Elara's Song, Chapter Eleven, part one

  • “Delphine?  An inn-keeper?  I think I have heard everything now!” Esbern’s throaty chuckle echoed off the wooden walls of the porch of The Sleeping Giant.  Elara glanced at the peaceful idyll of Riverwood; the clanging of Alvor at the forge complemented the steady buzz of Hod’s mill.  The Breton caught sight of Alvor’s daughter hiding behind an ancient pine tree and waved.  Dorthe stifled a giggle and smiled back, while Hod’s son peeked behind the barrels in front of The Riverwood Trader, in search of the young girl.  Looking around she could almost forget that dragons threatened to swallow the world, the Thalmor hunted her, the responsibilities and headaches of managing so many headstrong mages, and the loss of her best friend to a darkness he chose not to share with her.

    She remembered the dragon attack on Winterhold and sighed, knowing all of her actions had to do with preserving this life, and the people who were at the mercy of currents over which they had no control. 

    “I think I saw Dorthe over there,” Elara cupped her hands over her mouth to shout to Frodnar, and then pointed behind the shop.  Frodnar grinned and ran, while Elara gave Dorthe a wink and walked up the steps with Esbern to the inn.

    Her eyes took a few moments to adjust to the dim light.  It seemed to be a calm afternoon, with Embry snoring in the corner.  Sven is still taking his beauty rest, Elara remembered, smiling at the memory of the last time she spoke with him.  He had given both her and Onmund what felt like a dissertation on the effect of proper sleep for a bard’s vocal quality and intonation.  She stiffened briefly, trying to block out the portion where the fire light danced over Onmund’s face, and the reassuring smile he gave her as their eyes met.  He always had such an easy way with everyone they met.  Yet after all that, he still left…she closed her eyes to prevent the stinging behind them from overflowing.

    Orgnar, the bar keep, cleared his throat, which caught Elara’s attention.  He jerked a finger towards Delphine’s room and the Breton nodded.  She shook her head clearing out the mist of memory.  Right.  I am Dragonborn.  She headed down the stairs to Delphine’s secret basement.

    “About time you got here.  Esbern filled me in on what happened.  Seems the Thalmor almost beat us,” Delphine looked quickly towards Elara, not sure how her gruff words would affect the Dragonborn today.  Elara wandered aimlessly around the room, running her fingers over the rough- hewn walls lost in her own thoughts.

    Delphine shrugged and continued her conversation with her fellow Blade, thrilled to no longer be the only one.  She looked uneasily again at Elara, who stopped pacing and cocked her head to the side, a fierce light in her eyes.

    “One is on its way,” she looked at the two Blades, who exchanged confused glances.  “A dragon,” Elara shouted over her shoulder as she ran up the stairs.  Delphine heard the door slam upstairs, and then the walls began to rumble from the pressure generated by the flying beast above the inn.  Her eyes were wide with surprise; Elara sensed the dragon before it arrived.

    Esbern shook his head.  “Studying them is not like seeing the real thing.”  He primed a fire spell and stalked out of the inn, Delphine close on his heels, not knowing if he meant dragons or dragonborn. 

    Frost covered the cobblestone thoroughfare through the center of town in front of the Sleeping Giant and would have been beautiful on a crisp clear Skyrim morning, but provided a deadly hazard when trying to bring down a dragon.  Delphine and Esbern scooted down the side stairs to find Sigrid’s limp figure sprawled in front of the blacksmith’s shop and Dorthe bent over it, trying to shake her mother into action.  The ground shook as the dragon landed on the grass to the right of the mill.  Esbern immediately shot off a fireball with his right hand, missing the beast’s head by a few inches. 

    A spray of flames erupted from behind Alvor’s home and Elara marched into view, visible only because of her magic as she blended into the weathered backdrop of the mill in her grey robes.  She dodged a blast from the creature’s mouth, skidding on her stomach across the grass when an anguished shout caught everyone’s attention.

    Alvor, the town’s generous blacksmith, stormed out of his house, brandishing a mace.  He shot a pained glance at the lifeless figure of his wife and stomped onto the wooden bridge, his bulky body heaving.   Delphine and Esbern felt rooted to the spot though no spell or frost held them, and as experienced warriors, they knew they could do nothing to prevent the tragedy unfolding before them.

    “Alvor!”  Elara shouted, reaching out a hand to stop him from moving any closer.  The blacksmith opened his eyes wide as the beast’s sinuous neck swung hypnotically back and forth, reptilian eyes pinching the Nord with its violent gaze.  Alvor tightened his grip on the mace with both hands, lifting it above his head with a cry.  Elara scrambled to her knees, readying herself to tackle the blacksmith.

    However the expert predator would not be denied the satisfaction of killing this defiant mortal who did not show him, a dragon, the proper amount of respect and fear.  The beast lifted its front right foot in an attempt to pin the bothersome mortal burning him with magics.  Elara saw a shadow on the ground in front of her and quickly rolled, finding herself underneath the dragon’s belly.  She felt her fingertips stiffen as she concentrated on unleashing a full blast of flames to burn the tender flesh.  The beast roared in surprise, the pain overcoming its consciousness and carrying it away.

    Elara felt the traditional tug and tingle when she absorbed a dragon soul and turned to find Alvor crumpled on the bridge, flesh blue, blank eyes gazing into the azure sky.  The Breton scrambled to him, feeling for a pulse.  She wound a healing spell around him, golden light embracing the man who took her in after she had escaped Helgen with Hadvar, who generously gave of his table and time, teaching her some rudimentary blacksmithing skills that helped her forge more friendships than weapons since she had been in Skyrim.  Her vision blurred and a hand on her shoulder stopped her healing.

    “It all happened so fast.  He was marked for death when he stepped on that bridge, Elara.” Delphine gave her fellow Breton a quick squeeze.  “He was the backbone of this town and will be missed.”

    Elara nodded and stood up, noticing the villagers emerge slowly from the various buildings, drifting closer to Alvor and the dragon’s skeleton.  A scream pierced the stillness and the Breton’s heart stopped. 

    Camilla Valerius ran from the porch of the Riverwood Trader to cradle a broken Faendal, sprawled near the front entrance to the town.  Elara rushed to join them, but as she grasped his hand she knew that the injuries were too much for her skills.  She gave the Bosmer archer’s hand a quick squeeze, grateful for his friendship.  Then she placed Camilla’s hand in Faendal’s and backed away, allowing them privacy for their last declarations.

    The Breton turned to look back where Alvor and Sigrid lay.  Delphine directed that the bodies be moved into the inn, in preparation to be moved to Whiterun and the Hall of the Dead.  The scene tilted and swayed for Elara, only to be shattered by the gut wrenching sobs of Camilla, who finally realized how precious life was through the harsh teacher, Death.  How could this have happened in Riverwood of all places?  Riverwood, which epitomized the beauty and strength of Skyrim, filled with cheerful generous souls who eked out a living through hard labor. 

    Elara reached out for something to steady herself but wheeled her arms through empty air.  She stumbled towards the wagon in front of the Trader and grasped onto the edge, drinking in as much air as she could before she passed out.   A crouching figure on the other side of the wagon cleared her head instantly.  Dorthe, who was now an orphan.

    She moved closer to the little girl and sat back on her heels.  Dorte’s eyes were squeezed tight and her hands covered her ears.  Elara gently took both hands into her own and her eyes held the girl’s hazel ones in a steady gaze.

    “Ma died looking for me,” Dorthe choked out.  “And Da…Da…”

    Elara caressed the girl’s roughened fingers with her thumbs.  “None of this is your fault, Dorthe.”  It is all mine, she added silently, her stomach twisted with self-loathing at all the misery she had been unable to prevent that day.  It was the first time she had sensed the intent of a flying dragon before any of the tell-tale rumblings or roars indicated its presence.  Yet she had not been able to anticipate any of its movements or battle tactics like she had hoped.  Three were dead because of her failure and more were broken hearted.  Maybe she had to open up more to the Dragonborn aspect of herself, losing herself in order to save others.  She swallowed her rising fear.  She had to find a way.

    “How old are you Dorthe?”


    Seven.  The same age she was when her father was taken away from her home in High Rock.

    “What do you want to do?”

    The little girl’s eyes grew wide, pleading with Elara to shield her from the emptiness that was beginning to encroach on the edge of her consciousness.  Elara understood, and lifted the girl, carrying her into the inn to join the other mourners.


    “Hod said someone can use his wagon to take the bodies to Whiterun, but he cannot take any more time off.  They own a mill, but it requires constant attention.  Plus, he wants to get started making repairs,” Delphine gestured at the dark star lit sky peeping in through a hole in the roof for example.  She peered over her mug at her fellow Breton, who kept glancing over at the orphan girl, idly moving her food around her plate with her fork.   “She will have to go to the orphanage in Riften.”  Delphine swallowed her mead and pushed back from the table, surprised again by the intensity in Elara’s eyes when she mentioned the orphanage.  Of all people, why did she have to manage this unpredictable Breton?  At this point she would have preferred a Nord Dragonborn whose stubbornness would have been easier to deal with than this woman who could not fully commit to her duty.

    “I will take them to Whiterun,” Elara replied softly.

    Delphine clenched her teeth.  “Dragonborn, Esbern and I have decided we need to move to Sky Haven Temple, an Akaviri fortress from the First Era.  We have to find it first,” the Blade admitted, “but we feel it is our best chance to find out how we can defeat Alduin.  And prevent further tragedies like today.”  The blond haired Breton eyed Elara keenly, hoping that this tactic might sway the younger woman.

    Elara shrugged, swallowing her guilt and anger at Delphine’s manipulative ploy.  “I will take them,” she repeated, “and meet you at the Temple.  I have an appointment in Falkreath with the Jarl to keep in two days.”

    “Don’t you care that you are the only one who can defeat Alduin?”  Delphine’s voice rose, silencing the murmuring in the room.  Esbern strode over and placed a restraining hand on the Blade’s shoulder.  “She wants to take the bodies, Esbern, and then meet us at the Temple.  Oh, and she has to rub shoulders with the Jarl in Falkreath. Tell her she is neglecting her duty as Dragonborn.”

    “My duty is to see my friends receive the proper blessings before burial, as their friendship blessed me in this life.  I will be at the Temple.  You have my word.”  Elara rose from the table with her plate and moved to the corner where Dorthe sat.

    “I wish I was the Dragonborn instead of that infuriating woman,” Delphine spat.  “She has no sense of honor or urgency. “

    “Don’t be so quick to wish that,” Esbern replied calmly sitting down next to the angry Breton.  They stared at Elara, watching her efforts to lift the spirits of the miserable girl.  “A couple of days make no difference to the First-Born of Akatosh.  Time is more important to us mortals.”

    Delphine sighed, aware that her years of hiding and inactivity made her more sensitive to any sort of delay.  She wondered if Esbern saw the implications of a Dragonborn who could defeat Alduin…and if the Empire would be able to woo and win such a weapon to push back the Thalmor for good.


  • Guy Corbett
    Guy Corbett   ·  October 28, 2013
    Even though the story has been nothing but bad news especially for Elara I still feel that vibe of hope and that stems from Elara herself. Your writing is great and I really cant wait to find out how this will fall together with the different threads of s...  more
  • Vazgen
    Vazgen   ·  June 17, 2013
    It just occurred to me - I never thought of how people end in the Halls of Dead! All the arrangements to be made after a person's death are passed unnoticed in the game, I'm glad you showed it. 
  • Knowledgeable Wanderer
    Knowledgeable Wanderer   ·  October 17, 2012
    This was incredible. Alvor's death is quite a sad event. Poor little Dorthe. I loved her to death in-game, even though she sent Hired Thugs after me for knocking stuff off the table in her house -.-
    I think you did a brilliant job of writing out Alv...  more
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  October 16, 2012
    @Ricardo, yes it is gut wrenching when some of these things happen in game, and how it can get to us!
    @Eviltrain, I am guessing that you do not agree with my characterization of Delphine?  I am sorry that I bummed you out...I am going to guess there...  more
  • Eviltrain
    Eviltrain   ·  October 13, 2012
    The entry bummed me out though it was because of Delphine rather than the dragon.
  • ricardo maia
    ricardo maia   ·  October 10, 2012
    On My first playthrough Alvor also  died in a fight with a dragon and i felt i was somewhat responsible  for his  death. I felt a little hint of  shame About facing his widow  and daughter and, After that  i rarely  came  to whiterun At all.
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  October 5, 2012
    @Kyrielle, thank you so much for reading and I am happy that you are enjoying.  Sometimes I have to give up my book reading in order to make time for the great stories on this site, so I understand about time.
    @Jake, thanks for that...I have trouble...  more
  • Batman
    Batman   ·  October 5, 2012
    noooooo not Riverwood D: I think Delphine's attitude is one of the main reasons i didn't side with the blades straight away, I miss the blades of Oblivion.
  • Jake Dassel
    Jake Dassel   ·  October 4, 2012
    Your dragon battles are always a thrill to read, If alvor had died on me, I would have reloaded a save, Riverwood and its inhabitants are too dear to me to lose.
  • Kyrielle Atrinati
    Kyrielle Atrinati   ·  October 4, 2012
    I love this story, Kynareth.  I'm sorry I haven't read it sooner,  but I've only just gotten into surfing the blogs and reading others.