(4E-199 4th of Evening Star)
After confirming the location of Redwater Den, Galeron had taken a moment to summon a full contingent of ten Atronachs. He wasn't foolish enough to rely on Dremoras to protect him while he slept. Even with the aid of the Sigil Stone, which was actually an amazingly useful tool, he didn't feel comfortable with the idea.
The Sigil Stone was, in Galeron's opinion, one of the few aspects of Skyrim's standardized magical learning that was truly brilliant. Most of the time, he was left wondering how exactly such a poor method of execution came to be the standard accepted practice. With this particular method, however, he could immediately see why it would be considered the most reliable.
The Sigil Stone itself was an impressively powerful object and certainly would yield many secrets to a Conjurer who devoted his time to studying it. This, of course, was on top of the more immediate benefits of strengthening your control over the Dremora and allowing your Atronachs to permanently maintain their maximal potency.
There may very well be other methods for summoning and controlling Dremora but this one had to be among the best, it was simply too effective. As such, Galeron was quite satisfied with the results it produced.
One thing that he had been attempting to accomplish with his summons was the remodeling of his Atronachs. He was, of course, hoping that the acquisition of the Sigil Stone would have assisted him in that endeavor but his hopes were shattered.
That is, until he had created his first Smelting Atronach. His breakthrough, regarding the nature of Conjured Familiars, had opened his eyes to many possibilities. During his ride to his current encampment, he had paid close attention to the way the horse moved and its muscle structure.
He made sure to pay close attention to every detail of its being and behavior, so that he would be prepared when the time came. After having finished his morning meal, Galeron decided that the time was now.
He grasped his magicka and began to summon his third type of spirit familiar. Because Galeron was already familiar with the spell and he had even more knowledge concerning horses from his first life, his first attempt was a success.
Walking around the transparent pale blue horse shaped apparition, or Horse Familiar, he examined all of its features and behaviors while giving it various commands. After comparing and contrasting them with the actual horse he had recently purchased, he felt satisfied with the effects of the spell.
Now that he could successfully Conjure a functional Horse Familiar, he no longer had use for a living horse besides carrying extra weight. 'Now that I think about it, couldn't I simply turn this horse into a Crying Corpse. It may make it difficult to bring it into towns but at least it would have undying loyalty, would be much more resilient, and would no longer require food.'
After thinking this, Galeron took out one of his four remaining Black Teardrop Gems and walked over to his living horse. After inspecting the horse's neckline and underbelly for just the right insertion point, he quickly paralyzed the horse and began the turning process.
Less than ten seconds later, the horse before him looked almost exactly the same, save for a line of Daedric Runes running down his chest. Internally however, the blood running through its veins only served to perpetuate the twisted imitation of life that it had become.
Galeron was quite satisfied with his new undead steed and decided that his new mount deserved a name. 'Hmmm...I think I'll have a singular name for all of my mounts, like a certain Witcher, just in case this one gets destroyed somehow. As for what it shall be, I think Corpse will do nicely.'
After conjuring two Dremora Assassins, two Dremora Archers, and a Dremora Shieldbearer, he pointed his horse in the direction of Redwater Den and spurred his Crying Corpse Horse forward. "Let's go Corpse."
As he rode, he began thinking of all of the possibilities his new understanding of the Conjure Familiar spell had opened up for him. 'I'm gonna have a whole slew of new experiments to run, when I get back home.'
This thought put a smile on Galeron's face, as he was quite pleased with the fact that he now had a place to call his home. It was well fortified, well hidden, and even had a natural source of water and some small sections of arable land.
'Or, at least, it used to be arable. Now it's Atronach territory. It's not like I was going to become a farmer anyways. Plus, with my abilities, I can easily acquire food and other resources, when I need them. At the very least, I can send one of my subordinates to procure them for me.'
As the dilapidated house where the entrance to Redwater Den was located came into view, Galeron pulled Corpse to a stop and dismounted. 'Speaking of subordinates.'
He bent down into a crouching position, as he watched from behind a tree the scene of the dilapidated building in front of him. As he moved from tree to tree, he eventually arrived at a position where he could see, through the house's broken walls, the two people inside standing guard.
Looking past the house into the trees beyond, his eyes came to rest on a specific tree with a weirdly broken branch. 'They're in place, good.'
Using his connection with his summoned Dremora he gave the Archers the go ahead. A little more than a second later, two arrows escaped from the trees in the distance, traveled swiftly and silently across that distance, and lodged themselves firmly into the two guard's heads. The force of the impact had sent the two tumbling out of their chairs and onto the ground.
Galeron smiled, whenever he saw the two Grand Soul Gems in his hands glow briefly with a purplish light, before transforming into Black Soul Gems. His Orbical had been sent out earlier to close the distance between himself and the guards. Once it was in position, he quickly cast Soul Trap on the two, before giving the attack signal.
A second after the two bodies hit the floor, the two Assassins closed in on the den's entrance, dropped inside, disabled the third guard, and then stood by awaiting Galeron's arrival. Galeron levitated himself down into the den, soul trapped the guard, and then slit his throat.
He had managed to acquire a total of fifteen Grand Soul Gems, from various places during his journey here. He also had a good feeling about a certain Vampire, Venarus Vulpin, being holed up in here.
In the game, the Vampire who ran the Skooma facility here was no joke. He would seriously fuck you up, if you gave him a chance. Of course, not giving him the chance was all part of the plan.
He couldn't be sure how he stacked up against Venarus but he suspected he might have a chance against him in a one on one. Of course, that was why Galeron relied on his Conjured Dremora and Atronachs. Why settle for a one on one, when you can make your enemy think he's fighting against ten weaker enemies only to strike at him from the shadows.
The skooma den section of this cave was the easiest to get through. The dealer in her cage fell prey to a particularly potent BeMod Spell and the others were all half or completely oblivious to begin with. After clearing out this area, Galeron had transmuted ten Black Soul Gems and only needed five more to be fully stocked.
Moving onwards into the skooma production facility, the Vampire workers there and their Thralls were swiftly swept aside. He and his team made short work of them and moved into the tunnels of the excavated crypt.
With all of the other Vampires cleared out and his Soul Gems now all transmuted into the black variety, he entered into another tunnel lined with Draugr burial enclaves. This tunnel however was laden with a great many traps and looked very familiar to Galeron. He suspected that Venarus' chamber would be just past this heavily trapped hallway.
Knowing that his prey was just around the corner, he stopped for a moment to rearrange his assets and recharge his magicka. Banishing all his Atronachs, Galeron summoned five Smelting Atronachs alongside his five Dremora.
Once he was topped off, he crossed the last section of the treacherous hallway and stepped into a spacious domed chamber. The chamber was traversed by a tall arch, from which hung large decorative braziers providing very little light to the dim crypt chamber.
Galeron, of course, was invisible. It was not yet the time for him to reveal his presence. Although, it didn't take long for Venarus and his companion, who were sitting at a large table at the far end, to notice the presence of the intruders.
As his Dremora and Atronachs flooded into the room following his commands to the letter, Venarus and his Ancient Vampire attendant jumped up and prepared for battle. They both conjured Atronachs of their own. The Ancient Vampire conjured two Frost Atronachs and Venarus conjured one of each Atronach. With each Vampire having an Undead Thrall in attendance, the numbers were, for the first time since the battle of Dayspring Canyon, not heavily in Galeron's favor.
'Hmmm...this should make things more interesting, for certain. I'll have to be a bit more active in this battle, if I wish to ensure my victory.'
The Smelting Atronachs separated into two teams. One of the two Atronach teams went towards Venarus' companion, while the other three sped towards Venarus himself.
Galeron's Shieldbearer Dremora, Orthe, was accompanied by an Assassin and an Archer. He rushed towards the Ancient Vampire, who was currently contending with the two Smelting Atronachs.
The two Vampires were already aware that the potency of a Banishing Spell was heavily reliant not only on the level of the spell but also on the skill of the Conjurer being greater than the skill of his opposition. Given that they were facing five Dremora and five Elemental Atronachs, they knew that whoever and wherever the caster might be he was certainly a powerful and accomplished Master Conjurer. Therefore, they didn't bother wasting their mana on Banishing Spells, deciding instead to match the summons as best they could with their own.
Galeron watched as the originally calm scene before him developed into a brilliant display of spell casting, sword clashing, and body manipulation. He needed to take care of the Ancient Vampire first and so he moved invisibly towards her ongoing battle.
As his five summons continued to assault the vampire and her three minions, he moved closer and closer to her Thrall, while awaiting the perfect opportunity.
The vampire had just pushed her advantage on his Shieldbearer Dremora, while her Thrall was having a hard time against his Assassin Dremora. As the Thrall was pushed backwards, and thus out of the vampire's line of sight, Galeron pulled out his seldomly used sword and sent it straight through the Thrall's neck in a flash.
With the Thrall now out of commission, he immediately banished her two Frost Atronachs and started moving towards Venarus's battle. As he crossed the floor of the crypt, he made sure to send his electrified Orbical out to bash the Ancient Vampire in the head once just for good measure.
After arriving at the location of Venarus's battle, he once again swiftly dispatched the attending Thrall, this time without concern of whether or not he was spotted. He would very quickly run out of magicka, if he attempted to run around the entire time with his Invisibility active. Thus, once he was certain of the Thrall's fate, he dropped his Invisibility, banished Venarus's Frost Atronach, and began harassing Venarus, with his Orbical.
With the Ancient Vampire completely outnumbered and overpowered, Galeron knew she wouldn't last much longer. If she summoned more Atronachs or Thralls, she would quickly run out of magicka and, if she didn't, she would be overwhelmed by numerical superiority.
As soon as Galeron dropped his Invisibility and Venarus caught sight of him, he immediately began yelling, "Who are you? Who sent you? Why have you come here?"
Galeron replied in a disinterested tone, "You know, it seems like every time I pay someone a visit they always ask me the same questions. Why do I have to be working for someone else? Is a man not allowed to have his own ambitions? What if the answer to all three of your questions is simply, 'Me?'"
"AMBITIONS!! What sort of ambitions require you to come and assault me in my home, in this manner?"
"Ahhhhhh, but you are a practitioner of the necromantic arts, as well, are you not? Then you should already know."
Venarus's face paled, as he heard these words but then as he understood those words he quickly composed himself. "Haha! You think you can make me into an undead, when I'm already one? As a vampire, my soul belongs to Molag Bal. You may defeat me here today but your efforts will have been in vain! Hahahaha!"
"Hmmm…I wonder about that. Is it so easy to steal something from a Daedric Prince? Are you aware that a ritual exists that can cure vampirism? Neither the ritual itself nor the materials required are that difficult to acquire or perform. Theoretically then, it's possible to become a vampire and be cured of it multiple times, like catching a seasonal illness.
"I wonder, if it really is…"
Suddenly, a blood curdling scream rang out, from where the Ancient Vampire's battle was taking place.
The vampire had just received a deep gash across her chest, from Orthe's blade. Whenever Galeron turned to witness the scene, his Archer's arrow pierced her side, which prompted yet another scream. That scream, however, was promptly cut short, as his Assassin plunged both his daggers through her neck ending her screams, her pain, and her life.
Galeron returned his gaze towards Venarus, who, despite not witnessing the scene, knew exactly what had happened. He was entirely too preoccupied with his own battle to pay attention to another. It was already hard enough just for him to speak with the Conjurer, while continuing to fight. Venarus knew that he would most likely die here but he wanted to, at least, know why this powerful Conjurer had gone out of his way to target him.
Looking as bored and disinterested as he had when Venarus had first saw him, Galeron continued, "As I was saying, if it really is the case that Molag Bal owns every vampire soul then isn't it just a little too easy to snatch that soul away from his control via an easily performed ritual? Couldn't a man turn vampire multiple times through his life and then become a werewolf before dying and thus end up being taken in by Hircine? If the Lord of Domination truly owned those souls, wouldn't ridding oneself of such a curse be nearly impossible?
"No. I have a different theory. I think that the two Vampire Lord bloodlines, of Vulkihar and Lamae, are the only vampires who would potentially fall under Molag Bal's ownership and control, after death. With the Vulkihar's potential being as close to absolute certainty as possible and the Lamae's being somewhat questionable.
"I also think that the ritual I speak of would probably not work on them and that diluted or lesser bloodlines, like your own, would only have your souls end up in coldharbour, under circumstances wherein no one or no thing has otherwise impeded its journey there.
"In summary, your vampire bloodline is merely an imitation of the true gift or curse that was bestowed upon the Valkihar Lords and the Lamae Lords respectively. Thus, only those directly descended from those original bloodlines even have the potential to have their souls absolutely bound to Molag Bal. Although, if your soul was to end up in Coldharbour, it would most likely be a side effect and not a feature of your diluted condition, unlike with the Higher Vampires."
Galeron noticed that Venarus's strength was slowly waning. His last Atronach had just gone down and he was now facing off against three Dremora alone. Galeron wasn't going all out against him because he needed him alive, in order to properly perform the Crying Corpse Spell.
Venarus, of course, hadn't missed this fact and quickly spoke up, "Peace, Conjurer! I yield! I know you spoke of turning me into an undead but, if you wished me dead, then I would be so already. I have no doubt. Whatever you wish to do, I will comply. Please, simply, let me be and we can speak for the remainder of my time."
Upon saying these words, the Dremora, firmly under Galeron's command, immediately ceased their hostilities, while his Atronachs closed in on Venarus and encircled him. The Dremora then formed up around Galeron as he addressed Venarus.
"Or I could be wrong. It is just a hypothesis after all. If I am, it certainly wouldn't be the first time. But then that's what we're here to discover, isn't it? You're going to be my little experiment.
"Ohh, come now. Don't look so down. If it helps at all, you'll be an extremely unique type of undead. It's very likely that being completely undead and completely under my control are the only differences that you'll undergo. You'll still be the same old you just unable to express the same old you, whenever I disallow it.
"It is really quite remarkable, if I'm being honest. I myself still don't know all of its effects but becoming my second ever Crying Corpse is actually a great honor. You and Morila can help me to flesh out all of the juicy details of this spell, once we're safely back in my hideout."
Venarus took a moment to comprehend everything he had just been told. He was truly confused. He had never heard about a cure for vampirism, this Crying Corpse that was spoken of, nor did he know who Morila was.
'A Necromantic Reanimation that allows the deceased to function the exact same in undeath as in life! Does such a thing truly exist? The only spells he knew of that even came close to that was the Undead Thrall Spell, which he himself had employed. Of course, there are always those strange Briarhearts, created by the Hagravens and Forsworn. Is it possible that he's managed to suss out some of their secrets?'
"Just to be clear, Conjurer. Am I to understand that I can choose whether or not to become your undead?"
"Hahahahahahahaha! No,no,no,not at all! I'm simply indulging myself, with a little chit chat is all. Please, don't misunderstand. You will become my undead, willing or otherwise."
The tiny sliver of hope that had taken root in Venarus's heart was incinerated before it could even sprout. He swallowed hard and carried forward. He had no idea whether the Conjurer spoke the truth but, since his fate seemed to be sealed, he may as well make the most of it.
"This other unique undead that you speak of, is she the same as she was before you turned her? Morila I think it was?"
"Well, I'm not entirely certain. I've been in a bit of rush lately and haven't had a lot of time to test all these matters. This journey that I'm currently on, to the ruins of Labarynthia, should be the last one for at least the next year. Whenever I return, I should have plenty of time to focus on a lot of the things I've had to set aside for the sake of making good time.
"That being said, she is truly capable. She speaks normally, she's as combat effective as a living person of her power would be, and can think for herself, even if my control over her doesn't allow her to act on those thoughts."
"I see, that is impressive. So, would it be at all possible for me to continue my study of the Redwater, after you turn me?"
"As to that, it truly does capture my interest and I'd love to have you continue your work on it. However, that endeavor would, of course, take a back seat to my immediate plans and commands. I do wish to unlock the secrets of this water myself and I even have a reliable method of obtaining the Bloodstone Chalice but there are currently much more pressing matters.
"Also, once you're fully undead, it's yet to be seen whether you'll maintain your vampiric powers. I guess that's why they call it an experiment, am I right?"
Galeron then stepped forward, with his Dremoras leading the way. "With all that being said, the time has come, Venarus. Even though you've agreed to comply, l'll have my Dremora hold you still just in case. It isn't a painless experience, after all.
Four different Dremora stood around Venarus, holding his arms and legs in a vice like grip. Galeron pulled out a Teardrop Gem and his Ebony Soul Trap enchanted dagger and held them up in front of Venarus's face.
"You see these two tools. These are the only things required to cast this spell. These and a living creature, of course."
"ARRGGHH!!" Venarus screamed out, as Galeron ripped open his robes and pierced his navel with the Teardrop Gem. The pain only intensified, as the Teardrop Gem was fully inserted under the skin of his abdomen.
Venarus fought through the pain and looked down at the source of the burning sensation crawling up his chest. To his ever increasing horror, he witnessed the blood red runes he had seen on the Teardrop Gem cutting out gouges in his flesh.
The gouges continued crawling upwards towards his neckline, until all of the runes had been engraved upon his chest.
At this time, Galeron wielded the Ebony Dagger and pointed it directly at Venarus's throat. The dagger now commanded all of Venarus's attention, as sweat began pouring down his face.
"Please do…" His words were abruptly cut off, as his blood began pouring out of the wound on his neck and filling up the rune shaped grooves that had been burned into his flesh.
Venarus felt extremely cold for a singular instance and then he felt extremely light and numb. He was devoid of any sensation and there was no form of light anywhere. Complete darkness, isolation, and deprivation.
Suddenly, he was brought abruptly back to his body or at least he thought it was his body. He was slightly dazed from whatever abnormal state he had just been in and the last thing he remembered was that damned mysterious Conjurer slitting his throat.
Taking a quick look around to get his bearings, he realized that the mysterious Conjurer was still standing in front of him, his Dremora were still holding him tightly in place, and he assumed he was still alive and in his body.
Looking at the Conjurer, who held a blood soaked Ebony Dagger in his hands, he asked, "So, weren't you going to kill me? Why am I still alive? What did you do to me? Did you place me under some type of Illusion, just now? Why are you playing games with me? Go ahead and get it over with. Why are you playing these games with me?"
Venarus had initially been accepting of his fate but, now that he had experienced that odd state of isolation only to find himself still alive, he felt as if this Conjurer was simply rubbing it in his face. 'It isn't enough that he has such impressive skill as a Conjurer but he has to go and play stupid games, on top of it. You fucking won already, asshole! Get on with it, already!'
Venarus was quite aggravated, at this point, but didn't know what else to say, since he was clearly still at the Conjurer's mercy.
"Hahahaha! Good, good, very good! It seems the Crying Corpse Spell is even more marvelous than I imagined. Truly a work of art! Ahh, but there's still so much more to learn! Tell me Venarus, how do you feel?"
"How do I feel? Is this another part of your little game, Conjurer? I feel like you're making me angry, by playing these stupid mind games. Are you going to kill me already or did you barge in here just to piss me off?"
"Hahahaha! You really haven't realized it yet, have you? Do you remember what happened just a moment ago? That which you seem to be referring to as an illusion."
"Yeah, I remember, alright! You fucking slit my throat open, right after you…" Venarus stopped mid sentence and opened his eyes wide, while staring past Galeron as if in deep thought.
Once his eyes refocused, he slowly lowered his head to look down at his chest. There he witnessed his own blood flowing through the runes, which he'd previously watched being engraved into his chest.
Galeron signaled his Dremora to release Venarus and they heeded his command. Venarus stood there, with his robes torn open, examining the new runic patterns that now decorated his chest.
Galeron had intentionally subdued his control over Venarus to the lowest possible point, just to see what would happen. Now that he was satisfied with the results of his experiment, he spoke to Venarus.
"Venarus, in order to grant you a full understanding of your current situation, I want you to try and attack me."
"Seriously!?" Not seeing any response from Galeron, Venarus shrugged and pointed his hand at Galeron, controlled his magicka, and then…
Venarus was frozen in place. An overwhelmingly oppressive force seemed to be completely stopping any movement that he tried to make. On top of this, the moment he had thought of harming Galeron, an intense and foreboding fear washed over him causing him to feel as though he were sweating profusely.
He knew in that moment that whatever spell Galeron had cast, it wasn't an illusion. He was now and forever bound to his will. A Crying Corpse. As he slowly came to terms with his new reality, he couldn't help but think how fitting that name was.
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