Straag Rod: Book 1, Part 2, Chapter XII: Covenant

  • When Äelberon woke from his nap, it had started to snow, and he shifted position in his bedroll so he could have a better view. There was something about Skyrim and snow. With a fresh snowfall, the province became a kingdom of such ethereal beauty. It took him back to his first year of exile, when he reached the Jerrals. That life had been brutal and yet he could still appreciate the beauty.  Sunset over the mountains, the reds, golds, purples, and blushing pinks over the pristine white.


    He and Dec often joked that it looked like one was walking in the clouds when the world was covered in the fluff.  Decimus, he thought quietly, watching the peace of crystalline flakes making their dancing journey from sky to ground. No, he would not visit Fort Dawnguard just yet. It was better if less people were involved, if less people knew. Theodard was different. Äelberon needed to consult him. Besides... You are still napping away anyway, you soft Imperial. Sleep, my friend, I will not trouble you with my burdens.


    He watched as the slowly falling flakes began to dust the Vigilants who were working outside, coating their cloaks. Koor was not with him, the dog was watching them work or catching snow with his tongue or catching make-believe mice under the blanket of white, pouncing and sticking his nose in it. Snort, pounce, repeat.  Playing without a care in the world. A moment of respite in their lives and Äelberon savored it as if it was a fine meal. The boy was comfortable around the Vigilants and they were with the husky, gently shewing him away when he came to close to their construction, or taking the time to play with him. Äelberon smiled at the scene before him. A scene of industry and renewal.  If the Vigilants of Stendarr were bouncing back, that was a good sign.


    Äelberon took a deep breath and enjoyed the pleasant lack of pain. No dreams interrupted his sleep this time and for the first time since his trial, he was well-rested. He needed to be. The visit had gone as he expected it to. It did not make it any less difficult. What he was planning to do was beyond the comprehension of most and he was actually impressed with Brother Theodard’s willingness to listen, especially since Vigilants were not known to be receptive to radical ideas. This was certainly radical. He could tell, however, that Theodard had a strong background as a cleric and his curiosity had made him far more accepting of what Äelberon was planning.  Not completely accepting, but more accepting than most.


    He yawned loudly and broke his gaze from the falling snow and Koor’s play, resting on his back to stretch his arms and legs. He had removed his armor before he napped, but ha!  His old bones still cracked. ‘Twas his lot in life. Cracking bones and sore muscles. But at least it was not the intense pain he had carried with him most of that day, both the mental and the physical.


    It was time to get up.  Time to put his plan into motion. Äelberon had slept longer than he had wanted to and now he would not arrive at Jorrvaskr until well after dark the next day. He would take advantage of the few hours of daylight left to travel down the Beacon’s slope and then make camp in the wilds before heading out early tomorrow.


    He needed to speak with Skjor.


    He could not go through Kodlak, gods no! The Old Man would shoot down the idea faster than Äelberon could draw a bow!  And the twins would not understand. They would see his taking the Beast Blood as an affront to their sacrifice, and outwardly it would have that very appearance. No, he hated secrecy, but he would seek out Skjor and Aela. Skjor saw this as a gift, for he was strongly pulled towards Hircine. The Veteran was going to love this, but would also demand a reason, for he was no fool. Aye, he would use the ride back to think of one. It had to be vague enough that he was not lying, but specific enough that it would satisfy Skjor. That would take some doing.  Aye, he would definitely need the entire ride to think on it.


    And what if you just told the truth, old Mer?  Assemble the Circle and speak openly about his plans?  Explain the vision. Surely, they would be reason—he furrowed his brow. Kodlak would see it as a betrayal, or not let him do it out of concern for his safety. The twins would fall in line with the Old man. Aela and Skjor would be angry because his desire to use the Beast Blood in that manner would be a slap in the face to their beliefs. Gah, all you would have, old Mer, is the entire circle angry at you and your family even more divided while time was running out for Kodlak. By going to Skjor and being vague, aye the old Man would be angry with him, but then he could explain. It all depended on how well the old Man knew him. Either scenario was going to present him with problems, but he had five Shield-Siblings to cleanse. If he was going to be successful, he was going to have to be patient. And your cure? He closed his eyes, feeling the dread encroach, but he stopped himself. Do not think on that. Think only on the task at hand and do not let that matter weigh upon your soul. You are cleansing five lycanthropes. In a way that does not involve the slaughter of innocents and heart consumption. Auri-El will see this.


    Äelberon stretched again and slowly sat up, cross-legged upon the bedroll to search for his armor and he could not help the smile that found his features. For three reasons. First, for Brother Theodard’s remarkable work. He rubbed his lower back, testing the muscles, surprised at their lack of tenderness. The Breton was thorough, not just repairing the bone, but the tissue and muscles as well.


    Second, for the steeping tea he found waiting for him. Well, there was some bread and cheeses as well, but he was very keen on the tea. He took the tankard, letting it warm his chilled hands and then looked up.


    The third reason.


    The little Redguard was sitting there, upon a bedroll opposite his, her arms clasped over her raised knees. He had wanted to see Tavia before he left. He knew that she was greatly disturbed by what he planned to do, though she was not betraying it now.  She was casually munching on an apple, and his red-orange eyes twinkled with mischief. It was good sport to tease her, for she was such a child. He feigned anger by furrowing his eyebrows and scowling. She looked up at him, innocence all over her face. Was such bull.


    “That better not be one of mine.” He warned.


    Tavia took a large bite and said with a very full mouth. “And if it is?” Ha! Bless her! She was getting used to his way and they both laughed.  She making him laugh all the more when bits of apple started falling from her mouth as she spoke. "What are you going to do about it?" He did not understand half of what she said. 


    “Biting off more than we can chew, eh?” He raised the tankard to her, “Thank you, little sister.” And he took a sip. He then held the tankard away from his mouth and gave it a curious look, furrowing his bushy silver brows for real this time.  This was not canis root. He eyed Tavia. “What is this?” He asked.


    She seemed to crumple at his question. “Oh! You don’t like it?”


    “I did not say that, child, I just wanted to know what it was.” He took another sip and tried to analyze what he was tasting. It was a good brew. Damn strong! Very different from canis root, but still quite excellent. Sweeter and a bit peppery or smoky, he could not tell. He was awful with these things. There was bitterness to it as well. It was far more complex a blend than canis root. He took another sip and acknowledged Tavia with a nod. “I like it.”


    “Really? You’re not just trying to make me feel better.”


    “Verily.” He smiled before returning to his tea. He took a slice of cheese too while Tavia continued.


    “I know you have trouble sleeping, Äelberon, this is why you take canis root, and you won’t be able to have it soon.” She bent her head and Äelberon could now see the worry. He would need words with her before he left.  “When I first arrived in Skyrim, I had trouble sleeping too. Brother Calvus, well, he used to make me this tea from Thistle Branch, Death Bell, and Honeycomb, and it always relaxed me. See, no canis root, so you can drink it, well, unless it irritates you, well, when... You know…” She shrugged. “He taught me to make it before he died. I made you some and I left the recipe so you could make it yourself.”




    She suddenly rushed to him, tightly wrapping her arms around him the best she could.  Äelberon set his tankard down, his cheese following, and then held her tightly, stroking her hair.  The ache in his heart became heavy and he felt the lump in his throat. Child was making things extremely difficult.


    “Don’t. Please, don’t. Don’t do this terrible thing.” She begged him through her sobs. “I’m so scared. I read the books, Äelberon, I read them. You can’t do this.” Äelberon held her for a moment, unsure what to say, feeling the grief build in him. No magicka, no temples, and no connection to everything he had ever known… He could feel the despair creep into his mind and then he stopped, setting his jaw. No, you are put in Mundus for a purpose, to hide from that is not only wrong, but cowardly. Äelberon grabbed Tavia by the shoulders and pushed her away from him, breaking their embrace. ‘Twas time to teach.


    “Tavia,” his voice was firm, “Look at me.” Her red-rimmed eyes met his and Äelberon could tell that she was seeing the change to his face. I am an old Mer, youngling. Yes, look at my lines and at my silver beard, the dark circles under my eyes. Look at me and see my frown. He could see the confusion on her face. “Are you a Vigilant of Stendarr?” He asked.


    “Of course I am!” She replied, puzzled by his question.


    He squared his jaw and his tone was quite low. “Then, damn it, act like one. Stop your sniveling.”


    Tavia was taken aback and Äelberon saw her mouth open in surprise. Surprise quickly became anger and she roughly pulled away from him and crossed her arms over her chest, a frown marring her features. “I walk the light, I do.” She angrily retorted, her face flushing. “You will not be when you do what you are planning! You will give in to that monster! You will be damned!”


    Äelberon straightened his back and his own frown deepened. “I will be patient with you because you are a youngling, but control your outbursts in front of an Elder. Know your place, and know that you are wrong.” His was tone icy as he took another sip of tea, “What am I doing?” He asked her.


    “You are going to… to…” She hesitated, looking away.


    Scamp’s Blood, she could not even say it? What was wrong with these Vigilants!?


    “Take the Beast Blood, child!” He barked. “Beast Blood! Say it, damn it! Say it, Tavia!” Her eyes went wide at his outburst. “Bah!” He growled, tossing the cheese. He had to throw something, and he was liking the tea too much to throw that. “Hircine! Hircine! Hircine!” He continued, slapping a hand on his thigh. “There! I said it and I shall say the name a thousand more times in my long life!”


    “Äelberon…” She whispered. “Don’t.”


    “Don’t what? Hide? Not speak their names? You want to know their names?”


    “Please, don’t. Not here.”


    “Not here? Of all places, this is the place where their names should be spoken. You are the Beacon! Shall I recite all the names of the Daedric princes for you? I know them all… Let us start with my personal favorites, Mehrunes Dagon and Molag Bal. The biggest bastards of the bunch.” His voice was dripping with sarcasm. “Then we have the lovely Vaermina who fills your nights with happy dreams…” He casually sipped his tea, enjoying its taste as he continue to rattle off names, “followed by Boethiah, Namira, Mephala…and then there’s Merid, who I, at least, have something in common with—“


    “Äelberon! Not here, it’s blasphemous!” Tavia cried.


    He set down the tankard in exasperation. This was the problem with Vigilants now. They had grown complacent. The Vigilants of the early fourth Era were an entirely different group of men and women, though now he understood what their zeal had cost the world. Knowledge. They forgot that it is the person wielding the knowledge that does evil, not the knowledge itself.


    “Confound blasphemy, Child! Truly walking the light, Tavia, means that you are not afraid to say their names. Daedra are a part of our existence. To deny them, to not say their names, gives them exactly what they want, your fear.” The Elder crossed his arms over his great chest and let his ‘Altmerness’ come through. She had coined that expression first on their trip to the Beacon. She had described it as a noble sadness mixed with a certain haughty arrogance and she was right. “I choose, Tavia of the Vigilants, to not give in to my fear.   I certainly feel it, but instead of giving in to it, I channel it into strength. By taking the Beast Blood, I am saving souls and I strike a blow against Hircine.” He felt his eyes narrow and his voice gain power, a hand balling into a fist.  He nodded. “And If I am indeed damned to the Hunting Grounds, Hircine will rue, RUE the day he took this old silver wolf into his realm for I truly walk the light!  Zu’u SHUN!” He suddenly laughed hard, making her jump. “Oh, I would such make a grand, grand mess of things over there that Hircine will BEG Auri-El to take me back!” He softened somewhat and touched her cheek. “Ah Tavia, you are so young, perhaps too young still for this heavy burden. Truly walking the light means that you are prepared to die for what is right in accordance to the tenets of your Order. Die for what you believe in. Die so that others are safe. As his Knight-Paladin, I am prepared to do this.  I have been for many long years. Are you?”


    She thought for a moment. “I think so.”


    He put his hand on her shoulder and nodded. “’I Think so’ is a fair answer, my child, and an honest one. It is hard to think on giving up life when one is still so very young.” He smiled a knowing smile. “Scamp’s Blood, I have lived four of your lifetimes already and I still love life! I will fight hard not to die, I promise. Auri-El has worked wonders, He will work one for his faithful Hokziiah. I truly, truly know in my heart that I will not be damned forever. I have Faith.”


    She was silent while he donned his armor, watching him, and Äelberon didn’t know what to think of that.  “Pray for me, Tavia. Promise me that you will pray. That you will not lose faith in me.”


    “Alright.” She nodded slowly, her eyes on the pile of books.


    “I am walking the light, Tavia, please believe me.”


    “I believe you.”


    “Hmm.” He bent his head while he fastened a buckle on his gauntlet. “The mouth speaks the words, but until the heart really feels them, they are just words.” Äelberon sighed and slowly walked to the Shrine of Stendarr. He then knelt upon one knee, bent his head, and prayed, kissing the Shrine as he took his final blessing. No it will not be your final blessing.  Never. Auri-El will save you. See this task through to the end, old Mer, and he will save you. Your faith will save you.  He chose his closing verses with great care. One to honor the divine who served as witness to his plan, to allow him to speak of such darkness in his Beacon of light. No, he did not especially worship Stendarr, preferring the older traditions of his clan, but he acknowledged that he was a divine who inspired great faith among many. 


    "Come to me, Stendarr.” He began, “for without you, I might be deaf to the manswarm murmurings of thy people, and forgetting their need for comfort and wisdom, I might indulge myself in vain scribbling."


    He wanted to close with a verse to his own god and he raised his right hand in oath. He felt the surge of magicks around him and out of the corner of his eye he saw that Tavia had straightened and a gasp escaped her lips. Aye, see them, child, see the streams. He caught a stream in his hand and he smiled when the Aetherial light danced in his hand. The sun’s fire. My beginning is my end which is my new beginning. See the sun in the darkness, Tavia.  See that I am a child of faith and that I need you to be too. He cleared his throat. “Tavia?”




    “Do you see the light?”


    “Yes, I do. It’s beautiful, but it will be gone soon.” She said sadly.


    “Then understand something, child.” He moved his hand slowly while he remained kneeling and he knew that she was watching his hand, watching the light upon it. “Understand that you cannot perceive light without the darkness to compare it too. That there cannot be joy without pain. It is the way of the world. Do you understand this?”


    There was silence between them for several seconds before the Redguard finally spoke. “I think so.”


    “A fair answer.” He replied. “I will pray now.” Äelberon took a deep breath. “Lord Auri-El, God-King of Time, lend Your Eagle the might and mercy to act in Your Name. And when His talons fail and His wings can no longer fly, may He trust that the strength of His Father’s wings will bear Him towards the Sun. His deeds done.”


    The light died and he let his hand fall, composing himself. The Nords called him Bear, the dragon called him Snake, and soon he would become Wolf for his Shield-Siblings, but he was an Eagle first and a part of him would always be.  It was an ancient verse, from a time when the Mer were a far wilder people. One of his favorites from the Order. He kissed the shrine a second time and stood to his full height, turning to face the entrance, again watching the falling snow. She was now standing as well.


    “I will pray, Brother Äelberon, I promise.”


    Now that was spoken with her heart and he smiled. “I know you will.” He faced her. “It is time for me to go, little sister. A hug for your big brother? Or are you still sore that I chided you?”


    They embraced and he kissed the top of her head. “You smell terrible.” She spoke against his chest. “Take a bath.”


    He chuckled as he broke the embrace while she handed him his cloak to put on. “Aye, that dragon soot is strong, strong stuff. Scent lingered in Jorrvaskr for days when we killed that second dragon at Whiterun. I will bathe, so I am all pretty when I see my Shield-Brothers.” Äelberon gestured to the entrance. “Walk with me. A little extra time with an old Mer before we part ways?” They walked outside into the falling snow, and Äelberon adjusted his cloak and donned his hood.


    “It’s cold.” Tavia observed.


    “Ah, but then the spring comes.” He smiled thoughtfully, putting his arm around her. “And we feel the warmth because we felt the chill first.”  


    “Yes.” She agreed, now understanding him better. “You will return?”


    “I will return. I promise.”


    “Ah, you’re awake!” Brother Theodard called from the cooking fire, walking briskly to intercept Äelberon and Tavia and the trio walked to Allie. The Breton turned to Äelberon, “You slept well?”


    “Yes, thank you. I am, despite all of this turmoil, strangely rested.”


    “And your back?”


    “As if I was never injured, again thank you, Keeper. My visit here was a good one.” He nodded. “I am prepared.”


    Brother Theodard furrowed his brow in concern and leaned in closer to Äelberon. The Breton’s voice was barely a whisper, meant only for the three of them. “So you still intend to do this, then?”


    “You still question? It is my path, Keeper. Do I ask you to stray from yours?”


    Brother Theodard placed a hand on his forearm, stopping him. “Well? Yes, you have asked, Brother Äelberon. You must know that you have put me in a terrible position by telling me, right?”


    Äelberon let out a gust of air before chewing the inside of his lip. Damn. “Hmm, this is true and for that I am sorry.” He shook his head. “Gods, I should not have come, but I needed your counsel on the matter.”


    “I understand that, but you are willfully hiding the presence of lycanthropes. Hiding them from the authorities, and by telling me, I am now an accomplice to this, as is Tavia. You are not a Vigilant of Stendarr, but we are.”


    “I can help them, I know I can. Let me.”


    “Your reputation among us Vigilants proceeds you. We know that you have cleansed Tamriel of many dark forces, a hero in our struggle against Oblivion, but this…” Keeper Theodard shrugged. “But this is unprecedented. And we are breaking the tenets of our Order solely on your word. It is serious.”


    “But Keeper, he will do this—“ Tavia insisted.


    “No, Tavia.” Äelberon interrupted, understanding their predicament. “He is correct.” He faced the Breton. “I cannot let you do that. What do you propose that would allow you to have peace of mind while I complete my mission?”


    The Keeper let go of Äelberon’s forearm and crossed his arms over his chest in thought, resting his chin on his fingers.  They waited in the snow and Äelberon hoped that they were not attracting attention. A quick glance revealed Vigilants going about their business and he silently swore that Koor would get a big honey nut treat just for him when they reached Ivarstead. He was as quiet as a mouse, sitting patiently on his haunches next to his sister. She would get oats and an apple. Only a little over a month together and his children already knew him well enough to leave him be when it really mattered. The Breton’s hand fell from his weak chin to rest on his other arm and Äelberon knew by the pained look on Theodard’s face that a decision had been reached. He wondered how Carcette would have taken the news. Would she have been so understanding?


    “If I do not hear from you within thirty days of you taking the Beast Blood," Keeper Theodard began. "I will inform the Whiterun authorities and the problem will be dealt with, the entire problem. You included. I will not interfere with the path that your God has set for you, Knight-Paladin Äelberon of the Order of Auri-El, because I know you are devout, because you have done so much already, but I must also consider mine and Tavia’s standing with Stendarr. We are not as the lawless Silver Hand, however. You have thirty days. If we don’t hear from you, if we don’t see you, we will assume you have failed in your mission and we will come for them. Do you understand?”


    Äelberon paused and thought for a moment, facing the saddle, his hands positioned to mount. He traced the carved leather with his index finger and a lot of the zeal threatened to disappear, leaving him feeling a great weariness.  He knew he would struggle back and forth with this. That there would be good days and bad days. Such was the way of faith. Thirty days was not much time, but Brother Theodard was absolutely right in his fear. You will do this. It is only a test. He did not bring this upon you if he did not think you able to rise to the challenge. The Crisis, his Exile, becoming Dragonborn, and now this. All of these were tests. He took a deep breath, putting away his uncertainty for now, and turned to the Vigilant.


    “Aye, this is fair.” He nodded in agreement. “I accept your terms, for I understand the sacrifice you two are making for me with your silence. It is profoundly appreciated.” He clasped Brother Theodard’s hand and gave it a firm shake. “I will take the Curse on the first of the new month. Have Faith, Brother Theodard, Sister Tavia. Have strong Faith and pray, for I do indeed walk the light, though the path seems dark to you.” He nodded in encouragement. “I promise you. I will return.”


    They did not look convinced.


    He mounted Allie and Tavia handed him the satchel of tea. He squeezed her hand tenderly. “Thank you little sister, this will help me a great deal.” Äelberon stowed the precious satchel in his front saddle bag and then removed his left gauntlet and set it upon his lap. You will now know how serious I take this, my brothers and sisters in the light. He then raised his left hand slightly, as he drew his longsword from his scabbard. He could see the ‘no’ form on Tavia’s lips, but Brother Theodard nodded while Äelberon drew the blade over his left palm, drawing blood as he spoke. “I swear this blood oath now before you, Brother Theodard. In this Holy place that is the seat of Stendarr and as Hokziiah of Auri-El. Before the sun sets upon thirty days of me bearing this curse upon my soul, I shall return to the Beacon.  And mark my words, Brother Vigilant, Zu'u fent lost shun, ahrk Zu'u fent kos shun. I shall have cleansed, and I shall be cleansed.” He sheathed his weapon and put his gauntlet back on, betraying no pain as the gauntlet passed over his fresh wound.


    I will keep this scar upon my hand, my Lord. Let it serve as further covenant between you and me.


    “Stendarr’s mercy be upon you…” Äelberon started, raising his hand in farewell.


    Brother Theodard and Tavia then raised their hands solemnly for a blood oath had just been performed. “For the Vigil has none to spare.” They answered.


    With a quick nod, Äelberon squeezed Allie’s flanks and rode away from the lit Beacon. The sun was beginning its decent towards the horizon, bathing the land gold with its rays. A few hours of daylight left, he thought to himself. A few days of light left. Soon the darkness will come for me.


    And I will not look back.  


    Straag Rod, Book 1 ToC

    Part 2, Chapter XIPart 2, Chapter XIII



10 Comments   |   A-Pocky-Hah! and 8 others like this.
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  May 4, 2017
    That was a quickie of a chapter, in and out but still with a satisfying climax! I always enjoy an examination of the hypocrisy of Stendarr's Vigilants. "The Vigil has none to spare." It makes it all the more interesting that you have two likeable characte...  more
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      That was a quickie of a chapter, in and out but still with a satisfying climax! I always enjoy an examination of the hypocrisy of Stendarr's Vigilants. "The Vigil has none to spare." It makes it all the more interesting that you have two likeable characte...  more
        ·  May 4, 2017
      I really didn't want Aelberon on this mission without consequences. 
  • Exuro
    Exuro   ·  April 28, 2017
    Reading this after drinking wasn't such a good idea. Got me all teary eyed on the Bus. You can can do it Albee, your honey pot is waiting at the end!
  • The Sunflower Manual
    The Sunflower Manual   ·  April 23, 2017
    One month to cleanse the circle? No pressure, eh?
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      The Sunflower Manual
      The Sunflower Manual
      The Sunflower Manual
      One month to cleanse the circle? No pressure, eh?
        ·  April 23, 2017
      haha, yeah, that should be fun. 
  • Karver the Lorc
    Karver the Lorc   ·  April 23, 2017
    And so the race begins. I actually think it´s a good thing that Theodard gave Albee a deadline. I mean, their Vigilants they have "no mercy to spare". But now I´m curious how is Albee going to persuade Skjor. That will be interesting. 

    ...  more
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      And so the race begins. I actually think it´s a good thing that Theodard gave Albee a deadline. I mean, their Vigilants they have "no mercy to spare". But now I´m curious how is Albee going to persuade Skjor. That will be interesting. 

      Btw, Kaiser...  more
        ·  April 23, 2017
      Yeah, I didn't want the Vigilants to be like "okay" with it. This isn't a world where everybody bends to the Dragonborn's whim.
    • A-Pocky-Hah!
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      And so the race begins. I actually think it´s a good thing that Theodard gave Albee a deadline. I mean, their Vigilants they have "no mercy to spare". But now I´m curious how is Albee going to persuade Skjor. That will be interesting. 

      Btw, Kaiser...  more
        ·  April 23, 2017
      Did I? Because I'm sure I've read the previous chapter. Or are you talking about another chapter before that?
  • A-Pocky-Hah!
    A-Pocky-Hah!   ·  April 22, 2017
    Hircine begging to Auriel? Now that's something worth to see. :D
    I feel sorry for Aelberon. Can't he just spend one day without going into a temper tantrum?
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Hircine begging to Auriel? Now that's something worth to see. :D
      I feel sorry for Aelberon. Can't he just spend one day without going into a temper tantrum?
        ·  April 23, 2017
      lol, well, when faced with this dilemma, I'd be a bit upset too.