While I was fishing about yesterday for something to write about, I got had this conversation with a friend and guildie.
His response came after I actually had already posted yesterday, but it definitely gave me an idea of writing occasionally about some of my favorite characters across different games. So that’s what i’m going to do today. I’d like to introduce you to Serana Harkon, from Skyrim’s first DLC expansion: Dawnguard.
If you’ve never played Skyrim, or the Dawnguard DLC, then I should warn you now that there will be spoilers. But seeing as Dawnguard is at least a couple years old now I feel relatively comfortable disclosing them, so here’s your last chance. Spoilers below.
Ok, we good? Alright, let’s go.
Serana Harkon is a vampire that was sealed away deep in a catacomb some several thousands of years ago by her mother Valerica. When the vampires of Skyrim start brazenly attacking cities and people across the land, you are tasked by the Dawnguard (an old order of vampire hunters that is being reestablished) to find, and intercept, what is thought to be an “ancient vampire relic” inside this cavern. As it turns out, the relic is Serana. Sealed in the chamber with her is an Elder Scroll (which is a VERY difficult thing to explain if you’re unfamiliar with the concept. Suffice it to say that Elder Scrolls are exceptionally powerful relics which can be used for various different things. They can feel a bit Deus Ex Machina within the TES universe, but I digress.)
Serana’s first thing to ask of you (after a brief discussion in which you’re never actually sure how long she’s been in stasis) is to take her back to her megalomaniacal father, Lord Harkon. It’s divulged to you that the Harkon clan is a very ancient, and very powerful, order of vampires that have existed in Skyrim for thousands of years. Lord Harkon, his wife, and his daughter are all pureblood vampires, created directly by Molag Bal himself. (Molag Bal is a daedric prince. The closest thing I can compare the Daedra to are demons, but it’s not the most accurate description because there are actually good daedra as well… it’s complicated.) At this point, Lord Harkon, out of gratitude, offers you the chance to become a vampire like himself. Whether you accept this offer or not is largely irrelevant to the story.
As you travel with Serana and continue the Dawnguard story, you discover how she has been played as a pawn by both of her parents. Lord Harkon only wants her for the Elder Scroll she carries, which discusses a prophecy relating to something called the “Tyranny of the Sun.” In short, it would allow a way for vampires to blot out the sun, and allow them to freely walk the lands at full strength any time they wished. To fulfill this prophecy, it turns out that the blood of a “Daughter of Coldharbor”, or a pureblooded vampire, is needed. So Valerica sealed Serana in stasis, and went into hiding herself to prevent this from happening.
Serana and the Dragonborn (your character) develop a sort of friendship over your travels together. She manages to confide in you a lot of her really mixed up feelings about both of her parents. There’s even a rather potent moment where Serana finally gets through to her mother about how she used her every bit as much as Lord Harkon did. I imagine it’s not a fun feeling being sent away by your parents, even if it is for a good reason, but there was no discussion between the two about the how or the why. It was simply, Serana gets sealed away, Valerica goes on the run.
All of this, of course, leads to a final confrontation with Lord Harkon (whether you’re a vampire or not), where you and Serana end up killing him and putting an end to his ridiculous schemes. After this time, Serana is free to live her own life, and (if you’re not a vampire) can even be convinced to find a way to cure herself if you’re close enough. One thing she can’t do, however, is become your spouse. Now let me be very clear when I say this next sentence.
This is a good thing.
Admittedly, at first I was a little bummed, because I had never felt any kind of actual connection or attachment to any of the other characters who can become your followers and/or spouses. But here’s the thing; the marriage system in Skyrim is such a fucking joke that it might as well have been “Make this person your personal slave and house-worker.” I’ve never actually married someone on any of my characters, so I can’t speak much to the specifics, but i’ve seen enough in screenshots and discussions to know that there’s no way I would want to take such an amazingly written character like Serana and make her into my faceless housewife. It would be a fucking travesty of a thing to do to a character like her. So when I say that the fact that you can’t marry Serana is a good thing, I mean that i’m glad Bethesda had the foresight to say “No, we won’t let you turn this absolute badass of a character into one of any multitude of people who can just be your housewife and sit at home and make money for you, because it wouldn’t make any fucking sense to do so, and would betray everything she’s stood for as a character that you helped develop during Dawnguard.”
Besides, she’s way too badass to just become some kind of merchant-wife or anything like that. I’d rather have her killing shit beside me any day of the week.