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> Order Vampyrum: Daughter of Coldharbour
Acadian
post Sep 13 2019, 07:58 PM
Post #21


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From: Las Vegas



The pair of vampires found plenty, but not the succulent bandits they had hoped to find for feeding.

Nice job of showing us Raven’s keen vampiric senses in several ways during their travel.

’This was me not so long ago, I thought. During that ceremony.’
- - a chilling detail indeed. ohmy.gif

Well, there goes the neighborhood, as distant vampiric cousins come squatting on Decumus Castle lands. This is quite concerning to the noble siblings I’m sure since their family works so hard to mask their nature and live among mortal neighbors without complications or interference.

It seems like Draken and Raven must become Vampire Slayers. wink.gif


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SubRosa
post Sep 13 2019, 08:38 PM
Post #22


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I found a good song to listen to while reading this story

I loved your description of Raven sensing the night and its denizens in all their tessellated glory.

There was also the fact that feeding was messy and bloodstains were easier to hide on dark fabrics
I loved this bow to practicality. White is definitely a bad color for vampires. Unless they have a lot of bleach...

Raven's observations about her brother are quite telling.

Potema! An excellent name for a mount!

I have a feeling this is going to be a very bad night for that vampiric fiend!


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BretonBlood
post Sep 17 2019, 05:08 PM
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Simply amazing! Easily the best chapter yet! Watching Raven and her brilliant mind piece together what was bothering Draken was amazing, and I loved the bit about how she goes into his room and just examines everything without touching it because there is still much to be learned from what you see. Brilliant!

Again, your description of their vampiric nature doesn't fail to impress, seeing Raven's senses and how much she really takes in was spectacular.

For a minute I thought that maybe they were dealing with a werewolf since the body was torn to shreds with claw marks, though I assumed they would smell a werewolf, but then if it was a werewolf the house would have been way more destroyed. Then of course we discover the culprit right at the end! With his hideous appearance one has to wonder what strain of vampirism is he??


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Darkness Eternal
post Sep 21 2019, 05:23 AM
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From: Coldharbour



Acadian: Not exactly what they were searching for.

I think the primary problem for any vampire of a clan like the Order, or even the Volkihar, are other vampires. For various reasons they don't like to share, and don't take kindly to their less esteemed brethren running around causing mayhem. Vampires like Janus Hassildor and Sybille Stentor come to mind.

Subrosa: Great song! I enjoyed it! Heh, the comments had me laughing!

Honestly I debated whether or not I wanted to give detail to Raven's perception of the night; it was something we're always seeing in media and books when it comes to vampires, but I felt it was necessary to add, only because vampires in the TES world, even the ones who dislike their condition, seem to comment on how beautiful the night was.

I often wondered why vampires always wore black, and let's be honest and admit that plenty of the vampires we see in media always wear it for no reason other than, well, being dark and 'edgy'. It made sense in a logical standpoint to explain why Raven prefers to wear black(hides bloodstains, easier to blend in at night, etc), though by no means ONLY wears black. White would not work well!

Raven has a sharp mind, and as her father might say, she's "too bright for her own good". She's always privy to things that may seem unorthodox or out of the ordinary. Draken's behavior certainly is.

Potema is one of Raven's favorite historical figures. Historical being relatively speaking. The events of this story take place not too long after the Wolf Queen.

Let us find out!

BretonBlood: Raven spends the majority of her time at her castle, while Draken spends a good amount of time away. She's intrusive and curious, especially where Draken's concerned.

Werewolves would be the first guess for anyone, but there are certain creatures that have an appetite as strong as a lycanthrope. He is of a different strain.


Previously on Order Vampyrum: Draken and Raven find Marent Plavius' house in shambles; there were no survivors. The two vampires are ambushed by another blood-sucking foe.

~Chapter 6: Burn This House Down~


Raven Decumus.

Once human and now a shambling atrocity, the creature before us snarled in a gargled voice yet its hideous tongue denied it the luxury of mortal speech. Despite this nightmarish situation, I refused to give into fear. I was a Decumus and a Daughter of Coldharbour. I would not disgrace my family nor Lord Molag Bal by being massacred as easily as a frightened deer taken down by a lion. I would die on my feet if I had to, while looking at my killer square in the face.

The creature growled as it measured both of us with murderous intent.

A fierce snarl filled my ears. It took me a second to realize that it came from my own throat.

I required no further prompting. In a blur of motion, I spun and formed sliced razor-sharp shards of purple-black crystal fragments and sent them at the creature with the full heat of my fury.

A spinning shard sung before my palms, slicing through the smoky air and striking my brutish target in the arm. The creature howled in pain and glared back us. Little trace of humanity remained in this Imperial's monstrous features. Those molten eyes peered out with hunger from beneath a sloping brow. A fleshy mouth grimaced.

Wincing in pain, the creature ducked before I cast another purple projectile.

So this is the creature that has been terrorizing the countryside?

It stalked forward, swatting furniture out of the way, aching for the kill, needing it. Draken prepared a ball of flame, as crystal fragments formed in my hand, ready to fly into this monster's skull.

This, I said to myself, would be too easy.

As if ill-luck was summoned by my thought, the fiend vanished into thin air, my flying shards slicing past the corner where it once stood. Before I could recover from this, an invisible battering ram smashed into my back and sent me across the room—

What—

And dumped me headfirst four feet over to the dining area unceremoniously like a sack of potatoes. I laid there, half stunned, coughing, wind knocked completely out of me, glaring at the group of constellations that wheeled around my head but cast light into the gloom around me.

The night’s already off to a bad start, and I have not even fed yet!

Draken picked up a rusty blade from the hands of one of the dead, and dived in to pierce the creature, but the beast hissed a challenge and lashed out with a backhand swipe that was amazingly hard and fast that my brother never saw it coming. The impact must have rung a huge bell in his skull as he was sent flying through the air, smashing furniture apart, twisting and tumbling until he crashed near the fireplace.

He landed with such force that his head struck with a meaty crunch. He lost his grip on the blade, and the sword slipped away from his fingers as he lay there, without thought or action.

An all-consuming wrath possessed me. The palm of my hands flared in repetition as I cast more crystals skulls at the creature—one, two, three!—and a burst of dark fragments caught it across the chest. Does that hurt, you foul thing? I thought with fierce vindication, savoring the agonized expression on that parasite's face. I hope it burns like Oblivion!

The reeling blood-sucker stumbled and and staggered into a wall. The spinning pieces sliced through the room and into the monstrous fiend. The creature staggered, and within the span of a second it vanished into thin air.

I did the same, wrapping myself in the Embrace of Shadows as I launched myself overhead to hang on the wooden beams above me. Not long after the creature appeared where I once stood, expecting me to have been there.

Searching. Sniffing.

Parasitic halfwit.

Despite those shards, I fully intended to slay the creature the proper way: with a proper cleansing of fire and silver. I whispered words into the air, and two blades winked into existence and into my empty hands.

Scarlet and shadow-colored swords from the farthest reaches of Oblivion brought into my world. Impossibly light, superbly formed, and profoundly bloodthirsty. Daedric entities made manifest into tools.

My tools.

My mental focus was ebbing away as my magical reserves began to dissipate, and the creature was a moment away from discovering me. My eyes scanned everywhere and anywhere, frantic and searching. I found myself looking at jumbled piles of broken furniture, an unconscious brother, and shattered glass surrounding the house. And that—that there—that looked like it could have been a body . . . one of the victims of these monstrosities.

A mortal.

Feeding time!

My hand stretched toward Julia Plavius' body outside, and it clenched, staying that way. For one long, long moment I merely stroked the air, feeling her body's shape under my fingers, listening to the potential shivers my cold touch brought to this cadaver, allowing unseen resonances to connect inside my head until they settled into harmony like a fine bard checking the tuning of her instrument.

And at the same time, I drew once more on the power of Oblivion. I gathered perception, and clairvoyance and siphoned into myself the instinctive, subconscious necromancer's intuition has always been an important part of my abilities. And then I began.

Plucking a Daedric entity from whatever-bloody-realm-in-Oblivion, I tossed it at the dead body on a punctuated rhythm like a beating heart which skipped a beat. The hungry beast would find me, and try to kill me, but a bard focuses on perfecting her song as much as the satisfaction of her audience. I stroked the Daedric entity in a sequence, making my song the theme of this impromptu show.

And the true inspiration, the sparkling grace note of genius that brought my corpse to life, was this fine tune: the body of Julia Plavius rose with the Daedric entity inside, and by my distant command, she moved, dispensing and bathing herself with the contents of a nearby oil lamp after breaking it upon her head. The creatures—sensing a mortal—cast its undivided attention to the reanimated woman walking into the house.

Julia's body moved as if she were alive.

The creature answered her call.

This was art. The Dark Arts.

Necromancy.

I had no interest in common acceptance that this was an immoral or evil practice. Not here. Not now. Not ever. As long as I existed, I would not bow anyone that said otherwise. It was just the opposite: I seized upon the power Dark Practice with an absolute refusal to fail, and a stark need to win.

Julia's body entered the house.

The creature pounced.

The zombie was crushed by the revenant. It found her blood—what was left of it—more appealing than mine.

Now, I sung the final song, the final line, as I brought together my hands. I moved closer, staggered a bit, but the blistering energy that formed from my grasp only intensified.

I fed the power of destruction magic with my anger, and out came the fireball that depleted all of my energy reserves.

The swirling great ball of fire swooshed through the air, and straight toward the creature and its prey, igniting the oil and broken timbers, which burst into an explosion like a vampire in the sun. Smoke gushed from its torn clothing. The creature wailed like a wraith as it was cremated in gouts of molten skin and charred bone. Nothing stood between us now but empty air, and a flank of rising fires.

I had not a second to spare. I dived forward from my perch and buried the Daedric blades deep into the monster's chest. It struggled to stand but could only rise to its knees. It was being devoured by the fire. It was the fire. Layers of flesh melted like tallow down its body. Skin peeled away. Heat contracted its lips, making the the blood-sucker's grin more hideous and frightening. Smoky fumes rose from the creature's body, which was scorched and blackened beyond recognition. Its mouth snapped tight as it convulsed once, and at last crumbled to dust.

I felt the excruciating heat of the flames upon my own pale features. Both aghast and fascinated by what has happened to the undead beast, I had tried to keep on watching, if only to be able to report what had transpired to my father, but the flames grew so bright that I had to look away.

One down.

A second went by and I stepped back, eyes wide, dust-caked blood matting my black hair where somehow my skull had split, down to the blood seeping from my arms, which dangled beside me as my swords blinked out of my realm and back into one of the planes.

How many more to go?

I stared at the walls and ceiling of the modest home, but all I could see was the raging inferno. Tongues of fire licked upward from all sides, thick columns of smoke started to pile upward like great black pillars.

On the other side of the house Draken opened his eyes, rolling over to spit blood onto the wooden floor. He shielded his eyes, as the entire place was far too bright for any of us to see clearly.

"Draken! Over here!" I shouted. "Draken! We must leave!"

My brother was dazed as his senses returned to him. He realized at last with growing horror that the entire house was ablaze. He gasped and smoke filled his mouth, sending him into a paroxysm of coughing. I closed the distance between us, eager to find a way to escape this fiery deathtrap.

We made haste to the entrance.

A scorching blast of heat and smoke drove us back toward the front door, but that was consumed entirely by the fires. My clothes and hair felt singed, and if we did not move, we would both be piles of ash on the floor. We turned back raced through the upper levels of the house. Draken shoved me ahead of him, even still I felt the heat of the flames hot against my back. It was as though I was trapped in a dragon’s lair, with the wyrm's scorching breath bearing down on us, like arms reaching to gather us in.

“Just follow me!” Draken shouted over the roar of the fire as he pulled me away from the crackling orange conflagration, which chased after us as if it were alive. Draken threw up his hand to protect his face from the searing heat while his other hand held mine. I could see the swirling orange and yellow flames reflected in Draken's red eyes.

We sagged against each other, overwhelmed by the severe heat and smoke. There must be a way out—

The floor underneath our feet shifted. My shoes lost contact with the slippery blood-ridden floor as we were both yanked down into a yawning pit that swallowed us both. Gravity seized us and we collapsed a short way below the house, crashing upon the first level and down further still. A mortal would have broken a limb or two, but I managed to stick a landing somewhat nimbly.

Draken did the same.

To my amazement, I found myself standing between a row of large wine casks. Debris and sparks sprinkled over my head, settling around us. A wine cellar, I thought with grudging admiration.

Dusting myself up, I looked around in mild curiosity. Grateful to be away from the inferno. The faint glow of the fire above us entered the cellar through the gap in the ceiling, which cast the chamber below in a better light. Though for a wine cellar, the pungent scent of garlic polluted the air. I could have choked on the stench.

Draken grabbed my arm and pulled me away from hole above us where the raging fires still roared.

"Please be more judicious in your use of fire spells!" He admonished. "We almost died!"

Beneath the icy exterior in which I wrapped myself, I was rather thrilled to see my brother alive and well, but that was not an emotion I wished to convey at this moment. There was pressing concerns.

"I killed that thing," I remarked, casting him a frosty gaze. "It looked like a vampire but—those victims—it fed on their flesh. Devoured some of them to the marrow. Whatever it was, it was not part of our clan, let alone the same bloodline. There could be more of these things out there—How is your head?"

Draken looked pained and it was not the injury on his skull. "I was taken by surprise."

"Quite right, quite right," I said to him, taking a full measure of our surroundings. "We both were. We need to know if there are any more of these creatures, and where they came from! Father needs to know—"

A sound.

What is that?

My words were cut short as I listened. The relative silence was replaced by an ear-pounding noise, the racing of a heart and breathless pants issuing from a gaping mouth from behind a wine cask—which opened wide from within. Wine did not flow from it, but rather, a mortal man!

I could drink from that just the same.

It was dark but I saw him as clear as day: olive-skinned in appearance, with nervous, rodent-like features and a bald crown with hair all around it. Holding a torch, he looked about curiously until he saw us. Then he was petrified.

"You there!" Draken said. "Wait!"

The man looked at Draken and said nothing, but when he looked at me, all color drained from his face. He was too frightened to form a coherent response. As I flashed him a predatory smile, the man yelped in fright, spun around and vanished back into the wine cask, which I saw lead into a passageway somewhere.

"Who was that?" Draken looked confused, as was I.

I grimaced as I stalked forward. "Some dead man. I hate it when they do that."

Draken was already preparing to follow. "When they do what?"

"Turn and flee for no reason." I muttered.

"There is always a reason, Raven."

"That is why I hate it."

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Oct 5 2019, 11:52 PM


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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.”
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Acadian
post Sep 21 2019, 06:03 PM
Post #25


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From: Las Vegas



Wonderful job! What made this fight work was how both Raven and Draken initially underestimated their foe – and paid for it. Then however, Raven found her stride with her shards, invisibility and necromantic magic. After the fight, she refused to repeat her mistake of complacence as she scanned and prepared for additional foes. Her firestorm carried the day – and almost herself and Draken with it as the pair barely escaped into the cool wine cellar below.

What’s this? A mortal? Is he to be the midnight snack the vampiric duo still seek? Where does this passageway lead? I look forward to finding out.


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BretonBlood
post Sep 23 2019, 04:14 AM
Post #26


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Indeed the fight was very well written. I get the feeling you pulled some of Raven's moves from ESO, there is a dark crystal spell in that, it was the first thing I thought of when she was launching them at this blood sucking fiend. Speaking of which, I cannot wait to see which clan he is apart of, the fact that he also feeds on their flesh is interesting, it escapes me which clan that is but I vaguely remember that being mentioned...

They were fortunate enough to escape into the cellar, although not so fortunate for the the mortal man I am thinking. I sense Raven is about to become less powerful. tongue.gif But I am also curious to see where this passageway leads them, there are many possibilities.


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My first short story - "A Thief's Ascension"
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SubRosa
post Sep 23 2019, 03:06 PM
Post #27


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From: Between The Worlds



The monster lurking in the ceiling rafters made me think of The Lurking Fear, by HP Lovecraft, which has a ghoul that does the same thing.

A very ferocious and fun fight as they duel with invisibility. I loved your description of the bound swords.

Also a very interesting way of working necromancy, in that it is a daedra that animates the corpse, not its own former spirit, or a spiritless husk. It works really well for Raven, as you have clearly shown that her magic (nearly) always goes back to that daedric root.

Raven's use of a fire spell might have been ill-conceived. But I did love how you tied that into their discovery of the wine cellar, and the mortal down there, and finally the secret passage which he used to escape. I wonder where that leads to?






nits:
Little trace of humanity remained in this imperial's monstrous features
I am thinking you meant for Imperial to be capitalized.


I fully intended to slay [the] creature the proper way
Your 'the' went invisible where I added it.


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Darkness Eternal
post Oct 6 2019, 06:02 AM
Post #28


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From: Coldharbour




Acadian: Draken and Raven have been trained in swordplay, but they've never faced a feral creature like this before. There's an aspect of unpredictability when it comes to facing off against a feral animal that even young purebloods like them are caught unawares.

Fire is dangerous to vampires. Very lethal. But it can also serve to cleanse and burn away, which Raven believed would be useful here. She also believed she killed two birds with one stone; the creature, and any trace of vampires involved. We'll see if that will help the situation or not.

BretonBlood: Plenty of Raven's abilities and powers come from ESO. It made sense since both of her parents were alive during the time of the Interrgnum, which by the time of this story is ancient history. There are arts and spellcraft that have been lost in history, yet Raven's father was able to pass down and teach her and Draken a few things many people had no easy access to.

Bloodfiends are vampires that go feral, and are known to eat flesh as well as drink blood.

Heh. Raven did not leave her lair for any other reason than to feed.

Subrosa:
I am ashamed to say I have never read that before! Ghouls lurking about is a terrifying indeed. I'll make sure to check that book out. I've read on google that it is a shortstory, but a very great one.

Thanks! Raven originally carried swords with her but I realized her character is subtle in many ways, including her fighting prowess. She's not the type of woman to walk around carrying swords, not when she can literately cast them into existence. She is free to explore, attend parties, visit towns knowing she absolutely needed to fight, she could use bound weapons.

Conjuration and necromancy come hand in hand. As a matter of fact some consider it to be a subset of conjuration since it can involve summoning spirits from Oblivion. Raven likes make things more convenient. Her primary schools are conjuration, necromancy, destruction. Illusion comes naturally almost, since she's a vampire. But through most of her youth she's been fascinated and drawn by the Daedra, to the point of literally being killed and changed by a Daedric Prince.

Raven feared discovery. The Plavius' were well-known in the area, and the deaths in the countryside had already drawn too much attention from people at a vampire menace. Her father's instilled a certain belief in her as we'll come to see more about. She thought it prudent to at least burn the place lest others discover the bodies. Its harder to speculate on what caused a fire, and why than it is to find bodies half-eaten by some monster. I think Raven tried to make it more difficult. Will this work in her favor, though?

Nit fixed!


Previously on Order Vampyrum: Upon being ambushed by a bloodfiend, the two vampires fight off the creature. Raven was able to use one of the corpses to burn the house down before killing the creature, and as the flames consume the Plavius' home, Raven and Draken discover a wine cellar . . . and a man hiding there.

~Chapter 8: Gaubert of Anticlere~


Draken Decumus.

I had seen better nights.

Every inch of my fine velvet garments and polished jewelry were coated with blood, scorch marks, and grime. The fabric was soaked completely through with blood that leaked from the wound on my head; had I been a mortal man, I would have succumbed to my injury. My hair stuck to my skull, which throbbed with a burning pain that reminded me of that creature's lucky blow before my sister had taken its unholy life away. A great shame that beast killed Marent and his family. A terrible tragedy.

At least that wretched monster is dead for good, I thought, although that came as meager comfort at the moment. It would seem we are not the only ones that have encountered a vampire and lived.

We followed the mortal into the secret passageway as a high-pitched scream tore its way out of the man's throat. He raced through the path he had just came through, fleeing from the both of us. A longsword swung side to side from his belt in a leather scabbard as he shouted.

"Maker! The lungs on this one!" Raven said as she trailed behind him. "Should have been a minstrel."

All I could remember was how the man eyed me and my sister doubtfully when he first saw us.

Could I blame the man? Raven looked monstrous. I look a very mess myself, I realized, gathering my strength to pursue him further. While the flames from the house had left smoking patches on my clothes, and my skin was intact, I still felt in dire need of some rest, among other things. My skin was clammy and wet with cold blood beneath my torn and useless trappings. My throbbing head felt as if Raven's scalpel was probing around my brain. Thirsty and in need for that replenishing nectar, I forced myself to focus as we followed him through the path that led into a dark tunnel. Perhaps this man could give some of his blood, but I did not have the fortitude or the mental acuity to calculate the proper amount.

"Wait," I called out. The man wasted no time in unsheathing the blade from his scabbard, and gaining speed, as if he could not wait to leave both us and the tight confines of this corridor. His sword caught the ceiling in his hasty effort, and it slipped from his fingers to clatter on the ground. Raven got a hold on it before he could.

He was lost now, torn between facing us and going back the way he came.

Wonder if he knows something we do not, I thought, watching as he fumbled about his robes, murmuring prayers and muttering the names of the Divines. He produced a dagger that glowed with some manner of enchantment, but even that fell from his nerveless fingers.

I wasted no time, and dived in to retrieve the dagger before he could hurt us. Though I picked it up by the hilt, it felt as if the blade itself dug into my flesh. I felt the fine touches of it scrape against the palm of my hand, gnawing at my skin. Then came a searing pain as my hand began to blister and steam, burning with the pain of a thousand suns. I cried out as the item clattered to the ground.

"This consecrated blade is not for your kind, Dark One." He shouted. "Evil thing! Never shall you wield this!"

A priest? I thought. My throbbing hand burned like red-hot coals. Raven pointed the sword at him as she kicked offending dagger away from us. Or perhaps he is a monk.

"Akatosh! Dibella! Stendarr!" he proclaimed. "Protect me!"

His brown robe gave hint to his calling, while his tonsured skull shone like an egg beneath the torch he carried. An amulet of Stendarr rested on his chest, and his rubescent complexion grew ever more scarlet as he spewed his venomous words without end. "Back, Oblivion-spawn! Sinner! Back to the grave that spawned you!"

Raven seemed to find his words amusing. A heartless smirk lifted high the corners of her pallid lips. "Sinner? You must be a perfect godly man, then."

"None of us are perfect, ancient creature, but my darkest sins are not nearly as black as yours."

"Ancient? You mistake us. We are modernity personified. This game we are playing is tedious," Raven stated flatly. “And you must know that I am not a good loser. Come closer, let us talk."

With a soft wail, breathing heavily, and with one hand on the torch and another wrapped around his amulet, the man tried to distance himself from us. In shaken tones he added: "Back foul temptress! Back! I'll kill you just like I killed that other one—” But then he made a futile gesture with his hand, stepping back further, and wrenched from his throat a few words that made Raven pause in her advancement. "No matter how many of those things you create, you won't be strong enough to take over!" He paused, lips trembling. Voice wavering. "I'll take my own life before you turn me into one of you!"

“'Other one'?” I said. "What are you saying, there are more of us?"

"Get back!" he answered. "Stendarr!"

"Calm yourself," Raven whispered after awhile. "We shan't kill you. We want to help. We need to know what are you running from?"

"You burned that house down," he said. "You slaughtered them, didn't you? Like you massacred those poor souls in that dungeon!"

I took a step forward, angered by his to blatant accusation. "It is true. They are dead. Marent, Julia and all the others, but not by our hand. Those flames killed the creature that took their lives. I need to know if there are more of them! What dungeon?"

The monk blinked in horrified amazement, like a man trapped in a never-ending nightmare. He struggled to form words, realizing that we have not killed him yet. "A nest of vampires, or don't you know? Not part of your brood, are they?"

Despite his defiant attitude, the man seemed like he could not help but feel uneasy in the presence of a puissant woman like Raven as she raised a calming hand.

"Nonsense. We are not the same as those animals." I insisted. In truth, I resented being compared to such a creature, but, being mindful to the situation, I kept my tone suitably neutral. “We are pure vampire and they are no more than a diluted bloodline. They’re mindless, ravenous thin-blooded beasts. No brethren of ours."

I spoke with utmost sincerity and from the heart. As a nobleman, rather than some adventurer or warrior, I had never had occasion to hunt other vampires, but now that I was nearly killed by one, I knew I would not feel a hint of remorse should I dealt a blow to one of them. Indeed, I had spent the better part of the year to learn to come to terms with this new life—and to understand my horrific ancestry. That I had now, perhaps, might literally take arms against the loathsome undead fiends struck me as both fitting and something to be proud of, especially under the circumstances. And as far as I was concerned, even a mortal's life was held greater value than that of any thin-blooded creature.

But the verbal revelation of my condition all but sealed this man's fate.

"Creature," the man said, shaking his head. "You're all the same."

"Believe what you want," Raven said, discerning doubt in his expression. She raked her gaze across his quivering, perspiring features. "But you are alive, and in one piece. Most mortals that cross paths with vampires die or face a fate said to be worse than death. The disease some of our kind transmit, if left untreated, will kill you until you become one of us. You have not been bitten, have you?"

"Don’t talk to me about diseases!" he said. "I know of this more than anyone. You think you're like me? You may speak like a human but you aren't. Don't pretend to care. If you're going to take my life, get on with it."

“No, I am not human,” she said sharply, the man's tone eliciting an impatient scowl. "I do not believe I ever was completely human. But I do concern myself with your well-being, to a point. It would be unfortunate if you became a vampire—I would have to kill you for trespassing." She stepped closer. “But you have seen us. What we are. By rights, I should kill you here and now and dispose your body. But that would not bear any fruit, would it? Nor would insulting us with your empty words. Now, tell us, who are you? Tell us what is out there or you will rue the day you walked into this mess."

"Never, foul creature—"

Raven moved—a blur in motion—and a second later the man was looking down in alarm at the length of a silver blade pointed at his throat. Raven glared at him with her hungry gaze, her unsatisfied face only inches from his own. Cold but bright dead eyes threatened him with an instant death. His torch dropped next to his feet.

"A mortal has between nine and twelve pints of blood in his body," she said. "You, I sense, have quite an abundance of it."

"What of it?"

"Well, it will not do me any good sitting in that body of yours." Her lips peeled back, revealing pearl-white fangs that teased at his neck. "Your stubbornness is taxing my civility. Who are you?"

The monk grasped her meaning, perhaps regretting taunting us earlier.

His brain seemed to race feverishly to fashion an appropriate answer. Perhaps he would tell us, or ignore her request. Either case, it was difficult to think clearly with a sword at his throat.

Better think fast, monk, I thought, for all of our sakes. Plavius' burning house will no doubt bring others to investigate, and the man's escape from whatever threat out there would surely lead enemies in our direction. He tarried, not answering quickly enough for my sister, who snicked his skin with the sharp edge of the sword. A trickle of blood ran down his neck, mixing with the cold sweat breaking out of his flesh.

Fearing for his life, the monk broke his silence. "Brot—broth—brother Gaubert of Anticlere. I came to stay at the Weynon Priory. I haven't been a brother for long. A year."

"Why have you come here?” I asked, eyeing his manners and attire as I took a step next to my sister. I made the man aware that the murderous look in my eyes meant that lying to us would be very much against his well-being. I looked around at the path he had taken. "Where does this lead to?"

"This path leads to a well just outside of Fort Wooden Hand. There's been rumors of some unholy work in these parts. I came here alone to cleanse and purify the place. I was captured by two vampires and taken there to be their cattle. That is all, I swear!"

Raven withdrew the blade by just a hair. "You were 'taken'. You are saying the vampires that took you were capable enough to do so? Could they speak?"

"Yes, clearly. Just as we are speaking," Gaubert said. "Said they needed cattle. Plenty of cattle.' They have captured others prisoners. Kept us in individual, isolated cells. Every day they would come for one of us. The screams I heard . . . some were turned, the others were not so fortunate."

"Something does not make sense," I said, recalling the vampiric threat we fought moments ago. "A creature up there in that house was incapable of speech or thought beyond instinct. It was feral."

"Some of them go mad, turn into some hunched, maddened bloodfiends. The matriarch and patriarch controls them. Uses them as fodder for their growing forces." Gaubert eyed her with a suspicious look.

Raven and I traded glances. We made little effort to disguise our contempt and suspicion.

"Strange," I said. "That they would send an inexperienced man like you to investigate. Monks do not go adventuring into the wild to slay monsters."

Gaubert went silent, lost in thought. A twinge of sadness and anger painted his features dark. "They didn't. They didn't trust my capabilities. Said I wasn't much good. They wanted me to stay, and 'do my duties', instead of wandering around seeking glory. Guess I should have listened. I'm as good as dead anyway."

Raven nodded, accepting his answer. As did I, for I did not question the sincerity of his response. It seemed the man went to Weynon Priory for a purpose, and was denied his desires. I always thought the same of my father, I mused, seems we are both disappointments.

But we can both change that. Starting now.

I digested the man's words as I stole a glance at Raven and watched her peeved but charming face furrow in delightful merriment as she stared at Gaubert, with the same ingénue and wonder-struck enchantment of a child who has discovered some strange new animal, a jester, or found some new marvel. I had a difficult time envisioning her sparing his life, and as she took a few measured steps to him, I felt his seconds were all but counted.

As children of the Kin-father Molag Bal, and as vampiric tradition doth dictate, fangs and hypnotic eyes set ablaze, those of my kind and clan reveled in the feast, and of the thrill of the hunt. Like the flames Raven unleashed, violence in our lives had a tendency to persist. But violence was not always the course of action. Raven valued discretion, the intricate subtleties of our condition.

"I will not kill you," Raven said in a lyrical voice. "There may be some use to you. You need to tell us more if we are able to help you, but first you need to tell us. Away from here."

"Why would I help you?"

"What if I told you I can erase all of your pain? Regrets? Give you place to rest with good food to eat and fine wine to drink for the rest of yours days?" Raven raised a hand, and her eyes locked with the Gaubert's. He was unable to look away, though he tried. Surely he knew what would become of him. "You could become a new man."

Raven had cast her hand toward him like a fisherman casting a line. He walked back but lost his footing, staring up at her, being drawn by her hold.

"Yes, I can feel your defenses shattering like glass. You want this to end. You want to give in to me. All will be fine. Now, Gaubert, acknowledge me as your master!"

He stood in respectful silence, as if hypnotized.

Raven's hands gripped his head and shoulder, her demanding grasp leaving his pliant flesh exposed. For a moment the man's compliant lips quivered on a broken wisp of air, faltering—"I'll—do as you—you ask, master—" with an obedience-haunted sense of futility, childish, uncontrollable, as his mind fell servant to Raven's will.

She opened her mouth wide on jaw-hinges like a serpent yawning, and fastened on the man's throat, puncturing the skin with her pointed incisors. With a light bite, she rapturously unloosed the flood of blood, ignoring the grime, sweat, low murmurs and groans coming from him.

She fed on the man, blood trickling gently from his neck in little red rills. He said nothing as he grimaced with a sort of lopsided, reflective expression on his features, part agony, part dream, as if in this mindless stillness all his joys, merriment, worries and pains were being drained away along with his blood.

Raven's complexion transformed.

Her pale skin took on a livelier hue, and the blue web of veins and cracked, dead skin disappeared as if it had been graced by a miraculous and restorative staff; I watched the change: unlike the walking portrait of undeath she had presented moments before, her skin was becoming more ruddy and flushed, her expression in high spirits and satisfaction at the blood rushing through her body. It was possible almost to feel the power of her elation; how it flowed from her entirety in little shimmers and quakes—in the sparkle of her chestnut eyes, and in her red animated lips, and in the rapturous warmth that colored her rich cheeks pink like a newborn. This jouissance, together with the supple aspect on that refulgent face, was something that in my disheveled hungry condition I found altogether inviting. Even more so with the wound on my head that needed healing.

She looked completely and indistinguishably human. A young mortal woman, though the undeniable air of superiority clouded her.

It was a display of sheer dominating authority of willpower; it was almost regal; how Gaubert of Anticlere seemed to shrivel and bend before my sister's vampiric seduction like a frail tree in a gale.

Beguiled, unabashed, and alert, Gaubert bowed his head in deference. "What is your desire, master," he started, "If I can be of service—”

"Accompany us to Castle Decumus. You will explain to my father all that you know about these vampires—" Raven began to say as she cleaned her mouth with a cloth. "And their weaknesses, their plans, everything."

That would take time. Time we could otherwise exploit now to destroy them. If they spread their disease any further, untold numbers would be affected. I had known the Plavius' for years and years, yet the smoldering ruin behind us left no doubt our peaceful neighbors had been eliminated forever, and many more would follow if we did not act efficiently.

No doubt father would be proud if I returned home with glorious news.

"No." I said. "I say we catch them off-balance now. Wipe them out in their nest."

"I will not do such thing," Raven said, then she caught her breath, staring at me as though I had grown another head. "I have obtained what I came for. Legionnaires and villagers are no doubt on their way to investigate the fire, and Fort Wooden Hand is just short of a mile from this house. That will be the first place they flock to when they investigate. Let them deal with the vampires. If there are any survivors, father will know how to best take care of them. We must not get involved."

"I think we should destroy these monsters!” I said. "Imagine fifty of those things out there! It is our duty—"

“No, this has nothing to do with duty!” she said quickly. “This is your bloody pride talking. You want to please father to make up for whatever mistakes you have conjured up in that little tumultuous mind of yours, and indulge in a bit of revenge for that wound that creature left in your head. What good is revenge if the entire godsforsaken population knows that the son of Crassus is out gallivanting in dusty ruins filled with bodies and vampires? Would it do you any good if they connect you to the fire that consumed Plavius' house, which, I shall add, burned all the bodies and erased any trace of vampiric involvement. You do not even know what manner of vampires they are!"

"We are purebloods!"

"But we are not ancient, for all we know they could be, and very well have powers we cannot comprehend as much as experience. We do not know their numbers, nor the fortress itself. It would be far wise to wait. Father has always told us that the hand of society serves us best as tools to further our agendas, and in such case, let the witchhunters and crusaders hunt them down for us."

For a moment Raven was so agitated that I shared a bit of her concern. But she obviously was determined to leave the matter as it was—and she tried to. Yet I was unable to stop. Something had to be done. "Do as you please, Raven. Go on, take your thrall, go and inform father."

"I shall," she said as she began walking toward the path that led out into the wilderness. "The sooner the better. I can return back to my studies while you play at being a vampire hunter."

I was appalled at my sister's distorted priorities. Did she not realize that there were more important things at risk here? Even after all these years she has not let go . . .

"You can drown in your studies for all eternity, Raven, but you of all people should understand that no arcane secret can bring mother back. Do not be consumed by the past. There is no reversing it."

My sister's steel gaze fastened on me, and she dropped the sword that was in her hand. Her brow furrowed. She turned around and walked off with Gaubert at her side. Her voice echoed through the tunnel. "Keep that sword, brother. A desperate, vainglorious man on a fool's errand will need all the help he can get."


--------------------
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.”
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Acadian
post Oct 6 2019, 07:58 PM
Post #29


Paladin
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Joined: 14-March 10
From: Las Vegas



Once the pair of vampires got the situation under control by cornering the young priest, it was fascinating to watch as Raven put her full range of illusion-enhanced charm to work to enthrall her new mobile lunch box. Rivetingly described! goodjob.gif

Regarding how to proceed, I see some merit in both the disparate viewpoints held by Draken and Raven. That said, I find myself siding with Raven here – things will get taken care of by mortals as she describes, yet the subtlety and distance that serve her secretive family so well are retained.


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Screenshot: Buffy in Artaeum
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SubRosa
post Oct 7 2019, 04:23 PM
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From: Between The Worlds



I love the minstrel remark.

A nice touch of the longsword being too big to use in the narrow passageway. I was thinking that right before he lost the sword.

Looks like the dagger is also a holy symbol. Ouch!

Nice use of the term thin-blood.

It looks like Raven means to make Gaubert a new cattle for Castle Ravenloft. Now that is killing two birds with one stone.

I have to agree with Raven, in that caution is advised before assaulting a lair of unknown vampires, who seem to have some unusual abilities.


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BretonBlood
post Oct 9 2019, 05:29 PM
Post #31


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Another great chapter. I really enjoyed all the vampire characteristics that you keep building and expanding upon in the story. For example, Draken being burned by the dagger, and how Raven's appearance changed as she fed. That was a great part of this chapter, I loved it! And then Raven using her powers of illusion and charm as a vampire to basically make poor Gaubert her thrall.

I am not sure who I side with because both make good points. Raven is smart for wanting to allow the mortals to settle the issue and that way Raven and Draken are not put in danger considering their overall lack of knowledge on the situation. However, Draken's viewpoint of wanting to go straight to the culprits and put an end to it now before it gets out of hand also makes sense.

Can't wait to see what happens next!


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My first short story - "A Thief's Ascension"
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Darkness Eternal
post Oct 16 2019, 03:39 AM
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Master
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From: Coldharbour




Acadian: Being a stage-four vampire grants them plenty of abilities, as well as a buffed-up version of powers they already have. Illusion is one of her natural skills, and she has an affinity for controlling the minds of others, even more so through her vampiric seduction.

As we will learn from Raven's point of view, Draken's mindset on doing things is a bit aggressive. He enjoys going in, and doesn't really share much her sense of secrecy. After having an encounter with Marent on the road, and later seeing him and his family dead, stirred something inside Draken; he wants to personally take these vampires out. Raven on the other hand came out of her lair for the sole reason to feed. She doesn't care much about what had happened to the extent where she would risk her own life. But risking her life for a member of her own family, well, that's an entirely different story.

Subrosa: Raven has a very different and sometimes subtle sense of humor. She can be snide.

Thanks! Gaubert, as we learned, is not too experienced with battle. He should have known that would have happened, but fear and panic sometimes muddies clear thinking and common sense.

Ah, thin-blood. It was used quite a lot in Skyrim by the vampiric overlords. It was a derogatory term to describe lesser vampires of a diluted bloodline. World of Darkness/Vampire:The Masquerade also uses this term for pretty much the same thing.

Gaubert will play an important role in the story, and there is a lot more to him than being just Raven's bloodbag. We will learn a bit of his history and religion, and see a bit more how vampire thralls work. The question is will he be a thrall forever?

Discretion is their greatest of virtues, and Raven's been well-schooled in the ways of her clan.

BretonBlood: I wanted to avoid info dumping everything into a single chapter, so periodically we'll see what abilities they have and the ones they lack. All vampires have weaknesses. The sun, fire, silver. But holy relics have also been an effective way to harm vampires. We've seen this in Daggerfall, Morrowind, ESO and Skyrim.

I felt it necessary to show Raven in her most monstrous form. That's the first time her appearance is explained in full detail through Draken's eyes. She's at a comfortable place, even when her most sinister attributes are out there, she doesn't really seem all that affected by it. Draken, on the other hand, is visibly trying to hold onto that human semblance at all times, even in the privacy of his own home. His thoughts on the Masque of Clavicus Vile, and the mirror scene is evidence to this. There's also the telling fact that he feels passionate at the moment about killing these vampires while Raven isn't.




Previously on Order Vampyrum: The mortal man is discovered to be Gaubert of Anticlere, a monk that was captured and kept as a prisoner in Fort Wooden Hand by a vampires. Raven makes him her thrall, and makes plans to return to the safety of her home. Draken, having seeing the carnage unleashed at Marent's home, decided to confront and kill these vampires.

~Chapter 9: Fort Wooden Hand~


Draken Decumus.


The shadows of Fort Wooden Hand swallowed me as I left the moonlight behind and passed through the door with the silver sword in my possession. Having no scabbard, I hefted it on my shoulders as I crossed into the fortress, ready and primed for any immediate sign of danger.

No monsters greeted me, but the scent of their handiwork did. Deep from within came sweeping a dread stench: spilled blood and rotten flesh. I listened, walked further in the darkness, listened again, heard nothing but the rats scurrying in the corners. The malodorous smell of death assailed my nose.

I could only imagine what sights I would behold.

Climbing down the steps, I realized at once that the dimmed out torches cast the entire fort into darkness, but my eyes penetrated the shadows as easily as if it were day. The undeniable exhilaration of the hunt sent my blood racing; I almost wished I was blood-starved, so that I could savor the moment in the height of my abilities.

Several steps further in . . .

I saw them.

Mortal remains, dozens of them, in all their very specific members and variations, scattered about in a heinous meaty display as if in some butcher's shop. I stared in mounting unease at crimson skulls and bones and piles of fleshy remains that littered the spot.

I recalled Marent Plavius left behind in his burning home, and knew that every one of these bodies represented an individual killed by a potential menace lurking about. For all I knew, there were far more than just two vampires in this place. Perhaps Gaubert of Anticlere was mistaken in his haste to escape.

Perhaps, I thought as I walked over an outstretched hand all by its lonesome, this is a lair to a legion of them. That or these two vampires are filthy gluttons.

The sight of death was the sort of thing which in these conditions was to be expected, which one shielded one-self against, and which is at last excused, justified, or in the least ignored, in the same manner a vagabond or a beggar is ignored, or a minor discomfort in the posterior in public, or a scandalous political issue at a social gathering.

It was something I was use to. Raven especially.

From time to time—in dense forests, in old marauder-filled fortresses, beneath the bandit-infested caverns—my sister and I already confronted our share of mortal enemies: culling, feeding, sharpening, and immersing ourselves in the whiff of death. Away from prying eyes of the population, when encountering unruly malefactors, we were permitted to give the monster within us full reign, and potentially better ourselves as efficient hunters.

As time went, me and my sister both confessed to a healthy amount of the gut-wrenching scares and frights that any person felt at the prospect of battle. As vampires, we were told that in our many lifetimes, we would walk through Tamriel, and face deadly encounters in murky, danger-filled streams, come across ferocious monsters, scores of battle-hardened men, renegade mages, nests of vicious giant wasps, werewolves and all others. Though scared half out of my wits myself by the idea of these threats, my father had always told me to make a stout show of power and display no loss of nerve, lest we show any weakness.

As devout followers of Molag Bal—the Tormenter of Men—we had to therefore, paradoxically, appear the inflexible and indomitable while suffering the greatest cause of terror known to mortalkind.

In our youth, prior to being embraced and given the Dark Gift, we both had seen people butchered like calves in the heat of combat. Raven and I had discussed this at frequent growing up, with a certain wryness of tone appropriate to one ensnared in Daedric worship since the moment we could walk. Yet while we both admitting in freedom to feeling moments of fear, by our father's stern guidance we concluded that our need to exhibit coolness and composure made us, to a much greater extent, cool and composed, until fear started to manifest at the quickest arrival of mixed concerns and emotions.

Living as nobles, we were occupied nearly every day and never given a chance to be in a confrontation where we would be fearful. Though in our youth, we embraced the idea of combat, yearned for the perils it brought, and its challenges and thrill. After all, as vampires of the Order we were not meant to stay only in our sedentary administrative sinecure. For that we could have served Clavicus Vile alone.

My father told us we served for power, the tenacity, for the sense of besting death, bettering ourselves in any manner conceivable. And out of some almost inscrutable passion—the desire to kill—we embraced the giddiest ideal of immortality, the hunt, the blood. There was value in strength and boldness, and as much like my late mother we also valued guile and erudition. Both were powerful weapons of a follower of Molag Bal.

And yet the worship of the Father of Vampires was vilified throughout Tamriel, and painted in various shades, and hardly any of them light. Among his most faithful of disciples, one could find: the power-hungry, the sadists, the masochists, and blood-thirsty reprobates, and everything in between. To some, power is everything, and nothing else matters. To some, immortality is a great gift, no matter the cost.

To others, perhaps, it means one does not have to worry about their own indecisiveness, or making bad decisions because they are no longer are in control of what they do. There is no more worrying about risks, about bad choices, about the future, about anything that relies one thinking about themselves. To Bal, doubt and insecurity are for the weak-willed, but even those who are weak can be freed of their doubts and insecurities if they decide to fully pledge themselves to the strong.

I have pledged myself, I reflected, but why do I always feel so uncertain?

I stepped over the remains without a second glance, focusing on my training and abilities. My fingers rested on the cold grip of the silver sword, and my eyes traced the path of blood that led to one of the hallways into the fortress. Were there any survivors besides Gaubert? I thought. In the end, the vampires' dinner were of no consequence tonight, I resolved. Their wanton feeding was going to come to an end—permanently.

I stalked through the dark labyrinth like a hungry lion in search of his victim. I did not care where I was going, as long as it was toward them. Though I was a blood-soaked parody of my usual refined self, I held onto the silver sword for dear life, which was all that separated me from whatever lurked about.

A moan sounded into the tunnels.

I glanced around, cautious for the smallest hint of trouble, then turned my eyes back toward the shadowy path ahead as I made a detour into a corner. My undead heart missed a beat as I spotted a crouching figure only a few centimeters before me. I swallowed hard. My dry mouth became drier still. Bloody Oblivion, I was practically on top of the damn thing.

It looked like a man.

His back was to me, and he appeared to be rather occupied drinking the blood from the ravaged throat of some commoner. The drained bodies of two others lay crumpled on the ground nearby, pale as snow and left in the corner like a folded sack of potatoes. Avaricious biting and slurping sounds emanated from the slavering mouth of the preoccupied vampire as he feasted on a pauper wench.

He was not alone.

Vampires, three of whom I had never seen before, were joyously, blissfully drunk, parading overflowing velvet-stained pitchers and flagons of blood. The mingling of bloodshed and wicked freedom had set them suspended upon a cloud of delirium, their cackling and screeching seemed to ascend and echo throughout the fortress like a rancid gust of wind. It would seem they took sheer pleasure at the carnage, chewing and biting into things as if they were loaves of bread. One of them, a pallid khajiit fellow of around a young man's age with broken fangs, had so lost control of himself in bloodlust that he had took a misstep and poured the contents of his flagon all over himself.

I counted more of them. Four, five, seven . . .

Their misplaced sense of attire, such as it was, evidently had been torn from the cadavers of their victims and donned without the basest sense of decorum or propriety. It was obvious what I saw: the tattered remnants of dead wayfarers' woolen tunics, still torn where their sordid nails had slashed and tarnished them with their original wearer's blood. Other vampires wore mismatched variety of garments misappropriated from gods knew how many unfortunate victims: a priest's robe, some jester's motley, a nobleman's velvet silk coat, straw hats, ill-worn hose and doublets, diverse boots, shoes, and sandals. All of these worn in their singular state and in a desperate need of repair.

The vampires' behavior was beyond appalling. A couple of them gathered in a corner, gazing mindlessly at the dead they had brought, while the others provoked their ire by attempting to get their fangs wet. Others engaged in feasting of uncommon savagery, licking and biting and sucking bones off of the slain until their faces were smeared with the red nectar. Grunts, groans, shrieking and snarling and hissing pounded against my ears.

What manner of bestiality is this?

If I could I would have blushed with shame, humiliated to the deepest depths of my heart by my kinship to these barbarians. They are animals, I thought with growing bitterness. Nothing but animals.

Had I been in charge of this nest, I reflected, I would have seen to it that the entrance was better defended. There would have been sentries posted about, well equipped and properly trained in the use of weapons. There would have been a plan of evacuation set in stone, in anticipation of an extermination such as the one I would unleash, and a leader who knew better than to cavort in some filthy dungeon, giving into their basest instincts after drawing unwanted attention. Indeed, there was much that I would have accomplished otherwise—were I ever mad enough to throw in with such an unsavory lot.

Small wonder Gaubert of Anticlere slipped past them.

“What are you doing here, boy?” A voice blurted. A woman's voice.

I whirled behind me to see the demented, murderous, hunger-ravaged, creviced-face of a large blond-haired woman. Blue tattoos coiled around her neck and hairy arms in a serpentine fashion, and I have been to plenty of taverns to know a thick Nordic accent when I heard it. She snorted and wiped her blood-stained mouth, and glared at me with her glowing sun-colored eyes as she held a massive claymore. At once I was seized by reasonless fear.

This must be the Matriarch.

A hush fell over the fort as the rest of the nest watched the scene with expectancy.

Make no hasty movements, I thought. I did not even dare try to blink for fear of provoking the creature. She was close enough to slay me in an instant, and the only sane thing I could do now was flee. It was my decision to leave my sister and come here alone, and in a passing thought, I now regretted that decision. Armed with only a silver sword and my own resolve, I summoned a silent prayer to Molag Bal to give me power.

Strangely my thoughts were of my mother. I imagined her peaceful face, her serene visage. Forgive me, Raven, it seems I will see mother again soon. Oh, how you will envy me.

"I won't ask again. What are you doing here?”

The woman looked like she had once been beautiful before vampirism hideously morphed her countenance. For so long, it seemed, she had hidden in caverns and forts, grubbing whatever she could—even rats and lizards—feasting on the occasional mortal between times of pursuit by vampire hunters or rival clans; she had no doubt lived like a beast and now, streaked with blood, stinking, fangs bared behind peeled lips and underneath a nose ruined and bent like a flat spoon, it seemed to me that she was a beast—like a starved ice-troll or maddened senche-tiger—and the blood ran even colder in my veins. I felt that she at any given opportunity would go for my throat.

"You've walked into the wrong place." She said hoarsely with her vacant stare. "This is our hunting grounds. Leave."

The other ones laughed at her words, but I took their jeers in stride.

Even as she spoke I felt I was on the edge of capitulating to her, backing away, submitting. I was, to be certain, fearful of her, fearing that I could not control, nor dominate or bend her to my will; and it was this instinctive feeling that had caused me take a step backward while fuming on the inside. At the same moment, it was clear now that if I could channel my fury and need for self-preservation and somehow bury my blade into her pale flesh, I could dispose, perhaps, of all the rest. Yet all the time in out in Tamriel had not weakened her but rather had lent to her muscular and stalwart body furious verve and strength; the sinewy ripples along her pale tattooed arms trembled and sang with murderous power. I traced vicious scars implanted upon her entirety—face, neck, arms, legs—from battles long fought and perhaps won, though without spirit for an attack, I relented and prayed silently in my head.

By the power of the Daedric Princes, grant me wisdom beyond reckoning.

Standing taller than I, the matriarch regarded me with open haughtiness and disdain. Against my will or desire my heart began to race faster, and I knew that if I spoke my voice would crack, betraying fear, assuming my thundering heart hadn't already done that. In a vain effort I attempted to maintain the tremor, and to keep it from surging visibly along the length of my arms down to the hand that held the silver sword.

By the breadth and depth of limitless Oblivion, grant me skill beyond imagining.

For awhile she spoke no words, casting down upon me her contempt-ridden stare. Then she stuck out her tongue, red and wet as a slice of meat, and made a long, winding, circular journey around the edges of her blood-stained lips—a gesture of bizarre and deranged derision. Some of the vampires behind me began to cackle, closing in at a predator's pace. "If you came here to die a permanent death, vampire, we can grant you such a wish,” she said in a cool, surly voice. Her claymore moved. "We'll use that silver, if you'd like."

No need. I would much rather bury it in your heart, I wanted to say.

Yet the very presence of this vampiric thing cowed me, humbled me, anchored me to the most pitiful and wretched abasement; and I was aware that before even pleading an utter to Molag Bal, I must somehow extinguish from myself this craven characteristic. Though it was a fact that my tribe were meant to wear a docile guise of civility, many of us are filled with unnatural fury, and the affluent coating of flattery which skirted and encased that rage was but a manner of self-preservation. With enemies such as these, I knew I had to tear away and destroy this exterior semblance, meanwhile encouraging myself to nurture the murderous hatred which lurked beneath me. Yet somehow I did not think it would take much longer.

"I come to share news. A monk escaped from here with this sword in his hand," I said finally. “Claimed he dispatched one of you as he fled. We crossed paths in the wilderness, and I took this sword." I paused, ruminating, wrapping my fingers around the sword's handle every so slightly. "I came here to warn you all before I take my leave. Do not worry about that mortal. He is taken care of. That is the least of your concerns."

By the bloody mace of Molag Bal, grant me power beyond estimation.


--------------------
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.”
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SubRosa
post Oct 16 2019, 02:34 PM
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Draken has some nice ruminations on the nature of Molag Bal and his worshipers, giving us a lot of information without it coming across as a clumsy info dump. Mainly because you tied it all in so deftly with his own personal character. That was well done!

Wow, there is quite a pack of the vampire-rabble. They really stand in stark contrast to the discipline and control that mark everything the Decumus family does.

Draken has gotten himself in over his head it seems. I wonder if he will be able to talk himself out of this. Or fight out of it. Half of me also wonders if Raven, knowing her brother, might be sneaking in a few steps behind to back him up.

Given that he is the Prince of Rape, the Bloody Mace of Molag Bal sounds a lot like the Bloody Penis of Molag Bal...


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Acadian
post Oct 18 2019, 08:03 PM
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Wow, Fort Wooden hand – home to a blood orgy.

I love how you pay homage to Draken’s noble status with his displeasure over this pack’s numerous fashion faux pas. wink.gif

I suspect Draken is wisely trying to extricate himself from this fight. Not necessarily full retreat but at least to frame the tactical situation more to his advantage. The excuse he offers for being there is not a bad one but I have a feeling that no matter what he says, these bloodsuckers of a beastly line will not willingly let him walk out.


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Darkness Eternal
post Oct 30 2019, 06:38 PM
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Subrosa: I was concerned whether or not it would've been info dump. Since Draken and Raven's condition essentially is directly tied to Molag Bal, it was necessary to put that in there. There's a certain duality when it comes to them and the Daedric Princes they're so mindful of; Molag Bal represents that raw power of domination, often expressed by mortals through their evil acts. The worst of the worst are tied to Molag Bal, as we have seen in the Elder Scrolls. Draken does shy away from that particular aspect, but was raised with a 'might makes right mentality that took root. In ESO and Skyrim we see Molag Bal's dialogue supporting that sort of mentality as far as his followers are concerned:

"Your time in my realm made you strong, as expected."

"Kill my minions and you only remove the weaklings from my service."

"The strong will cleanse the world of the weak. Cleanse, my pawn, cleanse."

"Good. I grant you permission to strengthen yourself with my minions."

"Your strength will be rewarded. One day."

Those that serve him do so in a way coherent to this philosophy, though it can fluctuate slightly as people are differing. The basic underlying premise is that life is tumultuous and ever so dangerous, and controlling it and understanding it is the only measure of real power or worth. This philosophy leads to certain cults of Molag Bal doing many things that are thought of as evil. Harkon, for example, claimed he killed a thousand innocents to achieve immortality. In the past, some followers of Bal are willing to kill anyone who gets in their way without hesitation; willing willing to perform gruesome experiments on people. Like Mannimarco, some seek power, they seek to rule. Now, regarding Draken, Raven and family, some of their actions are done not because they enjoy them, but because they feel it is what they must do. Granted, the bulk of Bal's followers are sadists in power.

I don't want to spoil much here, but one thing that's common about the Decumus characters among their contrasting characteristics is that they do not just kill indiscriminately for pleasure. There's always has a reason. If there is no higher purpose for the death of someone, they won't go that route. Raven, as we'll come to discover more of her, believes that a lack of conflict stagnates a persons abilities and offers no no significant growth. With conflict comes progress and evolution, and accepting that fact gives her a drive and strength to achieve whatever she wants; it's simply acknowledging her own nature to dominate, and spreading seeds of discord.

As you've pointed out, the vampires encountered in the fort are very vile, bloodthirsty, with little regard and no respect for mortal life. While Draken and Raven aren't really, in terms, 'good' people, they aren't sadists. Still, one has to be a desperate, or disturbed, or misguided individual to serve Molag Bal, and his shadow is always looming over the two siblings.

The need to survive and thrive among mortals, for them, is a direct result from being hounded by the mortals and potentially destroyed if discovered. Their need to survive breeds this sort of philosophy in the Order, where only the most capable and independent were seen as valuable and counted among kin. In order to survive they needed to be strong, cunning and deceitful.

In the end, the their beliefs isn't just power=I'm the supreme overlord. They only ended up valuing strength so much because it was required to survive, and over time Crassus instilled in Raven and Draken this philosophy, which inspires in them a thirst for personal gain and power grabbing. A similar philosophy is that of the Sith, from Star Wars.

That's Molag Bal's influence alone. There's also Clavicus Vile which will be explored much later.

There's been several comparisons to Molag Bal's Mace to a penis, especially with the whole Vivec thing.

Draken has a very bad habit of getting into trouble.

Acadian: I could imagine Buffy would be more than glad to set these vampires free with her bow wink.gif

Draken has a taste in quality, and things that aren't quality, well, he considers distasteful.

Draken underestimated his chances here, but in the end, is creating the courage he needs to fight and destroy them. His silent prayer is a manner of rousing that courage. Fun fact: his prayer was also part of a ritual spell in ESO for empowerment.



Previously on Order Vampyrum: Draken discovers a nest of vampires, and confronts the vampire Matriarch at Fort Wooden Hand. Raven decides to return to Castle Decumus with an enthralled Gaubert of Anticlere.

~Chapter 10: Relative Immortality~


Raven Decumus.

. . . No arcane secret can bring mother back. Do not be consumed by the past. There is no reversing it.

Mist the color of pearl hung over the countryside, just as heavy as those words uttered by my brother.

Somber, absorbed, I gazed for a long while into nothing in particular while riding down the road on Potema, as Gaubert rode beside me on Destrier. The road we took twisted and turned through lands and wilderness far more ancient than any of the races of man or mer—both savage and civilized—who had walked here.

My mother and father must have came through here countless times through the centuries.

Great oaks with trunks as sturdy as towers of stone; gullies that gave way into spider-infested shadows; paths that took us into the depths of the forest to the expanse of Lake Rumare. I remembered how my mother had brought me here from time to time.

I wish you were here with me now.

I thrust my right hand into the folds of my robe and drew out an enchanted silver locket. Within was a blue magical likeness of her with vivid brown eyes and dark brown hair. With one hand I held the locket, and for the last several minutes I had alternately studied it and stared thoughtfully at the familiar features.

Silent, I stared and stared some more on that small image of my mother caught between my thumb and a forefinger. The locket itself was an expensive piece, the spellwork precise, continuous and emphatically feminine. I regarded it, perhaps the twentieth time since I left Draken and that burning house behind, and my heart hammered as strongly and as painfully as it had the first time my eyes beheld it.

I held it then in the palm of my hand, and raised it. Her image, trapped forever in a ghostly shimmering of her own, stared back at me through quaint eyes and a faint smile that was oddly expressive: as though she was still here. As though she had never died.

Wouldn't that be lovely.

Where are you, Lady Illana Decumus?

"Your mother?" Gaubert asked.

"Yes," I said.

The thrall nodded. "I have many recollections. Most of them were of my mother,” he said, his accent a heavy Bretonic. He sat comfortably with one hand guiding Destrier, who seemed uneasy at this new rider, and the other on the small opening in his neck. Whether he felt uncomfortable or not, I was not quite sure.

"We have something in common then."

"In my memory, we were reciting prayers together every Sundas at the chapel." Gaubert smiled wistfully. "In the evening we picked berries out back behind our home, and at night we shared many stories. I can't wait to see her again if, milady, you can permit me to return. I know she misses me."

I felt my defenses falling into place like a shield wall. I had plenty on my mind right now to wander down memory’s roads with some enthralled monk who would sooner kill me. I fitted a polite smile onto my face but gave him no comment, unwilling to encourage any further conversation.

Gaubert, however, was warming to his recollection. “Fathers give us the strength we need to survive this harsh world, but mothers make it well-worth the effort.” He nodded, pleased at his axiom, then raised an eyebrow. "Will she be there when we arrive?"

It occurred to me that truth was often discourteous, but I could not change the words that the moment had written in my head. "My mother left us not long after this was made. Her smile never changed."

My mother was gone. Gaubert's mother was yet alive. The irony was not lost on me. Perhaps Gaubert, this mortal man, shall grow old upon a day, return to Anticlere to see his mother age just the same. I would never see my parents' visage crumble against the arcs of their hidden bones, hair so thin that it appeared nearly gone. I would never see them with splotched skin defaced by age, victim of time that would eat away at both insides and outsides until they were frail and weak. Even the elves, after a few centuries, feel the taxing weight of senescence in their bones. But there was a peaceful transition in becoming old. There was a lasting contentment.

And I? Well-complexioned and bright-cheeked, would never have the luxury, or misfortune, of knowing the damaging effects of senility, of capitulating to dotage. But death? We walk in it, we are death made manifest, but we can succumb to it just the same. My mother has left this world. How long will it be until my father is gone? My brother? Myself? How long will it take before time heralds our end, and our necks are stretched out before the axe, until we are naught but dust in the wind?

"How did she die?" Gaubert knew that she was dead; no youth spoke so fondly of a parent that has left them.

"Hunger for knowledge killed her," I said, surprising even myself by continuing to engage this enthralled monk. "It had driven her to her final moments. I suppose I share that passion for rarefied teachings."

"Forgive me, milady," said the monk, "but your accent . . . you are Nibenese?"

"Born and bred with all of the cultivation that come with it," I said with a slight exasperated tone as my eyes looked upon the shadow of the White-Gold Tower in the distance. "Groomed for greatness and laurels in the Imperial City and beyond."

The thrall smiled. "Ah . . . a seat in the Imperial Throne. As Empress?"

It was casually said, but I did not think it was as casual a remark as it appeared. "Well," I said diffidently, "not exactly."

"Ah, a seat in the Imperial Council?"

For some obscure reason the comment amused me and I smiled. "Too lofty a place for someone like me, wouldn't you say?"

Becoming a member of the Imperial Council was a rare and treasured event, and even more so where vampires are concerned, but not beyond the realm of possibility. My father expected nothing less from me; to learn the ruthless dance of politics, to be cunning and deceptive. To be at the highest pinnacle of Imperial power, perhaps holding more power than the Emperor himself.

After my mother's passing, I thought less and less of my path in the Empire's rolling wheel and more of my arcane studies, and secrets surrounding the hereafter.

"Indeed it is, my milady." He said. "Thank you for not killing me. I thought it would please you."

I studied him. "Interesting. Why would you say that?"

"I have always thought vampires kill and torture their victims for pleasure," he said. "Those creatures that held me captive certainly did."

"'Pleasure.’ Yes, well, you see ‘pleasure’ does not dictate what should and should not be done. There was no purpose in killing you, Gaubert. You are in the presence of civilized company now. I do not go around killing people for the satisfaction of it. And as much as I would like to see those creatures dead, it is not my place to go after them. There are rules we must adhere to." I released a sigh. "It’s all that keeps us alive in this dog-eat-dog world."

My father's words echoed in my mind: To we who dwell in the shadow of vampirism, a normal life is just a fraction more of pretense. The only actions of consequence are those we endeavor in service to Molag Bal. We revel in the feast, in vanquishing, in dominating our enemies, drawing power from their demise, and thus we are made stronger for it. But this must be balanced in gaining greater laurels. Remember this always: taking life for sadistic pleasure, or killing sans reason, sans purpose or need—is the workings of a petty fool. Insist on behaving like a mad cur, and you shall be put down like a mad cur."

"Your brother seemed eager to go after them."

"How it is that my brother is willing to overlook the conundrum we are in?" I said slowly, “is it willful ignorance or perhaps something more pathological?" I wiped my forehead shortly with my hand, as if to dislodge the memory of his last words to me.

Were I a self-absorbed walking case of boredom, I might have done the same as him, I occasionally thought with a certain detached resignation. It would have made a great story for the courier, a tale about the kind of knight Draken had always wanted to be: a hero all on his lonesome, searching the vast ends of Tamriel on quests he cannot share, braving unspeakable dangers and facing immeasurable odds.

That had been Draken's dream growing up: the handsome, calm, formidable hero, the kind people tell stories about in hushed whispers of respect and awe, the central piece of some dusty Elder Scroll, a hero of the ages, and all that juvenile imagination.

Vanity, that was the truth of it: pure vanity.

Vanity and pride had always been Draken's flaw. There was nothing wrong in being a hero—one had only to look at legendary figures of history like Queen Alessia, Lyris Titanborn, or Rislav Larich, and the recent Amiel Lannus. There was nothing wrong with the desire to be a hero: many a youth spoke of being heroes, and turned out to become just that.

But when one begins in trying to be a hero, they would be facing a considerable problem. Lust for adventure in and of itself can become a sickness: a disease that no healer can cure. In its final stages, that is all one can think about. At the end, some do not even care about actually being a hero.

They just want people to think that they are.

My brother is suffering from just that. He is as bad a case as any I had ever seen. It it could drive him mad.

Worse: it could drive him directly into Molag Bal's cruel embrace.

In unguarded moments I myself still found that I had drifted into this idea. Just thinking about it could make me shudder. The need to impress others for vain purposes alone was foolish, and I worked very hard in the past to squeeze my lust for the admiration of others into a small, timid voice, that I hoped I could silence forever one day, just as my father had done.

As lions among men, we need not worry what our prey think of us, my father once said to me.
So I had set about this quest in silence. Inconspicuously. Anonymously. Making certain that whatever I would do in this lifetime, or the lifetimes to come, I was doing for the right reasons. I had to be sure I would not suffer a syndrome of glory sickness. I had to be sure I would be loved by others not because I wanted to be, but because it was a means to an end. Because as vampires of the Order, we could not afford to be hated, and then hunted.

Or worse: killed.

"Your brother is a fine young man," Gaubert said. "He certainly looks like he can handle a blade—just as you seem capable of. I think you should go back for him. Will you?"

I stole a glance at the monk, whose face was as bloodless as a peeled potato, alert and distant behind a thick veil of servitude. He rubbed the side of his neck where I had scratched him with the silver sword—and took from him precious pints of blood. His question brought forth memories. They had to do with my youth, but resonated not with an echo of serenity, or mood of repose, and instead held a vague but apprehensive augury of the eternal state of my condition.

We skirted near Lake Rumare.

The moons were high and bright and they sparkled like jewels on the rippling water. The refracted light was intense, hard to look at, but I stared at it for as long as I could, imagining on some deep level that there were answers there. Truths that could be discerned.

"No, I will not." I answered Gaubert. "As much as it seems to be the right thing to do, I have more pressing matters that require my complete attention."

"What 's more important than your own brother?"

"My life." I said with a simple shrug.

Even as I spoke these words, they broke through the cloak of memory, and brought me back to this very area several years ago: I was standing out in the water, knees in the cool sand-gray murkiness, hunting for mudcrabs, and right there at the age of ten where the slaughterfish-infested depths had almost claimed me.

My memory unfolded further.

Draken screaming my name.

Out there I had gone down, down under in a cataclysm of bubbles that followed behind handfuls of algae, and came thrashing to surface with a mouthful of Lake Rumare, spouting water like some desperate fish, and straggling with sudden tumultuous love for my fleeting life, until Draken, lurking on the surface like some merciful and sweating hero above the deep, hauled me back up by my hair.

My vision swam far better than I did. Once I was shocked back to full consciousness, I hung in the wet shore; there was no telling how far underwater I might have been, nor how long I was drowning for. My lungs were choked, half of it of water, but strangely in the end I did not panic nor was I worried; mostly, I was vaguely pleased to discover that throughout all of this struggle, I managed to hold on to a mudcrab.

Or perhaps it was the other way around?

I got a beating from my father and a stern lesson in survival, and for days water leaked from my ears; my mother praised Draken for his bravery—which I believed inspired in him deep-rooted ideals—and though I was warned thereafter to stay away from Lake Rumare, I sneaked back, alone, during the day when I was yet a little half-mortal girl. Stubbornness was a prevailing flaw in my family.

For now everything about this place—the murky depths and the mudcrabs, slaughterfish and reflected sunlight and crying gulls, and the small boats floating over the reeds and the uproar and singsong voices of successful fishermen vanishing away and leaving all behind a certain noontime music, insect-filled diurnal solitude—all of these seemed to die away after I had died, which brought a sense of mystery and brevity.

Like that moment when a long-familiar tune from a bard's instrument is heard all of the sudden by new ears, and is no longer a simple melody but an overwhelming of the heart in all its wordless purity. Looking at Lake Rumare now in my deathly state, I saw more lights and darks than I could ever imagine, and great new dimensions which I gazed with trembling and fascination. Here had been taken away from me that child’s notion that all things lasted forever; here I had learned a certain fragility; not so much as of my own as of all other things, and for that reason Lake Rumare seemed to me a cruel place. A frightening place.

And yet . . .

Lake Rumare possessed a particular and fathomable beauty. So, even after my death and subsequent undeath, I went back there night upon night. Lying on my belly in the sand, I would probe on dead mudcrabs with a stick and reanimate them with a spell, and watch them scurry away with their clicking songs, as I brooded and dreamed in the cold nights. I would remember the gulls flapping their wings in the sky, receding away into the hot stillness of noon. The fishermen in their boats, far out, would call for the merchants in their singing voices. It had been months since I had seen daylight.

Everything was still now. And in that stillness, with the black new world spread out before my eyes, filled with pints of blood, I shivered with the knowledge of our impermanence. For a moment I closed my eyes, then opened them again, imagining somehow by such a ritual I might miraculously arrive to, here in this spot, surveying the place where the first brush with death had left me stupefied, shorn of illusions and a child's innocence. But here in the present all was shadow.

All was night: I saw nothing but the moons-shined ripples of water where men during this hour threw things into the lake, heard nothing but frogs and crickets, and even now it felt as if those sights I beheld as a child happened centuries ago.

I would have lost my life in those depths if it were not for my brother. Like my mother, a particular habit of mine led me to fate's door, only difference was that Draken stopped me from crossing over. And now his particular habit might lead him to such. It was only fair that I save him now.

I lost my mother. I could not bear losing him, too.

"Gaubert. You will have to travel to Castle Decumus alone," I said. "Tell the guards I sent you. Explain to my father what has happened."

"Yes, milady," Gaubert said. "You’re going to help your brother, yes?"

"Someone has to." I murmured.

I lingered there to watch Gaubert ride Destrier toward home. I held out my hand and whispered words into the wind as I looked from the diminishing rider and horse to the gloom of the night sky. A thousand emotions became entangled on the thorns in my heart. I could not do this alone.

A breeze opened from a portal—from my home to here— a small winged Daedra stepped out, rubbing his clawed hands. "You summoned me, master?"

"Come Ornery. We have work to do."


--------------------
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.”
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Acadian
post Oct 31 2019, 08:06 PM
Post #36


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At first, I was thinking Raven was going to be lamenting not having a silence spell on her thrall. tongue.gif . . . but he does begin to grow on you and I enjoy that you have given him plenty of personality.

"My mother left us not long after this was made. Her smile never changed."
"How did she die?" Gaubert knew that she was dead; no youth spoke so fondly of a parent that has left them.'
- - These two passages say much. Gaubert is an insightful (albeit) talkative thrall.

Raven’s thoughts on going back to help her brother flow and transition ever so naturally from ‘No, I will not.’ to ‘I could not bear losing him too.’

And welcome back, Ornery!

Overall, a fascinating look into the complexity that is Raven.


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SubRosa
post Nov 1 2019, 10:28 PM
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The title of this episode was very appropriate to Raven's contemplations on the impermanence of immortality. One of the things that often struck me about the tv show Highlander and games like Vampire the Masquerade is that Immortals often have a shorter life span than mortals do...

This was a really nice interlude into Raven's tangled ruminations on her past. They led her in a very natural fashion to her decision to return for her brother.


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SubRosa
post Nov 14 2019, 10:45 PM
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I found someone who reminds me of Draken in a loading screen mod I started using for Oblivion.


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Darkness Eternal
post Dec 5 2019, 10:09 PM
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Acadian: Gaubert is an interesting character and very perceptive. A good reason Raven was drawn to him. While the relationship between them is tumultous, they have the best interest at heart. Draken is young and stubborn and Raven recognizes this, yet she'll go out her way to help him. Though Draken might not take it kindly to his younger sibling helping him.

The Daedric minion has returned!

Subrosa: I think the concept is immortality is a heavy thing to swallow, especially in the mind of someone young like Raven. The notion that she'll have to get involved in politics and weave lie after lie to preserve herself for countless years to come is a lot, not to mention that mentality that she can't age, and the only way to die is through very unpleasant means. There's also the afterlife. All in all, she's been exposed to a lot at an early age.
Oh for sure. With violent politics, backstabbings, being hunted by would-be heroes, vampire hunters, fatal rays of sunlight, and etc. It takes a cunning mind to survive that long. The ideal plan would be to live somewhere remote and quiet, but with the Decumus, they have a sort of calling to delve into these sort of affairs that'll put them at risk from time to time.

Wow. That sure does remind me of Draken! Very similar in semblance! Which mod is it?

Previously on Order Vampyrum: Draken makes the decision to kill the vampires of Fort Wooden Hand; Raven returns to help her brother.

~Chapter 11: Cleansing Fort Wooden Hand~


Draken Decumus.

Am I mad to venture thus? I asked myself. Perhaps this was not my wisest decision.

In an eye blink, a dagger appeared in the hand of the vampire next to me. The blade was steel and pitted with rust, but the edges were honed fine and bore a wicked shine.

I was in motion. My own blade met him before his did me, and not a second after a blur of my silver blade trailed a red mist as it swung away from his chest. The creature met his final death that instant.

If the Matriarch was struck by any distress, it was well-concealed. With a customary courtesy befit a man of my status, I could only incline my head. "That is what you should be concerned about," I told her with a calmly respectful tone as though I had just delivered a message.

No doubt a frown was more appropriately worn on her hideous face than a smile. Not that a creature like that could ever produce a likable smile. I amused myself by imagining this thing in a silken dress or fine linen clothes.

"Kill him!" she shouted.

Her words pierced my ears, harsh and cruel as the sounds of her kin that skulked all around me. My throat was dry as bone. I could feel the cold air touch my bare skin. Foolish of me, to have come here without any armor.

The second closest to me lurched and drew a glass sword. He swung hard, a great and vicious blow had it landed. It didn't. The edge of his blade struck a shadow of black mist left in my wake. I felt myself becoming whole again as I stood behind him, my blade piercing the back of his neck and out the front.

The fortress erupted into chaos.

It begins now, I thought.

My father always said I was too passionate; impetuous and headstrong and swift to anger. That I could never untangle a knot when I could slice it apart with a blade. He would never let this pass if it came to his knowledge, should I be fortunate enough to survive.

The prospect of suffering an ignoble death was unpleasant. Raven could think of some clever and deceptive way to get out of this, but all I can think of is cutting them open.

I glanced at the condition of the weapons they held. Unlike me, these bedraggled vampires were not equipped with silver weapons, only ordinary steel and iron. After all, I was sure they had doubtlessly reasoned, what would vampires want with silver weapons?

A critical mistake on their part, I gloated, or so I intend to prove.

The creatures skulked around me, circling like bloody buzzards. The Matriarch laughed. "You can't defeat all of us."

I had no desire to bandy words with her, but alas she had started. I watched as her heavy boots splashed through the puddles of blood. "Come then!" I said, raising my sword. "You seem eager to be undone in the presence of your kin."

"Arrogant pup!" the Nord snorted a sardonic cackle. "See, I was mastering the art of swordplay while you were still trapped in your swaddling clothes!" she lowered her claymore from the front of her face, granting me a better look at her sneering countenance. “Come, boy, see how a Mistress of the Night fights."

The Matriarch advanced, but so did the other vampires. All at once.

"You are plague to Tamriel. Diseased rodents!" I taunted from behind my sword. "A clutch of soulless parasites. Come at me, then! Come at me!"

There was a scent beyond the blood and beyond the grime of the fortress. It was the sweet smell of coriander, honey and cinnamon, with just a tinge of smoke and burned cloth. And that distinct scent ignited a sizzle in my blood that tightened my face, and I could only manage a sigh of relief. Raven decided to come back.

I did not need to look for her. There was no need to. I knew what it was: it wasn't just a pureblooded vampire, a Daughter of Coldharbour rushing through these shadowy ruins; it wasn't just my sister, returning to lend a helping hand; I sensed her as if one could sense being watched, it was in the pit of my stomach, as if digesting a cold block of ice. I could feel the even colder wave of power, colder than an ice wraith, that slithered into the chamber like a dagger of ice that bit into my back. Those sired by Molag Bal had this effect.

A swirling portal yawned before us, and from a small window to the Outer Realms came an ethereal man sans a head. Oh, him again, I thought.

My hand trembled slightly, and the sword angled only a bit as a little Daedric entity scurried out into the open next to this headless phantasm. It was another of Raven's distraction tactics.

The Matriarch's response was a murmur through clenched fangs. Something caught her eye behind me. "Wha—?"

The creatures gathered around me like hungry jackals, snarling fury. I could feel their cold breaths, could feel surges of hunger and feral blood lust from all directions. If I did not move now, they would overwhelm me.

A twirling crystal sped over my head, followed by two others purple projectiles. The armored Matriarch hurled out of the way, landing over a pile of drained bodies that had been discarded.

Moving my sword in a single fluid motion, I surged forward and cleaved the arm of the first vampire before it could make a move. Within an instant, my blade kissed him on the cheek. And then the rest came.

One, two and three.

Flash. Flash. Flash.

Slice. Slice. Slice.

—and all three of them dust.

Ah, I mused with detached approval. That worked out rather well.

I sprinted into battle. One of the unarmed vampires sprung toward my path, nails and fangs ready, eager to dispose of me. I swung my sword, and the blade passed with only a hint of resistance through flesh and bone. An arm spiraled out through the air, with little droplets of blood; one leg toppled sideways, twitching in the ground before it all turned to dust. I broke not a stride.

All around me, Raven's flames and lightning strikes had ripped at the air, to my left and right. I had seen the remnant vampires afire, screaming as they were ablaze, and I moved to cut them down one by one. My sword sliced into them with ease, they might as well have been made out of butter. Drunk with blood and caught unawares, they offered little challenge to our superior pureblood prowess.

As Raven cast her destruction spells, my blade sheared through meat and cloth alike. There was no stopping here, I was running, staggering, fighting, deafened and half stunned by the explosions of fireballs. Behind me, Raven brandished her twin swords as she too fell upon them.

Turning to dispose my next foe, I was met with a roaring brute of a Matriarch. She came rushing in, her great sword cleaving through the air like a scythe. I parried, and the motion left me off-balance, scrambling enough to try and hold my footing from the force of the blow. The exertion of power was catching up with me, and the Matriarch was hammering me mercilessly across the fort, pushing me back on my heels with one long looping swing after another, and slamming me with her shoulder for good measure. Her hand glowed a malicious red; my arms had gone numb from the shock of impact, and for some strange reason my sword seemed to be growing heavier with every moment that passed. My arms went slow, my legs even slower.

Has this brute from Skyrim, somehow, managed to cast a drain spell on me?

I was starting to think less about winning battle than about surviving it.

The Matriarch came again, this time thrusting her sword. My parry came a beat too late this time. Her sword bit through my side, cutting in deep. I cried out in pain. Blood leaked on her blade as I pushed myself away, taking desperate swings at her. It came out cold, and the droplets cooled my trembling hand as I tried to stanch the flow.

A second later her pauldron slammed into my nose like an avalanche and sent me tumbling to the ground as if I was hit by a carriage. I lay there, half stunned, just as I had been in Marent's home. My head ringing from the force of the blow. For half a heartbeat the fortress was a blur. Raven's summoned and now useless ghost scampered off into view—her Daedric minion was casting little shock spells on the dying vampires—the Matriarch was marching toward me, fangs bared into a facsimile of a smile, my sword a foot away from me on the ground.

And then the years were a vapor, and I was back at Castle Decumus once more, wearing a simple shirt and pants. My sword was made of wood, and it was Raven Decumus who stood facing me, instead of the Matriarch. Every morning we had sparred together, since we were old enough to walk; two half-vampires, spinning and slashing about the courtyard of our home, shouting, jesting and laughing, at times weeping when father and mother weren't around. We were not children when we fought, but knights and great heroes of old.

"I am General Reman," I would shout out, and Raven would call back to me, "Well, I am Versidue-Shaie.” Or Raven would yell, "I am Clivia Tharn," and I would reply, "I am Mannimarco. King of Worms!"

That morning I called it first. "I am Tiber Septim!" I cried, as I had always did. Only this time, this time, Raven answered back with a smirk, "That cannot be. You would have to be smart to be Tiber Septim. Tiber Septim was very intelligent, and father says you lack a cunning mind. He says you will end up dead sooner than you would expect."

I thought that day long forgotten. I could taste my own blood in my mouth, and felt it seeping from my arms and sides. The Matriarch marched toward me with her heavy armor gleaming in the gloom, her flaming kin screeching all around her. Dying.

When I looked at her, it not her horrid features, though; it was my father's. With his penetrating, judgmental gaze and his cold mouth set in a grim frown. Lord Decumus was staring at me the way he used to when I was a child, whenever I had bested Raven at something or whenever my mother came to my defense for something I never did. You are not good enough, that look had always seemed to say. You will never amount to anything.

The Matriarch stepped over a great puddle of blood, hissing at me. She raised her sword for the killing blow, and I shuddered. I should suppose I will die sooner than I expected.

My fighting spirit wasn't destroyed. It wasn't even distant. I could feel where it had gone. I could reach out and touch it. I could only—

A cold wind came swirling through, and a cloud of lightning sparkled blue-white behind the Nordic woman.

Ornery, that vicious little homunculus, dug his claws deep in the Matriarch's neck and released a web of lightning through her body. She danced and twitched like a doll on strings before she managed to grab Ornery in her grip.

Without thinking, without planning, I mustered all of my strength, my courage, my will and I sprung forth to grab my sword. Ornery meant to provoke her, and that he did. Spewing out curses, she tossed him aside and came at me, her feet sending up splashes of blood as she charged. Some of her kin stood back to watch, as I had prayed they might. I made no movement: standing still like a boulder, waiting. The blood they spilled was too much, the ground slippery. Better to let her come to me. If fortune be good, she will slip and fall.

Fortune was not good, but my blade indeed was. Four steps, three steps, here it goes, I counted, and my silver blade swept up to meet her advance. I met her rush, both of my hands wrapped around the sword hilt. Her reckless charge brought her right onto my point, and the silver sword ran through steel and leather and cloth, deep into her chest and out her back, rasping as it scraped along her spine. Her claymore fell from limp fingers, and we both slammed together, chest to chest and face to face.

In the Matriarch's face I saw pain and fear and growing disbelief. I managed a smirk, as I gave my blade a hard twist that made the Nord vampire gasp. Her weight sagged like heavy stones on me, and all at once the woman became a puff of ash and embers that burned my tongue and lips. I rolled over with a cough, soot and dust caking me all over.

Upon seeing their Matriarch undone, the lesser kin all froze in confusion. Two vampires—the ones who weren't shrieking and slapping the flames that licked away at their bodies— fled the fortress like shrieking wraiths.

Ornery scrambled off to Raven's side, murmuring something about unmortals. Raven peered at me with the same expression of faint distaste that my father always had shown when I was growing up.

If I am victorious, why do I feel so defeated?

Breathing heavy, I sat on the bloody ground and dropped my sword, shaking my head to clear my hair of the ash that soiled it.

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Dec 23 2019, 01:44 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.”
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SubRosa
post Dec 6 2019, 05:26 PM
Post #40


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From: Between The Worlds



Perhaps not the wisest decision indeed! But as the old saying, goes, good judgment comes from experience, and experience comes from bad judgment.

Nice timing on turning to mist!

A headless phantasm and a little daedric man do make for quite a distraction!

What painful memories of his father. One feels for Draken.

I love the term 'unmortals'.

That was both an exciting fight, but also one that was very personal, given Draken's very personal memories and feelings woven through it. Nicely done!



nits:
I could feel my the cold air touch my bare skin.
Looks like a leftover from a previous edit.


Edit: Now that I am home, that pic of almost-Draken came from Community Loading Screens


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