Elara's Song, Chapter 14

  • “Welcome back Father!  I trust business is good,” Haakon greeted Aron with a wide smile at their weekly dinner.  They kept their own households in the Imperial City, though the eldest son knew he was funded completely by the extraordinary business acumen of his father.  Haakon was not completely aware of the extent of his father’s dealings, but he suspected they reached throughout Tamriel as evidenced by the exquisite décor of his home: a conservatory filled with a variety of exotic flora from Black Marsh and Pellitine, lush furs from Skyrim, beautifulcarved wooden furniture from Bosmeri forests.  Haakon could not place the origin of the majority of the dizzying variety of metals, rich fabrics and shining gems displayed artfully throughout his father’s well-appointed residence.

    However, he was happy that his father did not choose to share the details of his business dealings.  Haakon’s head was better suited to military exploits and strategy, and he was proud of his Nordic heritage, choosing to keep company with soldiers, finding camaraderie in the midst of armor and weaponry.  That is, until he met Onmund, a mage whose sharp mind and accuracy with bow and arrow stunned Haakon, who normally dismissed mages as aberrations in the natural order of the world.  Now he was in the position of spy to someone he was beginning to think of as a friend.

    “Business is always good, my son, though it requires a far seeing eye and much patience.  How have you fared with our new asset?” Aron deftly turned the topic, accentuated by a roll he ripped in half.

    “It seems he has no plan to return to Skyrim, as he has picked up odd jobs here in the city.  He seems to hang around the Thalmor Embassy, though we have only seen him enter once.”

    “Do you think he is an assassin?  We all know how dear Elara feels about Thalmor…murders them any chance she can get.  Rammligr blood at its finest,” Aron chuckled, and then grew serious.  “Ah, if we could only be sure about her, she would be so useful to us, to your cause.  But I do not know if her father poisoned her against us,” Aron sighed, leaning back in his chair to watch Haakon devour the roast pheasant breast before him.  “Enthir at the College has been next to useless for information, as he has been unable to gain Elara’s confidence, though he has confirmed all you have learned about Onmund.”

    Haakon shook his head.  How could he tell his father about the look of longing that Onmund cast at the embassy, which was not the calculating coldness he had encountered in assassins before?  “I doubt Elara even knows of his presence here, so little does he speak of life at the College.”  Onmund spoke plenty about his journeys in Skyrim, skillfully avoiding the topic of his former companion.  It was making Haakon homesick in fact, something his tightly scheduled forays into Skyrim had not allowed him to feel.  Onmund spoke of the land, the blessings of Kyne, adventure and monsters and battles, and the eccentricities of the Nords, over which they laughed as they both shared that native understanding.  Haakon even began to understand that part of Onmund’s attraction to the study of magic was the study of the harsh beauty of their land and the gods that had formed it.   In fact, Onmund was challenging Haakon’s view of the world simply by being himself.

    “Could he simply be a spy?” Aron probed, concerned by the clouded aspect of his son’s eyes, used to reading his open gestures.

    “It is possible, but he is a poor one at that.”

    “Or an extremely clever one.  Mages are not like soldiers, son, and they are perverted by their use of magic, and may not act the same as the men you normally meet.  Remember the Altmer magic users from the Great War?”  Aron pushed gently, and was gratified by an involuntary shiver from his son.  “Document any activity he has with the Embassy.  We may be able to use this as additional leverage with our niece, as I think she can be counted on for her reaction to anything Thalmor.”

    Haakon nodded and swallowed.  Never before had his father’s orders created a conflict for him.  All of his work was as a courier, or armed protection of their trade caravans.  Before that it was the noble occupation of war.  It was always obedience to his father, honoring family and tradition and the sacrifice his father made in leaving Skyrim behind to defend the Empire.   Yet Haakon’s eyes wandered around the rich furnishings of his room, and the thought of sacrifice stuck in his throat.

    Aron grew disturbed at the sudden change in his son’s demeanor.  “Ulfric is growing impatient and greedy.  Since your most recent visit he is demanding a visit from our niece to ensure she is on his side.  Plus he wants more gold,” Aron grumbled.

    “He is a soldier, father, and too much inaction grates on such a man.”

    Aron glanced sharply at his son, and wondered if he was speaking about Ulfric or himself.  “What may have been a promising partnership is becoming troubled by his ideology, and it is such a waste of a man, makes him too unpredictable for our purposes.  We are not ready to make our move, son, and though I always dictate the terms, I feel we may need to deploy that little leverage you have and see where our niece stands to placate Ulfric for a while longer.”  Aron studied his son.  “I have also received a letter from Tullius.”

    Haakon immediately straightened, strange and uncomfortable thoughts forgotten.  Aron laughed.  “You are anxious to hear how your suit of the Fair Elisif proceeds?”

    His son blushed.  “You know I have not married so that we could make the most advantageous match for our family interests.”

    “It does not hurt that she is the most beautiful woman in Skyrim either,” Aron smiled knowingly.  “Tullius reports favorably and would be pleased if Elisif makes a match with a war hero who is loyal to the Empire, at least as far as he knows.  She is young and unsure of herself, but easily flattered.  A greater threat from Ulfric may be the push she needs.”

    “So I am not enough incentive, Father,” Haakon replied, with uncharacteristic bitterness.

    “No, but she would have to relinquish power.  You are very well aware that power is the most difficult thing to live without.”  Aron watched his son carefully, for a moment thinking he was speaking to Orin instead of his loyal Haakon.  “And becoming High King is not a guarantee.  It will be up to your actions.”  And maybe some coin.

    Haakon smiled brilliantly, employing the full breadth of his charm to reassure his father.  They continued their conversation filled with Imperial City gossip, trying to cover their knowledge of the unexpected rift between them.  Surprised, Haakon realized the person he most wanted to speak with would hate him for his treachery.


1 Comment
  • Vazgen
    Vazgen   ·  September 5, 2013
    Interesting to see Haakon and Onmund growing to like each other. It might even affect Haakon enough to turn against Aron! And the political machinations with marriage are well thought-out.