The light burned my eyes, despite the usual greyness of the day, and the thick blanket of clouds shrouding the Velothi Mountains. I felt drained, and my skin seemed stretched too tightly across my bones. The soaking rain didn’t ease my discomfort. I sat at the shore of the cursed Lake Ilinalta. A sunken-eyed and hollowed-out fellow blinked back at me.
“You’re looking a little pale, friend. Been at the mead again?”
Borfinn the guard, had wandered a little too far from his post at Riverwood. He waved at me from the road, and approached me in the twilight. I clenched my teeth and fists as my vision turned crimson. Blood boiled. I lost consciousness in an instant. The next few moments were a blur.
When I regained my vision, Borfinn lay mangled at my feet, his blood dripping from my claws. I rose to my full height, unfurled my wings, and bellowed across the water in triumph. The transformation was complete: My time in the servitude of Lord Harkon at Castle Volkihar had not been without merit: For I was now one of his flock.
Flitting across the lake, skimming my toes over the silent surface of the dark water, I spied the lights of Half-Moon Mill. I vaguely remembered hearing rumors of Hert and her husband Hern were also tainted with the same disease that I bore. Hern was chopping wood when I landed on the shore. I raised my hands and attempted to speak, but my greeting was twisted into guttural snarls. A moment later, an iron axe narrowly missed my head.
“Hert! Nightspawn from the north! Fetch my sword!”
Hert clattered out of their home with two weapons drawn. One landed at Hern’s feet, but never got to his hand: I relished the tightening grip on his neck as I picked his thrashing form from the ground, throttling him with delicious vigor. Hert let out a shriek as she heard Hern let out a snap, and his body turned limp. Then she was on me, valiantly striking at my indistinct form with impressively measured – but ultimately pointless – sword swings. But I was already a mist, vanishing into the churning spray of the water wheel, and leaving Hert to her anguish.
When Borfinn shambled back into Riverwood, the other guards immediately noticed something was amiss. Their suspicions were confirmed after Borfinn lunged for Camilla Valerius, and the walking corpse was brought down by a peppering of arrows. But this was a mere distraction, as two rock-hewn devils landed among the townsfolk, sending them screaming and scattering. I plucked one of Faendal’s arrows from my back, and turned to register my disapproval at the rapidly-retreating Bosmer. He slowed considerably and sagged to his knees as his life essence – and the color from his cheeks – slowly drained to feed my ravenous hunger.
Chaos overtook the village.
Orgnar charged out from the Sleeping Giant Inn with both hands clutching an oversized hammer. Hod had followed him out, unbuckling his iron war axe, which he now swung wildly about his head. One of my gargoyles had already met its match against the might of Alvor’s anvil hammer: It thrashed backwards as the blacksmith’s deftly-wielded weapon drove it off the pier and into the White River, where it floundered and finally sank. Now the other was lashing out with hardened talons.
The tide was beginning to turn.
For a collection of backward yokels, the citizens of Riverwood knew how to band together and thwart a now ill-conceived attack. Orgnar was nursing a head-wound, but Hod had successfully dispatched my other minion. I knew panic for the first time, as my powers grew dim. I had just taken a head from one of the guards, and blinded another with a furious flurry, when I heard a faint, but distinct voice up against my ear.
“Ever felt a cold blade between your ribs?”
A woman’s whisper, followed by a sharp pain and immediate enfeeblement.
As I sit here under Dragonsreach, waiting for the Jarl to show clemency over my abhorrent condition, I know Balgruuf the Greater to be a just and fair man. I am now aware of the true nature of my curse. But Harkon’s words are still whispered, here in the silence of my cell:
“Men will tremble at your approach, and you will never fear death again!”
I resist! I resist these evil temptations: This hated monster and his revolting clan were fiends of the highest order, who tempted and controlled my will! My actions could not be helped…
I was a vassal of the Volkihar! I seek mercy!
— The final confession of the deviant Henrig Iron-Blood, hated Volkihar Vampire, put to death, 14th Sun’s Dusk, 4E 201
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