Disclaimer: We do not own Skyrim or Dragon Age.

Co-Author and Beta: etheral-23

Old Terror

Ever shifting, the Fade stayed in constant motion as Miara used her clairvoyance spell to guide them to another comrade trapped within a dream, or nightmare. Serana strode beside her longtime elven friend as she eyed their colleagues of Thedas; "Marcus looks ready to skin someone alive," she whispered.

"I don't blame him. The dream he was in, that was the life he wanted with Iona and little Amethyne. I want Rendon Howe dead, but Marcus wants it more, and justifiably so. Whatever life he could have had with the woman he loved was taken away; I understand that kind of pain. And hate."

The vampire princess said nothing; she only gazed mournfully ahead as both friends went silent. Behind them, Neria stayed beside Marcus as she eyed him occasionally. Even Alistair looked a bit concerned but said nothing. Beside them Sereda only mentioned to leave her old friend be. But anyone would be a fool to not see her worry in her eyes.

Zevran and Gin kept watch at the rear with Sten, but the Fade had been surprisingly quiet in their journey. Miara explained to Neria that Miraak was likely gaining control of the realm and its denizens. That was not a comforting thought…

The next gate took them to a Chantry; even though it was small it reeked of both splendor and opulence. Golden statues of saints and martyrs dotted the masterfully crafted halls, paintings and carvings of Andraste were everywhere, along with the motif of flames so important to the andrastian faith.

"This is an orlesian Chantry..." The Cousland said in distaste. "Hmph. Even in places of faith, Orlais can't help but throw so much money into mere statues. I wonder how many people the gold put into this place could have fed"

"I'm no stranger to temples being decorated to look magnificent, so it pleases the priesthood and the visitors. Like paintings and murals" Miara added as she observed the statues. "But even the great chapels of the gods back home don't have even a fraction of such pointless material objects placed in them" The dark elf paused; "Well, the Dibella temples maybe? But for very different reasons," Miara said, stressing the word very as far as she could.

A snort came from Serana as she rolled her eyes. The group looked around the temple before Sten pointed ahead to the large alter pass the pews. On one knee they saw their beautiful redheaded bard as she prayed in front of a woman who dons what could be described as holy robes.

"How much do you think those robe cost to make?" Serana said absently. By the Divines they were so gaudy. Her own mother would have burned it on principle.

Marcus made a throaty noise; "Orlais spares no expense."

"Wasteful," their Qunari companion said blankly.

Sereda could not stop the snort that escaped from her lips as she stared at the priestess, a woman who looked like she was in her winter years, more specifically, at the hat she donned on her head. "What is that?!" She tried to stifle the laughter with a hand over mouth.

The sentiment of mirth and amusement was shared by others in the party as they looked at the large red triangle shaped hat the priestess wore.

"Ahhh yes" Zevran smirked humorously. "The orlesian chantry robes, you have to respect their Revered Mothers. Not everyone has the courage to walk around in something like that"

Neria tried, and failed, to be the adult on the group. After holding back her laughter and clearing her throat, she approached their companion. "Leli, can you hear us?"

The former bard ignored her. "Blessed are they who stand before. The corrupt and the wicked and do not falter. Blessed are the peacekeepers, the champions of the just" She chanted the prayer so fluently they did not doubt Leliana had memorized the Chant, taking it to the heart, during her time in Redcliffe.

"Blessed are the righteous, the lights in the shadow. In their blood the Maker's will is written" The older priestess finished. "Good, Leliana, good" She spoke with a motherly tone. "You do the Maker proud, my child"

"Thank you, Mother Dorothea"

"By the stone, how religious is this girl?" Sereda groaned.

If their past conversations were of any account to Miara, it was faith that saved Leliana from her former life. She has seen it before, Erandur being a prime example. Although she had to snort at him marrying Aranea, her mother's own priestess in Skyrim. That old elf never fully could stay away from the Daedra, but Azura was a far better choice than Vaermina.

Despite staying a priest of Mara, she never got that one. But she was going off track. Coming over, the illusion of the priestess eyed the dark elf as she kneeled beside the redhead; "Leliana?"

The former bard's head shifted with a start as she gazed over to the elf; "Yes? Do I know you?"

"You do" The dunmer said in a comforting tone. "You know us all; we're your comrades, your friends"

A semblance of recognition flashed before her blue eyes before it was gone. "I... I am sorry. You are familiar but..."

"You joined us to fight the Blight, Leliana" Marcus said in a strong tone, approaching them.

"The Blight..?"

"Do not listen to them, Sister Leliana" The illusion in the form of the Revered Mother commanded. "They are trying to lead you astray from the Maker's path"

The redhead's gaze shifted in confusion. Yes, her place was here, in a place of worship to the Maker. But... why did she feel it wasn't enough?

"It is because of your faith that you joined us" Miara placed a hand on Leliana's shoulder and squeezed. "Remember your vision, hope blooming amidst the darkness"

A sharp yet soft breath of air escape her lips, realization finally dawned of her. Yes... Yes, that's right. She joined them to fight the darkness, to protect the Maker's creation. "You're right..." She slowly stood up and glared at the mockery of the woman who held such significance to her. "I know my place, demon, and it is at their side, fighting for the Maker's children"

The illusion dispelled and the Fade returned. Leliana sighed as she shook her head; "Shall we go?"

"We have the others to find," Marcus nodded.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Once again following their dunmer friend, Leliana rubbed her arms as she walked beside Marcus; "I am ready to leave this place."

"Agree with you on that," the Cousland said quietly. "Save the tower and leave. Had enough of dreams." Those words made the former barb eye him.

"What did you-?"

"I don't want to talk about it" His tone left no room for argument.

"Oh... Alright then"

"...I hate this place" Sereda commented after a minute of silence, a sentiment they all shared.

Leliana lightly bit the inside of her lip; "If... After leaving here, you need someone to listen. I will be there if you need anything Marcus."

For a minute no words were said till finally; "Thank you Leli," the Cousland spoke quietly.

At the head of the group, Miara and Serana glanced back before looking at each other; "Well this got interesting," the vampire nord whispered.

"So you did notice too?"

Serana's sly smirk was all the confirmation the Dragonborn needed.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

The rustle of leaves on the gentle breeze of summer was a magnificent symphony for Brianna's ears. Her raven hair fluttered as she ran through the trees, her sapphire eyes twinkled with unbridled joy, the very sounds of the forest making her smile.

The trees soon parted and she stopped at a cliff side, an entire world lay bellow her. An unending horizon of clear blue skies, snow coated mountains which stood proudly upon the earth, forests, ruins and civilization holding so many secrets, intrigue, and tales yet to be discovered.

Adventure awaited her, beckoning her to discover more of what this world had to offer. And Brianna would find them all; she'd tame any danger that came her way before going off to another adventure. She was free; she could do whatever she wanted. Perhaps, even find her family at some point. Who would stop her after all?

It was truly a glorious life.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

When the others came for her, Brianna steeled herself so no one could see how much her eyes glistened from unshed tears. She was going to leave this hellhole of a gilded cage. If Neria could be free, so would she. Even if it meant becoming a Warden to do it! No Templar over her shoulder, no threat of becoming Tranquil. But true freedom.

Her sapphire orbs glance all around the terrain of the fade; "Normally there are at least a few spirits or such roaming about."

Alistair spoke up beside her; "Miara said she was going to explain something about this, but once we have everyone."

"So she needs everyone just to give us small details?"

"Oh trust me hun," Miara turned her head back upon hearing the dry tone of Amell; "This is not something small."

Neria glanced around the remaining doors. "I hope Jowan's okay..."

"Don't worry" Brianna said, placing a comforting hand on her friend's shoulder. "Jowan may be a bit clueless, but..." She stopped and blinked. Twice. Before the elf's words finally registered on her mind. "Wait, Jowan's here?!"

"...Ohhhhhh, right" The look on Neria's face was downright comical. "Kinda?"

"Neria, what the hell?!"

"Um," the elven mage fidgeted while being stared at by Brianna; "We kinda ran into Jowan at Redcliffe castle. And he was in the dungeon." Neria's voice was growing meeker.

A glare came from the young Amell; "Why was Jowan in the dungeon?" Her elven friend looked anywhere but her; "Neria Surana I want a damn bloody answer!"

"And people say we don't act our age," Miara snickered beside Serana who rolled her eyes.

"Because we don't. Well you don't that's for damn sure."

"I love you too."

After a summarized explanation of the dreadful events that had happened in Redcliffe, Brianna hid her face on her palms and groaned into them with utter frustration.

"I'm gonna kill him" She growled out. "I swear I'm going to kill him. And if I don't, Wynne will" She warned the elf.

"I don't think Wynne would do that..."

"She won't need to lift a finger. She's just going to rant him a three hour-long lecture on why he was so stupid and he'll die of sheer boredom"

Amell glared over to Serana; "And you believe Jowan is more in tuned with darker magics."

"From the short time I have been helping him, yes. But as myself and Miara explained before. 'It's how the mage chooses to wield it. And if it's any indication Jowan is a good soul. Albeit clumsy," Serana shrugged.

"That is true," Neria and Brianna nodded. But the young elf still did not like the idea of someone she cared about into using dark magic.

Gin lifted his hand; "So how about we go find him now? Along with our other friends."

"Fine" The human mage replied tiredly. "When we find him I will punch him in the eye..."

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

It was a humble abode, Jowan could not ask for more. He was content with this life, the people were kind, none of them cared that he was a mage. In fact, they appreciated his services when common means to solve a problem failed, be it healing or dealing with anything that threated the village.

As Lily set the food on the table, he smiled at his wife and counted his blessings.

It was then that he noticed his friends had finally arrived.

"Ah! Neria, Brianna!" He stood up and welcomed them with open arms. "Finally! It's so good you-"

And Brianna kept her promise.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Jowan groans holding his now bruised left eye. As for the Amell, she paced while Neria tended to her friend; "I want to yell at you, but I trust Neria got the message across at Redcliffe."

"She did," Jowan groaned; "But I get the feeling you have your own opinions to add. You never were one to not speak her mind."

"Oh trust me I will. Once the tower is safe, priorities love," Brianna walked away.

Zevran smiled; "To have two beautiful ladies care that much. Oh the opportunities if he had taken them." Beside him, Leliana just shook her head as she rubbed her eyes.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Her tears fell upon the body. A child. Another promising young soul whose light had been snuffed so quickly and ruthlessly.

Around Wynne there were only corpses, young mages, many of them were her students. They were never given a chance to prove their worth, to grow into the people they were meant to be. She would no longer see them grow; no longer would she be able to help them whenever they needed advice, to see the joyous smiles on their faces when they finally got a spell right. The pride on their eyes when they passed their Harrowing.

Their future had been taken from, and Wynne couldn't only weep atop the corpses of those she had sworn to protect.

"Wynne!" Neria shouted once they entered the nightmare.

"Maker's breathe..." Jowan breathed in horror at the scene, a sentiment shared by the others

All the other dreams so far had been that, dream. But this... this was no promise of happiness, of the heart's true, deepest, desires come true. An illusion about what they, once upon a time, thought was best for them, what they truly wanted. Or a place of familiarity where they could feel comfort. This was a nightmare. A nightmare meant to snare the person in their sorrow and pain, trapping them inside forever.

"So much death..." The elder mage wept.

"Wynne this isn't real!" Brianna urgently tried to make her come to her senses, but the Enchanter seemed to ignore them.

"This was my fault," Wynne said quietly. She did not register Neria placing her arm over her shoulder. "If only had they listened to me, had I done something…?"

"Wynne," Neria said in a soft voice. "Master it's me."

The elder mage continued to ignore her. It was only when Neria stood before her, both hands gently cupping her cheeks, which Wynne's gaze slowly settled on the elf's velvet eyes. "It's me..."

"They..." Wynne mumbled. "They're all..."

"Many yet live" Neria said. "We can still save them. The Circle has not fallen"

"I... I couldn't save them..."

"You saved many, Wynne. Many children, students and mages still live because of you"

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Finding of all things a stone bench, least Miara thought it was made of stone. Neria and Brianna sat on either side of Wynne as she gathered herself from breaking of that dreadful illusion. The others stood and watched as the aged mage looked up to a sheepish looking Jowan. "So that person I met was actually you."

"Yes, Gregor would have sent me to prison or made me tranquil if I showed my real face."

"With the stunt you pulled are you surprised?" Wynne huffed as she was helped to her feet; "You knew full well Neria or Brianna could have helped you. But to resort to using blood magic... We will discuss this later."

"You're sure you can come?" Marcus asked with genuine concern.

Wynne waved it off; "I may be in my twilight years, but I still have enough in me to be useful to you."

Miara looked up to Sten who nodded; "Let's go then."

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

They found Morrigan, she was being lectured by demanding yet strangely warm Flemeth. At least, warmer than they had seen.

When the demon impersonating the legendary witch turned to face the intruders, Morrigan wasted no time in blowing up its head with a quick and powerful lightning bolt fired point-blank. "Ahhh" She smiled pleasantly. "She wasn't the real one, but this moment will hold a special place in my heart nonetheless" The swamp witch then glares at them. "Where have you bloody lot been?"

"Oh I was running around naked, just needed some air," Miara said breathlessly. "Honestly this armor can get hot at times, and I get all sweaty."

That earned the elf a dry look from the swamp witch; "Scary part of that t'is I actually believe you do that."

"Because she does;" Serana nodded.

"Is it a crime to hate wearing clothes at night?" Miara huffed.

"Only when you decided roaming around the nine holds wearing nothing but a smile."

Jowan blushed like a schoolboy, and Zevran rubbed his chin intrigued. "Good to know..."

"Ugh" Morrigan let out a disgusted noise

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

They found their dogs on a long open field surrounded by beef jerkies... yeah.

"You boys have simple desires, huh?" Neria smiled as she ruffled Bran's head.

Marcus smiled as he knelt before his faithful companion. "Tell you what. When we're out of here we'll give you plenty of treats" Loke barked in approval.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Their next location was a tavern. Not a palace, nor a harem suite, just... a simple tavern.

"Heeeey guys!" Faren waved cheerfully from his spot on a table. Oddly enough, Shale was standing next to him, looking as stoic as ever. "What kept ya," he asked with a mouthful of meat which he proceeds to down with a drought of beer.

"So, the dogs aren't the only people who don't wish for much huh?" The dwarven princess says with a mirthful smirk. "Faren, look, you're in a dream, which I know it's really odd cause we're dwarves, and honestly this whole experience is... creeping me out but-"

"Oh I know" He shrugs.

"...Wait, you know?" Neria says incredulously.

"My beautiful elven friend, a dwarf knows when his ale or mead is not real. Or taste like someone had pissed in it," Faren shook his head. "Stone man here has been with me since I woke."

"Least there is no birds," Shale muttered. "That alone makes it a paradise."

Sereda's features twisted into confusion. "This is all the demons are doing to keep you here?"

The rogue merely shrugged. "I'm just staying put because I have no idea what to do in this freaky place"

Did Faren truly not have any deep desire of his own? Or anything he regretted? He didn't seem empty inside, far from it. Her fellow dwarf was always looking at things with a smile on his face, regardless of the circumstances. He just... lived the moment and moved on. The former princess once more felt envious of him.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

"Well, that is everyone," Brianna spoke as she and the others were now in what looked like a library. Eyes panned to the dark elf that paced about the room. "Mind explaining why the spirits and demons are not present within this place?"

Wynne rubbed her chin as she sat on a chair; "Hmm, I noticed that as well. It feels like the Fade itself is vacant, strangely enough."

"...More along the lines of someone gaining control of this realm and it's denizens," Miara spoke as she stood in front of everyone. "I'll start from the beginning."

And so she did, she took her time to explain Brianna and Wynne that she was Dragonborn. Who did a good job at keeping their shock and question to themselves while they dealt with more pressing concerns. She told them about how her adventures took her to the island of Solstheim, where she first met Miraak.

"So this Miraak was not only a member of these 'Dragon Priests'" Marcus says with a serious expression, recalling what Miara was explaining to them. "You say he's Dragonborn like you, the very first one?"

"Yes..." The dunmer nodded grimly. "When Akatosh first bestowed the gift of the dragon blood, he did not yet understand what the dragon soul would do to a mortal. Miraak was... consumed by the dominating instincts of the dragon soul, he rebelled against his fellow Priests and their dragon masters. He survived by hiding in Apocrypha, one of the outer realms, for thousands upon thousands of years... Thirty years ago he nearly returned to the mortal world, enslaving the minds of others with the power of the Voice"

"He could do that from another realm?" Wynne questioned in horror. "Oh Maker... if this Miraak can do as you say, then not just the Circle, but all of Ferelden, possibly Thedas, may be at risk"

Serana frowned. "What do you mean?"

"There are tales of the Dreamers, mages who can manipulate the Fade, killing and controlling their foes while they dream... If Miraak can exhort a similar control then..."

"He is no 'Dreamer' as you call it," Miara rubbed her arms; "but his immense knowledge of the arcane arts is so vast he could figure this realm easily"

Sereda tilted her head as she crossed her arms; "But you took his soul right, you have that knowledge to."

A humorless laugh came from the dark elf; "I may have gained his knowledge, but barely understand the majority of it. I wrote several journals I gave to the college of Winterhold, and they are still not even done with the first volume. Miraak simply understood magic at a level hardly most have ever reached."

"Is he that powerful?" Leliana asked in apprehension. The others too were becoming even more nervous at the idea of facing such individual.

The dunmer directed a long look at her direction. "Let me put things into context" She sighs. "Miraak lived in the Merethic Era, or Mythic Era as it was also called. This was..." She waves her hand around, trying to estimate a number. "Around four to five thousand years ago. It was a time where gods walked freely upon the world, along with many beings of immense power, both spiritual and physical. Back then people had to be as strong as modern highly seasoned warriors just to see the next day, a time in which magic was in many ways much more advanced that it is today. And Miraak... Miraak was Priest of a cult whose leaders were outstandingly powerful mages, even by that Era's standards"

"Maker's breathe..." Alistair whispered in near horror.

Neria took a deep breath. "B-By the way you're describing him it sounds like he's as powerful as the magisters of old, when the Tevinter Imperium was young and at the high of its power" If so, then this Miraak was a threat as great as the Blight...

"I don't really know enough of the old magisters to make a good comparison" Miara admitted with a shrug of her shoulders. "But yes... Miraak's power is beyond what most mortals achieve in their entire lifetimes"

"How did you defeat him then?" Sereda asked.

The dunmer's gaze fall to the ground. "Our battle took place in the realm of Apocrypha, we fought for what felt days... Shouting at each other until the environment around us became a ruin"

"He had numerous ways to heal himself and keep his strength. But slowly I weeded down his might so Hermaeus Mora delivered the killing blow. It took me and a Daedric prince to kill him." She let those words sink in as she sighed; "This time he is not at his peak, but still more dangerous than anything here. And if he kills me, your nation, no this entire continent is doomed."

Gin lifted a brow; "Isn't that bit of a stretch? He'd be one man against armies."

"For which he can easily manipulate the minds of the weak and make them serve him," Serana reminded them grimly. "Never mind the daedric forces he can summon."

Wynne sighed as she felt ten years older; "And this happened all because of Uldred. Damn him..."

"Miraak has most likely found the demon that is attached to that man, both will be his slave soon enough."

"Ironic given how he always sought freedom from the circle," the elder human mage scoffed.

Brianna now begun to pace around the room; "Would killing Miraak save the tower?"

"Killing Miraak will potentially save more than just the tower" The dunmer crossed her arms. "But short answer; Yes. We will face him and defeat him, before he can cause more harm"

Serana clicked her tongue. "With his mastery of conjuration, it is likely he is taking any spirits that are near as his slaves. It'd be very easy for him to command them" Her glowing eyes shift to Miara. "And it is likely he is using them as a power source to boost his magical energies, keep himself stable upon this plane of existence"

Morrigan rubbed her chin. "Hmm, if he's taking control of this section of the Fade, then that means he has taken control of all the demons which lay in the Tower, as it exists parallel with this area"

"So..." Gin tried to see if he understood right. "That means the demons in the Tower are under his control as well?"

Miara nodded. "If he has pulled them back to this realm, then the Tower is safe... for the moment"

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

"Ever the stubborn one, eh Irving?"

Screams echoed in the tower's peak; two abominations used their magic to torment a young mage into submitting to his will. Being held by arcane runes, Irving could do nothing but only watch on helplessly. Standing in front of him was bald man in red robes who smirked in amusement at seeing the First Enchanter's pain filled eyes as he beheld the young mage apprentice being tortured.

"Why resist old friend, when I can offer so much?" the bald man chuckled darkly.

Irving only glared; "I... will never submit to you Uldred. Do you truly believe your actions are for the good of all mages?"

"Well, there is no harm in trying, is there?" The possessed mage said, his voice full of cruel mirth. "Although the people who died here might beg to differ. Ahhhh well, at least we have the comfort of knowing they died for a greater purpose"

"You're a monster..." The First Enchanter spat with hatred.

"Oh my old friend" Uldred smiled as he leant closer. "I'm only what the Chantry has made of me" He stood back and shifted his gaze to horrifying scene before them. "'Magic is meant to serve man, never to rule over him', so spoke the barbarian who in the end failed and was burnt by her enemies... We will march with an army of empowered free mages, liberate our brethren all over Thedas and make the bastards who enslaved us and tortured swallow those words" He smiled as if he was beholding something beautiful in the torture of the young mage. "You should feel privileged, Irving. You're witnessing the dawn of a new age"

His smiled widened as the demon was called forth and forced inside the apprentice... when suddenly, abominations and the possessed mages at his command fell to the floor like ragdolls, dead.

"What?!" He cried out in shock. "What's happening?!"

Uldred froze as a voice spoke in his mind; "You are mine now construct." Irving only watched as now his former friend fell to the ground, dead like the others.

The magic runes that held him and the other vanished and then slowly got to their feet. "What in the Maker's name," A mage beside him asked.

Irving remained silent, he could feel through the Veil, torn as it was, a dark force masking itself within. He only felt dread in his heart as he glanced down at Uldred's corpse. 'What devilry comes for us now?'

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Within the Fade, Miara used her clairvoyance spell in finding wherever her former foe was hiding himself.

"I still say we all get drunk at that pub near the tower," Sereda grumbled.

At that Serana chuckled; "I got some mead in my bag, you're welcome to it."

"Thank you vampire lady," Faren smiled widely.

The dunmer suddenly stops walking, making everyone halt in their tracks.

"Is something wrong?" Jowan asked.

"I've just suddenly realized something" Miara turns her gaze to the group. "What are you all doing following me and Serana?"

The companions exchange a series of confused looks. "Uh, we're going to help you stop an ancient evil?"

Miara let out a long laugh before glaring at them. "No" She said with finality. "Serana and I will deal with Miraak, YOU will wake up and leave this place"

Marcus crossed his arms and frowned. "We cannot just leave you to face this being when we could do something about it"

The dark elf groaned as she massaged her temples. "Did you not hear me when I told you how powerful Miraak was?"

"We would outnumber him, demons or not you said he is weakened" Neria argued, placing a hand on her hip. "We can overcome him"

"...No, you did not listen at all" The dunmer says dejectedly as she sighs. "Maybe this would give you a bit more 'perspective'. Miraak and the one who drove him to take refuge in Apocrypha, another Dragon Priest named Vahlok, battled in the island of Solstheim in a magical duel for days"

"And?" Morrigan asked, a bit impatiently.

"Before their battle, Solstheim was a peninsula"

For what felt an eternity, their expressions were locked into one of disbelief and horror. "T-That…" Neria stuttered. "Doesn't sound… possible"

"You will find how little meaning that word actually has in this world"

Serana was rather impressed by how they managed to gather themselves after that. They must be getting use to the craziness.

"Still…" Marcus said, looking resolute. "We cannot allow this being to harm Ferelden, or any other place in Thedas"

Sten nodded as he spoke; "Greater numbers are more advantageous."

"Normally I would agree Sten," Miara conceded; "But this foe, even in his weakened state is still beyond any of you." And Miara was not trying to damage their pride, but she did not want any of them near Miraak. Hell she was shocked that Neria still wanted to fight him, given how he shouted at her.

She acknowledged their courage, but they weren't ready.

"Let us help you," Leliana spoke gently; "You and Serana need not face this monster alone."

"It is better than to risk it by fighting just yourselves" Jowan voices his concern. "A death in the Fade can turn someone Tranquil"

"Well, it's a good thing I'm not bound to the Fade" Miara rebuked.

"The point is moot regardless" Wynne interjects. "The Tranquility ritual requires more than 'dying' in the Fade. Lyrium, as well as special tools for the ritual are required. We were brought here by a demon's actions, but our minds are not being tempered by anything of what I just mentioned. So if the worst comes to pass, a 'death' here would not rend us Tranquil, only send us back to the waking world"

"Well, that's a weight off my shoulders" Alistair sighed in relief.

The dunmer growls. "You're not listening to me. You're not going to fight Miraak and that's final"

Marcus walked right up to his elven friend; "We're helping you, whether you like it or not Miara. We haven't gone through hell just to run away like cowards. And that is final."

Serana sighed seeing Miara about ready to scream at them; "Just let them come."

"Are you out of your mind?" Miara snapped turning to her longtime friend. "They aren't ready to face someone like him!"

"And they need this fight," Serana lost her temper as she glared. "They need to know just what real dangers exist out there! They are not children so don't coddle them and let them learn!"

The dunmer tried to argue. "But Miraak's Bend will shout-"

"He doesn't have his soul" Serana immediately rebuked. "Without it, the Shout won't have the power it requires. Only the spirits of this realm are vulnerable to his magics. Their minds are safe from him"

Miara said nothing.

"Understand this" The vampire placed a hand on her friend's shoulder. "He'll have minions at his side with his power waned, he'll have the numeral advantage"

Upon seeing everyone's steely gaze at her, along with her friend's words, Miara slumped her head forward; "Gods forgive me. Alright, alright..." Miara raised her head sharply; "But I want every one of you to be extremely cautious when fighting him. Weakened he might, he is still dangerous. Am I understood?"

The Thedas groups slowly nodded; "We understand Miara. We will be careful," Neria spoke, remembering her brief moment in facing the powerful masked man.

Saying nothing, the dark elf started walking with Serana and the others followed. Sten walked beside the vampire Nord; "You spoke of real threats."

"I am not saying the foes you have fought in battle in your lives were not dangerous. But there are true horrors Thedas has not yet seen. Miraak is barely even the tip of the proverbial iceberg."

"Understood" Marcus nodded on their behalf. "So, where is he right now?"

Miara began casting clairvoyance. "He must be-"

Suddenly, the Fade seemed to shudder. Ethereal earth and stone shifted like liquid, many took out their weapons and looked around in fright at the sudden phenomenon.

"The Void is this?!" Gin exclaimed, eyes wide in shock.

"The section of the Fade is... shifting" Neria whispered, part in awe and part in terror.

All their surroundings suddenly blended into a twisted aggradation as a single arched path formed before them, a wide bridge made of carved stone.

"...He wants us to go to him" Miara announced with a dangerous glint in her eyes. "Kolos los hi hiding nikriin," the dark elf shouted in dragon tongue.

A deep malicious chuckle seems to come from every direction as the group tensed; "Dearest briinah. Ni gut nu..." Miraak chuckled again; "This realm is so magnificent, raw in form. It needs a true master to bend it to its heel."

Miara did not wait as she started walking again with the others soon catching up. "Ah Molag's little whore, see you have come to face me this time."

"I relish this chance, o' failed experiment of Akatosh" The vampire shouted back with poison in her voice, yet her voice only served to amuse Miraak.

"It is always such an honor to battle mighty opponents, but what about you're... companions, I wonder, the denizens of this realm under my control tell me interesting things about them"

Suddenly, as they marched, ghostly figures began to appear at the sides of their path.

"Reflections of the Fade..." Brianna whispered in realization. "Memory and history"

Marcus's breath hitched in his throat at the ghostly sight of his father and a little boy... it was him, when he was but a child of eight winters. The memory his father picked him up and they both laughed.

"Marcus of the famed Cousland lineage, once a family whose influence could put most of the nobles' to shame. Now a deposed heir whose rightful lands have been claimed by one your father once saw as 'brother'"

A deep and low snarl came from the young noble as he clenched his shaking fist; "But the most humorous of this, is how much your 'noble' family has forgotten its old roots. How pathetic," Miraak laughed lightly.

Marcus only seethed; "I will send you back to the void."

"Briinah and Mora tried," the first dragonborn said in a mocking tone. "And all thanks to the machinations of a fool, I shall not die again boy."

Brianna stared at the ghostly memories of her being taken away by two templars when she was but a child, kicking and screaming as she desperately held out her tiny arms towards her mother. Revka Amell could only cry in despair as another templar held her back.

"You fight to save the place you despise so much, where your freedom was taken away and your fate decided for you. Torn from the loving arms of your mother..." Came Miraak's echoing voice, "Her heart could not take it, she died alone"

The Amell's eyes teared up with grief and rage. How dare he use the memory of his mother for his sick amusement?

"I could give you your heart's greatest desires" Miraak said, his voice sweet as honey with the promises of power. "And finally the wretched Circles would come to an end"

The mages looked at Brianna, part in shock and in fear. "Brianna..." Neria called to her in fear, the brown skinned elf never knew her dear friend held such resentment and hate in her heart.

The Amell was silent as her bangs hid her eyes; "Never use my mother for your petty deceptions you vile bastard," the raven haired woman's voice rose to a roar; "I shall not trade one pair of shackles for another! Yes, I hate the circle, the Chantry, and the Templars! Yes I want it all to burn, but I won't become like you," Her voice echoed as she seethed gnashing her teeth with tears in her eyes.

Her two longtime friends only look at Brianna in shock. Never had they ever heard her speak with such rage and passion. Neither held any love for the Circle, but their dear friend's hate was even deeper than theirs.

But to Brianna's ire, Miraak laughed in mild amusement. "Impressive girl, such spirit and will. A shame you shall die here, I am almost curious how you would have progressed had you found your freedom."

"Nobody heed anything he says" The Senior Enchanter said, trying to steel their resolve. She pushed the revelation of Brianna's feelings for another time. "Do not listen to his thinly veiled lies, the moment he has you in his grasp your will is forfeit"

"And you would know about forfeiting your will, wouldn't you, Senior Enchanter Wynne?" Miraak chuckled with malice. "So rooted are the lies of your Chantry into your mind you do question the fate of your own son."

Jowan, Neria and Brianna, the last one coming out of her own ire, whirled to look at their teacher in shock. "What?!" The elven mage exclaimed in utter disbelief. The rest could only stare with wide eyes.

Wynne's face remained blank, though she tightened her grip on her staff. "I've moved on, vile creature. And I have faith that whatever his fate is, he is far better off without me"

"Spoken like a true brainwashed pet"

Miara and Serana looked sharply over to Alistair who only turned his head mournfully away; "Mages who have children within the circle. That child is usually taken; and if they show magic, it's to another Circle."

"And you call me a bruniik my briinah," Miraak said mockingly. "At the very least I don't lie about what I am"

"You mean a fool who became drunk with his power," Gin retorted back looking around.

Miraak snorted; "Ah. The disenchanted fahliil, Gin Tabris. So much so you saw my Briinah's offer as pointless. Keeping your precious daughter and dear loving cousin in poverty. Let me assure you that your views are correct; you, everyone you know, every elf that lives in those slums will live and die like rats... That is all your kind is good for."

"He really loves to hear himself talk, doesn't he," The amber eyed elf muttered, more than a bit peeved.

"Oh you have no idea" The dunmer replied in exasperation.

"The sooner we kill this man, the better" Alistair prompted as they moved still.

"Ahhh, if it isn't the last living heir of Calenhad himself" The First Dragonborn sounded positively pleased. "An unwanted bastard, unfit fit for a throne, unfit to lead, merely a baggage to all others" Miraak laughed. "You have no idea the kind of blood that runs through your veins, diluted as it is"

"Go to hell," Alistair said simply as he scowled.

As the group continued on, more images appeared on their sides. Miara only narrowed her crimson eyes. This time it was of her, dressed in the leathers of the dark brotherhood. In each hand, her swords dripped with blood as she stood in front of a desk. The Thedas group saw an elderly balding man dressed in regal robes, sitting on a chair and looking up at the dark elf with acceptance.

"You have come to kill me" the elderly man said in deep toned voice. "And I am going to die. It is a solid truth between assassins and kings."

Everyone save Serana shifted their head sharply to the dark elf. "I see my briinah has spoken of her darker nature. But do you truly understand how vile she truly can be" Miraak whispered.

"Miara, what is this?" Marcus asked in astonishment. The dunmer said nothing; she let the images before them speak.

"You..." Her memory spoke. "Are not afraid?"

"I have long since come to terms with it" The elderly man sighed. "I just regret I wasn't able to lead the empire as I should had"

Miara remembered that day quite well, one of the memories that would stay with her until the end of time. She had come expecting a coward, a weak ruler, she would never forget the surprise she felt when she instead found a man who stared death in the face, unafraid of his fate.

"So, allow me a few moments of indulgence, if you'd be so kind" Titus asked of her, and the memory of Miara slowly nodded. "May I ask who you are? I think I at least would like to know who shall end my life"

"I... I am Miara, I have no last name. Orphan from Bruma, lived there for a hundred years, till coming here... And became the listener of the Dark Brotherhood, as well as member of your legion." She never truly understood why she told him all of that. Maybe she felt he deserved it. Especially since he wasn't like she had thought.

Titus blinked, but nodded; "I see. By your gaze you thought me as a coward like many, even my Elder Council, have thought of me. Ever since that day we brokered 'peace'…"

The memory of the dark elf gaze downward; "I had still lived in Bruma, when the Thalmor came," she said quietly.

"Ah... Yes, I see" He muttered as he leaned back in his chair, a look of old shame crossed his features. "I often wondered if I did the right thing, signing that accursed concordant, that if perhaps we could have held out a bit more then maybe... bah" He waves it off. "It's too late now"

For a moment, the Miara of the memory said nothing. It had felt like one of the longest silence in her entire life.

"Though I must admit I am disappointed by this act of treason" The emperor drawled, like a teacher who scolds an unruly student.

"Uh..." Looking at it from another prospect, Miara realized how comical the look on her face was. "My apologies, Emperor Titus. But... I feel this must be done. Fate decrees it so"

"Ahhh fate" The emperor replied with a long drawn out breath. "I wonder if the fate of our empire was merely to prolong the end, before the Thalmor march upon us once more. Barely a footnote in history..."

Miara steeled her gaze and looked at him directly in the eye. "It won't come to that... I will make sure the Thalmor one day meet their end, the empire will be born again someday"

"Hmm?" He raised a grey eyebrow at her. "And what reason do I have to trust in the word of an assassin and traitor?"

His words had stung more than they should have, such that Miara had felt compelled to answer him. "I am Dragonborn"

Sereda wondered if the old human's eyes would widen any bigger they would have popped out; "Truly... I have heard many things of a dragonborn had appeared in Skyrim. No less when the dragons have returned to Nirn as well. Though by your gaze, many Nords have not taken kindly to that. An elf being Dragonborn..."

Miara's memory shrugged; "Nothing I am not used to." But soon gotten serious; "But I swear upon my soul. The Thalmor will be brought down, and pay for every crime they have committed. I owe that much to you and those who I loved and lost during the Great War."

The two stared at one another for what Miara had felt was an eternity.

Finally the emperor let out a sigh once more. "Truly, the gods have an odd sense of humor... For what it is worth, I believe you will keep your word."

Miara had nodded as she walked around his desk until she stood behind him on his chair.

"May I ask that you kill back whoever hired you?"

"It will be done" Miara earnestly promised.

"Thank you... And try not to kill any more people who are on the same side as you"

"One often doesn't know who those people truly could be" The dunmer had replied.

That made Titus chuckle lightly, "Indeed, oh indeed..."

The image faded as eyes were turned on Miara; "You killed your Emperor," Neria did hold back the shock in her voice.

"Emperor Titus Mede the Second," Miraak spoke with some humor; "A man my briinah had hated when the first Great War swept through Tamriel. Who would ever had guessed he was indeed an honorable and just man, and yet she had still killed him."

Zevran scratched his chin; "I must say my goddess that was an impressive feat. But not a kill you enjoyed."

"...He wasn't what I thought he was," Miara simply answered. "But killing that skeever Amaund Motierre, my contractor, made me felt much better." She turned to the environment around her. "I must admit Miraak," Miara spoke to the disembodied voice. "I was expecting you to torture me emotionally, like the others"

"Oh I have entertained the idea of course. But then I realized I could much better... What do your allies think of you now, I wonder?"

The dunmer turned back to look at the group, most of them were staring at her with apprehension. It was that look again, when she told them she was an assassin... the one that told her they didn't know if they could trust her.

"You... betrayed your own emperor?" Marcus muttered in shocked horror.

"Before I met him on that ship… I hated that man, when the first Great War happened; Bruma only had the Countess's guards, and very few brave warriors and mages who would not bow in fear. No Imperial regiment came. And Bruma, all my friends, some I knew since they were children, I watched them grow into good people, and they were murdered," Miara lightly shook as she remembered that awful night.

"...How did you survive? Leliana asked in almost a whisper.

The dark elf had a solemn gaze; "I was with the guards when the Thalmor showed up. I remember a spell sent me flying into a barn they torched. Guess they figured I'd burn," Miara paced. "My leg was broken; I crawled to the door just in time to see the massacre." She paused for a few moments; "I had nothing but hate and contempt in my heart for Titus Mede for thirty long years."

Alistair shook his head; "Then why join your empire's legion?"

"Because I understood what the Thalmor were doing. They wanted Tamriel divided; easy for their control and eventual conquer of it all. And I hated them, even more than Titus... Till I met him on that ship..."

"I see..." Was all Marcus said.

"I'm sorry once more your trust in me takes a blow due to what I hide from you all" The dunmer spoke with honest regret.

"Not the kind of thing one brags really," Zevran shrugs. "Unless you want to be hanged"

Miara angrily turned her gaze towards their surroundings. "You may try to split us apart, Miraak. But you underestimate us"

"Do I? If you value your comrades so much, then tell me: Would you not kill them if you're so dear Night Mother orders you so? You know you can't refuse and still remain part of the Brotherhood, those are not the rules"

Eyes pan to Miara while Serana said nothing, she herself became a member of the brotherhood. Putting her unique darker talents to good use as an assassin. A smirked slowly appeared on the dark elf; "You would be amazed on how truly persuasive I can actually be."

"The perks of your semi-divine nature no doubt," Miraak retorted. "Being the daughter of a Daedric Prince does have its advantages than that of a lowly mortal. Azura must be so proud of the beast that you truly are."

"Unlike you, Miraak, I actually know how to take advantage of my gifts" She coyly replied.

That actually seemed to make the First Dragonborn pause for a moment. Oh Miara knew she struck a chord with that insult. She wondered for a moment if Miraak would take the bait and gloat as he prone to do.

"...Here there is no Mora, no gods, nothing that will save you from me this time" His voice was laced with hateful venom. "Of that you can be sure, my dear briinah. This realm of Oblivion shall be the landmark upon I claim what is rightfully mine"

Miara's eyes slowly widened. "What did you just say..?"

"Oh, don't act so surprised. You too can feel it can you not? What this realm truly is..."

Wynne walked over beside Miara; "What is the nonsense he is talking about?"

"This place you call the realm of dreams," Miara paused for a moment. "This is a realm of Oblivion, the daedric side within me felt it the moment my mind was free."

"Impossible," Neria nearly shouted. Morrigan lifted a brow at that revelation but said nothing. "That would mean everyone on Thedas is tied to a demon realm!"

Miraak chuckled; "Little fahliil, how small is your perception of the world as it truly is."

"N-No" Leliana refused to believe. "The Fade is a creation of the Maker. The souls of the dead pass through here. It's... It's not a realm of just demons" This wasn't a realm of those 'demon gods' Miara had spoken about, it couldn't be. The Maker watched over them all, he wouldn't...

"Sweet little bard... Your Maker doesn't exist. He is nothing but a mere lie you told yourselves long ago to justify the actions of your Chantry. Putting mages in a gilded cage. Your hatred for the elves who would not worship your lie and turning them into vagabonds and pets who only receive scraps like animals," Miraak scoffed. "You do not even know the truth of your beloved saint, the ignorance of mindless sheep is truly sight to behold."

Leliana was nearly beside herself while Neria tried calming her down. Sten only made a throaty growl; "Can we kill this ghost and leave? I am growing tired of his words."

The First Dragonborn's voice bellowed with laughter. "Yes! Come and test your mettle against me!" He sounded so excited, likely because this was the closest he's ever been to true freedom in such a long, long time, Miara thought. "Allow me to open your eyes to what lies beyond the shadows between worlds!"

"Oh I will enjoy killing you again..." The dunmer muttered under her breath. Their path would soon come to an end, yet they were assaulted still by brief images of their memories, Miraak was taking his opportunity to mock them at every chance he had.

One particular ghostly image caught Neria's attention. "Uh... Is that a bipedal cat?"

Serana and Miara both looked and paused; "That's a Khajiit," the vampire princess said absently.

"So in Tamriel" Jowan slowly said to see if he understood. "There are talking dragons and anthropomorphic cats…"

"I think I see a... big lizard over there" Alistair commented, pointing at another memory. And sure enough, the group couldn't help but once more gawk at the strange sight. That was a large lizard that stood in two legs and seemed to be wearing the same kind of gear Miara wore when she assassinated the emperor.

"That's an argonian" Miara explained.

"...What the hell is up with Tamriel?" Brianna wondered out loud.

Miara said nothing, she was only glad Veezara had survived alongside with Nazir and Babette when the Penitus Oculatus came to the Sanctuary of Falkreath. They continued further as Neria looked away of the image of seeing her as a child being taken away by the Templars.

'Not a memory I wanted to recall again,' the elven mage clinched her fist tightly.

She closed her eyes as she knew what came next. The blows the Templars inflicted upon her father were not heard for her as much as 'felt', the armored hands and boots descending upon him after he had struck one of them in order to keep her at his side. Yet a simple city elf was no match for the knights of the order.

Miara shook her head in disgust. "Your Chantry is corrupt to the core"

"Surprising how we agree on that," Miraak spoke up as images appeared again. This time Leliana froze in place.

'No... Not that again, please...'

The soldiers approached her, they teared clothes from her wounded, tortured body, eager hands reaching towards her-

Leliana screamed as she held her head, despair filled tears ran down her cheeks, she tried to push the memory away. Miara acted on instinct, her magic flared and the images were burned in arcane fires, overriding them with her own memories. Such was the strength of the magical blast it actually changed the environment around them. The long path was now a snowy field, there were no ghosts of memory around them anymore.

Nobody had time to question it as Miara quickly approached the redhead and comfort placed her arms on her shoulders. "It's okay Leliana, it's okay..."

The former bard only shook as her tears kept falling. She tried to speak but it was a jumbled mess in Orlesian. Miara only soon held Leliana in a motherly manner and rubbed a hand through her friend's hair. No words were spoken, only anger boiled through them all seeing how this Miraak had shame in torturing one of their own in such a way.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Leliana remained silent, but the support of her friends allowed her to slowly regain her strength. She softly prayed under her breath, finding comfort in her faith. Knowing Andraste was with her, showering her with love, her dear companions were proof of that.

"Where are we?" Marcus asked. He was familiar with Ferelden's snowy winters, but the terrain around him was foreign to him.

"I overrode Miraak's hold one that section of the Fade we were with my magic" The dunmer explained. "I seems it took the shape of something very important to me, Skyrim"

Faren looked all around him; "By Stone, there is so much snow."

"It's always snowing somewhere in Skyrim," Miara said absently. She took a longer look; "This looks like the border between Whiterun and Dawnstar. The mountains, they always looked so beautiful every time I passed them here."

Neria only looked at the sheer beauty around her in awe as she stood beside Gin; "Remarkable," she nearly whispered. Gin only nodded as he say nothing, his time traveling with his companions were the only time he had any seen knew sights of the natural world, and he knew the same was Neria. He wondered if Ferelden's Frostback were just as beautiful.

Sten instinctively went for the hilt of his sword as a large cat with long fangs ran passed them. He lowered his hand seeing the predator was hunting for a meal.

"These are just memories, Sten" The vampire informed him.

The qunari grunted. "You can't trust anything that comes from this realm"

"This place must be as cold as the Frostbacks" Marcus couldn't help but compare the mountain range from his nation with this landscape. Of course, the Frostbacks were a mountain range, this place according to Miara was usually in winter all around the year in the coldest regions.

Serana rolled her eyes before suddenly stopping as she spotted something far ahead.

Miara stopped as well and turned to face her. "Is something wrong?"

"This is the path between Dawnstar and Whiterun you said" The vampire's face was stony and there was an edge to her voice. "Then why is there volcanic ash down the road?"

Her gaze panned forward, the dark elf did indeed see an ash covered road further ahead; "Solstheim..." Of course, out of everywhere, that place held a deep connection to the late dragon priest/dragonborn.

Further they moved ahead, more the path slowly became ash at their feet. The surroundings to the Thedas party could only describe as alien, Miara however knowing exactly where Miraak is leading them. "Raven Rock."

"Pretty sure it wasn't here before..." The vampire quips as they slowly approach the buildings, of the town, a mix of classical architecture and houses fashioned out of the shells of long dead giant crabs.

This wasn't the Raven Rock where Miara raised her family, in the thirty years since she first set foot there, the town had prospered and expanded to become a large trading hub between Skyrim and Morrowind. This was Raven Rock as last seen by Miraak's memories when he first reached out through the All-Maker Stones to enslave the minds of its population.

This whole place was now being shaped by Miraak's will.

"He's close..." Miara warned.

Sure enough, there in the center of town they saw one lone figure with a golden mask looking up to the sky above; "Truly a fascinating realm my briinah. But I yearn to feel the mortal world once again." Miraak lowered his head as he turned to look at them; "And you brought the pups along with you. Do you truly want them to die that quickly?"

It was Neria who retorted back; "The only one who will die is you, we'll send you back the Void."

"You are brave young fahliil, the fact you show no fear despite our brief encounter speaks of your courage. But know my Voice will tear you apart this time" Miraak gave a dark amused chuckle.

"You do not scare us, demon" The Amell said with courage in her voice, slamming her staff to emphasize her words.

Miraak merely swiped a hand, cutting the air. And their entire surroundings changed in a mere instant, blending and twisting like a reflection of colors on water, and suddenly they were standing on an ashy field, arched stone structures took place around them, Miara recognized them as old Nordic ruins.

He had done what only the most experienced groups of mages, and Dreamers, could do with enough preparations in but an instant. Reshaped an entire area of the Fade with his will alone.

Jowan gulped and leaned in to whisper to now shell-shocked Amell. "Are we scared now..?"

"Ahhh, it is so wonderful to once more stand on the fields of Solstheim, even if it is just a memory..." There was something akin to melancholy on his voice. From Miraak? Miara hardly believed he was capable of such a thing. "I grew up here, as you know, briinah. Before my fate was taken from me"

"You have yourself to blame for that," Miara took a few steps forward; "The moment you became lost in your own power."

Miraak tilted his head; "Strange words coming you briinah. Considering how much power you yourself have sought. Can you truly say your hands are cleaner than my own?"

"My hands are anything but clean, zeymah" The dunmer admitted. "Yet I know how to keep myself grounded, there are lines even I won't cross"

"Bah" He scoffed at her words. "Whatever helps you sleep at night" They could feel the eyes gazing at them behind the mask. "But enough talk, we are not here reminisce about the past, oh no" He took a step forward, and dark magic began to emanate from him like a sickly dark green miasma, the mages on their party could not help but shudder at the enormity of it. "I am here to reclaim what is rightfully mine... my fate is my own!"

Miara swiftly drew her katanas. "Then come and get it, brother"

The First Dragonborn laughed softly. "Before we begin" Dark magic gathered on his palms, with a thrust of his hand, it flared.

The ground trembled, making them lose their footing. The world around them bent like clay, Miara and Serana suddenly found themselves apart from the others as the distance between them grew on its own accord in the form of the ground expanding. Miraak called forth the denizens he had enslaved, Rage, Desire, Despair, Fear, Pride, they came immediately at his command. Vampire and Dunmer found themselves surrounded, and finally, Miraak enclosed them in a wall of stone and earthen spikes.

He slowly shifted his gaze towards the others, they held unto their weapons tightly as an immense feeling of dread overcame them. "First..." He softly said, loud enough for the others to hear. "The elders must teach the young a lesson..."

Marcus kept his steely gaze. Faren gave a throaty noise in this throat; "Well, never know till you try." He charged ahead roaring with all his dwarven might. "Let's have at it masked man!"

"As you wish dwarf."

The rogue brandished his daggers and leaped at the First, his blades pointing down like the fangs of a wolf ready to mow down it's pray.

He barely got to two feet from Miraak when the ancient nord incinerated him with a bolt of lightning.

The others watched in horror as Faren's ashes scattered on the winds of the Fade.

"Faren!" The princess shouted for his friend in horror.

Miraak merely had his hand, with which he had unleashed his lightning spell, with the other pressing behind his back. He gracefully invited the others to challenge him with a flurry of his outstretched arm. "Next?"

The first Dragonborn was impressed how quick the large Qunari moved, weapon drawn and swinging with very precise strikes. Sten showed no emotion as Miraak deftly moved away from each swing. "A true expert warrior, I respect that," the former dragon priest spoke, his voice lacking its usual mocking tone.

Miraak conjured a daedric sword on his hand, and began parrying the hornless Qunari's swings. Sten was surprised when he found his blade being pushed. Roaring, Sten shoved the Dragonborn with all his strength and brought down his blade, yet Miraak easily sidestepped and with certain elegance, circled around him and slashed his back. The ethereal blade pierced through armor and flesh.

Sten gritted his teeth in pain and wildly swung his arm, but Miraak ducked and took the opportunity to bury the blade through the Qunari's arms. Sten did not scream, he held back his pain, even as Miraak conjured another blade and buried it on his back, then a dagger which he drove through his knee. Again and again the Dragonborn called forth weapons to pierce the Qunari's armor, flesh and bones.

Sten fell to his knees; his body pierced from all sides with ethereal weapons, even if these soon banished the wounds remained. Blood dripping from his lips, he did not show his fear as he stared at the Dragonborn. Yet Miraak did not look at him when he severed his head from his body in one fluid motion. Both soon dissipated from the Fade.

"A unique race, these Qunari," Miraak looked back to the remaining Thedosians; "had they existed on Tamriel, I wonder how their race would have grown there."

Alistair looked only in shock; "He took down Sten with ease."

Notching an arrow, Leliana loosed it from her bow; "Die monster!"

Miraak raised his hand, and the arrow stopped mid-flight. Twirling his hand, the arrow spun in midair until the tip was facing the bard. With a flick of his finger, the arrow flew back towards the redhead. Her reflexes allowed her dodge, yet the arrow still managed to graze her arm.

Leliana hissed as she clutched the bleeding shallow wound with her left hand. A quick healing spell from Neria took care of it immediately.

"We can't face this thing alone" Marcus spoke, holding his blades in a stance. "We need to attack together"

Wynne held her staff firmly; "Agreed; we can't face someone like this individually." She looked to the exiled princess; "Sereda?"

"Is Faren alright…?" Her bangs hid her eyes while she scowled.

Neria gave a nod; "Yes."

The dwarven woman glared forward as she lifted her head with pure murder in her eyes; "Let's kill this bastard."

"Let us indeed," Zevran spun a dagger in his hand.

Miraak clicked his tongue in amusement. "So, after seeing me easily slaughter two of your comrades you still have no idea what you're up against, do you?"

Alistair held up Auriel's Shield. "A madman"

"A monster" Brianna scowled.

He laughed at their words. "Oh, you deluded mortals. I am something far beyond your understanding..."

Leliana already had a new arrow ready; "We understand plenty, vile beast. You escape the Fade, Thedas will be doomed."

"Will it now, or by my hand could I do what so many tried to do and failed? Bring this continent united to one banner... mine..." Miraak clenched his fist. He deflected a lightning spell from Morrigan, and looked at her for moment; "You do not even know what you truly are."

The swamp witch narrowed her eyes; "Perhaps... But your prattling wears thin on my patience."

Neria, Brianna, Jowan and Wynne stepped forward, "Together!" The elf shouted. The Circle mages along with the witch slammed their staves on the ground, magical sparks flying off with the impact.

Morrigan swung her weapon down, creating a barrage of fire. Neria casted lightning while Brianna called down a wave frost. Wynne for her part channeled her magic into a projectile of pure arcane energy. Jowan knew he wasn't very good at most types of magics, but destructive spells by nature would fall more under his latent talent, as Serana had said, so he followed his friend's example and fired a bolt of lightning from the tip of his staff.

The attacks collided into a great explosion, yet Miraak's form escaped unscathed, almost looking like a dark mist, reminding them about the Fade Step spell. He appeared right next to Alistair, the senior Warden held up his shield as Miraak swung down a daedric blade at him, Marcus approached from behind and swung at him, yet Miraak quickly turned and parried him. Alistair raised his blade but was flown back with a telekinetic burst from the Dragonborn.

A golden mask looked directly at the Cousland while their blades clashed. "FUS!" Pure force sent him staggering back. Miraak quickly used the ethereal blade to reflect a lightning bolt from Brianna. "I know what it is to have your fate taken from you..." He said to the mage. "I could teach so much, arcane mysteries you would not believe. No one will ever cage you again!"

Brianna snarled as she strengthened her frost spell; "And become like you! A slave to your own power!"

"I embraced it child! Briinah is too terrified to truly see the full glory of our power!"

Wynne narrowed her eyes; "Says the man who gave up on his humanity." The senior mage could not even scream as she was sent flying into a tree by a telekinetic spell.

"Was I speaking to you 'pet'?" Miraak scoffed as he dodged Marcus' strikes; "There are ways to bring back your precious Iona to you boy." He caught the young noble's fist as he snarled at the mask man. Impressed that actually stung a bit.

"Never say her name from your filthy mouth!"

The young Cousland's face twisted in agony as the much taller man slowly began twisting his arm. "Howe would grovel before you, begging for mercy in the dungeons of Highever, and all you have to do is bend knee to me..."

Silver eyes glared at him. "I'd rather bend knee to the Archdemon..." Marcus seethed through his teeth.

Miraak sighed in disappointed. "Such a waste of potential..." He raised his blade-

And was suddenly flung pack by fireball, Miraak's body rolled before regaining his footing, he doused the flames with a wave of his hand with frost magic and growled at the sight of the swamp witch, fire licking at her fingers from her raised hand.

"Are you alright?" Morrigan asked Marcus.

The silver eyed man shook the numbness from his hand and arm. He looked coyly to the swamp witch; "Was that concern in you tone?"

Morrigan only lightly scoffed, not hiding a faint smirk; "You wish Cousland."

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

A pride demon roared as clinch its massive fist to strike down the ash skinned elf before it; "Die insect!"

Miara caught the demon's fist with one hand not even looking in its direction. Its many pairs of eyes widened when wisps of a myriad of colors came out of her mouth and shrouded her body in a sort of ethereal armor. Though calling it armor would be a mistake, as their shape was too 'organic'. Hands were covered in what looked like claws, while her limbs and torso became covered in what looked to be scales and spikes, along with four horns on her head. Her eyes became two shining fiery orbs with slits for pupils.

The dark elf roared as she brought down a katana over the fist, severing it in one clean swoop. The demon roared in agony as black ichor poured forth from the wound. She quickly dashed in between its legs, the folded ebony blades made short work of its armored hide and severed them off. The demon fell to the ground painfully; it didn't even have time to pose any kind of resistance as the dunmer jumped on its back and buried her katanas on its head.

"Well..." Serana smirked. "You sure aren't pulling your punches"

"Miraak is there with the others" Her tone was more savage than she intended, a side-effect of calling her soul forth, along with the stronger instincts and desires made by it. "I do not want to waste time"

Her hurry to end things quickly was why she had summoned Xel'Karr, who was busy tearing through Rage demons. Serana swiftly sidestepped a blast of arcane magic from a desire demon. She responded in kind with ice spikes which impaled several demons at once.

The dremora roared striking down two demons with his great sword; "Strange beings. Not even aware of what they are."

The horrible screech of the Despair demons caught the vampire's attention as four circled around her, the fired beams of pure frost magic at her from all angles. Serana grunted as she erected a ward around her, her vampiric resistance to frost allowed her to withstand most of the attacks, but it wouldn't save her against a continuous barrage of magical ice.

Her hands crackled with electricity, two orbs of storm formed on her palms as the thrusted them to the ground sending a shock wave which incapacitated the demons. Brandishing her life-draining sword, she took the form of a band of bats and quickly moved to the closest demon, momentarily returning to normal and severing its head before disappearing once more and doing the same to the next Despair, the same fate soon befell the other two.

Fear demons emerged from all sides around the dremora, Xel'Karr called forth dark flames on his giant blade, and with a savage roar he spun around, delivering a sweeping strike to all the Fears surrounding him, severing in half as his sword passed through.

Miara flipped over a charging Pride demon, landing on its back she brings down her blades into it head killing it instantly. She growled as she stood on the corpse, eyeing demons still coming for the three. "We're getting nowhere..."

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Shale's rocky fist surged with from its gems going to strike down the annoying ghost before it. Miraak deftly avoided the golem's punches, casting magic directly at it wasn't very useful and its body was too tough. The First Dragonborn instead shaped the terrain underneath its feet; Shale soon found itself sinking, the ground having turned into a viscous mud.

The golem struggled to get out, but the more it did so the faster it sunk, it came to the point where Shale could no longer move as it was chest deep in the disgusting substance. Its shining eyes looked up to see Miraak charging a spell in his hands. With pure telekinetic force, Shale's head was blown to smithereens.

Alistair came from behind him, Miraak quickly turned and fired continuous stream of fire at him. Yet Auriel's shield could deflect even the intense flames of dragons, and grant its user an outstanding resistance to fire.

"To think my sister trusted you and the bard with such items" If possible, there was a tiny bit of respect in his voice, surprised that they were seen fit to wield Auriel's Bow and Shield.

Allister got close enough and bashed his shield, but Miraak dodged. The senior Warden thrust his blade forward in an attempt to pierce his enemy's heart, yet Miraak caught his arm and threw him around like a rag doll.

The blonde collided painfully with the floor as Miraak loomed over him; he raised one hand that crackled with electricity. But before he could land the finishing blow, an arrow hit his mask, making the Dragonborn stagger back.

Miraak reached to the upper left side of his mask, his gloved fingers ran over the broken part. He glowered at the bard who merely smirked at him; Auriel's bow turned any arrow knocked on its string into a deadly projectile.

As soon as she reached for another arrow, Miraak sent a telekinetic burst towards Alistair, who was in the process of standing up, sending him flying towards the bard. The two collided with each other painfully.

He nearly laughed at the sight of the dwarven princess charging at him, the size of her race was downright comical to him. But then again, one should not judge a book for its cover. Miraak found himself enjoying clashing blades with the dwarf woman, there was a discipline to her strikes, her techniques were firm and carried years of practice and experience. Perhaps her people deserved the acknowledged of being called warriors.

He sidestepped a downward slash from her sword and kicked her, she raised her shield in time, but his strength was enough to stagger Sereda and send her to her knees.

"Your people worship the 'Stone' do they not?" He gathered magic on his hand. "Let me reunite you with it"

Suddenly, her eyes widened as blood escaped her lips, earth spikes sprouted from the ground beneath her, piercing right through her armor, she vanished like mist.

Bran and Loke charged; the fierce war hounds bit and clawed at the ancient nord. But the man moved swiftly avoiding them even while Zevran and Gin attacked with daggers. "Impressive, not close to briinah, but good enough to know what you're doing," Miraak said before blasting the hounds into dust with a fire spell.

Neria succumbed to rage, she knew they'd be fine in the waking world, but they sight of friends and comrades being so easily brought down sent her into a spiral of anger she couldn't escape. She wanted to cast a firestorm on him, to make him feel the same pain he inflicted on the others, but Gin and Zevran were still too close. Instead she casted as strong barrier around them and invigorated their vitality.

Marcus soon joined the fray; it was quickly becoming more and more difficult to control himself against this opponent. He brought down his family's sword, yet Miraak easily sidestepped. Zevran tried to attack him from behind with Gin from the side, Marcus quickly thrusted his other blade at him. They had him surrounded, he couldn't move fast enough in time.

Then Miraak turned to the side, and shouted, "Wuld!" He became a blur, propelled by his Voice. The rogues' and warrior's weapons met each other instead of their enemy, their clash creating sparks.

Zevran blinked owlishly before looking over and seeing Miraak now a fair distance away from them. "I must admit that dragon tongue does seem to be very handy to have."

"And annoying," Gin muttered.

Miraak began charging a spell; "You wouldn't be the first say that." He soon roared in pain as fire erupted around him and enveloping him.

Jowan and Brianna sharply turned to Neria as they saw nothing but rage in her eyes; "BURN YOU MONSTER!" she screamed as poured as much mana as she could into her spell.

She waved her arms and staff in the air, channeling the flames into the spiraling inferno that rose around Miraak, the roar of the flames soon dwarfed any other sound, the battlefield grew still as the others could only watch at the rising tower of flames.

Neria let her arms drop and panted, the spell had taken a lot out of her.

"Did you get him?" Alistair asked, hoping that it was finally over.

Suddenly, a sharp cold feeling of dread washed down their spines when Miraak calmly stepped out of the flames, his body was blue and could be seen through, looking much like a ghost. As soon as he was out of the flame's reach his form turned solid once more.

Marcus openly gawked at the sight. "You have got to be joking..."

Slowly as Miraak began to phase back to normal, his golden mask turned Surana. He said nothing as he began marching towards her. 'Shit', Gin ran for the first dragonborn.

The city elf threw one of his daggers at the ancient nord, who merely blocked it with a ward on his hand. "Enough playing around..." With wave of his arms, he called forth a hail of deadly ice spikes which rained down on Gin; he barely had time to react as he was impaled on all sides by the sharp shards of ice. He fell to the ground and his body soon vanished.

"Congratulations, fahliil" His echoing voice was filled with calm anger. "It is not easy to infuriate me; you should feel proud of your achievement"

Zevran tried to sneak attack the ancient Nord from behind. But he was met with was Miraak's gloved hand wrapped around his throat. He snapped it with ease before letting him drop and vanish.

Alistair and Marcus charged only to be impaled through the chest by ice spikes. Miraak kept a steady pace coming towards Neria, not even sparing a glance to the vanishing bodies of the warriors.

"Oh Maker, oh Maker, oh Maker..." Jowan breathed in and out in panic, cold sweat dripped from his brow. Terror festered in every pore of his body. How were they going to stop this monster?

Morrigan gulped, she tried to fight down the fear inside her. The sight of Miraak calmly advancing towards them was far more terrifying than even her mother's more disturbing tales, or her harshest punishments. This... thing was simply beyond their ability to defeat.

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Miara shattered a frozen Rage demon with her blades, looked around; she saw Serana and Xel'Karr make short work of whatever demon remained.

"We're done here" Serana informed, seeing no other demon in sight.

Miara glared hard in the direction of her young friends as her dragon aspect soon faded. A realm of Oblivion made it harder for her to remain in her empowered aedric state, but… seeing as this was Oblivion, there was yet another power she could tap into…

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

Jowan chocked up blood as he, in what Brianna and Neria could remember, had done bravest act since they were small. Having pulled out a dagger he had on his belt, and lunged at the tall ancient Nord. Only for Miraak to break his arm and punch a hole through their friend's chest.

"Run…" Jowan muttered before vanishing.

"Jowan!" Neria cried out in despair for her friend, her eyes wide with terror. How could they hope to survive this monster?

"Jowan will be in the waking world" Wynne quickly assured her, but even she carried an edge to her stance, knowing she could not let her guard down even for a second.

Leliana kept firing arrow after arrow at the Dragonborn, though powerful as they were, the strong barrier Miraak had erected around him made them as useful as pebbles.

Morrigan grunted as she quickly went over the possible courses of action in her mind, trying to find the right one that would increase their odds of survival. Perhaps if she summoned a daedra, that would allow them a distraction, fleeting as it would be, to try and get to Miara. Right now, their only hope was to get the Dragonborn to fight her kin.

Brianna hissed as she held staff tightly, this bastard was not about to get near her friend. Not while she breathed, she charged her staff with as much magic as she could put in it; "You won't come near Neria!"

The first dragonborn said nothing as he kept walking forward. The young Amell screamed as she sent her strongest lightning spell at the bastard. Even Wynne looked in shock at the level of magic her former apprentice's friend was generating. The ground on its path crackled with electricity.

Brianna only felt her blood run cold as the ancient Nord deflected her spell via a ward with ease. "FUS RO DAH!"

His Shout rippled the reality of the Fade and sent sheer unstoppable force directly at them. Brianna briefly wondered if this was what it felt to be pushed away by strong gusts of winds that could uproot trees from the ground as she was flown away along with her companions, the Shout having sent them backwards, separating them.

Miraak just kept advancing. "You pathetic excuse for mages, I have had enough playing around" His voice echoed with malice and anger. "When I'm done with you here, I'll find you in the waking world and consume your souls"

Neria struggled to get up from the invisible ashy soil, but found her limbs didn't have the sufficient strength after being blasted away. She gasped as Miraak's feet soon entered into her line of vision.

A gasp and squeak came from her lips as his large hand wrapped around her throat, picking her off the ground. He lifted her till she was at his eye level; "You fahliil, I will ensure your end will be most painful before you die."

Neria could only open her mouth to emit a silent scream. However, before Miraak could enjoy snapping the elf's neck, a ghostly white armor ethereal fist slammed hard into the masked man's face. The force strong enough in releasing and dropping Neria to the ground. She coughed and heaved in as much air as her lungs could take as she saw Miraak slide back a few feet.

Soon a tall ghostly armored figure stood protectively in front of the elven mage. His armor looked similar to the Templars, but vastly different in design; "You shall step no further beast!" The figure spoke in a deep distorted male tone.

Both the figure and his voice Neria knew well; "Valor," she said hoarse in tone.

Miraak tilted his head; "Interesting... Had I miss seizing control of you construct?"

A sword and shield appeared in Valor's hands, he said nothing as he took stance ready to face this beast.

"And you have an attachment to this little fahliil? What makes her so important? She barely understands her power let alone the world"

Valor remained resolute in his stance; "I have no words or tolerance for an honor-less mortal. Now fight!"

"Hmm" The First Dragonborn tilted his head, humming in thought as if weighting the spirit's word. "...Very well" His arm suddenly lashed out like a whip, dark magic gathering in streams towards the ethereal warrior.

Valor cried out in agony as he felt the twisted touch of Miraak's magic trying to grab a hold of his essence, seeking to borrow deep and change him from the inside. His hands let go of his weapons, clawing at his helmet, trying to fight off the searing pain.

He felt wrong, he was forgetting, forgetting himself, forgetting valor. No! He was Valor! He couldn't forget; he wouldn't! The magic pushed, it pushed, it pushed, borrowing like maggots, eating away what they wanted and twisted the rest. He had to fight; he had to remain what he truly was. He wasn't rage, he wasn't vengeance, and he was Valor. The courage of warriors, the heart of the righteous. He would not... give in...

"You want to fight, and then show me your resolve" Miraak said with cruel amusement. "You pathetic little spirits are not even daedra, at least the animals of their kind are their own beings, and you all are just mere figments of pathetic mortal imagination. Just a fleeting thought is all it takes for you to lose your own will and change you completely... How I despise your existence" He snarled with disgust. "You beings whose own existence depends solely on them, you whose fates never belonged to you in the first place..."

He tightened his hand, sending sparks of dark magic flying off from his hand. "Well, let's see what I can turn you into"

"VALOR..!"

"FUS RO DAH!"

The wall which enclosed Serana, Miara, and Xel'Karr was obliterated by the last Dragonborn's Shout which roared with such force the Fade itself shook. Its sheer power was enough to break Miraak's hold on Valor, who also had to evade the greatsword from Xel'Karr who swiftly manifested upon the Dragonborn with a spell of swift movement. The Dremora roared as he punched the ancient Nord, knocking him back from the mortals who his master befriended.

"You should have stayed dead," the Dremora growled.

Neria looked in awe as a white light covered the spirit of valor which purged away the corruption of Miraak's magic. "You should find now, Miraak can't take you over with his magic now," Miara spoke as she and Serana stood beside the mighty Dremora.

Valor fell to one knee, "Urgh… You have my gratitude." He once more felt as himself again, but also pure exhaustion overwhelmed him, the side effect of having resisted Miraak's magic as he did.

As the young elven mage got to her feet, there was something off to the dark elf's voice. Finally standing and going over to Valor, she took a full look to the Last Dragonborn and her eyes widened. Miara's long raven hair was now silver. 'What in the hell…' "Miara..?"

"My mother is a Daedric Prince Neria… So what does that make me," Shifting her head, orange eyes with red sclera looked back to her young elven cousin.

Her skin was a dark reddish orange color, Neria could only describe it as what you see as the sun set before the night began. The color of twilight, "Your daedric side…" the young elf whispered.

Brianna, Morrigan, Wynne and Leliana soon got their barring and ran over to Neria as she spoke those words and saw Miara gaze at them. "I am a child of twilight, Daughter of Azura and Nmeryn Redoran, the Nerevarine…"

"I would have liked to met your father had he come to Mora's realm," Miraak snarled, "I would have slaughtered him, and then you would have never even existed to become a thorn in my side."

The dark elf slowly turned her head back to her most hated enemy; "My father would have annihilated you. He has killed three gods and defeated Hircine himself… Can you do the same zeymah?"

The First growled as he stood up. "I told you once, briinah. They came to me, Hakon and the others, so I would aid them in slaying Alduin, which that alone speaks of my power"

"Power you no longer possess" She gave him a coy smirk as she tapped her chest, pointing at something beyond her physical form. "Do you want it back?"

Her mocking words sent Miraak into a fit of rage, his roar made the Fade tremble as he summoned demon upon demon, binding them to his will. Rage, Pride, Envy, Violence, Hunger, they came in a myriad of nightmarish forms. They stood at his side, snarling at the heroes and waiting for the command to strike.

Miraak clenched his fists, and tendrils of dark green magic leeched the essence from numerous demons around him, feeding to his power.

"I will devour your soul!" He shouted with passionate anger.

Serana merely stared at the reinforcements Miraak had brought for, and called upon the power in her blood. As her body was shrouded in darkness, the metamorphosis took place, there now stood a pure blooded vampire lord at her full dark majesty, much to the shock and horror of their mage allies.

"I'd like to see you try..." The vampire challenged with vengeance in her voice.

Morrigan, though wary was beyond fascinated by the sight of Miara and Serana's new forms. The young Amell only whispered with awe and terror; "What is this?"

"A battle not meant for mortals," Valor spoke as he slowly got to his feet with Neria's assist.

The young elf looked at the spirit with concern; "Are you alright? Why are you here?"

"You are meant for more than you know, and the fate of Thedas rides with you and your companions," Valor said cryptically as he did during her Harrowing.

The eldest among them only looked in terror at Serana's form; "What is she?"

"A vampire" Neria quickly answers, hoping she wouldn't have to go into the details right now.

Of course, both her friend and mentor give her a look like she hit herself on the head. "Have you been reading those horror stories again?" Wynne couldn't help but convey a touch of exasperation into her tone.

The swamp witch snorted and rolled her eyes, Leliana sighed while the elf rubbed the bridge of her nose. "Look, it's... it's complicated" She casts a glance at the battle before them. "Right now, the best we can do is keeping our distance and not get involved.

Serana let out a shrill shriek as her bat-like wings to her to the air, she buried her claws inside a pride demon's maw and pulled, the twisted flesh of her arms bulged as she pulled with all her might, tearing off the upper part of the demon's head from the rest of its body.

The dremora roared as he brought his great blade down, severing in half a lanky Envy demon, he quickly spun around and channeled dark magic through his blade, sending a slash of arcane power around him, tearing apart any lesser demon that surrounded him.

Miara and Miraak locked themselves in cataclysmic duel. Spells of immense powerful were hurled at each other in such a close distance it made the others wonder how they hadn't been torn to shreds by now. Spikes rose from the earth while flames scorched the ashy ground of the Fade, a wave of pure frost created a twisted yet magnificent arc of ice at least four meters tall and ten meters long, lightning was called down like a raging storm, creating craters and tearing their surroundings apart with the sheer force of the shining bolts. They evaded and countered their spells with words and more powerful offensive magic, neither dunmer nor nord relented in their assault.

"...That might be the best idea" Morrigan said, though not as snidely as she would have wanted to.

This level of magic, the sheer power displayed by the beings before them... this was battle beyond the minds of mere mortals could understand. The enormity of it all was nearly overwhelming; Brianna felt she would fall to her knees just by bearing witness to this event before them.

Xel'Karr roared as he gripped the head of a desire demon, picking it off the ground one handed. It screamed before he crushed its head letting the rest drop. Serana sends waves of magic striking down any demon in her path.

A pride demon roared as it tried to punch her but hit only air as Serana shifted into dozens of bats and flew around the monstrous beast; "As if you could kill a daughter of Coldharbour!"

Her claws ripped through its tough hide, borrowing deeper and deeper. The Pride roared in agony and plummeted backwards to the ground. Serana grunted as she pulled out her pale limbs from its chest cavity. "No heart..." She growled in great disappointment, pretty much no organs either, these things were ever-shifting constructs after all. Well, there was still plenty of ichor from the being to feast upon.

She drew the power from its dark essence in her hands, and casted upon a large number of demons coming towards her. Dark mist gathered around them and swirled with ferocity, shards of bloody ice formed in the air, flying at such velocity they were torn apart.

Both first and last dragonborn roared, shaking the Fade itself as their spells were replaced with weapons, katanas and summoned sword clashed with such speed and power, Leliana swore she could felt wind blast each time.

Wynne could see patches of the Fade cracking from the sheer power between the elf and ancient nord. "They might destroy this area of the Fade if this keeps up…" If that was even possible.

Valor shook his head; "The Fade will heal, but the memory of this battle will never be forgotten."

"Oh fan-fucking-tastic!" Brianna placed her hands on her hips. "With our luck, some demons will one day try to bring back the memory of Miraak!"

"I sincerely doubt it" The ethereal armored spirit shook his head. "The actions here will scar this section of the Fade for eras to come. The denizens of the realm will know what transpired here, they will never again attempt something so foolish..."

"Thank the Maker" The redheaded rogue let out a breath of relief. That it itself was a victory at least, all they had to do was for their comrades to claim victory against this foe so he may never threaten anyone ever again.

Both Miara and Miraak were pushed back from the clash of their weapons. They looked at each other with fire in their eyes, their lips moved as one. "SU... GRAH DUN!" Then they charged.

Their weapons moved with such speed they became blurs, it was impossible to keep up with the pace of their blows. Among the whirlwind of blades, sparks from the clash of the magics in the blades flew off in droves, gusts of winds were blown in all direction from the great velocity of their strikes.

"MIRAAK!" As both Dragonborns broke from their attacks, the ancient Nord Dodged magic attacks from Serana as she flew to kill this bastard once in for all. The first dragonborn also saw the demons under his control were all slain and Xel'Karr was charging his way as well.

"COME AND DIE THEN!" He pushed Miara away with a burst of magic, and summoned two greater Lurkers from Mora's realm, not this pathetic constructs of dreams and emotions, to keep her and the dremora at bay.

She raised her sharp claws, ready to rip him to shreds. But Miraak acted quickly, he conjured a sphere of lightning right on her trajectory, and Serana was moving too fast to be able to dodge it in time. It burst like a bubble, sending sparks and arcs of electricity flying off. The vampire grunted in pain as the currents ran over her body, her wings stiffened and twitched erratically, making her colliding with the ground.

Serana quickly released one hand and stretched her longer arm, seeking wring his neck. Miraak reacted fast enough to catch her wrist the moment her claws the moment they touched his neck, the pressure he applied was enough to keep her from clashing his windpipe, all the while he tried pushing the blade further.

'Well, Miara wasn't kidding' even in this situation the vampire found it in herself to quip. 'He really is ridiculously powerful'

The vampire sent a shock of lightning through his summoned blade; the blast sent him flying back. The first dragonborn growled as his body spasmed hitting a curved wall; "Is that all you got?" He said mockingly.

Rising to her feet, Serana growled; "I barely even started"

Miraak's instincts shouted at him, he quickly brought his sword up fast, deflecting the blade from Miara, he did not expect her to cut down the Lurker as quickly as she did. The dunmer did stop as she brought her second sword to lob off his head. "Fade back to Oblivion!"

"You first!"

The First dodged and backed away, gathering magic on his hand. When nothing happened, Miara was left wondering what he just did. She did not ponder for long as she felt magic underneath her feet. A fire rune shone furiously before detonating, the blasts engulf him. Miara emerged nearly unscathed from the smoke, and Miraak blasted bolts of lightning at her.

But the dunmer's current state, the coloration of her skin and hair were not merely an aesthetic change, she had called forth the power of her daedric blood, her heritage as a demigod manifested fully, empowering her greatly, increasing her strength, speed, and her resistance to magic. Her already strong defenses empowered greatly, the lightning pretty much avoided her entirely.

There were two sides to Miara, her aedric dragon soul, and her daedric heritage, a conflicting existence, but one that could be possible as long as she was properly... restrained.

One would manifest with her Dragon Aspect shout, the other by invoking the power of her daedric side. Combined it was suicide, both for her and for those around her, but one at the time, that was far more possible. Summoning her daedric side very easy to do in Oblivion, and could be kept for more prolonged periods of time as well.

Miraak had realized too late that his sister had unlocked the power of her heritage to such degree, the battleground was seemingly at her favor... but he was the master of this realm now.

Waving his arms, he weaved the Fade around her, the air shifted and moved like a see-through veil of the most delicate of fabrics. He changed the nature of the terrain around her, the mold-able nature of the Fade made it so easy, and brought down upon her a great surge of telekinetic pressure.

Miara's eyes widened when her entire body was suddenly caught in a swirl of increased gravitational force. Her empowered stated allowed her not to collapse flat on her stomach, but she was still forced to stop and bend a knee.

"Yes... bow before me, Miara" He spoke with a sense of empowerment and gratification. "It is the rightful place all must take before my presence after all" The Dragonborn chuckled. "It brings back memories, from the day atop the summit of Apocrypha. Do you remember, my dear sister?" He spat the last word in rage, as he brought the shifting fabric of the Fade on her, twisting, crushing her.

Miara groaned loudly, it felt as if though a mammoth sat on her. It was no physical weight, but the raw energies that made up this realm that was bringing her down. She feared that if not for her current state, she would have already been smashed to a pulp.

"I do" He snarled, bringing his face in front of her struggling visage. "The day my soul, my very being, was stolen from me!" He grabbed her cheeks forcefully. "My fate stopped being my own the moment I discovered what I was! The dragons were terrified so they made me their priest, Mora promised me power and freedom and all I found was slavery, the invisible chains of prominence binding me even further!" There were no words to put into context the sheer depth of his rage. Against the dragons who sought to use him, the mortals who feared him, the gods who toyed with him.

"Do you ever wonder if it hurts, having your soul ripped out like that?" He asked the same question he had mockingly said to her all those years ago in an attempt to hurt her, to make her doubt. "It does ohhhh how painful it is... It felt as though the marrow was being sucked from my bones, my own mind slipped from me, vanishing into the cold, unforgiven, darkness..."

But at long last... his mind was free. He finally had the chance to break free from those chains, he had to thank Miara. After all, in a way she was as responsible for his liberation, just like she had been responsible for his original doom.

"You know... You have taught me a great lesson, briinah" He said in a tone one could almost call kind. "An existence such as you, such as ourselves, has not only the power, but the WILL to determine their own destinies... I thank you Miara, Child of the Twilight. I promise you, with my own two hands and my spirit, I shall carve my own fate anew, and finally bring this world under the power that is Miraak"

He expected anger and hate from her, raging at him words of defiance, promising him death. Instead she was... smiling?

"Oh my dear brother... You're always so narrow-sighted, Miraak"

Before he could even ponder on her words, he felt a wave of magic lash out unto his arm, tugging painfully at him. Turning sharply, his masked eyes widened at the sight of a black arcane chain tightening around his right arm. "What?!" Another chain lashed, this time to his left arm, and pulled. "Guh!" The magics in this chains, they were absorbing his power, leeching from his energies.

It was then he realized that the vampire and the dremora were still there... In his moment of perceived victory, he had allowed his vision to become tunneled, at the time he could only see his sister defeated. He had forgotten about those still present, those who were still 'lesser' before him and Miara.

"Gaan..." Miara took a deep breath, the sudden attack against Miraak having weakened his hold on the fabric of the Fade for a moment. Seizing the moment, she lifted her face and looked directly at him "LAH HAAS!"

Stamina. Magicka. Health. Such as the words announced, they were all leaving him swiftly the moment the power of the shout collided with him. He fell to his knees, much like Miara had done so but a few moments ago. The dunmer rose, the sheer pressure Miraak had brought upon her vanished now that his power weakened.

Miraak roared, still wrapped by the chains, and Miara's shout draining away his strength. "Zu'u fent nol hin hahvulon Briinah," the ancient Nord cursed in dragon tongue. "Sooner or later, hi fent meyz med zu'u!"

The dark elf picked up her katanas she had dropped she looked at her ancient zeymah with both hatred and pity. "Goodbye zeymah." She plunged her first sword into Miraak's chest with her second soon slicing off his head. "Fade back to the void..."

His severed head did not even hit the ground when it vanished like mist, along with his body. The area of the Fade did not change with his death, no, Miraak's actions, his very presence, had scarred this place and would remain so many, many years to come.

Miara merely kept her gaze over Miraak's body had vanished, as her body once more returned to its usual coloration. His words rang deep inside her, he was... right, she feared. With the passage of time she could feel more and more of herself slipping away. She felt it every time she summoned forth her dragon soul and her daedric blood, the thoughts that were not her own and yet she knew they were. The whispers of desire, of domination, the thirst for power... it called to her like a siren. So tempting and beautiful...

The remains of her once mortal life were slowly escaping her grasp, no matter how much she tried to hold unto them.

She felt Serana's soft hand upon her shoulder, the vampire now had returned to her regular form, shining orange-red eyes stared at her with concern.

"You will never be like him" She passionately promised. "You have so many beautiful things in your life that keep you anchored, Miraak was NEVER like you..."

Xel'Karr only nodded in agreement as Miara let out a long breathe; "This has been a long day..."

Hearing a cheerful shout of victory, they turn seeing Neria, Brianna, Wynne, Morrigan, Leliana and the spirit run to them. The young Amell being the first to reach them; "Are you alright?"

"Nothing a hot meal and a lot alcohol can't fix," Miara muttered tiredly. Sereda was right; they will all get drunk later at the Spoiled princess after leaving this tower. She soon eyes the ethereal armored being beside her young elven cousin; "What is your name spirit?"

"I am Valor." He nodded to the elf respectfully.

"You risked much to protect Neria," Serana looked between the said elf and the spirit. "Had we not gotten out in time, who knows what you might have become due to Miraak."

Valor nodded; "I am forever in your debt for that." He soon eyes Xel'Karr; "What type of being are you?"

"An entity of war," the Dremora said simply.

The dark elf eyed the spirit of Valor for the longest moment before gazing to Xel'Karr; "Could you take Valor to Moonshadow?"

The dremora snorted; "For what purpose?"

"To make him an actual being capable of deciding for himself, rather than tied to the psyche of mortals" The dunmer retorts. "After what he dealt with Miraak-"

"You figured he'd want that?" Xel'Karr actually found the idea laughable. "To be made into something else, right after someone had just tried to do that to him?"

"Your companion is right" The spirit declared with his arms crossed. "What that... monster nearly did to me. I am surprised my being hasn't changed already from the experience alone..." His gaze shifted uncomfortably. "I want nothing to change me, for better or worse"

"Ah" Miara now understand, the spirit was still dealing with the trauma he had gone through with Miraak trying to corrupt its essence. Of course he would say no to the offer. "Well, if you ever change your mind though"

Valor was quiet for a moment; "I shall think on it, for now I merely wish to recover. If I wish to discuss anything I will confer to Neria in her dreams."

The elven mage touched the spirit's arm; "Thank you."

"Take care, and safe travels," Valor said as he vanished in a flash of light

Xel'Karr gave a respectful bow to Miara before returning to Moonshadow. Wynne looked her companions; "We should return to the waking world and go to Irving. Everyone is waiting."

"I agree," Leliana spoke tiredly; "I think I've seen enough of the Fade..."

"Uh, one question," Miara lifted her hand.

"Yes?" Brianna spoke first.

"How in the hell do Serana and I get out of here?"

XxX ~ xx ~ XxX

And that's a wrap, I hope you enjoyed it folks. The consequences and repercussions involving Miraak and what he represented for the others will be felt more in later chapters.

Dragon Translations:

Zu'u fent nol hin hahvulon Briinah

'I shall never leave from your nightmares sister!'

hi fent meyz med zu'u!

'You shall become like me!'