Categories > Games > Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion > The Quest For The Ruby Throne: Book One

Chapter 8: Life on the Homestead

by karnag_gro_gornish 0 reviews

Farkas has to leave to Cyrodiil on important business, and so Karnag and Farkas' brother Vilkas lend a hand in beginning construction on a home for Lyanna.

Category: Elder Scrolls 4: Oblivion - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Crossover,Fantasy - Warnings: [!!] - Published: 2019-09-20 - 3107 words - Complete

Chapter Eight: Life On The Homestead
I had grown accustomed to swinging a hammer in battle, but swinging one to build a home was an entirely new experience for me. I don't mind the work in the slightest, especially with Farkas doing most of the heavy lifting. He's been extra protective of me lately, since we've been trying to conceive a child for some weeks now. But I know my body, I know my limitations, and child or no, Lyanna Stone is no stranger to manual labor.
Karnag has been an immense help as well. He's done every bit of iron work we've needed without so much as asking for a single Septim in return. Talos knows I've offered but he refuses to take anything but a steady supply of mead to quench his thirst as he works the forge tirelessly. I don't have the slightest idea what I've done in this life to deserve such people in it, but by the Nine I'm thankful for it.
The frame for the main hall is almost complete, just a few more nails and the last of the timbers will be in place. Farkas holds tight on the rope that suspends the rafter in place, while I drive the nails through the thick Skyrim pine. Just as the last one is nearly in, the nail snaps halfway through its shaft. I call down to Karnag, over the sound of his hammer blows. “I need one more, Karnag, this last nail snapped on me!”
“Damn it all, that rug sold me impure ore. I can't prove it, but I just know it. We'll have to lash it for now, I need to ride to Whiterun for more.”
“Alright. I guess we can get the clay fired into bricks for the floor while you aren't using the forge.”
“I'll be back as soon as I can.” Karnag took off his apron and set aside his tools, trading them for his sword and crossbow. He conjured up that spectral horse of his and took off south, while Farkas tossed me a rope to secure the beam in place while we waited for him to get back. “Do you need a hand getting down?” He called up to me. Instead of an answer, I leapt from the cross-beam I was straddling, and slowed my descent with a single, “Fus,” aimed at the ground below me. The force from my Thu'um was enough to slow my fall so I landed gently on the grassy earth below.

Good brick making clay was in short supply in this area of Whiterun, but Farkas had found a decent deposit in Hjaalmarch not too far away, and he and Karnag spent the better part of yesterday digging to fill a wagon full and brought it back. There would be more than plenty here to bake all the bricks we needed, with enough left over to mix with the insulating clay Karnag brought from Falkreath to give our walls the strength to withstand any winter Skyrim could throw at us. I set about packing the clay and straw mixture into the wooden molds, while Farkas went to fetch water from the spring to the north. We kept up a steady pace and got the majority of the bricks we needed finished by the time Karnag returned from Whiterun a few hours later. “Welcome back, Karnag. Find the ore you needed?”
“And better. Caught up with the cats that sold me that bad ore. Khajiit are much more likely to negotiate a refund with a crossbow between their eyes.”
“You didn't hurt them, did you?”
“Of course not. You know me better than that, Lyanna. But they didn't. No one cheats Karnag gro-Gornish without paying for it in gold or blood, and they opted for gold. Shifty cat forked over his purse without a fight, had enough gold to get enough ore to finish the iron works, with enough left over to be able to refine some good steel for reinforcement.”
“I'm glad things turned out in our favor then. We've got the bricks about finished up, so the forge is all yours.”
“We'll have this framing done before sunset at this rate.”
Karnag was right. By the time the sun began to dip below the horizon, we had the roof timbers secured, the wall panels in place, and the floor bricked in and ready for tile. Only one more night spent at Jorrvaskr before we would have a proper roof over our heads. The three of us locked our tools away for the night and saddled up to head south.

About halfway to the city, we were stopped in the middle of the road by a half dozen Khajiit in battle gear. Farkas and Karnag reared their horses, and Karnag shouted, “Stand aside, cats. We have no business with you.”
“No, this one has business with you, Orc!” One of the Khajiit replied, drawing a shortsword, “No one threatens Marandru-jo and walks away!”
“Marandru-jo cheated me out of my money, and I collected what I was owed. Our business is concluded.”
“Marandru-jo disagrees. Now hand over your gold, or this one will take it from your corpse!”
“You really have no idea who you're dealing with here, do you?” Karnag said as he dismounted. He drew Dawnbreaker from its sheath, it's brightness temporarily blinding the mercenaries. In one fluid motion, he caught the hand guard of the mercenary's sword and wrenched it from his paw, catching the hilt in mid-air and driving its blade into the dirt between the stone cobbles of the road. “I will give you one last warning,” he said, as the rest of the mercenaries drew their swords, “Turn around, or this will not end well for any of you.” The mercenaries all exchanged glances with one another, and two of the six dropped their swords, turned tail and ran, as the three still holding swords charged Karnag. The first sword swung for his head, which he caught with his mail-protected hand. He drove Dawnbreaker through a gap in the steel plate in the mercenary's side, killing him before he released his grip. The second sword struck the heavy orichalcum plates of Karnag's armor and bounced, which Karnag responded to by pulling his sword from the dead Khajiit, and slashing the throat of the one closer one. The third Khajiit, seeing his comrades cut down in mere seconds, stopped mid-strike, withdrawing and dropping his sword. “This one surrenders, please, do not kill this one!” He said, slowly backing away. “Tell Marandru-jo that Karnag gro-Gornish, slayer of Alduin, is not to be trifled with. Is that understood?” The defeated Khajiit ran off, and when he was satisfied that they were not coming back, Karnag collected the dropped swords and deposited them into Farkas' saddle bag. “Never discard good steel. Gonna melt these down and forge some good heavy braces for the house with them. It'll take the breath of Kynareth herself to knock that house down if I have anything to say about it.” Karnag remounted his spectral horse as Farkas and I continued to stare at him in amazement. “What,” he asked almost comically, “Never driven off mercenaries before?”
“Well yes,” I said, “But I don't usually let most of them run away.”
“Violence only begets more violence. If I killed them all, Marandru-jo would only send more. That was a message.”

We got the rest of the way to Whiterun without incident, thankfully. Farkas and I stabled our horses and Karnag... Well I'm not sure how to describe it properly but his demanifested, so there's that. We made the walk up to Jorrvaskr and could hear the songs long before the building came into view. Before we entered, Karnag stopped us, smiled, and held a finger to his lips, before loudly throwing the door open and shouting as loud as he could, “Now which one of you horker-faced, skeever-brained, milk-drinkers started a party without me?” The hall erupted in joyous cheers as the three of us entered. Vilkas handed Karnag a mug of ale and said, “You haven't heard the news?”
“No, what news? We've been a bit busy lately.”
“The Moot just convened. All the Jarls voiced their support for Elisif. The war is officially over!” Karnag stood back for a moment before shouting, “Now that's something worth drinking for!” He raised his mug into the air, as did the rest of the Companions in the hall, and we all drank merrily.

It was a rousing evening. A few of the whelps challenged Karnag to an arm-wrestle, and I don't think I need to mention how that went. Even after having half a keg's worth of mead in him, he had more strength in one arm than those whelps did in their whole bodies, but they had heart, I'll give them that. Karnag eventually passed out drunk, while Farkas and Skjor sang the songs of glories long since passed. I eventually went down stairs to find Vilkas standing in what was Kodlak's room. I went to speak to him. “Still doesn't feel right, him not being here, does it?”
“No,” Vilkas said with a heavy sigh, “And I don't think it ever will. Kodlak was a great man, and a great mentor.”
“Aye. I pity the man who has to try and fill his shoes.”
“Well, so far no one has stepped up to fill the position. We've been trying to convince Vignar to take the role as Harbinger but he doesn't want it. God's know why, he's certainly more than qualified.”
“What about Skjor? He could easily be Harbinger.”
“I agree, but so far he's been as adamant as Vignar that he can't stand where Kodlak stood. It may be a long time before the halls of Jorrvaskr have a new Harbinger.” We stood in silence for a few moments, before I broke it by saying, “Say, Vilkas, I've been meaning to ask you something.”
“Of course. What's on your mind?”
“Well, the house is nearing completion, and I was wanting to know if you'd be interested in filling the role as steward? I can't keep up the place on my own with Farkas getting ready to leave for Cyrodiil in a few days, and I've already asked so much of Karnag, it feels wrong of me to keep imposing on his generosity.”
“I heard about what happened with the Khajiit earlier. Nasty business that. But I'd be more than happy to be your steward. Gods know I don't have much to do around here these days. It'll be nice to get out a bit more.”
“Great, I knew I could count on you, Vilkas. And thanks, not just for taking the job, but for being here for us.”
“Well of course! You think I'm going to let my brother run around completely unsupervised?” We laughed together and called it a night shortly after that. Farkas eventually came down to bed, clearly piss-drunk. But he was out as soon as his head hit the pillow and softly snoring away.

The first rays of morning sun shone through the windows, and Farkas was already awake when I opened my eyes. I could hear his voice along with his brother's coming from the other room. “I can't thank you enough, brother,” Farkas said sincerely. “Don't give it another thought,” Vilkas replied, “I'm happy to be around. Sure beats cooling my heels around Jorrvaskr all day. Might get the chance to do some hunting.” I got dressed and started to gather some of our things together to get them ready for transport, when Karnag limped downstairs. “Morning, Karnag,” Vilkas said loudly from across the hall. Karnag recoiled as if he had been slapped in the face. “Not so loud, if you don't mind,” he grumbled, “I've got a head for ten. Knew I should have stayed away from that Cyrodiilic brandy.” He sat down, holding his forehead in one hand, and a mug of what I guessed was Brill's hangover remedy. He sipped the drink in his hand slowly as he gradually remembered how to simply be alive for the day, and I continued to shuffle and pack our things away for the trek back to Winstad.

By the time Karnag finished his drink, I was mostly through packing our belongings into crates, and Karnag helped Vilkas and Farkas transport them up the stairs and down the street to the carriage waiting just outside the city gate. With a few more trips back and forth, as well as a few Septims to the local children to carry some of the lighter things, Farkas and I looked on Jorrvaskr for the last time as our home, and for the first time as a place of memories. We said our goodbyes to the few that were either not sleeping off the last night's revelry or hadn't yet left for various jobs, and we made our final trip to the wagon. The last crate was loaded, and Farkas and Karnag tied the load down securely. Farkas and I saddled up, while Karnag elected to ride as guard while Vilkas drove the wagon back north.

Thankfully, we didn't run into any trouble on the trip back, and when we arrived, we set to the task of unloading everything from the wagon. We roughly piled all the crates inside the house frame, and in frustration, Vilkas said, “I don't mean to be critical, but your roof isn't even finished yet!”
“Neither is the floor,” Karnag said, setting a crate down with a heavy sigh, “But we'll get to that in due time. That's the last crate. I'm going to take the wagon back to Whiterun to pick up the last few bales of straw for the roof insulation, there are enough of the nails I made from the good iron to get the roof slats in place by the time I get back. Once the roof is on, then we don't have to worry about Farkas leaving tomorrow. We don't have to kill ourselves getting the floor tiled or the walls plastered.”

Karnag did just that, and so Vilkas climbed up to the roof as I handed him boards and nails while Farkas left to fetch more water so that we can mix up the binder for the roof insulation. I tried to focus on the work, but my mind kept drifting off, thinking about what this meant for my future. I was never one to stay in place for any length of time since I left Markarth, and this would definitely be something of a permanent investment on my part. Was I really ready to settle down, raise a family? At the time I was still very unsure. And truth be told, I don't think I ever truly can. My father always told me I have a restless spirit. I guess he was right.

Karnag returned nearly an hour later with a wagon full of long-cut wheat straw for the roof insulation. Vilkas was just getting the last board into place and nailed it down when Farkas returned carrying six buckets of water on a yoke over his shoulders. “Perfect timing,” Karnag said, getting off the wagon, “Looks like we're going to make great time today.” Karnag and Farkas each took a shovel, and I took a pitchfork. “Make sure you pack it tight,” Karnag said as he was mixing the clay together with the water Farkas retrieved, “You don't want any loose spots, or else you'll have leaks.” I gave him a look of frustration, silently reminding him that this was not, in fact, the first time I had put the roof on a house. In cadence, Karnag handed Vilkas the shovel full of clay up the ladder, and when it was returned, I passed up the fork of straw, and we repeated the process for the better half of the day, getting the very last of the straw in place as the sun was just over the treetops. “Well, that's the last of the straw,” I said as Vilkas packed it into place. “Good,” he replied, “Because we had just enough to cover the roof.” Karnag scoffed, saying, “I told you all I did the math right.”
“Karnag, you're terrible at math,” I said, “That's why I ordered two extra bales.” I don't think it's possible for Karnag's face to be red, but it certainly changed a deeper shade of gray-green. “But I checked it three times!”
“You didn't take into account it's been a dry year and the wheat grew in thin. I told you, this isn't my first time putting on a roof.” Karnag's face curled in embarrassment, and he said, “Well by the Nine, it certainly looks like you have everything well at hand here. I'll just be taking my tools and heading home now, your highness,” sneering at me as he gathered his tools together and conjured his spectral horse. “I was kidding, Karnag!” I shouted, trying to ease the situation, “I didn't mean to offend!”
“I know you didn't, it's alright, Lyanna. I'll be back in a few days to help with the floor. I've got a lot of work to do at Lakeview first though.” He said, spurring his horse and heading south for Falkreath. “Well, I hate to end on a sour note, but I have to get going as well,” Farkas said, “The ship for Cyrodiil leaves at dawn and I need to be on it.”
“Alright,” I said, wiping my dirty hands on my work apron and pulling him close to me, “Be safe, alright?”
“You know me, I will.”
“And don't do anything stupid, okay?”
“You're worrying too much, my love. I'll be back before you know it.”
“No you won't, but that's okay. Now get going, I don't want you to be riding in the dark for too long.” Farkas assembled the things he needed in his saddlebags, and as he did, found the swords that Karnag had left in there. “Damn, Karnag was going to use these, wasn't he? Oh well, he'll be by soon enough.” I took the pile of swords from him and locked them in the chest that held our tools next to Karnag's work bench and forge setup. With a long kiss goodbye, Farkas saddled his horse and I watched him ride off until I couldn't see him anymore. “Let's try to get some rest,” Vilkas said to me, heading inside for the night, “We've got a lot of work ahead of us tomorrow. Hopefully we can get a well dug so we don't have to go so far for water.”
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