How Eldaline joined the Dawnguard even t ...

How Eldaline joined the Dawnguard even though she didn't want to - Part 2

Feb 09, 2022

The story so far: Eldaline has mistakenly been thrown in prison for burning down the Hall of the Vigilant.

Eldaline was a very bad prisoner. This may have been because she had slightly more experience of imprisoning other people, but whatever the reason, she was uncooperative and arrogant, sneered at the food, and regularly explained to the jailors that they would be flayed alive and their skin fed to were-bears for their impudence in wrongly imprisoning an officer of the Thalmor for the destruction of the Hall of the Vigilant. She felt that the accusation was unreasonable, as their only evidence was on this list:

But actually, Eldaline really was innocent. She was simply very bad at behaving as though she was innocent.

"Skavild!" She cried, as her Library Assistant appeared. In truth, she had expected Skavild to run away and never be seen again, especially as he was not a qualified Library Assistant, just a Nord she had confiscated for trying to assassinate her some months ago. "There you are at last. I have been here for two weeks. What news from the Embassy?"

"I'm afraid it's very bad news, Archivist Eldaline. Your secretary wrote a letter to your First Emissary Elenwen, and she wrote one back. She is so angry with you that she thinks you should stay in prison and find a way to clear your name yourself."

"Damn her! She has always resented my vastly superior hair, and the fact that I am indispensable. Can I see the letter, please, Skavild?"

"I, err, lost it. A bandit, err, stole it from me on my way to Castle Dour. Damn bandits. They become more brazen with each passing day. Err, yes."

"But what can I do from in here, Skavild? These Imperials will not hesitate to poison my soup if they see that the Dominion has abandoned me. How am I supposed to prove my innocence?"

"Well, I was thinking." Said Skavild. "It was definitely vampires that burned the Hall of the Vigilant. My new friends at the Dawnguard say so, and you could join too, and help us defeat the vampire menace."

"That might be my only choice, but I cannot join the Dawnguard from in here, can I?"

"Well, no." Skavild said. "But if you give one of those bricks a little push, this shoddy Imperial craftsmanship will show you a way out."

"You're right, Skavild. How did you know about these bricks?"

"Oh, I must have broken out of this cell a hundred times, after my old Ma got sick of coming down to get me out. Hurry up, I'll meet you down by the East Empire Company."

As Eldaline made her way through the walls of Castle Dour, she thought about prisons. Over the course of her adventures, she herself had been imprisoned many times, both at home in Alinor and during war. But today was her first prison escape, as she had either been rescued by less important Altmer, or had her release negotiated by more important Altmer. Many people, meanwhile, had escaped from being imprisoned by her. She was beginning to see the appeal.

"Why did you come back for me, Skavild?" Eldaline asked, as they burgled the shipping warehouse for supplies. "I know you've been wanting to escape for some time."

"It turns out, vampires are actually very, very dangerous." Said Skavild. "And I wasn't as good at fighting them as I thought I would be. I could use a powerful mage. I have a friend who's a mage, but she mainly just brings chickens back to life."

"There." Said Eldaline, after stealing some new clothes. "Off we go."

"What's that you're wearing?" Said Skavild.

"I don't know, just some old clothes I found in a sack. Why? Do you think they're old-fashioned?"

"No, no." He said. "You look strangely heroic. And somehow familiar. Come on, into the boat."

"Are you going to row us all the way to Fort Dawnguard?" Said Eldaline. "I know where it is, from the histories. It's near the old Fullhelm Fort on the border with Morrowind."

"Ah... no. I just need to make a quick stop along the coast first. It won't take more than a couple of days."

"That's a very long quick stop."

"And I thought that you could row." Said Skavild.

"I can." Said Eldaline. "But I don't know the way. I'll row on the way back."

They arrived on the shore of a gloomy, fog-covered island.

Eldaline said, "This castle looks very vampiric, Skavild. Are you sure that it's not full of vampires?"

"I just need to drop in and visit my friend Serana." Said Skavild. "Honestly, it won't take long. You should come in too. You'll love it in there."

"Skavild, look at me."

"Ow, my hair." Said Skavild. "What is it?"

"I told you, I warned you, and you didn't listen. I said you'd be a vampire within three weeks of joining the Dawnguard. You said you wouldn't, and now you've met a girl, and here you are, a vampire, and it's been two weeks. You're even worse at being a Dawnguard than you are at being a Stormcloak, and I told you so."

"I'm not a vampire. Honest. You don't understand! I'm a very good Dawnguard, and I have a very good friend who is a vampire. It's very simple."

"If I go in there, and am turned into a vampire, yours will be the first body I drain, Skavild."

Several minutes later, they were outside again.

"Why did you do that?" Demanded Skavild. "Now Serana will probably never speak to me again, after the way you burst out laughing at her poor old Da."

"He just looked so funny, with his ears and his scrunched-up face." Said Eldaline. "I couldn't control myself."

"It's a great honour to be offered the power of a vampire lord. He didn't offer ME the power of a vampire lord. You could just have said No politely."

"It is not my fault that nobody else could see the funny side. I'm sure your little friend Serana will recover from my unforgivable rudeness. Go to Fort Dawnguard, then, and see if they are as understanding of your New Best Vampire Friend as I am. I do not understand your methods. You can join the Dawnguard by yourself, for all I care."

"But I helped you break out of prison so that you could help me end the vampire menace and clear your name." Said Skavild.

"Perhaps, but actually, I am going to sit in Northwatch Keep and drink and until you end this vampire menace and clear my name." Said Eldaline. "Good-night."

Skavild got back into the boat. "It was your turn to row, you long-eared daedra-loving harpy!" He shouted.

Eldaline was as good as her word, at least for about four days.

"Are you all right, Second Archivist?"

Eldaline had never liked this question. She felt that it was unsophisticated code for "You're highly unstable and unsuited to field work, Second Archivist."

"Unsuited to field work, am I, soldier?" Said Eldaline. "Bring me a pitcher of tomato juice and two raw eggs immediately, and then pack my travel bags! I'm going to the Rift, on a mission of utmost secrecy. Unstable, am I? We'll see about that!"

"You came back!" Cried Skavild. "I'm so happy that you changed your mind. Now with two mages at my side, I will be the most unstoppable warrior the Dawnguard has ever witnessed."

Skavild's friend Serana had also inexplicably arrived, and was wearing the same dress as Eldaline. Eldaline became quietly upset and decided to never wear the dress again and burn it because Serana looked better in it.

"Hm?" Said Eldaline. "Oh, yes. Well, I might still have some use. I am not entirely finished, like a worthless old dishcloth, fit only for discarding."

"Are you all right, Eldaline?" Said Skavild.

"Stop asking me that." She said.

"Any idea how you're going to find a Moth Priest? Skyrim's a pretty big place."

Eldaline asked, "Why are you looking for a Moth Priest? I met Moth Priests when I was in the Imperial City. Actually, don't tell me. Just have Skavild write me a report. I am going to have a rest and get washed. Nice to meet you again, Serana."

Skavild was glad to spend some time alone with his new friend, even though she hadn't laughed at his joke about Elder Scrolls and sleeping with things to learn about them. Serana had also felt pressured into changing her dress.

And she didn't seem as impressed as he hoped when he told her about how his father was a necromancer. He wondered if his mother would like Serana. And he was wondering what her favourite food was, but he assumed it was blood, so he didn't ask, and anyway, Serana was saying things about Molag Bal. Normally, traditional, honourable Nords like Skavild didn't like Daedric Princes, and Skavild was no exception. But on this occasion he decided to bite his tongue and not express his disgust, as he didn't want to hurt her feelings.

"Are you all right?" He said kindly.

"I will be. Just give me a little time."

Skavild was delighted. It was nice not to be shouted at for asking this question.

He was almost disappointed when Eldaline returned.

"I hope I am not interrupting, Serana, and Skavild. That Isran! What an inspiring, enigmatic, leader you have got here. And the Redguards are magnificent warriors and noble adversaries, so I imagine they make noble allies too. 'Sleep is for the weak', he says. You are lucky to have a commander of such conviction and intelligence. Of course, when I was in Hammerfell, there was this wonderful Coffee. I could go nearly ten days without sleep, and my immediate commander could only do seven. But Isran unfortunately does not know where to buy Coffee in Skyrim. Anyway, neither of you need to worry, because Isran and I have held deep consultation about Moth Priests, and he has found one for you. Unfortunately, he doesn't know where he was going, so we will need to ask along the roads."

"Ah..." Said Skavild. "I don't suppose you'd want us to come with you, then? We might slow you down."

"Actually, now that I think of it... I'm going to come along with you. I've been really wanting to get out and explore a bit."

"What a good idea." Said Skavild.

After a few days of searching, and highly competetive persuasion attempts by Serana and Eldaline, the trail led them to Dragon Bridge. It was near Solitude, and Eldaline was technically still suspected of burning down the Hall of the Vigilant, so she was careful to stay out of the way of the guards.

They were confident of catching up with the travelling Moth Priest and his guards along this stretch of road.

"I'm afraid it's bad news." Said Skavild, from up ahead.

"How dare these armed guards be dead when they know perfectly well that I want to speak to them?" Said Eldaline.

"Yes, it's lucky there's no one around, or you might be accused of murdering these people too." Said Skavild.

"No, here are some people coming now. Everybody, hide behind this cart." Said Eldaline.

"Won't that make us all look incredibly guilty?" Skavild asked her.

"Either you hide behind this cart with me, or I'll be forced to kill every person who sees me with these dead bodies." She said. "I'm not going back to prison."

They hid behind the cart.

"Oh... what happened?" Said the travelling merchant.

"Eldaline!" Skavild hissed. "These thistles make me sneeze!"

"Don't sneeze." Said Eldaline. "If you don't want these witnesses, I mean merchants, to die."

"They probably won't even suspect you if we explain everything to them, reasonably." Said Skavild.

"I'm going to find whoever did this!" Said one of the merchant's bodyguards.

To be continued.

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