Between the Lines
Between the Lines
After her and Serana victory over Harkon, Dannee still having a fear that maybe one day another vampire with desire for world domination will emerge to steal Auriel’s Bow only to taint it with pureblooded vampire blood and plunge the world in eternal darkness. So seeking to prevent the very opportunity of such outcome Dannee long ago decided to take Auriel’s Bow to one person whom she could trust completely and who was always her mentor and a friend during her uneasy path as Dragonborn, which lead her to victory over Alduin.
Besides they have so much to talk about after her recent more then dangerous adventures…
Dannee walking by the snowy path, was thinking about what happened during only four days since her victory over Harkon… well, the first thing she had done, after partying ways with Serana she returned to Dawnguard to bring Auriel’s Bow with her on a new journey. Despite its beautiful look, despite its powers, that can kill even a pure blooded vampire, such thing was too dangerous to leave in the place as Dawnguard, because tainting the bow with true vampire blood will cause only one outcome – the world plunged in darkness and the end of all races alike. This was not supposed to happen and she promised to do everything in her power to prevent such outcome. Even after Harkon’s demise there were plenty of vampires who could find such idea of ruling the world appealing, and of course nobody among such power hungry individuals could think of most gruesome outcome it will bring to all. So Dannee took the Bow to one person she knew would understand her, who is so wise and had a relation with Auriel… or Akatosh.
But it wasn’t only because of that, seeing Serana and her mother reunion Dannee thought about the one she considered as her father figure, even if he didn’t know about it. The trek to the Throat of the World is not one she has made very often and this she regretted. Paarthurnax has already taught her much and though he asked for nothing in return she felt like she owes him a great deal, more than she can ever repay. Dannee approached the Throat of the World this time with shyness, it has been a long time since she last saw Paarthurnax, and the last time was right after Alduin defeat. Dannee got an impression that he was truly sorry for his brother death, which was speculated not to be permanent, but still Dannee thought that maybe Paarturnax was upset with her for bringing such kind of justice, but she really had no choice. He flied away to his quest to teach other dragons the way of the Voice, she understood it perfectly and he had some sort of success, because the dragon attacks on the cities become rare these days. Still when he was speaking with her about Alduin’s demise, Paarthurnax sounded so bitter that she thought that bitterness applied to her as well. It really was the maelstrom of emotions – regret, sadness, hopelessness, and a strange sensation she could not place - did not help her either. They seem to emerge from him and it hit her. But upset or angry he could be with her, but Paarthurnax always saw a bigger picture, and he will understand her caution about Auriel’s weapon and he was the only one she could entrust to hide it well. She was thankful when she could see the peak of the mountain, not far ahead now, but she’s tired. She remembered now why she avoids making the journey unnecessarily. Her goal is necessary to her, though, and she will see it to the end.
And while she was unsure of herself, her old friend Paarthurnax was thinking about other thing, knowing as the prickly snow settled under the dark northern light sky he was alone again. Odahviing flied away to hunt, he liked to do that at nights, not that Paarturnax objected, proud red dovah had it in him to grate on others nerves mercilessly, with Dovahkiin as only exception. Dovahkiin… it was lonely place without her visits.
When he meditated, he had appreciated the solitude. The occasional Greybeard throwing him off every once and a while, but he was content with it. But there was something amiss, he desired company, desired to talk, but he couldn’t abandon his own ways to find such person with whom he could be really comfortable with. Then he met her. The Dovahkiin. When he first saw she appeared so tiny and insignificant compared to any Dov, so fragile. She approached him bravely, without an armor, without weapons, to prove her peaceful intentions, dressed only in white gown, which made her look radiant like a rare diamond. But she was strong-minded and carried the weighted voice of the Dova, something he had not heard in years. When she used her Th'um on him for the first time he remembered feeling more than content, there was a sense of completion working it's way through him. Like finding a missing piece to incomplete puzzle he had given up on long ago.
In time Paarturnax began to look forward to her visits, looked forward to helping the Dovahkiin master her Th'um. He liked that she was a patient learner, fully aware of the importance of training her Th'um instead of heading straight into battle after learning a new word. She genuinely cared for his input in a much different way compared to the Greybeards. The Greybeards acknowledged what he had to say because they had no other choice. The Dovahkiin however, did. Unlike the Greybeards she listened and learned from him because she wanted to, not because she had to. Paarthurnax eventually admitted to himself that he liked the idea of someone coming to see him by choice.
They shared so many good moments together, beginning to trust each other, well, in truth he had a feeling that she has always trusted him, but he had doubts at first though, considering her association with the Blades… It was wise to mistrust another Dovah, and Dovahkiin had dovah siil and dovah sos. But watching her he knew that he could trust her. She was no liar. She smiled warmly, generously. Her eyes were kind. Even Greybeards who met her felt at ease, and he even thought that she could make friends with almost everyone with little effort if she wanted. And she carried around the scent of loss - and infinite sadness, a sadness he did not know how to end. But as time passed her sadness also disappeared, maybe even because of him or he preferred to think that. He was unsure though with whom she will side in that eternal conflict between Blades and dragons, hearing about his past sins… but she chose him, without hesitation, without doubt, she had truly believed in his redemption, abandoning the Blades once and for all.
And then… Then it was her victory over Alduin, their talk when he flied away for bringing the Way of the voice to other dov. When he returned she didn’t stop by to see him, and he didn’t know why, Odahviing though tried to tell him that she simply thought he was upset with her. Maybe he was right, Dovahkiin had in her to imagine things sometimes, maybe something in his voice set her off, but what was done couldn’t be undone. And then the sordid affair with vampires had happened and he thought that she had no time to visit, because, again applying to Odahviing, poor Dovahkiin hold herself highly responsible for that. Such noble and sweet child, always willing to help others… and she was very difficult to find too, so he had no other option then to wait for her visit. She had shared her life story with him even before that, she was such important part of his life, but he never told her that and he didn’t know why, maybe because he was afraid to, because it hurt so much to acknowledge someone as friend and then loose this person… she really meant a lot to him, but he didn’t say it, but if he did, he probably wouldn’t feel so alone right now. While he was thinking he noticed the soft sunrays that heralded another dawn… He sighed, not really paying attention, after her departure his days had become much slower, making him feels like he had become a drained resource. He was without her comforting presence, her powerful Th'um. The eroded thought invaded his mind so much that it had become difficult to meditate these days. If only she had never walked up that snowy path...
Without warning the light howling wind wasn't the only sound resonating in the chilled air. A repetitive sound of delicate weight crunching into the snow was evident.
Dannee and Elder Dragon both almost simultaneously locked eyes. Paarthurnax saw what he always was seeing in those sapphire depths – kindness and gentleness, but this time there was a degree of nervousness too. And Dannee saw in his eyes neither resentment nor other hard feelings. Was it joy?
“Drem yol lok, Paarthurnax,” Dannee bowed with courtesy before her mentor and a best friend.
“Drem yol lok, Dovahkiin, but there is no need for formalities. I’ve missed you too much to waste time for courtesy. Why hadn’t you come? Did your affairs with vampires keep you busy or… maybe there is no reason to see this Dovah anymore?”
“No! I’ve missed you so much! I thought it was you who didn’t want to see me, during our encounter after Alduin’s defeat you were so sad because of his death that I thought it is more then unappreciated of me to bother you with my company anymore.” She answered sincerely.
“Uslaad Crosis… I am truly sorry Dovahkiin, if something in my tone made you think that way. What you have done… you were left with no other choice, Alduin was far too lost in his darkness and pahlok, arrogance to reason with him… and I had a visions of possible future if he would win. The sights and sounds added a realistic feel to them. The scenes in the visions depicted absolute chaos and destruction. I could see buildings on fire, villagers panicking and running to safety, and... Alduin’s dragons. They dominated the sky and rained down fire like angry gods. Warriors, rogues, and mages gave it their all to stop the dragons. It appeared their efforts made little difference. It wasn’t the world I’ve wanted to see and you’ve saved us from it. How could I be angry with you? I enjoy the faad of your presence, you are my mid fahdon, loyal friend and it was more then depressing for me to be without your presence…” He was speaking the truth, there were only few people whom he could call a friend over his long life and Dovahkiin was even more then that, that bond with her that she felt was like family bond that he had once shared with Alduin, only his elder brother managed to destroy almost all his kind feelings for him… it was what he was good at… destroying everything but Dovahkiin was really like a child to him, little dova, very young and idealistic, but very precious. Then a simply thought has come to him, she made it through not only to talk to him and there was more, there was something behind her cloak that felt familiar… that power that flowed through both of them, but slightly different.
“You are so kind to me, so accepting… thank you Paarthurnax…” Dannee answered in a small voice. “You honor me with your words; I wish I could be more persistent and brave and come to see you earlier, so you wouldn’t feel so lonely. Forgive me.”
“There is nothing to forgive sweet kiir; it was my fault that you think that I didn’t want to be around you in the first place. But… Dovahkiin you intrigue me, since you thought that I didn’t want to see you why did you come? Something is causing you and your thoughts distress. I can see it your miin, eyes.” He paused and waited for her answer. He observed her and something did not seem right. In her previous visits, she had always seem to be eager to learn. Now, she seemed...distant. He could tell something definitely occupied her thoughts.
“This is not really a distress, but you are right. It is very important, for all of us… I always try to see more to the things around me, that what you taught me and since my last quest I had something that I think you will be more then interested to see.” Dannee replied in calm voice and showed him the thing she was carrying… Auriel’s Bow.
“It is my Bormah, my father’s weapon…” He replied in almost awed tone. She managed to surprise him, the thing that very few had accomplished. “Dovahkiin I think that a proper timvaak is in order and… I am very glad that you have dressed proper way to sit here with me without catching a cold.” He added in gentle voice which Dannee only smiled shyly. She had such sense of peace around Paarturnax, feeling herself safe, because he was so patient and gentle with her, always ready to listen, and his remark about her style made her rejoice even more, for he sounded quite… parental. Dannee never knew her father but wished he could be as wise and understanding as Paarturnax was. While she was thinking, he hovered a meter into the air, lifting himself off the wall and descended to the snowy ground beside her startled form.
"What are you doing?" Dannee questioned suspiciously looking him up and down.
"To listen you better and in case you are cold," he stated as a matter of fact. "The Dov are warmer blooded than the Jul."
Realization finally washes over the Dannee's face as her eyebrow raised up. "Are you sure?"
"I would not prefer you to freeze to death in the krul." He answered sternly.
“You are very kind to me,” Dannee replied gently and decided to tell her story, she thought she was quite good at it. “Well, it is a long story with many twists… So my story has started in Solitude, it was the first morning when vampires had dared to attack the city…” And Dannee started her story, telling him everything from very beginning, how she met with Dawnguard, how she accidentally rescued Serana, thinking before that rescue, that she was some sort of artifact, which every vampire sought for, how after few days that they travelled together she trusted her and blindly followed into a castle Volkihar, where she thought that Serana had betrayed her trust, and was left with everything she had ever wanted…
“Well,” Dannee replied honestly, learning on Paarthurnax’s wing.” I’ve wanted to see you that day, to tell how badly I screwed everything up, but I was afraid to disappoint you…”
“Dovahkiin, you have dova soul, but from my and Odahviing age you are a kiir, a child, it is expected for you to make mistakes and I couldn’t be disappointed in you, not after I’ve managed to know what is in your heart. I believe in you and since you have the Bow not only me believes in you. Now, please, proceed.”
Dannee softly signed, in truth she was afraid that he would really talk about her silliness but she was wrong in all accounts, maybe her fear to not meet with his expectations was the reason of it. “Well, it seems things were not as bad as they seemed to be those days...” Then she told him about Serana most unexpected return with her Elder Scroll, new adventures, that they had together which slowly lead them to all the answers they were seeking and finally about their final confrontation with Harkon and aftermath of it.
“You think I’ve one a wrong thing by letting Serana and her mother roam Tamriel freely once more?” Dannee asked with anxiety.
“Dovahkiin, my dear kiir, I can’t blame you for giving someone a second chance, because without your noble heart and nature, we wouldn’t be having this timvaak right now. But you’ve decided to give me forgiveness for my past sins along with second chance and I will never forget it. And the thing that you’ve managed to accomplish with Durnehviir… Oh, I knew that name long ago. Durnehviir had served as Alduin's Alok-Dilon, his necromancer, his knowledge only second to Alduin himself, for Durnehviir never discovered how to resurrect other dov in their true, not undead form, like Alduin did. Still, it was Durnehviir who had given Alduin's mortal worshipers the secret of transforming themselves into the Draugr, Durnehviir who had warped the eight Jul-Drog into the undying dragon priests. I am amazed that you did overpower Durveniir though; he was a fierce warrior in his own right, even without his Alok Dilon abilities. I thought that he was rotten to the core in every way but then again, he offered you his help and didn’t turn away in your time of need and didn’t betray you when you’ve summoned him. I’ve never suspected that he still could hold into his honor or what was left of it…” then Paarthurnax looked at Dovahkiin and smiled.
“You have this in you, am ability to change people and not only them… I wanted to say something to you, before we met the first time I’ve often thought that the evilness of this world seem to emerge out of every possible opening. It seems like no matter how much good is done, wickedness would wash over it like the waves of a rushing river." He shrugged. "I don't know...it just seems like my and Greybeards efforts were being wasted. That is one of the reasons why I and the Greybeards held neutral position, choosing not to interfere. I’ve even thought that if misery and corruption seem to rule this world is it...really worth saving? Then you and Alduin both arrived and I had a choice… Seeing you, you with all that suffering, loneliness and loss you went through, seeing how genuine you are in efforts to help, seeing your good heart I thought that as long as there are other people like you, there is a reason to fight and this world is definitely worth saving…”
Dannee smiled, she was kinda shy from receiving such high compliments. “I think you praise me highly my friend, but I am so glad that you taught me how to cope with my powers, explained your philosophy… I will never forget that day when you wished for Greybeards to organize peace council to stop civil war in Skyrim during Alduin’s menace. They seemed shocked at your decision and now I know why.”
“Geh…Yes, but I couldn’t turn away from your efforts to bring peace. And your influence… Well, take our mutual fahdon Odahviing for example. Because of you and because you have put faith in him, Odahviing now feels himself happy and truly free, you managed to turn him from Alduin so he could find his own way and he did, by protecting you. True, vampires are very dishonorable creatures, they were created to mock Arkey after all, but who knows maybe there is something human left in your new companion since Serana didn’t betray you as well as her mother. Maybe there is some hope for her as well, but I understand your caution.” He explained to her patiently.
“Yes, after my story, you see how dangerous it is to leave Auriel’s Bow in Dawnguard, that is why I’ve brought it to you, so you can hid it more safely, without even telling me where you intend to hide… I know you will protect it well but I must know the location. I planned this for a long time and now I think that if even the most dreary outcome will happen if vampires will manage somehow to catch me, no matter how much hard they will try to get the information from me, they wouldn’t, because you can’t confess something that you simply don’t know.” Dannee hold her breath and added softly. “So vampires really won’t get their hands on the Bow.”
“I see your point Dovahkiin, you very intelligent and cunning to see the situation from different angles. But why me, since you could summon Odahviing?” He asked, being curious.
Dannee has sighed heavily. “I know that Odahviing is very headstrong and rush, and he is very… protective of me.” Dannee remembered his battle prowess and his rage when he spotted her enemies, risking his life valiantly only to protect her… and that is why she summoned him on rare occasions fearing for his life.
“Well, if vampires will manage to get hold of me and willing to trade me for the location of the Bow, Odahviing will tell anything to get me free.” She added simply.
“Geh, he is very fond of you, even considers you his mal brinnah – little sister.” Replied Paarturnax with a smile. Truly fragile little Dovahkiin was Odahviing’s weakness and he could really do anything to save her. “But why you think I would never trade your safety for the Bow?”
“Because you are very wise and can see the big picture, what matters more - one life or the whole world safety? Besides I can manage quite well in a fight, both with my power and Dovahkiin’s talents, I’ve managed to kill pure blooded vampire lord, I just told you that for sake of the dreariest outcome. Maybe it would never come to this choice. And for now I'm not going anywhere." She smiled a smile that was only meant for him. No one else. He felt a surge of warmth run through him at her words and her demeanor. Having her around just felt...it felt right. Paarthurnax went silent for a moment, thinking about her words. He really appreciated her courage and cunning plan, but he wasn’t sure he was going to make choice unlike Odahviing.
“I agree to your plan but I can’t promise you that I will risk your life like that…”
“But why? I am just… well, me. I know that you had three friends and lost them, but it was because they chose the safety of the world as we know it and clashed against Alduin. I know you care for me… but you also care about the essence, about the people or otherwise you would never take pity on mortals all that ages ago when you taught them how to use Thu’um, turning away from your own brother in process… And I am just Dragonborn, even my special powers are not my own, Akatosh chose to give them to me… there could other Dragonborn after all, Greybeards once told it coiuld be two Dragonborn at one time…” Dannee replied slowly.
“There will be no such Dovahkiin as you… for me.” Paarthurnax answered sincerely. “I’ve wanted to ask something of you. I was worried about you when you were telling me about your story with Dawnguard. Such vampires as Serana and her mother, they are or were the servants of one of the most vicious Daedra, who held insatiable hunger to corrupt fair noble hearts and souls. As long as he and his servants value your unique soul, they wouldn’t harm you, because killing you will gain them nothing, but corrupting… Yet you stand true, all that promises of everlasting life and supreme power held nothing for you…. You may be a child comparing to Dova spin of life, but your resistance is truly astonishing thing. How do you manage to be so strong in your beliefs?” He was really curious, wondering if someone will tempt him like that, how would feel like? It definitely wouldn’t be easy almost for any Dova to resist such temptation of power.
“Because I didn’t want to loose myself in process, absolute power corrupts absolutely and I will not choose such way. Our lessons with you have taught me much more them just mastering Thu’um, they gave me a reason to fight for. I...there are a few who I consider to be family
And I fight for the ones I care about and if I will become selfish, self serving bloodsucker I will loose them, whether because they perish or because the only thing that would matter to me would be only my well being. And those persons I do care about so much...” Dannee made pause thinking about her words. “Those persons may not be human, elf, or whatever, they may not be blood related to me, but I don’t care. It does change how I feel about them. Each of them had something special that separated them from the rest. This was also the reason of my persistence while fighting with Alduin too. I still remember the day when he had attacked both of us, how valiantly you fought for me and I had fought for you. When I had seen the burnt marks and spots of blood on you, awful feelings surfaced in my heart. Sadness. Fear.” She shuddered when the images of that day played in her mind again...
She shook her head, making them go away and added: “Losing you would... I had seen enough misery in my travels to push myself to do my best to protect the ones I care about. No matter how bad things might get, I must remain strong and keep going or else I risk losing everyone precious to me. I just have to remember the ones I care about. The ones who make this world bright and worthwhile to me. I shouldn't give up...I can't give up!” She exclaimed passionately and then signed softly, suddenly feeling herself shy that she loose the hold of her tongue like that, after all Paarthurnax may consider her notions mostly funny…
“I deeply appreciate your honesty Dovahkiin, I can see your point now. And considering Daedra… they may try again to taint you with promises of power, if not Daedra of Corruption, then another one. Be wary of them, Dovahkiin.” He warned, because he had some sickening feeling that very likely it wasn’t the last time since one of the Daedric Princes will try to corrupt Dovahkiin and add her soul to his or her collection.
“I will, but not all of them are so fussing about Dragonborn, my friend,” Dannee smiled broadly in attempt to cheer him up.
“I hope you are right, mid fahdon. Just be… careful.”
“On the other hand maybe after everything I’ve been through while fighting of Alduin was the very thing that was destined of me by fate. The same applies to that story with Dawnguard, after all the whole ceiling has crushed in Auriel’s Chantry yet I emerged from there alive and even unharmed. Maybe it was a destiny…” Dannee suddenly said.
“Nid, after all Kelle… I mean Elder Scrolls tell about the events that could be, not will be.” Paarthurnax hearing her story, especially how endangered Dovahkiin, when she told him she nearly very close to the point of no return during reading the Elder Scroll, after all dangers she faced in Soul Cairn and here in Skyrim, decided to confess all that he felt about her here and now. Life is a harsh thing and we don’t get many chances to tell people how important they are to us.
“I do not think Akatosh would have bestowed the gift of Dovahkiin unto you if he did not believe in you and your abilities. And Dovahkiin… it is true Akatosh has given you the power of Thu’um but all things that you’ve accomplished, defeating Alduin, saving the world from being plunged in darkness not to count your other noble deeds… you did all that on your own, making your own choices… That is why Auriel’s paladin Gelebor gave you the Bow, he knew as well as Auriel that you were worthy person to wield such weapon and now you are doing very wise thing, such weapon can’t fall into wrong hands.” He made a pause and then added, meaning every word: “It is said that father is the one who guides you, who teaches you how to live your life when you are young and vulnerable. I know that you never knew your father Dovahkiin, but if I was your father I would be very proud of you.”
Dannee took a few steps towards Paarthurnax's crouched frame where his long neck aloud his head to hang from the stone wall in a dismal fashion. She cocked her head to the side with a bemused expression before gently reaching under his chin with her gloved hand, urging him to look at her.
“Paarthurnax you have no idea how much your words mean to me…” She said barely holding tears that what she always wanted, a sense of being in a family, but she felt only around her beloved dragons.
“Oh, Dovahkiin, didn’t you get it by now? Inside you are Dovah, you just don't resemble the Dov physically, but in a sense you could consider me and Odahviing your fron… relatives if you want. And if Odahviing cares for you like for a little sister as I do care for you. Mu fen kos mul, Dovahkiin. Zu askk hio, wuth kiir.”
“Paarthurnax, I love you and Odahviing,” Dannee confessed finally, her words as genuine as the bright smile lighting up her delicate face. “You are right; you are both the closest thing I have for a family, when I’ve told you about the ones I fight for, I was telling about you and him. And what did you say in your last sentence? Something about child?”
“Geh. I’ve said that I love you as I would if you were my own child. And together we will be strong.” He answered patiently as he always did, leaned his head down to her forehead, the Dov way of showing affection.
“You have a word for love?” Dannee was pleasantly surprised.
“Of course we have, or do you think that Dov can’t feel love? We can, though it is quite a task to make us feel this way, but we can love, you can perfectly see it for yourself, because your heart knows this feeling. Askk – that means love in our language.”
“Oh, Odahviing, that absolutely insufferable dovah! How could he not tell me?!” Dannee muttered crankily which only made Paarthurnax smile. Odahviing once said to her, after they nearly lost each other during one battle: “Zu askk hio, mal brinnah.” And that meant: “I love you, little sister.” Dannee almost laughed to herself, of course Odahviing being headstrong and seemingly calm and unfeeling dovah was somehow afraid to acknowledge his true feelings so bluntly, so he decided to tell about his sibling love, without actually telling it.
“I am so happy Paarthurnax; this is the first day since the defeat of Alduin when I feel such joy and peace in my soul. Thank you.” She replied honestly, feeling herself warmed by his confession, that he really felt the very thing she felt for him, family bond.
“It goes both ways, but I think we should meditate together and carry out your plan afterwards. As for gratitude... thank YOU, Dovahkiin.” He felt her shuffle slightly as she rested her hand against his rough scales. He could feel her warmth reflecting off of him as his own did with her. They were so different in appearance yet still providing comfort for one another was a beautiful thought to him.
Dannee leaned against her dragon friend, has sighed happily. She still had to visit Winterhold College planned and maybe have a holiday week after all, but she would never trade anything for this time she shared with her dragon friend. She felt such incredible sense of serenity, joy and happiness, which she didn’t feel for a long time.
In that exact moment, the northern light sky coating them both in colored light, with Dovahkiin leaning against him, Paarthurnax felt true sense of peace for the first time in the past months too. He slowly closed his eyed as she did the same, willing to trade all his years on Nirn just so he could savor this moment.