Straag Rod: Book 1, Part 1, Chapter VIII


    13th of Evening Star, 4E 201


    He sat at a small desk in the very room where the Companions had housed him during his illness. Its original purpose was to serve as sort of a study for Shield-Siblings that wished to learn more of the lore of Skyrim and of the Companions, but Vilkas kept his materials in his own quarters and the room went unused. The desk was wooden, with clean, simple lines and was pushed against the wall, as if doing so would somehow give the room more space, he smiled as he took a bite of his apple, relishing the taste of the crisp fruit. It was perfect, not too sweet and just the right temperature. He set the fruit down upon a closed book. Normally, he would not commit such a crime against a book, but there was little writing space, and Äelberon’s tendency to spread out when he worked had resulted in him commandeering the enchanting station that shared space with the the desk, laying additional books upon it.  


    Rynandor would have chided him, but Äelberon was no enchanter. Never would be. Aye, he knew the basics of soul gems and could recharge an enchanted weapon, but that was it and that was only begrudgingly learned at the Crystal Tower.  The consumption of souls bothered him, and he could not fathom how black souls were still even used. It was illegal in many places now.  He much preferred unenchanted weapons.   


    He was dressed in a plain set of brown monk robes given to him by Danica Pure-Spring as a gift and Ysolda had visited him several times while he recovered, to deliver Danica’s gift and to bring him more books to read when he had exhausted those of Jorrvaskr. He welcomed her company, as she told him more about the city. Of the various shops and the people, of the feud between the Battle-borns and the Grey-manes. He yawned, steam visible as he exhaled, taking a sip of cold milk from a tankard and another bite of the apple, before turning the page of the book he was currently reading.


    It was early morning, just before dawn and he had already been up for some time working at this desk. Sketching detailed schematics and studying The Craftsman’s Manual. As he read, he stretched the back of his arms, feeling his aching muscles and bones crack and protest, stiffer than usual in the chilly air of his quarters. He turned the page and then gathered an old burlap cloak about his shoulders, drawing the hood over his bound hair before he held his hands together and blew into them as he read, trying to warm them up. It did little. Ha! Just like the old Tap and Tack. He would just have to get used to the colder mornings, or get a better cloak, he chuckled to himself. Koor helped, as he lay at his master’s feet, lightly sleeping, and Äelberon ran his bare feet over the dog’s soft fur. A hide upon the floor would help. He could do this. Something shaggy and thick, a bear perhaps?


    He flipped another page and continued to read, but he was distracted. Eight days, he thought, tracing the text of the book absently with his pale fingers. He had not known such a severe illness since just after the Tower fell.


    The Tower… he still dreamt of it. And even when awake, he could still imagine walking through its many rooms, feeling the white stone upon his feet, hearing the click of his plated armored boots as he quickly alighted its many steps, seeing the light filter down from its crystal dome, smelling the flowers, the yellow flowers at his post. All, as if he was there only yesterday.  He still dreamt of so many things…


    He snapped to attention and resumed reading.


    Only for his mind to wander again. His room at the Tap and Tack had been smaller, so do not complain, Old Mer. Bah! He was done with reading, shutting the book with a hard snap, feeling Koor start. Time to get up anyway, Milk Drinker, he grinned, vigorously rubbing the dog’s fur again with his foot.  He then relaxed into the creaky wooden chair that barely supported his bulk, and glanced around the room, taking another bite of his apple. Aye, ‘twas bigger.


    In accordance to Kodlak’s instructions, the quarters were to remain his. It was more than Äelberon had expected and he was extremely grateful for the Harbinger’s continued kindness. He was sure it was causing friction within their tight-knit group. That an outsider was already garnering so much favor.  He bent his head and sighed, it was not his intention to cause friction and he would have gladly taken a bed among his Shield-Siblings, but Vilkas had advised him not to refuse the Harbinger’s generosity. Nords take their gift-giving seriously. He had noted the occasional hard stares, especially from the one called Skjor, a hulking Nord with grey hair and one eye. Äelberon assumed he occupied a high position among the Companions. A veteran of the group who was greatly revered by the newer members. The “whelps” as they were called. He had seen him train, he was fierce, and often returned to Jorrvaskr fresh from battle. Skjor had quarters opposite those of the Huntress, Aela, in one wing of the Living quarters. They were not there now and he had his suspicions on those two. He was a Priest, but he was certainly not stupid.


    His quarters were situated in the same hallway as the twins, in another wing. They were definitely there, he smiled. He could hear their heavy snores even when his door was shut and it was not shut this morning. Now that he was more or less back to his old habits, they would take some getting used to.  Tap and Tack had been far quieter. His sharp Elven ears could even hear Tilma sweeping the floors down the hall. He did not envy the old woman’s job. He did his part and kept his space very clean, even insisting that he draw his own water for his bath. She did not need the extra work.


    The small quarters had precisely what he needed.  The enchanting and alchemy were not necessary and would serve simply as storage or another work surface, and he would make no apologies to the enchanters and alchemists of Tamriel either. He had no use for such things. The empty bookshelves were the true gem of the tiny room, for there were ample shelves to store his research materials. In addition, there were chests and sacks for storage, a mannequin to store an armor set he was working on, and racks to store weapons.


    Right now, his eyes found the armor currently on display; the Imperial set from Helgen. The ill-fitting mess that almost got him killed. A gap in the left flank was all it took. He rose from his seat and approached the mannequin, curling his freezing toes as he stepped upon the ice cold floor.  He ran his hands along the steel, judging its condition with his sensitive fingers. Yes, it would be thrown into the smelter today and a new set would be constructed. He had enough steel and he had finished the schematics to construct new armor. New armor that would fit his body. He had lost weight during his illness, but not so much that it would affect the armor and Tilma had taken it upon herself to personally ensure that he would gain it back quickly. The woman was constantly trying to feed him and he did not complain. He smiled, he liked Tilma.  He liked Nords. They were an industrious, hardy, no-nonsense people, filled with good cheer, strength of character, and he found them endearing.  They had been extremely generous to him and it was time to begin the process of returning their kindness.


    He returned to his desk, and sighed in relief when his feet again found Koor’s warm fur. Foot covers, he needed foot covers. He did not care what they looked like, he needed them. From a small cubby hole at the desk, he retrieved a small journal, an inkwell, and a quill, smiling when his hand lightly brushed against Ysolda’s blue flower. It had dried to a darker shade of blue and he could still make out a faint fragrance.  She was a kind child.


    Lying open on the desk was The Bestiary of Skyrim, other books, rolls of paper with drawings of armor schematics, charcoal, and a worn map of Skyrim. It was time to plan. He opened the journal and in a steady, charcoal-stained hand, no longer trembling as he held the quill, wrote atop the first page of the journal. His penmanship was simple yet formal. Longer lines, far different from the typical more squat Nordic runes.


    Bleak Falls Barrow


    He rested the quill upon the page and paused as he took a map of Skyrim and studied it carefully, the apple finding his mouth again. He remember Ralof pointing the very Barrow out to him as they journeyed from Helgen to Riverwood. It was just Southeast of Whiterun upon a small mountain. He resumed his notes, taking a sip of milk. His breath coming out in visible puffs, though he now was oblivious to the cold.


    A large Nordic barrow Southeast of Whiterun


    He refilled his quill and continued to write, occasionally referring to the open book on the desk, flipping pages quickly. He resumed writing…



    Bandits, possibly near the entrance

    Local wildlife


    Dragon Priest?


    He paused. Scamp’s Blood! Hopefully not a dragon priest, but the barrow looked very large and ornately designed, from what he remembered. He needed to be prepared for anything. He was retrieving a Dragonstone. A map of ancient dragon burial sites. The dragon priests served the dragons in ancient Nordic history and the Nords were their slaves. Well, not really. Servants? Evidence suggests they seemed willing to serve the dragons and judging by Alduin's appearance, he could see why. At at rate, it would make complete sense if one guarded this particular barrow. Guarded the stone. Äelberon dipped his quill in the well again and continued, making a new heading. He frowned and then dismissed the notion, he would alphabetize the list later.


    Raw Materials


    Corundum ore

    Iron ore

    Silver ore

    Moonstone ore

    Quicksilver ore

    Fire salts


    Hawk feathers


    Pine pitch




    With these materials he would be able to construct the weapons and armor he would need to venture into Bleak Falls Barrow. At least in Skyrim, barring the fire salts, the silver, the quicksilver, and the most difficult; the moonstone, the majority of the items would be relatively easy to come by. Plenty of game roamed the plains and he was an accomplished hunter. He refilled his quill and started a new heading.


    Weapons and Armor

    Silver scimitar or katana

    Steel shield

    Elven bow


    100 Elven arrows

    60 Elven arrows of fire

    100 silver arrows

    100 steel bolts

    100 silver bolts

    Steel cuirass with pauldrons

    Steel gauntlets

    Steel boots

    Cloak, preferably Bearskin

    Steel helmet


    He was leaning towards the Katana, as it was a better compromise between strength and speed. The scimitar was better suited for dual-wielding, and he preferred using a shield, though he knew himself, he would end up making both weapons simply because he could. He needed a shield. He was an experienced warrior, but he was weak to magic. All Altmer were. He made a mental note to speak with the Priestess Danica about boosting his resistance, especially if he had to deal with a dragon priest or possibly a dragon.


    He knew a way to construct a hood that provided the protection of steel, but also provided the warmth of fur. Skyrim’s climate demanded it. Again, he would use bearskin. The crossbow was the most difficult item on the list. He could not construct one, the intricate gear work and spring mechanism were beyond his current skill at the forge. He would either have to find one, or buy one. He sighed, yet another expense. He took another sip of milk and a bite from his apple. Then he stood and walked to a chest next to his bed, squatted near it, and opened it. He took inventory of its contents. Some steel, iron, several wolf pelts and one bear pelt; the old hide from the bindle. He looked at the weapon racks; only the Imperial bow, a steel sword, and a steel shield. All from Helgen. Leaning on the wall near the weapon racks were two quivers of arrows; one that held 60 iron arrows, the other held a mere 35 steel arrows. That was it. He set his jaw and returned to his desk, turning the page and writing a new heading.



    A bloody damn Horse


    He chuckled to himself, not believing he actually wrote that, but he needed one! His horse had been indispensable in Cyrodiil. A dapple grey charger, named Reman, smaller than the Spitfire at the Whiterun stables. She was a bloody beast and he liked that. Reman was capable, though, carrying his supplies, which allowed him greater mobility. He was calm enough to allow Äelberon to engage his enemies from horseback, though Reman never enjoyed it. A skill he picked up from Cyrodiil. By Auri-El he practically lived on the animal. A horse was top priority on his list. He had gone with the Dunmer, Athis, and asked about the Spitfire yesterday.


    6000 septims.


    The two Mer exchanged glances as Äelberon furrowed his brow, letting out a gust of air and Athis shrugged his shoulders. Horses were food in Morrowind, not something to spend that much money on. It was a steep price, but she was a young, fine animal with spirit, eager for battle. The stableman even told Äelberon her name; Queen Alfsigr. He did not know who this Queen Alfsigr was, but if the charger was any indication of her spirit, she must have been a formidable woman in her time. As of now, he had less than 1000 septims and that was obtained by selling what he had looted from Helgen and a small gift from Aela in acknowledgement for his contribution against that giant. That had been kind of her, for he had not asked for any recompense.  He would consider visiting the stables again today and inquire if the amount was enough for a deposit to at least hold the animal. He continued writing.


    Fur tent

    Leather tent

    Wood for campfires




    Torch oil and flint


    Healing poultices

    Healing potions


    Dried meat




    He put down his quill and reviewed the list carefully, rubbing his scalp with his fingertips, feeling the pressure of a headache begin to build.  He suddenly threw the journal onto the desk hard, and slumped back on the chair in frustration, brooding. Koor lifted his head at the noise. Damn it! He was extremely ill-prepared. “Simplicity Itself” eh? Farengar Secret-Fire was a fool, and Äelberon scowled. He wanted this done when? Now?!  Sure, if he had his equipment from Cyrodiil, this barrow would be nothing, but he did not have ANY of it now! He growled and crossed his arms over his chest in annoyance. He had much to do and being angry about it would land him nowhere, though it felt good to stew. Taking a deep breath, he picked up the journal and set it emphatically back on the desk.


    Use the anger, Old Mer, do not wallow in it.


    It was not the first time he had to start over again, though that time, he at least had decent armor and weapons. Ah, the armor made by his mother, and the golden bow. The cloak of snow fox fur and the one of indigo velvet. And the ring... It was all gone now.  In his lifeless hands...


    Channel it, Äelberon brooded.


    After a moment’s thought, he opened another book, The Holds of Skyrim, and flipped through the pages, studying them carefully. He knew he would have to visit at least four locations for supplies and information. The Reach contained the richest deposits of silver in Skyrim. He would also have to visit the Pale. Dawnstar was its capital and boasted mines of both iron and quicksilver. In the Pale was also situated the Hall of the Vigilants. The Vigilants of Stendarr’s headquarters in Skyrim. Keeper Carcette was expecting him as he had contacted her prior to his capture, hoping that she would have some knowledge of the vampires of Skyrim. He only knew one name. Volkihar… he put down the book and his face darkened. Vingalmo… the original purpose for journeying to Skyrim.  He was always at the back of his mind and this old, grizzled fox was closing in on that death hound.  


    The Rift held Stendarr’s Beacon, a great shrine to the God of mercy and patron of the Vigilants. He would need to take Stendarr’s blessing before he even considered tackling the undead in battle, including Vingalmo and it would be smart to know of more than one location to acquire it. The Hall of the Vigilants also had a shrine.  The only shrine in Whiterun was to Kynareth, so Stendarr would have to fill the void while he was in Skyrim. He had filled the void in Cyrodiil as well, as did Akatosh. Auri-El understood that when he prayed at their shrines, he was praying to Him too. There was no Auri-El outside Summerset Isles and Valenwood. There had been, once, before Cyrod and Skyrim became empires of Men.


    Finally, Eastmarch, to the city of Windhelm. In his studies of the region before his capture, he had heard rumors of a library located deep within Windhelm. Underground. The drunk ramblings of a beggar in Bruma, but it intrigued Äelberon to the point where he considered it worth the trip. Windhelm was an ancient city, the capital of the Nords during the First Era, in a time where Nords held the arcane arts with far more regard. Perhaps it still held some ancient secrets? Tomes he could use to research the coming dragons. At any rate a journey to Windhelm would also satisfy his curiosity. He wanted to know if Ulfric Stormcloak had indeed escaped.


    He drained his tankard of milk and gave Koor the rest of his apple before rising from his chair.  He knew what had to be done. He took the armor from the mannequin and placed it on his bed. He organized his schematics and the journal and set them aside on his desk. The plan was set. It was time.



    Xarxes arse! It was such a terrible fit, Äelberon scowled as he fastened the lacings, rolling his eyes at his muscular, pale legs showing, with their scattering of silver hair. Why the Imperials dressed like this, he could not fathom! It was a skirt! A bloody skirt! But at least Eorlund had taken the time to repair and clean the armor while he was recovering. Auri-El's blessings upon Eorlund Grey-mane, he would have to offer his assistance as repayment. He also needed to ask permission to use the forge, and then visit the smith in the front of the city for permission to use the smelter. That was not going to happen in a monk’s robe. Bah! He was still wearing a skirt. Ah, there was much to do today and dwelling on his exposed legs would accomplish nothing. He had run about the coast of Dusk in far less, but damn it, not in a skirt. He threw on the burlap cloak and headed to the main hall of Jorrvaskr, mindful of his steps as to not wake his fellow Shield-siblings, his feet squashed into boots that were still too tight.  Koor’s footpads silent as he followed his Master.


    The morning sun was just beginning to peek through the doors and windows. Tilma was sweeping as he emerged from the Living Quarters and walked up the staircase. She stopped and disappeared into the kitchen. He lingered by the fire to warm his hands, rubbing them, letting the heat soothe. The doors swung open and Aela and Skjor emerged, looking exhilarated and exhausted at the same time, tossing their weapons roughly to the floor. He nodded to them. Aela nodded back and patted Koor on the head. Skjor grunted.  He grabbed a bottle of mead from a bowl, aye, the Nords decorated their bowls with bottles of mead, not fruits or sweets, but mead, and began to drink as Äelberon continued to warm his hands by the fire. While he drank, he eyed Äelberon.  


    “You still need to prove yourself, whelp.” Skjor said gruffly, joining Äelberon by the fire.


    Äelberon sighed, every day without fail, since he woke, nothing but this from the Nord. He glanced at the Nord, and was about to finally speak when Tilma walked in carrying a pouch.


    “Here dear, I fixed a little bag of food for you, some cheese, bread, and apples. To get your strength back. The milk is fresh in the kitchen. Have as much as you’d like, dearie. You had breakfast this morning, aye?”


    “Thank you, Tilma.” Äelberon smiled, taking the bag and giving her a small hug. “Yes, I ate my morning meal.”


    The old woman smiled and happily resumed her duties at the broom, content that her newest cub was now eating well.


    “Milk drinker…” Muttered Skjor.


    Aela shot him a sharp look.


    The Elf turned slowly to Skjor, pausing for a moment as if to speak but instead nodding slowly as he adjusted the hood of his burlap cloak, tucked the schematics under his arm, and left Jorrvaskr.


    Aela turned to Skjor. “One of these days, I think, you’re going to regret calling him that.”


    Skjor laughed and finished his mead, tossing it to the floor.



    It was a bright sunny day, so he removed the hood of his cloak and took pleasure in the morning sun on his face and the fresh scent of the flowers. He did not hear the hammer at  Skyforge, but he did hear a hammer pounding. He walked towards the sound.


    She was stooped over her workbench, pounding a dent out of an iron cuirass. He had seen her talking with an Imperial soldier when he had first entered the city. One of the Battle-borns he had later learned. Her hands were steady as she slowly beat out the dent.


    “Pardon me, may I speak with you a moment? It is Adrianne, correct?” He asked.


    She turned from her work to face him. A blonde Imperial with a dark complexion, wearing a blacksmith’s apron. “Yes it is. How can I help?” He was an imposing Altmer, but the armor was a terrible fit, almost comical. They were quite tall, she imagined it would be difficult to find a smith to adjust a cuirass properly.


    “You work this forge all day?” Asked Äelberon.


    “Aye, that I do.” She replied turning back to her workbench. “I've got to, if I hope to be as good as Eorlund Gray-Mane someday. In fact, I just finished my best piece of work. It's a sword. I made it for the Jarl. It's a surprise, and I don't even know if he'll accept it. But... Listen, could you take the sword to my father, Proventus Avenicci? He's the Jarl's steward. He'll know the right time to present it to him.”


    “It will be done.” He smiled. Why not? He had to go to Dragonsreach anyway. She stopped her work and quickly went inside and retrieved the greatsword, handing it to Äelberon. It was a fine weapon with clean lines. He balanced it by the hilt with the palm of his hand and she smiled.


    She had never seen a greatsword balanced like that before. The Elf knew how to handle a blade.


    “It is well made,” Commented Äelberon as he balanced it for a few moments.


    “You know how to use a forge?” She asked, as he tested the weapon with a few swings. He was no two-hander, but he handled the weapon well enough for her to smile again. She hoped the Jarl would like it.


    “My mother was an accomplished smith in the Isles and I know a few things of the trade.” He spoke as he held the weapon, getting a feel again for the balance. “There is not always a smith or a fletcher conveniently located in the wilds. I have needed to do many repairs on my own. In fact, I would like to make myself new armor, but I need to break down some older pieces first. The smelter is for ore primarily, but it will break worked metal well enough and I will not disturb either you or Eorlund as I break down the metal. May I use it?”


    “Oh this isn’t my smelter, Eorlund uses it as well. They did not want the smoke of a smelter so close to the palace, so it has always been here. You’re welcome to use it if you need to, I don’t mind. Some company around the forge would be nice.”


    “Thank you, Adrianne, for your generosity. I will head over to Dragonsreach and deliver this for you.” He nodded and began to walk to Dragonsreach, his feet pinching just a bit. At least he could use the smelter. He paused as he passed the tree. Ah, he’d have to visit Danica. As he stood at the tree, gazing upon the dead branches, he felt a tap on his shoulder.


    “North Wind’s Prayer, Sir, discounted healings at the Temple.”


    Äelberon turned to the courier who handed him a flyer. He opened the flyer and read. Ah, was it that close to the 15th already? Poor woman would be swamped. He had even more reason to speak with Danica Pure-Spring now, to offer his services as a healer on that day. But he would approach her after Dragonsreach. He walked up the steps to the Jarl’s palace.



    The Steward was sitting at a table carved in the noble fashion, taking part in his morning meal with the Jarl’s brother. Boiled crème treats. They ate richly, for such foods required refined sugar and sugar was expensive. His family sweetened things with honey instead. It tasted just as delicious. The Jarl was sitting on his throne, his housecarl, the Dunmer, Irileth, standing close by. He overheard the Jarl’s three children arguing as he approached the steward, something about not receiving a dress. Arguing in full view of the public. Äelberon shook his head in disapproval.  Altmer children would do no such thing.


    “Sir, forgive my interruption.” Äelberon spoke, addressing the Steward who looked up.


    It was the Elf! He looked far better than he did when he first came to the palace, what was it, on the 2nd? Only slightly thinner, but still sporting that ill-fitting Imperial armor. Good, Farengar was looking for him. Saved Avenicci the trouble of sending a courier with a summons. “How can I help you?” Avenicci replied, his tone helpful.


    “I have a sword for the Jarl, from your daughter, Adrianne.” He unsheathed the greatsword and presented it to Avenicci, who took it and then proceeded to almost drop it because of its weight.  Äelberon winced and let out a sigh of relief when it did not touch the floor. The girl must take after her mother’s side.


    "From Adrianne, you say?” The Steward replied, his voice rough from attempting to maintain his grip on the weapon, “Ah, this must be that weapon for the Jarl. Poor girl, so eager to prove herself. I'll present it to Balgruuf when his mood is... agreeable.  Thank you. Please, take these few coins, for services rendered."


    20 septims. He had over 1000 now. He would stop at the stables today.


    “Gods, man, let me take that from you before you kill yourself or kill someone else.” Offered Hrongar, who removed the greatsword from a grateful Avenicci and set it upon the table. “You can give it to the Jarl later, we have business to discuss first. About the War.”


    Avenicci sighed and sat heavily upon his chair. Between this Elf and Hrongar, his boiled crème treat was going to get cold.


    “One more thing, very quickly, for I know you wish to resume your meal. Is Farengar available?” Äelberon asked.


    Avenicci was relieved, the Elf would be gone and he could eat in peace in front of Hrongar. The High Elves were a strange bunch though. Very odd manners and customs. Pouring to the left, not watching people chew, using multiple utensils. They reportedly used at least five forks in a meal, in addition to two spoons and four knives. Who does that? “He should be in his study, but be warned, he has been asking for you and he doesn’t seem too pleased.”


    Äelberon walked into Farengar’s cluttered study and was immediately approached by the Nord mage. “Why aren’t you at Bleak Falls Barrow?” He spoke, his voiced raised. “Where is my Dragonstone? The Jarl is not a patient man and neither am I. Now off with you!” Äelberon raised an eyebrow and the Jarl was taking notice of the commotion. The mage continued, poking Äelberon’s chest roughly with his finger. “Incompetent mercenary. It’s obvious you cannot handle a simple task…”


    Both Irileth and the Jarl watched intently.


    Bah! Simple task? It was time to educate this “Scholar”, thought Äelberon. “Are you finished?” Asked Äelberon, his tone impatient as he turned on what his friends in Cyrodiil used to call his “Altmer charm.”


    It was not charming.  


    The mage was taken aback, no one dared speak to him like that. “How dare you--“


    Äelberon took out the journal and pushed it to his thin chest. “Read it.” He commanded, his voice low.


    The mage placed the journal on the table, opened it, and began to read. “It’s a list.”


    “Of course it is a list." He began sarcastically, "It is a list of all the things I need in order to complete this 'simple' task of yours without dying.” Äelberon crossed his arms over his chest and leaned forward, facing the mage. “Do you even know what draugr are?” Äelberon asked.


    “They are the undead Nordic warriors that guard tombs. This is silly.”


    “They are undead, which means they do not respond to traditional weapons. Well, they do, you can cut them up and all, but they still function. You use regular weapons, you will only slow them down and waste your energy getting them to the point where they really cannot cause harm. To really stop them, you need silver.”




    “Yes, silver. Fire-based magicks work as well, as do various Restoration spells of the 'Holy' branch of the School. Some used to be Conjuration spells in the beginning, but the Schools keep bloody changing on me.  No Mysticism? Really! Is that not practiced anymore? No wonder the bloody Master mages never both with them.  Turn undead, Guardian circle, Sunfire, others, but I am sure that as a court mage, you already know this, correct?”


    Farengar let out a gust of air. Altmers…


    Äelberon’s eyes narrowed and his voice darkened. “Now tell me this, mage, have you ever killed an Undead? A Vampire? A Daedra?”


    “No.” Farengar squirmed.


    Äelberon leaned a bit closer, not even bothering to hide his disdain for this fool any longer. “Do you how many of such things I have killed in my 243 years?”




    “Well, why not take an educated guess?” He suggested, his eyes blazing.


    “10?” Guessed the wizard with a gulp.


    The answer took Äelberon by surprise.  And for the first time, they heard the Elf laugh. A great laugh that filled the hall as he threw back his head, slamming his hand hard on the table, making papers and scrolls tremble with the impact of his hand. He laughed so, his eyes watered and his belly ached.  Ah! He could not stay mad at the poor fool! 10! What a daft answer!  Äelberon patted the wizard on the back, making the wizard even more confused.


    It was quite clear, thought Farengar, that this Elf was insane.


    “Thank you for the good laugh, my dear wizard, but you are very wrong. Wizard, you claim that you are learned, so who am I?” His eyes twinkled while he playfully shoved the wizard on the shoulder when he saw how nervous he was.


    Farengar shrugged. “I don’t know.”


    “Ah, I will make this easier on you then. Tell me now, how keen is your knowledge of the High Elves?” Äelberon, asked, making himself more comfortable by leaning back against the table and crossed one leg over the other. His feet hurt. Damn boots were tight.


    Farengar stared at the Jarl, who nodded. It seemed Balgruuf was enjoying the show at his expense. He straightened up a bit and answered the Elf, clearing his throat. “I am well-versed on the histories of all the major provinces of Tamriel. It is part of my duties as court wizard.”


    “Know you of Bet then?” Your pride is coming through, Old Mer. Any one of them could send the Thalmor for you with the imformation you are giving them now. But somehow, deep down, he knew that saying his name would be alright within these halls. I feel like I can say my name in Skyrim. In Skyrim... 


    “Ah, yes, a demon of Molag Bal, sent to Alinor during the Oblivion Crisis, where he terrorized its inhabitants until he was slain along with his massive army of undead and Daedra before the Crystal Tower was razed. It is in the histories of Alinor. A well-known fact.”


    “Very good! Very good! You are keen in your knowledge. My apologies for having questioned it.” Praised Äelberon, “And who was his slayer?”


    “The books only describe him, they do not give his name.”


    “It makes sense.” Äelberon nodded, “There was much upheaval in the Isles after the Tower fell and names can be lost. Do they describe him?”


    Äelberon crossed his arms over his chest,  his head tilted to one side, one eyebrow raised, knowing full well that that book did indeed have a description. He watched Farengar as the wizard recalled the book.


    “Yes, they did. An Elf from the city of Dusk. Pale, tall, clad in a heavy silver armor, with red-orange eyes…” The wizard hesitated, “and long, silver-white hair… Oh…” The Wizard stood back, leaning against the table next to Äelberon, his mouth open as he stared at the Altmer before him. The age was correct. “It’s you! But the book clearly says…” Farengar started.


    “That I am dead? My dear Farengar, while some things are accurate, do you trust everything you read? Especially a book labeled an ‘Official’ History of Alinor, and then widely distributed by the Aldmeri Dominion? History is written by the victors, my friend.” His tone saddened somewhat, “By the victors…” He then cleared his throat and patted Farengar on the shoulder. “No, I am certainly not dead, though they think me thus in my own homeland. Now wizard, will you please let me handle Bleak Falls Barrow as I see fit? Rest assured, I am no brute mercenary seeking coin. I know what comes for you. I am a Knight-Paladin of Auri-El. I have been slaying the undead and Daedra since before your great, great grandfather dwelt on Nirn... My Jarl,” He turned towards Balgruuf the Greater and grew serious. “You have my solemn word, nay, my oath.”


    He bent on one knee and drew his steel sword, holding it horizontal in both hands, his head bent, before continuing. “That by Auri-El’s Will, this will be done, but…” He sheathed his sword and stood up again. "... it will take time. This is not ‘simplicity itself’. It is extremely dangerous. One does not simply walk into a Draugr-infested Barrow. To walk among the undead, and live to tell the tale, takes great preparation.” He walked to the Jarl, his hands in the air, shaking his head. “My Jarl, I ask nothing of you.  I know the Civil War has depleted you of your resources and Skyrim is in chaos. I only ask for the time to prepare for such a task, to raise the funds on my own, to craft my equipment, so that you will then have a warrior at your side when the task is complete.”


    Jarl Balgruuf the Greater liked this Elf. He did not let anyone in the court intimidate him. “You have my approval to proceed as you see fit, Knight-Paladin.” He needed to read that book Farengar was quoting. A massive army of Daedra? What a tale! He knew no one who survived the Oblivion Crisis. Maybe some mages in Winterhold?


    “My Jarl.” Äelberon bowed. “I will take my leave then. I will send word when I am ready to proceed.”


    “Yes,” The Jarl nodded.


    Äelberon turned and nodded at Farengar, took his journal from the table, and left Dragonsreach.



    He walked down the steps. He felt much better knowing that he could now prepare for this mission properly. His stomach growled. He would eat under the tree and rest his pinched feet. It was a fine day, the sun was bright and the birds sang. That was when he saw her. It was the Priestess, Danica Pure-Spring. Alone upon a bench.


    “Danica?” He said softly.


    She looked up. Ah, the Elf! He looked much better, though still pale. She wondered now if that was indeed his natural coloring.

    “May I sit?” He asked.


    She gestured him to sit beside her. He took his place next to her, placing Tilma’s pack next to him on the wooden bench. He leaned forward slightly, turned towards her and took her hand in his. His head was bent, the breeze moving his silver-white hair slightly. Äelberon’s expression was serious, his eyes far away, as he waited a moment before speaking.  He owed her so much. “I was ready to die that night.” He began. “and had made my peace, but..” He looked at her. “Just because one makes peace, does not mean they want to die.”


    “I know.” She replied.


    “Thank you,” he whispered softly, his voice thick with emotion.


    “You would have done the same for me.” She said, turning to him. “It is what we are.” She said gently.


    They sat together quietly for a moment. 


    “I will help you on the 15th if you would like. I have some skill.”


    She smiled at his words. Some skill? He was being modest. Danica had felt his power that night. She could feel even more of it now. “That is kind of you to offer, it would be appreciated.”


    “I will even attempt to look less intimidating.” He smiled. “I can fix the attire, but unfortunately, the height must remain.”


    She laughed and squeezed his hand. He was a kind, kind soul.  He then stared at the tree, its dead branches bare against the blue sky and she heard him sigh. “It’s a shame, isn’t it?” She said. "This is the Gildergreen. It was planted as a seedling in the early years of Whiterun. Disciples of Kynareth could sense something holy in it, and traveled far to hear the winds of the Goddess in its branches. They built the Temple.”


    “Is there nothing that can be done for this tree?” Äelberon asked.  


    She shrugged. Would he possibly? She had wanted to ask Kodlak about sending one of the Companions to Orphan's Rock, but he did not venture into the Temple and she did not dare ask when the Elf was brought in. “Have you heard of the Eldergleam?”


    “Yes, a great tree. Older than Men or Mer. Its sanctuary is in Skyrim, in Eastmarch, I believe. I had wanted to go.” He smiled, his laugh lines crinkling. “I have a feeling I will be heading there sooner than I think.”


    Danica sunk back against the bench and looked up at the Gildergreen, squinting her eyes in the afternoon sun. It was almost warm outside. Almost. “I think the sap from the parent tree can revive its child, but to take the sap, you’ll need to tap into the old magic.” She paused, wrinkling her nose in disgust, “In Orphan’s Rock, a stone lair in Falkreath, near Helgen, dwell Hagravens that have such a weapon.” She shuddered, “They use it to sacrifice spriggans for their dark magicks.  Nettlebane. Could you possibly retrieve Nettlebane for me? I found the location at Farengar’s library, after writing several letters to Winterhold, but look at me, I’m no warrior.” She bent her head in frustration.


    “You saved my life, Danica, so I will do this for you, I promise, but I will need time to prepare, and I will need your help.”


    “My help?”


    He chuckled and put his hand on her shoulder when he saw her tense up. “No, no, no. No fighting for you. That is my department. Just a question.  Hagravens use magic and my race is weak to it and I am still not fully recovered. Is there a way I can boost my resistance to it?”


    “Riften.” She replied.




    “Seek out Dinya Balu in the Temple of Mara at Riften. If your heart is strong, and you undergo certain trials to show your worth and your understanding of her role in Nirn, Mara will sometimes grant her favor to a chosen warrior.”


    “Thank you again, Danica. Riften, it is then. You have my word. You hungry? I am starved. Share lunch with me?”


    “Of course, Äelberon.”


    “Ah, you have been chatting with the Flower Maiden. I thank you for my gift, by the way.”


    Äelberon opened Tilma’s sack and handed the Priestess of Kynareth an apple and the two healers shared their midday meal under the branches of the Gildergreen.



    As Äelberon headed up the steps to Jorrvaskr, he heard the steady beat of a hammer from Skyforge. It was a great structure. The Elves had feared it, he did not know why. He certainly did not. He found Eorlund at the anvil, beating steel into flat sheets. His face focused, his hands steady, his white hair plastered to his back from the efforts of his work. Äelberon had long removed the cloak in the warm midday sun.


    Eorlund had seen the Elf approach, by Talos, he was tall. He stopped hammering and turned to Äelberon.  He was still pale for an Elf, but Eorlund was beginning to suspect that that was his natural coloring. The eyes were bright and very keen, and his carriage was noble. And, it was said, he was a smith. Alvor had mentioned it when he had stopped at Gerdur’s to pick up his supply of lumber for Skyforge. That was several days ago, when the Elf just woke up.


    “So, when are you throwing that Imperial garbage into the smelter?” Eorlund asked, resuming his work at the forge, dipping a hot sheet of metal into the trough. Steam rose as the metal hissed.


    “Very soon, but I do thank you for cleaning it for me.”


    “It was nothing, they make terrible armor. Have you designed yours?”




    Eolund smiled when he heard the Elf’s answer. Okay, show me what you’ve got, Elf. Let’s see if you’re a smith or not. “Show me."


    He let the metal rest on the anvil and put down the hammer. There was a small ledge where a few weapons lay and a great locked chest. Eorlund moved the weapons to the side and Äelberon spread the sheets with the schematics onto the ledge. Eorlund smiled. Ah, this was no fool! The drawings were extraordinary. Precise and detailed with accurate measurements of his body and the correct ratio of raw materials. Alvor had been right and Ysmir’s Beard, Eorlund was going to ask the Elf. He sorely needed the assistance since Thorald… Eorlund cleared his throat and turned his attention to the second schematic. It was less precise, but the schematics were intriguing, armor for a horse. He gestured to the page and looked at Äelberon. “No measurements? You’ve left spaces, but no numbers.”


    Äelberon glanced at Eorlund. “I go to put a deposit on the animal today. I will then measure her for the armor.”


    “Which horse?” Eorlund asked.


    “The black charger.”


    “I’ve seen her, she is a fine animal. Careful, she has spirit, she threw the stableboy, but that boy is a lout. I’m sure you two will get along fine.”


    “How are the schematics for the armor? Am I missing something, a detail?” Äelberon asked.


    “The schematics are excellent." Eorlund acknowledged with a pat on the Elf's shoulder. "It is very good that the Companions now have a member who can work a forge proper." He grinned and rolled his eyes. "I don’t let them near Skyforge. That would be bad, very bad.  They are good people and I love them like kin, but they break weapons constantly. It is tedious repairing weapons. I’d hate to ask, but I can offer you this. If you offer me some assistance here at Skyforge, I will give you free use of it to pursue your own projects.”


    Äelberon smiled. The Nord had beat him to it! Äelberon was excited. He would be allowed to use Skyforge. He shook the Nord’s hand enthusiastically and nodded. “You have a deal, Eorlund Grey-Mane. I will enjoy working with you.”


    “Mostly I will need help with two things: smelting and repairing the bloody weapons. None of them use anything beyond steel, so it will not be too difficult for you. Have you blacksmith’s garb? The tunic and breeches? The apron?”


    “No. None but the gloves, which were a gift from Alvor in Riverwood.”


    Eorlund narrowed his eyes. It would be fitting and it was time for the family to move on. Funny how the Elf also sported long, silver-white locks. A true Grey-mane, albeit with pointy ears. He would not hold those against him. “Why I brought this with me today, I don’t know. Something told me you would come.” He unlocked the large chest and retrieved a blacksmith’s apron, black breeches, and a coarse maroon tunic from the large chest and held them close to him for a moment, as if he were saying a final farewell. “These belonged to my son, Thorald.” He bent his head as he gave them to Äelberon.


    “Ah, is that why your wife is in mourning? I am truly sorry for your loss. Your gift means much to me knowing that it belonged to your son. Thank you. I will wear them with great pride...”


    “Don’t get so flowery on me. Just don’t break anything while you’re wearing them and we’ll be fine.  Aye, my Fralia. Stubborn. She still thinks he lives. I am more realistic, but she is a Nord woman, and we tend to make stubborn women.”


    For a moment Äelberon was brought back in time with Eorlund's words. To his lenya’s forge at Dusk. He grew up watching her. Her long silver braids shaking as she brought her hammer down hard, bending the Elvish metal. Mixing it with steel. Her face focused. She often worked the forge until the waning hours. His ata often making the quick trip from their home with his young slip of a son after attempts to prepare the evening meal on his own resulted in a disaster that required her fixing.  He could catch the fish, but he could not cook it to save his life.  Äelberon smiled, seeing her knowing smile when they arrived at her forge, their faces sheepish, and their stomachs growling. It was a blessing of Auri-El that his ata never managed to burn the house down. He still had the memories.


    They would never die.


    “So do the Altmer.” He replied.


    Eorlund laughed. He liked this Elf. No-nonsense and honest. “Now go throw that junk into the smelter and make yourself something you'll be proud to wear. Good Nordic steel.” He resumed his hammering, “Get out of here.”



    Äelberon entered Jorrvaskr and disappeared down the steps to the Living Quarters, ignoring the chatter of his fellow Shield-Siblings. There would be plenty of moments to share with them by the fire. Especially when he began to make arrows. Making arrows was a long, taxing process. He would first need to make a mold for arrowheads, then cast them and refine them at a grindstone, then carve the shaft, attach the heads, and the worst part: the fletching. Xarxes' Arse! Hours and hours of feathers, hide glue, and sinew. He was not looking forward to it. Would Tilma even let him boil the glue? He saw a Bosmer selling meat at the market stalls. He may know where he could prepare the glue.


    He walked down the corridor and entered his quarters, closing the door behind him, and began to remove the armor for the last time. He donned the breeches and the tunic, leaving the heavy leather apron on his bed.  He was tired of wearing the armor. The tunic fit fine at the torso,  for Thorald was a man of substantial bulk, but ah, the legs and the arms. The height difference between Altmer and Nord painfully apparent. He chuckled, no matter, boots would hide the legs, gloves would hide the arms. He still had the gloves Alvor had given him. He slipped on the gloves, some soft leather boots, and finally the burlap cloak. It was time to head to the stables, gathering his schematics and more charcoal. He paused for a bit. Eh, this was outside the city. He grabbed the bow, and his quiver of iron arrows; the sword and the shield, and a small dagger.  He then looked under his bead, searching. Where was Koor?


    He walked up the steps into the Mead Hall. Ah, there was the little milk drinker.  With Aela. The two seemed to have formed a bond during his illness. Koor immediately went to him when he appeared. She following close behind.


    “You are armed?” She asked. Aela was curious about this one. Spent most of the first days after he woke up just reading. He stood at the hearth and held the Imperial bow at angle, bracing the recurve of the lower limb against his powerful right foot while he guided the upper limb's nock into the string's loop without so much at batting an eyelash. The quickness of the motion surprised Aela. Damn, that took... well, damn! Was this a Mer or an ox?


    “A bit early to string this yet, but you never know what lies outside the city, to the stables first, then perhaps to Riverwood. I saw hawks flying overhead when I first arrived there. I will need their feathers for fletching.”


    “You hunt?” She asked, rubbing Koor’s ears as his tongue lolled from his mouth.


    “I have dwelt many years in the wilds, Aela.” He then found Skjor’s glare, as the Nord sipped mead at the table near the entrance. “Milk and apples are not the only things I eat.”


    She smiled at his little dig. He had not been ignoring the comments. She did not quite understand why Skjor had such reservations about Äelberon. But it was Skjor’s issue to sort out with the Elf, not hers. She nodded. “Good hunting then, hawks are not easy.  You need a sharp eye. You will find several nests in the mountains near the barrow. Near a small tower. I would go there.”


    “Thank you, Aela.” Äelberon nodded.


    “Come, Koor.”


    The dog followed his Master, a spring in Little Moon Brother’s steps, matching those of his Master's.  She smiled, the excitement of the hunt was strong in that one, like he and a bow had been together for many years. She wondered how the Elf would take to the moon?



    Scamp’s Blood! He moved much faster without armor. He moved quickly with it, but without it, there was a lightness to his step and his motions were nimble as he walked to Riverwood.


    The stable master had been kind and allowed him to make a deposit. He had used every last coin he had from Helgen, but the horse was held for him and he measured Alfsigr for her armor. The air was brisk, and he had considered casting a healing aura, but he was hunting. The glow would drive the beasts away and he continued walking.  Last time he had walked this road, he was dying. He felt much better. Almost himself again. Across the river, he saw a wolf and smiled, for it had not seen him yet. That pelt would be useful, he grinned, retrieving an arrow from his quiver. He drew his bow and aimed, no longer feeling pain, and in one shot it lay dead. Äelberon nodded in approval. He was slowly coming back to form. But the wolf was across the falls. If he could jump between the rocks, he would make it to the opposite side of the riverbank. He motioned Koor to stay behind, causing the dog to sulk.


    “It is too cold, boy, and you do not jump like your Master does.”


    Koor snorted and Äelberon shook his head as he took the first leap, landing lightly upon the wet rock. The last jump was the farthest and he almost slipped into the icy rapids, but he regained his footing quickly. He was not up to form in this respect. He would be soon.  Äelberon frowned, pausing his movement, when he thought he heard something. It smelled heavily of scat, though. There was an animal here, but... he narrowed his eyes.




    He needed that pelt. 


    Cautiously, Äelberon knelt over the carcass, his knife ready to skin the beast when he heard the snap of a twig, followed by Koor’s frantic barking.


    He knew it. 


    There was a loud roar and Äelberon whirled to face the direction of the sound. A bear reared up on his hind legs, getting ready to charge. It came onto all fours with a thud and began to tear a path down the river bank, straight towards Äelberon. His heart pounded hard in his chest as he stood quickly and lept from the bear’s path, the bear’s charge barely missing him.  He took advantage of the bear’s uncontrollable momentum and ran in the opposite direction, dodging underbrush and stumps, his boots splashing on the soggy, river-soaked ground. Bears were slow to turn and that bought him time. 


    He almost slipped whens he brought himself to a sudden stop, sliding  as he turned to face the bear, his feet creating ridges of mud, his cloak’s hood coming down, exposing his hair. He took another arrow and readied his bow.  The bear stood up again, preparing itself for another charge. Äelberon aimed and fired. The first shot did not stop the bear. He shot again, it was still coming. He readied his bow a third time as the bear quickened its pace, barreling towards him. He inhaled and aimed. Time stood still and he let his breath out as he released the arrow. The arrow struck the bear’s eye and the beast fell sliding to Äelberon’s feet. Now he had two beasts to skin. This would make a fine cloak. Far better than burlap. The old bear hide that became the bindle would be thrown on the floor to warm his feet.


    The beasts would feast on their meat and if he were in the wilds again, he would too.


    After skinning the animals and cleaning the pelts and his hands at the river, he crossed the falls again. Koor was overjoyed to be reunited with his Master as Äelberon rubbed his ears. The two continued to Riverwood, Äelberon pausing once in a while to throw a stick for the dog to fetch.  


    Whiterun guards were now stationed there, when he arrived close enough to town to see their warm yellow cloaks.  At least the people had some protection, he noted.


    He looked up from the fork in the road towards the barrow and spied the tower. Exactly where the Huntress said it would be and sure enough, he could see several hawks flying overhead. A nest was nearby. He began to walk up the path, a little dirt one, bow in hand. This was probably the path to the Barrow, he thought.


    Another wolf was brought down by his arrow.


    Äelberon squatted low to skin the beast and tried to retrieve the arrow as he worked, but it snapped in half.  He inspected the arrow closely, feeling the iron head and the shaft. Full of imperfections and it was not even straight! Poorly made. He frowned, tossing the arrow to the ground. He had a quiver full of this rubbish. It was a miracle he even killed the bear. Right now, he was making kills on the power of his draw and the sureness of his aim. He only had 55 left and he would need them for the hawks. Fortunately, they were far easier to bring down, if his aim was true. He really needed to start fletching or poor Koor would hear him gripe about rubbish arrows for days. He gave Koor a pat on the head and stood up, the wolf’s bloody pelt in his hand. He sheathed the dagger at his belt. He needed a pack, he thought, as he stowed the wolf pelt in a makeshift sack he made out of the bearskin. He then washed his hands with a waterskin and dried them on his cloak, but wrinkled his nose when the smell of blood did not leave. He would need to bathe when he returned to Jorrvaskr.


    It grew colder as he continued up the path and the ferns and thick foliage of the riverbank gave way to more sparse vegetation dotted with snowberries. He felt the nip in the air and pulled the cloak over his head. He would not last long up here if he was caught at night.  Well, that was not true. You have lasted in worse, Old Mer.  You just need to get used to it again. He looked up and spied his first hawk as it lazily circled in the late afternoon sun. His eyes narrowed as he readied his bow. Holding his breath as he aimed. The hawk fell from the sky and landed with a thud onto the path. He had brought some leather strips with him and he began to bind the hawk’s legs together. He would pluck it in the morning, and sell the beak to the alchemist. Tilma could stew the meat. When he finished, he was able to pick up the bird by the leather strips and continued up the path. A second hawk flew near the tower.  A light snow began to fall and he was feeling the cold a bit.


    The arrow whizzing past his head caught him by surprise. Who was shooting at him? He ducked quickly behind some rocks and had a quick look; a Nord was running towards him in fur armor and wielding an iron battle axe.  Äelberon set his bow down, stood up and raised both his hands, preparing to speak to the man, to offer terms. There was no need for them to attack, he was only here to hunt. Another arrow flew by him.


    “Prepare to die!” Screamed the man, crazed.


    There would be no negotiating with these men. Bandits. He was too close to use the bow now, so he readied his sword and shield. The bandit’s battle-axe came down hard, but Äelberon blocked it. He had no desire to kill the man, criminal or not. “I do not wish to kill you, but I. Will. Defend. Myself.” He grunted, attempting to reason with the bandit, between blows. “I am only here to hunt. I do not wish to hurt you.” He blocked another blow. Koor joined the attack, heading for the archer near the tower.


    “Just die already, so I can take your stuff.” The bandit sneered, as he prepared another blow.


    What stuff?


    The bandit was bloody better equipped than he was! As he brought down his battle-axe, Äelberon gave his shield a mighty swipe, left to right, using the shield's edge, instantly snapping the neck of the bandit, who crumpled to the floor.


    He sheathed his sword and retrieved his bow before running  hard towards Koor who was dodging the other bandit’s arrows. He aimed and fired, bringing down the bandit. He approached the bandit slowly. She was still alive, but near death, clutching the arrow that impaled her chest. He knelt beside her and tried to pull the arrow out. She winced in pain, her breath coming in rapid spurts. Damn it. He bent his head and rubbed his slight stubble with his hand. “I am so sorry,” He said softly as she died and he closed her eyes. He did not relish killing. They had attacked him first and she was targeting Koor.  


    “Who’s there?” Called a gruff voice from the tower, causing Äelberon to look up.  


    Äelberon set down his bow again and spoke. “Listen carefully, please. I have just killed your two associates in self-defense. If you value your life, then do not engage me. I am only here to hunt hawks. It is not my wish to kill again, but I am a far more experienced warrior than you and I will defend my dog and myself. You will not survive.”


    The bandit peered over the tower and looked at the direction of the voice. It was a High Elf, in naught but black breeches, a blacksmith’s tunic, and a burlap cloak. With him was a dog, circling his Master nervously. A very valuable-looking dog in fine armor. Kill the Elf, take the dog, sell the dog, make some coin. He readied his mace, he was going to crush this little Elf, he sneered, his large canines protruding from his underslung jaw. “I like your dog,” Called the bandit, “Give him to me and I’ll let you live.”


    Äelberon sighed and readied his sword and shield. Koor circled. “I am afraid that is impossible." He answered from the tower base. "The dog would not go with you even if you killed me for it.”


    “Then you’ll both have to die,” and the bandit came rushing down the stairs.


    A fearsome-looking Orc in steel armor, wearing a great, black cave bear cloak, wielding an Orichalcum mace. He brought the mace down hard, denting Äelberon’s shield on impact. Äelberon responding with a quick swing from his sword, from underneath, cutting the lacing of the Orc’s cuirass, exposing his flank.


    The Orc felt the tear, the Old Mer was fast, but he was old. The Orc readied his mace for another blow, which staggered Äelberon  as he blocked. Äelberon was winded, but he had enough in him to run his sword through the Orc’s exposed flank with a growl.  The Orc cried out in surprise as he fell to the floor, the blood pooling on the white snow as he lay there, gasping for breath. Äelberon knelt next to him, his face grim as he pulled his sword from the Orc’s flank. The Orc faced him, his eyes glazed. “I warned you. I am truly sorry.”


    The Orc spit at him. He wanted no apologies. He wanted death. “Finish it.” He growled, his eyes angry.


    The Elf wiped the spit from his face and gazed at him with red-orange eyes like fire, and he understood, nodding.


    Hmph, a warrior? Thought the Orc in his pain-induced haze. The Elf was much larger than he looked from the tower roof. His muscles strong. His face grim and scarred. A warrior.


    “Is that your wish?” Responded the Elf.


    “Yes, send me to Malacath. You have earned the right.” He gasped as the pain seared through his body.


    “I will give you death then. May you know glory in the Ashen Forge.”


    With those words, Äelberon shifted the position of his sword quickly and with one powerful plunge, he drove his blade deep into the Orc’s neck, severing his spine, killing him, as the snow continued to fall. He had a soft spot for Orcs, completely out of character for an Altmer, but he was already out of character in so many ways. What was one more? He would keep the Orc's cloak, a massive beast of a cloak, made from the fur of a boar cave bear. Something compelled him to. Perhaps his demand for death?  



    It was nightfall and the Companions were having their evening meal, their tankards were full and the rich smell of a beef stew came from the kitchen while they noisily ate.


    “I wonder where Äelberon went?” Asked Vilkas from his seat, picking away the carrots from his beef stew, “He was gone when I woke up.”


    “Probably praying at the Temple,” Mumbled Skjor as he ate his stew, his pile of cooked carrots already discretely hidden under a wooden bowl. “Reads and prays, that’s all the Elf ever does.”


    Kodlak disapproved of Skjor’s remarks, but he understood them. Skjor was used to action. He was used to a Companion, especially a new one, eagerly taking whatever jobs became available. Äelberon’s illness had been devastating and his recovery slow.  Kodlak was positive that Skjor was expecting him to have taken jobs by now. Äelberon was slow to do so and it made Skjor question his valor.


    The doors of Jorrvaskr suddenly flung open and Äelberon entered, a dusting of snow on the great bearskin cloak he now wore. His face dark and grim.


    Farkas looked up from his meal when he heard the sound, squashing a carrot with his spoon before dumping it into Athis’ bowl, taking advantage of the fact the Dunmer was now looking at the exact thing he was looking at. He forgot how big he was. The dog followed close by, a small wound on its shoulder, bearing on its back some equipment. Borne upon the Altmer’s broad shoulders was a bearskin sack filled with all sorts of things, and tied to leather strips were pelts of assorted sizes; fox, wolf, deer.  An Orcish mace hung at his belt and his quiver was now full of arrows. He was carrying his shield, bow, and sword too. Steel armor could be seen through the sack.  Ysmir’s Beard, thought Farkas, his mouth now open.  This was no weak priest from a Temple, but a powerful hunter. They didn’t come back with nearly this much stuff when they would go hunting. The Elf strode to Aela, his heavy cloak moving behind him, his face softening a bit as he approached her seat at the Mead Hall.


    “Good hunting?” She asked, looking up.


    He lifted his hand and flung onto the table six hawks. He nodded. She let out a gust of air. Six hawks! The eyes this Old Mer must have!


    “Good hunting.” Äelberon answered, his voice low. “Thank you for your advice. I will fletch enough arrows for the both of us with these birds. Good, steel arrows.”


    “What else happened?” She pressed, “You were gone far too long for just hawks.”


    “Bandits.” He replied, “Up in the Tower near the barrow. I think they were watching Riverwood.” His face turned grim again, those great brows hooding his eyes, reminding Aela of a bird of prey. Aye, 'twas the way a hawk's eyes were hooded, or an eagle's.  “Well, they will not be watching Riverwood now.”


    He removed the hawks from the table and walked to the fire to warm his hands, setting the birds and the bearskin sack down with a heavy thud. Athis leaned towards Farkas and whispered in his ear. “Remind me to never make that one angry.”


    Farkas just nodded, while he plopped another cooked carrot into Athis’ bowl. He certainly wasn't lazy, thought Farkas.


    As he rubbed his hands, Äelberon turned to Skjor and spoke. His voice firm. “Give me a job.”


    Kodlak raised his eyebrows at the audacity of Snow Bear's demand. The Elf was starting to lose his patience with the insults and he overstepped his rank by asking Skjor directly. First jobs usually came from Aela and Farkas.


    “I don’t give jobs to whelps.” Skjor replied between sips of mead.


    The Altmer cocked an eyebrow.


    “Farkas! Give him a job.” Skjor barked.


    Farkas took a deep breath and looked up at the Altmer who was waiting patiently by the fire. “Well, word has it that one of our citizens has been causing trouble—“ Farkas started and then saw the Elf's scowl.


    Äelberon scowled. Beating up gentlefolk?  Bah! Give me something better, boy.


    “Not that one, the bandits. Give him the bandits.” Skjor interrupted, studying the Elf’s expression. He knew the jobs, it seemed, and no way was he going to be just hired muscle.  Skjor honestly believed the Elf would have refused the job if he hadn’t opened his mouth. What an arrogant Son of a Bitch! But it was his arse now. He knew exactly what job to give him. Would take him down a level or two and teach him to act more like the other whelps. He’d be begging to beat up farmers after this job.  None of them had wanted White River Watch anyway.


    “White River Watch?” Questioned Farkas, his tone unsure.


    “Yeah, got a problem with that?” Skjor answered.


    Farkas looked concerned. What was Skjor’s problem with this Elf?  The Bandits of White River Watch were ruthless and the Elf was still recovering. “No Shield-Brother. Alright then, we’ve been having some serious problems with a bandit den over at White River Watch. Been harassing merchants and citizens for months, stealing, and yeah, killing.  Your job is to clear it. You sure you’re up for that?”


    Äelberon stared straight at Skjor. “You have my word. The bandit den will be cleared.” Äelberon nodded. “Just let me make my armor first.” He then crossed his arms over his chest and shrugged his shoulders sarcastically. “Unless you want me to do this naked?”


    He probably could, gulped Torvar. 


    Skjor frowned at the delay and the Elf’s lack of respect, but Kodlak shot Skjor a look and then smiled.


    “Your nudity will not be necessary, Snow Bear. Go make your armor.”


    Kodlak knew both of them. If Skjor had given him lip on the delay for armor construction, the Elf would have retorted with their even larger delay to solve the problem before his arrival and Skjor’s pot would have boiled over. Snow Bear would have been right too, for the Companions had been slow to act and lazy with regard to White River Watch and the citizens suffered for it, but no Nord likes being told he's wrong. Especially by an Altmer. This wasn’t a single giant that was easy to take down with numbers, though they needed his bloody help for that too. The whelps were not ready to engage an organized group of bandits yet, and the Circle was distracted with their own issues. And he could tell that Äelberon of Dusk did not work that way. He was direct, methodical, and incredibly disciplined.


    The Old Mer was going to be a bloody handful. 


    Straag Rod Book 1 ToC

    Chapter VII    Chapter IX



31 Comments   |   SpottedFawn and 1 other like this.
  • Caladran
    Caladran   ·  July 6, 2019
    Great chapter! I love all the details and how he handled Farengar. Also good to read some Koor too! :)
  • ilanisilver
    ilanisilver   ·  March 13, 2018
    I agree on soul gems. Abhorrent, it’s honestly disgusting and it’s one of the things I really wish they’d change about the game’s magic. Loved the scene with Äelberon and Farengar, too. 
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      I agree on soul gems. Abhorrent, it’s honestly disgusting and it’s one of the things I really wish they’d change about the game’s magic. Loved the scene with Äelberon and Farengar, too. 
        ·  March 13, 2018
      Oh, Aelberon's views are not necessarily my views. I don't agree they should be taken away. I think having the concept of stealing something from someone to power something else and the ethical questions that arise from that gives the ES world a great dea...  more
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  November 2, 2015
    Ah, the carrots.  Thanks, Andrew. 
  • Andrew Shepherd
    Andrew Shepherd   ·  November 2, 2015
    Another wonderful chapter Lissette. I'm starting to recognize your personality in the writing. I found the fine detail in Albee's preparations and dialogue with the towns folk relaxing to read.

    And I loved the carrots! ;)
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  October 11, 2015
    Hehe, possibly.  When I first saw them, I have Ultimate NPC Face Unlocker, which gives you npc presets, I was like OMGERD, those are some mutton chops!
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  October 10, 2015
    It's the power of the mutton chops, all lesser forms of facial hair are beneath Farengar's notice.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  October 10, 2015
    Yeah the details is his "Altmerness" shining through. He likes to plan everything. This will cause some funny moments with his Shield-Siblings later. 
  • Rhoth
    Rhoth   ·  October 10, 2015
    Another one down and as I've quickly come to expect it's very good. I like all the details for crafting his equipment. I'be always thought crafting should take time too, rather than "bam, done" in two seconds.

    Liked how he told off Farengar t...  more
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  October 10, 2015
    He does have his very Altmer academic side though which I'm sure his new Shield-Siblings will love. Apple cores and piles of books. He is a character who is  governed by his senses. He doesn't just observe the world with his eyes, but I spend quite a bit ...  more
  • Karver the Lorc
    Karver the Lorc   ·  October 10, 2015
    I thought so. He´s an unorthodox Elf, so there should be lot of unorthodox about him. 
    I guess that having that long life has some advantages...I would probably spend in on drinking and whoring, but Albee´s different than me 
    Looking forward f...  more