I Work for the Bureau of Original Characters. Thedas file

Chapter 23-How does a Nightingale show affection?

A Winter dawn is a thing of delicate beauty, even in the warmer climes near Halimsheral. Miranda cracked an eye open to the sight of faint morning light igniting burning copper mere centimetres from her nose.

She inhaled softly, letting the heady aroma of the wild Lily that this world called Andraste’s grace fill her nose. Leliana must have a soap or perfume made from that flower she decided idliy as she closed her eyes again, tightening the arm she had wrapped around the bard’s waist, pulling Leliana closer.

She buried her nose in the coper locks and listened to the quiet thud of Leliana’s heart, using the steady rhythm to block out everything else and find peace that was rarely achievable for her mind.

Leliana grumbled in her sleep and turned over in Miranda’s grip so she was facing Miranda and snuggled deeper into the Zerg’s embrace, not even caring when Miranda arched her head in over the red heads and a few errant stalks slid to cover them both.

Miranda smiled and let sleep overtake her again. She awoke softly to the feeling of nimble fingers traceing over her ears, gently caressing the fine points.

“Ma belle Chasseresse” The words were breathed into the silence and she felt her sense return to her in a rush like a mighty river. Joy, hope and relief flooded into her. She had been so sure but to hear those words, her words whispered so perfectly made Miranda feel like the stars were singing a victory chorus in her honour.

“How could I push you away?” Leliana mused, “Somehow I know now that we were meant to be… Maybe we always were” she mused before there was a sound of shifting fabric and lips pressed to her cheek.

Miranda smiled and opened her eyes, meeting Lelianas “Morning” Leliana greeted and Miranda’s smile grew, “Indeed, a good morning” she answered, sitting up and capturing Leliana’s lips with her own.

Before they could go much further a hand rapped sharply on the center pole leading their tent. Followed by a scuffle and Elariel’s voice berating. “Creators Damn it Cassandra! I know you want your stuff but you cant do that!!” she exclaimed and Miranda held in a snicker into Leliana’s curls as the bard groaned and buried her head into Miranda’s shoulder.

“GO AWAY CASS” the Bard roared before lifting her head back up and glaring at the snickering Miranda. The Zerg in question had rolled out of her cot and had wandered over to Cassandfra’s side of the tent, gathering up a bundle of clothes for the seeker.

“You’re not going anywhere” Leliana informed her, darting from the furs and wrapping her arms firmly around Miranda’s taller frame. Miranda paused, then chuckled.

“Sorry Cass, Come back later?” she called, hurling the clothes out the tent and wrapping her arms around her bard, leaning down to kiss Leliana as the bard dragged her back down to the cot.

 


 

Cassandra breathed deeply through her nose as she stood outside her own tent, held back by Elariel who hastily shot a silencing spell as the pair started off again. “I want my clothes” she whined as Elariel dragged her away.

Miranda’s voice shouted something indistinguishable before A pair of breeches, boots, shirt and breast band came flying out and smacked her in the face. She tore them from her hair and snarled in the direction of the tent before stalking off towards Josephine’s tent.

She stormed out a few moments later with a dagger in hand and dressed like her normal self. The dagger was lifted and a chunk of her longer hair held in the other as she prepared to execute the longer locks but the descending slash was halted by a frantic, nightgown clad Josephine who lunged forward out of her tent and saved the Seeker’s tresses from such a sudden and violent demise.

“No” she scolded the seeker like she was a disobedient puppy, shaking her finger and stomping her foot. “You wait till we have scissors and either Miranda or a stylist” she declared before she returned to her tent, taking the dagger with her.

Cassandra pouted before she slouched over to the fire that had a laughing Varric and yawning Sera holding bowls of porridge. “I don’t think we’ll be leaving today” The dwarf chuckled, coolly ignoring the poisonous look aimed at him by the seeker.


 

When the pair finally emerged from Miranda’s tent, everyone stared. A few blushed and looked away while many grinned and several even gave Miranda a thumbs up.

The pair were truly a sight, Leliana had the most magnificent case of bed hair ever seen, left unfixed due to the fact that neither Cassandra, nor Miranda owned a brush. She was dressed in a linen shirt that was several sizes too big for her and a pair of breeches that had the legs rolled up.

Miranda on the other hand was sporting a collection of bite marks and hickies all over her neck and shoulders with what looked like scratch marks poking out of her lopsided collar her back as well as a blush that could have been used to signal ships at night.

“Well look who’s up!” Bull crowed before ducking the dagger that Leliana hurled at him. Everyone else laughed at the action while Elariel and Cassandra made note of the dazedly happy expression Miranda seemed to have stuck on her face.

The pair wandered over to the fire and Miranda settled with a contented Leliana curling up in her arms like a cat. Everyone stared at the spymistress in shock. Few had ever seen her voluntarily touch anyone, and now it looked like even a crowbar would be hard pressed to separate the two.

A low thrumming purr began to emanate from Miranda, whose eyes drooped to half mast when Leliana began to play with one of the stalks that had draped over the taller woman’s shoulder. Varric opened his mouth to comment but Sera slapped a hand over it, silencing the dwarf and probably saving his attempted suicide by angry bard.

The others of their group cautiously approached and settled down for their meal, all with a wary eye on the couple. Needless to say breakfast was a forcibly quiet affair, with most comments exchanged in low tones so as to not break the spell that gripped the new couple.

Miranda was a rather entertaining image trying to eat her raw nug around her bard while attempting to stop purring long enough to swallow. Leliana simply ate a slice of bread slathered with some jam that Josephine had handed her, looking like a cat that had discovered where the kitchen kept the cream and the birds.

In the back of the camp the solders were exchanging coins to pay up their bets. Some looking incredibly smug while others crestfallen, not that they did so where the Nightingale could see them. Josephine had developed a rather smug expression while Cassandra still looked disgruntled as she took vicious bites from her porridge as if it had offended her personally.

It wasn’t that she wasn’t happy for her friends, it’s just that her hair was annoying her, she had forgotten how long hair could wrap around one’s throat when in sleep. So her night had been interrupted by several assassination attempts by her own hair and she had been forced to sleep in one of Leliana’s sleep shirts due to the fact that hers had been unavailable.

This was compounded by the fact that Leliana had an impressive set of lungs and Miranda a ludicrous number of gods to call upon. After breakfast, Leliana made no effort to move, but the others were starting to look between each other like one of them wanted to speak “I think we should start packing most of our things today so we can depart tomorrow” Elariel told them, making a valiant effort to not quail under the glare Leliana levelled at her before the spymistress sighed and tucked her head back under her lover’s chin.

Miranda nodded at Elariel and tried to stealthily slide out from under Leliana to go begin packing. However that plan was scuppered when the bard growled and levelled her with a piercing look. “I’m comfortable” she informed Miranda who opened her mouth to protest only snap it shut when the beginnings of a glare began in Leliana’s eyes.

“I said, I. Am. Comfortable” she growled and Miranda nodded rapidly. Leliana smirked and snuggled deeper into Miranda’s lap, forcing the Zerg to wrap her arms around the bard to keep her from falling off.

A pale finger reached up continue to stroking Miranda’s stalks, causing Miranda to resuming purring from the action.

“This can’t be good for your reputation” Miranda protested through her purr but Leliana simply laughed.

“Oh they will not dare say a word, I intend to get as much from you as possible before we return to work” Her words held sultry promise and Miranda swallowed thickly at the promise in her Bard’s eyes.

As if to prove her point Leliana raised her head and swept the gathered with a dangerous look in her blue eyes. “You saw nothing” she informed them all frostily and was answered by frantic nods all round, even Varric seemed eager to assure the frightening woman of his silence.

Josephine simply smiled and sipped her simple clay cup filled with tea. “Good” she told them with a smile before she returned her head to Miranda’s shoulder.

“Oh for the love of Andraste!” Cassandra cried at the pair. “Leliana unhand her for even five minutes, I need her to cut my hair!” This drew an icy glare from Leliana and an uncomfortable shuffle from her perch. Cassandra matched her glare for glare. “I will not go away” she informed the bard tersely and Leliana sighed.

“Fine” she pouted, leaning up to kiss Miranda on the lips before she stood up and strutted over to her own tent, hips swinging hypnotically. Cassandra scoffed in disgust and stalked over to her friend whose eyes were riveted firmly on the retreating Bard’s swaying hindquarters.

Unfortunately for Miranda, Cassandra was a firm believer of violence to initiate a factory reset, therefore a resounding smack connected with the back of Miranda’s head.

“OW!” Miranda yelped, rubbing the tender back of her skull and glaring reproachfully up at the unsympathetic seeker. “I thought we were friends” she whined but Cassandra simply scoffed.

“Friends cut their friends hair, so get cutting” she replied, thrusting a pair of scissors at Miranda.

The Zerg pouted but took the implements “back to what you had before?” she queried as Cassandra sat on the ground in front of her.

“Yes” Cassandra sniffed, causing Miranda to sigh and begin braiding a portion of the seekers longer hair into a crown. Once finished she brought the scissors forth and began to neatly trim the seeker’s hair into an attractive pixie cut, rather than the roughly shorn look the seeker had sported before.

Cassandra ignored Josephine’s watchful gaze and rueful mutter of. “Well at least she’s making the short look attractive” when the last snip sounded and

Miranda leaned back with a pronouncement of “done” Cassandra stood, and briskly dusted her shoulders off before she smiled at Miranda again.

“We are now friends again” she informed the Zerg civilly and Miranda smirked “why thank you Lady Cassandra” she mocked.

Cassandra scoffed and rolled her eyes before she patted Miranda on the head in a patronizing manner and walking away to begin packing up her share of the tent. “I’ve killed men for less” Miranda muttered sulkily, not realising that Leliana was behind her until the red head leaned around and kissed her on the cheek.

“Of course you have Mon amour” she soothed before she straightened “now go pack, we have to get back to Skyhold immediately, I want to begin looking for the wardens” the bard ordered though her hand lingered for a moment on Miranda’s cheek before she turned away to go terrify some poor unfortunate soul.

Miranda heaved a long sigh before she unfolded her tall frame from her seat and wandered back towards her tent. Cassandra was packing her things and didn’t even spare her a glance. Miranda rolled her eyes at the seeker’s pleased smile.

“You know you could have been a little gentler about it right?” she told her friend who gave one of her trademark snorts.

“I have a reputation to uphold, and unlike Leliana I cannot simply glare it back from the brink” she retorted as she folded a surcoat and tucked it into her pack.

Miranda tucked all the makeup and hair care products back into the silver case they had come in before tapping it on the top three times with the command of “enough” the case faded from reality, returning to her personal hoard and she smiled, gathering up the hair pins she had freed from Leliana’s hair the night before.

Looking around her side of the tent Miranda had to fight the urge to grin like an idiot, feeling that Cassandra would probably throw something heavy at her if she did that. Her dress was on the ground and she bent down to retrieve the Olympian silk peplos.

It had been a gift from Aphrodite, who had made it her personal mission to create the perfect wardrobe to seduce her love wherever and whenever Miranda found them.

This one was one of her personal favourites and she had gladly dipped into her personal stash of mithril jewellery for the occasion and it had worked perfectly. She smiled as she gently folded the gown bowing her head. “Thanks Dite” she whispered into the fabric, knowing that her friend had heard her, despite the impossible distance that existed between the gift and the giver.

A faint sound of doves and a girlish giggle reached her stalks before fading into stillness. Miranda smiled and tucked her gown into her bag of holding, gathering up her jewellery and fan, pouring them too into the bag before reaching in and grabbing her clothes for the day.


 

Leliana hummed happily to herself, the love song she had memorized in her younger days finding it’s way onto her tongue with beautiful ease. She had carefully packed her blue gown, which had been retrieved from where it had lain on the floor of Miranda’s tent into the case that had been made to hold the dresses of the ladies so they could be safely transported.

Already Josephine’s and Vivienne’s hung from the rack, covered in a soft cotton sleeve. She was now wearing her typical uniform, but her hair was still long and hung in a tight braid on her left shoulder.

“I’m happy for you” Josephine told her from where she worked on her side of the tent, easing her own clothes into the trunks and bags she had brought with her.

Leliana looked up at her friend and raised an eyebrow “thank you” she answered with a small smile.

“She is good for you, and you are good for her. She smiles more when she’s with you, and that’s saying something” Josephine told her as she folded a night gown into a small square.

“She smiles constantly” Leliana reminded her friend with a huff but the ambassador shook her head.

“No, those smiles are not genuine, you should know this. When she’s with you her smile could light up the entirety of the deep roads. You make her happy in a way I thought only happened in stories.” Josephine paused and took a deep breath “you have a love that makes even the grandest romance look like a simple schoolgirl’s infatuation” Leliana opened her mouth to protest but Josephine held up her hand to silence her.

“No Leliana, you didn’t see what it looked like when you two danced, it was like something out of legend. And when you kissed…” she trailed off, a blush rising on her cheeks.

Leliana’s eyes narrowed and she focused on her friend. “What do mean ‘when we kissed’… you were watching?!” she realised with a screech. That had been a deeply personal moment!

“Oh dear” Josephine murmured before realising her imminent danger and dashing from the tent.

“Come back here!” Leliana raged, lunging after her supposed friend.

 


 

“So, what do you think will happen now that Nightingale and Ice are together?” Varric wondered where he and Dorian were packing their things away.

The mage shrugged “probably nothing beyond the occasional discovery of two of the most terrifying women in Thedas in compromising positions that everyone will be too scared to comment on” he told the dwarf with a smile.

Varric chuckled “yeah probably, reminds me of when Hawke and Daisy got together. We all liked Hawke too much to comment much and Daisy would simply get the biggest kicked puppy look if we tried to tease her on it… couldn’t take it after the first time” he remarked with a faint shudder. “Though Rivaini seemed to be able just make her blush, so that was fun to watch” he added after a moment of though.

Dorian snickered “I think that Leliana is more likely to attempt an assassination than blush” he remarked and Varric laughed. “Maybe she’ll be like a cat, bringing her most recent kills to Miranda as a sign of affection” he laughed and Dorian choked before he let out a loud barking laugh.

“I could see her doing it too” he laughed heartily.

“Watch it or you might be one of those corpses she uses instead of flowers” Bull’s voice rumbled to them from where he stood in their doorway, his pack slung over his shoulder.

Dorian’s laughter shut off immediately and he paled dramatically despite his olive complexion. “Shit” Varric realised when a screech of “come back here!” echoed over the camp.

“Wonder what Ice did this time?” Varric mumbled to the others as they left their tent to stare unashamedly at the unfortunate victim of their Spymistress. To everyone’s surprise it was not Miranda who came tearing through the camp, but the good ambassador Josephine.

She dashed with surprising agility through the tent city, the bard hot on her heels and gaining. It was clear where Josephine was going. The only place in Thedas that could offer any kind of safety from the woman: Miranda and Cassandra’s tent.

She dove inside and there was a cry of” What?” from Miranda and the sound of an impact before Leliana pounced through the tent flap. The men watched on with bemused expressions as Leliana’s shouting was abruptly cut off.

“Women are weird” Varric remarked and the other two nodded “That’s why I like men” Dorian informed them “much less complicated that way” he added with an assured nod.

“They really should act with more decorum” Vivienne informed them as she glided over, her pack dangling delicately from her hand, her silver horned headpiece shining in the winter sunshine.

“It’s only a matter of time before our enemies’ spies find out and use this against us” she added with a disapproving expression. “I pity the idiot who tries” Bull told them with a snort.

“Not to mention the revenge that would fall upon the idiot if they managed to succeed in killing one of them” Blackwall added as he walked up, dressed once more in his faded gambeson.

Everyone shivered at that thought, including Vivienne and the newly arrived Sera. “Shite that’s a terrifyin’ thought” the she-elf remarked, rubbing her arms in an attempt to rid herself of the Goosebumps that had emerged at that thought.

They all nodded and watched as Elariel wandered over to the tent with a confused expression, poked her head in and retreated violently after being almost run over by a fleeing Cassandra and Josephine. Elariel was beet red as she fired another silencing spell at the tent and retreated hastily.

“Again?” Bull rumbled “damn” he whistled and Sera grumbled.

“Realising that you’re still high and dray while the spymistress gets some?” Varric asked before patting her on the arm. “Don’t worry, we all feel like that” he consoled her. She growled and hit his hand.

“Speak for yourself” Bull told them jovially, “I’m still scoring just fine” he informed them, causing Vivienne to sniff in disapproval.

“Yeah, but you’re not getting any till we get back to Skyhold, and your lovely redheaded Chantry sister” Dorian remarked dryly.

Bull laughed before giving a happy sigh “Ahhh, redheads” he sighed with a smirk.

Sera snorted “Quizzie’s a red head” she told him but Bull shook his head.

“Can’t, she’s so sweet and tiny that I feel weird trying” he told them, making several of them snicker.

Cassandra looked up and saw them; she scowled and stalked over to them. Her bag hung over her shoulder, the top was still open and they could see that her clothes were hastily stuffed in there from when she had fled her own tent. She set it on the ground and began pulling out the crumpled clothes and started to fold them and replacing them back in the satchel.

“Having fun?” Varric asked with a smile but was answered with a venomous glare. “I can’t wait to get back to Skyhold” she told him through gritted teeth. The dwarf simply laughed.

 


 

The journey back to their mountain fortress was longer than their trip to the Riviera. Recent snows had clogged the roads but with Miranda and the mages happily blasting the drifts apart in some kind of strange competition as they drove onwards and upwards they made good time. At night they pitched their smaller two-man tents rather than the spacious pavilions they had used in their camp.

A quick change in partners ensured that Miranda and Leliana shared their tent, much to Cassandra’s relief.

She was all for romance, and one as grand as Leliana’s and Miranda’s was definitely one that would make an excellent story, but the mechanics of having a pair of completely smitten and highly enthusiastic lovers as traveling companions was annoying, and this annoyance seemed to have blended with her happiness for her friends into a strange amalgamation of happy rage.

It had also become a necessity to immediately set up a silencing ward on the pair’s tent so the rest of them could get some sleep. Cassandra looked over at the pair and smiled a little.

Miranda was clad once more in her silver and white winter gear while Leliana had switched from wool to wool with a fur lined jacket. They were sitting near the fire with Leliana curled up in Miranda’s arms with the taller woman’s white fur cloak wrapped around them both.

Leliana’s head was tucked under Miranda’s chin while her bright blue eyes watched the flames. Miranda’s eyes were mere slits of illuminated blue as a faint purr thrummed in her chest. Everyone else spoke in low tones, all tired from their journey and more than ready to return to their warm rooms and the comforts of their mountain sanctuary.

“Miranda” Cassandra spoke, drawing the Zerg’s attention.

“Hmmm?” she replied, turning to look at her friend and opening her eyes. Leliana had shifted to look at Cassandra as well, curiosity shining in her eyes.

“Could you tell us a story?” she asked softly. Eyes turned to her with excitement as everyone around the fire.

Miranda smiled “sure, which would you like to hear?” she asked and there was some discussion before a consensus “you have some many titles. Can you tell us a story of how you got one of them?” Varric asked and Miranda smirked.

“I only used a fraction of my titles. I have helped so many in my time that I have more titles and awards than I know what to do with” she frowned thinking before she lifted her head.

“I guess I could tell you of the time I fought with the Dragonborn” she mused and everyone’s eyes focused on her intently. Miranda sighed and leaned back into the rock that supported her back.

“There is a land, farther from here than you can imagine. Called Tamriel, to the far north of Tamriel is a land known as Skyrim. A beautiful, but dangerous land, filled with creatures with uncontrollable aggression and little to no fear of the more advanced denizens.”

Her eyes grew distant and her voice almost seemed to chant “I arrived in late fall, I heard a tale of how a dragon, massive and black as sin had attacked the town of Helgen. At the time it seemed like an interesting side note, but rumour had it that there was a survivor and that he lived in Whiterun, one of the cities to the south. I started on the road to meet this survivor and perhaps to offer my aid to slay the dragons that were appearing. However, I was caught in a blizzard that forced Aitheria and I to take refuge in a cave. Little did I know of the secret that cave held.” Everyone leaned in closer and Miranda smiled fondly.

“That was how I met someone who would become as a sister to me. Her name was Serana Volkihar and she had been locked into a stone casket for longer than some civilizations.”

 


 

“Fucking snow” Miranda muttered to herself as she dusted a thick coating of the offending substance off of her armoured shoulders.

‘it’s your fault that we didn’t take the main roads’ Aitheria reminded her from where she stood near the cave’s entrance.

“Yeah yeah, shut it” MIiranda grumbled as she flexed her jet black wing like limbs, stretching the skeletal limbs outward showing their impressive, almost seven metre wingspan with each wing reaching an impressive 3.25 metres when fully extended.

The barbed joints and razor sharp points shone in the dull light eminating from the cave mouth. Satisfied that ice hadn’t formed around any of her joints she shook them briskly and furled them closer to her back, the points stopping just above her ankle.

“Where are we anyway?” she mused reaching into a gap in her jet black and glowing blue chitin armour, frowning at the map she had dug out. When it was unfurled she stared at the parchment and coughed in surprise.

“Dimhollow?” she peered at the mark that represented her with deep thought. “huh, I could do the Dawnguard quest here and now, even ignoring the fact that i’m not part of the Dawnguard and I could kick Harkon’s ass nine ways till Sunday” she mused folding the map and tucking it back into her chitin before turning her attention to a tumble of stones that had once been the entryway to the lower crypts.

“Screw it, I’m going in” she declared to her friend.

“Do what you want, though may want to come up with an explanation for your appearence’ Aitheria informed her hautily.

Miranda froze mid stride and sighed, concentraring till her chitin began to grow and shift, the normally sleek scales and plates loosening an infentessable amount going from literally her skin to being a skin tight outfit. The blue light that had been glowing out from under her plates faded as the bioluminessent glands were separated from their energy source.

“There, I’ve molted. Happy?” she demanded shifting in the skin tight body suit and seperatable armour she had created for herself. “Now it’s just armour” she added in a huff.

Aitheria sighed and folded her legs under as she settled on a pile of soft moss growing near the stream.

‘Now off you go, find yourself a nice Vampire’ she remarked and Miranda stuck her tongue out at her friend and turned her attention to the rockfall.

Her eyes glowed ice blue and her teeth were bared in a snarl as she glared at the obstical. The stones trembled then rolled away, opening the way and Miranda advanced with a pleased smile.

The tunnels were a little small for her large frame and wings, hampering her from using her main weapons, forcing her to crouch often and use her claws and acid to mow through the ranks of waiting drauger.

The only sound was the faint hiss of air, the clicking of her stalks and the louder click of the organic heels that she had grown for a laugh. Bored, Miranda soon found herself whistling a rather jaunty tune and her claw strikes matching it in tempo when she fought.

It had taken her an emberassingly long time to relearn how to whistle and speak without a lisp after she had been given her new dental work.

Then she had been reverted and subjected to the whole process again. The final transition had been fine due to her muscle memory but she still remembered the very frustrating struggle and Sarah’s uproarious laughter as she had relearned.


The architecture went from the heavy stonework with the Nordic designs to a more gothic approach, lots of arches and gargoyles blocking the way. Miranda wasn’t sure if these were statues or actual gargoyles so she played it safe, sticking a wing through the head of each statue.

She’d been right twice when the creature had given an unearthly screech before crumbling and leaving her with blood on her longest wing blade. Jerks. The tunnels opened up into a large cavern with a circle of arches growing out of the middle of a seemingly bottomless abyss. She stood on the balcony looking down and opened her wings.

A pale blue light spun across the open portion of her wings and she leapt off the baloney, using the large surface area of her wings to gently glide across the space, Tilting her wings to carry her near the surface before angling them up to spill her momentum and waiting till her feet touched ground before she stopped filling her wings in with her psionics.

She wandered over to the centre pillar and with a sigh placed her hand on the centre, pressing it firmly. With a loud SCHICK the long spike drove up through the plates that covered her hand and out the top. Thick purple blood welled out of the wound as the spike withdrew.

“Hope that doesn’t screw with her” Miranda muttered to herself as she stepped back and flexed her hand, hissing in pain as it sealed and she was forced to reattach her gauntlet to repair it before separating it again.

Lines of purple light sprang from the ground and she sighed once more, walking over to the puzzle pieces and began to kick the pedestals around, rearranging them to open the casket.

 


 

Serana’s nose twitched, the scent of blood filled her sensitive nose, slowly reviving her from her starvation induced coma. She wanted the blood she could smell, it was powerful, hot like molten stone, yet strangely quick.

Usually powerful blood had a slow moving feel to it. But this felt swift, terrifying and strong. Her mouth watered at the scent and she found her eyes trying to open so she could find the source.

Her lids felt heavy and like they were glued together but with a supreme amount of effort she cracked her left lid open. All she could see was stone mere inches from her nose. Confusion echoed dully through her brain before panic began to settle in.

Her breathing quickened as panic drove her hunger out of her mind. Her right eye opened too, lighting the dark space slightly with their amber glow. Then a loud thunk echoed through her small prison, followed by a grinding sound.

Bright light seared her sensitive eyes and she slammed them shut against the pain, a small whimper emerging from her throat, the first sound she had made in millennia.

Her body was falling, she couldn’t stop it, she braced for the pain of the stone floor but it never came.

“Hey now, none of that! The floor is incredibly uncomfortable” a woman’s voice told her as strong arms caught her. She could feel hard plates and small spikes indicating that the person holding her was wearing some kind of armour.

She cracked open her eyes against the light and squinted up at the person holding her as the arms eased her down so she was sitting on the steps that lead up to her coffin.

Her eyes focused slowly on a pair of armoured feet propped up on five inch spikes at the heel the toes of the boot looked like the owner’s feet were bare, toes moulded out of a strange, matte black materiel that sucked the light in. Her eyes traveled up calves covered in plates with jagged spines flaring outward, Knees with plates adorned with razor sharp blades that would be devastating to be kneed with.

Her eyes continued up, past hips clad in more of the strange, spiked black plates and an abdomen that was sheathed in articulated armour and black scales.

Hands covered in clawed gauntlets and with jagged spines extending away from the forearms with a backward curve towards elbows with longer spines and up to shoulders that had more spikes on the right that jutted out so they could be used to ram an unfortunate opponent.

By this time she was sure her rescuer was female, the breast plate that left absolutely nothing to the imagination cinched that observation and her eyes finally passed a black gorget with more plates to arrived at a surprisingly human looking face, pale skin and full lips with glowing ice blue eyes.

The hair, or what sat in place of hair drew a shocked gasp from Serana before her eyes caught sight of two massive limbs that wavered gently behind the woman.

They looked like bat wings that had been stripped of their membrane and each bone strut had been given the same treatment as the woman’s armour with barbs designed to maximize damage at the joints and razor sharp blades adorning the tips.

“Hey, you alright?” the woman asled, her voice echoing in the cavernous room and her tall frame kneeled down to Serana’s level. Her wings splayed out to allow for the action.

Serana blinked in uncertainty as she tried to make her eyes finish focusing. She opened her mouth and a soft groan of exertion passed her lips before she managed to form words.

“Who.. who are you?” she managed, her voice barely a whisper The woman smiled, revealing fangs even longer than Serana’s in fact many of her teeth seemed designed to slice.

“Names Miranda” she introduced reaching out a clawed hand to shake. Serana looked at the outstretched limb and carefully took the hand; wary of the razor sharp edges she could feel adorning the hand.

“Serana” she managed and the woman’s smile grew, her glowing blue eyes twinkling.

“Pleasure to meet you Serana, wanna get out of this place?” she asked, cocking her head to the side. Serana blinked up at her and nodded weakly. This close she could smell the other woman’s blood, it was the same one that had woken her in the first place.

This close however she could smell something that sent her warning signs. Signals that told her blood starved body that to drink from this woman would lead to death the moment the blood passed her lips.

It was enough to dull the roaring hunger and even make her inner vampire tremble before the more powerful predator. Miranda stood and offered her hand back down to Serana, hauling her upright when the vampire took it.

“Do you know how to get out of here?” Serana asked and Miranda smiled.

“The way I came in” she replied, walking up the steps from the coffin, supporting Serana with an arm around the Vampire’s wait, mindful of the blades covering her body. They reached where a span of stone had once linked the island to the crypts but the bridge had vanished.

“Bloody brilliant” Miranda muttered sourly before she looked down at her new charge. “I’m going to jump this, please don’t scream” She begged before sweeping Serana up into her arms.

Serana looked at the gap then up at her rescuer “what?” she questioned before Miranda surged up and forward. The distance would have been impossible to cover, but at the peak of her incredibly impressive leap, Miranda’s wings snapped open, the bones now holding a membrane of ice blue light. Miranda glided down to the other side of the bridge and landed gently before setting Serana back on her own feet.

“Nice trick” the vampire remarked weakly, attempting to seem nonchalant at what had just happened.

“I like it” Miranda agreed before she helped the Vampire up through the ruins. When they reached the cave portion of the ruin Miranda gently eased Serana down onto a stone, letting the weakened vampire rest.

A high whistle made Serana’s head jerk up and she caught sight of a magnificent hind with Silver fur, silver antlers and bronze hooves stand up and snort at Miranda.

“Hey, I don’t have anything to feed her!” Miranda cried in defence, throwing her hands p in the air. The Hind levelled what Serana could only call an unimpressed look at Miranda who sighed and shook her head.

“You’re impossible, we’ll find her some poor schmuck on the road. Powers know there are more than enough bandits in the area” she told her mount before wandering back over to Serana and sitting down.

“So, you talk to your ride?” The vampire asked, raising her eyebrow at her rescuer. Miranda sighed and nodded wearily “yup” she answered nodding faintly.

Serana nodded “and you have wings” she continued looking back toward the entrance of the cave, through which she could see the howling blizzard they were hiding from.

“Yup” replied Miranda, still nodding.

“And you look like a Daedra that managed to escape oblivion” she finished.

“Yup” Miranda agreed before looking over at Serana “want to be friends?” she asked and Serana turned to look her over.

“Sure, why not” she answered finally.

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