Elara's Song, Chapter Nine

  • “You have performed well, my son,” Aron Rammligr praised Haakon, thin lips stretched over sharp white teeth, fingertips steepled over his well-polished desk.  Haakon felt one knot loosen inside, as his father seemed to be in one of his milder moods.

     “So Orin’s daughter remains our major obstacle,” Aron mused aloud, “And you verified Orin’s body in the temple?  A pity, I suppose.  He was always the weakest of you three.  To let himself be caught and tortured by the Thalmor?  Were we compromised?” A sharp glance and vehement head shake by Haakon reassured the patriarch.  “His just punishment then for hiding from us not only that he had a daughter, but that she is Dovahkiin.  Orin must have seen that in a scroll and never told us or Egon, or any of the priests for that matter.  No word from my second-born in any of our safe houses?”  He raised his eyebrows, watching his son’s expression carefully.

    “No, Father.  There are many ruins throughout Skyrim.  I am sure they are just securing their new position,” Haakon reassured his father, though he was secretly worried that no word had been heard from Egon.  He tried to ignore the fact that his father seemed oblivious that Orin’s sacrifice preserved Egon’s life, not to mention the lives of innocent priests and caretakers.  His stomach turned at the nonchalance his father exhibited regarding the death of one of his sons, like the loss of cattle.  Haakon mentally berated himself for thinking such rebellious thoughts.  He remembered clearly what rebellion cost, and Orin’s dead face swam briefly before his eyes.

    “It would be helpful to have that scroll though.  Once a prophecy comes to pass, the rest of the scroll becomes fixed.  It would be extremely useful to us.”  Aron stroked his chin thoughtfully.  “He could be dead…with the slaughter throughout Skyrim, one more body would not be much noticed,” Aron noticed the slight flinch that his words caused in his eldest son.  Bah, sentimentality, that unfortunate inheritance from their dear mother.  Otherwise, Haakon was a suitable son: handsome, brilliant in war, dutiful, quick thinking.  He would have to do in order to build his Rammligr dynasty.  Though Orin’s recently discovered spawn might prove to be quite a challenge.  Aron closed his eyes, breathing deeply.  He escaped penury and death when he left Skyrim years ago, only to build a merchant empire of his own.  If he could overcome those odds, then a mere woman would not stand in his way of subduing Skyrim for his own purposes.

    “Your niece, my granddaughter, the savior of prophecy to rescue Skyrim!” He continued, turning the conversation to inspiration for his most useful, and presumably only son left alive.  “It is further proof of the purity of our blood, Haakon,” here, the master orator stood up, fist raised to the admiring and hungry glance of his son.  “It would not have passed through the blood of the temple slut he was found with.  It is through centuries of breeding with the best and purest Nordic blood in Skyrim,” Aron slammed his fist on the desk, shifting his neatly piled sheets of parchment and rattling the gold chalices, filled with Jemane Vintage 101.

    “She is not only the rumored Dragonborn, but also Arch Mage,” Haakon reminded his father, whose black eyes glittered.  Thank Talos he had one son who was a gem.  “Along the way, I have stumbled upon her former companion and fellow student at the College.  I suspect some sort of attachment, and as Sai would have it, he is in my caravan.”  Haakon preened under the approving gaze of his father.

    “Before you secure him, test him with this,” Aron tossed a parchment across the desk for his son to read.  It was a report on the recent dragon attacks on Winterhold.

    Then the pair smiled at each other, identical in look and mien, though the elder of the two had bright silver hair which had formerly the raven black of his son.   Haakon drained his chalice and rose to leave.  “What of your delivery to Ulfric?” Aron asked casually.

    “He was grateful for the gift of gold from “True Sons of Skyrim.”  I politely suggested he continue his flattering propositions to join forces with our relative the Arch Mage and not be discouraged by her lack of response.  She must maintain a public face of neutrality for the Civil War, but I reassured him of our loyalty to the cause and that our family is united.”  Haakon paused at the door, awaiting his final instructions.

    “The Arch Mage is to be considered hostile to our purposes, unless you can find the appropriate leverage, son.”

    “Father, I have a special talent at finding leverage, as you so eloquently put it,” and with a chuckle, Haakon closed the door.

    Aron’s smile turned to a frown.  “Defiant to the end, eh, Orin?  Broken body but not a broken spirit,” he spoke softly.   He recalled the last day he saw Orin alive, twenty-seven years ago, surrounded by troops, monks, and Egon, his second son, carrying satchels of Elder Scrolls.  Orin submitted to his father’s order to become part of the priesthood and to supply him with all knowledge he gained from the scrolls.   If not, Orin understood that his Breton woman would come to harm.  Over the years, Aron had turned prophecy into profit, until now.  Aron hated to admit that he had been fooled by his youngest, but the blatant disregard for the woman they found him with in High Rock seemed to suggest that it was only a relationship of convenience, and not affection.  You knew me well, Orin, he grudgingly acknowledged. The child had been well-secreted, and now, so much hinged on this granddaughter of his.   “All your moves are finished my boy, and we will see if your legacy will mold to fit my hands or prove to be a minor obstacle to my plans.  But I will win, I always do.” 


    Onmund took advantage of the break from travel to stretch his legs and survey the town of Bruma.  The wagon ride was rough and the lack of sleep from watching for bandits along the journey made him relish the thought of a real bed at the inn.  Onmund felt he needed to sleep on his impressions of Haakon, as he had dropped the glittering persona he displayed at the Winking Skeever and proved to be an efficient leader, whose men sincerely admired him and served him loyally.  He was not the snake Octieve accused him of being, nor did he seem to be the traitor the Grey-Manes believed him to be.

    Haakon had seemed puzzled that Onmund had not used magic, but complimented Onmund’s archery skills, which were integral in thwarting their only bandit raid.   How did he know that I am a mage?  Onmund wondered, and realized that he had to be on his guard around Elara’s uncle until he could figure out whether Haakon was a threat to her.

    I thought you wanted nothing more to do with her?

    Old habits die hard?  Onmund offered, hating himself for what he said, but knowing he could never have asked her to walk this road with him.  Skyrim needed her, the College needed her, and…

    Really Onmund, who is the snake here?

    Onmund sighed, resigned to the presence of the extra voice that did not seem to like him all that much.  Perhaps I am going insane, he thought cheerfully.

    No such luck.  Elara…the voice drifted off.

    Onmund’s eyes focused on the statue before him.  It had the look of Elara, but with significant differences.  Elara had thinner lips--Mara, why did I think about those?--and a smaller stature in general.  But it captured that mixture of sadness and defiance that was all too familiar.

    “The Savior of Bruma, who then became the Champion of Cyrodiil,” a voice broke into his thoughts.  Haakon approached him with a mug of warm spiced wine.  Onmund accepted it gratefully.  “I just received word that the College of Winterhold has been attacked.”  Haakon was gratified to catch the arrested startled movement out of the corner of his eye.  “I thought you would be interested to know that it was a couple of dragons, but the town and College are still intact.  No casualties.”

    He is baiting you, the voice warned.

    “Thanks, but I am no longer part of the College,” Onmund spoke tersely and shivered involuntarily.

    Haakon placed his arm around Onmund’s shoulder.  “Come, I know the inn is warm and has excellent beef stew.” And Onmund, a warm tingling sensation spreading through his limbs could hardly believe he thought the man beside him reminded him of a wolf.  A loyal dog in need of company, but hardly a wolf.