574 Setting the Stages
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Being in control is some sort of obsession with Jon. His trust only extends to those whom he has tested and would always be suspicious of anyone or anything that he didn't take an account of.
But today, Jon's trust was about to be put to the test. He finally started pushing the buttons in order to get the scenarios over with. In the Bannered Mare inn of Whiterun, Jon looked down on the patrons as they drank, scuffled and drank again between laughter, puke and secret glances at the barmaids… or even touches for those who were devoid of shame and manners.
"You're holding up well?" He asked the girl sitting in the dark corner.
Annoyed, nauseated and clearly out of her habitat; Serana was just looking like a hungry wolf at every comer and goer holding the urge to chase after them and twist their necks open draining them from all their blood. But still, it is not the blood that will calm her down, in truth, it will make her even worse. Her bad situation right now was because she snuck behind Jon and attacked some man in a back alley and if not for Jon saving him and wiping his memories clean, things would have gone bad for the little vampire princess.
"I am fine… just whatever it is, finish it and let's get out of here." She said while trying to hold her head from exploding.
Jon sighed as he looked back in his book and continued reading slowly.
"Don't worry, princess. As soon as we get you back on a normal blood diet, you will return to a peak condition right away."
"Why so nice all of a sudden?" She glared at him.
"I am nice." Jon closed his book, "If I am ever treating you badly, know that I am trying to stop you from harming yourself."
"What about that time?"
"Cute Little Fangs…" Jon stood off his chair and got closer to her, "I'm not the kind to bully people if I don't enjoy it. Well… I enjoy it in some cases but don't worry about yourself with me."
Jon wanted to pat her head but she was not in the mood to be touched. Just as he pulled away, he sensed a presence he was anticipating. Footsteps were heard going up the stairs and as Serana would find any approaching mortal slightly irritating her instincts, this time her instincts were causing her to be on peak alertness as if she was targeted by a very keen hunter, one that may make her feel like a prey.
Three careful knocks were heard on the door, Jon walked out to the door under the watchful gaze of Serana. The moment he opened the door, a strange amount of hostility could be sensed even by the normal folks down there. Thankfully, those people were too drunk to even walk straight.
With Jon in the center of this clash of gazes, both Aela and Serana seemed to have taken a hostile interest in each other. Little do they know what caused it and little do they care. Each of them was marked as a threat by the instincts of the other.
"Yeah, I thought this would happen." Jon said as he left the door open for Aela to walk in.
"What's that thing?" Aela asked, not lifting her eyes off Serana.
"Thing?" Serana only needed this word to be triggered.
Jon jumped on the bed of the room acting all relaxed, he made the introductions in his own way.
"A werewolf, a vampire and a Dragonborn walk into a bar. And that's their story so far."
The two ladies narrowed their eyes at each other realizing the nature of the other person. Both of them are creatures of the night and the mere thought of them existing in one town would make all the townsfolk run a mile in panic. And now Jon is simply introducing them to each other.
"I hunted blood-suckers before, none of them smell as twisted as she does." Aela said.
"And I read about your kind. Father always said there is particular filth to those who fancy shifting into dogs." Serana was irritated out of her way to the point where she came up with a comeback.
Jon sprung up for the bed anticipating how this will end with a grin.
"Do you know the difference between a wolf and a dog, little girl?" Aela seemed royally pissed.
"Enlighten me, wolf girl."
"If you kick a dog, it will crawl back, licking your foot, begging for forgiveness." Aela said as her right arm suddenly transformed and held Serana from her face, lifting her against the wall, "Kick a wolf, and it will rip your face off."
Serana was taken by surprise but her reaction was swift as all her claws and fangs were directed at Aela without a second of hesitation but even with obvious bloodthirst. The situation was about to go downhill except for…
"Thank you, Pride. You can stop now."
And all of a sudden, everything returned to where Aela and Serana were just standing against each other.
"Between you and me, covering the traces of a vampire princess got me so good with Illusion Magic that I can even trick you… the two of you of all people. Damn!"
Jon grabbed [Pride] with all the love and care in the world as it started to glow for its owner's attention.
"Just now?" Aela asked.
"Illusions, illusions. I have been practicing some nifty tricks lately. Yeah, this was happening but in your heads. Next time you two want to fight, do it outside of town, please." He said criticizing them both.
Serana rolled her eyes and returned to her corner after picking one of the books Jon was keeping.
Aela watched Serana with a suspicious gaze until she too completely lost interest in fighting. She then turned to Jon with criticizing eyes.
"Where have you been for the last couple of days?" She asked.
"Nowhere in particular. I was on Shearpoint for some time. Traced the Dragon Cult in a few locations and nothing interesting happened." Jon said.
"And that?" She pointed at Serana, "That is no regular vampire."
"That has a name." Serana said.
"Her name is Serana, she has special circumstances and I am helping her to control her serious blood-sucking condition as well as taking care of an apocalyptic conspiracy led by one of the most powerful vampires in existence which happens to be her father who wants to use her as a part of his world-shattering scheme which may threaten all life on Nirn."
"Holy…" Aela was taken aback by the way Jon put things.
"No pressure at all." Jon smiled, "Remember that Vampire that captured me a few years ago?"
"Wait… hold up."
"Before you ask them, the answer to every question you are about to ask is yes." Jon laid his hands out.
Aela looked around not sure how to react while lost in her thoughts.
"I am happy you are guessing my questions and all but I would need more explanations, please." She said.
"Alright… let's see…" Jon started explaining what happened for the last three days with Aela sitting on the side of the bed listening and in the end he said, "And now, I want you to take care of her."
The two looked at him as if he said the most unimaginable thing.
"You will take care of her for some time. I need you two to keep contact together."
"Why in Oblivion would I do that?" Aela asked.
"I just want her to have contact with someone I trust." Jon said as he leaned on Aela, "I didn't go for Alina or Jullanar for this one, you see?"
She narrowed her eyes trying to figure out his motive.
"I smell something fishy." She said it.
"If you smelled it just now, then there is something wrong with your nose." Jon said with a natural face, "Obviously because we are in a tavern."
He laughed as she rolled her eyes so he grabbed her closer and intimately made her sit beside him, the situation which caused Serana to look from above the book with bewilderment then try to shrink in the corner she's in.
"Seriously now. What is it you are not telling me?" Aela asked.
Jon cleared his throat and relaxed back.
"Have you heard about the Dawnguard?" He asked.
"It is a fort in Riften… aside from that, there used to be an order of the same name that is dedicated to hunting Vampires." She said.
"Yes. It is an order that rose many years ago when the son of a Jarl from Riften was caught with Vampirism. The methods of the Dawnguard are effective but…"
"Let's say there is something I never understood about them." Jon said then changed the subject, "Either way, the Vampires have been moving against some small settlements lately and they targeted many innocents, they are going to be a problem."
"We have taken a few jobs to eradicate vampires lately." Aela nodded in agreement.
"That's not even what I am warning you about. The Vampires who are truly up against are more ruthless and twice as dangerous compared to any low blood vampire you know. She is an example of what you will face then."
"Alright. What does the Dawnguard have to do with any of this?"
"I have received reports that they are being reformed under a man called Isran as we speak. Aside from that, the Hall of the Vigilant will be attacked in the near future so I would like you to warn them."
"It should be. I want you to be wary of the Vampires and not fully support the Dawnguard at the same time. They will gain a lot of popularity but we need to keep them from being as ill-reputed as before. On the other hand, I will leave Serana in your care for a few days. She has been training on Combat with me so her instincts are a bit heightened. Take her to the woods and show her how to get calmer."
Aela looked at Serana then looked away.
"Easier said than done."
Jon kissed her on the cheek and jumped off the bed.
"With that, I am going to leave you to get along. I have a mission somewhere else."
He didn't even think twice before leaving Serana with Aela which may sound like a bad idea in every conceivable way but Jon had a plan and faith in the training he made Serana go through. She is very strong willed and will be a huge asset.
And with that, he left Whiterun.
During the next day, Jon traveled back to Winterhold then right to Riften. He didn't reveal his arrival in Winterhold but rather headed directly to Nurina and gave her a strange gift.
"I remember the birthday of Arch-Mage Savos is around the corner." He said before passing a box with a Jade pendant to her, "Please, tell him this is an artifact from Elsweyr."
The pendant he passed was a minor artifact he bought but he ended up fortifying its effect through special means.
"What is it for?"
When Nurina asked that, Jon smiled and told her that she may thank him later and went away.
He knew that the Arch-Mage had a competitive nature and loved expensive things so he would surely accept the pendant and keep it closeby.
After he left Winterhold, Jon teleported to Riften and silently entered the Ragged Flagon without anyone noticing.
The reason for doing so was to unnoticeably infiltrate into the Thieves' Guild den and plant something in. He made sure to leave everything as it is as but he left a certain item behind on the desk of Mercer Frey.
The [Skeleton Key] is now where it is supposed to be.
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