Straag Rod: Book 1, Part 2, Chapter XIX: Brother's Honor



    2nd of Sun’s Dawn


    Why Äelberon picked up Skjor’s armor, Aela didn’t know. The Mer, with his sharp eyes, spotted it resting against a small ridge near the dilapidated fort they were now approaching and just picked it up. The extra weight didn’t seem to slow the Elf down. In fact, it was she who struggled to keep up, his pace filled with an urgency that was beginning to encroach upon her confidence in Skjor.


    “Brother, slow down.” She spoke into the falling snow, nearly jogging to match the Altmer’s long strides.


    “We have time…” He muttered, the breath from his words leaving wisps of frozen air in his wake.


    “Aye, we do.” She answered, furrowing her brow.


    “We have time…” Äelberon repeated. “He will give me time.”


    It seemed as a chant to Aela while they traveled from their camp towards Gallow’s Rock. Time? What was so important about time to the old Mer? Äelberon had refused to answer her questions as they moved. How did he know Krev the Skinner? Why was he so worried? She felt the brush of fur against her thigh and saw that Koor remained back with her, not desiring to venture forward, as if not wanting his Master’s company at that particular moment. The animal’s head was low to the ground, his eyes uncertain. Her hand reached and gave the animal a reassuring pat on the head. I’m just as confused as you, Little Moon Brother.


    They approached the fort, stopping dead in their tracks. One had to be a total fool to not know that a werewolf had indeed passed by. Aela swallowed, both repulsed and in awe of Skjor’s power. The blood, the bodies. The strange metallic smell that intoxicated her, making her heart quicken in response. She noticed that the Mer’s heart had also quickened. You feel it too, don’t you brother? His face, however, at least what was visible under the hood, only conveyed seriousness. Extreme seriousness. She saw the displaced snow upon the roof, the claw marks upon the stone brick, and judged that Skjor had ambushed the Silver Hand from there, probably knocking two down with his sheer weight alone. They did not know what hit them. Skjor, she and Kodlak had always been the more tactical werewolves. Farkas and Vilkas? They were as they were in their weak forms, best at up close combat, but lacking in stealth. And Äelberon?


    He’s feral.


    She flinched, not liking her thoughts. No, he’s not, Skjor will train him. Skjor will show him.


    An owl screamed into the night and the Altmer turned from the carnage, his eyes, like a bird of prey’s, honed in on the direction of the bird’s cry. It came from the roof.


    “Just an owl screaming.” Aela observed with a shrug, still surveying Skjor’s destruction, her eyes drawn to the young swarthy Nord with his throat torn open. “Hircine’s spear, Skjor.” She added under her breath, blinking. “Our old Veteran has not lost his touch...”


    “A scream?” The Mer asked, interrupting her. He then frowned. “Nay, a laugh. A laugh. Owl’s words. Wisdom.” His head shook in clear disapproval. “But wisdom is not always heeded...”


    “What do you mean by that? Are you saying this is wrong?”  Aela challenged, crossing her arms over her chest, but the Mer wasn’t looking at her. His eyes were on one of the bodies near the campfire, trying to process what he was seeing. “The Silver Hand attacked Farkas, they had it com--”


    “Gods above! Torsten!” Äelberon cried, ignoring her and rushing past towards the smoldering campfire, dropping Skjor’s armor in the process.


    “What? Who? Torsten?” She reached for her bow, grumbling when she realized it wasn’t yet strung. “Is there someone here?” Aela asked, scanning the camp.


    He didn’t answer. For a moment, his head whipped to the snow-covered ground, noticing something, his eyes narrowing, but he resumed his course. She picked up Skjor’s gear and trudged forward, pausing when she saw it too.


    There.  Heading away from the campfire, heading northeast. Footsteps.


    “Brother, did you see the footsteps?” She asked, dragging the bag to rest it against a pile of boxes and crates next to the campfire, still wondering what the Mer had cried out for. “A fat one.” Indeed, the tracks were born by someone with considerable mass, and not of the muscular kind. Aela chuckled. “Waddling about the snow like a plump chicken.


    “Yes, I saw. The tracks are too short and wide for a warrior’s gait. They head northeast. Traveling very slow.” His brow lowered. “Why would Skjor leave a survivor?”


    “Probably not worthy prey, brother. We do not kill indiscriminately, you know.” Aela turned her head northeast, but then dismissed it. “Not our concern, at least for now.”


    The owl screamed again, Aela focused her eyes on it, briefly studying its ghostly form framed against the crumbling stone window of the fort’s roof. Two black eyes, like deep pools, surrounded by white feathers, forming a distinct triangle with its beak.  Bet you saw the whole damn thing, Ghost Bird, she thought with a proud smirk, staring right into those black night eyes. It turned away from her, a bobbing, alien motion, as if its head didn’t quite belong to its body, its black eyes finding something new to gaze upon.


    It was watching Äelberon, who now knelt next to the body. The head had been crushed by Skjor like a gourd, blood and pieces of brain staining the snow. He lifted an arm that in life probably belonged to an experienced warrior by Aela’s judgement. Typical of the Silver Hand. Some were whelps like the young boy and the girl by the door, almost unworthy, but the other two bodies closest to Äelberon were warriors. You strike a blow for Moon Born everywhere tonight, lover, she thought, feeling a wave of satisfaction. The pale, freezing skin was inked with a swirling pattern of blue. “Torsten…I am sorry.” He murmured, a touch too much regret in his voice for Aela’s taste.


    “A Silver Hand.” She corrected.


    “A man. A decent one. He used to like hearing me recite Songs of the Return...” He countered quietly, folding the arm gently over the corpse’s chest. “I am surprised he still ran with them. He was not happy…”


    “There are no decent Silver Hand, brother. Remember they attacked Farkas.”


    His eyes looked from the corpse and into hers, like two burning embers in the night. “And the price was paid, Aela. For both Farkas and Colovius, the fragment retrieved.”


    “It’s not enough.” Aela hissed, spitting towards the bodies.


    That he did not like, for he rose and approached her. She almost let herself be struck by the weight of his gaze, felt suddenly small by his great size, but his words changed that. “I remember Krev using those very words, youngling. ‘It is not enough’. Just before she skinned them.”


    Aela almost slapped him then and there, but she stopped herself, choosing instead to string her bow, to ready herself to join in Skjor’s glory. She didn’t face him when she spoke her next words, something made her unable to, but she could see his face out of the corner of her eye.  “You’re one of them, aren’t you?”


    The Mer briefly looked wounded from her accusation, old beyond his many years, before his face again became that mask of seriousness. “That you would think me one of them hurts me more than I think you realize, sister.” He then shook his head wearily and looked away. “It seems Farkas did not tell you everything…”


    “Tell us what?”


    “Damn it.” Äelberon cursed, letting his fist hit his thigh in frustration. “Truth is always better than protecting, though I myself am often guilty of this very sin. Ah Farkas, your heart is a big one and when hearts are big...” A sigh and then a tired smile while he gave a small shrug. “I guess Farkas did not want clouds gathering over what was supposed to be such a sunny day. I cannot blame the lad. Hevla is a fine thing, rare...”


    “Now you’re not making sense.”


    Unlike her, Äelberon had no problems looking her right in the eye. “I have been a demon hunter for many years, Aela.” The words were followed by a nod. “And I have worked for the Silver Hand before, but I am not one of them. Never. I swear this upon my god.”


    “Then how do you know that man, a Silver Hand?”


    Äelberon reached for a bloodied blanket and proceeded to cover the Nord that he had called Torsten, before kneeling again by the dead Nord's side. “I worked for them.” He explained. “Years ago and Torsten was among their ranks. Was assigned to show me around before I was taken to negotiate my fee with Krev. There was a large den in Cyrod. A den they wanted to clear, were unable to, and the Vigilants referred me to them. When you have survived in this violent profession as long as I have, word of your efficiency spreads, though the Vigilants and Goldpact were always extremely discreet, on account of my exile.” She felt a disapproving frown form on her face and he immediately reacted, the lines around his eyes and forehead creasing with guilt. “You are angry.”  He said sadly, looking away. “I cannot help what I was before I met you and your family and before they became my family too. I needed to survive, we all do what we regret to survive, but I could not...”


    Aela closed her eyes in regret, keenly ashamed of her own hypocrisy. She knelt next to the Mer and placed her head on his shoulder, felt his heartbeat. “I’m not angry, old Mer, though I wished Farkas had told us.”


    “He did not want--”


    “I know, clouds upon a sunny day.” His great arm encircled her shoulder, drawing her closer.


    “Would it have changed anything?”


    “Two hundred years told you to kill Farkas, and yet you didn’t.” She continued.


    “He is my brother.”


    “We all know what happened at Dustman’s Cairn. The mercy you showed. The love. And what you gave up.” Aela looked up at her brother, her brother in the blood, and their eyes met. “And if you say you are not a Silver Hand, then you are not, because I know you never lie.”


    Her head bent and she felt his lips press against her hooded head in a kiss. “Thank you. You are good to me, dear sister. I do not deserve it.” He whispered against her head.


    “Yes, you do.” She argued back. “So stop speaking nonsense.”


    “My apologies.”


    “Äelberon.” She warned.


    There was a flash of something in his eyes when she said his name and his mouth opened, as if he wanted to say something that had just come to him, tell her something veryimportant, but it closed and he thought before speaking again. “But I swear to you, those that died by my hand, died quick, painless. A bolt to the brain.” A small, sad chuckle escaped his lips, “Torsten used to call me ‘Bolt’, so quick was I at bringing them death. But Krev, she would, it was...” His voice trailed off, unable to continue.


    “What happened?”


    The Mer opened his mouth to answer, but was silenced when a loud, muffled roar cut through the very walls of the fort. Skjor? Aela shook her head. Of course it is Skjor, you fool. What other werewolf?  None others knew of their plans for tonight.


    “Skjor! He lives!” He shouted, as if surprised. He lives? What does he mean by that? Äelberon faced Aela, a flicker of hope in his eyes. “There is still time! He is giving me time! Blessed be Auri-El’s name...”


    The rest of her questions would be answered later. They sprinted towards the door, the Mer drawing his sword as he raced. The door came in contact with a great pauldroned shoulder and gave immediately with a wide swing. Another roar. She knew Skjor’s roar, he was calling for them.



    Got her right between those lacings. I remembered what you showed me, old Mer. And naked too, let’s not forget I fucked her up in nothing but the suit I was born in. That’ll be one for the stories they’ll tell of me in the Mead Hall. How Skjor of the Companions killed Krev the Skinner naked and managed to not get his dick cut off in the process, because that was one crazy weapon that bitch had. Skjor laughed, looking down at his little grey wolf, as he yanked the dwarven blade from the bitch’s ribs, only to abruptly end his laughter with a sharp gasp. Another intense jolt of pain radiated from his abdomen. The silver acid in his blood burned through him. The wound too deep. His world briefly went black and he thought he would fall, but through Hircine’s Grace, he remained standing. He wanted to remain standing.


    For them. Because they were coming.


    No Shield-Sibling should see another fall.


    I will lay myself down.


    Who shall sing me? No, I shall sing me, Into deathsleep sling me, Whence I on the path to Hel go, And this track I tread is cold, so cold, so cold.

    Skjor sang the song in his head, an old Skald tune one of his fellow Legionnaires taught him, passing the time just before Red Ring. He sang the song until his world stopped spinning. And when the world stopped spinning in the dark, Skjor opened his eyes, saw the bodies and the blood of Gallow’s Rock and nodded. The blood of the Silver Hand. From his hands. Their death. His legacy to bear.


    He looked down at the lifeless bitch at his feet, her cruel sword with its serrated silver blade just beyond her armored fingertips, out of her reach, never to be used again, never to hurt another Moon Born again, and Skjor gave Krev the Skinner a final present. A good, straight from the back of his throat, foamy, blood-stained spit on her ugly face. Always could spit better than you, Dec, Skjor smirked to himself, raising a trembling hand to wipe the blood from his mouth. Fort Dawnguard, he thought, releasing a ragged sigh… sometimes promises cannot be kept.


    “Fuck it.  It’s not like the Goldpact is awake yet anyway. Fucking Imperial princess.” He muttered, a little taken aback by how distant his voice sounded to him just now. Another jolt of pain and Skjor closed his eyes, trying to block it. Like how they taught him in the Legion.


    After a few seconds, it abated and his mind cleared. The giant bitch and her minions were dead, their parts all over Gallow’s Rock. Its walls washed with their blood in a cleansing bath. In Hircine’s name. Gallow’s Rock, he mused. Used to do hangings way back when it was a proper fort. It was a place for reckoning, a place where justice was done.


    And justice was done today. For Farkas, for the Moon Born he found broken and dying in their cages, and for his family. But it wasn’t over, he sneered, his eye finding those now lifeless blue eyes, perpetually frozen in terror. Not by a long shot. Hopefully, that fat ass cleric who pissed his pants would survive long enough to reach their leader. The one that even Krev answered to. And once he was found and killed, then it would truly be over. Forever.


    Only that particular shitstorm will be one you won’t see, Veteran, he thought, wiping the Skinner’s blood from his blade, shivering now from his own blood loss. He narrowed his eyes. Ah, shit, you chipped a blade again. He’s going to kill you. 'No respect for weapons', you can almost hear the Old Mary say, even for this Dwarven piece of shit you just picked up from a table because you suddently found yourself naked and needed something to kill things with. Respect your weapons, watch your blindside, rules, rules, rules.


    Watch your blindside, he repeated to himself, his mind briefly replaying their great duel in the Training Circle all those days ago with a smile. Remembering how they both moved. Well, no, you fell, while he almost danced. I bet you taught the Old Blade, Skjor nodded to himself. Aye, the technique was similar. He turned his head a little, no longer ignoring his blind side. A lesson learned a bit too late, he smirked and then groaned, pressing his hand against his stomach. He didn’t really need to see. His vision may be fogging, but he could still hear plainly. Could still smell.


    Footfalls upon stone floor.


    Their scents in the air. Faint lavender, metal, leather, traces of canis root, wet dog...wet dog--


    They brought the dog, he shook his head, releasing a weak chuckle, while he heard the animal’s soft paw pads. At least they didn’t bring the damn horse. Ah, who are you kidding, you like that old nag.


    Hers, light, like a graceful wolf upon the snow. He could see her in his mind, fierce and proud, ready to fight. Beautiful. Her bow, her hood slipping off like it always does. Her hair...snowflakes upon the deep auburn. Her war paint smudged.


    His, heavy and strong, charging, like the great bear of the ice flats.


    Snow Bear. Kodlak’s name for him.


    Closer, louder. Their hearts, quick. His, slowing. Their blood, pumping. His blood, stopping. Their sweat, of worry. His sweat, of death. His back was to them and he sort of liked that. Nice, you all can gape at my great pale arse. Should I wiggle it? That would make them laugh.


    Did they know? He channeled his senses a final time, enjoying the feeling of power that came with it, the command of his world. And he perceived them.


    She doesn’t.


    He does.


    You cannot lie to a priest. He can smell your death.


    Skjor  was glad for Äelberon’s longer legs. Only in the line of Ysgramor, does the Bear outpace the Wolf and the old Mer closed the distance first, his breathing heavy.




    The Nord stopped the Altmer with a brusque gesture of his hand. “Do not touch me. Do not help me.” Skjor whispered, his voice colored with exactly the authority he wanted. He looked down, and the Altmer’s bright wide eyes followed, like a bird of prey upon a mouse in a field, seeing what the Nord needed him to see. First, the silver bolt sticking from his thigh. Shot from a fucker of a crossbow wielded by a fucker of an Orc. Well, the fucker was in pieces now because all that little silver-tipped stick did was piss him off. But the Mer’s eyes then found was Skjor really wanted him to see. The gaping wound. His other hand just managing to keep his intestines inside his body. The blood rivers of red upon his skin, dripping from the front of his legs to form a pool on the floor. Krev’s body prevented the pool from being seen by Aela, but Snow Bear was not spared the sight. His Moon Brother saw now how the silver from the Skinner’s cursed blade was turning his veins grey, and that it was spreading rapidly. There was a flash of something tragic in the Mer’s eyes, a look of profound regret and he saw the Mer stare at his hands, knowing what he used to be able to do with them, but Skjor shook his head in warning. “Do not feel guilty. You have far better magicks now, my brother.” The Veteran uttered as softly as he dared.


    “Skjor!” Aela cried joyfully, just reaching the doorway, just happy that he was standing. It’ll only be a little bit before she smells your blood, so think fast and distract her. He wiggled his ass and she stopped dead in her tracks, laughing. “You idiot. Really, that’s how you greet me? You just need a tail to make it perfect. My perfect ugly dog.”


    Not one to disappoint his woman, Skjor promptly shook his head, making his ponytail move, not caring if his world was starting to spin again. “Better?”


    She laughed louder.


    He leaned closer to the Altmer. “I love her laugh.” He smiled. Yes, this was good. He would fall, but he would see her one last time.


    “I know.” The Mer whispered. “Skjor…” His somber tone was ruining the moment, damn old Mary.


    “Skjor?” The Huntress asked, starting towards them. “What the Oblivion are you two doing?”


    Koor began pacing and whining softly in the back of his throat, his ears pricked. Shit, he’s smelling the blood. As smart as his master. The Altmer opened his mouth too, but Skjor cut him off. “Shh.” He closed his eyes. “Let her laugh just a bit longer, dammit.” He turned his head a little and grinned, raising his voice beyond a hushed whisper. “First, you gotta promise me something, woman--”


    The dog suddenly bolted out the doorway. A distraction. Thank you, Old Huntsman.


    “Koor!” The Altmer yelled. “Come back!”


    “Must be hearing something…” The Veteran whispered.




    Skjor saw her roll her eyes out of the corner of his eye and was glad that there were two Silver Hand corpses bleeding so close to her that it was masking the scent of his own blood. “What?” She asked. 


    “Go get the dog. Maybe he’s hearing something.”


    “You have to be joking? Moon Brother is fine.”


    “Aela.” The authority in his voice had returned. “My mission, my orders.”


    “This isn’t the Legion, Skjor.” Oh, how his she-wolf bristled and he loved it.


    Time to snarl back.


    “Aela.” He wasn’t gentle this time.


    She rolled her eyes again. “Fine. Asshole…” A smirk formed in her features and Skjor felt his heart melt, threatening his resolve. “You want to compare cocks with Äelberon, that’s fine by me.”   


    “Just promise me a smile when you get back!”


    “You’ll get a smirk and an ass slap, Veteran. By Hircine, still blazed from the change… feeling the moons tonight…this place is a mess... Koor!”  


    He shook his head when she disappeared after the animal. “Damn, she gets me every time, Äelberon.” He gave the Mer a playful shove. “Well, she does know that I fantasize about you. It’s all that hair...” The Mer’s face was absolutely priceless, mortification mixed with a hearty dose of ‘the fuck’ and a little humor. It was Skjor’s turn to laugh hard and he had to fight with all his being to not let that laugh aggravate his injuries.


    He smiled, but then he whipped his head closer to Äelberon. “She’s gone. We can speak freely. Promise me, you will take care of her, the old Man too. Tilma…”


    Äelberon blinked and nodded. “I promise.”


    “By Auri-El?” Skjor asked, his eye narrowing, his hand clutching the hilt of the sword. It was a piece of shit, dull, but it did its job. “Swear by him.” He threatened with a glare.


    “I swear by Auri-El, my god.”


    The Nord leaned in closer to the Old Mary and clasped his muscled neck, bringing their heads close together, their foreheads nearly touching. “Now change your fucking face.” He commanded. “Smile and savor my victory. And you fucking be strong for her and for our pack. You be her brother, her son, and her father, priest of Jorrvaskr. Because it is not over yet. They will come for us. Krev isn’t the top hound on this wolf hunt. I heard them yacking and I laid a trap to flush that bastard out. If the bait doesn’t manage to die first. You hear me?”


    The eyes then widened, complete comprehension. “The tracks!” He whispered.


    What a brilliant fucker.


    “Shhh,” Skjor hissed, “she will be returning soon. And yes, the tracks. I let that fat fucker go on purpose. A cleric, maybe former Vigilant. Brand spanking new, but the Silver Hand like to talk. Krev isn’t the leader.” He coughed up blood and leaned forward, groaning at the pain, letting the Mer support his weight. The Altmer put his hand on his stomach to curtail the bleeding, attempting to be a physician, but Skjor snarled. “No! No… there is nothing you can do for me now, so pay attention, Äelberon of Dusk. Watch the shadows, watch, my brother, and protect her, your sister. And protect the old Man. He’s a target. They talked of him like he’s scum before a I slaughtered them, Snow Bear.  As if he’s defiled the Companions or something, and I wouldn’t have it.”


    “Kodlak!? That is impossible! He seeks the cure!”


    “I know, it doesn’t make fucking sense.” The Veteran shook his head, beginning to feel dizzy. He had to take a few deep breaths before continuing. “No… fucking… sense. You’d think the Silver Hand would be on the Old Man’s side, but no, they’re not.” He muttered. “I keep running the list of all of our pack. The new and old. Only name that keeps burning my mind is Fjona. A few years ago, she rejected the Gift… and left, promising her silence, but that’s not before my time, so…” he coughed again and the pain from the silver was now almost unbearable. “I... don’t understand… it…”


    “You think she is Silver Hand?” The Mer ventured.


    “I don’t know!” Skjor snapped, the pain talking. “Brat doesn’t seem smart enough or old enough to pull this shit, but… search the place. Be... Old Inspector Vale for our family, Äelberon. And always... always remember your tenets, especially for her, for Aela.”


    “Always, Skjor.”


    He squeezed Äelberon’s neck tighter, so hard the Mer felt the pain, and Skjor lowered his voice to a growl. “Or I’ll fuck you up so hard when you get to the Hunting Grounds that you’ll beg for mercy, beg for the Thalmor lash again, beg for those needles. Get it?”


    “I understand.” Äelberon nodded again, the red-orange eyes searching his.


    Skjor grinned, allowing his fingers to relax on the Mer’s neck and his heart to finally speak. He released a gust of air and nodded. “You are a good friend, of Dusk. I was proud when you joined our ranks and I shall rejoice when we meet again in the Hunting Grounds. My... true... brother...” He blinked and then shook off his building emotion, giving the Mer a hearty pat on the shoulder that let him know that while he was dying, he was not yet without strength. The old Mary grunted and smiled back.


    “Old pussy.” Skjor smirked.


    “Only in your dreams.” The Mer countered, his eyes finally snapping with their old fire.


    They both heard her footfalls and relaxed their stances, though he could now feel his legs shaking, barely holding him up. “Ha! Well, I don’t swing that way so sorry to disappoint!” He said loud enough for her to definitely hear him.


    “He flirting with you again,  old Mer?” The Huntress smirked as she cleared the doorway.


    “It is the hair.” Äelberon managed, in as cheerful a tone as he could muster.


    Skjor turned his head towards Aela. “So do you promise to smile or not, woman?”


    He could see Aela cross her arms over her chest and and roll her eyes again. “Of course I’ll smile. So you can gloat, fat arse. Sure, you have my word. Then I’ll bash your head in.” She flashed her teeth in her best grimace.  He snickered because she was so easy to mess with and-- fuck, don’t you feel tears, you fucker. You’re going to a better place and when her time comes, she’ll join you. And we won’t be bound by these stupid mortal shells, but roam under the Hunting Grounds’ full moon for all eternity.


    You will be free from the bonds that bind you, you are free from the bonds that bound you!


    “Like this?” The Huntress spoke through her teeth, interrupting the song playing in his mind. “Hircine’s Spear, what a man will bloody do when he’s tasted victory, eh Äelberon? We will not hear the end of it for weeks--”


    Unable to wait any longer, feeling his legs ready to give, Skjor turned around, letting her see everything, his expression thoughtful. “Krev the Skinner is dead, by my hand.” He proclaimed, his voice strong and low, despite the blood flowing from him. The life ebbing. “And by sword, tooth and claw, the Silver Hand knows another defeat. No more will they plague my family.”


    A total lie, but I can exaggerate a little under the circumstances. Our priest will be vigilant. He keeps his word, he does not lie.


    “Indeed.” The Mer echoed, placing a hand on Skjor’s shoulder. A reassuring squeeze from that bear paw. Protecting is sometimes better than the truth. You get it, old Mer, don’t you? He had no doubts the Priest of Jorrvaskr, the one made by Aela, who was, in turn, made by him, would safeguard the Mead Hall with all that he had. For, like Skjor, he had been saved by it too.


    Those beautiful, pale silver-grey eyes of hers widened a little, her nostrils flaring just enough to let Skjor know that, aye, she truly knew what was to come, but true to her word, the word of Aela the Huntress, the smile did not leave her face. It only morphed, from that silly grimace to something far more lovely. She walked towards him, her head held high, with every bit of the Grace that Tilma always knew she had in her. The Pride. When she came to him, she reached out with her hand and, at first, Skjor expected her to slap him. And he would have deserved it for what he was about to do to her. He shrugged off the Mer’s hand gruffly, ignoring his own unsteadiness. I can stand. You just hold your end of the bargain, Shield-Brother. I will stand for this last moment. I alone decide when I fall…


    And he waited for the slap.


    “Well met, my love, well met.” She whispered, the palm of her hand not slapping him, but gently touching his grizzled cheek, clammy from his sweat. He pressed his cheek against her palm as her lips found his in a kiss. As tender as mated wolves who greet each other after a long hunt. Wolves mate for life. Eagles too.




    Like hawks in the sky, floating lazy on a summer’s day by Lake Ilinalta. She and him floating upon the water, watching the hawks soar above--


    Do dragons, Skjor suddenly wondered in the last moments while she kissed him. No, they do not, they are only ever alone, like bears, and for a moment, he felt deep sorrow for the Shield-Brother forced to watch their love with those dragon eyes, noting how moved they were. They didn’t change, he thought dully. No silver-grey. It was strange, but Skjor put both that and the sorrow away very quickly. Why? Because his Aela then became as Kyne for a spell, the kiss at his end, and he let his eyes close at her soft touch. It felt good. Soft, so soft. A brief moment of softness in his hard, hard life…


    Skjor heard the howl of the great Huntsman, saw the Bloodmoon, felt the pounding of his heart in his head, the yearning of his spirit wolf to join in the hunt. Smelled the grass, heard the rushing water. They, the Great Pack, were chasing something.  He could see it as the stone of Gallow’s Rock crumbled, becoming rolling grasslands and dense forests. The Great Pack was chasing something, something golden-white in the distance, a bright light, running fast.


    And it was then that he decided to let himself fall.




    Hevla - joy

    Straag Rod ToC Book I

    Chapter XVIII * Chapter XX


11 Comments   |   The Sunflower Manual and 9 others like this.
  • Gnewna
    Gnewna   ·  January 10, 2019
    Damn it, I've had a cold for a week, I'm already dangerously low on Kleenex! Excellent, as ever.
  • Paws
    Paws   ·  January 9, 2019
    Some big things going on in this chapter, the revelation of Aelberon's history with the Silver Hand to Aela almost gets forgotten after the poignant ending and passing of Skjor. Almost, but not quite as I found that to be the second highlight here. The bi...  more
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Some big things going on in this chapter, the revelation of Aelberon's history with the Silver Hand to Aela almost gets forgotten after the poignant ending and passing of Skjor. Almost, but not quite as I found that to be the second highlight here. The bi...  more
        ·  January 9, 2019
      Exactly, right now, it sucks to be Of Dusk. 
  • Ben W
    Ben W   ·  November 5, 2018
    Finally an end worthy of Skjor and not the bitch death he got in the game. Someone of his caliber and expertise should've taken Krev down with him but, nah gameplay fucked him over worse than Aela could ever do to him. Good to see his closing story done j...  more
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Ben W
      Ben W
      Ben W
      Finally an end worthy of Skjor and not the bitch death he got in the game. Someone of his caliber and expertise should've taken Krev down with him but, nah gameplay fucked him over worse than Aela could ever do to him. Good to see his closing story done j...  more
        ·  November 5, 2018
      Yeah, while I try to remain faithful to the events of the game, sometimes, what Bethesda originally presented doesn't make sense and I spend my time trying to figure out what did. I didn't want yet another thing where player character is the bestest! Lol
  • Ebonslayer
    Ebonslayer   ·  November 4, 2018
    Damn. Werewolves can't cast magic in Straag Rod. Aelberon probably would've been able to save him, too. Damn good chapter, though, I really enjoyed it and hope more come along soon.
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Damn. Werewolves can't cast magic in Straag Rod. Aelberon probably would've been able to save him, too. Damn good chapter, though, I really enjoyed it and hope more come along soon.
        ·  November 5, 2018
      The decision to not have werewolves cast is, I believe, based on a lore book. It was mentioned several chapters back. Karver dug up the source, I think. But yeah, Albee most definitely could've saved him if he had his magicks. 
  • Karver the Lorc
    Karver the Lorc   ·  November 4, 2018
    I said it before, but I did enjoy the first part, the owl, the argument, the thoughts on the past. There was something... eerie about it, a bit mystical and ominous at the same time. 
    And the second part. Well... Skjor certainly did a number th...  more
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      Karver the Lorc
      I said it before, but I did enjoy the first part, the owl, the argument, the thoughts on the past. There was something... eerie about it, a bit mystical and ominous at the same time. 
      And the second part. Well... Skjor certainly did a number there, b...  more
        ·  November 5, 2018
      I love the conversation in the snow. The image of the owl is a nod to Teineeva, who had this wonderful chapter in his Skyrim fan fiction that featured a dream with barn owls. 
  • The Sunflower Manual
    The Sunflower Manual   ·  November 4, 2018
    More chappas! Yaaay! From our brainstorming sessions I sort of expected Skjor to get a full-blown fight scene, but cutting it all away mostly and just showing the outcome is even better, since there was already a fight close behind. This is sweeter and mo...  more
    • The Long-Chapper
      The Long-Chapper
      The Sunflower Manual
      The Sunflower Manual
      The Sunflower Manual
      More chappas! Yaaay! From our brainstorming sessions I sort of expected Skjor to get a full-blown fight scene, but cutting it all away mostly and just showing the outcome is even better, since there was already a fight close behind. This is sweeter and mo...  more
        ·  November 5, 2018
      And I really thank you for those brainstorming sessions. I was really stuck with this chapter for a long time and you helped me a lot. Things did go differently, but I'm happy with it.