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> Order Vampyrum: Daughter of Coldharbour
Acadian
post Dec 12 2019, 08:31 PM
Post #41


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From: Las Vegas



Nicely done! I quite liked that Draken’s first indication of Raven’s presence was her smell.

Though we question his choice to allow this battle, with its inauspicious odds to happen, he acquitted himself well. He simply became outnumbered. Raven is every bit his equal – possibly more – and changed the odds to their favor. Together, they achieved victory.

SubRosa is right that you very capably handled the challenge of injecting Draken's personal thoughts and even some of his history into the fight without bogging down the requisite quick pace of such a fight.

I imagine the impact of this battle on the siblings may be minimal. I would not bet that the battle will transform Draken’s tendency to ill-advised impetuousness. Raven still views her brother’s rash decisions as dangerous to himself and others and this incident is not likely to change her opinion.


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BretonBlood
post Dec 14 2019, 12:02 AM
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Just caught up on Chapters 9-11 and all I have to say is: *slow clap*

Well done. The anticipation and eerie feeling in Chapter 9 when Draken arrived in the fort, I thought for sure he was going to be in for a bad time, thought maybe he could talk his way out of it SOMEHOW. Your descriptions of the vampires made them truly horrifying, and then add on Draken's disgust at them because of his more refined living it made the chapter that much better.

Then it was nice to see Raven talking with Gaubert, he is almost a nice soundboard for her to talk to and reflect. I loved how the memories and her past ended up coming to fruition and helping her decide to help Draken. And in what a badass way! I loved this most recent chapter, it was simply amazing.

It was a neat addition having Draken comment on how their weapons were nothing to compared to his silver sword but how that makes sense given they are vampires and wouldn't want that around. Draken turning into mist was awesome, and Raven with her Daedric minion were nice to see, thank Molag Bal for them or her brother may have been meeting the King of Domination.

Absolutely fantastic! I can't wait to see what Raven has to say to her brother.


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My first short story - "A Thief's Ascension"
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Darkness Eternal
post Dec 23 2019, 03:51 AM
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Subrosa: Wise words indeed. The majority of Draken's life so far has been nothing short of living a privileged life. He's hasn't been in many battles; this is the first major fight he's been in, and while more will come, he'll get experience to make better decisions.

Becoming mist can be useful, just as a swarm of bats.

Thanks! Draken hasn't much going for him right now but personal family issues which will contribute to his next decisions and place in these vampire attacks and whatever is created to counter that. Though he has a family he's never felt more alone; his father is grooming him to be something he's not entirely sure he wants to be, and Raven is occupied with her magical studies and haunted by her mother's fate, which Draken wants to distance. himself as much as he possibly can.


Unmortals was a term I borrowed from Oblivion. The 'ascended' souls of the Mythic Dawn were called referred by Kathutet as 'unmortals' when they reached Mankar's Paradise. With pure-blooded vampires destined for Coldharbour, Ornery's seen his fair share of cultists and those pledged to Molag Bal end up in that horrible place. Interestingly enough it only fuels Raven in her quest for the mysteries surrounding the afterlife. As a fledgling vampire she hasn't had time to truly ponder the effects of her 'immortality', and worries more about her place in the realm of Coldharbour, which everyone knows is the absolute worst place in Oblivion.

Acadian: While the smell of perfumes and scented oils are pleasant, the scent of smoky clothes wasn't so. Draken has a strong sense of smell; he's been around Raven all his life.

Draken's flaw here was hubris. Pure-blooded vampires are a rarity in Tamriel; he was convinced he had greater powers and abilities than those of a more diluted bloodline. While true that he's stronger, when confronted with someone with greater skill and experience, it won't do him much good. He could've been killed had Ornery not intervened.

Raven's more subtle and less prone to making brash decisions; she's shares her father's thoughts about Draken. While no doubt cherished, there's a bit of hard feelings there. Raven mirrors in some of her father's characteristics; she's every bit his child and there's some animosity between her and Draken. He's not as cunning, isn't a studious like she is, and would rather spend his time in the world in taverns rather than doing something meaningful. Perhaps Draken will change in the near future. Perhaps a course of events will set him on an interesting path.

BretonBlood: What I like about the Elder Scrolls universe when it comes to vampires is that there are hundreds of types, with different powers and abilities, some more monstrous than others. They have different feeding habits; some can swallow men whole, others paralyze their victims. They're all very malicious and dangerous, and many of them are evil. The Volkihar clan are cruel tyrants, and their feeding habits are very savage. There are human remains strewn about, buckets of blood, etc, though they're more subtle in politics. The Quarra would rather slaughter an entire village of innocent people rather than choose a few on which to feed. While the Order clan are not good by any stretch, they're a lot less evil and vile than the rest of them; still monstrous in their own way, but not as monstrous and evil as the others.

Vampires are very territorial. We've seen them fight each other in clandestine warfare in Daggerfall, Morrowind, Oblivion and Skyrim. While talking it out may have been an option, the clan Draken belongs to do not tolerate vampires who are not part of the bloodline. Next chapter we'll learn more about the inner workings of the Order clan, and just how the Decumus family tie into it.

Raven is not in a habit of opening up herself to strangers; lives in a large castle alone with her father, brother and many servants which are all enthralled. She felt more open Gaubert since he was enthralled, but as time passes he will be an interesting companion along with Ornery on the the Mages Guild arc.

Previously on Order Vampyrum: Draken kills the Matriarch and emerges victorious after Raven helps him. Upon seeing their leader killed, the surviving vampires fled into the night.

~Chapter 12: Aftermath~


Draken Decumus.

Have to keep going, I told myself. Lurching to my feet, I stumbled over the pieces of armor that once belonged to the Matriarch. I gasped in pain, the frigid air searing my lungs. Each step I took was an unbearable effort. Blood soaked through my shirt. My face felt unusually colder. My muscles groaned as I took a flight of steps. I knew I was nearing my limit. This hurts but if there's more of them . . .

"Draken! Stop! Stop!" Raven hurled orders at me. I heard her panting in exertion as she clambered up the steps after me. "Stop you fool!"

The Patriarch . . . there must be a Patriarch here, too.

"Draken!"

I wasn’t even listening to her anymore. Reaching a few steps, I tottered upon unsteady legs. The ground beneath my feet seemed to tilt vertiginously. I took a step and another, then toppled forward onto the ground. Nothing cushioned my fall, and I was met with the cold bloody floor of the fort. It chilled my face, so cold that it burned me.

Guess I should have wore armor to the fight, or left this place when I had the chance. I felt thoroughly drained, like the victims bestrewed all over the place. A scarlet haze fogged my vision.

Seated on the ground with my back on the wall, I could only draw in a breath in pain. Blood spilled from my arm and my side, and I pressed down on the hip-wound with my other hand, trying to stanch the flow.

"Matriarch hit me bloody good," I cursed. "This burns like Oblivion."

Raven didn't quite smile as she turned her attention from me to her familiar. "Bit more than you could chew, huh. Ornery!"

"Yes, master."

"In Draken's room, in his cupboard above his perfumes, you will find bottles of blood. Bring them."

How does she know? . . .

A shimmering oval of a portal flared before us; the light emanating from it flooded the darkness and Ornery walked through, blurred as the portal swallowed him. A second later, it went out, for a moment plunging the chamber into a dense, velvety blackness.

Black again. I heard something . . .

A rat?

A vampire?

What horrors would I encounter now? And, more importantly, would I be able to face the it? I thought I would, but now at the moment of pain my certainty was faltering.

"Come on, you coward,” I scolded myself as I struggled to my feet.

"What are you doing?"

"The Patriarch," I told her. "Gaubert mentioned a Patriarch. We have to destroy him."

Silence was the only answer.

"Raven—"

She thought for a moment and sighed. "Sit down. That was a rat, you idiot. There's no Patriarch here. Besides he's not much of a Patriarch if he left his brood to be slaughtered. He must have left long before we arrived. We destroyed most of the nest, so rest now. Ornery will be back soon."

That horned little toady better not return empty-handed.

"I suppose this entire thing could have been avoided if we decided to stay home tonight," I told her. "No doubt we will have to let father know of this infestation."

"There is no better alternative," Raven said with a heavy sigh. Blood speckled her face around the patina of freckles that dotted rosily about her nose.

"Of course there isn't. The Order will hear about this as well." I said sourly, picturing my father's displeasure. "I don’t suppose there’s a way we can alter the truth of this misadventure."

"I’m afraid not. I sent Gaubert on his way to warn him should the worst happen." Raven said. "Not a wise choice. Lying to father."

Naturally, I groused silently.

Raven explored the various piles of dust that crowded the floor; searching for clues.

Cradling my wounded arm, I let stood up and did the same. The tunnels of this dilapidated ruin creaked, and every step sent a fresh jolt of agony ripping through my arm, but at last, we reached a large chamber when we found nothing of note on the remains. I watched impatiently as Raven cast open a small portal, where something as small as a cat can travel to and fro.

Ornery must have found the bottles.

I planted myself in an uncomfortable dusty old chair while Raven waited for Ornery to come through. After a moment the portal hummed away before us, and out came the Daedric minion. He dragged a small sack through the glowing rift, exposing several bottles of blood within. He hastily yanked a couple of them and handed them over to to me. "The faster you drink this, the faster you restore damaged tissue."

I tore away the cork on the first bottle and drank away its contents. The cold blood would have tasted better warm, but this was an inappropriate time to be a connoisseur. The rich, sweet nectar did wonders for my constitution; I could feel the lacerations ebbing away as the blood restored me. It was as if someone had poured a pitcher of cool water over my burning skin. The wounds had closed away entirely. A feeling of ineffable peace at last came over me, carrying away all my pains, fears, and doubts.

I could think clearly again.

"All better?" Ornery said.

I didn't reply.

"He is more gracious for your service, Ornery. My brother is not exactly the bastion of temperance," Raven said, surely repressing a disappointed sigh. "To try to get anything into his addled mind is like casting notes in bottles upon the limitless deep and expecting someone to read it. Do you find it challenging? To foster enough energy to make rational decisions, I mean."

I blinked. “It was a brilliant plan—”

“It was a reckless plan.”

"Yet it went precisely as I devised. I killed the Matriarch."

"And as a result, the others have fled . . . Father will be most displeased to hear about this. I will make certain he is aware of every detail."

"Ah. There it is." Old pain colored my faint voice.

There was nothing apologetic about her tone; if anything, she seemed much more comfortable with the idea of discussing my fallacies with my father than she was with divulging a plan to fabricate a well-crafted lie.

"You should thank Ornery for his service," Raven persisted. "He's more useful than you give him credit for."

"Peculiar little thing," I spoke out loud words I meant to keep in my head. "Should send it back to the pits of Oblivion from where it came."

Ornery bared his teeth as he walked up to me, having heard what I said. "Do you know what happens to vampires of pureblood when they die?" the little Daedric imp asked primly. "Haven’t you heard of the quelling of the vampires in The Orchard of Coldharbour?"

"Um . . ."

"Well, the stories told . . . they are dramatizations, you see."

"I can imagine."

"But it’s based on actual events. Gave me an idea or two."

"Uh-huh."

"It’s very profound. A masterpiece,” Ornery told me with a malicious glare. "It's inspiring."

"As you say . . ."

I glanced from Ornery to my sister, and gave her a cold stare, but she was too focused on the remains piled up around the fort. She knelt down and picked up among the ashes a half-burned parchment which survived the creature's combustion. She squinted at the words written and raised a brow in surprise.

"Oh, this is interesting," Raven said. "Miraculous."

"What is it?"

"These vampires were literate. They were reading up on the latest edition from the courier. 'Nightmare Host takes control of Dwynnen'.," she read out loud. "The region is under the rule of a lich and his armies of undead."

I sighed at the news unrelated to our current affairs. "Camoran Usurper is at it again, isn't he? I'm not surprised."

Raven muttered under her breath as she searched the belongings of the other dead. "Neither am I. Only a fool would think he'd stop at Valenwood and Hammerfell."

We know what this meant: the public recoiling from an 'indolent' Empire. Our Nordic Emperor Cephorus II would be once again considered inefficient. Seemed that unrest was brewing and quick.

"You will find no argument there," I said back. "Between that and our little problem here, it seems there is excitement in the world after all. Find anything of interest?"

"The work of a brood of renegades," Raven shrugged with a snort, rubbing vampire dust between her fingers. “Nothing more miserable has ever been made. They can drain an entire village in a night. Drain an entire city if you let them."

Revulsion tightened the edged of my face. "Judging by the bodies here I think they're well on their way."

Raven took a deep breath as though suppressing a shudder. "Quarra, Berne, Yekef, Volkihar . . . Couldn't be any of the clans, could it? I am sure these are rogues, perhaps even originated by a wizard's curse and not Lamae's lineage. Most didn't put up much of a fight."

That Matriarch did.

"Did they say anything to you when confronted?" she asked.

"Nothing worth mentioning."

Raven's brows drew together thoughtfully. "Well, that's unfortunate. Having destroyed the Matriarch, the others will surely call for retribution. Those timorous slithers has made haste to escape, perhaps to warn the others. Gods know how many of them are left out there skulking in the shadows. Suppose we shall find out when the bodies surface. They'll have to feed sometime, these parasites. Won't be long. They have the subtly of a brick."

I listened as I drained the second bottle of blood and gestured Ornery for a third; this one I placed against my forehead, letting the chill of the numb the discomfort somewhat before Ornery took the bottles away and vanished through the portal.

Gazing in front of a shattered mirror on the ground, I smiled with satisfaction that the blood had done the work on my skin. Though my flesh was restored, I winced at the ruin of my clothing but reminded myself that there was plenty more where that came from; a nobleman must keep an extensive wardrobe.

The same could not be said of the dead here, however. To add insult to injury, many of them were naked.

I felt a stab of sympathy for the many, unknown mortals. Several years ago, I myself could have been a traveler, or explorer, caught unawares by these night-stalkers. Worst even was my role in the death of Priscilla. At least what had happened was an accident, a terrible accident. At least I had the decency of burying her. In the end, with these missing villagers, she will soon be remembered as a brave and unfortunate soul who had been another victim of a vampire's hunger.

For better or for worse, these savages can take the blame.

Raven inspected the bodies of the mortals that were strewn everywhere. I couldn’t tell if seeing them like this meant anything to her. Despite everything we had endured together over the last few years, I still found her face difficult to read. Most of the time, Raven kept her private thoughts and feelings locked up inside her, just as she probably will for the countless years to come. She did not seem moved at all; for an aspiring necromancer, sights of the dead was normal.

"No sense in lingering in this odious abattoir," she said, turning her gaze to me. "Let's leave before more trouble finds us."

I flirted with the idea of reporting back to my father with a lie, yet that prospect held little appeal: he was not known for his patience when it came to the bearers of bad news, which Gaubert of Anticlere must have delivered by now.

On our way to leave the fortress, I could see a faint light in the distance; the rosy glow of morning was creeping on the horizon. We had to get a move on. Though we were well-fed, we didn’t relish the idea of spending the entire day trapped inside this fortress, not with the dead left in the wake of our monstrous kin. I could just imagine us getting impatient and attempting to travel in the sunlight—with fatal results.

No doubt that my father would want me to take shelter from the sun. It would be second-nature, I thought, to die before he would have an opportunity to confront me about my waywardness.

As I opened the doors and stepped out of the fort, we stopped in our tracks.

Just outside in the courtyard stood a group; over a dozen riders sitting astride their horses, watching us with great interest. All of them in mail and plate, hands on their weapons, with a sigil of Akatosh on their shields.

Knights and Legion soldiers.

Damn it.

"Well met, friends," I said to them with a smile.


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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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SubRosa
post Dec 23 2019, 04:23 PM
Post #44


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I would also not be surprised if Raven probably received somewhat preferential treatment from their father. Father's can have a tendency to have much higher standards for their sons, expecting them to grow up and 'be a man'! While at the same time doting upon their daughters, whom they do not ultimately expect much from, except to find a good husband and not embarrass them in public.

There must be a Patriarch? Down with the Patriarchy! Oh, wait, that's my feminism getting the better of me. I am sure he's a nice man...

Ornery is certainly a helpful little fella. As are those miniature gateways.

The news of Camoran Usurper gives us a timeframe to set the story to. Nice example of Showing rather than Telling.

Uh oh, the sheriff's posse is here, and the sun soon to rise. You know how to set up a cliffhanger!


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Acadian
post Dec 23 2019, 06:00 PM
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Nice job portraying Draken’s disorientation and obsession with ‘The Patriarch’. I believe Raven had a better perspective here that any patriarch was either dead or a coward.

Yes, Ornery is certainly handy to have around!

So blood works as well as a good healing potion on vampires – neat!

The good part about being freshly fed is that Draken might well be able to convince the knights and soldiers that he and Raven are both mortals who valiantly rid the fort of the horrible vampires within. We shall see.


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BretonBlood
post Dec 24 2019, 06:45 PM
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Hmmmmm. An interesting observation by Raven wondering on the potential clan that these vampires could be, truly if not one of them then what clan? I have never heard of a group of vampire's coming from a wizard's curse. Quite interesting!

Doubly interesting is the fact that they still fear the sun even though they are well-fed. Being of Cyrodillic nature they should have no issue walking out and about during the day, it may not be their first option, but if well fed they should not fear it. I am wondering if this is just a general fear all vampires have regardless of clan.

And finally what's going on here? Legion soldiers and knights? How are they going to explain themselves out of this one? I can't wait to see.


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My first short story - "A Thief's Ascension"
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Darkness Eternal
post Dec 31 2019, 06:10 PM
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Subrosa: Raven does have preferential treatment from Crassus; she's been well-schooled, a prodigy in his eyes, and is a walking reminder of his wife. In the next chapters we'll learn more about their relationship; Raven's past history with the ritual, how her father shaped her to what we see now, etc, through flashbacks. Draken's the wayward son that tries to live up to the standards imposed by his father. He's capable, sure, but not there yet.

One her of her defining characteristics is that she wants to be perfect and to be strong, but she only wants those things because that's what her father wants and that's how he groomed her to be. Crassus wanted her to be this powerful, perfect creature, and because she desires to be a good daughter, she decided it's what she would be.

Raven is similar to Draken in the respect that she wanted to please their father, the only difference is that she has an easier time of it and as we'll come to learn in detail she doesn't let her conscious get in the way. Its from Crassus that she learned all about deception, how to influence/read people, and how to get what she wanted by whatever means necessary.

Heh. There always seemed to be a patriarchy when I was clearing out vampire dungeons in Oblivion. laugh.gif

Yes, the story takes place in the old days of the Third Era. In the coming chapters, Draken and Raven will have their separate story arcs and be part of a larger world than the confines of their castle or that region they are in. Eventually the story will take us to Illiac Bay and the Daggerfall areas, too, as well as Coldharbour (this is a crucial point in Raven's arc).

Acadian: Draken's recovering from the heat of battle. When Raven confronted them, she saw a rabble of newborns and a single formidable force, which Draken had taken care of.

Blood potions work like healing potions would, with the added effect of satiating a vampire. In the games these blood potions have healing properties, and like healing potions they can restore damaged tissue and organs.

Certainly! Being indistinguishable from mortals takes them places.

BretonBlood: In ESO, the vampires we encounter in Rivenspire can be said to have been created through a magical item. There's also this little detail from the books:

"Vampirism is a disease, like brain rot or cholera, but far, far more insidious. One can become a vampire through certain magical items or by the curse of a powerful wizard, but the most common cause is the bite or scratch of a vampire."-Vampires of Illiac Bay.

The effects the sun has on vampires varies by strain. Being pureblooded, these two don't necessarily burn and burst into flames, but they are severely weakened by it, even if well-fed. Their blood boils within bodies, and their magical abilities as well as physical capabilities are limited. And as followers of their tenets, they avoid daylight by lifestyle.

Stendarr's chosen!

~Chapter 13: The Resolutes of Stendarr~


Raven Decumus.

I stepped out of Fort Wooden Hand just as a line of men on horses cantered up to the entrance. The riders saw us and their faces hardened and they angled their horses toward our direction. In the span of a few seconds, I read the many countenance of these mortals: hard faces. Cold faces. Curious. Disdainful. Calculating. Stern. They would have to be, to go about doing the work they do.

I recognized their trappings at once.

A sect of zealots woefully composed of knight-paladins and warrior-priests known as the Resolutes of Stendarr.

My mind raced with frantic speeds, looking for a way to salvage this disaster. Do not panic, I ordered myself. I can still turn this around. Nobody needs to know what I was doing tonight.

Somehow I had to turn my brother's stupidity into a manner of uncouth cunning. It was the instant of seeing the knights on their horses that I brought a sudden moisture to my eyes. My mouth quivered as I rushed to them with open arms. "Divines be praised! Oh thank you!"

"Stay where you are, lass." The man who spoke in a gravelly voice was thick and strong, covered from shoulder to feet in fine steel. He flashed his teeth from behind a thicket of his heavy black beard.

I blinked. “Please, I have a hundred septims—”

A Redguard among them in a tattered cloak said, "We’ll take that for a start. Anything else you want to give us?"

"Those robes," suggested another. “You can give 'em to me if ya like."

They laughed.

I could feel the eyes of the soldiers on me, blinking, wondering, watching.

Chin up, I reminded myself, striving to bolster my spirits. Show no true weakness. It is not I who need fear the outcome of this encounter. I have faced far worse and survived.

Safeguarded by the powers of vampirism, I could hardly fear a true death when I was allied to it.

My throat tightened nonetheless.

The urge to stretch out with my new powers was to be expected, as my father said, but I had to exercise the most efficient tools every vampire of my clan needed to utilize: discretion, deception, manipulation.

Tears, perhaps, would do nothing to soften the heart of men such as these. But if I am to sell the deception of being a harmless woman, I resolved, I would have to do away with the last vestiges of pride I possessed.

Strength was referred as one of the purest expressions of domination, though cunning and deception was just as powerful, if not more.

I said nothing more, standing there while my arms went limp and my mouth dropped open—a pathetic, tormented gesture—as I felt tears running down my cheeks. I allowed my entire frame—spine, shoulders, rib cage—all the bones which supported me collapsed within in an instant, and there I appeared helpless and shrunken, tightened fists pressed to my eyes, trembling with loud racking sobs. It was as if something that was trapped within me had been unleashed in a torrent.

From behind the curtain of black hair that covered most of my face, I read the men's faces as thoroughly as I did my books; some of the men looked uncomfortable or seized by curiosity at this sad sight of sobs and bloodless clenched knuckles and warm tears. "They ki—kil—killed them—the bodies! The bodies!"

"Back in there," Draken said with much urgency. "Me and my sister were ambushed."

I trembled, looking at my hands as my eyes beheld the blood on them. "Ple—ple—pleaseeee!"

"I know him!" a man said as he sat on his horse, looking past the dust and blood that caked my brother. A riffraff with a vicious scar. "Seen him at the Waterfront. You're Draken Decumus."

"Son of Crassus Decumus," another said.

Their behavior shifted at the latter's ominous pronouncement. Converted in the space of a wink, it seemed, from a tough gathering of holy warriors with virulent sneers to a faltering group of pusillanimous buffoons.

They knew my father only by reputation, to be certain . . . but the reputation was fearsome; my father was influential, powerful, and dangerous if the need arose. Vexing his children was not in their best interest.

I rose to my feet with feigned difficulty and lassitude, clutching at a pillar, and hoisted myself no more than a foot or so from the ground before the bearded man launched himself to lend me aid. His eyes met mine. He looked concerned. "There, there. Slowly."

"Thank you," I said, my squeaky, piteous voice at any moment about to crack and to dissolve into more sobs, but I decided to manage the deceit. "We barely made it out alive."

"Vampires," Draken said at last, pointing to the doors of Fort Wooden Hand. "A nest of them. I destroyed the Matriarch, and her brood as they tried to take my sister's life. Thank Stendarr you are here."

I could have laughed if I did not feel irritated at his words.

Leather boots touched the ground at once as the men gathered together, planning, drowning us in questions; how many of vampires were there? Were we bitten? Were we scratched? Were there any survivors? And lastly, what compelled us to come out at this unholy hour?

All the while the others went forth into the fortress, dispatched with that remarkable efficiency of which these men are sometimes capable. They came out from within sometime later, making off with a gilded lantern, blood-stained black and suede shoes and a couple of golden rings. Personal belongings looted from the victims the vampires had drained. Another had a sack of collected vampire dust.

Dogs, my father called them all, hounding their prey into a corner and putting fear into their hearts. How many of them joined their order of zealots just for an excuse to put something to the sword? How long did it take until greed and bloodthirsty sadism corrupted their numbers?

There was a simple truth, and that truth was that among the knights and witch-hunters, some weren't interested in the well-being of others, and some suffered from the singular driving force: power. And power gave birth to corruption of ideals. My father once told me this. His words echoed in my mind:

"Do not be fooled by these paladins of the commonweal. At any given time, their ways take flight far beyond the insular pedagogics. Religious ideals often breed a frenzied desire to exercise them. These factions and splinter factions can trace their origin in similar fountains: an entrenched zealotry ever pervasive, brash and puritanical in spirit yet varnished over by superficial correspondences orchestrated to bring them more secular power. It is both convenient and pedestrian to demarcate the concepts of morality, all the while serving the basest individual desires. Such greed can be exploited to serve our own agendas."

I could think of a few ancient factions from the history books; the Alessian Order, the Marukhati Selective, the Dawnguard, the Order of the Hour. Indeed there was no order of knights, inquisitors, or witch-hunters that did not suffer from bedeviled members saddled by the constraints of greed and need to exact terrible wrath through questionable means against their victims, many of whom were innocent bystanders simply accused or suspected of suffering from vampirism, lycanthropy, or witchcraft of the blackest kind.

Put a blade in the hands of a butcher, and they'll make meat out of anyone.

Draken explained the events to the listeners, choosing his words with utmost care in the presence of the men that lingered there. His fabricated story was simple, and quick to the point: a household servant went missing after our father sent him on his way to deliver a message. The man's destination was near this fortress and he came to investigate. I simply joined him. We were ambushed and a battle raged.

"We were on the road when we saw Marent Plavius' house on fire from afar," the bearded man who introduced himself as Adeber explained. "Found his nephew Durus and his sister in the middle of the road on their way back from the market. We arrived at the house but . . . we were too late. The entire place was ablaze. We came here to investigate."

"Gods," I breathed. "Marent is dead?"

"I'm afraid so, and more people will die unless we root out the rest of the vampires."

A woman handed us bottles to cure diseases to prevent the worst. I thanked her as I downed the contents of the bottle, knowing well just how futile the gesture was.

"That is why we are here," she said. "To protect and serve the needs of all."

And to pillage villages and homes at night and blame it on anything else, I thought with guarded displeasure, to bring destruction of the Four Abominations: the Daedra, the Manbeasts, the Risen Corpses, and us . . . the Deathless Vampyres.

"These are trying times," he said at last without altering the tone of his voice, which was wistful and in a way fatigued and stopped just short, it seemed, of actual despondency. "Unrest in the Imperial City. Haymon Cameron's activities are drawing the attention of the Resolutes of Stendarr. The Emperor is employing mercenaries to confront him and our men are too eager to get their blades wet. We will have to branch out, and that'll cause a strain in our organization. We need men on our side here in Cyrodiil. Fine work you have done in the fort, my lord. Very impressive. We could use a hand like yours."

You already have one of us among your ranks.

I glanced nervously to the east, where the horizon was brightening. The sun would be rising soon and I was eager to retire to my own chambers, where I would arrange a warm bath. Yet I would have to endure the wrath of my father and explain our little escapade on Fort Wooden Hand.

If only these holy fanatics had not been involved now. I would have to tell of them to Lord Decumus, too. Yet more one reason, aside from their lifestyle, for me to bear the Resolutes of Stendarr considerable ill will.

Draken mounted Destrier, eager to leave. "The offer is appreciated, but I must refuse. I'm certain Quintus will know how to proceed. Send him my regards."

"Quintus is missing," said the man in a gravelly voice. "We haven't heard from him weeks."

Quintus Vitellia. The name was well-known throughout Cyrodiil, spoken by criminals and righteous law-abiding citizens alike. Keeper Quintus Vitellia, leader of the Resolutes of Stendarr. Quintus Vitellia, who’d been captain of the Imperial Legion, who had brought justice to untold malefactors and outlaws. That explains the Imperial soldiers here.

Quintus Vitellia. Loved by the people. Allegedly missing.

Somehow I was certain he would appear. Somehow I was confident my father would summon me and my brother because of this particular detail.

The holy men began dragging the bodies of the victims out of the fort, and soon after the steps were slick with blood. More came through this sepulchral tunnel, the entire movement a malodorous, bloody and utterly silent march. The effect of silence was sinister, numbing. I edged my way toward Potema, and managed to give up a vagrant sniff, a choked cry, some ironic evidence of life—until Adeber spoke.

"Gods have mercy . . ." Adeber's eyes were glazed, and he was was frowning as he saw the corpses; all the blood had drained from his face and the sweat that was once there seemed to have evaporated from his brow, he now looked parched and dry and accentuating that expression we were all familiar with: hate. He finished his words in a husky, shattered voice, tinged and low. "On their souls. We'll hunt those creatures to the last one."

"I can't look," I said, looking away. I was weeping again, not obtrusively but with the vivid, dishonest tears welling up at the edge of my eyelids. I turned to Draken. "Please, let's leave this dreadful place."

Draken and I rode away from Fort Wooden Hand, toward Castle Decumus where we could finally put this night behind us.

"Worry not milords," Adeber shouted from afar. "The suffering these vampires caused will not go unpunished. None escape the Resolutes. All come into the light. We will double our efforts in this region. No vampire shall escape!"

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Dec 31 2019, 06:15 PM


--------------------
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 Jan 1 2020, 07:02 PM
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Whew, the vampiric siblings pulled it off! Raven was brilliant and Draken’s contributions were perfect. Even their need to exit before the sun began to take its toll was well done.

A fascinating view of Witchhunters, Knightly Orders and the like from the perspective of their prey. No surpise that Raven holds them in disdainful low regard.

One can only hope, with this particular band, that Stendarr himself would help keep this group focused on their purpose of defending the defenseless and rooting out evil, instead of using the abilities Stendarr has granted them toward selfish ends.

Raven drinking a potion to ward off vampirism! laugh.gif


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SubRosa
post Jan 2 2020, 02:49 PM
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Raven plays the vampire-hunters like a harp from hell.

Put a blade in the hands of a butcher, and they'll make meat out of anyone.
This was a wonderfully chilling description. A much creepier version of saying that when you are a hammer, everything else looks like a nail.

Oh thank goodness for those cure disease potions! laugh.gif

Quintus Vitellia sounds like an interesting complication to things.


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BretonBlood
post Jan 2 2020, 07:41 PM
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I had forgotten about that questline in Rivenspire in ESO. That was my favorite zone, a need little detail, I am glad you through that in.

So many good bits in this chapter!

Raven showing off her mastery of deception and why she deserves to be a member of the Order hahaha. That was genius and they bought it! However, I think the men recognizing Draken and knowing that the two of them are Lord Decumus' children helped get them out of that situation...

I got a really good chuckle out of the Cure Disease potions LOL. It was a neat addition.

Now what about this quote Raven was thinking?

"You already have one of us among your ranks."


That was a spicy meatball, was she saying that one of the current members there with them, as part of the Resolutes of Stendarr were a vampire? Or just that one in general among their ranks they have a vampire that they are unaware of? A very interesting point, though it makes sense, what better way to make others believe you are not a vampire than by hunting them?


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My first short story - "A Thief's Ascension"
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Darkness Eternal
post Jan 13 2020, 02:34 AM
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Acadian: Raven has learned a thing or two from her father, and as we'll learn in this chapter, he has many more lessons for her. Being the creature that she is, Raven knows she has to appear unassuming and simple as she can possibly be. Its essential for her to adopt this guise of being harmless or just a young maiden, and as time goes on, she'll shape her own self to suit the perceptions of others.

Being among those hunted by them, she really doesn't appreciate them too much. But this affects her in a very personal level, which we'll come to see in the following chapters. There's history there between those who hunt things like her, and its recent.

With every holy order, there are always those in them that act our in their own selfish ends and innocent people are caught in the midst. I'm certain Stendarr would not approve, but people can be selfish, evil and greedy, and as we've seen in both real life and the Elder Scrolls, many of these organizations had a reputation to employ violent means towards innocent. It was mentioned in Skyrim that some of the members of the Dawnguard looted and robbed villages and blamed it on vampires. There are indeed holy warriors who would truly fight for the cause, and there are those who would benefit it for themselves, and get caught up in killing innocent people.
Just her keeping up appearances!

Subrosa: Raven knew what to do only because she's been in a precarious situation months prior to the events of this chapter, which we'll visit in the next chapter. When it comes to vampire hunters, inquisitors and holy orders, she's always weary.

Quintus Vitellia was meant to be introduced in this chapter, but due to length, and how he ties in to both Raven and Draken's arc, he'll be shown in the next few chapters. He's a very important figure, and has a chapter dedicated to him.

BretonBlood: To be counted among the Order, one must live by certain guidelines and tenets, behave a certain manner, and come from a certain stock, I believe. Manifesto Cyrodiil Vampyrum hints us at people who are well-established in the upper echelons, people with gold, influence and power. Raven was born into a very privileged life, but she has to prove herself capable of earning that. Crassus throughout the centuries has forged all he has through his own capabilities. He wants to instill the same belief in Raven and Draken, and as followers of Molag Bal, they don't believe in easy things. They can't afford to be lulled into a sense of peace or tranquility. Crassus places value in strife, might makes right, domination, all the spheres Molag Bal encompasses, but at the same time he's pragmatic, and cunning, as we'll see more in this chapter.

As to your question, I would say the latter. There's a vampire among the ranks of the Resolutes of Stendarr, and we haven't met that vampire yet, but that person is well-known among the circles of the Order, and has been placed there for a reason.

Previously on Order Vampyrum: Raven and Draken encounter the Resolutes of Stendarr, and finally set path for Castle Decumus to meet with their father, Crassus Decumus.

~Chapter 14: The Nature of The Order~


Raven Decumus.

Castle Decumus loomed before us, the great edifice which dated back to the days when warlords ruled and fought with fists of iron long before the rise of Tiber Septim. Its familiar turrets and battlements risen to the starry night sky. It stood a staggering stronghold of stone, surrounded by the lushness of the Great Forest. Lights still burned behind those shuttered windows, making it seem as if the place was ablaze from within. Great merlons stabbed up from the parapet like rows of teeth, where the heads of traitors and criminals were said to have been traditionally placed on iron spikes during the days of the Interregnum. Crimson and black banners hung above the watchtowers.

An ancient place full of untold stories and secrets.

Home, I thought as we rode toward the castle’s front gate. The ground sloped further from the path on each of our sides, allowing but one avenue of approach. The dense wilderness surrounded the stronghold on every side.

Mortal sentries posted outside the gatehouse and over the battlements hastened to and fro at our approach. As our mounts galloped below, an eagle-eyed servant shouted from above, his voice traveling to our ears.

"The masters have returned! Open the gates!"

~ ~ ~


My father scrutinized me as I sat on the table in his office, looking up from his desk, suspicious, reserved, glacial, a serene Imperial manner, with sharp and austere gaze and a lean, hardened stance. Building up within me was this old atavistic dread of scorn from my father, which began to overwhelm me as I sat there with a great deal of hesitance. I hope our accounts of tonight's adventure wouldn't ire him, but I knew him well enough.

Even with the windows shuttered against the coming sun, the chill in the room was tangible.

Lord Decumus was the first to break the silence. "Vampires burn too easily in days such as these, like dried kindling; bursting in flames because they do not listen to their elders. Those who have walked Tamriel far longer than they have."

I was nervous beyond reason and hopelessly confused, with no precedent to guide me now in the presence of my father. In an excess of furtiveness—despite the familiar surroundings and company—I tapped my feet on the floor and my finger on the table, helplessly trying to summon a suitable response.

There was none.

"It takes effort to stay above the ground," my father said, face staring behind interlocked fingers. "It takes effort not to be ash and dust. In such times of judicial inquiries, scrutinies and our less esteemed kin biting at our throats, one has to keep a sensible mind for such affairs. Have you forgotten the tenets of our august Order? Have you forgotten that discretion is the greatest of our virtues?"

Until the rest of my days were but a vapor, I knew I would never forget this moment, as long as I lived. Whatever thoughts I possessed, whatever trivial escapades I had indulged, were devoured in the maelstrom that was my father's eyes. Gaubert of Anticlere, Draken, my mother's fate, myself, all those were gone in an instant, and there was only Lord Crassus Decumus, the man himself, his power, his presence, and the intensity of it.

His eyes were cold, and yet startlingly dark in the lightness that was his countenance. His pupils were pinpoints, burning red and gold, and they penetrated inside me and weighed the soul within. I stared back at him, and in those eyes there was a beast lurking, hungry and frightening, subdued and angry, dark and waiting. Laughter and solitude and passionate cruelty; my father had all of that in his eyes.

It was the same during the ritual, just as it was in Skyrim months ago.

My father was shrewd and insidious, but he was a vampire of Cyrodiil: cunning and manipulation are expected, and as a member of our Order they were even considered virtues. Though my father is analytical and without pity, he was pragmatic and within reason.

As part of our Order, the same was expected of me.

The best history of our clan, that I have been able to muster, came from a small collection of sources, picked for their relative reliability and trustworthiness. When I contemplated how our tribe was spread, and how secretive we vampires of Cyrodiil tended to be both as a society and as individuals, the true measure of the difficulty of assembling our history comes into view, like a mountain unveiled through dissipating fog.

Beyond that pinnacle is our past, concealed by lies, errors, negligence, omissions, and speculation; some vitriolic and some fielded for our own good. To better navigate the precipitous terrain, we required maps to reveal the trails and mountain passes can be located. But not all the directions given to us are accurate, and not every one of them even intend to be. In the end, what was paramount was primacy of ourselves, and our journey long forward.

Our Order, though small in number, was made up of select politicians, lobbyists, merchant princes, high priests and financiers; respected members of society; elite figures of the upper echelons; gifted philanthropists, nobles and court mages, and anything in between. Individuals who could shape others into instruments, and thus shape Tamriel.

Am I capable of such a task? Do I truly want to be?

My father scrutinized me as I sat on the table in his office, suspicious, reserved, glacial, in his serene Imperial manner, his mouth working strenuously as his jaws moved against one another. Building up within me was this old atavistic dread of scorn from my father, which began to overwhelm me as I sat there with a great deal of hesitance. His gaze flicked over to my brother. "From the account Raven's thrall has given me, you took the fight to the thin-bloods with a sense of vengeance."

"A sense of justice," Draken answered back. "For killing Marent Plavius and his family."

“Call it what you will. It still comes down to spilling blood. The way you make it sound, it seems almost dignifying that some survived to spread the word of your massacre.”

"I destroyed most of them. I would have destroyed the others, but . . ."

"There was a delay on your part," my father said, bearing down on him. "And the ones you killed—the ones you did not let escape— not one of them proved a challenge?"

"None."

My father paused for a moment. "The creature that led them?"

"No."

From my brother's shaky voice, I detected a note of hesitation. If I caught that, undoubtedly so did my father.

"How was it defeated?”

"I impaled it with my sword."

My father measured the tatters of Draken's clothes from the wounds he had suffered, and though his lacerations had healed, the tell-tale signs of his injuries stained the ruins of his attire. "You have been wounded. You went in the fortress without any protection. That was foolish."

"If Raven made the decision to storm the fortress, you'd believe it cunning," Draken said with a note of humor in his voice. "I could not see her heavy with armor, but she would look better than that armored troll of a woman."

Lord Decumus' eyes were a pale yellow, as luminous as they were without pity. "Your lame japes are unappreciated,” he said in a flat tone as cold as the grave. And then, “Raven would have never been so unwise as to put herself in peril like that. You are fortunate she went there to lend you aid."

The word hung between the two, great, sharp, and poisoned. This wasn't the first time my brother mentioned my father's high praise of me. Since my mother's death, Lord Decumus was harsh on him.

Growing up with Draken was not difficult. We’d worried; we’d played; we’d sought out forbidden knowledge; we’d shared secrets and we’d kept a great deal to ourselves. We’d been very close until my mother's death, and then we hadn’t been close at all, because after her passing, I couldn’t handle any more worries and I didn’t want to share any more secrets. I kept myself out of trouble, secluded to my own chambers and studies.

Draken could not keep the bitterness out of his voice. "I killed that thing. Isn't that what we are meant to do? Rip them out, root and stem? I see no issues here."

My father approached him, his face cold and detached. "And if by some miraculous chance the creature had managed to defeat a vampire of pure blood that is Draken Decumus, what consequence might you face, my son? It certainly came close enough, it would seem. You are impatient. You see no value in learning about the intricacies of politics and the court. You hunger for power of the sort you imagine to be in glory in the field of battle. These are nothing but vainglorious pursuits. You have been given a tremendous power few men possess, and what have you done with these abilities? You've sat on your gift and entertained petty notions. You have authority and dominion, but you spend your days in the embrace of questionable women and drinking with ne'er-do-wells."

Draken could not find his words. I sat there, silent as he was.

"Perhaps you’re not worthy of Molag Bal's gift, after all. You understand well that the Kin-Father's will is made reality. To earn his trust you must be powerful in your own right and this is an eternal commitment. But brute power alone cannot guarantee your victory. You saw for yourself when that vampire cut open your flesh. Had you been patient, the Resolutes of Stendarr would have dispatched them and you would have never been involved."

My brother held his tongue.

"Curb that pompous spirit of yours from this point forward. I hope you thanked the creature before you killed it,” Lord Decumus went on, "because it taught you a valuable lesson. When you face another vampire elevated by their kin, you must remain focused—even when you’re convinced that your adversary is incapacitated. Your wrath must be instantaneous, without hesitation and nothing less than lethal, for you are a vampire, and make no mistake, you will be marked for death."

My father leveled upon me his frosty gaze; there seemed to be no belligerence in his look—toward me, at least: if anything, I detected even a touch of cordiality in his manner. But he was still firm: I was beyond a doubt now a culprit to tonight's event, and was partially responsible for what had happened.

“You are a capable young woman, Raven. And you make me proud. But you were born into this elevated position. You haven't the slighest idea what it means to earn it." He closed the distance between us, touching my shoulder. "There are difficult decisions ahead of us, and it is time you prove you are a valuable member of our civil fraternity. There are perilous tasks the Order will have of you."

I blinked, and voiced in modest protest. "I have been preparing, father."

"How so? Reading? If it’s history and heritage that has caught your fancy, I can bore you with lectures of the past. Is that your desire, Raven? To become an academic, some glorified scholar burying your nose in tomes and books? You can study the dark arts, the secrets of necromancy or whatever schools of magic you wish to excel at, or even travel to the planes of Oblivion but that shall only take you so far."

Did he know . . . about my venture into Coldharbour?

"I—I don't know where to even begin."

"On the surface, your strength rests on your beauty, birthright, and wealth. A great measure of your power however, is your Dark Gift. It is generous and comes with many blessings you already have familiarized yourself with. Among those is the blessing of concealment: our countenance lurk in the dark beneath our skins, our true nature remain shadowed deeper still. Your greatest strength is a cunning mind. Learn to take advantage of this in the centuries to come."

"Yes, father." I said.

"You must discover the untold secrets of the Dark Gift in your own manner, and perfect your abilities in any fashion you see fit. My responsibility in the meantime is to help to keep you from losing your way while we blend in plain sight from the prying eyes of our adversaries."

My father stared, somewhat distant. There was no discourtesy, no impertinence found in his voice, yet there was no trace of benignity either. "The Resolutes of Stendarr,” he said slowly, fixing me with his bright, gelid eyes. "Have a particular interest in creatures of our constitution. Draken will deal with them, and this vampiric problem. You, however, will undergo a different task I have for you. This will be revealed in due time. I have received a letter from Quintus Vitellia before his disappearance. You will come to learn of the contents of this tomorrow night."

"What do we do now?" Draken asked.

Lord Decumus circled his desk, hands over a map of Cyrodiil. "We shall need a full bloody sweep through the countryside firmly and without qualm and make certain they are all destroyed. We must seize back what is ours."

Culling other vampires was a necessity required by our clan every time the need arises. Every vampire who are not part of our bloodline, or give into their animalistic desires, are exterminated—some at the hands of vampire hunters. Our involvement, of course, was meant to be secret, like most of our clan's sordid schemes, but such actions could scarcely be kept completely in the dark.

"The Resolutes of Stendarr and the mobs shall search beyond the caverns and crevices, they will look to castles, villas and estates. When the smoke clear and the embers die, as our these creatures are reduced to ash, the blemish of their existence shall haunt us for a time. There will be those who doubt the totality of the extermination of vampires. There shall always be whispers vampires walk among mortals, rumors and hushed whispers that we are here. And if they discover our identities, they will relentlessly hunt us down."

I frowned as I listened to his words. "There is nothing more undignifying than being hunted by your own food source."

Lord Decumus breathed. "Secrecy is one of your most important weapons. It is paramount we cement their beliefs that our Order to be a myth, a story. In time they shall not waste their time chasing shadows every time someone whispers of our kind."

Draken and I nodded.

My father paused to let the implications of his grave statement sink in before continuing. "We cannot live in isolation like these savages do, cowering in fear as we are cut off from the rest of Tamriel. We must labor to increase our influence and dominion; manipulate those beneath our station from our lofty offices of power. It is inevitable that some of them shall recognize us for what we are, no matter how well we blend in, seeing before them a vampire where others would see a man. How do suppose we strengthen our deception?" he asked.

I answered with a subtle shake of the head, and a liquid shrug of the shoulders, waiting for a reply.

"The spread of misinformation; lies, gossip, rumors," he continued, "to obscure it with half-truths. You must encourage these deceptions, creating a lie so thick they blind your adversaries until they cannot separate myth from reality. Layer yourselves in subterfuge and the truth of you shall be difficult to ascertain."

A thrill of understanding ran through me as I stood there in the shadows, a candle illuminating my face.

My father's brows drew together. "You can discredit an accusation should you be unfortunate to fall victim to one. The best approach is to 'flower up' the story, if you will. Increase the number of stories yet take the edge off of yours. Spin the next tale more egregiously. If the truth of you is concealed in a bank of elaborate lies, you can go unnoticed for a very long time. You shall be in significantly less peril."

"Remember this always, true power is found in the fundamental value of self-determinism over all else. A vampire thrives and is empowered by the dark secret he carries, knowing the toll his next decisions shall take. That is the strength of our Order, residing in that secret, sacred place of knowledge and deception. This is power. We aren't beasts prone to unsheathing our claws or baring our fangs, or proclaim ourselves with hisses and orgiastic bloodlust, my children. We can subdue and dominate others, bend them to our will with shackles of silk and jewels, steadfast charisma, and political astuteness. A quill is just as sharp as a sword, and ink just as deadly as poison.”

My father sat behind his desk, staring at us as he drank a chalice of blood. "We are creatures with many grave and terrible flaws, and vicious urges which we struggle to control. We are that which mortals may look upon and say we do not deserve to be in this world but this world is ours just as much as it is theirs. They may not come to know us; but we know them. They will not feed from us; we will feed from them. Because we have every right to survive, and just as much right to survive as they do, and whether you believe we are cursed by the Divines or blessed by the Daedric patrons, that does not matter. We exist."

He inhaled, and with an air of finality, he added:

"Until we are all smited down to the last one, we will continue to exist and we will prey on the weak. We are predators. You both are fledglings with much to learn. I am an ancient with much experience, and in the end you must take the proper steps to thrive, to survive, or be turned to dust. Forever. You will walk Tamriel in the guise of a mere mortal, but nothing about you both could be mere. Life is constant flux and decay. You are not. You can either watch Tamriel change and shift before you, or you can help twist it to suit our desires. The decision to make is in your hands. Pray you choose wisely."

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Jan 13 2020, 05:16 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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Acadian
post Jan 13 2020, 08:06 PM
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A fascinating interchange among the ancient and his fledglings.

Despite his wisdom and experience, I’m not sure the patriarch’s motivational words to Draken will result in much more than making the young vampire feel belittled, unfavored and likely resentful. If his goal is to have Draken fully embrace the Order, I’m not so sure this encounter will further that objective. In fact, Lord Decumus might even be wise to be careful what he wishes for. Draken has lots of potential and it is ever fully realized, Lord Decumus might find himself perilously at the receiving end of Draken’s resentment.

On the other hand, however, his tact with Raven was superb and, I expect, will evoke the desired response and motivation from her.

The complexity that you weave into this vampiric family is very well done indeed!


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SubRosa
post Jan 16 2020, 06:23 PM
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Uh oh, now it is time to face the wrath of their father. I imagine he is not going to be overly pleased by the night's adventures.

As Raven mused, I imagine it would be incredibly difficult to separate fact from rumor and deliberate misinformation when dealing with the history of an order as secretive as the Cyrodiilic vampires.

It sounds like Draken might have been happier being born a Brujah than a Ventrue! laugh.gif As Acadian noted, there is definitely a gulf of misunderstanding and bad blood between father and son.

Daddy Decumus - OTOH - is clearly Ventrue through and through. Again, I imagine him being played by Bill Nighy in the movie version of this tale.


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BretonBlood
post Jan 19 2020, 06:52 AM
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Oohhh another great chapter!

I share the sentiment with the others, I am not sure Lord Decumus' words will do much to inspire Draken when all he did was take Draken's accomplishments and turn them into a failing of some kind. I get he is trying to teach a lesson, tough love so to speak, but I feel he will get the opposite reaction to what he wants.

Also the resentment is real, Lord Decumus definitely favors Raven, poor Draken even mentioned it, had the roles been reversed their father would be singing praise to her, not lecturing her.

It was definitely great to see his thoughts and knowledge of the Order that he imparted to the two siblings. It is definitely something they need to learn quickly if they have any hope of joining that "society".


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My first short story - "A Thief's Ascension"
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Darkness Eternal
post Feb 9 2020, 06:28 PM
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Acadian: The relationship between father and son is complicated, and ridden in layers of emotion. Draken is a slow learner, but eventually he'll come to learn. Of course, as you've pointed out, this may not be in line with what Crassus has in mind, and certain decisions imposed by Lord Decumus can drive Draken to walk away from the venomous habitat that is his home.

Raven reminds Crassus of his wife, who is believed by Raven and Draken to be dead. There's a special care there for her, and though she's been groomed even before her introduction into vampirism, she still has much to learn and Crassus wants to brand these teachings in her heart before she grows her wings, so to speak.

Subrosa: Every secret society thrives in the spreading of misinformation and deception, and I think the Cyrodiilic vampires took advantage of this. Cyrodiil, being at the height of Tamrielic power, was a perfect place to lay low and build their own power-base, but to do so they need the wisdom, cunning and strong instincts.

Draken the Toreador Brujah? Has a nice ring to it.

If I would consider the WoD vampire clans I would say Crassus is no doubt Ventrue, while Raven herself has a very healthy blend of Tremere and Ventrue, and both in the Camarilla.

BretonBlood: Perhaps. Soon Draken will embark on his first quest for his clan beyond Castle Decumus, and he will gain the experience he needs that'll lead him to making a decision.

It is implied the Order picks their members from a certain pool, whether they're vampires already or perhaps shown the traits and capabilities that'll suit them well if they were to be turned. Both of the siblings were born into it, so to speak, but they have to earn their stripes. Prevalent among the worshipers of Molag Bal is this concept of taking care of yourself, being strong, and though they are purebloods, they have to make an effort.

Previously on Order Vampyrum: Lord Decumus gives a lesson to the vampiric pair, and hints at what is to come.

~Chapter 15: Piercing the Tissue~


Raven Decumus.

Dark and cavernous in nature, the bottom region was the beating heart of Castle Decumus. Ancient stone steps led down into the sunken levels. At the center of this lower tier, housed within a concentric pattern of interwoven Daedric circles, stood an imposing statue of the Daedric Lord Molag Bal, with his terrible mace slung over his shoulder. Another equal sized statue of the Prince sat in the corner, with this depiction of the Daedric Lord holding his mace in one hand, and a doomed mortal in the other. A third shrine bore a snarling visage, which egested from a fanged snarl a flowing river of crimson blood.

"I can't see a thing," Gaubert of Anticlere said as he waved his hands in front of him.

With a ball of fire, I lit a torch from a sconce and handed it to the mortal thrall, exposing to him a sparsely furnished chamber that contrasted with the other lush accommodations of the upper levels.

"Oh," was all he could say as his eyes beheld the terrible altar to the Lord of Brutality, with bared fangs as though grinning triumphantly out of the bygone reaches of history.

I was quiet, contemplating in silence this sacred and harrowing place with anguished eyes. While Gaubert seemed horrified with the abundance of dried blood and viscera staining the floor, I stared upon this place with the reverence one would in a chapel, or more appropriately, a burial.

"What is this place?" he asked with trepidation.

"A shrine—an altar—to Molag Bal, the father of all our kind. I come here often to think and meditate."

Jolted by my ominous statements, the former healer took a step back and took in the details of the place. He stared down in dismay as the tell-tales signs of immense bloodshed and untold suffering. "What happened here?" he asked apprehensively. "It looks like someone was . . . sacrificed."

I kept the mortal's gaze, offering no words for but a moment. Everything reminded me of that day, even the smell: musky air was pungent with the reek of smoke, old sweat, rancid death, sweet perfume and blood.

"A young woman. Pure and undefiled, her virtue and honor unbesmirched." I whispered in a slow tone, breaking the silence. I spoke so faintly that at first I wasn’t sure that he heard me. "As dictated by tradition, she was presented as a ripe offering to the Corrupter."

I inhaled, turning away from Gaubert. Could he, yet enthralled to my will, discern the layers of unhealed grief and sorrow in my eyes, or detect the old pain that darkened my voice?

It felt odd to be speaking to a servant like this, and of such a matter that was immensely revealing and personal, but I couldn’t help myself. It felt oddly right, to share without worry of revelation, although I couldn’t have begun to explain why.

"What—what happened to her?" Gaubert asked. Despite his mind being subservient to mine, his earnest face heavy with unmistakable compassion and sympathy. My throat tightened, making it even difficult to speak.

"She died." My voice was little more than a whisper, but I could see Gaubert hanging on my every word. "She was killed by the King of Rape after he was summoned in this very place you now stand."

The fate of this woman provoked a puzzled expression from Gaubert. "She submitted to him willingly?"

I nodded with a knowing expression on my face. "She did. It was her choice. She prepared herself for that day. She understood the consequences."

"I have read numerous tales about Daedric cults, and the forbidden practices done. Some more unspeakable than others. Often than not the price to pay for serving the Daedra are often too high, and the choices made often regrettable."

My mouth made a thin line as I cased myself once again in my emotional armor. "Quite often. But those of us who are children to Lord Molag burn with the relentless determination of those who have discovered how different power tastes when you are the one who wields it. To most it seems we are ridden with vengeful fantasies and sanguine cravings. By this power, we make Tamriel our winepress, and to learn how to bite before being bitten."

It was true. It was a blasphemous thing to utter to most of Tamrielic society, but vampirism was a gift. The promise of untold powers, of sacred answers, of godslike abilities and immortality, the powerful temptations many face. But indeed, there is such a thing as too much sacrifice. There are those who lost their lives to try to claim this power, or fight it. And there are those who passed unto undeath and now hunt the living with unnatural thirst beyond the grave with their souls destined to haunt Oblivion forever.

I looked at the blood on the floor. My blood. This was the price I had to pay.

The young maiden offered to Molag Bal was dead. A scion of the night—a vampire lord—had emerged in her place.

The deed was done, it cannot be unchanged, and I see no way back. I cannot, must not, rewrite the pages with the book from which they were torn asunder. Of this, if nothing else, I was positively certain. From an even younger age, the concept of immortality always called to me. This was a promise, a Daedric pact to great ends, and falling to the temptation of this call resulted in my creation, the risen corpse animated by ancient blood.

I led Gaubert through the halls into another subterranean chamber of Castle Decumus. The atmosphere, like the chamber before it, was cold, stark, and soulless. By design, the temperature was kept suitably frigid.

"Don't mind the mess. Everything is a bit disarranged," I told Gaubert as we crept further into the sanctum. "My brother would be mortified if he saw this unruly state."

I walked through the familiar territory of chains, cages and shackles hung from the ceiling, the better to contain unwilling occupants. This part of the dungeon had an austere, utilitarian feel. The furniture here served a function beyond decorative, and the great expanse of been converted into a laboratory for uses both magical and mundane.

"Fascinating," the monk breathed. "This is quite the laboratory."

Sealed bottles filled with green-colored liquids rested atop long tables. A clutter of instruments of glass, alembics, calcinators and retorts, used to distill or separate mixtures, lined the walls. In another area the hearts, eyes and brains of different specimens floated in jars, preserved in perpetuity in clear embalming fluid. Another table contained books, pages, scribbled notes and sketches tracking my studies and efforts meticulously spread apart.

"I am pleased that you find it to your liking. This place hasn't had many visitors like yourself. Its often quiet, as my father and brother seldom come here."

Though this was a place to work, a stone stab allowed me to rest my head when I felt like taking a break. A portrait of my family, consisting of my mother, father and brother, occupied a position of honor upon a table. It served me as both keepsake and inspiration, a reminder of the unity of blood.

An awkward silence fell over the room. Gaubert's trembling legs reminded me just how weak and tired the mortal was from his captivity at Fort Wooden Hand, and he dropped without pause into the nearest chair, his gaze drifted absently about the chamber, eventually falling on a great slab nearby.

The corpse of a man occupied one of the slabs. Gaubert took a deep breath once he saw the body. The lack of coloration and details testified eloquently as to how long he was dead, and the monk shot me a curious look.

"A prisoner from the Imperial City," I explained to him. "The guards denied him his needs for the duration of his sentence, and according to them, he died of blood lung and cholera. Don't get close. You wouldn't want to catch anything."

A tray of surgical utensils sat near the body, covered by a grayish-white layer of dust and cobwebs.

"What are those for?" he asked. The healer in him was scandalized by the decidedly less than clean condition of the scalpels and pliers and the like, many of which showed evidence of rust, dried blood, or a repugnant joining of both. He curled a lip at the obvious bloodstains on the tools; what could I say? Maintaining a clean environment was not the height of my priorities.

Thank the Maker I did not have to worry about diseases, I thought.

"One of many keys to unlocking certain doors—I am not here to gain knowledge for itself alone—to feel just the elation of discovery. I do not fancy myself the best of scholars but I am invested in my trade of deciphering mysteries, and the study of all its aspects for better use. I need information to feed my mind as much as I need blood to feed my body."

Gaubert cleared his throat. "Your voracious hunger for answers is only rivaled, then, by your thirst for blood. With an appetite like that, you'll wander Tamriel for eternity, gorging yourself like a fox in a hen coop."

I stood over the cadaver before me. A corrective tone slipped into my voice. "Like a connoisseur in a wine cellar. One must choose one's vintage with utmost care, the red and the whites. I have a very particular palate."

"And what do you hunger for in specific, my lady? For if I am to serve you in the best possible manner, I need to understand."

Listening to his words, I dragged my fingertips across the cold, stiff flesh of the remains on the slab. I plucked a scalpel from a nearby tray and brought the tip of the blade against the corpse's chest. My eyes narrowed in concentration as I sliced open the former prisoner's flesh, making an incision large enough to allow me to thrust my curious fingers within the unprotesting body. As I explored the interior regions, my fingers eventually closed around a firm, fleshy member attached within.

Ah, there you are, I thought. Had to get you out before tonight was over . . .

It took a bit of effort to disengage the heart from his chest without damaging its integrity, but I soon succeeded in dragging my prize out into the bright glow of the torchlight. I held the still heart in my hand, inspecting the organ's landscape whose natural beauty was matched by the unsettling black coloration. I wiped the heart with a handkerchief, then safely tucked it away in a cloth so that it could be later stored in a jar.

"While this is no Thrassian Plague, this man was very unfortunate. It seems the guards did not see that he also suffered from an advanced stage of internal gangrene. Unusual. It usually develops further from the heart. I will have to write this down. Maybe I'll still have use for his body."

Gaubert was amused, but only a bit. "With the blood and all, my mistress, I'd imagine you'd be more, um, squeamish at the sight of it."

I wiped my hands clean and plucked a fleshy piece lingering on my wrist. "Sounds to me like you haven't met many vampires. Or women, for that matter."

His face flushed red. "Well, I . . . um . . . "

I took my perch beside the corpse on the slab, and allowed my feet to dangle from the edge. "To answer your question Gaubert, I hunger to know the truth. You of all people should know that we are affected by forces beyond our realm. Through their power, or by the power of the arcane or the divine, kings and rulers have risen to greatness, and empires have been razed to ashes. For good or ill, there is no denying how paramount it is. Necromancy is one of my areas of study, and it is the art in which I pride myself a student of."

Gaubert's brow drew together. "To what end, my mistress? You are a vampire."

I gave the body behind me a fleeting gaze. "As a mortal you walk in an ephemeral existence. You are born, you live, you wither into incontinence and shriveled senility. Not us. We are unchanged portraits."

My hand clenched my necklace which contained the miniature image of my mother. "Portraits that can be destroyed. All it takes is a well-placed bolt, or a kiss from the sun. As you well know, our souls perpetuate after physical death. The Nords believe in the festive halls in Sovngarde, the Khajiit the Sand Behind the Stars, the Redguard and their Far Shores . . . "

"Indeed," Gaubert said, nodding. "Other faiths and cultures have whimsical names for the realm of the afterlife."

"Precisely. I am a Daughter of Coldharbour, a pure vampire—I am repellent unto Heaven—unto Aetherius, and consigned to Oblivion. We traverse this world but I fear that this is merely the beginning of a new chapter in an endless library. The intricacies of Oblivion are freighted with terrible and fiery logic; it is difficult for me to conceive words expressing the nature of Coldharbour, as I had been there for a vapor of a moment. But I need to understand the truth, no matter how scathing that truth is. Are all those who are bound to Molag Bal truly damned for unending torment, or, is there a chance that we, in altering the course of our unnatural lives, able to mold our fates to our benefit?"

"I cannot even begin to imagine, milady. My mind can only work for so much."

"Could you sit down, then, so I can extract your brain for a better read?" I smiled a queer smile, as if to reduce the possible sting from my sarcastic query, forgetting for a moment the numbing emotions my powers of vampiric seduction had upon Gaubert. "Ornery wasn't much help on that front."

I heard myself chuckle self-indulgently, in the first spell of what could even remotely be called genuine humor I had seen in hours. And suddenly the need in me to slip off my attire and to take a bath was nearly as intense as the real need I had by this time to sleep. I started to jabber away at Gaubert of Anticlere with absent-minded unrestraint, thoughtlessly oblivious of his current mood while being overwhelmed with my father's words spoken to me not an hour ago, and my pressing responsibilities into the unfamiliar social labyrinth of the Order.

"Now then," I said in my best soothing voice. "I realize this is an unfamiliar habitat, but you fare better here than reading your daily liturgies and listening to ear-numbing platitudes. You won't feel out of place here. Perhaps—perhaps you'll be reminded of our accents and our foreignness, and so on—but let me tell you something, Gaubert, we Nibenese are the warmest and most accepting people in Cyrodiil. You will have to do a little adjusting. Believe me when I tell you that you shall not be maltreated, flogged, ill-clothed, ill-housed, ill-fed—"

Gaubert nodded. His eyes were hollow and bloodshot as if he needed sleep, and the haze of my enthrallment yet held a powerful sway over his mind.

"—Oh, I'm rambling aren't I? Get something to eat before you bathe. There is wine in the cellar and food in the pantry. We don't have much use for it. Just remember you serve under civilized and virtuous masters. Unlike those butchers at Fort Wooden Hand—" I paused. " . . . There I go again."

"Thank, you, mistress . . . if I may, what do you need me for?"

For a moment I was so surprised that I could not speak. Then the surprise turned into perplexity. What was Gaubert of Anticlere useful for beyond my harvesting of the sweet blood that ran red through his succulent veins? Was there hopes for this man beyond being a catatonic captive in the cattle cell? Or was he like Ornery, just another minion to do my bidding until he was no longer needed?

And would my father allow me to keep Gaubert as a companion?

I confessed to myself that my hunger this night did not allow for much future planning. Further testament to how much I craved slumber and a clear mind.

"There is a long road ahead of me. For the preservation of my family, there are certain responsibilities imposed upon me that I simply cannot ignore. To better take control of both quests, I will need a companion to aid me in my endeavors. You shall serve as my thrall in the coming months."

Walking over to the stack of books, I ran a finger along the spines of the volumes, finding a journal in which to write down today's brief necropsy. My eyes looked at the other books, and for a split second I saw the symbol of an Oblivion gate burned into the cover.

I shall see you again, mother.

"The mysteries of Oblivion lies beyond the horizon, Gaubert. Like a forlorn sailor, I shall cast my boat upon this ocean and navigate these perilous waters where few others have ever sailed, through the raging tempests and titanic waves . . . what shall I discover waiting for me at the end of this voyage? A desolate, ruinous shore? Perhaps something more?"

"I suppose we shall discover it together," he said.

It was with a whisper of a smile that I said, "Of that I have no doubt. Rest well, Gaubert."

This post has been edited by Darkness Eternal: Feb 9 2020, 07:24 PM


--------------------
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 Feb 9 2020, 09:02 PM
Post #56


Paladin
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From: Las Vegas



Raven again shares more details of her transition from maiden to vampiress.

A well-written conversation as Gaubert learns that he can expect to be well-treated as a thrall. Though he may not have will of his own now, his curiosity and feelings still seem to remain his own. In fact, his curiosity seems to quite match that of his mistress.

Draken and Raven both have interests of their own that may not be compatible with their father's desire that they diligently 'learn and contribute to the family business'.


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Screenshot: Buffy in Artaeum
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SubRosa
post Feb 10 2020, 05:28 PM
Post #57


Ancient
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From: Between The Worlds



I might have gone a different way on the decorations...

This was a nice way of bringing us back to where Raven died and was reborn (unborn) as a vampire, and the lesson that all power comes through sacrifice.

I loved the description of Tamriel as a winepress!

So Raven is hoping to find a way to escape from Molag Bal after death. A way for her mother to escape. Now that is a lofty and worthy goal.

And we begin to see what Gaubert's future will be. Which is more than I expected. It is really fascinating how you have written him, and the effects of Raven's mental domination over him. I like that he is not a mindless zombie. He can think, but he has no agency of his own.


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