Elara's Song, Chapter Eleven, part two

  • Elara walked Dorthe back to her empty home.  The little girl placed her hand on the doorknob and turned to look up at Elara.

    “I leave at first light, Dorthe, and you are welcome to join me,” Elara soothed, tucking a loose strand of hair behind the girl’s ear.  Dorthe bowed her head, biting her lip.  The Breton noticed the girl’s hesitancy.  “Would you like me to go in with you?”

    Dorthe nodded and Elara helped her push open the door.  The fire burned low, but otherwise, the cottage was in the same condition in which she had found it when Hadvar introduced her to Alvor and his family.  The Breton quickly stoked the fire, adding a few small logs to rid the house of its evening chill.  She watched Dorthe sit on the edge of the bed swinging her legs absently, staring into her hands.

    “I will stay with you,” Elara decided, not able to abandon the little girl to a restless night in an eerily quiet house.  Dorthe looked relieved and crawled under the covers, which Elara tucked in tightly around the fragile form.   She took Alvor’s traditional spot at the table near the door.  “You are safe with me,” she added, jarred by the familiarity of the words that spilled out so quickly to comfort the little girl, casting her mind back to the last time she felt safe herself.   She shook her head, ridding herself of the thought.  It was not her place anymore to feel that way.

     She watched the tiny Nord toss and turn, before she finally grew still; succumbing to what Elara hoped was the restorative powers of sleep.   She lay her head down on her arms and drifted off to dreams of mist and dragons.

    Elara woke with a start.  Her forearms were soaked with tears from dreamlike visions of Alvor’s final moments, seen through the frost dragon’s eyes: the calm acceptance of his death, the terror stricken faces of Delphine and Esbern, and the tiny defiant figure of Dorthe, protecting the fallen body of her mother.   She even began to feel the dragon’s realization of its own death when she jerked herself awake, unwilling to travel down that path.  The tired mage looked towards the bed to check on Dorthe, but found it empty.  She ran down the stairs to check the basement, but no sign of the little girl.

    She at first mistook a steady sound for the loud pounding of her heart, but she realized it was a metallic sound.  The forge.  Elara stepped out the door and followed the porch to Alvor’s shop and found the little Dorthe hammering a horseshoe.

    The little girl turned her wide eyes on Elara’s concerned blue ones.  “Da promised the Whiterun stables a shipment of horseshoes, but because of the…” her voice drifted.  “I thought I should finish them since we were going there anyway.  Da would want that,” Dorthe added decisively.  Elara nodded and moved next to Dorthe, both females tempering the shoes with their sweat and tears, until dawn’s gentle fingers pulled back the curtain of night.

    Delicate footsteps creaked on the floorboards.  “I could not sleep either.”  Camilla offered a bucket of water and a couple of washcloths to a grateful yet dirty Elara.  “I packed some food for us in the wagon. I made a promise to Faendal,” Camilla answered Elara’s surprised look.  “Lucan is not pleased, but I will join you on your journey to Whiterun.”

    Elara’s sharp eyes noticed Camilla’s mud caked shoes.  The Imperial woman leaned to whisper.  “I buried him as he wanted to return to the earth like Y’ffre.  No one can know or they will insist on their stubborn Nordic burial customs,” Camilla glanced quickly at the wagon, which seemed to hold three blanketed form.  Elara nodded that she would keep Camilla’s secret.

    Finished with their ablutions, the unlikely trio made their way to the waiting horse and wagon.  Hod handed the reins to Elara, which was promptly seized by Camilla.

    “I was a horse woman in Cyrodiil,” the Imperial offered by way of explanation, and Elara was pleased to defer the responsibility to Camilla’s experienced hands.

    Dorthe placed the satchel of finished horseshoes next to the shrouded body of her father, an offering of sorts, and scrambled into the front, leaning her tired body into the soft curves of Elara’s.  Hod tucked a blanket around the little girl and waved them off, his heart heavy at the loss of so much life.  Riverwood was now a broken village, and no matter how much wood working he did, he feared he would never be able to repair it.



    The trio sat on a bench underneath the branches of the flowering Gildergreen, munching a simple lunch of bread, cheese, and apples.  Elara had the impression that the tree stretched ever so slightly once they sat down, providing protection and solace for their grieving hearts.

    “I was foolish and I know that now.  I enjoyed the attention, yet was afraid to listen to my heart,” Camilla cleared her throat, the first to speak after the burial rites were administered solemnly and lovingly by Andurs in the Hall of the Dead.  “I thought I had more time.  Now I wish I had spent that time as Faendal’s wife instead of flirting with Sven,” she added bitterly.

    Elara felt particularly unqualified to discuss matters of romance, since her only experience failed miserably.  She witnessed what seemed like the perfect marriage between her parents, and watched as her mother withered away over the years, suffering the absence of the one to whom she had pledged her life. 

    Camilla laughed hollowly.  “With his final breath, he said that he did not blame me, after I apologized for my foolishness.  He said he…said he….,” the Imperial buried her face in her hands.  Elara placed her hand on Camilla’s back, lending her support until the sobbing passed through.   “He said he saw me as a spirit of the wind, bringing soothing breezes and swirling tempests whenever he looked at me.   How can I honor those words when I feel so battered and torn?”

    “Do you see this tree overhead?”  The three females tilted their heads back, feeling the warmth of the sunshine sifting softly through the flowery branches, the fragrance tickling their noses, promising to take them up above the cares of Nirn to a place where all pain became a distant memory.  Elara continued, “We see the result above ground of the processes that occurred under ground, in the dank, deep darkness.    So the beautiful blooms and strong thick branches are ready for the sun because of all the work that went on unseen.  I think grief is kind of like that.”

    “You mean to say we could be tall and strong like this tree?” Dorthe’s tiny voice piped up, wavering slightly. 

    “In your case, I know so,” Elara confirmed softly, giving Camilla’s hand a squeeze to let her know she thought the same of her, too.  

    Camilla smiled faintly and stood up.  “I would like a little time to wander the big city, if you do not mind.  We should leave in a couple of hours in order to make it back to Riverwood before dark.  Meet you at the stables?”

    Elara and Dorthe nodded their assent, and the Breton leaned over to catch the young Nord’s eye.  “Anything you would like to see in the big city, as Camilla calls it?”

    Dorthe bit her lip sideways and wrinkled her nose, feeling suddenly shy.  “I have a friend who is a blacksmith.  I bet she would enjoy having an audience for a while.” 

    Dorthe’s eyes grew large.  “She?” the girl asked in wonderment. 

    Elara smiled and stood up.  “Follow me and see.”  The young girl scampered after the Breton, anxious to see another female working the forge.

    “Adrianne, I would like you to meet Dorthe.  She is an apprentice blacksmith from Riverwood.  She makes the horse shoes for the Whiterun Stables.”

    The blacksmith wiped her hands on her apron, giving the little girl an appraising glance.  “Skulvar at the stables has told me about these amazing shoes he now has for his horses.   He did not tell me that a, how old are you?”

    “Seven years old, ma’am.”  Dorthe stood up straight.

    “He did not tell me that a seven year old girl made them.”

    “He probably believes my father made them,” Dorthe offered helpfully.

    “Well, let’s see what you got, Dorthe.” Adrianne pulled off her apron and placed it over Dorthe, folding the middle in half and tying it tightly on the girl’s spare frame.  The two began to work the forge and bellows, Adrianne patiently watching Dorthe’s technique before offering any suggestions.

    Elara perched on the stone bridge, staying out of sight and out of the way.  She was happy to see Dorthe so absorbed, but worried about her all the same.  She had been so self-contained; even at the Hall of the Dead the little girl had only shed a few tears.  The coming weeks would be worse, and she would have to adjust to the new routine at the orphanage.  Suddenly Elara felt sick at the thought of the little girl going to Riften, away from all she knew, in the rotting corrupt atmosphere of the Black-Briars and the Thieves Guild.

    “The girl has talent,” a smiling Adrianne brought a flushed and glowing Dorthe over to Elara.  “I could use someone like her around here.”

    “How would you like to come here once a week, Dorthe?”  Elara offered, realizing she had made some decisions without consulting her young friend.

    Dorthe turned bright eyes to Elara, a shadow suddenly lifted from her expression.  “But that would mean…?”  When Elara smiled, she nodded her assent.

    “Good.”  Adrianne folded her arms.  “A week from today then.”

    Elara reached for Dorthe’s hand and they scurried out the gate to meet Camilla at the stables.

    “Why did you not tell her that I am an orphan?” Dorthe asked.

    “Well, I wanted you to know that she offered to train you based on your ability and not out of pity.  Of course, it is nothing to be ashamed of,” Elara glanced quickly at Dorthe to make sure she was all right.  “It is just your business to tell people if you want to.”

    Dorthe felt something open a little in her chest and gazed up at Elara, surprised that this woman she had visited with maybe a half dozen times understood something about her that she was not able to put into words.   Maybe she would not be completely alone after all.

    “So that means I am not going to the orphanage?”  Dorthe asked slowly, afraid that she might have misunderstood what just transpired.

    Elara lifted the little girl onto the waiting wagon, Camilla feeding Hod’s horse a carrot.  “It means you can stay in Riverwood.  I will come weekly to take you to Whiterun to train with Adrianne.”

    “And I will keep an eye on you the rest of the time,” Camilla volunteered, “though Lucan will not appreciate an extra mouth to feed.”

    “I have money from the horseshoes,” Dorthe spoke cheerfully, “and I can stay in my own house.  I promise I will keep it neat.”  The young Nord bubbled with excitement.  “Oh, please say that I do not have to go to the orphanage.”

    The two women nodded, promising to each other that they would be the little girl’s protectors.   “When were you going to tell us that you did not want to go?”

    Dorthe shrugged.  “I did not think that I had a choice.  And I would be less trouble to everyone if I were out of the way.”

    Tears sprang in Elara’s eyes as she leaned over to kiss the little girl on top of the head.  “My dear Dorthe, you always have a choice.”

    The city walls of Whiterun grew hazy in the distance, the three females in companionable silence. Camilla and Dorthe were both secretly determined to prove themselves and honor their dead loved ones.  Elara grew worried, her mind seriously questioning her judgment in serving as a guardian for a young girl when she no longer knew who she was.  Onmund was smart to get away when he did, she thought, and nervously glanced down at the soft brown head leaning gently against her arm.  The crickets evening song suddenly became a little sweeter, and Elara closed her eyes, allowing the magic of a trusting child to wash over her and comfort her, crowding out all other worries and thoughts of darkness.


  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  August 22, 2013
    Thanks Liam!  What a surprise to have another comment!  I will get to work on editing what I have and completing her story.  Thank you for the extra motivation and support!
    AKKIE   ·  August 22, 2013
    Two readers, i eagerly anticipate your next chapter!
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  June 29, 2013
    Actually, I have finished this character and the finished story is sitting on my computer.  I am needing to add a couple more to round things out and make sure I have wrapped up all my story lines. I need to get some lore articles posted before I start po...  more
  • Vazgen
    Vazgen   ·  June 17, 2013
    I think the weight of responsibility for her Dragonborn powers is reinforced with her position as an Arch Mage and Onmund's departure. But it's nice she managed to somewhat "fix" what happened through Dorthe's apprenticeship with Adrianne.
    Kyn, you ...  more
  • Knowledgeable Wanderer
    Knowledgeable Wanderer   ·  October 17, 2012
    Well I just dedicated somewhere from 2-3 hours of my life to read this all, and I am not disappointed in the least. This was an amazing read, Kyne. The way you bring out so much emotion amazes me, and I've honestly read very little of ANY kind of book tha...  more
  • Eviltrain
    Eviltrain   ·  October 17, 2012
    just to clarify, just the dad. 
  • Kynareth
    Kynareth   ·  October 16, 2012
    @Charlie, thanks for noticing that.  A lot of this story is about her coming to grips with this connection, so I hope to make it worthwhile.
    @Vix, thank you for that!  It was hard to write in some ways but easy, too, and Riverwood is a ghost of a pl...  more
  • Eviltrain
    Eviltrain   ·  October 13, 2012
    Nice little post. I was much older than little Dorthe, but I was in too much a state of shock to shed any tears until muuuuuuuuuch later.
  • Batman
    Batman   ·  October 10, 2012
    ah, Least something happy out of something so sad.
    I love the evolution of the connection between Dragon and Dragonborn you have going.