“How’d you get that scar?” I asked, pointing to her chest. An “X” shaped scar, white and pale against her dark Dunmer skin, was right under her throat and above her bosom. She placed a hand over it and closed her eyes. “That one,” she murmured, trying to remember.
We were in White River, having a swim. As she was discarding her armor, I couldn’t help but stare at the scars that marked her body. It was more marked up than her map of Skyrim she was constantly updating though there was hardly any room left for markings.
“I want to say Bonestrewn Crest,” she finally answered. “I was walking up the stairs, following a fox, getting ready to kill the dragon at the top. As I walked, I got blasted by ice from a soul gem trap to my left. Hit me right in the chest and knocked me back down the steps. My chest plate broke, of course. But I was alright. Just unconscious for a few hours.”
“You’re lucky no animals got to you,” I said, impressed by the story.
“I know. Honestly I’m lucky the dragon didn’t get me.”
She stripped down to her tiny underclothes: a flimsy bra and thong-styled underwear. It looked like she had made it from a Forsworn’s outfit. She probably had. I stayed under my cloak to keep my skin from the sun, but I still stepped into the water and sat on a rock, watching the flow take leaves and flowers away. She slowly walked in next to me, her legs, darkened with bruises, disappearing into the water.
“That one?” I pointed to what looked like a crater just below her belly button. I looked to her back to see that whatever hit her, it came out the other side.
“Ah, yes,” she said with a grimace. “I wasn’t faring too well against a mage once. Ice spike after ice spike came flying my way.” I winced at the thought. As someone who regularly sent ice spikes into people and animals, I didn’t even want to imagine how it felt to take one. I stared at that scar, positive that she’d never be able to bear children. Would she even want to, leading the lifestyle she did?
“And these?” I got close to her and felt her left wrist where a jagged mark was.
“From, um, assassination…attempts, that is,” she said, moving away to face me.
“People have tried to assassinate you?”
“Yes, all the time. I get Dark Brotherhood assassins trailing me in the woods around Falkreath almost every time I’m in the area. And amateurs, too. They’re pretty sloppy, the amateurs. They usually have the writs on their person with the name of the person who wants me dead.”
“Have you killed any of them in retaliation?”
“No. I prefer to just waltz into their towns and say hi. Some stare at me like I’m a ghost, and others act perfectly normal.”
“I get my amusements where I can.” She dipped her head into the water and came back up, her wavy blonde locks sticking to her shoulders. “Such an interest in my body, Serana,” she said, smirking at me. “You know, if you want to really get to know me that way, you don’t have to ask all these roundabout questions. We both know that eventually you’ll be pointing to my chest, my rear, and eventually my—”
“This isn’t like that!” I insisted. She laughed, the sound echoing off nearby mountains and scaring away a few goats who had come to get a drink. I shook my head at her. “But really,” she said, “why the interest?”
“I’ve never seen anyone with so many battle scars on their body,” I said. “Who is alive, that is.”
“Coming from a Nord, that means a lot,” she said sincerely.
“How is it that you’ve survived this long?”
“Luck, skill, magic, I guess.” She examined her own body, her all-white eyes scanning her scars as one did with their own hand. “There had been quite a few times I didn’t think I’d make it, though. People tell me I make it look easy. None of it has been easy. And I think that one day the toll will take my body from me. Or me from my body. Whichever comes first.”
I watched her as she spoke, unsure of how to respond. As a vampire, I never pondered death much. I couldn’t imagine being a mortal in her place.
“I should take you to see me kill a dragon,” she said nonchalantly. “The dragons have more scars that I will ever have.” She got up and walked deeper into the water to swim. I simply sat and watched her amazing body, so full of life yet it looked on the brink of its death.