Straag Rod: Book 1, Part 1, Chapter III


    It took a few moments for Äelberon’s eyes to adjust to the darkness of the Keep and he could still hear the muffled roars of the dragon. He wanted to help those outside, but with his hands still bound, he would be useless. He needed out of these bindings!


    “We’ll meet again in Sovngarde, brother.” Spoke Ralof as he knelt by the body of another Stormcloak.


    “I am sorry, Ralof.” offered Äelberon, smelling the fresh blood. There was death here and it was not by the dragon. His ears continued to follow Ralof's voice.  


    “He knew the risks of war, we all do. It is good that you made it. I was worried when the dragon landed. A dragon, after all these years! Surely a sign of the end times. But right now, we need to get these binds off, come closer.”


    Äelberon approached in the darkness and Ralof cut his bonds with a dagger.  He massaged his hands, getting the blood flowing again.


    “There you go. You may as well take Gunjar's gear. He won't be needing it any more. You don’t have a problem taking loot from bodies, right?”


    Gunjar, Ralof knew him. 


    “Ralof, when you have roamed the wilds as long as I have, you learn to improvise. Let us see what he had.”


    There was a second body though, from the looks of it, an Imperial mage, at least the robes gave him that impression. He had a grisly axe wound to the chest. Äelberon assumed Gunjar stumbled across the Imperial as he fled from the dragon into the Keep, and later died of his own injuries. The mage was far better equipped than Gunjar, almost like a warrior, for he yielded some heavy gauntlets, boots, a shield, sword, and the best find, an Imperial bow, still strung, with a small quiver of steel arrows and a single silver arrow. Or, he was looting. Mages do not arm themselves thusly, usually it was only a dagger or a staff, though he himself was one to talk. Äelberon sat on the floor of the Keep and put on the gauntlets and boots only to grimace when he struggled with the boots.


    “What’s wrong?” Asked Ralof.


    “The boots,” grunted Äelberon, as he stood up with some difficulty, “They are quite tight. Let me see what Gunjar has. Help me with his cuirass.”


    It was too small. Despite their best efforts, they eventually sat on the floor of the Keep, frustrated. Ralof attempted to lace the cuirass again, but Äelberon stopped him.


    “Ralof, this is not working. I will keep the gauntlets and Gunjar’s boots are a better fit, but Nords and Altmer are not built the same way. If there is a smelter in one of the villages when we escape, I can work this equipment into armor that will fit.”


    “But you have no protection? How will you manage?”


    “I will put these robes on. It will do for now.” The robes were still tight. Damn, but they would have to do.


    “Let’s see where this leads.” Ralof walked towards a barred door.  “Damn it, locked. Perhaps the other way?” He walked towards the gate as Äelberon gathered the rest of the gear and studied the bow.  “Imperials! Take cover!”


    Äelberon almost stood next to Ralof, but then he had an idea. “Ralof,” he whispered, “I will cover with the bow and attract their attention, keep your distance, and just make sure I always have a clean shot.”


    “Will do.”


    Ralof wielded two axes and crouched near the gate. Äelberon retreated to the entrance of the Keep. He readied his bow. Two Imperials approached on the opposite side. The Captain and another soldier. The other soldier was probably an archer, thought Äelberon as he readied his bow. He would be dispatched first, if they did not listen. Surely they would. The dragon, in his eyes, certainly took precedence over this Civil War. He waited and watched as they opened the gate.


    "Peace, fellow brothers in strife. Let us work tog--" he began. He dodged an arrow and Äelberon could hear Ralof's curse. Of course he was going to try to reason with them, damn it! Fellow brothers in strife? You idiot!


    The Captain emerged first and immediately headed towards Äelberon, who quickly drew his bow and fired at the other soldier, instantly killing him. He had just enough time to raise his bow and block the Captain’s first attack, backing away as Ralof headed towards the Captain from behind, his axes ready. Ralof swung his first blow and the Captain was momentarily distracted, long enough for Äelberon to quickly load another arrow as he continued to back away. The second shot missed. Damn it, Äelberon’s eyes narrowed as he grabbed another arrow from the quiver. Ralof was on his knees, and the Captain, her face contorted in rage, raised her sword, ready to strike. Äelberon let his arrow fly and it hit her directly. She fell to the floor dead. Äelberon ran to Ralof and helped him up.


    "You can't reason with them." Ralof scowled.


    "I will always try."


    "You'll be dead if you keep that attitude up here." 


    "I did not die that time, did I?" Äelberon countered.


    "No." The Nord admitted, though he still furrowed his brow. “See if she has the key to the other door. Can you use anything of hers?” 


    Äelberon cocked his eyebrow and gave Ralof a look, making the Nord laugh, forgetting his earlier frustration with the Mer. “You really think something of hers is going to fit me? Now, the steel I can use…” he continued to search the Captain, “And yes, we have a key! Wait here, Ralof, I am going to double back and see if there is anything I can use in the room where they came from.”


    Ralof waited, taking a moment to rest while Äelberon disappeared into the other room. Äelberon would have to show him the technique with the bow. Using it as a shield like that. Smart fighting.


    Äelberon returned, out of breath. “There is plenty, but I cannot carry it all. I will return for it another time, if I can.  For now, I will just take enough to make some armor. You sure there is a smelter where you live?” Äelberon asked as he attempted to put on a steel helmet he had found in the other room. With difficulty, it fit, but he found it too difficult to breathe, so he removed it. The room, however, yielded a far stronger steel shield and  more arrows. 


    Ralof frowned, the Elf had his hair in a severe top-knot and it was damn long, past his waist. If he removed the style, or even cut the hair, perhaps the helmet would fit, but something in Ralof’s gut told him not to mention it.  He may be a Priest. Not of any god Ralof was aware of, though.


    “I am ready, we can continue.” Äelberon nodded.


    Ralof and Äelberon made their way down the stairwell. Ralof first, followed by Äelberon, his bow ready. Rounding the corner, he caught a glimpse of two Imperial soldiers before the wall collapsed between them. Same make as the last pair, one in heavy armor, and one in light. Both male this time, so perhaps he would have more luck finding gear he could use. Ralof and Äelberon approached the door, and nodded to each other, same battle formation as before…


    No negotiations this time. They and Ralof were still fighting the damn war, even with a dragon flying about and Äelberon was now caught up in it.  As soon as he entered the room, Äelberon sighted the light armor soldier drawing his own bow and let his arrow fly, instantly killing him, while  Ralof ran towards the soldier in heavy armor, axes swinging. Did they barrel into everything? He would have veered left, towards the hearth, giving him a tactical advantage.  Stop analyzing, Old Mer, the soldier heading towards you is not analyzing anything except how to shove his weapon up your arse.  Äelberon tried to shoot this soldier, but his arrows were bouncing off his armor. Rubbish bow. It only angered the soldier and he made his way towards Äelberon, while Ralof tried to attract the soldier’s attention. Äelberon quickly switched from a bow to a sword and shield. A quick bash staggered the soldier and Äelberon then managed to kill him with his sword. It was rather short and dull, so terribly dull.  He was already missing his weapons. 


    “Are you alright?” Äelberon asked Ralof between heavy breaths, as he helped Ralof up.


    “Yes, let’s see if there is anything useful in this room. You also better try on his armor.” He grinned, patting Äelberon on the shoulder, “Should be a better fit this time.” 


    Äelberon laughed. It was sorely needed. After some effort, for it was a bit short and there were a few gaps in the cuirass along the ribcage that exposed his flank, he managed to put it on. He would just need to watch his left flank. At least he no longer needed a helmet. He preferred hoods or nothing at all, for he was an archer at heart. The boots were a better fit, still tight, but a better fit. This Nord at least had larger feet. At any rate, he would still have to make some armor when they escaped. Ralof stood by the door, guarding it.






    The two headed out the door and followed a stone corridor that led to a flight of heavy stone steps. That was when Äelberon heard the sounds of fighting and smelled it, the burn of electricity. 


    Ah damn, a mage. 


    “A torture room!” Cried Ralof as he rushed ahead, Äelberon close behind. 


    Two Stormcloaks were fighting with the hood torture master and who Äelberon garnered was his assistant. While the Stormcloaks were heavily armed, the torture master was doing serious damage to the pair with his shock magicks. Äelberon squared his jaw and entered the fray. The jolts of electricity were extremely painful, but Äelberon pressed on with his attack, helping the two Stormcloaks corner the mage. If he ran out of magicka, they could attack.


    They had the upper hand when Äelberon caught sight of Ralof’s fight with the torturer’s assistant.  The assistant was attacking Ralof with a mace and Äelberon readied his bow, ignoring the torture master. He aimed his bow at the assistant as he was about to crush Ralof with his mace. Suddenly, he felt a sharp pain in his flank, causing him to misfire. Scamp’s Blood! He growled. Ralof managed to block the mace with his shield, but it broke from the blow, leaving him defenseless. The torture master fell to the ground dead at Äelberon’s feet from a fierce battleaxe blow from one of the other Stormcloaks, and Äelberon readied another arrow, while the assistant brought down his mace. This shot was true. Ralof was safe. Äelberon let out his breath and he and the Stormcloaks made their way to Ralof, helping him up.


    “You’re bleeding,” Ralof pointed to Äelberon’s side.


    “Someone decided to give me a little memento of my visit to Helgen.” Aelberon quipped as he stared at his flank. A nasty gash; the blood already seeping into the fabric of his cuirass.  A bloody dagger lay next to the torture master’s hand.


    “He did indeed, but we certainly gave him something to remember us by,” Joked one of the Stormcloaks. The group laughed. Äelberon's own laughter caused him to wince, the wound smarting. 


    “Jyta, was Ulfric with you?” Asked Ralof after catching his breath.


    Äelberon ignored them for a few moments, extending his left hand, focused, his face intense with concentration. He was tired from his capture, beaten by the Thalmor, and he did not dare try a more complex spell. He was rewarded for his efforts with a golden glow emanating from his hand and then he released the soothing light, casting his body in a golden aura of healing. This would heal the gash over time and it would do for now.  He then turned to observe the conversation. Hopefully these Nords would be alright with his use of magicks.


    All eyes were on him. Xarxes' arse. 


    “No,” Jyta replied, shaking her head to focus her attention away from the Witch Elf's casting. “We thought he was with you.”


    “No, we were separated. We need to get out of here and find Ulfric, but first let’s see if there is anything we can use to replenish our supplies before we head out."


    "You going to head to Riverwood? Somebody has to?" she insisted. "You have relations there. We can't ignore this thing."


    "Aye, I'll head there, but we need to search this room first. What if it attacks us once we clear the Keep. We need some defense... anything."


    The room consisted of three cages and a sealed-off area with bars. Äelberon assumed it was designed to watch the prisoners as they were being tortured. Inside the sealed area were two cages with dead spiders. Torture tools were scattered about and each cage housed a prisoner in various stages of decay; their bodies covered in cuts and bruises from the instruments. The stench of death was heavy in the air. Äelberon furrowed his brow in disgust. His body bore the marks from numerous torture sessions, and he understood why so many broke. He paused at a small table. A book.


    The Torturer’s Guide, he read, glancing at the title. Äelberon frowned. Scamp's Blood! This man was a monster. And two vials of poison. He opened one of the vials and took a whiff, wrinkling his nose in revulsion. Bah! Noxious fluid! The Gods only know what he did with these, but perhaps they would fetch a decent price. He had no use for poison. Poison was not Auri-El’s way. He was searching the Monster when he spied the Stormcloaks at one of the cage doors, attempting to pick the lock. It was not going well and Jyta was beginning to get frustrated. He walked over and gently moved Jyta out of the way. The door swung wide open.


    “The torture master had the key.” Said Äelberon, tossing a small key into the air and catching it with his hand. 


    He hated looting the torture victims, but they confiscated everything of his when he was taken prisoner. His horse, with supplies, was somewhere in the wilderness and probably already stolen or worse. Koor was missing. He had nothing. The Stormcloaks did not seem to mind that he was searching through the bodies of their brethren, so he looted, briefly saying a prayer of gratitude for each of the victims, while Ralof and the other Stormcloaks were checking their weapons. Jyta heard him praying and turned to him.


    “Are you a priest?” She asked.




    “A priest who can fight?”


    “Sometimes even Gods need defenders.” He replied.


    She nodded. She would know, they were defending their right to worship Talos.


    “Are you ready? Interrupted Ralof.




    “Let’s go then!” The quartet left the torture room and traveled a dark corridor. Hmmm, Äelberon wondered what else that key opened. He tossed it into the air again and caught it, making his way through the various cells. In the second cell, a skeleton guarded his hoard of gold. In the third cell, he felt his foot strike something metallic and sure enough, hidden in the hay was an ebony dagger.


    Auri-El's bow! What prisoner had an ebony dagger?! Ebony would fetch a price.


    They proceeded through several corridors and another smaller room that contained suspended cages with more victims. If he had been alone, he would have taken the time to take these poor souls down. Offer them some sort of peace, but there was no time, Äelberon sighed as he warmed his hands by the fire. He grimaced, the pain was getting worse. When he and Ralof escaped, he would have to treat himself by casting a stronger spell if he could.


    The party was traveling along a dirt tunnel, when they heard voices.


    “Orders were to remain behind and wait for General Tullius.”


    “But I don’t want to die here!”


    Imperials, and by the sounds of it, a larger party. Äelberon looked at Ralof and the Nord motioned the group to gather together. 


    “How do we want to do this?” Erald asked. Jyta's brother. They were surprised when he asked questions while they rested in the other room, learning their names.


    “Weapons?” Asked Ralof, taking inventory of their skills.


    “Battleaxe.” Replied Erald.


    “Warhammer.” Replied Jyta.


    “I have axes, but we need a marksman.” They turned to Äelberon and regarded his bleeding flank. “Can you still shoot straight?” Asked Ralof. He looked concerned.


    “I am fine.” Replied Äelberon, though the pain was intensifying. He gritted his teeth when the others turned their backs and began to walk to the chamber, weapons ready. This was not normal. Something was wrong. The healing aura should have taken effect by now. But now was not the time to dwell. They needed a marksman. He overtook them and headed into the chamber, a large chamber overgrown with plants and scattered with waterfalls. It was as if Nature was retaking this fort one room at a time. Take out the archers. He readied his bow.


    They saw him first and that was the plan.


    “Stormcloaks! Attack!” The Imperials rushed to their party and Äelberon lept over the railing, beginning to target the archers. They were near the exit of the chamber and were the most deadly. One went down, but while he was shooting the other, an Imperial swordsman that had just slain Erald was making his way towards Äelberon, sword in hand. The sword swung, and Äelberon blocked the blow with his bow.  Pain shot through his side. He mustered his strength and gave the bow a hard swing, groaning as the bow struck the soldier across the face, staggering him hard. It gave him enough time to equip his sword and shield. The second blow was blocked by his shield and more pain. With a loud cry, Äelberon swung his sword and made contact, killing the Imperial.


    An arrow whizzed by his head and he turned his attention again to the second archer, dropping his shield and sword to ready his bow. He tried to draw the bow, but stopped short, staggering in pain, gasping. He squared his jaw and tried again, aiming carefully, holding his breath. The arrow flew on his exhale, and the soldier collapsed. He put away his bow and put his hands on his knees, bending his head. Why was he suddenly so dizzy?


    “You alright?” It was Ralof, his face streaked with sweat. Jyta was at Erald’s body, her blonde head bent.


    “Yes, just let me catch my breath.” He breathed deeply and the dizziness quickly passed. He joined Ralof and the two began to head to the exit, but Jyta lingered, her head turned toward the corridor where they had entered, holding her left arm, looking very weary.


    “You two go on ahead, I’ll remain here and see if Jarl Ulfric comes.” Äelberon understood and bid her farewell, putting an arm around her as she leaned her head on his shoulder. The hard pounding of her chest seemed to slow and calm as he held her. “He was my brother.” She whispered, her voice tired and low.


    “He died an honorable death, Jyta. And he will wait for you in the mead halls of Sovngarde.” Äelberon whispered in her ear, squeezing her shoulder gently.


    She sighed and closed her eyes, finding comfort in his words. This was an Altmer.  He was supposed to be the enemy, yet he showed such compassion? This was no Thalmor monster. She spoke. “Go, and thank you for your comfort, Priest. I’ll be fine.”


    Äelberon gave her shoulder a squeeze and turned to Ralof.


    After gathering their supplies, the pair continued, activating a lever that lowered a bridge, and they exited the chamber. A loud dragon’s roar shook the walls as they exited the ruined fort into a cavern, filled with mosses and ferns struggling to grow in the small pockets of light that penetrated from holes in the cavern ceiling, the air heavy with moisture. They heard the rumble and moved quickly as the entryway collapsed, the force of the debris knocking them to their knees, scattering dust and small stones into the air.


    “There’s no going back that way now.” Commented Ralof as he helped Äelberon up. 


    Gods guide you, Jyta, Äelberon prayed.


    They ventured into the cavern and came across two paths: one blocked by rubble, the other open. They turned right and followed the cleared path, the stone giving way to a heavy brown dirt intertwined with thick root growth. They must be under woodland, he thought as he followed Ralof. There was another cavern just ahead, but something made Äelberon stop. Spider webs. He pulled Ralof backwards and gestured silently to the webs and egg sacs that scattered the cavern. They had not noticed them yet. They crouched low and he whispered to Ralof. “Bows, yes? It would be what I would use.” 


    “Let’s try to keep our distance. Their venom is deadly. Let’s focus on the large ones first. The little ones aren’t so bad. Bows, aye, definitely bows.”


    They stood up and readied their bows. Äelberon changed to steel arrows and frowned when he noted the condition of the bow. It needed to be unstrung. Damn it, the limbs would warp.  A little more and he would give the weapon a needed rest. Yes, steel arrows, for he needed to hit and hit hard, being less mobile than Ralof. He took aim and held his breath. The first spider was just coming into view. He could feel his sweat on his brow and he set his jaw as pain shot up his flank while he aimed. The aim was everything. He exhaled and let the arrow fly.


    Direct hit!


    But the spider did not go down. He aimed again and let his arrows fly, Ralof following suit, as they dodged the spiders’ dangerous fangs and putrid spittle attacks. The spiders lay dead, but Äelberon again felt dizzy.


    Ralof was worried, he was very pale, but Äelberon dismissed it with a wave of his hand. “No, no, no. I am fine.” He managed, between heavy breaths, hands on his knees, head bent, his face clammy. ”I just need a moment or two. I have not eaten for several days. It is probably getting to me.”


    “There’s another path ahead,” replied Ralof, “And feel that?”


    “Feel what?” Asked Äelberon, looking up wearily.


    “Here.” Said Ralof as he led Äelberon to the path. Äelberon then felt it. A breeze. It felt good and cool on his skin and he breathed deeply, letting the fresh air seep into his lungs. “Better, eh?”


    “Infinitely.” It did feel good.


    “Good then,” Replied Ralof, giving Äelberon a strong pat on the shoulder. “I think we’re almost out of here. Let’s move!”


    They entered the path, which led to another cavern, this time with more light and the air did feel less stifling. Äelberon saw a discarded potion in the distance and headed towards it, while Ralof crossed a natural stone bridge, carved by the water, and then headed right. Äelberon checked the potion. No, nothing he could use at the moment. Bah! Considering potions now, Old Mer!? You are desperate! He turned and headed towards Ralof. He was crouched, axes ready.


    “Wait!” Whispered Ralof, and Äelberon crouched low. “It’s a bear. I really don’t want to cross her right now, so we can try to sneak by. Or, if you’re feeling lucky, you can catch her by surprise. I’ll cover you, whatever you decide.”


    Äelberon was not going to sneak around a bear. It was not his way. He strode to the bear, tall and proud, and drew his bow.


    Wow, thought Ralof, this Elf doesn’t mess around. He readied his axes, just in case, but he already knew how Äelberon was with a bow. If he didn’t kill the bear in the first hit, then, by Ysmir, he’d beat her to death with it. Sure enough, it was over in two quick shots from his bow. No bow beatings were necessary. Äelberon turned and smiled.  Ysmir’s beard! He looked terrible, thought Ralof as he caught a glimpse of Äelberon’s face in the dim light of the cavern. Granted High Elves aren’t known for their looks, but under the dirt, he was very pale and his light red-orange eyes looked bright with fever and were punctuated by dark shadows. Was he ill? 


    If he was ill, however, he certainly wasn't acting it. With a surprising amount of energy, Äelberon knelt on the cavern floor near the bear and took out a dagger he had looted from one of the bodies, tossing it into the air and catching it by the hilt to get a better grip. He then began cutting into the bear's tough hide, ignoring the blood and gore from the carcass. "Ralof," Äelberon spoke while he skinned the bear, "help me skin this thing, I have an idea."


    Together they skinned the beast, the blood caking in their fingers and staining their uniforms. They both looked terrible now. When they finished, Äelberon began roughly breaking apart the long bows he looted from the Imperial soldiers. His eyes narrowed in concentration. He discarded the wood and kept the bow strings. With the bow strings, the hide, and an iron battle staff he found early in the Keep, he began to fashion a rough sack that attached to the staff with the bow string. It was very sturdy. He looked up at Ralof when he finished.


    "Let us gather some of this gear and we can carry it in this sack together. Weapons too," Äelberon gestured to the weapons lying in a scattered pile. They had dropped them carefully when they first saw the bear.


    It was a brilliant idea. Each could grab an end and it was easily dropped if they ran into trouble on the way. They even doubled back to the spider's lair to gather more supplies.


    "Do you think you have enough to make armor out of this?" Asked Ralof as he supported his end, testing its weight.


    "I have worked with a lot worse before, “Replied Äelberon, hoisting his end onto his shoulder, stooping a bit to balance his height with Ralof's.  "This will fashion me a decent set of steel."


    “Well, then! What are we waiting for? This seems like the way out." They headed down the path and ahead of them was light…



    In all of his days, rain never felt so good. It was a heavy storm, but Äelberon did not care. As his eyes adjusted to the daylight, he let the rainwater fall cool and refreshing upon his face, soaking his hair, streaking his warpaint, rinsing the blood and grime from his body. The renewal that is rain. He felt like he wanted to stand there for hours and let it wash away the past several days. Cleanse him. 


    Alduin’s roar brought him back and Ralof pulled him down behind the rocks, while Alduin’s black form covered the sky, his great wings bearing him North. When he was no longer in view, Ralof spoke. “Looks like he’s gone for good.” Ralof scanned the distance ahead and pointed northeast as he continued, supporting the staff with his other hand as he slowly stood. “My sister, Gerdur, runs the mill in Riverwood. I’m sure she will help us out.”


    It looked like mid-morning to Äelberon, judging by the look of the sky and the temperature. Incredibly bright still, despite the storm clouds and heavy rain. It was hurting his eyes a little, causing him to squint. The rain continued to pelt them hard, weighing down their equipment, making the journey slower. At least the rainstorm was doing them a service and cleaning them up while they walked. Äelberon could only imagine if the two showed up Riverwood looking the way they had looked when they first emerged from the cave. Along the way, Ralof pointed out a large barrow that dominated the mountains to the North. Bleak Falls Barrow. As they neared the riverbank, they came across three pillar stones on a platform. Ralof motioned to put down the bag and then pointed to the pillar stones. Boy was clearly proud of his homeland and Äelberon did not begrudge him the tour he was giving. 


    “These are the Guardian stones. Part of the group of Standing Stones that dot the landscape. Go ahead, see for yourself.”


    Äelberon approached the stones. He knew the signs: Thief, Mage, Warrior. This was different from the birthsigns, he garnered, though they were modeled after them. Maybe the Nord version of them, who knew? He was born in First Seed. The Lord was its sign. His eyes found the Mage Stone briefly. He was supposed to be born under the Mage, in Rain's Hand, but...she had fallen, a terrible accident. He stopped his thoughts. You were born in First Seed, he sighed. The Ides of First Seed, 3e 391... With all its blessings and all its curses therein. He would humor Ralof by touching one of these doomstones. He knew of Cyrodiil's doomstones, scattered about, touching them between Dusk and Dawn granted boons. The Magnus stone, one of the few glimmers of the Altmeri pantheon in Cyrodiil was frequently his choice, but if Cyrod only had that, Skyrim would have even less for his kind. This was Nord land so there was no question which one he would take. He touched the stone and a beam of greenish light shot from it towards the sky.


    Ralof smiled. That was not a typical selection for an Altmer. "Warrior, good! Those stars will guide you to honor and glory." Ralof patted his shoulder as they picked up the supplies. They were getting extremely heavy and Äelberon was feeling dizzy again. He put it out of his mind. There was too much still to do. He needed to get himself situated and then begin tracking Vingalmo again. And there was also the matter of Alduin, he had to warn the local authorities, even if it meant possible recapture. They continued on the road for a spell before Ralof spoke again. “Listen, this isn’t Stormcloak territory. If we’re stopped by Imperials, let me do the talking, alright?”


    Äelberon suddenly stopped, turning towards Ralof, his eyebrows raised. “Ralof, take a good look at what I am wearing versus what you are wearing, and I am Altmer.  I think I better be the one to do the talking.”


    “Eh, you’re right, I’m sorry, I’m just tired.”


    “We both are. How much further?”


    Äelberon stared at his hand, while Ralof scanned the road ahead. It was shaking. He clenched his fist, but to no avail, it still shook. He shifted the staff to his other shoulder and tested his left hand. It shook as well. Exhaustion. It had to be. He sighed and quickly grabbed the staff with both hands when Ralof faced him.


    “Not much further, just up the road.” 


    Along the road, they came across two dead wolves. They put down the sack and investigated.


    “What did this?” Asked Ralof.


    Äelberon bent over the carcasses. He lifted the neck of one of the wolves, its throat was torn open. An animal did this. A dog… A dog! Äelberon lifted his head and looked ahead, hope building. Did he survive? He lowered the wolf’s head and looked at Ralof. “Can you carry a bit more?”


    “If you can.”


    They each bore a wolf carcass on their shoulders. His side hurt with the extra load, but pelts could be made into leather and he noticed that Ralof’s cuirass was splitting on his right shoulder, the straps fraying. At least there was a break in the clouds and it had stopped raining. They continued to walk.


    He heard children playing in the distance, the sounds of wood chopping, and the roar of lumber mill’s saw. And then Äelberon smiled as they entered the town of Riverwood. Close to a campfire where two villagers were drying fish, lay Koor. He looked worse for wear, sleeping fitfully near the fire; thin and muddy, with a wolf bite on his leg. That little Son of a Bitch would get his healing magicks first, Äelberon thought, his emotion building a little. He had not expected to see the animal again when he entered the Keep.


    “Ralof, let us put the sack down near the campfire.”




    “A friend.”


    They walked to the campfire, causing the dog to wake up. Weak as he was, the dog could not contain his excitement, knocking Äelberon hard to the ground in joy, licking his face, as Äelberon rubbed his ears, fighting the searing pain in his side.


    “A fine animal. I saw him at Darkwater. Has he been following this entire time?” Ralof bent down and petted Koor, rubbing the dog’s neck, as Koor looked up, tongue hanging from his mouth, panting. Ralof helped Äelberon up, watching his friend grimace in pain.


    “He must have. A more devoted companion does not exist. He will watch what we put down, let us find your sister. Koor.” The dog eyed his Master, as Äelberon pointed to the sack. “Guard.” Koor barked and sat up, tail wagging, happy to hear his Master's commands again.


    Ralof and Äelberon crossed the small bridge onto the little island that housed the mill. They found Gerdur at a table, reading the mill orders for the day. A strong woman who bore a resemblance to her brother. Same bright eyes. 




    She turned around at the sound of his voice. "Brother! Mara's mercy, it's good to see you!" She hugged her brother, but then broke from him and continued. "But is it safe for you to be here? We heard that Ulfric had been captured... are you hurt? What's happened?" She looked extremely concerned, scanning her brother for injuries.


    "Gerdur... Gerdur, I'm fine. At least now I am."


    She stared at the Altmer clad in Imperial heavy armor next to him and narrowed her eyes. "And who's this?  Cannot be one of your comrades? An Imperial soldier helping a Stormcloak?"


    “No, he wasn’t wearing that armor when we met, that’s for sure. Not a comrade yet, but a friend. I owe him my life, in fact. Is there somewhere we can talk? There's no telling when the news from Helgen will reach the Imperials..."


    "You're right. Follow me."


    They followed Gerdur to a secluded section of the mill, underneath a large pine tree, where she then called her husband Hod and her son Frodnar, who she later sent to watch the road to the South. Ralof sat on a stump and recounted the events of the past few days. Äelberon sat as well, his head bent, fighting waves of nausea, his side throbbing in pain. He tried to cast as they continued to talk, but nothing. Nothing was coming from his hand. This was not good. Koor needed him as well. Perhaps some rest? Ralof had finished and looked at his sister, his face betraying worry.  "Good. Maybe we can lay up for a while. I hate to put your family in danger, Gerdur, but--“


    "Nonsense. You and your friend are welcome to stay here as long as you need to. Let me worry about the Imperials. Any friend of Ralof's is a friend of mine." Gerdur then faced Äelberon. Her brother couldn’t go to Whiterun, he would be arrested on the spot, but this High Elf, already in Imperial armor. Perhaps he would help? She turned to Äelberon. "The Jarl needs to know if there's a dragon on the loose. Riverwood is defenseless. We need to get word to Jarl Balgruuf in Whiterun to send whatever troops he can. If you'll do that for me, I'll be in your debt."


    Äelberon got up from the stump slowly, using it to support himself and rose to his full height. Ralof saw his hands shake and furrowed his brow. Äelberon clenched his fists when he caught Ralof’s stare. “I will deliver the news. You need not worry, Gerdur.” He stood and placed a hand on Gerdur’s shoulder, reassuring her. “You have my word.” 


    Gerdur hugged her brother and walked back to the mill, ordering her husband to show them to the house. Ralof looked at Äelberon, he was in no condition to travel now. He stopped the Elf.  “Friend, friend, rest. You need rest. C’mon, let’s follow Hod to the house. At least eat something, please. Besides, you need to repair my cuirass.” He smiled, pushing his finger onto Äelberon’s chest. “You promised. Let’s grab the sack and head there. We can have some mead…”


    “I do not drink.”  


    “That’s only because you've never tried real Nord mead.” Ralof grinned.


    “You can go on ahead, but first help me get this sack to the smelter. I promise, I will be there soon. Koor will follow you inside. Koor, come.” Äelberon said, looking at the dog, who immediately obeyed, following Ralof and Äelberon to the smelter, where they placed the sack. “Now Koor, follow Ralof. Go, Ralof, I will be there shortly.”


    He had originally intended to smelt what he found and save some coin, but Gerdur's request rendered that impossible now. Smelting would take too long he determined, so instead Äelberon traded some of the weapons and armor he found at Helgen for raw materials. Ingots of steel, some leather, and some leather strips.  He grabbed a small book from his satchel and began scanning it as he leaned on the railing near the forge.  He found the book at the Keep, in a loft in one of the rooms, while he was looking for food. He read intently, the basics of smithing. He knew this already, but reading calmed him down. 


    Äelberon had fixed his weapons and armor in the past, but forging an entire suit of armor that fit his body was something he only did once before, his worn set of steel plate. The armor he was wearing upon his capture had been a gift. He had just taken his orders as a Priest of Auri-El. It was forged by his mother and Rynandor himself enchanted it. It was a gift fit for a king and for over two hundred years it had served him well. It was gone. The bow was gone now too.


    Everything is gone save the lacing in your hair.


    The book shook slightly as he held it and he put it down. The trembling was getting worse. He could not forge an entire suit now. That would take days and if this condition persisted, longer. They may not have days, Aelberon thought. The dragon was a real threat. Patching the armor was all he had time for. He approached the smith again who was working the forge, a sturdy Nord with dirty blond hair. “May I use your forge?”


    “Of course, if you have the skill.” 


    He heated two ingots of steel and used the hammer to beat them into two thin panels of metal. As he hammered, he could feel the wound opening again and he felt the blood drip down his side. He winced, but ignored the pain. He would use those then to extend the width of the cuirass, lacing it tightly to the original metal with leather strips. That would at least allow him to get to Whiterun by tonight with a cuirass that could protect him decent enough. Using the hammer and an iron dagger, he punched small holes along the vertical length of each panel. He would need to do that to the cuirass as well. Hmmm, he needed to remove it to punch the holes for lacing. Without thinking, he began to unlace his cuirass when he heard a small voice.


    “My father is Alvor, the blacksmith. I'm his assistant. I mean, apprentice.” She smiled.


    It caught him by surprise and he blushed. By the Gods, he about to strip in a public place, in front of younglings! Old Mer, are you off in the head? “Your name, little one?”


    “Dorthe. Are you a soldier? My cousin is a soldier. His name is Hadvar. I haven’t seen him today. Did you see him today?”


    Äelberon stared at the little girl not knowing what to say. Hadvar… memories of Helgen flashed through his mind.

    Gods guide you Hadvar… 

    Last he saw of the one called Hadvar, he was entering the Keep. Alvor was now looking at him, he had heard the question.


    “Dorthe! Be a good apprentice and go inside for a moment and fetch me those extra pair of gloves so this Elf can smith without burning his hands off.” Dorthe disappeared into Alvor’s house and Alvor directed his gaze at Äelberon. “Was Hadvar at Helgen? I heard you talking to Gerdur.” He asked, “Answer me.”


    “He was.”


    “Is he... dead?” Alvor whispered, his voice quiet, knowing full well he could be staring at his killer. This was no Imperial soldier, but he was no Stormcloak either.


    “I do not know, Alvor." Äelberon replied, his face grim. "When I entered the Keep, he was very much alive. I am sorry I cannot give you any more comfort. I truly wish I knew more.”


    Dorthe scampered back to the forge, gloves in tow. “Does he know about Hadvar? Does he?”


    “Hadvar is safe, and YOU are a great apprentice.” He laughed, drawing the child to his lap and giving her a kiss on the cheek. “Now, give the Elf those gloves so he can work in peace and go spend some time with your mother in the garden! Go!” Dorthe gave Äelberon the gloves and ran off.



    Alvor peered at Äelberon’s work, curious. He had never seen an Elven smith. “Good work, reminds me of when I was first starting off." Alvor was lying, of course. The workmanship was actually superior. The metal incredibly consistent and this was without the proper materials.  "You work fast and the steel is consistent. You plan to lace the panels with leather, extending the girth of the cuirass?”


    “It is not the best option, I know, but it will get me to Whiterun tonight. I need to get to Whiterun. The Jarl needs to know about this dragon.” Äelberon answered as he began to make the strips to lace the cuirass. He made enough to repair Ralof’s cuirass as well. “I need to go fetch something, will you watch my work until I return?”


    Alvor nodded, and Äelberon headed towards Hod and Gerdur’s house.



    Äelberon slowly opened the door. Koor was already settled by the warm fire, asleep. Ralof was at the table, eating. “Ralof, take off your armor.”


    Ralof jumped in his chair and looked up from his meal. “You’re a mad Elf, you know that, right? Damn near scared me to death when I saw that Imperial armor.”


    “I am most certainly not mad. I made the strips, now give me your armor, so I can fix it. Unless you want your seams to split right when you are greeting Jarl Ulfric at Windhelm. That would be embarrassing.” Äelberon leaned against the wall of the cottage, crossing his arms over his chest; waiting.


    “You don’t have to. You are in no condition to fix any armor. I was only joking to get you inside the house and resting.”


    “I want to, now give it to me, please.”


    There was no convincing this Elf. Are all of them this stubborn? “Fine. Help me unlace this thing.” After a few moments, Ralof handed Äelberon his cuirass.


    “I will return when I am finished.” He was about to walk out the door.


    “Hey Elf! Catch!” An apple flew in the air and Äelberon caught it. Ralof smiled, only archers could do that really well.


    Äelberon walked some distance away from Riverwood after retrieving his supplies from Alvor. Just a bit up the river. It was a good spot, the water was calm and shallow; reflecting the sun’s afternoon rays as orange and blue dartwings hovered over the surface. He sat on a bank at the river’s edge, on the damp grass and tried to eat the apple. But within minutes he gagged.  He tried to cast a healing spell, but he was so tired, he could not muster the energy. If he was going to get to Whiterun, he was going to get there as a warrior.


    He had borrowed some Elves Ears from Gerdur’s home and in a wooden bowl, he ground up the leaves, making a paste. He gently unlaced his own cuirass, gasping as it finally came undone. The roughspun tunic underneath had chaffed his skin raw under the pressure of the too-tight armor. He stepped into the cool water and first washed his face, removing the remaining traces of his ceremonial war paint and then allowed himself the luxury of a good soaking. It cooled his skin, which was now burning with fever.


    Feeling a bit refreshed, he then turned his attention to the wound on his side. The blood was caked in and the dirty fabric clung mercilessly when he tried to peel it away, making him grimace. It was infected, but the cut, when washed, was minor. He gently dried the wound and coated it with the Elves Ear paste, instantly numbing the wound. It was the only plant he knew. People used it to cause frost damage, but by accident, he found it numbed pain.  'Twas good for a smoke too, but his pipe was with his equipment.


    Damn Vingalmo, damn him to Oblivion, 'twas a good pipe. Gods, was it even legal here? That would be his luck. No smokes. He wrapped the wound in linen and slowly put the tunic back on.


    He sat on the grass lacing the extender panels to the cuirass. Alvor had given him a hammer to beat the panels into shape and to punch holes in the original armor. When the armor was laced, he washed it by the river and set it to dry in the sun as he began work repairing Ralof’s cuirass. That job was easier, as all it needed was relacing. His hands trembled as he worked, and he noted that his vision blurred at times.  He squared his jaw and fought his symptoms. By the time he finished, his own cuirass was dry, warm from the sun, and it fit. It was not perfect, but it was not nearly so tight.


    When he stood up,  Äelberon almost lost his balance. He was running out of time. He needed to get to Whiterun. He picked up his materials and placed them in the bearskin sack, lifting it with difficulty.


    Äelberon placed the hammer on Alvor’s workbench. “Thank you.” He said softly.


    The Nord nodded from his grindstone.


    It was nearly sunset when he arrived back at Hod and Gerdur’s house. They were not back yet, so Äelberon helped Ralof with his cuirass.


    “This is fine work,” said Ralof, running his fingers over the straight lacing, “thank you, friend. Now rest. Gerdur extended her invitation to you as well, and I think you need it more than I do.”


    Äelberon looked around the meager house and shook his head. “They are extended enough as it is, Ralof, and they have already given me too much. You are her brother, I cannot stay. Please, where is Whiterun?”


    “You intend to go then? It is just northeast, just follow the road and you’ll see it, but--"


    “The Jarl needs to know and you would be arrested instantly."  Äelberon interrupted. "From what I learned from Gerdur, he is neutral, but leans Imperial. They will see my cuirass and we both know, I would at least get into the city.”


    Ralof bent his head and frowned. Äelberon was right. The candlelight outlined the Elf’s features. Grim and tired, feverish. Both men now knew he was struggling with the effects of poison. There was no other explanation for his symptoms. Probably that damn torture master, thought Ralof. Hopefully he would get to the Temple in time.


    Wearily, Äelberon rose from the chair and headed to the door. “Koor.” The dog immediately got up and followed his Master. “Ralof,” Äelberon spoke, pausing at the open door. “I will not forget your kindness today.”


    “And I will not forget yours, Elf.”



    The air had turned brisk as Äelberon left Riverwood, following the road northeast towards Whiterun. He had modified the bearskin sack into a large bindle to make carrying it by himself easier, but it was still heavy, and it slowed him down. It was close to sunset and he did not want to lose what little light remained. Koor kept pace with his Master, his nose to the ground, tracking. They heard howling in the distance, and Äelberon dropped the bindle to ready his sword.


    The wolves came from a small rock outcropping at a bend in the river. They were no match for his blade, but he needed to take a few moments afterwards to recover from the dizziness before he could continue, hoisting the bindle to his shoulder with difficulty.


    He cleared the falls and headed North along the road; the sunset coloring the tundra in vibrant hues of orange, purple, and yellow, competing fiercely with the sky which put on its own display of burning orange against a blue backdrop. It was breathtakingly beautiful and Äelberon stopped to marvel at it. So different from the forests. By the Gods this was glorious country! There were farm houses scattered about the outskirts of a large, walled city. The farms were quaint, with a distinct yellowish wash to the walls and a teal-colored one for the doors. The carvings that decorated the farms were Nordic in design. Wheat and vegetable farms dotted the landscape and villagers were running.


    Running? Why? Then he heard a loud stomp and a low bellow. He and Koor followed the sound, quickening their pace.


    Three warriors had cornered a giant at one of the farms. Two women and a man. The man, of dark complexion, was clad in a dark heavy armor, his helm featuring a wolf motif, while the two women seemed to prefer lighter gear, though upon closer inspection, one of the women was clad head to toe in what looked like Draugr armor to Äelberon. He had seen illustrations of it in his research of Nordic culture. He could only imagine where she had obtained it. She was shooting the giant with arrows while the other two distracted it with sword and shield, but one of them, the younger woman, was inching too close to the beast. If she was caught under that giant's step...


    Äelberon thought quickly, putting down his bearskin bindle. He lept over the fence, knelt on one knee, and drew his bow with full force, gasping when the pain surged through his side. But time always seems to stand still when he aims. His mind focusing solely on the target, forgetting everything else, even pain. His target selected, he blinked slowly and exhaled... His arrow easily found its mark, piercing the giant's eye, delving deep into the brain. It fell to the ground, dead. 


    Koor circled the carcass and the female in Draugr armor approached as he stood up. Her hair was a windblown auburn and she had green war paint; three bold slashes that dominated her face.  She looked as though she belonged in the hunt, and her countenance was fierce. She looked Äelberon straight in the eye, her gaze proud when she spoke. A low voice, strong. “You handle yourself well. You could make for a decent Shield-Brother.”


    “Shield-Brother?” Asked Äelberon, his eyes questioning. He knew this word. He had read this somewhere, no, he did not read this somewhere. He knew this word from before. It was used by his family, but his memory was failing him. Someone in his family...


    Confounded fever!


    It made him lose focus and he was already breaking out in a terrible sweat. He hoped the warriors had not noticed. He put away his bow and hoisted the bearskin sack over his shoulder. This, at least, hid the trembling, which was now constant.


    "An outsider, eh? Never heard of the Companions?" She raised her head haughtily and continued, her pale grey eyes blazing with pride. "An order of warriors. We are brothers and sisters in honor. And we show up to solve problems if the coin is good enough.”


    The Companions. That was a name he knew. They were in Skyrim, aye. There was, in his family, a Companion. Long ago. So long ago. His memory was indeed failing him, for Altmer revered their ancestors and he could not even remember the name now. For coin, she said. Then now, it was similar to the Fighter’s Guild in Cyrodiil. He had done some work for them off and on, especially when they needed extra pair of hands to hunt vampires and daedra.  It earned him coin and right now, he did not have much. From past experience, these guilds usually provided their members with room and board. Hmm, it seemed a likely place for him to go; where he could earn his keep until he could resume tracking Vingalmo. 


    And then he remembered.


    Nords assumed much of the Altmer, that they were only mages, but the Huntress was wrong. He was not the only warrior in his family. His father was a soldier and the Companion’s name was Henantier. He cleared his throat.


    “May I join the Companions?” He asked. May I? Since when do you beg, Old Mer?


    “Not for me to say.” Replied the Huntress. “You'll have to talk to Kodlak Whitemane up in Jorrvaskr. The Old Man's got a good sense for people. He can look in your eyes and tell your worth. If you go to him, good luck.”


    She and her companions nodded as he turned away from the group and headed back towards the road. Their eyes followed him for a bit as he paused at the stables.


    “Is that a High Elf?” Asked Farkas, turning to his Shield-Siblings, “Aren’t they usually mages? He looks a bit funny.” Farkas shrugged. This was the first High Elf he had ever really seen up close. Usually it was only the Thalmor Justiciars who passed by the city and they never stopped for conversation. Not that Farkas wanted to talk to them.  Now, why was Ria just staring, like somebody had bashed her in the head with something?


    “I have heard of them being pure warriors before, but it seems very rare." Replied Aela. "Usually, while tall, they are slight of build and are barely able to wield anything but the lightest of weapons, yet alone wear heavy armor.  That is why they wear their Elven design, it is much lighter. Bah! They make poor warriors. Weak.  But this one is different." Her eyes narrowed while she scrutinized Aelberon's form. “At any rate, he can certainly use a bow. It’s really up to Kodlak to decide. Best we head back to Jorrvaskr now, the giant has been taken care of and we'll have coin to collect.”


    Farkas and Aela began to walk along the road as well, watching Aelberon from behind. He was tall, she noted, with long, silver-white hair. Wait, where was Ria? Aela turned around and saw the Imperial still standing, staring at the Altmer as he walked. “Ria!” Aela barked, “Get a move on.”


    The young Imperial snapped to attention.


    “Oh…” She said absently and followed her Shield-Siblings, her brow furrowed. She had seen that silver-white hair before... memories, flooding. They came and attacked her village, snarling and green, screeches piercing, driving them from the mine, her ma holding her while she cried, frightened.  And then he came, shining and silver atop his steed, the color of purest mountain snow, the sunset along the vineyards making him glow. It was said that Pelinal Whitestrake glowed like that, the Star-made Knight, and Ria remembered...


    A knight once stopped, stopped for a nothing village of the West Weald and his hair was silver-white...



    “Koor, come.” The dog followed as Äelberon continued to Whiterun, passing the stables. That's when she caught his eye.


    He could never resist a noble face. 


    Now that was a fine steed. Äelberon paused and admired it, as the trio of warriors passed him. A large black mare snorted loudly and looked straight at him, stomping her foot. That one had spirit, he smiled; a real fire in her eyes. If the coin from the Companions was good enough, he’d buy her...


    He groaned softly as the dizziness suddenly returned and he teetered a bit before he steadied himself against a barrel and was able to resume walking. It had grown so bitterly cold, yet he could not stop sweating.


    The trio of warriors had already disappeared into the city when Äelberon approached the heavy, carved wooden gates to Whiterun, only to be stopped by a guard. The guard studied the stranger and frowned. Hmph!  A High Elf.  A bulky one at that, clad in Imperial heavy armor, with a large bindle swung over his shoulder. And his face looked terrible.  An older Elf, his lined face grizzled with silver stubble; his complexion drawn, clammy, and pale, with profound dark circles under his red-orange eyes that were glazed with fever. Intense, bright, Elven eyes, unnatural, he thought.


    He never liked their eyes. The glance was always too sharp.


    The Elf's breathing was labored and his knuckles were white; his large hands trembled as they barely supported the weight of the bindle. His body shivered uncontrollably in the cold, despite his large frame. The guard crossed his arms over his chest, puffing himself slightly to look bigger. He wasn't going to let him in, who knew what pestilence he carried? The dragon attack at Helgen was a good enough excuse as any, best use that and send the sick Elf off to another city. Let them deal with him or let him die on the way. The Talos hater.


    “Halt." Commanded the guard. "Whiterun is closed to visitors with the dragons about.”


    Fool, did he LOOK like he was making a social call?! He was losing his patience. Äelberon steadied himself and spoke slowly, between breaths, staring hard at the guard. “I have... news... from Helgen...  of the Dragon attack.”


    And he waited, while the guard slowly processed the information. Come on, let me in, you fool, please, Äelberon thought, as he blinked hard and exhaled, fighting the dizziness. Not now, damn it. He clenched his jaw and closed his eyes, thinking of something else. Of golden tundra fields and tall pine forests. Of snow-covered peaks and lazy river banks. Of the good people that so desperately needed him to deliver this news... It helped and the dizziness subsided as he furrowed his brow and then slowly opened his eyes, gaining strength. 


    “You may enter the city, but we will be watching you.” Warned the guard.


    The heavy doors opened and Äelberon entered the city, nodding to the guard in gratitude, Koor following close behind.


    Requiem allows for recycling materials (armor and weapons).


    Straag Rod Book 1 ToC

    Prelude, Chapters I & II  *  Chapter IV 


36 Comments   |   Valric and 3 others like this.
  • Caladran
    Caladran   ·  March 7, 2019
    Gotta love Koor! Poor Äelberon with the fever and still going on. o: I like the tiny details you've put in. :)
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Gotta love Koor! Poor Äelberon with the fever and still going on. o: I like the tiny details you've put in. :)
        ·  March 7, 2019
      Yes, can you tell I love dogs? I feel super weird that I don't have one now. 
      • Caladran
        The Long-Chapper
        The Long-Chapper
        The Long-Chapper
        Yes, can you tell I love dogs? I feel super weird that I don't have one now. 
          ·  March 7, 2019
        Yes, I can see it. My mom has dogs so I understand.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  October 6, 2015
    Thank you very much, Rhoth.  I'm glad you were able to get it onto your Kindle. 
  • Rhoth
    Rhoth   ·  October 6, 2015
    Chapter 2 down.  Good stuff again!  Aelberon definitely seems like a fully realized character already.
    TGFKindle.   I was able to sit down and read this all in one go before bed last night.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  September 10, 2015
    If I don't put humor in it, I would be super depressed. Yeah, Ronnie, a teeny aspect of Altmeri Culture I made up. He's like my first lawful good character. He's a good boy and follows his tenets... most of the time. 
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  September 10, 2015
    There was a lot more humour in this chapter than the last and that change of pace was refreshing and needed in a work this size. Also, we found out more about Ronnie () and what he finds acceptable in order to achieve his objectives. I'm really glad he re...  more
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  September 8, 2015
    @Idesto - thanks. Glad you think so. I am eagerly waiting for Shibby's next update. I miss him. 
  • Idesto a'Shinbira
    Idesto a'Shinbira   ·  September 8, 2015
    Only 2 Veloth? I often take more! Worth it though, trust me 
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  September 7, 2015
    @Veloth, they become more forgiving with regard to length. Glad you're still around. Lol
  • Veloth the Prophet
    Veloth the Prophet   ·  September 7, 2015
    Wow this a long one, took me two sittings to finish 
  • Andrew Shepherd
    Andrew Shepherd   ·  July 21, 2015
    check out my new blog. Let me know what you think