Tirdas, 20th Morning Star, 4E 202
I left it up to Serana if she wished to speak, but she remained silent as we prepared for the day.
Serana and I teleported to the jetty. I then summoned The Sentinels.
- Wulf: Serana, will your father come out to face us or hide somewhere?
- Serana: He probably knows the lesser vampires are doomed and will wait for us in his temple. He can replenish his health and Blood Magic via Molag Ball’s altar and a basin of blood.
- Wulf: I will lead the way with my Thu’um if any attack us outside. Once inside, we just spread out and kill them as quick as we can.
- Inigo: What about The Dawnguard?
- Wulf: Stairways lead left and right from the entrance to the main hall floor. The Dawnguard can take the left stairway. We will take the right stairway.
- Serana: Wulf, I only want you with me when confronting my father.
- Wulf: A fair request.
- Inigo: How many vampires are there?
- Serana: We killed a few in other places, so I doubt there is more than twenty left.
- Wulf: Let’s cross over before The Dawnguard makes a mistake and attacks without us.
Ghorbash took to the oars once more, and we made good time to the castle’s jetty.
Once ashore, I quickly organised the troops. The Sentinel and Serana stood to my right. Isran to my left. The Dawnguard spread out about ten feet behind me.
I used a tiny bit of Thu’um to make sure everybody heard as I said, “Nobody is to get in front of me as I make a pathway to the front door. My Thu’um, the Voice, does not discriminate an enemy from an ally. It will smash your bones to pieces the same as it will do the vampires. So, I repeat, do not get in front of me! I will not use Auriel’s Bow till Harkon appears, but we don’t think he will.
When we make it to the front door, you can go ahead of me if you wish. Head down the stairs to the left. We shall take the right-hand stairs.
The gargoyles will come alive. Their claws are razor-sharp, but they are not very tough.
The Death Hounds bite is as cold as death. They are probably far more formidable than any of the vampires.
Do not kill the mortal slaves!
Do not kill any child vampires!
ARE WE READY?”
The Dawnguard still sounded enthusiastic.
I used the full strength of my Thu’um.
“FOR THE DIVINES. FOR THE EMPIRE! FOR THOSE THEY KILLED! WE SEEK VENGEANCE!”
It took less than twenty seconds for us to slaughter the vampires and gargoyles outside.
I turned around and used the Thu’um once more.
“YOU SAW HOW EASILY WE CUT THEM DOWN WITHOUT USING AURIEL’S BOW. THEY ARE WEAK. LET’S FINISH THEM!”
The farm boy, Agmaer, lead The Dawnguard inside.
I hardly remembered the kills on the way into Castle Volkihar. Like the myriad Skeletal Warriors and Draugr I have destroyed, the vampires were undead and not mortals I am supposed to protect. Two vampires and a Death Hound tried to stop me on the stairway. I know I eliminated them but not the details.
What I assumed was one of the more senior vampires fruitlessly tried Blood Magic against me.
He screamed as Dragonfire consumed him.
One of The Dawnguard was in difficulty on the stairway.
I cut down her opponent, and she ran past me, looking for another enemy. There was no questioning the bravery of The Dawnguard.
Serana yelled out, “Up on the balconies are the two most senior and strongest of the clan!”
One of them was using Magicka, not just Blood Magic.
I hit him with Unrelenting Force then dashed up the steps.
I let my Dovah have a turn. He growled, “You face the most lethal mortal on Nirn. Not some scared, whimpering and defenceless victim. You are weak. You are pathetic.”
I cut him down and ran to the next vampire, who was also a mage.
Too late, he realised his danger and turned my way.
He lasted no longer than the rest, and even I was shocked at the laughter of my Dovah. He was enjoying this way too much!
As Serana, Derkeethus, and Inigo ran past me, Inigo said, “We are heading for where the mortals are kept!”
I ran to catch up. As Derkeethus and Serana checked on the mortals, Inigo was slicing a vampire into ribbons.
Suddenly the sounds of fighting ceased. I made my way downstairs to see if anybody needed healing. All around, the bodies of vampires and Death Hounds lay. Not a single Dawnguard required healing. Harkon’s best had lasted mere minutes from the start of the assault to their complete annihilation.
The Dawnguard spread out with weapons at the ready in case any vampires sprung a surprise.
Atronachs summoned by Serana and Aranea also stood guard. Serana was looking around, and I thought I would give her some time to think. I noticed she had summoned a Bound Bow, but I never saw her use it.
Inigo approached and said, “All the mortals are dead. Serana says they were drained of blood. Killed in a feeding frenzy hours ago.”
“Inigo, have you ever seen anything like this on your travels?”
“No, my friend. These are the evilest and depraved enemies I have ever faced. It is hard to believe Serana is related to the one who oversaw all of this!”
“I have only been in Skyrim for a few months, as far as I know. How could such as this remain hidden for centuries? Everybody knew vampires lived here. Why not knock on the door with the authority of the Penitus Oculatus and demand entry?”
“Perhaps High Queen Elisif might be able to answer that. I would also like an answer.”
“A couple of platoons of Legionnaires could have wiped them out.”
“I have a feeling you will find Harkon’s title of Lord has something to do with it. Protocol or some other mindless rubbish.”
“Maybe. I will ask The Queen when I see her next.”
I saw Serana waiting for me. Her face revealed a level of sadness that made me want to weep.
She walked past and said, “Come, let us finish this.”
I quietly told Inigo, “This will hurt Serana. Please tell the other Sentinels to give her space when we have dealt with her father.”
I then said, with a bit of Thu’um, “Nobody is to interfere with Serana and me. We are going to talk to Lord Harkon.”
I equipped Auriel’s Bow and Sunhallowed Arrows. It was the only weapon I intended to use if Harkon decided to fight.
We made our way into Harkon’s Temple.
Serana’s father was waiting for us in Vampire Lord form.
- Harkon: Serana, my darling. I see you still favour keeping a pet.
- Serana: You know why we are here.
- Harkon: Of course, I do. You disappoint me, Serana. You’ve taken everything I provided for you and thrown it all away for this… pathetic being.
- Serana: Provided for me? Are you insane? You watched as a monster raped me, not knowing if I would survive. You’ve destroyed our family and killed other vampires all over a false prophecy. You could never block the Sun with Auriel’s Bow!
- Wulf: Serana speaks the truth, Harkon. The prophecy was invented by another vampire far older and more powerful than you. He died at my hands. Auriel’s Bow can only block out the Sun for a few minutes at a time and only in a small area. This truth I swear on The Divines, which is as sacred an oath as I can make.
- Serana: Father, you have lost all for what?
- Harkon: Both of you lie. Serana’s voice drips with the venom of her mother’s influence.
- Serana: I am not like mother. For a start, I am not afraid of you!
Harkon turned to me.
- Harkon: It appears I have you to thank for turning my daughter against me. I knew it was only a matter of time before she’d return with hatred in her heart.
- Wulf: You fool! Serana still loves you despite your total failure as a father. What have you gained that is worth even a fraction of that love? Did any of the vampires we just annihilated love you? Did anybody outside this castle even know your name before a few days ago? Do you think that Molag Bal made you powerful?
- Harkon: Everything I did was for the betterment of our kind.
- Wulf: You do not speak for all vampires! The senior advisor to High Queen Elisif, an advisor to the Jarl of Riften, some students at The College of Winterhold and children in my orphanage are vampires. They are valuable citizens, not parasites! Along with Serana, they are not of your kind.
- Serana: An advisor to the High Queen?
- Wulf: Yes, and she doesn’t have to hide what she is. If she were like your father, she would have been eliminated a long time ago. She saved my life recently. Your father’s kind of vampire is a blight on the world.
- Harkon: Yes, yes. Always the noble vampire hunter. And what happens when you’ve slain me? Is Valerica next? Is Serana?
- Wulf: I do not hunt vampires. I hunt those that threaten Nirn, Mundus and the mortals my gods created and love. Serana has broken no laws. I have allowed her into my home amongst my loved ones, including children and other non-combatants. As for Valerica, she and I have a truce of sorts. If she behaves, then she has nothing to fear from me.
- Harkon: So, they are safe, but you are here to kill me. Interestingly, you can set aside your morals when it suits you.
- Wulf: How is killing you compromising my morals? You deserve to die according to the laws of The Empire and the country in which you preside. Serana and Valerica do not.
- Harkon: My daughter is already dead to me. She died the moment she allowed mortals into her life.
- Wulf: I am tired of this conversation.
- Harkon: Yes, quite. I, too, grow weary of speaking to you and my traitorous daughter. I’ll give you a single chance to turn over the bow to me. There will not be a second.
- Wulf: You know nothing about me yet called me a pathetic being. When was the last time you faced anything in combat? We both know the answer is never! While I have fought the most powerful undead, mortals and dragons, you have preyed on the weak and defenceless. Molag Bal’s powers are so pathetic they can be removed via a simple ceremony. Any vampire who wants to rid themselves of the Dark Lord’s taint can become mortal once more. So, in summary, an angry Skeever has more chance of taking my Lord’s bow from me than you do!
- Serana: I could become a mortal again? Could my soul reach Aetherius?
- Wulf: Yes.
- Serana: Father, hear me well. I will become a mortal once more. I reject what you forced on me in your lust for power. I reject you!
- Harkon: Very well then, you leave me no choice. Serana will sacrifice her blood for the sake of the prophecy, and I will feast upon yours in Molag Bal’s honour!
- Wulf: I could destroy you in seconds. However, I want you to feel the power of Lord Akatosh as you realise your doom approaches. But first, a small demonstration of my strength. Say hello to Wulf the Dovah!
I let my Dovah take charge and did a half-strength Unrelenting Force Shout. Even that small demonstration of my Thu’um badly injured Harkon.
I then hit Harkon with a Sunhallowed Arrow.
Harkon teleported to Molag Bal’s altar, where Blood Magic repaired his injuries.
I laughed and said, “Who is the pathetic being, Harkon? I could have frozen you and then cut you up slowly. Or I could have used Dragonfire to turn you into ashes. I can move so fast you wouldn’t see me as my sword sliced into you several times per second. But this is fun, so let us keep playing!”
Another Sunhallowed Arrow destroyed the barrier Harkon had erected while recovering. He was forced to fight and was weaker than when we started.
I turned to Serana and asked, “Do you need help?”
“No. You take care of my father. I will soon turn his undead against him. He never was much of a necromancer.”
Harkon reappeared and turned his Blood Magic on me.
“Harkon, the pathetic powers of Molag Bal do not affect me. Here, feel Lord Akatosh’s power once more!”
A Sunhallowed Arrow created a burst of sunlight as it hit Harkon.
The Vampire Lord teleported to the altar once more.
I mocked, “Enough of that. We can’t have you thinking you have any hope now, can we?”
His barrier was destroyed again and well before Harkon could regain his strength.
Serana yelled, “He is weak and can no longer teleport. He will use mist-form and bat-form.”
It was easy to follow Harkon’s mist-form. He eventually appeared in front of me as he ran up some stairs. He threatened, “I’ll rend the flesh from your bones!”
I laughed then replied, “Even a Dovah will not shoot an enemy in the back. Come, face me!”
I let Harkon run across the balcony and down another set of stairs.
Just before Harkon reached me, another arrow hit his midsection.
This time, he used bat-form to reach his shrine. I could have fired another Sunhallowed Arrow while he was vulnerable, but my Dovah was enjoying the game too much.
I let Harkon regenerate even less this time before shattering his barrier. The game was to make him weaker and weaker, and it was a good one.
I turned and saw that Serana was taking control of some of Harkon’s undead. Others she had destroyed lay burning or disintegrated around her. We were working well together, but more importantly, Serana did not have to harm her father. She left that entirely to me.
I followed Harkon’s mist form. He eventually emerged behind Serana, who was busy taking care of more undead.
Harkon used his Blood Magic on his daughter when she had not harmed him!
I yelled, “Move, Serana. He is too close to you for me to use an arrow. You will get caught in the blast!”
Serana ran, and Harkon pursued her in bat-form. Serana turned and blasted a Gargoyle with fire. Harkon came out of bat-form and tried to reach Serana to rake her with his claws. A Skeletal Mage controlled by Serana hit Harkon with a lightning bolt. As Harkon started to turn to mist-form to escape, another Sunhallowed Arrow burst into sunlight around him.
I lost track of Harkon but knew he would have to try and regenerate. So, I waited for him at the altar.
After a few seconds, Harkon came out of bat-form.
This time I didn’t allow him to recover at all. Before the barrier was raised, another Sunhallowed Arrow hit him midsection. He burst into red flames and screamed.
Harkon floated across the floor and used the last of his Blood Magic in a futile attempt to harm me.
My Dovah growled, “Harkon, you are no worthy opponent, and this game has become tedious. Time to face Bal and explain your inability to kill this pathetic being!”
Dragonfire engulfed Harkon. My Dovah laughed, then taunted, “I don’t know what it looks like from your perspective, but my Dragonfire combined with the pretty red fire is quite beautiful!”
Harkon used bat-form to reach the altar. However, as I have seen with other undead, his soul seemed detached from his physical form.
My Dovah yelled, “Harkon, you have lost. Feel the power of Lord Akatosh for the last time as you prepare to grovel before your Dark Lord.”
I fired another Sunhallowed Arrow into Harkon as soon as he came out of bat-from.
Darkness temporarily engulfed the room. Only the burning form of Harkon stopped it from being pitch black.
I aimed Auriel’s Bow at Harkon once more but decided it was over.
Harkon screamed as he burnt.
His last words as he dissolved into a pile of red, glowing ashes were, “Serana, how could you? You killed your father!”
Serana quietly whispered, “You stopped being that when you gave me to Bal.”
I stood in front of the altar and put my Dovah away. I could hear Serana weeping but instinctively knew she would not want to talk to the monster that so cruelly slaughtered her father. I had to allow my Dovah to fight. Wulf might have hesitated.
Just as we both gained control, Isran entered.
He stopped behind Serana and said, “It’s over. He’s dead, and the prophecy dies with him.”
Serana turned, and I could see anger on her face. I moved closer in case I had to intervene.
- Serana: The prophecy was false and wrong! Auriel’s Bow could not do what my father thought it could. Mortals were never in danger of Auriel’s Bow being turned against them.
- Wulf: The prophecy was created by a vampire much older and far more powerful than Harkon. He also mistook what could be done with Auriel’s Bow and made the prophecy to attract a particular type of vampire. He thought he needed Serana’s blood to corrupt Auriel’s Bow, and so did Harkon. Both would have killed Serana only to find they could not corrupt the bow at all.
- Serana: My mother knew the part of the prophecy about needing my type of blood. That is why she hid me away for centuries. If my father had known when I first returned, he would have killed me.
- Wulf: Serana and her mother opposed Harkon because they also thought the masking of the Sun may be possible and did not think it was the right thing to do.
- Serana: We only discovered the true nature of the corruption yesterday. Wulf had been suspicious of the prophecy for some time.
- Wulf: The bow could mask the Sun for a short period and only in a relatively small area. It was not the bow but arrows that carried the corruption.
- Isran: Your father would have killed you? Over something unachievable?
- Serana: He did many terrible things for power and in pursuit of the prophecy. To him, my death would have been justified. He wouldn’t have hesitated and felt no guilt when my blood did not do as he assumed.
- Wulf: Serana has risked much to bring her father to justice. Even after we realised the prophecy was no danger, she accompanied me into this place and fought against him. She watched me reduce Harkon to a pile of ash. Her father is now in Coldharbour, where I doubt Molag Bal will be pleased The Divines’ Champion defeated him.
- Serana: My father will have eternity to regret his decisions. I hope that is sufficient punishment for your hatred, Isran.
- Isran: I… I suppose this is difficult for you, Serana.
- Serana: I think my father died a long time ago. Today was just… the end of something else. I did what needed to be done. Nothing more.
- Isran: I think perhaps… I think you did more than that. You have my thanks.
Isran turned to me.
- Isran: So, the beast is destroyed.
- Wulf: Harkon was not a beast! He was a vampire.
- Isran: And now Auriel’s Bow is in safe hands.
- Wulf: It will be placed where I keep other precious relics. Somewhere undead and vampires cannot go. It will be safe from any other who pursues the prophecy. But I will ask the Moth Priests in Cyrodiil to announce the prophecy as false. Hopefully, that will indeed be the end of it.
- Isran: You served Skyrim well.
- Wulf: I serve all the mortals on Nirn, not just Skyrim. Even if you only know about Alduin, you should realise Harkon was a weak adversary. It was my duty as Dragonborn to stop him.
- Isran: Even with these vampires gone, the fight isn’t entirely over. Once we are settled back in at the fort, there will be more work to do.
- Wulf: Listen closely, Isran, as you will not be warned again. If I find The Dawnguard has harmed vampires who have broken no Imperial law, I will make sure every member involved gets charged. If need be, I will protect vampires myself, and if that means killing you or other members of Dawnguard, I will do so. Do you understand?
- Isran: There may always be a need for people who specialise in combating vampires.
- Wulf: True, and that is why I won’t use my authority and recommend The Dawnguard be disbanded. Make yourselves available to the Jarl’s, Penitus Oculatus and Legion. They may use your resources from time to time.
Isran turned and left. I was not sorry to see the back of him.
I looked around, trying to avoid Serana, who watched me and waited. After a minute or two, she said, “Wulf, get over your guilt. I saw your dragon, and I know why he was needed. I will wait for you outside. We have a cure to discuss.”
I did a quick tour of the castle and was sickened by what I saw.
The number of mortals killed by Harkon and his clan was staggering.
In Harkon’s private quarters was evidence of his depravity.
He even had a Mythic Dawn flag, which I found ironic. A vampire admiring something to do with the dawn?
There was one item I needed for Serana and found it in Harkon’s torture chamber.
I went looking for the most senior Dawnguard and found Durak.
“Durak, as a Commander of the Penitus Oculatus, I am confiscating this property while Imperial authorities determine the legal owners. Are you willing to guard the property until I can send Legionnaires to relieve you?”
“Yes, of course. The other Dawnguard will gladly do that as a favour to you. Don’t worry about theft. Nobody wants to take a single item from this wretched place!”
“You all fought bravely and should be proud.”
“Serana fought by our side, and we know not all vampires are like Harkon. We will keep Isran’s hate under control.”
I left the castle and found Serana waiting in the shade of the entrance.
- Serana: Wulf, I am at a loss as to what to do now.
- Wulf: We should tell Valerica she can return home.
- Serana: Soon. I don’t think I could handle her right now. I need time to sort out what is next for me.
- Wulf: You could join us. It would mean more fighting, gobblygook, exhaustion and bad jokes, but the company is good. You have only got to know a few of The Sentinels. They are all remarkable people.
- Ghorbash: Some of us are. Some are stinky lizards, but we have learned to tolerate him.
- Wulf: Ghorbash, you and Derkeethus are as close as any two Sentinels.
- Ghorbash: Yes, but he is not here to defend himself! He and Inigo have gone wandering around the castle to convince themselves it is as horrendous as we think it is. I thought the answer to that was obvious. Aranea is down near the water praying to her goddess.
- Serana: The sense of family I experienced at Silverpeak Lodge is something I dreamed about after my parents became vampires. I still yearned for it after they gave me to Bal. It took meeting my mother in the Soul Cairn to finally shatter any hope my family would ever be what it once was. But I have no references to allow me to join the Penitus Oculatus. I read about them when aboard your airship.
- Wulf: My friends were Sentinels long before they joined the Penitus Oculatus. Emperor Mede II thought the authority of the Penitus Oculatus would allow me to do what I do with a little less aggravation and resistance. He was right. But I get to choose who I sign up to wear the uniform by my side. They are still Sentinels, a name chosen by the original members. However, they are expected to abide by the laws of The Empire. They are required to maintain the discipline and reputation of the Penitus Oculatus.
- Ghorbash: Wulf might get the last say on who joins The Sentinels, but our nagging power is unmatched! I know the squad you have worked with these last few days would like you to join us.
- Wulf: Mercy, Ghorbash! If Serana wants to join us, I would be the last to object.
- Serana: Before I consider joining The Sentinels, I need to know more about the cure you mentioned.
- Wulf: A cure for vampirism was discovered in the first era. Molag Bal had those with the knowledge hunted down and slaughtered. Somebody has rediscovered the cure of old, but very few people know that fact. I can give you what you need to convince those involved that you are a genuine candidate for the cure and not a Molag Bal fanatic. But you have to be sure you want to be cured before we discuss how to contact them.
- Serana: I never wanted to be a vampire, and you have seen what it has done to my family. I am a good enough mage and handy enough with the sword that I don’t need my vampiric powers to defend myself. What you said to The Dawnguard last night is true. If I end up in Coldharbour, I will not be one of Molag Bal’s favourites. I have rejected his greatest gift, the privilege of being a Daughter of Coldharbour. I want an afterlife full of joy and love, not torture and pain. I want to be cured of this curse. I want to be Serana Volkihar, the mortal and I want to learn about The Divines.
- Wulf: Falion is a former Master of Conjuration of The College of Winterhold. He did not like the previous Arch-Mage and left the institution before I even joined it. He has worked on the cure for years and has already helped dozens of vampires become mortal once more. I found this in your father’s room.
I handed Serana a filled Black Soul Gem.
- Wulf: You will also need a letter of introduction.
I took out my journal case and a loose sheet of parchment. I wrote an introduction letter for Serana and sealed it with my arch-Mage ring, which is kept inside my journal case.
- Wulf: Hand this sealed letter to Falion. It contains information that only I would know and, along with the seal, will be enough to allay any fears about your intent.
- Serana: Thank you, Wulf. Where will I find Falion?
- Wulf: He lives in Morthal with his adopted daughter and apprentice, Angi. Don’t ask any locals as they are old fashioned Nords with a dislike of magic. His sister, Jonna, is the innkeeper, but she will treat you with suspicion. They are Redguards, so easy to spot. You will have to be observant, and I am sure you will find your way to Falion’s house.
- Serena: A filled Black Soul Gem… are you aware of how the cure works?
- Wulf: There are Summoning Stones not far out of Morthal that Falion uses. I did not want to know the details.
- Ghorbash: Wulf tries hard to avoid moral conflicts. Sometimes that involves him looking the other way.
- Serana: A practical solution.
- Wulf: Falion is a moral and good man. But Redguards hate the undead more than any other race, and he may have chosen a lesser evil to remove a greater. As long as that remains speculation on my part, I can live with it.
- Serana: I don’t know how long I will be gone. But when I do, we will return to the Soul Cairn and tell my mother about what has occurred.
- Wulf: The Divines guide you, Serana.
Serana teleported away. I asked Ghorbash to gather the Sentinels. I needed to go home, change into comfortable clothes and talk to Rigmor. I hope she can join me at the dig tomorrow.
Then I have some children who wish to waltz with me. Perhaps I should leave the metal boots on?