A voyage to resupply the Bleakrock Isle garrison was never an easy one, but the Skald-King always made sure the Sirensbane was well paid for their efforts. And once the trip was done it was always time for a night of carousing in the Fish Stink Tavern, to end in lamentations and missing clothing. Molly shifted her chair closer to the fire, careful to keep her mug of mead from spilling. The night was not as chilly as the nights up north in Bleakrock, but still the sea air was still crisp. She was about to settle into the chair when someone jostled her from the back, upsetting her mead which flew and hissed as it hit the flaming wood.
“Molly!” A merry and slightly slurred voice accompanied the stumbling Dark Elf behind her. He took her mug and but a different one in her hand, sniffing hers with distaste. “Mead. Always with the mead, Molly. You need to… esspand your horizons. Have some Balmora Blue. Straight from the source.” He leaned inn and waggled his eyebrows at her. “Been saving it. Jussst for you.”
As with most mer she had to look up somewhat to speak to him. Short even for a Bosmer, the rest of the Sirensbane called her the Tiny Fury. When they weren’t smirking, bemused at her rather alliterative full name. Molly Collywobbles. Once given to her with the intent to bring shame, she now fiercely embraced it as a marker of how far she’d come. But that was a story for another time, at the moment she just glared tolerantly at the Balmora-obsessed Dunmer.
“I see you’ve already been at the Blue, Ruvi,” she said with a chuckle. “You couldn’t have been saving it that hard.”
Still, she took a healthy gulp - she planned to end up with a headache, possibly in a strange place along with the rest of the company the next day. The Blue was pleasant enough, but she just really liked the mead of the Nords. It was sweet, simple and it put you on your rear after a long day on the deck of the Charybtis. But she drank what she was given obediently and nodded when Ruvi expectantly asked her if she liked it.
Ruvi was pleasant enough beneath the sheets, but she could tell he wanted something more out of their friendship. That was a talk that would have to happen at some point but not tonight. Tonight she laughed as he drunkenly pulled her onto his lap. Kurdo and Roric were already scaring the standard patrons out of the tavern with insistent challenges to arm wrestle, until finally only the Sirensbane were left and they settled in to challenge each other - pounding the table relentlessly after every round.
The night continued with songs and dancing, and Molly began to feel the hazy euphoria of the mildly drunk. She sank into a chair, breathing hard after a particularly raucous dance. The was when she caught sight of the most beautiful woman she’d ever laid eyes on. She was sitting at the bar, looking bored as Captain Isander tried to regale her with thrilling tales of their last voyage. Molly had been on that voyage, there was nothing thrilling about it and so she felt she must intervene and rescue the lady from an evening of tedium.
Purely through altruistic consideration, of course.
But she also wondered if she wouldn’t go to bed with Ruvi that night. Or, glancing around to where he was enthusiastically bellowing his favorite chanty, he might be interested in a little adventure. The thought made her smile in anticipation. But first, there was the business of the rescue. She would bear the captain's ire for stealing his “conquest” the next day. She poured the last of the Balmora Blue into the nicest looking cup she could find and made her way across the tavern.
The lady’s skin was lighter than most Dunmer, and her crimson eyes seemed to glow somewhat. Silver-white hair curled softly over her bare shoulder, her garments left just enough to the imagination but still emphasized her generous figure. Molly carefully lifted her gaze as she approached, offering the drink to the woman.
“Can I interest you in something a little more… exciting?” Molly said with a wink, hoping she didn’t sound too intoxicated. The Dunmer woman turned and laughed, a lyrical sound that caused Molly’s knees to become a touch watery. Or perhaps that was the liquor.
“Oh my,” she tittered, “Aren’t you just the most precious thing I’ve seen all evening.”
Molly clenched her teeth a little at the word “precious” but soldiered on nonetheless. The woman took the cup from her and examined Molly from head to toe in a way that made her feel like she was already missing her clothes.
“Captain, have you deliberately hiding this jewel from me all this time?”
“I, uh… what?” the Captain spluttered. “Of course not, my dear. This is one of my crew… Molly.” He fixed Molly with what would have been a menacing look if he hadn’t been so off-guard and tipsy. Molly flicked her eyes to the side in the universal go on son, I got this look.
He subsided, albeit reluctantly and Molly sidled a little closer so as to hear her speak. “So what should I call you?”
“Melani Erebus,” she said, then her voice dropped to a sultry tone as she leaned in close, “But I hope you will call me Mel.”
Reaching out with a long-nailed finger, she traced Molly’s jawbone as she drank causing the unsteadiness in the Bosmer’s knees to multiply.
“Mel,” she breathed, barely able to tear her gaze away from the other’s beautifully mesmerizing eyes.
“I had thought I would have to settle for the Captain tonight. But you… you are far more interesting.”
“Well,” Molly said weakly, “You haven’t even heard me sing yet.”
“I’m sure there will be time for that,” Mel purred, barely audibly but they were close enough now Molly could hear. She leaned down and kissed Molly languidly and Molly could have sworn she saw a flash of teeth longer and sharper than normal. But once their lips touched the thought completely slipped out of her mind. Her head, already a little foggy from the moon-sugared liquor began to swim. Mel’s arm came around her waist to steady her and Molly was enveloped in her scent and taste. What was left of the world faded in her periphery until there was nothing.
Hunger, sharp and aching. Fear tastes like sweet wine as I run down the prey. Warmth of blood in my hands, on my lips. I drink deep but it is not enough, never enough. They beg, they always beg and I laugh and feast on their terror. But the hunger, it never stops. Never quiets.
Molly’s head felt stuffed with cotton as she awoke to strange voices around her and a sun that seemed determined to bore a hole straight through her heart. She tasted blood, but it wasn’t the same as tasting it after getting punched in the face. It was… decadent somehow.
“Sweet Mara, look at this mess,” a male voice floated into her ears. “Where was the patrol last night?”
“The Sirensbane was back in town, they’re always loud. But you’d think someone would have heard this.”
“Well, they won’t be sailing again. Divines, they’ve been torn apart.”
Torn apart? Molly groaned and tried to sit up. The sun was so bright, and her eyes felt incredibly sensitive so it took her a moment to adjust to the scene around her. But she smelled the blood.
“Hold it! One’s alive,” one of the guard shouted. After a moment she felt someone at her elbow trying to help her up. Everything was still bright, but she could make out shapes here and there.
“Are you alright? Who did this? How did you survive?”
“Quiet, lad, let her get her bearings.”
Survive? What is happening?
The world and objects in it finally coalesced into something she could interpret and what she saw was impossible. Blood, there was blood everywhere. The entirety of the Sirensbane was strewn about the floor in various states of dismemberment. Molly’s breath caught in her throat, and for a moment she thought she would be sick as a strange hunger rose, sparked by the smell of flesh around her. She looked around. The Captain, Kurdo, Alise, Roric… even poor Ruvi’s head was several feet away from the rest of him. Something like memories crashed in on her, a dream of blood and fear. The taste in her mouth, the hunger.
I did this. Me.
She groaned and sunk to her knees. They were all dead, and by her own doing she was certain. There was a hand on her shoulder.
“You alright, lass?” She looked up, an older Nord stood in front of her and by all the Divines in Aetherius she could see the blood running through his veins as he spoke to her. She almost leapt upon him in that moment, but iron stubbornness borne of always being the smallest and weakest saved his life.
But it wouldn’t for long, she could feel the hunger rising again. Dead bodies all around her, these living ones would soon join them unless she ran.
Molly tore away from hands trying to quiet her and ran, not realizing at the time she moved exponentially faster than any man or mer could. Tearing through Davon’s Watch, she didn’t stop until she was far away from any living soul. Perhaps coincidentally, likely a subconscious desire, she found herself on a high cliff overlooking the sea. The Charybtis was anchored somewhere down there, now a ship with no crew.
It was in that moment that she recalled... the Dunmer Melani Erebus was not among the dead. The flash of teeth, the dream... what had she done? A moment later Molly noticed a small, blood-stained piece of parchment sticking out of her trouser pocket.
I have to thank you for the spectacle you provided. The fear on your companions' faces as you tore into them was exquisite. I have turned many a mortal in my time, but it has been a while since I have seen a vampire so.... ravenous. The memory of you feeding will give me many a warm memory in the nights to come.
But in the end, you turned on me and I had to make you sleep. Killing you would be to destroy a work of art. I hope to hear many tales of your fury as you make your way in this eternal life.
Molly shrieked her rage to the sky. She wanted only one thing - death. Death of the one who turned her into this monster, but her own death was closer and more convenient. Would a vampire die if they fell and was dashed on the rocks below?
“I’m sorry, Ruvi,” she whispered as she prepared herself and hoped for true death.
“Child of mine, you are making a mistake,” an accented voice behind her managed to filter into her perceptions. She turned. A pale-skinned woman was there, and also not there, floating a few measures above the ground.
“Who are you?” Molly demanded, unable to keep the sob from her voice.
“I am your mother. I am the night, the Lady Lamae Bal. I heard your anguish as an echo of mine own long ago. You must not die today.”
The apparition of Lamae Bal told her story, gave her the history of the coven of darkness. As she spoke, Molly’s despair began to lift. She wasn’t alone… she could learn to control this hunger. Perhaps.
“The one who sired you has displeased me,” the Lady said, “Bestowing my gift for her own amusement, without care for her fledgling and without guidance. She must be destroyed.”
Molly knelt eagerly before the vision. “Let me do it. I will end her existence. I swear it.”
“No, little one, you cannot. For she is protected and not alone. You will not be able to defeat her without help.” She smiled slightly at Molly’s dejected expression. “But there are those who can aid you. They are traveling this way, for a purpose aligned with yours. You will have to prove yourself - they have been recently betrayed.”
“I will do it, my lady,” Molly’s voice was hard steel, her words clipped.
As Lamae Bal’s avatar faded, she smiled. “Go to the north, find the Sisterhood. I have faith in you, my daughter.”
And then she was gone, but the hope she bestowed remained. Molly turned to the North.