Straag Rod: Book 1, Part 1, Chapter IV


    1st of Sun's Dusk, 4E 201


    Kodlak Whitemane woke with a start, covered in sweat, breathing heavily. He lay there in the dark for a few moments, processing everything he had just seen, while his pounding heart steadied itself. He did not want to lose the memories, the details. He rose from his bed and walked the halls of the living quarters, taking in his dream. He could hear the loud snores of the twins to his left and smiled. He checked to his right; their doors were open.


    He frowned. Skjor and Aela were not there. Many nights they did not sleep at Jorrvaskr and Kodlak worried. The blood of the Beast was strong in them.  Would it be their undoing? He walked back to his desk and rummaged through the drawers; taking out a quill, an inkwell, and a small book. He tried to sit at the desk, but grew restless. He needed fresh air. The Beast Blood stirred in him too. He donned a heavy bearskin cloak over his nightshirt and ventured outside.


    It was cool and the sky was clear,  Masser and Seconda shining brightly. It was still quite dark, but it would be dawn soon. He sat at one of the tables close to a flaming brazier. There was plenty of light and the fresh, cool air brought some clarity to his thoughts. In the distance he heard the howling of wolves and his suspicions were confirmed. He closed his eyes wearily.


    Would they even listen?


    Kodlak was ageing, approaching the twilight of his years and his dreams of Sovngarde were becoming more intense, more vivid. But this dream was different. He gathered the cloak about his wide shoulders, drew ink from the well and opened the book, pausing a moment to collect his memories before setting the quill to the blank page.



    1st of Sun's Dusk


    I stood at the gates of Sovngarde, last in a line of Harbingers that began with Ysgramor. It was as if I was shrouded in a mist and could see, but not clearly. The sky glowed with stars and vibrant auroras and the landscape consisted of mountain meadows, covered with flowers and grasses. I was in Paradise. The Hall of Valor loomed ahead and Tsun, mighty and tall, stood at the great whalebone bridge, granting passage to each of the Harbingers. I eagerly watched, until it came to be Terrfyg’s turn. I watched Tsun cross his great arms over his chest and deny him passage. Then there was a rumble that brought Terrfyg to his knees and sadness to my heart. A large, savage wolf charged into the line of Harbingers and pulled Terrfyg towards Hircine, who laughed, welcoming him with open arms.  Terrfyg seemed regretful, but also eager to join Hircine after a lifetime of service as a Beast.


    Then I saw every next Harbinger turned away from Sovngarde and enter the Hunting Grounds of their own accord. Until it came to me, and I saw great Tsun on the misty horizon, his battleaxe glistening in the perpetual twilight, beckoning me. It appeared that I had a choice.


    And then, I saw a form in the distance. At first my visions were clouded. I could not tell if it was man or beast, only that it was surrounded by light. At first it was winged, as a dragon or a great eagle or hawk, I could not tell, the light radiating from it was so bright that it was hard to see. Hard to see, yet it did not hurt to look into it. Gods, I hope I am remembering this properly. Then it took the form of a grey wolf, and finally the form of a great snow bear. Then the forms merged and became obscure, taking aspects of all of them. Only the eyes remained the same. Wise, knowing eyes, of a peculiar red-orange shade, yet with their gaze I was instantly comforted, the sadness in my heart turning to courage. As the form drew closer, I saw that it was no beast at all, but an Altmer, an Elf, bearing shield and sword in his hands and a great golden bow upon his back, his silver-white hair longer than any hair I had ever seen. He first stared at Hircine in defiance and then his keen eyes met mine. He slowly nodded, and together we turned to face the same wolf who dragged away Terrfyg. Then he and I drew weapons together. Our battle cries like thunder…


    I realize this is only a dream, but a strong enough dream to inspire a man like me to take to writing, so it must be of some import. Ha! Perhaps that Bard Battle Born is rubbing off on me some. Heard him sing the other day. Boy is constantly jotting things down on that notebook of his. Should I off to Solitude and the two of us join the Bard’s College? Him, yes. Me? No, definitely not!



    Kodlak put down the quill, closed the journal and stared out into the training circle, lost in thought. He sighed and felt his blood stir. He would give in one last time and shrugged off the bearskin cloak, walking with heavy steps towards the Underforge. Only when inside, did he let his heart finally swell, feeling the transformation come on, as the night slowly lost its daily battle with the dawn.


    2nd of Evening Star, 4E 201


    Äelberon entered the city; the cobblestone streets and heavily carved buildings, despite his pain, made him smile. This was a true Nordic city. The noises of children playing, people hustling about their daily business, readying themselves for their evening meal, filled the air as he walked. The warm fires comforting and smoke stacks spewing from each building. They stared at him as he walked past, not angrily, just curious. Most had probably never seen his kind. Bosmer and Dunmer were common, but Altmer, no.


    Only as the Justiciars.


    He paused at a market square. He had to, he needed to put down the bindle; he could not carry it anymore and leaned heavily at the edge of the large stone well that was the center of the Market square, fighting another strong wave of dizziness. He removed a waterskin from the sack and was about to draw water from the well, but his hands trembled and he was having difficulty.


    “New to Whiterun?” A friendly voice asked.


    “Yes,” Äelberon turned, a bit startled.


    A young Nord maid, with cropped red hair in a light blue dress with a tan laced bodice, carrying a basket of mountain flowers met his gaze. She put down her basket on the edge of the well, took the waterskin from his hand, and began to draw water. It was a kind gesture and Äelberon managed a weak smile. He could feel the cold sweat building on his forehead and the back of his neck.


    “You can use the water whenever you like, the river feeds the well, and the water is always fresh.” She continued as she filled his waterskin, “It has never run dry… here.” She handed him his waterskin and he brought it to his lips.


    He had not drunk since the morning and the cold water was like a soothing balm as it traveled down his parched throat. He could feel some strength return to his body as he drank. He wiped his mouth with a grateful sigh and turned to the maid. “Thank you.”


    She smiled and shrugged her shoulders, “It’s no problem at all, but may I ask you a question, traveler?”






    “That is my name. I do not think you will want to call me ‘traveler’ or ‘stranger’ whenever we speak. I certainly do not wish to call you ‘Maid who carries a basket of flowers’.” His tired eyes twinkled a bit. The water was helping and he was feeling more himself.


    “Oh, I see.” The Nord smiled, a sincere one, “I’m Ysolda, I help out Hulda at the Bannered Mare, the inn just across from us.” She pointed. “You may want to spend the night there.” She leaned closer to Äelberon and whispered. “But if you chop wood for her, she’ll give you a room for free.”


    “Duly noted and thank you again, Maid who bears flowers.” He whispered back and she again smiled, understanding his joke. “And your question?” He pressed.


    “Sorry! I get carried away sometimes. Did you see any Khajiit traders outside the city when you entered?”


    “The caravans?”




    “I am sorry, Ysolda, I did not see any. But they do stop at Whiterun?” He asked.


    “That they do. They are not allowed in the city, though.” She paused, “What brings you to Whiterun?”


    “I have important news for the Jarl.” His tone was suddenly serious and his face became grim.


    “Oh,” She replied, noticing how his face changed expression. “Something terrible must have happened, because when I tried to leave the city today to check for the caravan, they would not let me past the gates. Follow me, the Jarl is in Dragonsreach. I was just heading there myself when I saw you at the well.”


    Äelberon nodded, hoisting his bindle to his shoulders. “Thank you, Ysolda. Let us go.”


    The pair walked up the steps and entered a courtyard at the center of which was a great tree, surrounded by lavender plants and benches. The tree was dead. Äelberon knew the type of tree. The branches were unmistakable, even in death. In its day, this was a child of the great Eldergleam. The sanctuary was in Skyrim. If he survived, he would make a pilgrimage to see its parent.


    If he survived...


    He could not think on that now, and he gazed at the tree again. What had killed its child? They continued to walk and to his right, he spied the building. He knew this building very well, hearing stories of it in his youth. It was a boat once, he smiled. He knew of boats. They had carried it all the way from the sea and used timber from Atmora to turn it into their home. “Jorrvaskr…” He said softly.


    She turned to him, surprised. What would an Elf know of Jorrvaskr? “That’s right, Jorrvaskr.  Mead Hall for the Companions. Grand building, isn’t it?” She continued, “If you look left, you will see the Temple of Kynareth and the Hall of the Dead. We’re in the Wind District. Whiterun has three. The market we just passed is in the Plains District, and Dragonsreach, well, that’s the Cloud District.”


    They started up the steps to Dragonsreach. The city was bathed in the warm light of sunset, enhancing the glow of the braziers and catching the light of the waterfalls that cascaded throughout the city. There was a nip in the air and Äelberon could see clouds building in the distance with the occasional flash of lightning. A thunderstorm. Probably common in the tundra plains due to the flat terrain. They approached the great carved double doors of Dragonsreach and Ysolda stopped and turned to Äelberon, noting the terrible state of his armor and his travel-worn face. He was so pale, she could sense his sickness, but she also sensed strength. “Here we are.” She spoke. “I know you have made a difficult journey to reach the Jarl.” She knelt her head down, looking worried, “Whiterun thanks you. In these times with the war and all, most would’ve just walked away. When we enter, I’ll leave you to deliver your message. I don’t want to hear it. I’m afraid.” She bent her head and sighed, clutching her flower basket close to her.


    Äelberon slowly put down his bindle, and faced her, lifting her chin gently with his armored hand, tilting her head to meet his gaze. Against the bright flames of the braziers, she saw the lines on his face more clearly. He was much older than he appeared at the well. “Ysolda, my dear child," He said gently, the eyes kindly "It is always darkest before the dawn.” 


    She didn't know what to say, but his words gave her sudden hope. Without thinking, she took a blue mountain flower from her basket and gave it to him. She didn't know why she did it, it was silly. What would a warrior do with a flower? But instead of laughing at her, he took the flower and nodded, smelling it before placing it at his belt.


    It had a fresh, light scent. After all the ugliness of today, the violence and urgency, the flower was a thing of beauty, and Äelberon appreciated the gesture. He placed a hand on her shoulder and squeezed, out of respect and gratitude. "Thank you, flower maiden," He said, his tired eyes warm. 


    And then with surprising strength, he threw wide open the great wooden doors to Dragonsreach, hoisted his bindle onto his shoulder, and stepped inside, letting the waning light of the sun into the Hall.



    Irileth heard the doors loudly swing open and saw him approach while the Jarl spoke to Avenicci. They were arguing, they frequently did lately. She didn't pay attention. She was in charge of Balgruuf’s person. What was an Imperial soldier doing in Dragonsreach? She narrowed her eyes. Too tall for an Imperial.


    An Altmer!


    What Thalmor trickery was this? She readied her sword and began her approach. Balgruuf caught her movement out of the corner of his eye, as he spoke to Avenicci.


    Äelberon noticed the Dunmer, clad in ebony, a kingly armor. She approached him without fear and the two came face to face, her sword drawn. He dwarfed her.


    She looked up, her chin out in defiance. An Altmer for sure, but no Thalmor. This one had the presence of a warrior and the lines betrayed his age. At least 200, perhaps more. She narrowed her eyes and spoke, her voice commanding. No Mer intimidated her. “What is the meaning of this? Visitors are not allowed with the Dragon attack.”


    So they had heard then, thought Äelberon as he put down the bindle. “Riverwood is in danger.” He replied.


    “What is the nature of the danger?”


    Äelberon tilted his head to the side; he could sense she was throwing rank a bit. Bah! There was no time for her insecurities. If his intention was truly violence, she would have been dead already, even in his current state. But that was certainly not his intention. His voice took on an air of authority. “My message is for the Jarl.”


    “Any news you have for the Jarl, you can share with me first.” She tightened her grip on her sword.


    Äelberon squared his jaw and spoke slowly. “My message… is for the Jarl.” His eyes gesturing to the Jarl.


    Irileth stared down the Altmer who responded in kind. Hmph, this was no mere brute soldier. Who was he and why did he want to speak with the Jarl? Irileth grew even more suspicious and began to raise her weapon. Assassins had been targeting the Jarl lately and she would take no chances with this Elf.


    “It’s alright, Irileth. I want to hear what he has to say.” Interrupted the Jarl.


    She relaxed the grip on her sword, though she still frowned. “Come with me.”


    Äelberon nodded and followed the Dunmer to the Jarl’s throne, letting out a small sigh of relief when her back turned. He had not wanted to hurt her, but he would have defended himself.


    Balgruuf the Greater sat upon his throne and watched the Soldier approach. An Altmer, yet not a Thalmor.  His ill-fitting Imperial uniform caked in mud and blood; his long, silver-white hair was matted in spots and his lined face was travel-weary. But his gaze was unwavering, a warrior’s gaze mixed with the sharp, keen eyes characteristic of his people. Despite his apparent exhaustion, he carried himself nobly, with a straight back and square shoulders. He was certainly spirited enough to not allow Irileth to intimidate him. She would have done her best if it had come to blows, but she would've been no match for the tall Elf. He looked as if he had seen many battles in his day; more than he and Irileth put together. The Altmer stopped just short of the steps leading to his throne, one foot placed on the first step and bowed slowly before him, hands empty and palms towards Balgruuf. Hmm, respectful, the Jarl noted.


    "So. You were at Helgen? You saw this dragon with your own eyes?" The Jarl asked. He saw the Elf’s eyes sadden as he bent his head and let out a sigh.


    Where to begin, Äelberon thought. Should he tell them about the sky being torn asunder, the screams of the people as Alduin obliterated an entire village? Would the Jarl even be able to comprehend such destruction? This was a very different sort of conflict from the Civil War or even the Great War for that matter. This was the coming of the End Times. How would the Jarl comprehend the end of the world? No, it was too much and the Civil War ravaging Skyrim did not make matters easier. Causing panic and terror would not help these people. He chose his words carefully, giving the information needed without delving too many details.


    “The Imperials were about to execute Ulfric Stormcloak. Then the dragon attacked.”


    "I should have guessed Ulfric would be mixed up in this." The Jarl leaned to his Steward, a thin Imperial who stood at the Jarl’s right side. "What do you say now, Proventus? Shall we continue to trust in the strength of our walls? Against a dragon…”


    As they spoke, debating the merit and consequences of sending troops to Riverwood, Äelberon felt the dizziness return with a vengeance. He was barely able to maintain his balance. He crossed his arms over his chest, head slightly bent, and slowly paced, his eyes following their conversation. They were taking too long to make this decision. Send troops, these people are defenseless. The Jarl raised his voice and Äelberon looked up.


    "Enough! Irileth, send a detachment to Riverwood at once."


    "Yes, my Jarl." She replied.


    Äelberon closed his eyes and felt great relief. Help was coming, Gerdur, just as he had promised.  The Steward protested, but the Jarl put him in his place quickly. Before the Steward left, the Jarl whispered something in his ear, which caused the Steward to disappear briefly up a flight of stairs behind the throne room.


    The Jarl then turned to Äelberon. The Elf’s eyes were closed. Was he ill? "Well done.” Began the Jarl.  The Elf opened his eyes and gazed at the Jarl. Ah, no, probably just in need of a night’s rest and some warm mead, thought the Jarl. Seeing as he now had the Elf’s attention, Balgruuf the Greater continued. “You sought me out, on your own initiative. You've done Whiterun a service, and I won't forget it.”  The Steward emerged from the stairs and quickly handed something small to the Jarl.  Balgruuf the Greater then beckoned the Elf to him and continued. “Here, take this as a small token of my esteem." He stood and bade Äelberon hold out his hand. In it was placed a flawless amethyst.  Äelberon nodded in respect and closed his hand over the stone. The Jarl sat upon his throne again and stroked his beard. "There is another thing you could do for me. Suitable for someone of your particular talents, perhaps.” He stood up again and beckoned Äelberon to follow. “Come, let's go find Farengar, my court wizard. He's been looking into a matter related to these dragons and... rumors of dragons."


    Balgruuf led Äelberon to a room to the left. In it was an alchemy lab, an enchanting table, and another larger table, scattered with rolls of paper, scrolls, quills, and ink.   Äelberon could not help but smile, he had seen the quarters of many mages in his time. His tiny room at the Tap and Tack in Bruma was no better. Ah damn, could he even get back to Cyrodiil? 


    "Farengar is probably puttering around in his lab. Day and night. I'm not sure he ever sleeps."


    “Most mages do not, my Jarl. The magicka tends to keep them awake for long stretches.” Commented Äelberon. It certainly kept him up many nights. They were greeted by a Nord mage with prominent sideburns.


    "Farengar, I think I've found someone who can help you with your dragon project. Go ahead and fill him in with all the details."


    Farengar wrinkled his nose. This was the person to fetch the Dragonstone? He looked terrible, he wouldn’t get past the first chamber. He glanced at the Jarl about to protest, but the Jarl crossed his arms over his chest and waited. The Wizard cleared his throat. "So the Jarl thinks you can be of use to me? Oh yes, he must be referring to my research into the dragons. Yes, I could use someone to fetch something for me. Well, when I say fetch, I really mean delve into a dangerous ruin in search of an ancient stone tablet that may or may not actually be there."


    “What does this have to do with dragons?” Asked Äelberon, his eyes narrowing.


    "Ah, no mere brute mercenary, but a thinker - perhaps even a scholar? You see, when the stories of dragons began to circulate, many dismissed them as mere fantasies, rumors. Impossibilities...”


    Äelberon was feeling nauseous, while he listened to Farengar. The wizard certainly took his time to get to the point. 


    “One sure mark of a fool is to dismiss anything that falls outside his experience as being impossible. But I began to search for information about dragons - where had they gone all those years ago? And where were they coming from?" He opened his mouth to continue, but Äelberon cut him short.


    “So what do you need me to do?” In another time or place, he would have relished the opportunity to share knowledge with another scholar, but now was not the time.


    "I, ah, learned of a certain stone tablet said to be housed in Bleak Falls Barrow - a 'Dragonstone,' said to contain a map of dragon burial sites. Go to Bleak Falls Barrow, find this tablet - no doubt interred in the main chamber - and bring it to me. Simplicity itself."


    Äelberon frowned and furrowed his bushy silver eyebrows. It was painfully obvious that this mage had never once fought the undead. In Skyrim they were called draugr. If the tomb was filled with them, the former servants of the dragon priests, then it would not be “Simplicity itself” but a dangerous mission not to be taken so flippantly. Weapons of silver would need to be crafted and he would need far better armor than what he currently had. He would need time to prepare. The Jarl spoke, interrupting Äelberon’s thoughts.


    “Succeed at this, and you'll be rewarded. Whiterun will be in your debt.”


    Äelberon closed his eyes. He could not abandon these people, not after they had shown him such kindness. They did not know what they were up against. The Civil War was nothing. “It will be done.”


    He did not know why he said that he would do it, for he knew that he would not survive the night. And yet, he gave his word that it would be done. He left Farengar’s lab and made his way to the double doors, stopping only to pick up his bindle.


    Koor was waiting for him outside, his breath visible in the night air. Äelberon heard the sounds of thunder and looked up. The storm was getting closer, ominous. He sat at the steps and packed the amethyst into the sack, and removed his waterskin. The water did not help this time and he threw the waterskin  back in frustration. Koor rested his head on Äelberon’s knee and he rubbed the animal behind the ears. “Where do we go now, Koor?”


    The dog looked up at his Master. He put his free hand on his head, rubbing his forehead in a futile attempt to stop the throbbing pain. This was new. He stared at his hands which trembled almost continuously now, regardless of whether he was holding something heavy or not. First his extremities, now the core of his body was affected. It was getting worse. Confounded poison.


    “Well boy? The Bannered Mare or Jorrvaskr, eh? You tell me. You tell me where I go to die.” 


    The dog put his head back on his Master’s knee and snorted and Äelberon saw the husky’s sky blue eyes shift towards the Bannered Mare.  Äelberon managed a grin and pulled at Koor’s ear. What was the word in Bruma the Nords there used? Ah, he remembered.


    “Milk drinker.” He chided and Koor uttered a low, comical howl and yawned in protest. “Yes, I am tired too."


    The boy was right. The Bannered Mare was the safe choice. A few strokes of a wood cutter’s axe and he would have a free place to stay, a warm fire, and food. He would die peacefully in his sleep. He was only tempted a few seconds. Koor was a terrible influence at times.


    “Ne...” He said softly, shaking his head. He was no wood-chopper. He was a Knight of the Crystal Tower. He was a Knight-Paladin of Auri-El. He would earn his deathbed at Jorrvaskr. Through whatever means the warriors there deemed necessary. “Sorry, Koor. No Bannered Mare. Come.”


    He hoisted the bindle onto his weary shoulder and headed towards the Mead Hall. It would honor the one who came before him. Äelberon turned his fever-bright eyes to the night sky above him as he walked. He had one more prayer in him.


    “Auri-El, I leave my fate to you…”



     Straag Rod Book 1 ToC

    Chapter III    Chapter V


17 Comments   |   Valric and 4 others like this.
  • Caladran
    Caladran   ·  March 17, 2019
    I really liked Kodlak's journal description on Albee's arrival. Got me little teary eyed. :) I also Albee's gentleman and knightly manners.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  November 11, 2015
    Thanks, SpottedFawn, I'm glad you're liking it. I cringe sometimes at my earlier chapters, but that's just what they are, earlier chapters.
    Oh, I wish somebody would draw fanart too. I like his look in the game. I made him look all old and crusty, b...  more
  • SpottedFawn
    SpottedFawn   ·  November 11, 2015
    This is my favorite chapter so far! Ah, I wish someone could draw fanart of Albee and Koor. :) I love stories that have a dog sidekick in them, and a pretty husky to boot. I love how clear Albee's personality is, he's definitely a hero readers can get att...  more
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  October 5, 2015
    Thanks so much for reading, Karver. It's appreciated. 
    I don't take it the wrong way at all. To me, those are the "boring" parts too! I have 3500+ hours in the game, I hear ya, but I have friends who have never played Skyrim before and they ate up t...  more
  • Karver the Lorc
    Karver the Lorc   ·  October 5, 2015
    So I´ve read second and third chapter and I´m really enjoying it. Albee seems like a nice fella. I´m certainly looking forward to his meeting with Kodlak.
    Your writing is very entertaining and it really helps me - don´t take this the wrong way, plea...  more
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  July 25, 2015
    Requiem is requiem. It is an amazing overhaul. I'll put it to you this way, after Requiem, I can play vanilla on Legendary with a no armor character and die very little.
    You probably won't need your armor mod set for Sylvano. The Aetherium set is in...  more
  • Andrew Shepherd
    Andrew Shepherd   ·  July 24, 2015
    I'm trying to install requiem now with mod installer and minimal other mods so I can experience it properly. Hopefully it won't crash as much this time.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  July 24, 2015
    Thank you Andrew. I'm glad you enjoyed it. In gameplay, he's at the Soul Cairn now and probably suffering just as much. It's an extremely difficult portion of the game with the Requiem Overhaul installed. 
  • Andrew Shepherd
    Andrew Shepherd   ·  July 24, 2015
    Great character building here Lissette, already I am emotionally invested in Albee!
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  June 16, 2015
    Yeah, poor Albee. This was all done to explain why he's such a low-level derp in the beginning, yet he's such a badass in his backstory.  
    Writing his encounters were fun too.