Skyrim: Stolen Memories - Chapter 50 - GT_The_Beast (2024)

Chapter Text

Serana awoke. Her skin tingled. Every part of her thrummed with power and bubbly bursts of giddiness. It was still some early part of the day, and she could see a pile of limbs nearby. Babette and Alva cuddling and asleep. Ardwen was lightly snoring on another part of the bed. She realized with a start that she was still in her maid outfit. Shifting her legs, she noticed that she was in the chair across from the bed. Careful to not let the shoes touch the floor, she took stock of herself. Someone covered her with a blanket.

As she squeezed her thighs together she felt a flutter as her insides pressed against the very same malachite eggs from yesterday. Someone had put them back into the same configuration! She bit her lip keeping her gasping down. A tiny muffle spell escaped her lips, and she was able to stand up and carefully walk out of the room. Quietly, she shut the door to the bedroom and looked around at her bookstore. Candlelight was moving on the lower floor, and she realized it was probably Alfe. Hopefully it wasn’t Brynjolf. Or perhaps hopefully it might be. Right now her body was feeling a bit conflicted about him.

Coming down the stairs like a wraith, she noticed that it was Alfe! The dunmer was wearing a dress that had to have come from their Volkihar things. It had thin straps that met behind the neck, and conformed to the shape of her body before stopping at mid-thigh. Low heels were on her feet, though the shortest anyone had in this house may have been that pair. Even with that, she could see Alfe reaching down to her ankles in pain.

She was packing a bag with food. A traveling cloak was upon her arm. Silently, she followed the dunmer as she went to the main room and started writing a note. Serana frowned. Alfe was leaving. Trying to sneak out before anyone would notice. She didn’t even have a knife. Serana picked one of the elven daggers they had and let it impact the table. Three feet from her.

The dunmer jumped, one hand filled with spell and the other holding her bag. “By Azura!” She hissed. “N’wah!”

“Leaving without a weapon, at least?” Serana asked, seeing that the note only had a small note of thanks.

Alfe looked around at the bookstore. “There will be many where I am going.”

“Listen, I don’t mind if you do that. But I only ask you do that after I prove to Mercer that I found and delivered you.” She offered. “Otherwise I face a nasty curse.”

“You followed after me into a vale forgotten by time.” Alfe’s hand dropped. The woman winced at her feet, and then sat down. “Damn ankles.”

“Let me see.” Serana demanded. Her own feet hated to be flat at this point. It hurt, to have flat shoes on. Even though she was an undead, the thought of having her feet flat against the floor sounded like asking for soreness and trouble. Alfe brought up her foot, not quite scowling. But Serana could see that these low heels weren’t doing her any favors. She needed taller ones. So she whisked off the shoes, her motions faster than normal. The feather enchantment in the maid outfit gloves with their obnoxious red bows made the effort easier.

“Wait!” Alfe whispered, as Serana stood up and walked away with the shoes. Alfe tried to follow, but stumbled. “No!” Serana smiled, seeing that she couldn’t put her own feet down flat.

“Sit. I’m getting you ones that fit better.”

“I’m trying to train my feet back to normal!” Those ring-shaped heels really did damage her ankles. “It should be possible to build back up those strengths.”

“They don’t match your outfit.” Serana insisted, finding their collection of thrall things and getting the most outrageous pair she could find. A thigh-high pair of boots that took minutes to lace. But the heel was severe. A good match for the ones she had already been subject to. “Here you go.” In one part of her mind, she noted that Alfe wouldn’t be able to just run off as fast in those.

Alfe frowned, but laced them up nonetheless. “I haven’t been properly appreciative for your help. The last time I was close to a non-Dunmer was an era past.”

“I didn’t know any Dunmer when I was in the Second era, though I saw a couple join as vampires to my family’s court.” Serana shrugged, aware of how the maid dress would respond. “So that puts us on even terms.”

“I have avoided heroes and types that attract trouble for many years.” She safely said. “I had family that were that way, and it became bothersome when they would go nd drag their troubles home with them. One of my sisters dragged home this bedraggled and completely blight sickened dunmer once. We ignored them for the most part, and I missed the chance to get to know the Neravarine. Good riddance.”

“So you don’t want to spend more time next to us?” Serana guessed.

“You’ve got a hero’s mark on your collar. I’ve seen it before, in a book once. Some golden sword belonging to Boethiah.” Alfe mentioned, setting the bag she had been planning to abscond with down. “The longer I stay near things like that, the less I will see any sort of peace.”

“How undisturbed did you want to be?” Serana could see that she had packed a cloak, as well as a number of dry food items. No valuables, which was a good sign of trust. She wasn’t trying to be a thief.

“Preferably? As little Nord contact as possible. As little Dunmer contact as possible. Once people find out I’m a surviving guide mage they start foaming at the mouth and demanding information.”

Serana got an idea. It was a stretch, but she knew some friends. “What if you had to deal with one roommate. One very large and very terrifying partner that would keep away all of the chaff and you could have someone ancient to talk to?” Serana brought out a map of skyrim. “You could live in almost any province, and I could arrange for you to be almost completely left alone by the little folk.”

“Do tell.” Alfe mused. “Almost completely?”

“The roommate might capture and collect mortals for the fun of it. I can’t always predict their moods.” She pointed at her collar. “There are dragons in every mountain range. Maybe in some parts of Cyrodil, High Rock and Vvardenfell. I can ask if any will be willing to take you on. You can learn their language, and enjoy something as eternally patient as yourself as a living companion. They don’t care much for things that involve thumbs, and will protect you from unwanted attention.”

Alfe closed her eyes and considered it. “I used to live on a mountaintop here. But a dragon evicted me at one point. We exchanged magical spells, and could not kill one another. So I figured out how to deal with them the next time. I’ve killed one.” She preened.

“Temporarily.” Serana amended. “If you’re talking about the one in the vale. He’ll be back up and flying again within the month.” Once she brought their bones to Alduin. The look of shock on Alfe’s face was distinctly satisfying. “Dragons have permanence in their souls. They can be revived by their Thuri, or leader. So long as their bones remain, or their soul can find something to inhabit they can be revived.”

“Extraordinary.” She mused. “Fine. I shall stay, if only the chance to learn these strange magicks and have a chance at this hidden life.”

“I need you to help me pull off a ruse.” Serana said directly. “I need to prove I collected you to Mercer. Once you are ‘collected’ you need to protect yourself from his powers. He has ways of breaking people. You need to resist that magick or power and then escape once he thinks I’ve fulfilled my bargain. Once I deliver you, he’s going to give me another task. It’s what I would do in his shoes.”

“If you can secure me peace with the dragons, and a place they can sequester me I will be more than grateful.” Alfe said. “I’ll show you the guide spells.” She grabbed a scroll from her bag, staring at the old daedric runes that ran along both sides. “This was going to be my apology to you. It’s only half the function, but it is something lost to this era’s mages nonetheless. This scroll will teach you the Mark spell. It is paired with a spell called Recall, which brings you to the most recent Mark you have cast. Powerful guides can go back to multiple Marks.”

Serana’s fingers itched as she saw that. New magic?! Ancient magic! Alfe handed her the obvious bribe, as Serana acted more patient than she was. “You’ll teach me the other spell later?”

“Only once someone has a Mark will you ever teach a Recall spell. Or else it just transports you to lost parts of Oblivion.” Serana shuddered at that. She could see that being very risky. One thing was for certain. She wasn’t learning this spell with six eggs shoved inside of herself. “I’ll teach you the way I plan on escaping. Though I warn you, it can only be used by the spellcaster. Higher grades of transporting others with you to Marked locations are available once you learn the base skill.” Alfe spoke slowly, carefully. Like she only wanted to do this once. “I will watch you learn that scroll and then burn the knowledge from this world. The island of Artaem has sought to purge this information from the world in the wake of some kind of events at the end of the Third Era. I haven’t bothered to learn why, only that some of the only other Telvanni that exist from that time expressed their worry about the targeting of Guild Guides and other master mages of mysticism. What happened to Ardarume was heinous enough.” The name wasn’t familiar to Serana, but it looked like Alfe was remembering a lost friend.

“It’s nice to actually speak to you.” Serana smiled honestly. “The gag made things difficult. Though, how were you speaking around it? I could hear your voice, but the gag was still on.”

Alfe bit her lip, and crossed her legs. “I used magic to make the gag not exist technically. I couldn’t make it disappear permanently, but I could make it no longer stop me from communicating for a time. The longer I was trying to talk, the more magicka I was burning through to accomplish it.”

“More mysticism?”

“Something like that.” She promised. “Is there anything good to eat in this city? Not that you’d be perfectly knowledgeable as a vampire, but.” She shrugged. “Had to ask.”

“The fish is excellent.” Ardwen spoke up, yawning as she came down the stairs. A slim nightgown gave her a sense of modesty. Her hair did not. Ardwen’s frizzy explosion of hair promised a wild night’s story, or maybe just a redhead’s natural state of being in the morning. Ardwen hated for others to see her before she had controlled that wild hair, usually. She was moving stiffly, a reminder that Ardwen could hardly defend herself. Serana had to protect her. “Princess, I think my brush is still in your bag.” Ah, that explained the normally taboo appearance of the frizzy hair.

“I’ll get it for you.” She started to get up, but Alfe stopped her.

“Learn that spell, now.” The dunmer insisted. “It’s not for anyone else.”

Ardwen chuckled, but sat herself down. “Trying to steal my maid?” She made no move to read the scroll, else she might get herself into trouble.

Serana ignored whatever banter they were getting into, and tried to learn this spell. It was difficult, in a way that she hadn’t experienced since her mother used to teach her. Sure, she had learned some modern alteration spells since waking up in the Fourth era. But this was entirely different. The school of magic was Mysticism, a forgotten art all on its own. It was only when the sun was starting to rise over the walls when she felt the spell settle into herself. The scroll looked innocuous, but only someone who understood things long lost would be able to comprehend wrapping a location with magic to Mark it as your own.

Hands shook as she made the motions, and drained almost half of her total magick. A glowing circle flickered around her, and to her she knew that this place existed. She could never lose it. Always know where it was. She could come back to this chair at any time. Well, the floor around the chair. She gave a whoop of joy, grinning as she looked at the glowing circle of magic.

“I’m not seeing any result.” Ardwen said, her hair tamed. It must have been more than an hour that Serana spent on that spell.

“You wouldn’t have.” Alfe said haughtily, burning the scroll with magic. “But you did it. The first since the Third Era to learn it.” Alfe almost sounded proud. “Now you’ll need to set a new one as often as you can to build up that school of magic. Improve your skills. Soul trapping spells technically apply to it as well, if you just turn your thumb left instead of right at the casting.”

“Wait, they thought that was a good idea? That puts souls more often into lost spaces of Oblivion!”

“This is why Mysticism experts are needed.” Alfe nodded. “Understanding the nuance of souls. Not falling to the temptations of Mannimarco’s traitorous additions to the school of magic.”

“Alright.” Serana stood up, the eggs shifting within her as she heard someone knocking at the door. Her gloves almost forced her that direction on her own. “Wait, who is that?”

“Serana, the store is opening.” Ardwen reminded. And she was still in her maid outfit! “I’ll meet you upstairs, Illia should be here soon to run the shop for us.”

Her heels chimed and her gasps echoed through the building as she ran for the bedroom upstairs. Those damned eggs! But she had to congratulate herself on being able to cast a Mark spell while under these conditions. Arriving in the bedroom wasn’t enough to trigger the amount of steps necessary to unlock the outfit, and she winced when she saw clothing thrown haphazardly all over. Before she could brace herself, she felt the maid outfit making her clean, as her shoes chimed between piles of cloth and material being hung up on a laundry line. When Ardwen came in, the room was looking much better, and Serana gave a slight frown as she made eye contact with her girlfriend.

“Looking very nice!” Ardwen cheered. “I’m noticing that you seem rather uplifted today. Brynjolf somehow tucked you into bed without any of us noticing.”

Serana stilled. That would mean that the person who put the eggs back inside of her was none other than Brynjolf?! “You didn’t tuck me in?”

“That was your husband. Good thing you’re not entirely monogamous.” Ardwen kissed her, as Serana took a step back for stability. Which of course was when the shoes made their ill fated different chime. “Ah! Perfect.”

Serana squealed as her headband was pulled off, her hair twisting with it for a short painful moment. Her dress was unlaced and thrown to her ankles, as she tried her best to stay balanced. The hated gloves were pulled off, and Serana sighed in relief as the shoes were unlaced and she was helped out of them. It too, went on the laundry line. Though she noticed that she was getting better with these kinds of tasks as she pinned the stockings up next to the silken headband.

“Why did you dress Alfe like a thrall?” Ardwen asked, her nightgown now missing as she pressed her naked skin to Serana’s back. Her hands cupped her in front, taking the weight off and acting like a breastband for a moment. It was nice, for more than the normal relief.

“She chose that herself.” Serana insisted. “I chose the shoes, at least. She tried something with too low of a heel and was hurting her feet.”

“I could fix her feet.” Ardwen noted. “But I like her not knowing I can flesh sculpt. She treats me as a simple person thanks to that.” There was a tweak of Serana’s flesh, as a shudder moved its way through her. “Now, let’s pick your grand opening outfit.”

“Ard-” There was a tweak, as Serana’s eyes fluttered. “Mistress?” This time she didn’t express her displeasure at the form of pronoun. “Can I please not have our grand opening with these eggs?”

“You’re still wearing those?” Ardwen purred. “You listened to my demands.” Her hands made trails down her sides, the nails dragging against her skin. Little pricks came from when she pinched the skin around her hips, before the Bosmer’s fingers traced the swell of her buttocks down to where the string trailed from one entrance to the other. “If you’re silent as I do this, I’ll let you wear something that doesn’t make you look like my pet.”

“Really?!” Ardwen pulled the string right as she turned her head to ask. Serana wasn’t ready in the slightest as all six malachite eggs were pulled smoothly from her body. With nothing to support her Serana saw the world spin as she lost her balance, flopping onto the bed with a gasp and a moan. She couldn’t help herself! The feeling washed over her, and her body collapsed sideways before she ran into a bedpost. “Ouch!” Even being undead, a solid oak bedpost to the ribs hurt.

“Hmm.” Ardwen mused, grinning as she sat herself on the bed. “I guess we are going to make rumors fly.”

Serana slowly righted herself, rubbing her rib and looking over at her girlfriend. “What kind of rumors?”

Ardwen kissed her. Deeply. “It makes no sense to have you be treated as anything less than the most powerful bitch in this town. So today, once we control my hair and run you through a brush,” Ardwen took another kiss, not caring that they clearly were going to be late. “We will hang the sign for the store where all can see. You’re going to be the second most powerful woman in the hold. Dressing you like a pet would serve no purpose.” She grinned. “Not unless I dressed to match.”

“No!” Serana hadn’t seen everything she had been ordering. “This is just going to fuel rumors about me and Brynjolf!”

“You walked him through the gates on a leash.” Ardwen said between kisses on her neck. It was a thrill, to let someone near her neck. Vampires had nervous twitches about anyone being near their neck. Serana had only allowed one to touch her there before, and it was her mother. Molag Bal didn’t count. “Besides, I saw how happy you were this morning. I can only fill your needs so much. I wouldn’t mind having him join us on occasion.”

Her look of incredulous gall let Ardwen make out with her further. Somehow, they managed to get hair under control and styled into a controlled manner. Somehow Serana was standing on her own two feet and not a shuddering mess before the sun was high enough that the marketplace was overcrowded. Coming down the stairs to the main floor, Serana tottered in taller than normal heels. Her toes were arched to the fullest. Spindly heels pointed downwards, something that no mortal would dare balance on. They couldn’t fix a twisted ankle like Serana could. Or Ardwen, whose feet were held to the same angle thanks to their dalliance with a certain spider Daedra. But they were dressed to match this day.

Matching spindly spiked heels with a platform adorned their feet. Serana got some stockings, as Ardwen couldn’t dare to have any. Not under heels locked to her body and attached to a corset borne of Oblivion. Serana wore one perhaps not as heavy but certainly one as complicated to lace. It was designed to match hers, though the silk it was made with did not match the daedric metal of hers. Instead, it used bones from parts of Daedra as the boning. Serana could actually feel them reducing her waistline. Both of them wore matching silk dresses. Daring, backless and with a single pair of dainty straps that held the bodice on and connecting behind the neck. Both corsets were visible, with how low the dress bared. It was abundantly clear that neither corset actually covered their breasts. Supported the base, yes. But only a carefully applied magical clamp concealed their nipples enough to even dare to wear these things.

It was a statement. The dress bared enough skin from side and front that Serana doubted that Svana could ignore it. It didn’t matter how long the skirt was, even if it draped to the knee on the right. The bright red silk had been hemmed up on the left to bare almost to the hip. A belt made from silver held a dainty pouch for coins. The kind of pouch one would reserve for large denominations of drakes.

A crowd had gathered for what clearly was going to be an event. A metal frame had been hammered to the frame of their main door, ready for a sign but never filled. Everyone simply knew of her building as ‘the bookstore’ or ‘the vampire’s den’. In the crowd she could see Sibbi and Svana with most of their court looking upon the spectacle from a short raised platform. The affront to nobility spent more time looking around at the women in the crowd than at the market. Brynjolf was in the crowd too, wearing furs and finery and trying to appear as though he deserved his wife. Though Vex was near, the woman kept to the shadows.

Serana stood before every important person in Riften with almost all of her boobs ready to escape her bodice. Hopefully they would notice when she started to speak. “My Jarl!” She spoke, as the package she had been waiting for was brought nearby. Babette and Illia were carrying it. “Thanes, Ladies and Proud Nords!” Her voice carried over the square, as she spoke. “I express my sincere thanks to Jarl Blackbriar for the rights to establish my store here in Riften. In the Second Era, there was a store that catered to arcane knowledge and power, said to have some of the original copies of books written by Shalidor and other mighty mages of Nordic descent. It has been two eras since then, and Riften deserves to be a grand city once more. Each grand city should have a place dedicated to books and their lore. For the children that will follow in this court, and all those who seek to learn what the Gods desire us to learn. That is why this bookstore will be here until the next era!” She clapped, and reached for a vial so ancient that the markings on it had almost turned to dust. Grabbing the sign that she had commissioned, she popped the cork on the potion and imbibed. It was wretched, the ingredients mixed more than an era previous.

But she felt the restraining force keeping her to the ground end. Lost magic of levitation activated, and before the entire crowd she rose into the air. Daintily she brought the sign up, easily hanging it from the hooks in the metal frame. The heavy wooden sign had the image of a dragon, the same that was upon her collar. Mostly the same. It lacked the flair that Shashev had carved into it. But next to that symbol were the words that her store would be called. “My family has been a scourge upon Skyrim for many centuries. In honor of those they have wronged,” She couldn’t afford to associate herself more than tangentially with her father’s actions. “The only heritage I plan to leave is knowledge. This is the dynasty I shall leave behind. For Riften, For Skyrim!” She floated into the air, until she balanced on top of the metal sign. “I present the Immortal Dynasty!”

An audacious name. But she didn’t know what the name of the bookstores that Riften used to have were. But it felt right to leave this as her dynasty. A Volkihar dedicated to knowledge and power being preserved. She could feel the ancient potion beginning to lose potency, and she gave a leap as it fluttered. Her skirts rippled as she jumped almost thirty feet to land in front of a very surprised Sibbi and Brynjolf. Svana elbowed him in the ribs at his dumbfounded shock. Snapping his jaw shut, the Jarl gathered himself. Though she knew his eyes never made it past her bare skin. “Riften thanks you, and looks forward to your success.” Behind her, the sign for her shop swayed in the wind. Immortal Dynasty. A reference to Immortal Blood, and her own personal flair. “Well, my people? Shall we not indulge in our newfound glory?” Sibbi knew how to play a crowd, as simple minded as he was.

Serana smiled as the people of Riften started going into her store. The grand opening she had been hoping for was a beautiful thing. Most people didn’t understand the value of books that were on shelves. Ingun Blackbriar gave Serana the largest of hugs as she found a primer on alchemical secondary effects written by Nurelion. Not even a fully published work, it was just something someone had sold to Bits and Pieces up in Solitude. But to an alchemist, knowledge meant power. Sibbi made a token purchase of a Children’s Annuad, probably to show that he meant to be a god-fearing and religious parent.

Svana purchased The Real Barenziah, some of them. She also expressed her hope that the new court mage would be at least half the sort that Serana was. Serana was too tied up with congratulatory well meanings to hear whatever conversation she had with Ardwen, but it looked like the two women were measuring one another up. But her day felt very long indeed, when she was finally able to breathe. Not that the corset or her undead nature made it very noticeable.

“Lass.” Brynjolf spoke up, somehow finding a moment where the crowds had dimmed and the store looked half empty. Almost forty people had been inside at one time. It was overwhelming! Every time a man looked at her, Serana’s heart leapt. Thankfully her dress had distracted many, and the polite platitudes had kept the rest from saying much. But her supposed husband was in front of her desk, carrying a small satchel. “You buy as well as sell, correct?”

“I shouldn’t have to explain that to you.” Serana raised her eyebrow, finding a seat to rest her ass in. These shoes were harder than normal to walk in. “Aren’t you some kind of economic grandmaster?”

He chuckled. “I expected some form of thanks for taking an immortal princess to Aetherius and back last night.”

“I’m not sure what to say, actually.” Her body was still glowing from it all. She could feel happy to see him, even. Still afraid, but happy nonetheless. “It was good.”

“Good?” He scoffed. “Good?! I had you-” He quickly shut up as one of the fisherman from the docks wandered by. “Serana.” He mused. “I’ve got something that foreplay could never satisfy.” He slid the satchel across the table. “Open it up. After all of our conversations I had someone do some digging. Well, ever since you had me digging into bondage contraptions that take some of the best hands in the province to fix.”

Serana’s hands followed the order, grabbing the satchel and opening it. A half-burned scroll was in there, as well as some form of gag. One made from Ebonite. It was important. So heavily enchanted that it shocked her that the satchel could handle it. “Where did you find this?”

“In a locked cabinet next to the General’s bedside at Castle Dour.” He said quietly. Even with the buzz within her shop, no one could hear him say that. “Confiscated from the corpse of Shashev Helseth. But the scroll is something different.”

She unrolled the damaged parchment. The header of the message was gone, as for who it was sent to. But her eyebrows rose as she read it. Or at least the final paragraph that made sense.

I captured another fine specimen recently. We will need more of these for the defenses. Strong, unique and easily controlled. Training them takes time, but we can take even a lad or chestless maiden and tame them into a fantastic defense. Frostmoon was just the first. There will be others. If any of the Volkihar survive, they will know the location of Greyhaven. They knew what happened back then. Someone still knows what happened back there. The Grey Host made a deal with them.

Oh! One of our friends was captured. Alfe is collared, and not by us. Find her, or else you shall be consigned to the oubliette for failing me.

Janessa

The note was scorched for half of its page. Who it was sent to and where were lost. “Brynjolf, where did you find this?”

“Dead runner.” He responded. “But I was hoping for a single coin for my troubles. Since this is soon going to be part of my troubles.”

“What do you mean?”

“Whoever she is, she’s coming for you. Multiple reasons. I’m not leaving you to them without a cause.” Brynjolf said, something in his body language that seemed furious. “You’re one of us, now. A doyen. So, how can I help?”

“We find this Janessa before she finds me.” Serana gulped. “And I need to talk to Mercer in a week.”

Brynjolf nodded. “Excellent. Sapphire said you might want some alchemical ingredients, too. Something about Babette always wanting some rather illegal items for potion making.” She ended up paying out some of her hard earned drakes to Brynjolf, but it wasn’t bad. In fact, it felt somewhat liberating to have such a successful opening day. Even if many were asking her how she flied in the market, she hoped to one day learn such a spell. Every available moment she was casting Mark. She needed to grow in her power, to be able to learn all that Alfe could teach her. Or was willing to teach her. She only had a week to do it.

Skyrim: Stolen Memories - Chapter 50 - GT_The_Beast (2024)

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