I remembered the day I saw the guards dragging my father into Dragonsreach. It was not his first time before the Jarl’s court. But, this crime was his worst.
I leaned against the doorway to court wizard Farengar’s quarters. The Jarl was particularly put out, having to delay his noon meal in order to conduct Father’s trial. And by the smell of roast meat wafting from the kitchens, I could see why.
“Markus, son of Fermund,’ Jarl Balgruuf announced. “The Court of Whiterun finds you guilty of theft, burglary and desecration of the Hall of the Dead.”
At this, my father spat on the ground, marring the pinewood before the Jarl’s feet. Curling his lip in distaste, Balgruuf continued.
“Under the eyes of Talos,”Balgruuf began. “All Nords are raised to fight well, and to die well. For all Nords who have fallen in glorious battle, their spirits now live in Shor’s Hall, in Sovngarde, yet their remains rest in the Hall of the Dead.”
“All Nords were raised to respect their dead, yet our town guard finds you not only stealing the trophies of war earned by our fallen brothers and sisters, but trespassing into the inner catacombs, disturbing the crypts of warriors who fought alongside Ysgramor himself! Is this not true, Markus?”
“Hah!” My father cried. “If our so called ‘warriors’ live in Sovngarde, with all the mead they can drink, and enough roasted meats to feed strongholds of orcs ‘till the end of days, then surely, they would not care to part with a few items to help their fellow living sons and daughters of Skyrim?”
“A true son of Skyrim would not trespass in the Hall of the Dead, and rouse the Draugr within!” Balgruuf retorted. “Now, I must take men away from the walls, to destroy all of the awakened Draugr. These men are needed on the outside, to defend the town against the dragon menace!”
Father looked away, and I winced. Mother had been killed two Loredas’s ago by a dragon attack. The memory of it still resonated in both our minds.
“For these reasons, Whiterun shall have justice from you, Markus,” Balgruuf continued. “Bjorlam will take you to Cidhna Mine in Markarth, where you will pick at the stone until the end of your days.”
Father gazed at Balgruuf, tears forming from his one good eye.
“You call this justice?” He protested. “Rather than sentencing a brother Nord to a life lived under the heel of the Silver-Bloods, why won’t you help me? If you had not signed that blasted White-Gold Concord-“
“ENOUGH!” Balgruuf shouted. “Enough. The hour grows late, and I tire of this. The court’s sentence has been passed. Justice has been given. Escort the prisoner away.”
Two guards grasped Father’s arms. As they led him out, I heard him mutter: “Justice has been given? Traitors! Talos would never have let a son of Skyrim suffer like this!”
They reached the doors, and Father looked back at me, staring through his good eye.
“You would be the worst traitor, preferring to weave spells of Destruction instead of training your sword-arm like a true Nord would,” he sneered. “Wouldn’t you agree, my son?
I balled my fists, and cupped a lightning bolt in my hands. Before I could shoot, Farengar, the court wizard of Dragonsreach laid a hand on my shoulder.
“Don’t do it, Onmund,” he assured. “Your aptitude for the arcane arts will serve you well come the day you join the College of WInterhold. There, you can escape your father’s end, and have a whole new beginning, in peace.”