[I didn’t expect the first chapter to be so well received! I expected trolls, grammar nazi’s, all that stuff. But I did not get one negative comment and I am very surprised by that. Thank you all for the positive comments on both my blog site and Reddit. It has inspired me to write more for Stiv’s story and I hope you all enjoy it as much as the first chapter.]
Stiv was already on his way out of Rorikstead by the time Lemkil was found dead in his home.
The nord seemed like such a deadbeat, his daughters probably thought he was still sleeping after they were up and about. And with a father such as that, it was no wonder that the girls didn’t want to get close enough to risk waking him.
It was past midday. Just moments after Stiv left the Frostfruit Inn, guards ran inside, most likely spreading the word and attempting to find suspects to the murder. Whether they found the two fang marks on Lemkil’s neck, Stiv didn’t know. He just knew it would be best to make himself scarce since a man was killed the night he entered town. They would detain him just on that fact alone, whether he looked suspicious or not. But whatever happened to this town afterwards was none of the vampires concern.
There was a road running north and south out of the village. Picking a path at random, Stiv took the southern road heading out, not looking back at all as he heard guards scrambling and the children crying. It took him to a split going east and west, but with a signpost near the crossing. Scanning the names that were etched and painted into the wood, Stiv scanned the land around him and out a distance. Looking east, there was a large hill in the distance, possibly a small mountain. He didn’t know if it was man made near the top, but he could barely see the straight lines of a large dwelling. No mere town would rest on top of an elevation like that. This had to be a major city. Checking the signpost again, this must have been Whiterun.
Stiv walked for a few hours when he came across a large structure.
He could see Whiterun clearly in the distance than earlier, but this….fort he guessed, was an eye catcher to him. It seemed old and dilapidated. But that’s not out of the norm in most places of Tamriel. Wars of ages past has claimed many forts and other towns, turning them into ruins either beyond repair or too expensive for the repairs to be worth it. No, what caught Stiv’s eyes were the cages. The cages hung up on posts with skeletons, or even the remains of other humanoids still in partial decay. Not only that, but the entrance and some other parts of the wall surrounding the stone structure seemed to be cheaply reinforced with wooden barriers.
A voice called out from up above, “Oi! Who goes down thare!?” A slightly high pitched voice echoed. It snapped Stiv out of a trance he was in and he realized he was closer to the fort than the pathway he was taking allowed. He looked up and saw two men, both with bows drawn and arrows pointing directly at him.
Stiv looked around, taking note of his surroundings. There wasn’t much around him to take cover behind. He glanced back up to the man calling down at him, “Sorry, I seem to have gotten lost. I don’t suppose you can give me directions to the nearest town, would you?” This was an obvious lie as even these fools had a clear view of Whiterun in the distance.
“What’ar ya, stupid?” The high pitch voiced man asked. He looked at the his partner next to him, seemingly muttering something, then back to Stiv. “Where’ar ya coming from?”
Stiv remembered back to the sign, scanning the other directions from memory. “I’m from…Solitude! Yes, I’ve come from Solitude! I’ve an important letter for the Jarl of Whiterun!” At least Stiv knew that about Skyrim. The leaders of each major city is called a Jarl. Looking back at the two men, they were back to conversing about something.
Then something happened that Stiv was trying to avoid. At the entrance, two of the wooden barriers parted and out walked two other men, both brandishing weapons. “You’re coming with us.” One of them said as he walked closer, showing himself as a tall and muscular orc.
“Excuse me? Why would I do that?” Stiv replied, slowly backing away. They were closing the distance quickly at a brisk walk from the entrance.
“I’m sure whatever you have from Solitude is important nowadays.” The other man was talking now, a young nord. “I’m sure that will come at a high price. Maybe your life will too.”
“I don’t think that’s necessary, you don’t need to-” Stiv was cut off as both men grabbed him by his arms and started wrestling him inside the fort walls. In a way, this was what Stiv wanted if he couldn’t avoid an altercation. It would put the archway of the entrance between him and the archers. He did his best to fake a struggle as they pulled him inside.
It happened quick. The orc on his left was the strongest and most resilient. But not even he could stand having his life drained magically. A red glow pulsed from between him and Stiv. Right as the nord figured out what was happening, Stiv was able to wrench his hand free, grab his steel knife and slit the man’s throat, just like the dregs back at his old home. By the time the nord was on the ground, the orc also collapsed. It was quick. It was quiet. He doubted the archers would suspect something had happened to the two kidnappers.
“Bjorn?” The archer from above on the wall called out. “What’s goin’ on down there? Is he givin’ ya some sport?” Stiv heard footsteps coming down the wooden staircase next to the archway.
The vampire started moving his left hand in a circular pattern slowly. Because of the increase in power from recently feeding, he felt new abilities coursing through him. As he concentrated, a pale red orb formed above his hand, growing spikes as it grew as large as his head. Before the archer could speak again, Stiv stepped out from the archway and flung it at him. The spikes grazed the man’s arm and he yelped in pain, Stiv stepping back into cover.
“Wha’ was that?!” The man called out. “What kind o’ magic do ya know?” He started descending the staircase again, but then Stiv heard a fwump in the grass next to him. He saw the upper body of the same archer, face first on the ground. At a closer inspection, there were pale red spikes jutting out of the archers skin where veins would have been. The vampire smirked at the effect of barely a scratch from the spell.
With barely any time to react, a blur shot from around the corner, aiming for Stiv. He moved out of the way, but was caught in his right shoulder, dropping his knife. The second archer stood in a stance in front of him, but not for long as he started attacking once more. Stiv stepped back with each swing, feeling pain from the recent wound. He wasn’t able to catch a break for his drain spell as he was dodging each attack. He waited for an opening. The second archer swung across his body hard, barely scratching Stiv’s stomach, but the vampire took advantage of the man’s small victory. He moved in, pinning the archers axe hand to his body. With Stiv’s left hand, he grabbed the archers neck, jerking to its side and bit in hard. Blood sprayed all over the place and the archer started to fall, Stiv still clamped to the artery.
The wounds started to heal as Stiv fed once more. Normally, he wouldn’t be able to heal at all in sunlight. But feeding negated the effect and in some cases, helped boost his abilities as he was feeding. There was no need to hold back as the archer’s life was drained.
A moment later, Stiv ripped a piece of cloth from one of the bandit’s clothing to wipe the blood from his face and former injuries. He tossed it aside and looked back into the fort. “Might as well see what’s going on inside,” he said to himself after picking up his dagger.
The inside of the fort was dark, barely lit by braziers that dotted the halls.
The only guard seemed to be the ones Stiv dealt with outside. And hopefully there wouldn’t be too many to move around inside. He could take on two to three amateur bandits at once, but quantity can trump quality in some cases.
Stiv looked and listened down the hallways. To his right he saw a possibly large room more efficiently lit than where he was now. It’s also possible he heard footsteps and loud talking in the same direction. It could be a feast hall or something of the sort. To the left was quite the opposite. A hallway lined with a few doors, most likely leading to dormitories or storage rooms.
Stiv had no need to fight the bandits. He walked down the left hallway. Taking his time opening doors, he was correct in assuming that it was lined with living areas. That is until he arrived at the last door. Opening it revealed another stone staircase leading down under the fort.
Walking carefully, trying not to make any noise, Stiv stepped down onwards. As he moved on, he heard a less familiar sound. Something like a voice, but muffled. Then someone else clearly spoke. “What’d I tell ya, elf. Quit yer yammerin’ and sit down.”
Step by step, Stiv inched his way down the stairs, coming to another hallway. But instead of wooden doors lining this one, they were barred and locked cell doors. Another orc seemed to be the guard for whatever prisoners they were holding. Stiv didn’t stop moving though. He glanced from cell to cell as he passed each one, noticing one prisoner in each of them. The orc was badgering someone in a cell on the far end.
A quick thrust of his arm and Stiv’s dagger dug into the orcs spine, the vampires other hand draining the rest of the life out of him. The brute cried out in a short gasp of pain before slowly falling over.
Surprisingly, Stiv felt quite drained. He was using too much magic in too short of a time. He has been out of practice for years and trying to use his full strength all at once was not going to work. He had to start training again.
A quick gasp brought Stiv out of his thoughts. He looked over back into the cell at a tied up and gagged elven woman that the orc was raving at. Panting and slightly out of breath, he reached down to pluck a ring of keys off the dead orc and started trying each out on the cell lock. After one of them eventually opened the cell door, Stiv used his knife to cut the ropes that held the elf and she untied the rest of the way. Before either of them said a word, she sprung up and ran out of the room.
“Ok then…” Stiv started. “The path is clear, don’t worry!” He lazily called out to her. There wasn’t too much noise made during the conflict, so he doubted any other bandits would be investigating.
It didn’t seem like there were any more prisoners. These bandits must have been desperate. Stiv didn’t know what the woman’s worth was, but even a missive that he lied about couldn’t have been that valuable.
‘Whatever you have from Solitude is important nowadays.’ Stiv thought, recalling what one of the bandits told him outside. What have I been missing?