What We Really Want


Being back at Volkihar was invigorating.

Viktoriyah was always happy to return home after a mission, but this time, it even more so. The grand scale of the castle made her realize just how stifling the Blue Palace was, not just in culture but in the building itself.

It was always good to be in a place specifically designed for vampires. Her eyes adjusted immediately, and she could let the annoying glamour fall.

She walked the castle a bit, simply enjoying being back as she eventually found herself in the royal family's sitting room.

Valerica was there, which was a rarity. The pureblood vampire turned her head as Viktoriyah, her eyes lighting up even further.

"That was quite a gamble, bringing her here," she said.



"It was that or take her life," Viktoriyah told her honestly. "Which I felt would have been a waste."

"Good judgment, as always," Valerica nodded, gazing into the fire. "Sybille may not be as powerful or learned as our mages, but in her defense, she's been living among mortals. She's young, still has great potential...and it'll be nice to finally have another scholar around here." She turned back to Viktoriyah. "How did you know you could convince her to stay?"

"Because she wants to be convinced," came the simple, honest reply. "Her lifestyle at the Blue Palace has granted her power, privilege, prestige, all while being a pariah. It will never give her what she really wants: to belong."

***


Sybille woke in a dark yet beautifully furnished apartment. To her surprise, she was in an actual bed.

"You're awake," Viktoriyah came over, smiling.

"How long was I out?"

"Only about an hour," the Redguard vampire assured her. "You're a little weak, Sybille. A single sip doesn't do that to a vampire at peak strength."

Sybille sat up in bed, groggy, but pleasantly warm and heady. The sheets smelled so clean and the blanket was so warm an inviting that she wanted to go back to sleep. Strange how her bed at the Blue Palace had never felt so comfortable.

"Take your time," Viktoriyah encouraged her, as though reading her thoughts. "The night is still young."

"This place is incredible," Sybille confessed, trying not to slur. It was like feeling drunk, but so much better.

"Better than the Blue Palace?" Viktoriyah teased.

"At the Blue Palace, I had the ear of the Jarl. I had my own room. I was somebody." Sybille shrugged, uncertain. "Here...here I'd just be....," she trailed, rubbing her temples as she struggled to find the words.

"Sometimes it's good to be nobody," Viktoriyah said, suddenly somber. "I've been here a century. Lord Harkon, Lady Valerica, and their daughter Serana--to whom these fine appointments belong, by the way--they're are all pure-blooded vampires. They can't be killed. They'll never die. And yet some of our nobles play their pointless political games, and remain miserable slaves to their ambitions."

"I've served two kings," Sybille yawned. "Where I come from, royalty dies all the time."

"But you'll never be High Queen," Viktoriyah shrugged. "At the Blue Palace, you couldn't even be a noble. And let's be honest, Sybille, that's what this has always been about. You don't just want to advise them, you want to be them. Yes, yes," she raised a hand to stop the mage from interrupting, "You're a scholar, you're an intellectual--we know. But you didn't just want to be Istlod's mage or his even mistress; you wanted to be his wife, his queen." She snorted. "It must have killed you to watch Torygg grow up, just to fall in love with Elisif."

Sybille looked up, shooting her look with her angry red eyes. "I loved Torygg like a son."

"But he wasn't your son," Viktoriyah reminded her. "You can't have sons, Stentor, or daughters. It's the price you pay for what you actually can have: eternity. An eternity to be as pretty as you want, as rich as you want, as skilled as you want."

"Then why are you so keen on staying at the Blue Palace?" the Breton mage growled.

"I'm not," Viktoriyah replied with a casual shrug. "Harkon sent me on a mission. Being there is part of my mission. I don't care about any of those people...and neither do you." She offered Sybille a hand. "Valerica is interested in testing your abilities. Shall we?"



As expected, Sybille took to the mystical arts like a duck to water.

One given free reign, she threw herself into alchemic experimentation, first nervously talking aloud, then muttering to herself, and then forgetting Viktoriyah was even there. It was fun to watch her putter about the lab, sampling ingredients she didn't know and flipping through books she never head of.

Viktoriyah smiled to herself like a proud sire, soaking in the visual like a priceless memory. After all, this was how she wanted to remember Sybille until her next visit to Volkihar.

She turned her gaze upward, seeking the one person she actually did care about in the world. And as fate would have it, it he was staring right back down at her.

***



As always, Vingalmo was in the library, enjoying a goblet of blood. Viktoriyah smiled broadly as she approached the tall, white-haired elf, amused by his predictability.

"Who's your friend?" he asked, as though in greeting.

"Sybille Stentor."

"The court mage?"

"One and the same," Viktoriyah grinned.

He raised an eyebrow. "I take it she doesn't know she's not returning to that position."

"If not, she will soon," Viktoriyah shrugged. "And she might be upset for a moment or two, but once she has another taste of proper blood or spends a day in a coffin...she'll start singing another tune."

"And you?" he murmured. "What do you look forward to at the Blue Palace?"

"Nothing," she shrugged again. "You've read my letters."

"Yes," he nodded, "in which you describe sitting in the chambers of the potentially most powerful woman in Skyrim, whispering in her ear and influencing her thoughts. A year from now, when you have bent Elisif's court to your will...will you be singing different tune?"

Viktoriyah's amusement drained from her face. "I'm not Sybille," she said lowly, masking her irritation. After a beat, she added. "I'm not you. I don't care who sits on what throne."

"The average vampire dwells in a cave, Viktoriyah, while all you've ever known are castles. I was actually once like you, until I realized that the luxuries we take for granted come with a very heavy price. Why do you think Lord and Lady Dysfunctional care so much about the war in Skyrim?" He turned to flash her a rueful smile. "We none of us ever care who's crowned...until fate crowns someone who doesn't care about us."

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