and appeared three feet ahead . . . six feet ahead . . . momentarily expunged from existence by sheer mind-numbing velocity as my magicka reserves were all but depleted. Until I relied entirely on my physical prowess to move . . .

There was so much for me to learn and yet this was a moment between life and death. I could go home or be lost in Oblivion . . . just like her, if she is indeed here.

I was closing the distance between me and the portal with rising speed and intensity, in an sloppy, unpredictable broken rhythm of jumping, teleporting, rolling, of which every single second could save or condemn me.

Closer . . .

Closer . . .

Closing . . .

I screamed, coming in too fast, too steep, pieces breaking off from physical form to spread apart and stream my own contrails of black vapor as I launched into the portal head-first.

Gasping, I lurched upright from atop a desk, screaming, staring into the darkness. Those sights thundered inside my head, blinding me to the contours of the night-shrouded room, deafening me to every sound. I sat motionless, my heart in uproar, pounding so hard and racing so fast. My hand found unfamiliar coils of sweat-damp silken cloth around my body. Finally I realized where I was.

My library.

I teleported here.

Utterly surprised by life, my life, I could only laugh. The jaws of Oblivion had not closed upon me, nor the jaws of its denizens. No tentacle, blade or claw had ripped flesh from my bones. Nor had I drowned in slimy pools, asphyxiating on some poisonous fumes. No Dremora warriors or Xivilai swarmed around me to drag me into Coldharbour's countless prison cells to carve my unlife from me with their infernal tools.

I returned safe and sound.

Home.

I am home.

After I settled on my desk, I at once snatched a parchment and began to chronicle today's memorable visit with utmost diligence on an unrolled sheet of paper, ready to copy its contents on my journal. Inkwells and goose quills crowded my desk, alongside rogue scraps of paper, tomes bound in leather, and other scholarly paraphernalia. A flickering candle had burned away close to its base, the melted wax oozing out like a greasy fungus across the bottom of the holder. A small blade waited to sharpen the points of the quills as needed. An empty crimson-stained goblet required filling.

Hundreds of books lined the walls, some were written purely for entertainment, but the majority, however, hosted a collection of studies, guides authored by experts in more than three dozen widely varied fields, written by people with vast knowledge and numerous talents from the Second and Third Eras. The shelves had cried under the weight of countless ancient books and scrolls of yellowed parchment.

This was my own little Apocrypha. My own little realm. I had thirsted for understanding, for wisdom, in the same manner others yearned for stuffed coffers or prestige, and with each new adventure or daring escapade, I was quick to document it all, adding to the innumerable works that crowded this chamber.

"Ornery!" I called out. "I have returned!"

A moment later I heard something scuttling, and then something jumped on the table before me: a tiny piece of Oblivion. I looked at the creature in front of me. Ornery was a wingless banekin. He was a cruel and inquisitive, impish in his prancing form: the bound Daedra was gray and shrunken like a little man, a hunched homunculi, bearing sharp wings without the mass to carry him. His back was scaly and spiked, and he stared at me with those cold, azure eyes and bared sharp little teeth, pointed like a slaughterfish.

"Welcome back!" he said. "Were you successful?"

Considering the safe return, I would say this endeavor was successful. Not certain it was entirely a victory, though; I was not certain my mother was still in Oblivion.

I observed the distinguished company with a slight smile. "I came back in a single piece. But I have not found my mother . . . Something tells me she is still there. Somewhere."

"Have you faced Sthorha the Crazed? Nolagha? Keggagiha?"

I frowned. "No—"

"Menta Na? Ozzozachar? Kathut—"

"No. I fought none of your Daedric cousins, none of note anyway. I have spoken with the Soul Shriven of Coldharbour. They weren't as helpful as I imagined."

"You spoke with the Soul Shriven? Kynreeve Xalxorkig would be most furious if the slaves are not working."

"Oh, I am undoubtedly shaking in my boots at the thought of his displeasure," A sardonic tone slipped into my voice. "I have collected the castle's fattest rodents for your own personal gratification, Ornery, and yet you ignore my efforts in favor of needless concerns."

"Never needless, mistress," said the Daedra. "Since the beginning of time, I have seen many a mage fall to the hordes of Oblivion. Coldharbour is a dangerous place, and it has devoured and digested many unfortunate—"

"—Souls, yes." I breathed as I crossed the room to place away my journal. "I shall be sure to visit Coldharbour again, either by a portal or by my death, but knowledge is paramount, because knowledge is power, and as long as I am of this world, I will devote my pursuits to that."

"As you say." Ornery sniffed.

"Where is my father?"

"He slumbers, my mistress." Ornery said. "It is yet day. Past midday. The sun burns in the sky."

"Oh? How long was I gone?"

"Three minutes."

"Three minutes . . ." I breathed. "It felt much longer in Oblivion. What of my brother? Is he back?"

"Not here. He is yet in the Imperial City."

"Splendid! You shan't speak of this to anyone." I said. "Now go on, fetch me a bar of sload soap."

Rubbing irritably at my temple, I rose from my seat. My eyes were red and bleary from soot and dust. "I need to indulge in some libation . . . get some sleep."

Indeed, the spiritual connection I felt to Coldharbour at first was freighted with terrible and fiery logic; it was challenging to conceive the most peaceful of thoughts regarding Molag Bal's realm after exposure to scathing visions and truths felt firsthand with such ardor and precision. Experience, without a doubt, is a great cleanser of my intellect, purging me of innumerable lethargic ideas, and through some of the most unsettling despondency I had ever encountered. Whatever the afterlife in Coldharbour had to cast at me, I knew I had been through worse on Molag Bal's summoning day. I longed to find confirmation of such a belief, through the proof of the well-being of my mother, a Daughter of Coldharbour, though I have not yet found her to come to a full satisfactory conclusion.

My frequent visits to the realm had caused me to be aroused anew by life’s esoteric promise: immortality, and what I had done to obtain it. Nothing is more precious than time—and everyone knew, the more precious the gift, the higher the price.

Now, all I could hope for was to continue on.

And to wash off the whiff of lavender and foul stench of rancid meat and offal of Oblivion from my body.

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Aug 19 2019, 12:06 AM


--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
SubRosa
post Jul 22 2019, 05:52 PM
Post #2


Ancient
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



The Order sound like the Ventrue. They certainly have a good place staked out (nyuk, nyuk, nyuk) in 3rd Era Cyrodiil. A relatively powerful and stable nation whose inner workings they can infiltrate.

I liked the simple but creepy description of 'Ravine' opening the doorway to Oblivion.

Ornery is well-named, and quite likeable.

You weave a wonderful depiction of Coldharbour, with its scorching skies and frozen ground.

Gah, got to go now. Be back later when I can finish reading.



Nits?
Though my instincts *that* told me to avoid danger were screaming at me
I think you lost a "that" where I inserted it above

Many of the charnel houses and slave pens that dotted this realm, and if I was not careful, I would be thrown in them.
The wording sounds a little off. Maybe you were looking for "There were many charnel houses", or "Many were the charnel houses?"




Finished reading. That was a really good start. At first I had thought that Raven was still human. Until she began to draw upon not only her vampiric powers, but also the bat form that only the vampire lord/lady's have. I have to admit, seeing Coldharbour once would not whet my appetite to ever return. Let alone to take any comfort in the thought of ending up there for eternity after death. But Raven makes a good point. After enduring Molag Bal's initiation into vampirehood, what is left to frighten or disturb you?



--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Acadian
post Jul 22 2019, 08:48 PM
Post #3


Paladin
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



Welcome back to the fanfic Arena, DE!

I note with pleasure that your command of lavishly rich and evocative description remains undaunted by time. I see your vision of Coldharbour is not unlike that of Elder Scrolls Online and you certainly captured it in full measure.

With plenty of luck and some vampiric skill, the impetuous young mage survived her journey – which is a success in itself despite learning nothing of her mother’s fate.

Ornery seems a fitting familiar for Raven and, the fact that he speaks, adds plenty of opportunity to hear his Daedric perspective on things.


--------------------
Screenshot: Buffy in Artaeum
Stop by our sub forum!
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Grits
post Jul 23 2019, 02:43 AM
Post #4


Councilor
Group Icon
Joined: 6-November 10
From: The Gold Coast



Great to see you posting again! You brought Coldharbour to vivid, freezing life. Raven’s ritual and trip through the portal were excellent.

I love Raven’s library. Even for a castle-dweller, there’s nothing like a room of one’s own.

Just a couple of typos:
QUOTE
until everything and [/i]anything[/i] out there

QUOTE
My eyes are read and bleary from soot and dust.

I very much enjoyed the way you kept up the pace even though you provided lots of rich description. What a triumphant return of Decumus family!


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
treydog
post Jul 23 2019, 01:46 PM
Post #5


Master
Group Icon
Joined: 13-February 05
From: The Smoky Mountains



Wonderfully descriptive and evocative; I could feel the mists of Coldharbour wrapping about me.... And at the same time, you do an excellent job of bringing the characters alive, as well. Details- like Ornery and his "I forget..." just make it that much better.



--------------------
The dreams down here aren't broken, nah, they're walkin' with a limp...

The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
mALX
post Jul 30 2019, 10:14 AM
Post #6


Ancient
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Cyrodiil, the Wastelands, and BFE TN




YOU'RE WRITING AGAIN AND DIDN'T TELL ME? GAAAAAAAAH!!!

I've been trying to find a text-to-voice reader to catch up with Grits, I will def be back to read this!





--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Zalphon
post Jul 31 2019, 09:49 PM
Post #7


Knower
Group Icon
Joined: 17-March 10
From: Somewhere Outside Plato's Cave.



I found the depiction of Coldharbour to be crisp and evocative, but I must say that Ornery stole the show for me.

He strikes me almost like a younger sibling, but mildly more useful.


--------------------
"You have the same twenty-four hours as me; don't be mad just because you don't use yours like I do." -Tupac Shakur
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
BretonBlood
post Aug 2 2019, 05:44 AM
Post #8


Agent

Joined: 9-March 15



To bandwagon on what everyone else has said, your descriptions of Coldharbour were fantastic! Simply amazing, I could picture it perfectly.

I also loved getting to see Raven's vampiric powers in action. You wrote those very well, her bat form was just badass. Awesome start, can't wait to see more! Love me some vampires!


--------------------
My first short story - "A Thief's Ascension"
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Darkness Eternal
post Aug 4 2019, 08:16 PM
Post #9


Master
Group Icon
Joined: 10-June 11
From: Coldharbour



Subrosa: The Order most definitely match the Ventrue in plenty of ways, and yet we don't see much of them(the Order( in the Elder Scrolls but a few mentions. But I have taken plenty of inspiration from the Ventrue Clan in the WOD universe. They're also my favorite vampire clan from that franchise. smile.gif cool.gif

Ornery is named after the Banekin pet in ESO. Raven has been knee-deep in some Daedric rituals from an early age, the worst being the most evident here.

Thanks! I believe Raven's visit to Coldharbour was not the full experience of the realm, but the visit was enough to scare some sense into her. Her main desire to return is her mother, who's fate will be explored as the story progresses. The Daughters of Coldharbour are made through a ritual, as we all know, that is tradition among followers of Molag. I would wager many of these followers are young and naive, much like Serana, or very devout, much like Valerica. I don't think anyone likes to ponder on what comes after, especially if they had a glimpse of it. And it would be enough to dissuade many from staying on that course.

Some Daedric worshipers can be pragmatic. They are aware the Daedric Princes are far more powerful and cunning than them, and that these princes will want a very high price. There is little too repugnant for a worshiper of Molag to consider when pursuing their goals. If that means making a few deals with any particular Prince, they'll do it in a heartbeat. They would be careful in their dealings with them, I think, only a fool starts bargaining with daedra without a plan . . . which reminds me of Mistress Dratha from ESO. As she points out, anything worth doing is going to be dangerous, and if you're a Telvanni, navigating danger is what you do. You make a deal with the devil, then find a way to make it work or to rules lawyer your way through it.

Like Dratha once said after being asked on her feelings of being consigned to Coldharbour: "Is it better to know? To count down the days with dread? Or better to be ignorant, to worry and wonder if today is the day, or perhaps tomorrow? Give me a decade or so to decide how I feel about that."

That's what Dratha did; The dremora said he'd come to claim her life in the guise of man. So she banned all men from her tower and ordered her guardswomen to throw out or kill any man who tried to enter. It has apparently worked; She made it 800 years until the events of Morrowind without being killed by the dremora in question, and since we never hear of her dying and other Telvanni from morrowind like Neloth managed to survive (and, in fact, Neloth says the Telvanni are still on Vvardenfell), she could very well be going into the 4th era.

Though Raven understands that she will undoubtedly end up in Coldharbour at the end of the road, it won't stop her from searching for detours or a better path along that journey, and in such case, she went as far as to go to Coldharbour to look for her mother. She will try in the least to cope with this sad and horrible reality.


Acadian:

Good to be back!

Thank ESO I was able to give such good description. I confess I've spent more than enough time exploring that dreadful place in ESO tongue.gif

Not many mages can create portals to Oblivion; while it is possible, the procedure is highly esoteric, very costly and dangerous for anyone of modest means, and there are shortcuts modest mages can use, or in Raven's case, a broad understanding of ancient knowledge and rituals passed on to her by ageless parents. She's a decent mage, though she still has plenty to learn in both fighting skills and of course politics.

Grits: Thanks! Great to be writing once more! The library is beyond a doubt one of her favorite rooms to be in. Pacing is something, I have to admit, I try to work one from time to time. With practice, I hope it flows well biggrin.gif

The word count for this episode and this next once is large, but the future installments won't be as large. As a matter of fact I had to break it down some in different parts.

Treydog: Thanks Trey! I like to imagine I'm there with the characters, putting myself in their shoes. Ornery was fun to write, and Raven is one of my main characters that I'm reintroducing again.

Daedric minions can be amusing tongue.gif

mALX: Sorry!! I was going to send you a PM, I swear!

For sure! Thanks! As a matter of fact, I also have to go back and reread Jerric's story, too.

Zalphon: He definitely does come across as that, a very mischievous and destructive younger sibling.

BretonBlood: Raven's powers are a mix from the abilities we see in Oblivion and Skyrim, as well as ones in ESO. Since she's a pureblooded, she does have a greater range of vampiric powers which grows stronger as her vampiric stages, which also brings a great many risks and weaknesses.

Previously on Order Vampyrum: Raven Decumus makes a daring visit to Coldharbour to find out the truth about her mother. While she returns safe, she is ultimately unsuccessful in locating her.

~Chapter 2: Out of Blood ~


Struggling up from the seaweed-depths of a nighterror, I squirmed in my coffin, gasping, staring into the darkness. How they chased me—how those hands dragged me under—how the sounds of Coldharbour thundered inside my head, blinding me to the contours of the coffin, deafening me to every sound save the beating of my heart.

In silence so deep I could hear the frantic, ragged breaths from my own lips, I disentangled myself from within the satin-lined coffin and opened the lid, gazing out into the the opulent suite that was my chambers.

A canopied four-poster bed, Imperial in style and unused, was piled to the heights with pillows and expensive linens. A wash-hand basin, jewelry box, coffers, and other feminine furbelows cluttered the top of a mahogany dressing table. Candlelight shone through the room. Lilac and tansy sweetened the air. A great framed mirror, mounted over the vanity, put to the test the myth that all vampires cast no reflections. Kindling, unlit and unused, was piled in the fireplace. A Breton styled carpet, brought from High Rock, was spread out over the cold stone floor. An old armoire held my rather vast and extensive wardrobe.

Standing next to my coffin, I meticulously scoured my private chambers, and as peaceful as the sight was, it failed to calm the tempest raging inside my head.

Feverish images paraded backward across my mind: Shattered fragments of obsidian glass converged before me, the broken shards flying through the void, coinciding into a pattern I could not quite discern. Severed iron chains snaked toward a dank Daedric floor, the entirety of it jangling loud as they snapped back together. Flying titans circled like vultures above a dead land where slaves congregate in mass.

We all had nightmares, my family. My brother especially. Sometimes his screams woke me from restless sleep, ringing out from his chambers and echoing across the hall. Sometimes he called my father and mother's name; other times he called mine, in fear, despair, or rage. More often, he just screamed as though his heart were being cut out.

With me the most memorable of dreams, the ones that have achieved a haunting reality so intense that it seemed like it just happened, have dealt with either death or horror. Thus the fate of every vampire as long as they walked Tamriel. Ad infinitum. Yet no dream had produced in me these lasting echoes since these dreams, and now reality, of Coldharbour.

I need a drink.

I have relentlessly thirsted for knowledge of Oblivion and a firsthand experience, and now I found myself thirsting for something else entirely this night: blood.

I had not fed for days.

The countless hours of reading and research, and nightmarish visions had in some pressing, vicarious way made me exceedingly hungry. I was so thirsty that I had begun to salivate, and felt a touch of giddiness. My mouth felt as dry as ashes and I would do anything for a fresh flagon of hot blood to restore some vitality to my skin.

Running my hands through my long black hair, l released a long drawn-out sigh. My mind was overwhelmed by knowledge and information I have gathered in recent weeks, and the visit to Oblivion that filled me with seemingly unending moments of suffocation . . . I need a drink of that warm, vermillion ambrosia.

I heard light, faint footsteps outside of my room. Several seconds later there was a discreet knock on the door and I opened it to see our manservant at the threshold.

"Evening Gallinius," I said with a smile.

Gallinius was a mortal man who's angular face was too long and equine, a nose too pronounced and beaked, and, as first impressions went the day I met him, a rather large jawbone. But his blue eyes were kind, astute, vivid; there was still a robustness in his face, tempered by a wondrous, abiding tenderness that caused him ever to seem on the verge of an apologetic smile. He was a conscientious-looking fellow, and in his frail wrinkled hands was a book the size of a ledger. My mood lightened: I was very fond of him.

"Evening my lady," he smiled. "I believe this belongs to you. For a moment I thought it was your brother's planner."

I chuckled. "Draken and planning? Good one."

The Imperial handed the book to me. "This book is indeed your style." He cast a glance at the stacks of books on the shelf. "A missing addition to the collection."

"Reading edifies the mind, Gallinius. But too much of it has left me a bit peckish." I admitted.

My gaze was irresistibly drawn to the succulent vein pulsing at Gallinius' throat; I was sorely tempted to sample his defenseless neck with my fangs. Perhaps just a taste?

No, I resolved, peeling my eyes away from his throbbing vein. Unlike some vampires, I did not take blood from just any mortal. Especially not our own servants.

Gallinius studied my face. "Are you well milady? Your complexion is, if I must confess, etiolated."

"Night terrors," I told him in a flat tone. "I have not fed either. I am blood-starved."

Gallinius was not convinced. "I have served your family since before you were born, and I know you well enough that you aren't this reclusive. I know this is beyond the pale, so excuse my forwardness, my dear, but may I ask how goes your recovery? Since the ritual. Since your death."

I gave him a cool, careful look. My eyes went colder still, and my tongue was heavy, and all I could do was stare at him. How could I explain? What could I say about the ritual that I underwent a few months ago? I could never unchoose the choice I made. I could never take it back. As my father had once said, there was no going back. And I was not even sure if I wanted to. I could not allow myself to be thinking about this. Just as father said for me not to think of those people . . . the ones that I . . . I put my hand to my temple, trying to rub away the memory of that day, the 20th of Evening Star. The things I have suffered, and the things I had done.

Truth be told, to be reminded of such things made me uneasy; I wanted to crawl away into a corner somewhere; I felt sure that if things would simply cease for a while—hours, minutes—I could pull myself together and discover some manner to keep moving forward. I had to keep moving forward. Moving forward was all I could afford to do. Especially when I could not stand to look back.

I allowed a humorous smile to come to my face, as though the horrific ritual was only some jest, an old story. "I feel as strong and alive as ever. You should not worry."

"I'm only concerned, milady, forgive an old man. I live only to obey your every need. Your every desire."

"Death feels . . . " I said after a moment, and paused. "You would not understand."

"There are so many mysteries yet to be discovered, especially on our final frontier and yet the more we explore its boundaries, the less we are able to trace a clear line between life and death. You, my dear, have a foot in both countries. The view must be vertiginous indeed."

"It is at least as vertiginous as chatting about my kind with you, I would say. The rest of the mortal world does not seem to share your sense of enthusiasm, however. Vampirism and necromancy defy Tamriel's categorization of 'good'. The world can be a tad bit censorious, don't you think?"

Gallinius was smiling at me. It was a perfectly amiable smile, with not a trace of any derisive implications. "Most kindred spirits out there aren't as affable as you, milady."

"You are too kind," I said as I brushed my disheveled mane of hair. "Still, I am nothing like those ravenous animals, tearing out throats and making spigots of just anyone I cross paths with."

While I said one thing, I was so hungry I could devour an entire village. Next to a sane mind and the lack of sleep, food was one of my leading and supreme deficiencies; one I knew I would seek for with a greed that approached lust.

"I am off to the cattle-cell," I said over my shoulder as I gave my farewell. "Have a splendid evening, Gallinius."

"Yes, milady. Stay out of trouble."

****


Neither sun nor moons could shine in the dungeons; there were no windows that pierced the thick stone walls. No lights came through the timeless iron bars from the torches in the sconce on the wall, which meant none of our mortal servants had came here recently. The back half of the cell was drenched in gloom. My eyes peered through the umbral cattle cells, looking for my prey.

Where is he?

The cell door was closed but unlocked, and inside the cell was the man I came for. His garb had once been fresh and new, but now they were caked with dirt, and blood-stained and ripped. He was in the same position since he was brought here from the Imperial Prison like all the others, months ago. Resting on his side as a babe, the Imperial man said not a word. Kept in a catatonic state, he was unable to to wake, lost in a dreamless sleep, forever.

Just as I liked it.

The dungeons were always quiet, save for the occasional squeaking of rodents and the constant pumping hearts of the captives. But tonight, I realized the room was silent in its entirety; Ornery had taken good care of any vermin, and there was no sign of life, not a single breath or heartbeat could be heard. I realized at once that the last prisoner had died. The cattle I fed on the regular had been a large and very hideous man, and he made a very hideous corpse. After being caught for the murder of his neighbor, the man later confessed in prison he was hoping to be recruited into the ranks of the Dark Brotherhood. And now his life—and my supper—had expired.

Drat! Just my bloody luck.

It had been too long since I had last refreshed myself in the castle’s cattle cell. Alas, the foul ichor of the dead could not slake my thirst. My nose wrinkled in disgust, the very thought turned my stomach. Unlike the blood of the living, which was the main source of our sustenance, the unclean blood of a corpse held no allure; indeed, it was considered anathema to my kind even to think of partaking of a cadaver's tainted essence.

With a heavy sigh I left the dungeons, and out into the hallways of the castle I called home. Crepuscular tapestries covered the walls and crimson-black, hand-woven rugs lined the corridors as I made my way past room after room, each decorated with old furniture, rare objects of art, and other unmistakable evidence of wealth. It took me almost three full minutes to traverse the length of the south-end of the castle, and as I did the light of the candles and torches seemed brighter than usual, almost harsh, but somehow that only deepened the tenebrosity that surrounded our little family every moment.

Castle Decumus was enormous, its bones made from stones that had been just as old as the Empire during the Interregnum. Many of these stones had been taken from ancient fortifications and bridges since the Second Era. The decor displayed the ancient beliefs of timeless cultures. Everything about Castle Decumus bespoke of both age and permanence, and the walls that held the halls whispered secrets long forgotten.

I liked the sense of age that the castle represented; I valued its longevity, treasured its strength. In many ways it matched my father's life: something that had become wiser and more powerful from age rather than weaker. Though there were cobwebs in the corners and layers of dust in plenty of spaces, the fortress was strong. As strong as ever. Just as Lord Decumus was strong.

Just as I would be. Someday.

I headed toward my father's office, for where else could he be at this forsaken hour? Who else could better explain to me this abrupt and absurd shortage of food? I climbed up the stairs, traversed across a small courtyard, and over an empty hallway where unoccupied suits of armor stood like silent sentinels along the walls. Ancient relics of the Second Era, they were, used by my father's servants during that tumultuous period, now dusty and often ignored.

Reaching to the end of the hall, I came to a door, and opened it. I half nodded around the sweep of this room: Austere. Unpretentious and uncompromising. To me, this was a portal into my father's personality; he lived his years entirely for the Empire. Plain in dress. Direct in speech. Unconcerned with frippery or lavish comfort.

He was seated in the center of the chamber, writing by the glow of an oil lamp, though he had no need for it. He raised his eyes at the sound of the latch. “Good evening, my dear.” Calmly, he set his quill aside. "What is it?” he reproached me.

Our eyes met.

His cropped black hair rested behind a widow’s peak, exposing his lofty brow of Nibenese proportions. A sturdy nose distinguished his aristocratic visage. A black and velvet robe with golden trimmed fabrics hugged his narrow frame. He looked to be in his early fifties by mortal standards, although, to us who knew him, his true age was measured in many centuries, lost in the impenetrable mists of history.

His skin was as flushed as a newborn's. He had an unremarkable face, sprouting a very faint gray and black crop of stubble,with his only feature worth of note being his eyes, paler than stone and blue as ice. Age had failed to bow and shrink him, but existing had taken a noticeable toll.

"There are no thralls in the cattle cells. The last one died." I stifled a calculated yawn. "Were there no prisoners from the Imperial City?"

"Quintus has been occupied; his guards had been doing a commendable job with keeping the peace. If he were to spirit away every prisoner from the Imperial City, or Skingrad, it would raise questions. There are bottles in the cupboard," he explained calmly. "I shall procure more cattle this Fridas."

My father crossed the floor to the cupboard on the other side of the office. Pulling open a door, he removed a bottle of blood from the assorted collection. The preserved fluid inside the portly vial was purplish red. I expelled a slow, exasperated breath, having a horrible feeling where this was going.

“Drink this,” he said. “Your brother is out on business, and has fed before he left. I suggest you stay here until he returns."

My father lobbed the bottle of blood at me. I caught it with both hands, then gazed down at the stout corked vial. It felt cold to the touch, like a ball of ice. Weeks-old blood. I am in a mood to hunt.

Preying on mortal stock on the daily basis was risky in a manner, as well as dangerous. We limited our feeding habits to enthralled prisoners and unruly criminals, and hunted in the wilderness at night for bandits and highwaymen, who would not be missed by locals. We also kept bottles of blood at home. If so inclined, we would go out to feed on the slumbering populace. Such a decision was born more out of empirical notions rather than mawkish sentiment or ethics. We were in no hurry to attract the pitchforks—and wooden stakes—of an outraged commonalty.

Indeed, some of my kind were more scrupulous about their prandial habits than others. Though we can, in theory, feed on animals, their blood could not provide the same sustenance as mortals, who's nectar we subsisted on. Though me—and my clan—preferred to feed on the sleeping and unaware, sometimes we felt compelled to seduce and feed. The thrill of hunting was an invigorating frisson unlike any other.

One I needed. This very moment.

“You have been reticent of late. Are you well?" said Lord Decumus, looking up from the map set before him.

What could I tell him? Yes and no; it was issues with my sleep, but it was some other annoyances more profound and unsettling which was at the root of that, and, having told no one else about my mother and the details of my time in a realm of Oblivion, I could not force myself to speak to him about it, either. I murmured something about being hungry.

He nodded at me.

Remarkable and prodigious man, my father.

Cyrodiil-bred and Cyrodiil-raised within the purlieus of Skingrad, several miles from where we now stood—before a period he often described as "days and nights of blood and venom"—my father was born. I recalled him telling me that anti-intellectualism had become a prevailing attitude in the height of his years, and the pursuit of wisdom was on the decline. Despite this, my father thirsted for understanding, for knowledge, in the same way that others desired wealth and prestige. Over the centuries at last he had found a large measure of both—as well as a family.

Yet no amount of fortune in this realm or the next could give a man peace of mind.

Tried as I might, I could not conceal a slight look of amusement and curiosity that was etched on my face, to see my father buried in his office by a storm of ink and parchment. Business ventures, taxations, and trade negotiations had been the bulk of my father's worries. But none of these things had him so exasperated.

I wondered, What bothers you so?

“It is said some sort of beast is stalking the region,” he said after a pause, as if reading my mind. “I do not know what kind, however, but it will keep us from actively hunting."

I frowned. “Are they certain it is an animal?”

“That is what they are saying,” he said. "And yet people have gone missing in different areas in our territories, all at the same time. This leads me to believe it is not a single culprit, but many."

"What of the Imperial foresters patrolling the area?" I inquired with a liquid shrug rippling along the length of my arm. “Certainly they have came across something—anything?"

"—They have. Bodies,” he said, turning to look down upon the map. He rolled a cup of blood back and forth between his palms. "The most recent were two last night. What was left of them. The descriptions given to me all say that they have been drained of blood, and then mutilated and partly consumed. I have witnessed the work of wild animals of the area. Nature at the height of its viciousness. It is quite the conundrum, given that there are no natural predators in this region capable of inflicting such dreadful injuries."

“It could be mortals," I suggested with a subtle, delicate shadow of irritation etched upon my face as I trailed off defensively. "A coterie of murderous pillocks or a gaggle of lunatic cultists—”

My father's eyes flicked toward me. "You mean a gang of marauders loose on the West Weald?” He shook his head. “Since this happened two nights ago, the foresters would have brought them to justice already. On the other hand, these wounds are so terrible that . . . I believe only a sadistic person would seem capable of such abandon. Animals kill for food or to protect their offspring or territory. They are not cruel with purpose, and the damage said to have been done . . . was very precise and perverse, and just as barbaric."

Mulling my father's observations, I added my own. "As if the suffering of the victims was as much the intention as the need to feed. . . The locals could blame it on the Daedra."

My father scoffed. “They blame everything on the Daedra. If a calf is born dead or a rooster crows at the wrong time before sunrise, they will blame it on the Daedra. They can be a provincial lot. They are guilty of half as much as they are accused of and twice what you believe them capable of. Regardless, there are three Daedric shrines in the wilderness bordering these attacks. It could be related, or it could be coincidence. Either way, we shall act."

Dead locals. Danger lurking about. Ho-hum! I am still going to go hunting.

"It isn't unheard of followers of Namira to practice cannibalism." I said.

"That is correct," my father agreed. "But this is not their signature. Cultists of Namira do not leave bodies out in the open. They would sooner sell the remains in a marketplace disguised as beef. They work in shadow, and live in those conditions. Whatever did this, was bold enough to do so."

Or careless, I considered. But not enough to dissuade me from going into the night.

I stared at the blood-filled vial in my hand. Reddish-purple fluid sloshed inside the sealed bottle. I considered whether I should hand this back over to my father or just set it aside. Either way, the very thought of consuming the blood from this bottle was unappealing at the moment. Even more unsatisfactory was that this notion of whatever menace that lurked about would discourage my father from allowing me to hunt out there alone. Perhaps a daughter's pressing needs outweigh the concern over the murder-spree of a flock of bugaboos.

I cleared my throat. "Well, I have appetite for a warmer repast."

"In these events, I would like for you to remain here and assuage your thirst until this matter has been resolved." His voice neither stern nor peremptory nor, on the other hand, particularly tender. It was just a voice which expected to be obeyed. My father's face softened when he looked at me, and a hint of concern traced itself ruefully onto his features. He did something with his lips. It seemed to be a smile. He said nothing for a time—odd and mystifying—wearing the enigma of the moment like a robe.

Pausing but for a moment, I tried to formulate an answer to convince him, but alas, he was set in motion. "This could very much be feral vampires, spreading their virulent blood. The draining of blood speaks volumes. It is their language." My father morosely interlocked his fingers, staring into nothing. "When bodies surface exsanguinated, it is important we investigate. I cannot have you hunting out there when the herd is riled."

"But Draken—"

"Your brother is not hunting. He's taking care of certain endeavors on my behalf. . . in the city." His sharp glare accentuated a flat curt cast in his face; he looked surly. Clearing his throat with utmost civility, he returned his attention to the map and then, as I watched, his countenance broke out into the droll, exasperated frown which often heralded his jaundiced moments of outrage— at the nobles of his station, the state of the world, renegade Nosferatu, a dead wife—tirades which, in their unmitigated incredulity, would have been insufferable were they not always delivered with such avidity and fervor and a kind of grim delight that was crested upon our family.

"Forgive me," he said slowly, his eyes wide and glistening, "Times such as these are far less trivial than ages long past. You will come to realize one day. Yet . . ."

I have never known a greater man than my father, and if during these late centuries he became here and there irascible or sententious, I could understand it, knowing that our family had fallen on tumultous times since my mother's death. It did not help either that my brother was eager to inconvenience my father from time to time.

I paid attention to his words for but a moment, peeling my eyes from the map. There was something restorative, fresh—during an era of surfeit peace and silence —in listening to this ancient man at considerable measures of his wrath over a map.

The landscape of the map caught my eye: the lakes and rivers, the markings where castles and cities could be found, the forests of Cyrodiil, territories where vampires of our clan has established themselves. My finger ran over the lands under our dominion, my nail tracing everything from the outskirts of Skingrad to the borders of the Great Forest, and some of our lands in Nibenay across Niben Bay.

"Many centuries ago these lands were contested by warring factions, and Tamriel was in plunged into chaos," my father was telling me once again. "Before the rise of Tiber Septim and the unification of Tamriel, the Imperial Legions I commanded were a force to be reckoned with. Even now, the memories of past laurels have not yet faded, even as we were beset upon on all sides by the contenders. Times have indeed changed, and now we have to worry about fanged fiends lurking in hovels and caves. You would think one would find that far less concerning."

There were moments when I wondered how times were like back then when my father was my age, certainly not yet a vampire. I have been fascinated by his tales of old, of meeting men and women of renown, legends of the past, in a time where even dragons were unleashed and Daedric hordes invaded the world and vampires and undead of every variety threatened the world in numbers.

The present days were different.

Where our kind here in Cyrodiil once wore armor and hid in caverns and graves, we now lived in manors and castles and wore trappings of silk and linen. Where we once brandished fangs and claws, we now thrived with quills, inkwells and sealed messages in the night. We had changed. We had evolved. We adapted, and invested over a thousand years of politics and dark magick and every study in between to live a quiet life. Relegated to the shadows. For eternity.

And yet I listened as my father reminisced of a bygone era. Perhaps he was still thinking of lost attachments. Perhaps he was still thinking of my mother. Has she haunted your thoughts, too, father? Does she try to speak to you in your nightmares?

In periods of stress and threat, I have often been often told, in times of terror and fear, or of silence and apprehension, people tend to cling to the past, even to emulate it: taking on old traditions and humming old songs, questing of historic memories and reliving old ancestral conflicts, in an attempt to put behind both the uninspiring present and a future too peculiar and lackluster to imagine.

Perhaps, I reasoned, one of the reasons vampire ancients sometimes sought to slumber away, or somehow meet a final death out of carelessness, or are so exceptionally nervous and driven is that their past is effaced almost before it is made manifest; in their pursuit for old avatars to contemplate they discover only ghosts, specters, shadows: almost nothing remains for them to glimpse or feel, or to absorb their longing. I was touched to the heart: by my father’s ancient disposition and decency and fury, but also by whatever it was within me—within this unlife itself, it appeared so powerful—that I knew perhaps I was irretrievably lost to the same fate as my father. Me and my brother.

"Indeed, times have changed." I echoed, and turned the path of our conversation. "So Draken is not hunting. . . What sort of task have you set him to?"

"Your brother was sent to finalize our dealings with Lentulus regarding the sale of his gold mines. As I, he has vested interests in shipping, goods and services . . . The years have favored Lord Lentulus."

And his coinpurse, I thought. Last I remember the mortal nobleman was at that party he hosted. That sober, airless affair. Such a desiccated specimen.

"What are the lay of your thoughts?" I asked.

"Fitful. I expect him to return with pleasant news, though I suspect he might be indulging once again in his contentious proclivities. I shall weigh the worth of his labor," Lord Decumus said. "And set his achievement to the scale once he returns."

As my father said these words, my mind wandered off and I asked myself: Where shall I hunt tonight?

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Aug 19 2019, 12:06 AM


--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
SubRosa
post Aug 5 2019, 01:56 PM
Post #10


Ancient
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



I really liked the Ventrue a lot in VtM, and loved playing one in Bloodlines. So I look forward to seeing their Cyrodiilic cousins in action.

What you describe about Dratha and others bargaining with the Daedra reminds me of an old Doctor Strange storyline where Doc Strange's big bad rival (Count Ordo I think?) sold his soul to two separate demons for power. The idea being that they would have to fight each other for it if they ever wanted to collect. Then he went to Doctor Strange for help in defeating both to save himself. It was a really cool story arc.

Of course The Devil and Daniel Webster also immediately jumps to mind.

If vampires cast no reflections, then how do they all comb their hair? Or do their makeup? That never made sense to me.

I need a drink of that warm, vermillion ambrosia
I loved this description.

Gallinius' appearance makes me think of HP Lovecraft, also of the long face.

I thought that was a good way you revealed that it is only a few months since Raven became a Daughter of Coldharbour (a DoC?). That was an excellent example of showing rather than telling. I also like the lack of details about the ritual itself. It much more powerful when we are left to imagine, because our imaginations are always going to be so much worse than anything we are shown or told.

Something I find interesting is that the practice of necromancy was not reviled, or even looked down upon on the Classical world. In fact, many of the Greek heroes made journeys to Hades. Of course back then necromancy was confined to summoning the spirits of the dead to converse with them. Pretty light-weight stuff really. It was not reanimating their corpses to create armies of the undead. There were of course critters that turned people into spigots, like Empusa and Lamia, and they were definitely fearful creatures.

but somehow that only deepened the tenebrosity that surrounded our little family every moment
I love the word 'tenebrous', there was even a Darth Tenebrous as I recall. I think he was Plageus' master?

It sounds like band of unruly Brujah have moved into the area! Methinks it is time their betters taught them some manners! laugh.gif

I really enjoyed your lavish description of Raven's father. He truly feels ancient, with one foot still in a ghost-haunted past he can never quite escape.

I also loved how Raven thought of Lentulus as dessicated! smile.gif That was a very vampiric way of looking at him.





Nits
An an old armoire held my rather vast and extensive wardrobe.
You left an extra 'An' at the beginning, probably a leftover from an edit.

but it will keeping us from actively hunting."
Looks like another leftover from an edit.

If a calf is born dead or a [censored] crows
I am afraid the forum's filter has done away with your crowing rooster!



--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Acadian
post Aug 5 2019, 04:53 PM
Post #11


Paladin
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



’Struggling up from the seaweed-depths of a nighterror, I squirmed in my coffin, gasping, staring into the darkness.’
- - I found this a brilliant opening – so incredibly evocative. Well done!

A long and lavishly rich description of life in the ancient vampiric castle and those who dwell within.

Loads of background as well as both world and character building going on here.

And a very hungry vampiress whose needs will only be sated by fresh, warm blood – and quickly!


--------------------
Screenshot: Buffy in Artaeum
Stop by our sub forum!
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
treydog
post Aug 10 2019, 03:16 PM
Post #12


Master
Group Icon
Joined: 13-February 05
From: The Smoky Mountains



Again quite excellent descriptions and background, allowing is to learn more without doing an "info dump."

Wonder what is loose in the West Weald? And where Raven shall go to hunt for living prey?


--------------------
The dreams down here aren't broken, nah, they're walkin' with a limp...

The best-dressed newt in Mournhold.
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Darkness Eternal
post Aug 19 2019, 01:53 AM
Post #13


Master
Group Icon
Joined: 10-June 11
From: Coldharbour



Subrosa: On vampires casting no reflection: it has been somewhat hinted in lore, in passing, nothing concrete has come from it. What we do know about certain vampires is that apparently they breathe? They do have heartbeats, and sometimes their body may function like a normal person. I'm willing to bet this is due to how well-fed they are. I imagine a clan who's livelihood depend on their ability to blend in would have reflections in the mirror.

Gallinius was a nice character in this story. There is more to him, as well as the other mortals who serve the Decumus family. Perhaps you may think if discretion and secrecy are their highest tenets, why have mortals servants? I promise this will be answered in the coming chapters.

I debated whether or not to detail the ritual Raven underwent, or at least the aftermath of it. It is much more powerful to believe and have her tell of it, rather than show it. That, and the fact that the ritual is itself degrading, horrendous and could not be effectively told unless I went into great detail, which I won't. ]Opusculus Lamae Bal ta Mezzamortie is the the only description of said ritual, imposed in an unwilling subject. After awhile I did not think it was necessary to describe it in full.

Oh for sure! I read some of the old greek stories and was greatly fascinated by it! Necromancy was used to acquire knowledge and wisdom, and as you said, to converse with spirits. In the Elder Scrolls universe few instances necromancy was used for good, and there was even a great debate on the ethics of it. We've seen plenty of folks use necromancy for very evil purposes, men like Mannimarco and this sicko. During this period in the story(and up until the time of Morrowind), necromancy is legal in a sense. Necromancers can experiment on corpses of criminals and traitors.

But there are always moral and ethical issues involved with it, i.e., committing horrific crimes on people who have committed horrific crimes, and is a relevant talking point because many people in modern society are divided on this very issue. There are questions like what if the people whose souls you're defiling are murderers, thieves, and other scum? Would it still be bad? The same question can be applied to the Decumus' family's feeding habits: they feed on innocent people, but they don't kill them. If they do kill, or keep as cattle, they're criminals and murderers, people who society would turn a blind eye if they vanished or turned up dead. Its still a slippery slope.

Darth Tenebrous was Plagueis master, yep!

Something has definitely moved in their territory!


Acadian: I didn't want to do any info dumping but plenty of world building, yes. I want to introduce things at a measured place.

Yes! We'll see if her hunger will get her into any trouble at all wink.gif

Treydog:
Raven will definitely go hunting for something. But will she come across whatever is out there in the region? She's not the only thing out there hunting.




~Chapter 3: The Girl In The Grave ~


I shouldn't have told you.

Funerals were supposed to be dreary days with overcast skies that weep cold rain, but the dim lights of the evening stubbornly shone and the trees were filled with stupid birds who sang as if hurt and death had not poisoned the air of Cyrodiil.

The area was choked to the fullest with briars, nettles, weeds and littered with old stone markers, unfenced and untended for many countless decades, it had been abandoned to the encroachments of summer upon summer such as this one, when even stone had to surrender against the stranglehold of invasive roots and voracious vines.

There was no funeral procession, no wailing or weeping of grieving friends and family. There was no priest of Arkay prepared to give a long, droning homily about the impermanence and frailty of life and enduring the distress of the grave.

There was only me, thrusting the shovel into the ground, again and again, until a six foot gaping hole stood beneath my feet. The final resting place where the Lady Priscilla would be interred for all time, who's only visitors would be a walking dead man, and the endless fauna of the region. For a moment this notion was quite real. I saw generation after generation of birds and animals scurrying about, busying themselves with their instinctual habits while the departed soul of the one I cared for remained quiet in a grave.

I sighed when my ghastly work was done, looking up to the coming nightfall, the light around me glimmering, crepuscular, graced with a greenish hue presaging a misty night. The air was windless, still, which rose and fell away in my ears with the other nocturnal sounds of this distant and time-haunted place: crickets and grasshoppers, hooting owls and the reassuring click—now near, now almost gone—of a bat.

Kneeling down next to her, I caressed her soft face and long hair. Her flaxen tresses felt like finely spun silk, spread out beneath her head like a golden halo. She wasn't smiling, and her blue eyes fixed me an eternal glare. Blinking, I brushed off the dirt from her cold cheeks and brow, considering the smooth lines and contours of her beautiful, youthful visage kept remarkably soft and lustrous from her determination to maintain her beauty. If she only knew how beautiful she would have been if she accepted the Dark Gift. Forever beautiful. Forever young.

Our stares met and for a long while we traded the secrets of eternity, the subtle truths of the grave. Her glare was fixed on something beyond living sight. A hopeless plea frozen in place on her silent lips.

I was determined that before our last moments together Priscilla would hear my voice; the indecency of the creatures of the forest having the final word was more than I could abide, and I could only mutter: "I shouldn't have told you . . . I am sorry."

Such a fool I was to believe such things were possible. My father always said it was dangerous. Priscilla herself, on the other hand, spoke often of the goddess Dibella's commandment: "Open your heart to the noble secrets of art and love. Treasure the gifts of friendship. Seek joy and inspiration in the mysteries of love."

These words at a certain level had the quality of a strapping declamation. Nonetheless, they were remarkably beautiful, brought and sowed together in their honest lumplike nature. But such commandments from the Aedra brought me to a problematic conclusion: the truth of those words—or, if not the truth, the impossibility of it.

Open your heart to the noble secrets of art and love. Seek joy and inspiration in the mysteries of love.

Is something as dead as I am capable of such a thing? Where did my own mind and spirit come from if not from the blood and loins of a creature borne from death, hatred and perpetuous hunger? Did the existence of my kind not effectively block the flow of love, no matter how titanic, like some fatal disease in the bloodstream of mortalkind? Or alter the nature of the mystery, so as to diminish to the absurdity of the idea of loving an insect, or a lizard, or a serpent, or a frog, or a skeever, or brain rot—or even blessed and beauteous things—in a realm which permitted the black contagion of vampirism to be spread throughout the provinces. I do not know. Perhaps it is too early to tell. At any rate, I have preserved those edicts as a reminder of some fragile yet perdurable possibility.

I must hurry. Night is upon me.

Stripes of the moons slanted through the canopy above me, and night had arrived fully over the land. There was nothing much in this solitary spot in the forest that could add, or subtract from, or explain the dead young woman in the grave. I couldn’t bear to look at her any longer, and as I lay her into her final resting place, and shoveled pounds of dirt over her lifeless form, I smelled the rich odor of horse droppings when a snort came from several feet away near a tree.

My black steed was the only witness to this terrible event. One I can trust with my secrets.

Horses never forget. They could not. That was kind of like me too.

Destrier's saddlebags bulged with drakes, septims and jewels, and I knew the horse was eager to return to the stables to feed. I needed to bring the riches home to my father, and this detour was costly enough.

There was only one thing to do, at least in this moment, and I did it: I drank from a bottle of blood, wiped my mouth with a white cloth, and walked up to my horse with the shovel in hand and mounted. Frustrated, confused, pondering a way out of my low condition, I made my way out of the extemporary graveyard in the middle of the forest and into the open road.

"Draken . . . you fool," I murmured silently. "She was Lentulus' daughter!"

I had made an egregious mistake.

The enormity of that knowledge crashed upon me like the legendary Mace of Molag Bal. I had underestimated her reaction to discovering the truth. Such a mistake had almost cost me my life, and how ignominious would that have been, to have such a dark secret revealed to the world, to have my entire family undone.

I cannot make such dangerous decisions.

I would not make them again. Fool!

My nostrils flared as I drew in a deep, shuddering breath. This was no time for self-recrimination. If my father discovered this, I would have to face whatever punishment he would undoubtedly devise for my lamentable mistake.

But my father shall not find out. Nor will anyone, for that matter.

The secret went to the grave alongside Priscilla . . . Not even her father would—

I heard voices down the road. Once I turned around a bend, I saw a duo that had stopped across from me, their complaints reached my ears from afar.

"Get it in there, c'mon!” one said.

"I'm trying! Lift it higher, aye, that's it!" was the reply.

I eyed them with aloof, privileged disdain as I rode in their direction. Their wagon had broken down, it had lumbered on, axles creaking under the weight of the heavy loads. It seemed they had to stop to free a wheel that got itself stuck in a rut. The stench of garlic filled the air.

Two men made attempts to fix the wagon, and as I closed the distance between us, I recognized one of them: Marent Plavius, a local farmhand whom my father had dealings with. Perhaps if I pass through fast enough, the man will not recognize me . . .

"Sir, could ye help us?" Marent shouted as I rode by. "Road's gon' right to Oblivion. Cracked bou't three spokes this mornin'."

Sighing, deciding I had nothing to lose, I climbed off of Destrier and helped the man place the wheel back in its place. It was only after a moment did Marent take in the features of my face. When he did, his eyes widened. "Milord, I didn't recognize ya. Apologies fo' disturbin' ya!" 'Tis a surprise."

Marent Plavius' robust face was burnt from being overexposed to the sun, and its rough edges were peeling. He was covered in sweat and grime from a hard day's work, his humble trappings caked in dirt and mud. I knew I did not contrast much from him, as I spent hours trekking through the Great Forest, looking for a place to bury Priscilla. With my simple dark shirt and black wide pants encrusted with dirt and grass stains, as well as my soiled face, I imagined I would have blended in with the lower-class folk. I was wrong.

"Not an issue," I said, “I was content to lend you my aid." My tone was blasé, but the distress, the instant feeling of being discovered, was like a grip of nausea in the pit of my stomach.

The second man looked visibly irritated at me, more so after Marent had called me his lord. He was an evil-looking individual, with a knurl of scar that joined the corner of his mouth to his right ear. His brown hair could have used a good wash, and despite him being mum, his breath reeked of beer and Cyrodilic brandy.

He stared at me with those heavy-lidded eyes in a killer's stare. I have hunted and met few cutthroats in my life, but I knew enough to recognize a man of his kind. He was no stranger to conflict, the scar was testament to that. His curled lip suggested he thought low of me. He scanned me from head to toe, and then studied Destrier, my bags of gold hanging from his saddle . . . the shovel.

"This is Lord Draken Decumus," Marent said to the man. "Son of Lord Crassus Decumus."

The man was not amused; in fact, he looked even more upset.

"This is Durus, my nephew," Marent was saying. "Him and my niece came from Bravil to stay with me fer a time."

I extended a hand. "Pleased to make your acquaintance. What brings you to this region?"

The man took mine and shook. It was a firm grip that scratched my palm with his calloused hand.

"Our house burned down. Imp infestation." He said in a gruff, distant voice. His eyes made contact with mine.

Ah, that could explain his foul mood.

"Nasty creatures. I am sorry to hear that." I said, and with a nod I mounted Destrier and prepared to give them a farewell.

That instant Marent Plavius' horse all of the sudden reared in a panic and Destrier too heaved up under me, neighing with fear, and across the road a family of deer bolted in great bounds from a coppice, a single buck and two does flecked in the leafy nocturnal light; they flew past us in leaping shapes wild-eyed and quiet until each one upon the other hit the carpet of leaves on the other end of the road and disappeared into the woods with a raucous declining storm of thudding hooves and breaking foliage.

Two bags of gold had fallen from my saddle, spilling some of its precious contents on the ground. I leapt off Destrier and began to collect them in haste.

“Woah, there!” Marent Plavius shouted, reining in his steed, calming him. He jumped off of his horse and picked individual coins before handing them to me one by one, eager to prove he would not take a single one. After I collected all of them, we stood there in the side of the road, gazing at the spot where the white tails of the deer had vanished into the forest, listening as their plunging feet and the noises they made disappeared among the trees.

I looked about me but could see nothing out of the ordinary: trees, a long road, distant woodland—all seemed to be normal. A cloud of mosquitoes swarmed around the two mortal men. They slapped at them, leaving streaks of blood on their skin. I pretended to slap away mosquitoes of my own.

Marent looked at me. “Somethin' must'a spooked 'em. Vampires methinks."

"Vampires." I said, having found no other way to answer these words which were so discomfiting and dreadful. I kept quiet, risking only a swift glance at Durus and catching his eye then shifting my gaze a bit. I remembered one of the core words of my clan's conduct. Words my father was so eager to drive home:

Dispel common belief in our kind.

"Vampires only live caves and old forts," I said. "They are reclusive creatures. We haven't had a vampire problem in years. I do not think—"

"Milord," Marent interrupted. "Last night somethin' got caught on my bear trap. I heard it screamin' for hours late in the night. This mornin' when I went to find out what it was, the sun had already risen. Somethin' set the trap off, but when I got there, there was nothin' but a pile o' dust. Still hot at the touch. The sun's rays right on it."

I blinked. "What became of the dust?"

Marent leaned back in the wagon. "I took it to the Imperial City. Some high elf mage said he'd take a look. Said he was busy so I didn't linger. I'll return on the 'morrow. But I'm sure it be vampires!"

Durus sniffed, and spat on the dirt. "We told a few folk. If the attacks continue on around here, they'll bring in some vampire hunters. Maybe your father could hire some."

I did not like Durus' tone, and only shrugged. "Time shall tell . . . perhaps it was glow dusk. Will-o'-the-wisps have been reported here before."

Durus scoffed at the idea. "Glow dusk would be glowing. The dust he found was black as soot. Will-o'-the-wisps don't leave folks drained of blood, either."

I had no time to argue, or entertain the notion of vampires loose in the region, terrorizing the local population. These men were convinced. I could only nod, and produce the best impression of a smile I possible could. "You strike a point. Perhaps we should all be getting home, then."

Marent smiled and tapped the back-end of his wagon, revealing a crate full garlic heads. "We'll sleep soundly tonight."

If I had been in higher spirits, I would have bursted out laughing. Of all the stupid rural foolishness, this peasant superstition was the most absurd. Even if I were a lower breed of vampire, it was nonsense to think that this malodorous plant would weaken me, or any other vampire. Who knew how many people died at the fangs of a vampire because of this folk tale. I held hopes that whatever was out there, even if it were indeed vampires, that Marent and his family would not fall prey. He was a decent man, as far as mortals go, and did not deserve a fate like the others.

"You would sleeper even better with a silver blade," I suggested. "Or if you have any knowledge of magic, a flame spell or staff could work wonders, I am told."

Durus snorted. "We don't have the luxury of sleeping well in nights like these. Us simple folk don't live in fancy castles with high walls or are protected by sentries or guards. Arrogant high-born lords have that privilege."

I could feel the inference jab me in the stomach but I would be damned if I allowed it show on my face. If anyone was arrogant, it was this dullard!

"Show some respect." Marent said. "Lord Decumus' family's been most gracious."

I respectfully bowed, and handed over a fistful of uncounted coins. Marent beamed a great smile and climbed back onto his wagon. "Farewell milord. Have a pleasant evening. And by the Nine Divines, stay safe."

With that, the farmhand headed off to the direction of his home. Durus had yet to mount his horse, and though he began to walk toward it, he turned around, gripping something in his hand.

Durus' face became wooden and he unclenched his hand. In his palm was my blood-stained handkerchief. "Those deer scared you some. You dropped this. Lots of blood on here. Yours?"

I felt my face undergo a process of change. My air of affability dropped from my countenance like a discarded veil and my featured were morphed into something harder, humorless and devoid of compassion. This man is already suspicious of something. Perhaps I would need that shovel once more.

With a nod I reached out and grabbed the bloody cloth, and tucked it away in the pocket of my pants.

"Nosebleeds." I said with care, "this humid weather does not agree with me—"

"Neither does any help, it seems. What's a nobleman like you doing out here at this hour eh? With no servants or bodyguards? Dressed like that and with four bags full of septims?"

I stared at him with a vanishing trace of a smile. "One can never go wrong in enjoying some fresh air."

He glared at me. "Plenty can go wrong. Highwaymen would ambush you, slit your throat and take your coin without a second thought. If you were in Bravil, stupidity like that wouldn't get you very far."

Feeling my anger rise like the smoke from a flame, I searched for words but my mouth could not produce them. At last I murmured something about coming from the city with supplies, and trying to get home before nightfall. There was no way this man would have been suspicious of me because of these habits.

“Now, I have lived in Bravil and Leyawiin my entire life, and I have seen people of all kinds,” he went on slowly, “The ones who have nothing to hide, the ones that may look the most suspicious, are often innocent. It’s the ones who try to look innocent that have something they don't want people to find out about."

I could not think what it was he was trying to say, but there was something in the tone of his voice that put me on the edge, anticipating in alert. Some ill fantasy escaped into my mind: What if he discovers the truth!? Never in my heard was there such wild sudden dread. For as surely as the fact of death itself, the prospect of being discovered generated ideas that were undoubtedly obsessed and half crazy, so much so that my initial reaction to this man's dangerous imagined conclusion of titanic proportions was one of frustration, panic, and self-concern.

And the reasons were as simple and as natural as a breath of air. Because a single mistake could undo centuries of preparation—my father and mother's legacy, the riches, the wealth . . . our name. My entire life—the idea that all of it could be destroyed because of me was a fear so great that I felt physical pain.

A heaviness hung in the air between us. Durus' restless eyes searched for something, perhaps a peek at any sign of hesitation from me. I recognized that this man was irritated about something. Clearly he resented nobility and those of lofty positions, but his tone of voice was almost conversational.

Almost.

"You are the expert on such matters, being a Bravilian." I was saying with a sharp tone. "Perhaps you should be out here at night, keeping us all safe from suspicious cutthroats."

"Not my responsibility."

"Did you say the same thing when imps burned your house down?" I asked with an arched brow.

That hit a nerve as Durus' voice lowered. "This isn't a time to make jokes."

"No? I have spent enough time with you, I would say the time for jokes is appropriate."

"Its getting late," Durus said with a sneer. "Best go back and tuck yourself in a nice, warm bed. Hide behind the safety of your walls while we common folk worry about ourselves. Highwaymen and marauders or gods' know whatever else is out there are probably waiting for fools like you."

"They should tread carefully. They will find that this region has low tolerance for criminals, former or not. They may find that pestering others in elevated status is hardly in their best interest."

"Is that a threat?" he said finally.

Settling on the saddle, I frowned. And at my command, Destrier began to move away. With a nod and a curled lip, I said to him before I left: "Only a fact."

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Aug 19 2019, 01:55 AM


--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
SubRosa
post Aug 19 2019, 01:35 PM
Post #14


Ancient
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



I have to admit that I was a little confused about who the narrator was. At first I thought it was still Raven. But I quickly got the feeling it was someone else, perhaps even her father remembering the distant past. It wasn't until "Draken... you fool!" That I realized who it was.

It certainly looks like things are going to become even more complicated with Lentulus and The Family (which is how I am coming to view Raven and her folks).

Hopefully the two peasants with their flat tire won't complicate things. Though I suspect it might. I was wondering if Draken might decide to kill them to keep them quiet. It looks like they might make that decision for him. I wonder if this Durus fellow might be one of the miscreants causing trouble in the countryside?

The mosquitoes were a nice touch. Like not having your breath fog up in the winter, it is one of those little things that can give a vampire away.


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Acadian
post Aug 19 2019, 06:37 PM
Post #15


Paladin
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



Draken shows that he is a long way from obtaining the dispassionate subtlety of his father. Hopefully he will survive his errors of passion and sympathy and learn from them. That said, once he made the decision to not eliminate those who recognized him on the road at night, he did acquit himself well. One can hope that while Duras is a scoundrel, his open provoking of Draken seems to be evidence that he believes Draken to simply be a spoiled noble, not a deadly vampire.

Wonderful descriptions throughout and a great job of crafting a very tense situation that had me on the edge of my seat.


--------------------
Screenshot: Buffy in Artaeum
Stop by our sub forum!
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Darkness Eternal
post Aug 31 2019, 03:20 AM
Post #16


Master
Group Icon
Joined: 10-June 11
From: Coldharbour



Subrosa: Sorry. Ever chapter will either have Raven or Draken before it begins. The story will be narrated by them both.

There will be many major complications down the road for the Decumus family. Time will tell how they can solve these problems, or if they can solve them at all. Draken made a terrible choice regarding Priscilla so he's on edge, even around people that may not be a problem at first.

Right! The mosquitoes or certain mannerisms and things can for sure give a vampire away. Though Draken and his sister are, as the term goes, newborns, they're clan/bloodlines specializes in blending in and expertise in concealment to where they are indistinguishable from normal people(when well-fed). Think Seridur or Count Verandis. Doesn't mean they may not slip up tongue.gif

Durus definitely is a troublemaker of sorts.

Acadian: Draken is a long way indeed. There are contrasts to each. Draken is frivolous in a way, materialistic, vain and very passionate. He's also capable of doing some very stupid things. Compared to Crassus or Raven, Draken is more understanding and still coming to terms with a new reality. A good question for him would be does he want to feel human or does he want to act humane? He's still a monster, and as we saw has done(even if accidentally perhaps) something terrible. We'll see how different Draken is compared to Raven and his father as the story progresses.

Durus and Marent had no idea Draken is a vampire: Durus believes he's another rich young man. Draken still has an element of surprise here.

Previously on Order Vampyrum: Raven Decumus discovers news from her father that someone or something is killing local villagers. Draken Decumus buries a noblewoman who was once his long-time friend. She is also the daughter of the man his family has dealings with. On the return home Draken is told by a local that there may be vampiric menace threatening the countryside.

~Chapter 4: Filial Bonds~


Draken Decumus.

My foul mood was with me all the way home and only worsened when the servants informed me that my father was not in good spirits. More talk of monsters in the countryside haunting the populace.

When isn't there a beast lurking about?

I entered my castle, and prepared for the worst.

Old objects covered the stone walls, paintings of ancient relatives scowled from their dusty canvases, a luxurious carpet lay spread out before me as I entered my home. Though I'd walked past the foyer countless times and turned a blind eye to my surroundings, there was not a day I did not give the family painting a glance. I admired the serenity behind it. What it meant, what was.

All four of us: Me, my father, my mother and my sister.

I stared thoughtfully at the work of art. It was deeply unnerving in a thousand different ways for me to realize that everyone this painting was gone in one manner or another. My mother who was brilliant and sad and exuberant and complex, was dead all those years ago; my father became, in some way, another man entirely. As for myself I had felt detached from reality all my life, more like a wraith haunting the existence of some stranger named Draken Decumus.

And then my sister.

Raven Decumus . . .

I studied her with great interest. She was a beautiful young woman, with keen and intelligent eyes that—in this painting at least—showed a great depth of kindness, perhaps of insight. And in spite of the tradition of austerity when posing, there was an indication of a smile to lift the spirit. And for that minute detail, a tiny smile did grace my mouth, just for a moment.

We were closer than friends, and even closer than siblings. Growing into adulthood, neither of us could imagine life without the other, and circumstances forged our lives into one, and yet now we seemed so distant. So far apart. Taking in the details of our once-happy family had carved into my face a larger smile, but then I thought about my father and mother's history, the ritual we all went through, and a harsh scowl twisted my face.

I realized now there was almost no sound in our home.

The only noise I heard was the steady ticking of the old Alinor ancestor clock. That at least was evidence of life in the castle; one of the mortal servants had to wind it. With ease, I moved to the foot of the sweeping staircase that led to the upper landing.

One of the old furniture creaked.

Flinching at the noise, I turned around and saw something behind me on the stairs. I didn't move.

There stood my father.

My father stood tall and imposing, like a king overlooking his kingdom. His cruel, blue eyes regarded me with indifference. Ever emotionless. Ever amoral.

"You have returned," he said in a silky voice. "Later than you said you would."

He watched me silently while I tried to summon the proper words.

“There were some minor complications—” I began. I took another step or two, caught now in the threshold between the flight of stairs and the sudden and powerful presence of my father.

His eyes were frigid and calculating, and they roved over me, taking my measure. "Pleasant night, I assume,” he said softly, nostrils flaring. No doubt I reeked of alcohol and blood and dirt. "Were you successful with the meetings?"

I steeled myself. "Atrius of Chorrol voiced his frustrations by sprinkling his predicament with excuses . . ."

A sneer came unbidden but unstoppable to my father's face.

"But . . . he has paid a great sum of the coin owed to us, plus principle of thirty percent. The man offered a portion of his next property in the weight of gold as redress for his delay."

Lord Crassus Decumus mused. "Generous but unnecessary. And Lentulus?"

"I paid a visit earlier this evening. His servant informed me he was not home., and refused to tell me when he would be available. I was told he had pressing matters—business in Anvil— he was gone long before I arrived."

"Peculiar. Lentulus is not one to shy away from a meeting. Must be pressing matters indeed to turn a man like him away from his commitments." He said as he moved down the stairs. With that done the tension in the room eased by slow degrees as both of us stood there, each lost in the process of calculating all of the possible meanings behind this encounter.

As I lingered there, my attention was not lured by the aggressive majesty of the décor but by my father’s peculiar behavior; I rarely spoke with my father, but a meeting of this kind should have provoked some hint of warmth. Instead, he seemed distracted, his focus inward instead of outward to my presence.

"I should have lingered awhile longer,” I said. "I may have been able to speak to him. . ." But my voice trailed away as my father turned to face me. The look on his features were twisted as if he was in physical pain. It might have been disdain.

"Well," my father said quietly. He was trying to sound offhand, but I could tell that something was different. "Did his daughter mention when he would return? She has certainly been groomed to follow in his footsteps." He said with a rueful frown. "How is her ladyship? Have you seen her?"

The words struck my like fists. I tried to steel my resolve lest I show any emotion. I have seen her, as I have for many years. I have tried to give her the Dark Gift . . . but . . .

She was unable to faithfully accept the power conferred by my vampiric blood. Perhaps the heavens did not show the correct aspects: the stars did not appear cooperative. Her weak, fragile body could not handle—

"She was not there," I said.

"How unfortunate." My father's eyes went colder still, his manner dissolved into a frigid control that I was accustomed to. He clasped his hands behind his back and stood stiff. If was pleased at my reports, not one flicker of it was on his stern face.

"I have work to attend to—” my father said with an irritable snort and stalked past me. His footsteps haunted the halls with force. "One more thing: I need you see Marent before the night is over. There is something I need you to deliver."

I just saw the man on my way back here, I almost said. Have one of the servants do it.

"Yes," I said with a bowed head. "Father."

He told me what I had to do before I watched his stiff back retreating from my sight. Alone and with a sigh I left to the comfort of my own chambers.

~~~~~ ~~~~~ ~~~~~


The mirror in my room was no kinder than any other one, but I stood before it regardless, shirtless and barefoot, my hair wild, fists clenched at my sides. I stared at myself through the mirror, much like my father had just done with me.

The depths I saw in my own eyes nearly tore through me, and it seemed to me that I could see through those eyes, that they were windows instead of mirrored reflections. Beyond those windows was the barren landscape of some other realm. Nothing there was natural, or even normal. Nothing there was suited to the needs or desires of mortal experience. It was foreign territory across which dark, eternal shapes hunted and hissed.

“Who are you, stranger?" I asked, my lips peeled back as my white teeth turned to sharp pearl-white canines and incisors.

At the far end of the room there was a pale flickering light and all of my attention was drawn to it. It came from a a replica of the Masque of Clavicus Vile, and it twinkled just before vanishing entirely. Must have been a trick of the torchlight.

I approached the bust, drawn to it like a moth to the flame before picking it up.

The mask was blankly expressionless as ever. Made of steel, with intricate designs swirling in its entirety, it was horned much like the depicted images of the Daedric Lord that created it.

It is said that the Masque of Clavicus Vile concealed one's true countenance, however grotesque and unappealing, drawing the admiration and affection from those who would otherwise be inclined to avoid contact. How appropriate that we vampires of Cyrodiil were our own masques, given supple appearance only through the quenching of our voracious appetites, lest our true nature be unveiled to all.

Hiding behind a facade.

"We are our own masks, are we not?" I asked the masque before setting it back. "'Our coffers stay stuffed; By social graces robust.'"

Though my mood was heavy, I felt somewhat positively embowered in this luxurious life, and yet inflamed by a tragic, nostalgic fever. I stared at the mask fascination as I pondered on the meaning of this new existence, this masquerade.

A voice spoke, jarring me out of my musings.

"Our own masks," the replica masque said back to me. "Our own masks."

What sorcery is this!?

The mask floated in the air, levitating gradually in front of me before it began to turn as if searching for something. It began to twist and turn as a form materialized underneath it; ethereal and unearthly, the eerie glow began to take shape until I saw a headless ghost put on the mask and wander about aimlessly about my chamber, using this priceless piece as his new head!

"What do you want!?" I shouted at this invasive apparition. "What do you want!?"

The phantom said nothing, but walked about in my chamber like a headless chicken. I followed it with my gaze, hands ready for action until caught something else reflected in the mirror, standing at the door my chambers.

I whirled around and saw my sister, of all people, invading the privacy of my chambers like a foreign shadow. Unlike the painting where she looked human, her true nature was anything but.

Her once-chestnut eyes were a cold and molten gold, crimson and black, and they glistened at me like those of a wild predator prowling beyond a hem of a campfire; her pale face was framed by the drapes of long hair that fell over her shoulder, black as the night she had always loved. Though she was blessed with slender, high cheekbones and a narrow high-bridged aristocratic nose sprinkled with freckles, her usual alert eyes were now subdued and dispassionate. Four days without feeding on blood, her visage was cold and very much pallid, haggard and unearthly; her skin was pale, almost pellucid, and her veins, too many to count, mapped out across her entire body and face like an intricate azure design captured underneath glass. Glaring at her, I gazed into her bloodshot eyes; those two sunken orbs of yellow, red and black, half hidden in besmirched skin bags of gray.

Her skin had the sickish plasticity of one who has suffered from some great affliction and whose flesh had underwent severe emaciation, a sallowness of a body not yet recovered from some terrible disease.

She yawned before her tongue traced the polished contours of her fangs. Raven, you have seen better days. I should have known you were behind this.

Instead of a smile, instead of the light of joy in her eyes, instead of the chirp-like way with which she had always greeted me in years past, her face was nearly expressionless: blank but attentive.

She was plotting something.

This was her Scheming Look, and I hated it. Her frozen, neutral expression divulged little clue to what was going on behind that perfectly porcelain face.

"Ah. All this madness makes sense now." I said, irritated at her juvenile wit. "Clever trick. Did you learn to summon this brigand from some scroll or was he the result of your ghoulish experiments?"

"Good question," she replied.

Sidetracked from my righteous rage, my feeling subsided into something else as I glared at Raven beneath arched eyebrows. "What an entirely unwelcome surprise."

"What an entirely unsurprising welcome." She said, voice like liquid gold as she examined me candidly, and just for a split second, I thought I saw a glimmer of happiness, mixed with perhaps a trace of ineffable dejection and lament. But judging from her severe expression, Raven’s mood tonight was something less than friendly.

Is there anything new? I thought with sour measure. It was foolish of me, I realized, in hoping to hear some of her old genuine sardonic grin in her tonality, but I never did. Not since the 24th of Evening Star. Not since the ritual. Perhaps not since what happened to our mother.

These events had scorched it out of her.

And my sister still tried, now and then, to spark a real smile in me. And at times I still tried the same.

We both made great attempts to pretend past events had not molded us.

We were very good at pretending. Masters of the craft.

I cleared my throat and raised an eyebrow as she strode further into my quarters, sending away that summoned ghost back to wherever-in-whatever-he-came-from, leaving my mask twirling against the floor. Casting dust from that grungy library onto my imported Hammerfellian carpet, she reached out and slammed a heavy object down onto the polished top of my desk. I observed, with clinical distaste, that the dusty old thing was some book. Standing there with sheer boredom and disinterest as the smut particles floated in the air, I made sure she knew of my lack of appreciation for the detritus left in her wake.

Intense eyes locked onto mine. Her voice was deep and husky. Her breath sweetened by honey and cinnamon.

“Were you aware that the cattle cells are not well-stocked anymore. As a matter of fact, it is empty. Completely. Father suggested I remain indoors until the murders are solved. Says he 'cannot have me hunting out there when the herd is riled'." She mimicked his voice. "I think whatever is out there is going to keep on killing until it or they are killed. That can take awhile. But why should we refrain from hunting in our own territory?"

I had a horrible feeling I knew where this was heading, and I went straight to the point.

“You are an original pureblooded vampire. A newborn, no less. I am certain you understand,” I told her as I turned and scanned the edge of a shirt I had put on. “There are very few of us in the world. However ambivalent you may regard this matter, the matter is the world is ripe with people wanting to spill our blood. I am quite certain father forbade any of us from hunting until these murders are solved."

We were not the only purebloods in Tamriel—nor vampires for that matter, since the the provinces were rife with over a hundred different kinds of undead—but we were among the handful of vampires who had been bestowed this power directly by Molag Bal, the father of us all. True vampires, and with this fact came tremendous power, along with tremendous price. There is no gift without cost, and the price was our very souls consigned to Oblivion. Ciphers roaming the cold reaches of beyond.

Like that damned ghost she summoned! If I find so much as a scratch on this— I thought as I knelt down to pick up the replica Masque of Clavicus.

"As I have said, that could take quite some time. We could hunt somewhere else. Whatever is out there can be some scapegoat," she shrugged. "There is Dasek Moor or Fort Coldcorn. Quintus said those are areas populated with bandits and marauders. We kill them, and the locals can blame it on this mystery menace. We can use your map—"

"The map I had was the first thing I lost." I cut her off.

" . . . What was the second?" She asked with a furrowed brow.

"My patience." I grumbled as I placed the masque of Clavicus back in its place.

"Ah. Where were you earlier this evening?"

"The Waterfront." I said dryly.

"How was it?"

"Marvelous. The Waterfront District is still indeed a beautiful and lovely, a nostalgic part of the Imperial City."

In my head, I rambled: Such a quagmiry but haunting cesspool of ramshackle, weather-pissed little houses and warehouses, crookedly carpentered I might add, where the abundance of rotund scar-faced thugs and scrawny harlots fuss and bite—where beggars, vagabonds and locals dwell with ravaged and broken hearts, tormented by adversity and defeat, and penury humiliation, seeking to pass on these qualities onto us just as easily as their infections. There is no duplicity there, but a thing . . . a thing in its purest form, however crude that may be. I was somewhat fond of the Waterfront.

"I gave the locals a rendition of Lord Jornibret," was all I told her.

"Putting on a show for the dregs of society again in some smokey tavern. Ever the champion of the downtrodden. How supremely noble of you. My, you look peaky!" Raven came to my side and picked up the masque, and regarded it with an inquisitive look, asking it. "Doesn't he look peaky? Brother, have you fed?"

"Forgive the unsightly countenance. I did not go out to feed remember—" I started to say, though she was much worse than I was when it came to her visage. "I was taking care of some endeavors. I simply had no time."

“Oh, you heathen! I would think,” she interjected, solemn as an owl and exasperated, “I would think that you would be hunting rather than indulging in lower-class romanticism and mawkish fables of saccharine theatrics. Fortunate for the both of us then, as you must be hungry. Was the Waterfront devoid of any flaxen-haired trollops? They are your favorite, yes?"

There was a thick cloud of rage in and around the room at her words. For good reason, we were not a very happy little family. But for a family who has been active in the worship of Daedra, we generally kept our tempers and were decent with each another, being well-bred and imbued with many of the more gentle Nibenese cultivation. Indeed, our love and fondness for one another had a special boldness and desperation. But I could almost hear the rage humming in the cold air. The innocence of such a question was, I now realize, almost unthinkable, given what had transpired of late with Priscilla. There was no possible way Raven could even fathom such a crime committed on my behalf.

I debated telling my sister to fetch her own food, and to get herself into a world of trouble. How it would be nice for once to see her chastised by my father. I tasted the words and how clean they would feel on my tongue, but then an old memory stole like a thief into my mind. Raven and I, a pair of children playing at being mages, running from our castle to the shelter of the trees outside. A wooden cutlass in my hand, and Raven with a wooden staff in hers.

That was before Oblivion's shadow came to Castle Decumus and all things merry and joyous had been torn away. The path we took drained most of the potential for a comfortable moment but I could help alleviate our tumultuous relationship, and perhaps bring back a semblance of a happy family.

Besides I had to speak with Marent once more before the night was over.

"Ah!" she said, opening the book on my table and flipping through the pages. "I found this by the way. A must-read edition. I have been hard at work of late, and found this piece next to Liminal Bridges."

With an exhale, I examined the book from afar. I didn’t see anything particularly noteworthy about the old thing, but Raven evidently felt otherwise. Such was the case with her and books. She put so high a value on them, the spells and forgotten knowledge, her sorcery and those ghoulish experiments. On the other hand, I could not have been less interested or impressed. Looking distinctly bored, I returned to my reflection, inspecting my dark cotton tunic with a brocade collar. I blinked as light reflected off of my polished gemstones from the silver settings of my rings. As usual, my blasé attitude dismayed Raven.

She cleared her throat. "But one cannot be taken with too much time in their work, however preoccupying. It creates unrealistic expectations. It would do us well, you know. To get some air."

Perhaps, just perhaps, hunting was not so bad of an idea.

The night had become a great solitude of hunger and thirst, and a mental exhaustion so deep that it enveloped the entirety of my soul. As I stood in the room, somewhere in the crypt topography of my mind, profoundly hungry, with a deep, visceral, immense thirst such as I had not experienced since I became a vampire. An inexpressible and potent and luxuriant hunger—for precisely what I could not be certain, perhaps tranquility in mind, perhaps a throat to drink from, most likely both. I had to try and keep my mind away from what I had done, and more on a potential scapegoat to take the blame.

I had eternity to live with this guilt, but I shall worry about that later.

And the tempest was over, the thunderclouds had rolled away, and a bright good humor flooded into the room. Slow, halfhearted, I tried to restore a tad bit of goodwill. I said: "Dasek Moor. That is an old fort, is it not?"

But I thought this might provoke Raven into thinking I was jesting; she might embark once again upon her lengthy anecdote, which had become a trifle exhausting in light of recent events, so I only smiled thinly, wrapping myself in a more positive light, and said, "Well . . . I have worked up quite an appetite. We shan't take long. Find something more appropriate to wear to cover yourself up. I will be out in the stables. We shall be back before father even knew we were gone."

Raven digested that for a moment, and the grim straight line around her mouth thickened to a smile. "Cover myself up? You fear for my modesty, I think."

"Discretion always," I reminded her.

She nodded in agreement. "Indeed, discretion always. I can wear that masque!"

"You will do no such thing."

"You look tense, Draken! What harm ever came from a nightly stroll?"

That was a question I did not want to answer.

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Aug 31 2019, 03:25 AM


--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Acadian
post Aug 31 2019, 07:01 PM
Post #17


Paladin
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



This lengthy episode revealed much about the history and nature of each member of Draken’s family.

‘We both made great attempts to pretend past events had not molded us.
We were very good at pretending. Masters of the craft.’

- - I especially liked this very appropriate observation by Draken.

"You look tense, Draken! What harm ever came from a nightly stroll?"
That was a question I did not want to answer.’

- - What harm indeed? Do I smell trouble ahead as the young vampires prepare to slake their thirst on a fort full of baddies?


--------------------
Screenshot: Buffy in Artaeum
Stop by our sub forum!
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
SubRosa
post Aug 31 2019, 07:58 PM
Post #18


Ancient
Group Icon
Joined: 14-March 10
From: Between The Worlds



My father stood tall and imposing, like a king overlooking his kingdom. His cruel, blue eyes regarded me with indifference. Ever emotionless. Ever amoral.
This description instantly evoked Bill Nighy's portrayal of Viktor, the patriarch of the Underworld movies.

The depths I saw in my own eyes nearly tore through me, and it seemed to me that I could see through those eyes, that they were windows instead of mirrored reflections. Beyond those windows was the barren landscape of some other realm. Nothing there was natural, or even normal. Nothing there was suited to the needs or desires of mortal experience. It was foreign territory across which dark, eternal shapes hunted and hissed.
I thought this was a wonderful piece of self-reflection (pun intended), as Draken faces the Otherness within himself.

I suspect a great deal of harm will result from a midnight stroll, and look forward to seeing it unfold!


--------------------
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
BretonBlood
post Sep 4 2019, 03:04 AM
Post #19


Agent

Joined: 9-March 15



Just caught up with these chapters. Loved them! The Raven chapter again showing off more of what it means to be a vampire, especially a member of the Cyrodiilic clan, or the Order, I really enjoyed that.

The fact that the story is being told from both Raven and Draken is great, seeing how different they are as siblings was awesome in these last two chapters. Draken comes across as way more "immature" and prone to mistakes, case and point being the incident with Priscilla.

The chapter with Durus and Marent was great in just setting up the general relationship of Draken and his family with the commonfolk, and you did a great job of showing the little details that vampires have to do to keep their secret, in this case Draken pretending to swat at mosquitoes. I am also a sucker for the fact that we got to see Draken living by the Order guidelines in that he was trying to create disbelief in vampires to both Durus and Marent. And of course I had to laugh at the garlic segment hahahaha.

Great chapters so far, I am really enjoying it! Keep up the great work.


--------------------
My first short story - "A Thief's Ascension"
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post
Darkness Eternal
post Sep 13 2019, 12:59 AM
Post #20


Master
Group Icon
Joined: 10-June 11
From: Coldharbour



Acadian:Both being creature of deception, they thrive in secrecy and pretense. You could say its in their blood, but upbringing has plenty to do with it. Both don't like to look in the past at all, but sooner or later it calls to them.

Good question! smile.gif

Subrosa: Thanks! The inspiration for Crassus' appearance/looks relate to Michael McElhatton/Roose Bolton. That's how he looks like in ESO.

There is some trouble to be found out there!

BretonBlood: The Cyrodiilic Clan/Order have yet to be seen. But they're out there for sure. Though members of the clan, the two siblings and the patriarch of the family have been isolated, worrying about their individual needs. As time goes on and Raven is out pursuing her quests, she will be far more exposed to the Order's ways than ever before.

Both Raven and Draken are inexperienced, but Raven has an analytical mind and she studies and thinks while Draken is rash and impulsive. Both have strengths and weaknesses that differ from each other, and having them both as protagonists and narrators serve to give an alternate point of view. Draken is a character I felt deserved to have his point of view told.

Previously on Order Vampyrum: Draken returns home, hoping to conceal the death of Priscila from his family. Raven convinces him to hunt with her.

~Chapter 5: Keepers of The House~


Raven Decumus.

Stepping out into the world was a breath of fresh air as I stared at the infinite night sky in all its beauty. The moons were crested on the horizon, heralding the late hours of night. The cold glow of the two moons were like a benediction as I rode on. The air was cool tonight, and I could taste life in it.

Out here my senses exploded as all manner of sights, sounds and tastes surged in with impossible speed. I saw several grains of pollen—each of them as individual and distinguishable as the planes orbiting Mundus—floated away on the breeze. A swarm of insects came into view, and I could catch the scent of vestiges of plant matter and the blood of animals on their individual proboscis, could count and tell the small hairs on their infinitesimal legs, could trace each delicate tessellated design of their gossamer wings. Water flowing in a creek turned into a rushing tide in my ears, and for a time my mind was confounded under the sensory assault as I saw all manner of lifeforms that scattered about.

The remaining shreds of lassitude had been swept away as night had come. My body, unused for hours, creaked as I stretched. Traces of my sleep-fog had persisted but my vision and focus was as clear as glass. As my powers and abilities were at their peak in this fourth stage, I was ready to roam the night.

I saddled a sturdy black mare, as Draken mounted his dark steed Destrier.

We rode for some time, as my long evening dress, casual and suitable for a number of occasions, caught the breeze in silken crimson and night colored ripples. I raised the hood of my robe and draped it to shadow the ruin of my face. The black would help me blend in the penumbral wilderness. There was also the fact that feeding was messy and bloodstains were easier to hide on dark fabrics.

My brother was silent through the majority of the trip.

A black lock fell over his brow with a manner of gawky, tousled grace, as if conserving even in that blank and mindless stillness some gesture orthodox to his years, an unseasoned charm. For sometime I watched his long, strong-boned, youthful face peering at nothing in particular with an expression of attitudinized meditation; the contemplative bulge of his tongue sliding within the walls of one pale cheek to push out some piece of trapped meat; cold hands working calmly in the folds of Destrier's reins—for certain he had been the victim of whatever misfortune assailed his mind and it was painfully obvious.

Being the only man in the family besides my father, Draken had to deal with the many responsibilities of a nobleman, and as far as I was concerned, he had been coasting isolation ever since. To my perpetual dismay, my brother had little patience for anything that interfered with his own amusements, which clearly included his peculiar desire to perform plays and jests for a drunken audience.

Perhaps one day I would discover what all the fuss was about.

I took a second to look at him as he rode on; how he was graced with the handsomeness preferred by the polite society in the Empire—stellar features, clean-cut, civilized— a welcome change, for I remembered there was a trace of fleshiness in his cheeks in his adolescent years, which often gave to the corners of his mouth a sort of peevishness, so every or so often his young face, when in deep concentration on anything in particular, he looked like a spoiled and arrogant infant of five. To be quite blunt, he still looked like a spoiled and arrogant child of five, removed of any trace of humor or humility.

During our ride into the wilderness, Draken was dull and despondent. Though at times, he had changed into moments of remote abstraction with quick tempestuous outbursts. Whatever had happened earlier this night seemed to have set something off in him. His mood had become vague and unpredictable, and he was able to alternate from sour, uncommunicative dejection to tumultuous anger in an instant, complaining from the sound of animals to the cold weather.

I had never seen him quite so irritated before, nor had I ever seen him so testily at odds with insignificant things, to what he usually had displayed the breeziest good will. For sometime he had been about them, nagging, whinging about petty responsibilities, the owls' hooting, the foxes chirping—only to fall into a deep and profoundly unappreciative silence.

Why are you so downcast? Has something happened to you? I thought. Are you thinking about mother? Have you wondered about her, about the dead winds of Coldharbour as fiercely as I have? I asked myself. Or perhaps the recent meeting had a sour outcome? Some unforseen event? Draken had been distracted of late, and my father increasingly irritated with his antics.

"You mentioned father was sending you to meet with Marent. What for exactly?"

"A simple message," he said. "Marent Plavius complained often and loudly to father about bandits giving him issues. And since Castle Decumus and all her lands, dependents, and chattels belong to our father, and thus to us, well, his problems become my problems."

"Did father send you to Lentulus Manor?"

"Yes. I just returned from Lentulus' home, and he was not there to greet me. I think Lentulus thinks poorly of father sending me. That or his family are distancing themselves. I was told he had pressing matters in Anvil. Father was not pleased."

I said nothing for a moment, only responding with a sound of acknowledgement. This was not new to me, nor to Draken. Time and time again my father had tried to instill within Draken a sense of responsibility and experience, and time and time again Draken was slow to complain and quick to obey. Yet now in his candor, he showed naked bitterness, and was quite vocal. Recklessly so. There was far more to it than this, and it went far beyond in having his patience overtaxed in mundane affairs.

Draken was as an open book. I had read him plenty of times, read his fears and peeves like the clear details of a page. I was made aware of his weaknesses just as I was of his strengths. Draken believed all I did was study. I worked well into reading day and night, and poring over books until my eyes ached, but there was always room for an alternate course of studies.

It was amusing to visit his chambers when he was not there. It was satisfying, moving through his room like a shadow, like a ghost at a forgotten hall. With my curiosity, I touched nothing, and I looked at everything. There was much that could be told, even in silence. Echoes of what is, or perhaps could be.

Every month or so there was fresh strand of golden hair on the black fabric of his clothes like some new accessory, and his room always had a faint smell of lavender oil, and Telvanni bug musk, that subtle but compelling fragrance imported from Morrowind. Draken never used either of them but someone else had.

Most likely a woman.

Draken had always gravitated toward flaxen-haired lasses. Though the strands of hair could have came from different mortal ladies, they all seemed just the same in color. It could have been from a single person. There was only one golden-haired maiden Draken had more reason to come in contact with: Lentulus' daughter.

Is she the reason for this silly behavior?

"Priscilla was not there, then?" I asked.

The deep silence that befell, the tensing of the jaw and the flicker in Draken's eyes felt like an admission to some unheard accusation. He simply shook his head, said she had to leave and moved on to a different subject entirely.

"You are welcome to find a campsite somewhere while I send a message to Marent. There is a fort not too far from here as well." he said harshly. "But since you did not bring any swords, I would strongly advise against it. There is no telling what lurks around these parts in these nights."

"I have my swords. Everywhere I go." I retorted. "If the need arises, I can summon them."

"Bound swords. Must be nice." Draken said, adopting a more soothing tone. Perhaps to conceal his ire. "How simple would it be to conjure all manners of things to solve my problems. I may even be a better conjurer than you."

"The only thing you can conjure up is disappointment." I said with a laugh.

"You will find no argument there. Disappointment seems to follow me everywhere I tread." He said. "The first thing disappointment did was barge in my chamber and thought it was amusing to summon a headless ghost to distract me." He had a disgruntled sense of humor which often seemed to bring a spark of relief not just to his own, but to me.

"Well, just be content that ghost was all I summoned. Reminding you that I left Ornery in his cage. I could have brought him with me." I smiled.

"Thank the gods you had a sane mind to leave that wretched thing behind. I do not know what use that stunted little demon could be of." Draken snorted. "I would have gone mad if I locked myself in a dusty old library surrounded by walking corpses and a bloody Daedric imp that is one fireball away from destroying everything around me. You have a talent for that. Forgoing feeding for seventy-two hours has become a habit with you."

"I have been very occupied with my research, and I enjoy hunting before I feed. Hunting takes time. Time I could otherwise spend productively. Since my resources were exhausted I thought it best to hunt now while I could. Besides I appreciate the serenity of the night. It helps me focus." I told him with a shrug. "We have all this territory under our dominion and we seldom hunt. We never come out here together. We best take advantage of that."

"What sort of research have you been conducting?" He regarded me suspiciously.

Before I could reply my mount began to buck, terrified by Bal knows what's out there. Her hooves pounded against the solid road, working herself into a lather, the sweat gleaming on her quivering body. She started to move away from the path before her.

"Easy, Potema," I whispered to her as I drew back on the reins, my horse coming to a halt. Trees lined like landscape, like the column of some ancient temple of a bygone era. The cool night air reeked of damp wood and clay. My every sense alert to the prospect of danger, I shot glances about me in all directions., listening tensely to the nocturnal whispers of the wilderness.

A savage screech tore through the night, sending a thrill down my spine. Flocks of crows, just roused from slumber, flapped noisily as they took to the heavens in panic. Potema reared up onto her hind legs, almost throwing me from the saddle. Her eyes rolled as she whinnied in fright.

A light wind shuffled fallen leaves hidden beneath the fog and brought to my nose a sweet and sickly scent, with a hint of copper. I held my breath, every muscle in my body primed for combat and for feeding. My tongue traced the smooth and white contours of my fangs. "I smell blood on the wind."

Draken sniffed the air, and smelled it too. Together, we goaded our mounts to continue on forward. The ground sloped away steeply from the path on both sides, permitting only a single avenue of approach to the road. Dense woods surrounded us at all sides. I raced across, and galloped passed him.

"Raven . . . wait!" he called out.

Although smell of blood was many miles away, it was child’s play to follow the scent into the forest. With my brother behind me, I raced through the foliage until the whiff of smoke and blood caused me to slow my pace and advance with more caution through the brush and bracken. I dismounted Potema and bound her to a tree, casting a rune spell around her. Draken did the same with Destrier. Together, we crept furtively toward the scent, taking care to stay downwind of whatever creature was ahead. Like specters, we passed through, barely disturbing a single twig.

The flickering glow of a small hearth could be seen past the heavy tree trunks as we drew nearer. I glimpsed a humanoid figure laying outside of a small cottage and smiled in silent triumph, but Draken voiced his concern.

"This is Marent Plavius' home . . ." He told me. "Who is that?"

Just ahead, the forest gave way to an open clearing surrounded on all sides by dense trees. I crept my way up to the very edge of the meadow and peered around the trunk of an old great oak. I stared, with a mixture of both elation and disgust, at the quarry I had gone to such lengths to locate:

The humanoid figure was dead, and the reek of death hung in the air.

The isolated house was secluded in the middle of this area. Old maple trees and boulders bore mute witness to whatever fate had befallen the household, while an eerie silence reigned over this West Weald house. We listened for anything in particular, but there were no agonized moans, no desperate pleas for succor. No mourning kinsmen cried for their dead.

The stillness spoke volumes. There were no survivors.

We approached the corpse, and at once I saw who it was.

"Julia Plavius." Draken said, kneeling down next to her remains. "She recommended Destrier and Potema from the stables to us, do you remember?"

I looked at my brother and saw that this familiar person stirred dormant memories. It was evident a cold rage flared within him. Julia and the rest of the Plavius family had treated our family well and they were peaceful neighbors, as far as mortals went. Lowly and impermanent as they were, Draken perhaps felt they had deserved better than this. He had more contact with them than I ever did. Vivid memories stirred within me as I looked down on her ravaged body.

Julia Plavius' skull had been shattered like an eggshell. A crimson halo had pooled around her head. Her death was instant. Her entire face and torso had been shredded by very sharp claws, just as her sides were. Her exposed ribs protruded from her gaping chest. Remains of bloody meat still clung to her splintered bones, which also were raked by deep claw marks. At this moment I did not see Julia Plavius. I saw myself.

This was me not so long ago, I thought. During that ceremony.

Julia Plavius, I suspected, might have been one of the lucky ones. Though it was an unfortunate fate, she was, in a way, graced with a swift end. My mind ran what this woman felt, what had occurred, articulating a concept which, several months ago, before I was introduced to vampirism, would have been so monstrous as to have went beyond belief but now archived in my consciousness as a fugacious routine in this new realm I now existed, no more to be reflected upon than as in another life the fact that one went to the baker’s to purchase one's sweetrolls.

The only difference between Julia and I was that I survived after my death.

The prodigious amounts of wasted blood had been splashed upon the dirt glistened beneath the light of the moons, turning the spot into crimson mud. The tantalizing smell of so much blood moistened my mouth, despite the dire matters weighing on my mind.

"There are more of them here!" Draken called out as he peered inside the house from the window. I rushed to him, and took a peek within. There were bodies inside, too.

A wooden door creaked on its hinges as my brother kicked it open. Leading with closed fists, Draken entered the domicile through a haze of smoke and shadow, and I followed behind with carefully measured steps. My vampiric eyes penetrated the murk, seeing the humble furnishings one would expect to see in such a modest home: old wooden stools, a low table with stale bread and cheap wine, a couple of cupboards, and a hearth in the center, safely distant from the crude humble walls. Dying coals glowed within it.

"Butchery," Draken whispered. "I cannot believe this . . . the wounds are fresh. This just happened."

All of them shared the same fate as Julia Plavius.

More bodies were strewn everywhere. Five of them. Young and old, their throats had been the target of some wanton savagery. They were still in their nightclothes, death having come for them while they slept.

I stared in disbelief at my new shoes painted red with the sticky substance that seeped through my toes. There was blood everywhere I looked. Displaced remains and ordure squished beneath me as I walked softly up the stairs that seemed to have witnessed its fair share of carnage. The disparate scents of gore, putrefaction, and smoke created a malodorous blend in the smoky atmosphere. There was the sickly smell of dust, and decay and collywobbles in the air. It smelled like a vampire had came through here.

I was irritated, although my irritation lay less in the sight of soiled shoes, than in the fact that the Plavius' life's essence were spilled all over the bloody house in some needless dreadful act. It seemed none of my business, if they were murdered by a gang of marauders or bandits, for such was the affairs of mortals. But when concluded that Plavius' was not only killed, but devoured, it was most certainly my affair. By our virtue, we always had striven to avoid undue death to our prey, especially if they were common villagers. Now some unseen menace had taken up residence with their orgiastic predatory tendencies.

On our territory!

Though I had not fed on blood for some time, and my body required sustenance, I was reluctant to take to the throat of my victim with such a degrading feeding frenzy, much like whatever disgusting beast had done them.

This would surely draw attention.

Draken picked up a bag of septims on the table, and murmured something about giving it away to Marent. He whispered something about not finding Durus anywhere among the bodies.

Who is Durus? No matter! We must do something! Now!

"Burn it," I suggested, and after a pause I told him to do it. "Burn this entire place down!"

"What?" Draken was confused. "Burn it? Anyone can see the fire miles away! You would draw every villager here! We came on horseback, remember? We do not want anyone seeing us riding back."

"There is no concealing this! Look at the mark on their necks! Do you smell that? A vampire did this!" I said, pointing at the bodies. "Look—"

"Raven—"

"Look around you! Burning this house—and their bodies—would confuse them! We set them to the torch, there would be no way for them to find out if it was an accident or arson. It is far better for them to speculate than to come to this fact. What if this spreads like a disease? The danger of contagion is high—"

"Word reached the Imperial City. One of them managed to get caught in Marent's trap out in the woods. By the time he had reached it the sun had already burnt it to dust. He has addressed this to others. I was informed earlier this evening they might call vampire hunters to investigate."

My mouth fell, and for a long space I was unable to reply. A sudden fury rushed to my face and I realized the extreme idiocy of my naked emotion. "Earlier this evening you say? Did you tell father? Why am I just now hearing about this!?"

The ceiling creaked before Draken could reply. We both looked up, and to our dismay there was something lurking on the beams! The creature snarled behind a batlike hideous face that was forever robbed of all semblance of humanity. Bloodshot eyes glowed at us. A vicious scream devolved into piercing wail of a beast sans any mind. This was no Imperial man. This was a hunched and soulless monster with a bottomless yearning for bloodshed.

Bloody Oblivionspawn! I cursed silently. I backed away, almost bumping into Draken. We must burn this place down! Right away!

The vampiric fiend dropped down to where we were, and we both sprung into action.


--------------------
And yet I am, and live—like vapours tossed.
I long for scenes where man hath never trod
A place where woman never smiled or wept
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie
The grass below—above the vaulted sky.”
User is offlineProfile CardPM
Go to the top of the page
+Quote Post

2 Pages V  1 2 >
Reply to this topicStart new topic
1 User(s) are reading this topic (1 Guests and 0 Anonymous Users)
0 Members:

 

- Lo-Fi Version Time is now: 22nd October 2019 - 04:35 AM