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Dravin's Rules

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Lady N's picture
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Joined: 06/26/2010

Author - Echo

You can find them under that name on UESP.net and the Imperial Library.


 

A vampire hunter offers some advice

"So you're a vampire hunter?" asked the Nord.

"Indeed," I replied. I hate repeating myself. "And I hear you are as well?"

The trio grown up orphans in Daggerfall and stuck together over the years, hoping to be heroes someday. An odd little family, but one I understood. They'd invited me to share the corner table and a round at the Gilded Toadstool. If you don't mind the aroma of meats festering in the basement, it's the best tavern this side of the Bjoulsae. The owner, my friend Pierre, brews a mighty fine wheat beer flavored with bergamot — an odd but award-winning combination. It's also quite pricey, but the youngsters spared no expense tonight, having just claimed a sizable bounty from a local baron for dispatching a vampire. I accepted the company but not the drink, preferring my ale.

"We cleared out the Hawkham Crypts and caught one napping," replied Marie Ducard, the band's fetching Breton mage. "It was named Vurkle, or something like that."

"Vr'khel", I replied. "A rather nasty bruiser for the Montalion. At least, he was. Well done."

"Montalion?" asked Dathaxius, the rather quiet Argonian.

"His bloodline. You know about vampiric bloodlines?" I asked, taking a swig. Three blank expressions answered that question. I sighed, "All right, I've got to teach you kids some things before you get yourselves slaughtered. If you're interested in hearing a grizzled old warrior's stories?"

They were. Marie went to order another round, and I pitched in for food — my tales are not known for their brevity. Dathaxius, the Nord (Sven...they're usually named Sven, but this one was an Olaf, I thought), and I moved our chairs to the fireside. A storm was brewing, and the Toadstool was rather drafty. The Breton returned with fresh beverages, I took a swig of ale and began: "Bloodlines are like vampire families, they all share a common progenitor. And each bloodline has different strengths, so you have to know your enemy. That's rule number one." I motioned at the mage, wide-eyed and attentive, "Paralysis magic is wasted on a Montalion, for example, but would work against a Vraseth, they're the dominant bloodline here in the Glenumbra Moors. But the Vraseth are quite a bit more nimble, so aim well."

"Before I forget, it's extremely odd to find a Montalion like Vr'khel was all the way out here on the moors. But after that "Miracle" business happened, they've been slowly creeping out of their usual haunts in Wayrest and Hammerfell. And I don't know why."

Another swig. "Let's see...out in Morrowind, you might run into the Quarra (disgusting animals, if you ask me), but the Aundae like to fling spells around. Be careful not to mix those two up. And if you're ever up in the north of Skyrim on some fine morning and hear the name 'Volkihar', I'd highly suggest being elsewhere by nightfall. If possible, be in Elsweyr by nightfall."

It seemed I was boring Olaf, who had begun sharpening his axe. "Swords, spells, makes no difference. I see a vampire, I hit it. They all bleed out eventually."

"I suppose that's true," I countered. "But, knowing where to hit them is critical. Almost as critical as being able to spot a vampire in the first place."

"Sleeps in a coffin and bites your neck are dead giveaways," said Dathaxius. I couldn't tell if he was joking, but the comment got half-drunken chuckles out of Marie and Olaf.

"Ah, but it isn't always that simple. Many vampires can hide in plain sight, even walk in the light or work in the cities. They have friends in high places and low ones. Pierre could be a vampire, and you'd never know unless he wanted you to."

And that was the moment Pierre walked up with and our food — fenneled mutton with fresh bread. I find fennel to be vile, personally, but it's preferable to Pierre's dodgy mutton. My somewhat inebriated companions regarded his approach with apprehension, clearly trying to deduce if the tavernkeeper was, indeed, a vampire.

Sensing their unease (it would have taken great effort not to), Pierre cocked his head my way and spoke: "Despite what Dravin may have told you, I assure you our meat is provided by local farms. We do not, nor have we ever, served rat. Not even on skewers. Enjoy." He's never going to live last year's New Life Festival down.

I bought the next round of wheat beers for my new friends, and we gorged ourselves on questionable foodstuffs as I continued on. "Next bit of advice: keep your guard up if you get into a fight, odds are your opponent is going to be stronger than you, or faster. Or both, if you're particularly unfortunate. But," I motioned at Olaf's weapon, "even a simple weapon like yours can quickly dispatch the enemy if you use it right."

Olaf grunted and glared, disapproving of my characterization of his treasured Dwarven axe. I didn't care, I was right. I pointed at the Argonian footpad's dagger: "I prefer a short blade myself as well, I'm quicker than I am strong. It's best to slash or stab at the heart or the head, ideally before you're seen." I turned to Olaf: "With an axe, I'd suggest going for the neck. In my experience, vampires are rarely armored there and you can take its head right off with one good swing. You've got the arms for it." And to the sorceress: "As for spells, you can't go wrong with flames."

"The point is, you each have a very specific set of skills. Use them, work on them, improve them. Don't expect anyone else to pull you out of the fire, least of all the Divines." I polished off my mug. "Then again, I'm jaded. Let me tell you some war stories."

Over many hours, and many more rounds (and another platter of mutton), I regaled them with my best tales. I won't bother to repeat them here, but as you may expect I told of my six battles with old Maximus, the red bordello in Alabaster, the mysterious Cheydinhal package, that poor witch coven that all got turned near Rihad, the incident with all those severed Bosmer ears in Northpoint, and others. The storm was upon us now; the other patrons had left or retired to their rooms, and Pierre was puttering around the kitchen. The four of us sat beside the fire as the wind and rain whipping unceasingly against the walls, perfect storytelling weather. I wrapped up with the time I finally got the better of the Beast of Camlorn.

"So the magical darkness made him think the sun had gone down at noon," said Marie.

"And when he opened the coffin lid, the vial of oil splashed onto the candle," added Dathaxius.

"Which caught the straw, which set the whole building ablaze, dinnit?" finished Olaf. "Then what? He burnt to a crisp?"

"That's the best part," I grinned. "When he ran outside, the half of him that wasn't on fire blistered in the sunlight. The townsfolk took care of him pretty quick, I didn't even have to get involved. So here's my final bit of advice: cheat. Use whatever dirty tricks you can come up with to your advantage."

I put down my long-empty mug and sat back, it was decision time. They were young and green, but they did manage to kill Vr'khel, no small feat. I needed them, I had to try. I've never enjoyed this part.

With a sigh, I spoke. "I'm going to be frank now. My compatriots and I — we're a family really, like you three — we've been fighting this Montalion invasion for a while now, they're winning, and we've taken heavy losses. I need you to join our fight. You've proven capable enough already, and I think you lot can do great things."

The Breton's cheeks were red with praise. Or possibly beers. Either way, she shared a look with her companions and said, "Well, we always did want to be heroes."

"You really think we're good enough to help?" asked Dathaxius.

"I do, I think you'll end up stronger than you ever dreamed possible." I smiled broadly for the first time that night, and the waning firelight glinted off my fangs.

"Bloody hell," the Argonian spat as he instinctively reached for his dagger, "he's a vam..."

I sprang from my chair and interrupted his outburst by cracking his skull against the hearth. He dropped like a sack of saltrice. I hoped he was still alive.

"Bastard!"

I turned toward the grievous insult; the Nord already on his feet, swinging his axe at me. I'd underestimated his speed, though it mattered not. He went for my waist. I swiftly closed the distance and plunged my sword into his chest. Three, four strikes and he was incapacitated as well. I told him to go for the neck.

"Sven!" Marie cried out in horror.

His name was Sven. Damn.

The mage glared and assumed a combative stance. For a long moment, neither of us moved or spoke, the rain and Sven's labored gurgles the only sounds. Finally, she broke the silence.

"You're a vampire." A simple statement. She was up to something.

"I am," I replied equally simply.

"You lied to us."

"Never. Though I left out one small detail."

"You're worried about the Montalion, so you aren't one of them. You're nimble, you must be a Vraseth."

"That's right." Impressive deductions in the heat of battle.

"Then that means," her fingers twitched and a faint electric crackle filled the air, "that you aren't immune to this!"

Her hand shot out and hit me square in the chest. Paralysis. I was quite surprised, and proud, that she was able to take my advice to heart so quickly.

Though I wasn't half as surprised as she was that her spell failed to materialize. Bergamot and wheat make a fine brew, fennel and mutton are quite tasty, but when they interact alchemically they wreak havoc on one's ability to cast spells. Fair play gets you dead.

She looked up at me, dread creeping into her countenance, and recast the spell. Again, nothing happened. I stood firm and smiled as she backed into the corner. The third spell (a fireball, I'd imagine) also fizzled, and I stepped forward.

"Mara, Kynareth, A-Azura, Stendarr, save us," she mewled.

Now, I said the Divines never listen, but in that moment I felt...mercy? Pity? Probably a coincidence. Regardless, I paused and assessed the condition of the other two, then spoke.

"They can't be saved. If I don't turn them, they'll die tonight. You've impressed me, so I'll let you go if that's what you want, but I'm keeping them. We can fight, maybe you'll win. But you won't have time to save them. Either way, you'll never see your 'brothers' again. Or, you can freely accept our gift. For what it's worth, the Vraseth are a tight-knit family. And I really do believe you're capable of doing great things in the future. But choose quickly, before they bleed out."

Marie looked to her companions through twin streams of tears. "Sven, Dath...Gods, forgive me, I-I can't." She turned to me, stood straight, and whimpered, "Be quick about it, before I lose my nerve."

And that was that.

Pierre and I put the unconscious threesome down in the secret room in the basement, the one with his shrine to Namira. They'd all make it due to his help, though Pierre seemed perturbed that I didn't let one die. He and his friends are surprisingly adept at making bodies vanish down there. I don't ask for details.

I'd be there when my new friends awoke, knowing that at least Marie wouldn't cause trouble. The others would come around soon enough, they always do. Whatever the Montalion were planning to do to High Rock, we had at least begun to have a fighting chance.

Lady N's picture
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Joined: 06/26/2010

This piece was written for our 20th anniversary fan art contest! It is strictly property of its original creator - you may not modify, publish, or redistribute it without explicit permission from the artist.