Dannee and Serana finally return to Skyrim, though they both just can't help but remember their help to Redoran House in flashback as well as Dannee parting ways with her new friends at Solstheim. Also they contemplate in a certain holiday that is coming in Skyrim, while Serana also thinks of plan to return Dannee to her cheerful self after that horrid story with Miraak and his master.
This is a continuation of that story - http://skyrim.nexusmods.com/images/235580
"So dear, how you've liked our little journey?" Serana asked with an obvious sarcasm while walking with Dannee in Riften. Even in this region of ever autumn there was a sense of spring atmosphere. Even the leaves looked brighter. Dannee looked at her and smiled, while Serana thought it was definitely an improvement, Dannee now wore new dress, even changed her hairstyle slightly, which was perfect for peaceful surroundings and made her look more elegant.
Truth to be said Serana couldn't stand this city; it was dirty hole of thieves, with twisted family of Blackbriars in charge and nervous people. It all made her uneasy, but Dannee looked quite content, so she supposed she could try to find something good here too. It was their seventh day back in Skyrim and she tugged Dannee here, for her to look at her favorite autumn and Serana hoped she would become her cheerful self again.
"Well, the journey wasn't so little. But I am glad how it turned out with Redoran…" Dannee replied, thinking about her current surroundings, into a frenzy of fiery fall foliage: crimson and gold, ocher and pine, burgundy and bronze. Autumn…lovely, lovely autumn, with its brilliant colors, crisp winds and just a hint of snow in the air…fall was perfection. The beautiful weather called to her, and she couldn't resist its siren song.
"Indeed, you have saved the First Councilor Lleril Morvayn from the assassination attempt and I can't say it was boring. Now those people adore you!" Serana replied, while Dannee waved her hand dismissingly, glad that she helped those people, but thinking that desiring of constant praises for good deed, will diminish the worth of it and she also thought about that evening when they were approached by the second councilor who asked her help…
Apparently everyone thought of him as paranoid, but he feared for councilor's life and was right to do so, for he told them there was conspiracy in town. Apparently House Hlaalu who has fallen from grace since Empire abandoned Morrowind in the time of need during Oblivion crisis, still struggled. A long time ago, one of the Hlaaly Vilur Ulen has arrived in Raven Rock and using his money bought half of the town to see fist councilor executed all because that Hlaaly wanted to have ebony mine and the reaches such possession could offer. Luckily captain Veleth managed to destroy the conspiracy and that greedy Vilur himself was executed, but his family wanted revenge, although the first councilor acted only in self defense. Dannee of course decided to help, but now with Serana, who said she wouldn't let her wonder alone in danger again. So, after following the gossip told them by Geldis Sadri they learned that in Raven Rock there was Ulen Ancestral Tomb and someone was leaving their a tribute to the fallen members of this family.. It was Dunmer tradition to honor the dead and even sneaky Hlaalu couldn't ignore it, even by risking to be exposed. But whenever the guards tried to catch this mysterious person they found nothing. So Dannee took it upon herself to do their work, as Geldis Sadri put it: ""If you want to catch those slippery slaughterfish, you need to let them come to you."
So at night Dannee sneaked to the tomb, only to find most unusual guest, the wife of the wealthiest man in Raven Rock, Talisi Severin.
Asking her what she is doing there Telisi simply answered: "I presume the same thing you're doing... leaving an offering for the departed." When Dannee tried to confront her with the fact that she is not a member of the Ulen family, she brushed her off with: "Since there aren't any Ulens left on this island, I've taken it upon myself to leave the traditional offering in their stead."
Dannee only nodded but said nothing specific, only telling that she was also here to honor the fallen and later after telling about this accident to councilor Arano she was sent to Severin manor, for further investigation… She and Serana couldn't even ask anything there because as soon as they opened the door, they were attacked by Tilisu and Mirra Severin, but even despite surprise, they counterattacked quickly, putting an end to them, because they left then no choice…
"Great, just great, first we were forced to scratch the dinner, them you, my dear, was sent to spy near the tomb and within it and now we were attacked by these fetchers. The Severin family is among the wealthiest families in Raven Rock and is in good standing, as they have shared their wealth with the community for years… bla-bla-bla and now look at them, they are petty criminals." That was Serana of course.
"I think that they either are working with Ulen family, or their identities must be false and these are descendants of treacherous Vilur Ulen." Dannee calmly answered. She can't help but to feel excitement, clearing the tombs was not boring, but to work as this, by investigating strange stories as this made her really exited and focused at the same time.
"Yes, yes, and you want to save Morvain, who also sees in awe for you." Serana smirked while they searched the house for some clues about the truth behind the fa?ade of Severin family.
"Serana, you love making fun of me, don't you?" Dannee asked smiling. "You ship me with everyone! Harkon, Erik, Neloth and now with poor councilor Morvain!"
"Dannee you are just very funny when you blush or embarrassed and I can't stop myself!"
"Well, seems like you just like to tease, don't you? Believe me, I want to Morvain him because he is a good man, a fair ruler, he is the center of the Raven Rock…'
"As Storn was the center of the Skaal, only now that he is dead, you want to revisit the citation, make things right again." Serana smiled but her eyes were serious and Dannee thought that she seemed to know her secrets like she saw them through her eyes...
"You are right, but this time I will not fail. Ulen is a mortal man as well as his spies and assassins, so there will be a reckoning," Dannee answered sternly and finally unlocked the safe chest, which revealed a letter, which said about "The Ulen Matter", a letter written by family patriarch Vendil Severin, but signed by 'Vendil Ulen'.
Dear Councilor Saldin,
In a manner of days I believe we'll be ready. Our forces hidden within Ashfallow Citadel have been training night and day, ready to strike when we give the signal. With Captain Veleth lately distracted by the ash spawn attacks, the timing seems perfect. I've waited nearly a decade to exact my revenge upon Lleril Morvayn for the death of my ancestor and I long for the moment my blade will be drawn across his throat. The next letter you'll receive from me will include his head in a sack. Display it proudly in the halls of House Hlaalu, brother.
The letter clearly confirmed Dannee's and Arano's suspicions, as it described the plan to assassinate Councilor Lleril Morvayn as an act of revenge for the execution he had ordered on a member of the Ulen family years back.
"See, I've told you!" Dannee exclaimed and Serana only smiled, she loved to see Dannee like this, focused and determined.
"We should go then and bring this news to Arano, poor guy will become laughingstock of Raven Rock if we won't!" Dannee added, nodding to her friend to follow her.
As the result of their new conversation with second councilor Arano, they were both sent to help two of the Redoran guard, to hunt Ulens at Ashfallow Citadel, a place mentioned in the letter. Well, unfortunately for Redoran guards, the place was occupied by Morag Tong assassins so they stood no chance. Serana only struggled her shoulders at such carelessness, in her opinion it was better to send the whole squad, but of course Arano that sly Dunmer decided not to waste any more men and send after assassin a fabled Dragonborn instead. She didn't know whether Dannee knew that she was used, probably she did, but that was her way to cope with her latest issues, so she should be at her side, just like Dannee was at hers when she was most vulnerable during the whole story with Harkon and his madness. The whole citadel was filled with ash, so the only whole sections were narrow corridors and passages, filled with traps and Morag Tong assassins. Dannee only smirked, after ugly story with Ebony Blade and poor Jarl children she possessed no pity for Mephala's worshippers and besides she viewed it as a challenge, she once dealt with Dark Brotherhood, so it was time to know whether their eternal rivals were better at combat.
As it turned out, those guys maybe be brilliant at sneaking but straight forward battle in narrow corridors left then little chances to survive. The most dangerous were archers but Serna took care of them, using blood and ice magic, firing at the distance. She got Dannee back, while her friend continued to fight ferociously, once again chasing for proving herself that she is a capable hero…
In the last section however the door shuttered behind Dannee blocking Serana's way, but Dannee decided to fight two Morag Tong assassins and the main conspirator - Vendil Severin who attacked her with a cry: ""For Vilur Ulen! Long live House Hlaalu!"
Dannee said nothing, too focused on a fight, the man was a very capable fighter despite that Hlaalu were usually merchants but certainly no warriors, their blades clashed dozen times before Dannee used quite a dirty move punching her opponent just below his belt and as he hissed from pain, used her ebony blade to finish the job.
Serana clapped at her friend, noticing that despite everything what has never faded were Dannee's battle skills. Of course later second councilor thanked them and both of them witnessed their conversation.
"Excuse me, Councilor Morvayn? I have some wonderful news." Arano proudly walked into mansion, knowing that since this day no one will think of him as old paranoid.
"Adril... I haven't seen a smile on your face like that in a long time." Morvain was surprised and intrigued.
"Daniella, who is traveler and has no obligation to us, agreed to help me and has single-handedly dealt with a threat that could have ended your life. Vendil, Tilisu and Mirri Severin weren't who they appeared to be. I'm afraid they were here to avenge Vilur Ulen's death."
First Councilor was overjoyed to hear about her success.
"What you've done for me... for all of Raven Rock... goes far beyond what I would have expected from a traveler to our town. For this, you have my deepest gratitude." He smiled at her and added: "Now. I'm certain Adril Arano was prepared to reward you appropriately for everything you've done. However, since a bit of coin hardly seems like enough... I've decided to provide something more substantial. Since the Severin family... or whoever they were...turned out to be criminals, their property is now forfeit. As Councilor, I hereby award you Severin Manor and everything contained within. You've earned your citizenship here, and I hope you'll consider staying with us as a member of our community."
"But I am just an outsider…" Dannee was shocked at such warmth of his words and the warmth that was in his eyes…
"You are so much more then that. Daniella, if something will happen in Skyrim, if you will at the odds with Empire or those rebels, please come back here, Skyrim laws and her justice means nothing here, so our citizens will greet you with open arms…"
"Thank you councilor, I will return here, I… well, now I have few friends here and of course it will be most unpleasant and distasteful to abandon them." Dannee smiled at him sweetly.
"Dannee, hello!" Serana's voice snapped Dannee back to present time and reality. "You are daydreaming again, aren't you? What, handsome councilor is still in your mind?" Serana smirked, feeling herself in playful mood.
"Serana, for the Sovngarde sake, he is a first councilor, a very important political figure, they marry only Dunmer women! Besides, he is not my type anyway." Dannee made an angry face, thought angry she wasn't of course. Serana was just trying to lighten their moods, knowing that she always reacted like this while she mentioned her possible chances on love affair. In truth Dannee was even glad for such teasing, the whole affair in Solstheim left quite bitter feeling, she was happy that she really brought Raven Rock from the brink of destruction but it still didn't change the fact how badly she screwed up at Skaal village and failed the people who trusted her. True Frea didn't blame her when she came to pay her respect and bright flowers to Storn's resting place, but nothing would ever be the same as before, not to mention that Dannee felt uneasy facing them…
"And your dear old Neloth?" Serana asked innocently.
"Serana!" Dannee growled at her, remembering her time of parting ways with Telvanni… It was sort of sweet and nice, before Skyrim she never had the person who would have missed her… ad now she had such persons in Solstheim too, only in Neloth case he would rathewr hang himelf then admit it. Still after their reconciliation he wasn't so rude as before and when she told him and Talvas that she should return to Solstheim he made poker face.
"Dannee, I hope to see you again soon, I will miss your friendly face, your stories and you…" That was Talvas of course.
"Yes, yes, you adore her. Talvas you such a sentimental piece of work, but we all know that." Neloth was of course as "charming" as always.
"Neloth! Leave your poor apprentice alone and Talvas... I will miss you too, be careful with conjuration spells." Dannee shook her finger playfully at him and young Dunmer smiled at her.
"Dragonborn, it was very fascinating working with you but I suggest you to come back, or I will go to Skyrim myself. Besides, you have promised me to deliver a briarheart from Forsworn and…" Neloth tried to maintain a business like approach but still thought he was going to miss her, her stories and her never ending antagonism to his manners.
"And the book that you've mentioned to me and Azra's staff, I remember and I will miss you too, Neloth." Dannee replied softly, and unceremoniously patted his shoulder, knowing full well, what he was really feeling but wouldn't tell it. Neloth only scoffed and walked away in his study, hoping that no one noticed his frustration that Dragonborn was leaving them. But what warmed his heart, that she promised to return and she always honored her promises…
"So what about Telvanni?" Serana once again asked, snatching her in present time once again but when Dannee tried to shoo her away, she only laughed. "I mean it Dannee, of course I a more then happy to return, but the Heart's Day is fast approaching so it would fitting for you to stay where men are finitely not feeling indifference to you."
"Oh, gosh, Serana, please, stop shipping me with poor Telvanni! I've already told you that I don't want to be with anyone and besides Neloth and Talvas are not interested in me that way either."
Dannee then sighed, because she knew that Heart's Day wasn't the only holiday on 16th Sun's Dawn, it was Sam… Sanguine's summoning day in High Rock. For some reason it appeared almost ironic that the day of love was also a day when the manifestation of lust and hedonism could be officially summoned in mortal world…
"And Serana, please, do not mention this holiday too, it will be men mass attack on women with flowers and with pink color everywhere…" Dannee muttered, not very glad of such change of topic. She knew about this day, everyone knew -16th Sun's Dawn is a holiday celebrated all over Tamriel as Heart's Day. It seems that in every house, the Legend of the Lovers is being sung for the younger generation. In honor of these Lovers, Polydor and Eloisa, the inns of all Tamriel offer a free room for visitors. If such kindness had been given the Lovers, it is said, it would always be springtime in the world. Now, with Sam gone there won't be any shared happiness of love to her this day, instead it will become single day awareness.
"Not only flowers dear, women will be showered with roses and chocolates, gifted with jewelry and music, surprised with declarations of love and romantic proposals and shown displays of devotion by lovers and admirers alike. Back in the day, the everlasting tradition of wooing women with displays of gallant gestures, tsunamis of hearts, teddy bears and chocolates, words of adoration and praise mainly to make up for man's pompous behavior. So for one day, all men-husbands and boyfriends, lovers and philanderers alike turned into modern-day Prince Charmings trying to escape the clutches of the evil witches-ahem, trying to please their princesses before turning back to their original form which never strayed too far from the toad!"
Serana added, still smiling with sarcasm, because she hated that day. She found herself terribly annoyed that Heart's Day was just around the corner. It was just another reminder of how crappy her life currently was and what she could never have.
"Serana, you are funny, but I suggest you to do not share your opinion with happy lovers, or it will end up badly. I do not hate this day really but… Why go through all the fuss of buying the gifts and whatnot if you could simply show them how you felt by words and actions? What was the point of all the flowers and gifts anyway? Weren't they all just for show?" Even when Dannee was young, she never celebrated the holiday. She had no reason to, for she used to think that her parents had no undying epic love that made her think it wasn't her thing too.
"Of course it is crappy excuse of a holiday is just for show." Serana replied, still hateful during all this sentimental stuff that will be appearing soon enough.
Dannee only laughed and Serana looked at her closer. Dannee was almost like before, almost because there was still a hint of sadness in her eyes, it was especially evident when she brought flowers to Storn's resting place and parted ways with Frea…
And besides peaceful life was a challenge for adventurer, but for now Dannee seemed very pleased by their return.
Dannee said to her earlier that she wanted to take a little rest, then fulfill her promise to Neloth, by bringing him the stuff he desired, then she could go to College and present her new book of journeys, then…
"You're thinking about him. Again." She noticed, looking into Dannee's eyes, meaning her strange and complicated relationship with Sam or Sanguine, although Dannee still naively hold to the past memories ad used his alias Sam instead of his real name, because that brought her comfort and made her think of him as human, but human he wasn't and they both knew that.
Dannee thought with certain fondness that it seems nothing could escape from her friend's ever vigilant gaze. Of course she was thinking of him because of that Heart's Day talk.
"It was love." And that means everything.
"And did it bring you happiness?" Serana asked interested why Dannee still gotten over it.
It did. Dannee knows it did. Before all the tears and the hurt and wondering why she wasn't good enough and wasn't worth to be something more then just pleasant diversion and means to dispel his boredom. Dannee knows the answer, she knows love is everything! So why does she feel nothing more then sadness?
"I don't know." Sleepless nights, her throat hurting from unshed sobs, red rimmed swollen eyes that left her head pounding from sharp and cruel heartbreak. The pain is not the same. It's dull and pointless because when she thinks of that morning when they parted ways, she feels numb. Numb and nothing else. "I don't remember."
Serana looked in her eyes and saw the real answer, but not only Dannee's answer but possibly a way to bring her comfort. Serana knows better than most the darkness that lurks in the hearts of men. She's spent her life drawing it out, teasing the threads of truth from the lies that are woven around them, the lies that people tell even to themselves. But they can't lie to her, not once she's taken them with her blood magic; she's listened, stone faced, to the secrets that drop from their lips. The words tumble out, offered up to her in adoration and desperation: the children they've hurt; the innocents they've killed; the souls they've condemned to perdition.
But their condemnation is nothing to hers. Except she didn't see the darkness in Dannee. She didn't want to know of the anger that stained even her bright soul, anger for the one who was and continue to be immortal and eternal, out of her reach of revenge, Daedra of Knowledge, the one who hurt her so much. Serana knew exactly how does it feel to be used like an object for Daedric Lord amusement, but Dannee was coping well enough with it. First it was despair, then sadness, then anger, then her reckless behavior when she travelled alone in most dangerous lairs in Solstheim. Serana has been through all this herself, it was normal, but the one thing that helped her cope with her situation, emotional break-down, tears, letting out all her hurt wasn't there. She can't help but see it now; see it and ache for Dannee. Now that she knows that it's there, =but Dannee holds it to herself tightly, terrified that she will lose control of herself and let her emotions out. Serana understands why; knows of her fears and her shame. She's always understood Dannee, better than even she could have guessed, but this is more than just something she understands.
This is something she lives.
But Dannee won't talk to her about it, about her fears, locking it away from everything, even from her, probably wanting to be strong and remain as the safe anchor as she did when Serana needed her most. But Serana can see how it eats away at her: how it dims her smile in quiet moments; how it shadows her eyes; how she starts holding himself apart from her and those who care about her and those she cares about, so scared of hurting them that she hurts them anyway.
She knows her well, as well as she knows herself, she thinks sometimes. She's taught her how to hide her emotions, which is not the time for it. Dannee has taught her how to love again, how to let someone in no matter how much pain it causes. She's taught her how to hope for things to be better, and how even just the hope of it can make it so.
She's seen Dannee whole and she's seen her almost broken and she's seen everything in between.
Her heart is almost broken now, the pieces all jagged and sharp, and she needs to put her back together, figure out how to twist and turn all of those pieces until they fit.
She knows her. She knows what she needs. And she knows what she needs to do, even if it means leaving her alone. Serana didn't just remember the stupid Heart's Day for nothing, she knew about whose summoning Day it was and who Sanguine probably would like to see, if she calculated it right. Despite her disdain for this Daedra and his way of life, he once brought Dannee from the brink of complete depression and could do so again, if she accepts him, if not or if he won't return to her, it will result in complete break up, but she will let out all that anger that stained her soul and she will be back completely. That what mattered.
"Serana, the holidays aside, but what you plan to do?" Dannee asked softly, changing the uneasy theme of lost love, unaware of her line of thoughts.
"I plan to visit my mother, we didn't see each other for a month and besides she is a perfect candidate when I want to have a quirky conversation about something." Serana smiled carefree, carefully watching Dannee's reaction.
"Of course, I understand, she is your mother, if I was in your place, I would the same." Dannee looked at Serana with sympathy.
"But if you don't to be alone…"
"No, it is perfectly fine. Your mother loves you and I am sure she was worried sick about your absence, you didn't even write to her!" Dannee of course could understand that Valerica and Serana relationship was very complicated but she had a feeling that Serana was acting so coldly to Valerica in revenge for the trials she has pout her in the past. Dannee also thought that if she was in her place, she would have forgiven her mother, but Serana wasn't her.
"Dannee only promise me not to involve yourself with single handedly wiping out some old ruins from undead or equally silly and suicidal deed." Serna warned her softly.
"Fine, I promise." Dannee smiled at her charmingly thinking that Serna wads such an over-protective person.
"Because if you do, I promise that it will be a long eternity in the whatever afterlife with me there to remind you of your stupidity. And don't you dare even think about giving your life for greater good! Then the eternity will be even longer." Serana practically growled, but Dannee wasn't even slightly unnerved, she knew that despite such tone Serana will never do anything that could hurt her.
"Alright, mamma bear, I promise," She chuckled softly at Serana's bemused expression and added. "I need a time to think things through, to edit my book about Solstheim and my journey to Oblivion… Besides Jordis will be happy to see me at Solitude. I will go to my dragon friends later, when I will take a bit of rest." Dannee explained, her expression unreadable. She noticed Serana's uneasiness and thought that she was up to something, besides of course her sincere desire to see her mother, but what she was up to? Serana obviously wanted to leave her alone in Solitude, but why? Only if… No, Sam wouldn't return to her… he almost got the love confession out of her and was gone, his pursuit ended and interest lost. It was silly, and Dannee didn't know why Serana of all people would hope for them to meet again. No matter, Dannee now knew exactly how stupid it is to put trust in Daedric promises and besides she really wanted to be alone for a while, to contemplate and to think how to know for sure that there is nothing that ties her with Daedra of Knowledge except his desire to see her by his side as amusing plaything.
"So then it is settled, but we will spend the rest of the day here and maybe walk in the forest. What do you think?" Serana asked teasingly.
"I am in, of course!" Dannee smiled at her sincerely, like it was a normal day and the journey to Solstheim never was.
"Dannee, don't you catch yourself on a thought that you just wanted to forget about that trip to Solstheim? Is it all worth it? Is the quest for knowledge and fight with the first Dragonborn worth all this pain?" What worried Serana most is that since that moment when she first saw her in Skaal village during that gruesome day Dannee hasn't cried since, not even when she's alone; there are no telltale signs of red-rimmed eyes and blotchy cheeks. She knew, well that a long time ago in her case, the catharsis of tears, and a part of her wants Dannee to know it too, feels that it might help her.
Dannee looked at her seriously. "I don't know about worth, but I know that I don't want to forget. If I didn't have the painful memories, then I wouldn't know what the good ones were like, right? I - I just couldn't let it go, no matter what the pain. I'm sorry."
"There is nothing to be sort for, dear and one day you will understand this, and if you need me, I will be here for you as I know you will be for me. Our friendship is our strength. We have always been at each other side and nothing will ever change that." These words were sincere in their beauty and Dannee smiled lightly.
Everything about the moment was perfect - as perfect as two drastically imperfect, flawed, people could be together. There was an element of healing between them, not just the physical healing - but spiritual, emotional, mental. They wandered, lost and abused by their worlds, but together they found rest and safety. The found each other. They found someone to cling to when the storms of life come rolling in and threaten to drown them.