Nocturnal - Part IX

The bats were only a minor nuisance in the first part of the cave. There weren't a lot of them, and they didn't seem to be all that concerned that there was someone in their home. But those in the deeper part were more agitated, and they soon discovered why. Clark was wearing his ring with the detect life spell, and he could see pink glows that were too large to be bats, just around the corner. He signalled to Cyndil, and they started to sneak up on the vampire. She couldn't see the glow, but Clark pointed, and she saw the shadows move. One of the special arrows soon lit up the back of the cave, and a howl of pain confirmed her target. The vampire charged towards them, trying to cast a spell as he came, but the Bow of Shadows added Silence to its shots, and his attempts were futile.

The combination of fire damage from the arrow, and health damage from the bow, was draining the vampire's life as he ran. He barely had the strength to lift his sword before he toppled to the floor in front of them.

His shout, when the arrow first struck him, had alerted the other vampires, but it had also attracted the bats. They could see fireballs flying into the darkness from the other side of the cave, and arrows and lightning going the other way in return.

They crouched and waited for the conflict to reach a conclusion. The bats weren't particularly fearsome opponents, but they were small and nimble, and hard to hit. Whenever one scored a hit with a fireball, Cyndil added to the woes of the revealed vampire with an arrow of her own. Regular arrows were enough for this supporting fire, as they still dealt the silence and health damage effect that the Bow of Shadows imparted.

When the fireballs started to come in their direction, it was clear that there were no more vampires for the bats to target. "Let's make a run for that door over there," Clark suggested.

It wasn't far, and the bats were low on magicka. The door was unlocked, so they were soon safe behind it. Safe from bats, at least. Clark's life detection wasn't showing anything yet, but it didn't have much range, and he was sure there would be more vampires further in.

"Is this part of the castle?" Cyndil asked. The walls were dressed stone, built rather than dug out. But the style was different from the basement Clark had seen.

"I don't think so, although it could be the ruins of an older castle. I'm sure Nocturnal rebuilds from time to time. ... and we have another vampire."

A pink glow had just appeared, coming their way. Its measured pace suggested the vampire was unaware of their presence, and they'd like to keep it that way. Clark and Cyndil tucked themselves into alcoves either side of the corridor and waited. They attacked after the vampire had passed, hoping to kill her quickly before she could raise an alarm.

"I'm glad she was wearing chain rather than plate. No noisy clatter when she fell," Cyndil whispered.

"That doesn't make a lot of difference, there are two more coming anyway," Clark responded.

"Do they know we're here?"

"They're not hurrying, if that's any indication. I think we may have surprise on our side if they don't see the corpse."

They dragged the body quietly into the shadows, and waited again. The two vampires, a man who might have been a Dunmer, and a woman who was definitely an Orc came through the heavy double doors and stopped. The man raised his hand and cast a spell. Clark recognized it as detect life. If they hadn't already been spotted, they would be now. He pointed at the Orc to tell Cyndil she was her target, and moved toward the Dunmer mage. His outfit reflected magic rather well, and he was hoping that the man would do most of the work for him. If Cyndil silenced him with an arrow, it would make Clark's job harder!

He obliged with a shock spell, but was astute enough to realise what happened. He summoned a dagger instead and snarled. Clark was content to block with his shield for a while. He knew that the spell had a short duration, and the dagger would soon be gone again. As soon as he saw the smoke that signalled the end of the summon, he struck with his sword.

The vampire howled, and reacted unthinkingly with another spell, which again reflected back to him. Clark pressed the attack before he could re-cast the dagger, and the Dunmer was soon dead at his feet.

Cyndil came running to him. She'd retreated back along the corridor as the Orc charged, staying out of her range as the arrow's enchantments did their job. She'd left the Orc quite a distance back toward the door. "Any more coming up?" She asked.

Clark had no more in his detection range, but they weren't very far into the ruins yet.

"We've accounted for four so far, and the bats at least a couple more. I wonder how many are down here?"

"As long as they don't start appearing ten at a time, It shouldn't matter," Cyndil responded. "It seems we can handle them in ones and twos, so it's just a question of keeping it that way."

"That's their choice, not ours. We can't control their movements, just react to them."

"No, but as long as we detect them first, we can avoid encounters where we're outnumbered. Retreat if we have to, and try to stay undetected ourselves."