UOTW Chapter 209 Fort Dunstad

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    Far to the north of the plains when dawn was taking hold of the sky above Skyrim, Sotek emerged from his tent and walked over to the Imperial campfire. Legate Rikke was already there waiting for him and she casually motioned at a log and asked him to sit down while she carried on cooking a large rough slab of meat. Judging by the smell of it, Sotek presumed it to be veal. He sniffed at the air and easily picked up the scent of several elk in the area. Silently he wished for a richer meat than the slaughtered cow.

     

    The Argonian succumbed to his fate and accepted the imperial supplies as the veal was dumped onto a wooden plate with absolute disregard to his preferred meal. He grimaced dejectedly at the food when Rikke handed it across to him.

     

    “I believe that’s how you like your meat cooked, rarer than most but I can understand why”. As she spoke she gave him a smile. “I am sorry about you not being able to contact Aela, but I got to keep things tight; there’s too much riding on this”.

     

    “Yes I understand”. Sotek muttered in return. Breakfast was spoiled and now Rikke’s words left his stomach in a knot. “Just remember, once things are secure at the other camp I’m off for a few days”.

     

    “Yes that’s fair enough. Sotek, I know I’ve said it before but I am grateful for your help”.

     

    The Argonian hissed through gritted teeth and began eating in silence while Legate Rikke looked on. When he finished the ‘offering’ Rikke moved away from the fire and marched towards the main tent while she called him to her side.

     

    Sotek was several feet behind her when Rikke stopped just short of the tent. She issued fresh orders to several of her auxiliaries who jumped to attention and started packing up various sections of the camp.

    “You there! Prepare to move out”. As an afterthought she turned back to Sotek and beckoned him inside the marquee.

    “Are you ready?”

     

    He gave a slight laugh as he responded with a mocking, ‘no’, but then he got up as well and followed her to the main tent for the briefing.

     

    Legate Rikke stood behind the table as her officers surrounded the other side while Sotek looked on from the sidelines so he could see the plan of attack without the hindrance of other people getting in his way. Rikke took a deep breath then paused, giving her a moment to run the plan through her head one more time.

    “Right this is how it’s going down. I want four units; two large detachments, ‘A’ and ‘B’ and two small auxiliary groups, ‘1’ and ‘2’. Sections ‘A’ and ‘1’ will head through the south gateway. ‘A’ will start to secure the outer compound. Sotek I want you with that force. Their small unit will head straight inside the main barracks. Once the outer compound is secured take out the ramparts and aid in the inner compound”.

     

    She then turned to her other officers who would lead the second part of her attack.

    “The second detachment, unit ‘B’ and their auxiliary group will attack from the north gate. This attack force will make their way straight for the inner compound; the small unit is to head for the commander’s quarters. We hit at Midday; any questions?”

     

    Sotek looked at the map. The fort didn’t seem that big so he couldn’t help but wonder why they needed four groups.

    “How many of them will there be? Do you really think it’s necessary to split us up so much?”

     

    “Yes I’m afraid I do”. Rikke sternly replied. “They have the defences and numbers. Listen up, all of you; we are outnumbered three to one. We have to hit hard and divide their forces. If we can take the entrance to the barracks we immediately half their number; with no commander on the field, they will have little in the way of a chain in command”.

     

    Sotek lifted his hand up, but he stood there silently.

     

    Rikke acknowledged him and patiently waited for the Argonian to speak. She waited for a few seconds but he wasn’t forthcoming in his question leaving Rikke hanging on to the edge of the table until she sighed as she prompted him.

    “Yes? What is it?”

     

    “Oh I was wondering if it’s too late to join Ulfric’s side”. He replied with a cheeky grin.

     

    Rikke responded to Sotek’s comment by bursting out in laughter.

    “Yes, it is for you. He’s put a bounty on your head. You’re worth 500 gold to him”.

     

    If she expected Sotek to be surprised she was very much mistaken for he remained completely unfazed, if not a bit disappointed. “Only 500? Oh well, I’ll have to try to be more diplomatic with him next time I’m in Windhelm”.

     

    She then turned to the others and spoke.

    “Anyone else wanting to change sides? Ok, move it out you got three hours to get into position”.

     

    Once Rikke had finished with the briefing, she dismissed the group who quickly dispersed as they went about their relevant tasks. Sotek went to his tent and collected his weapons before making his way to the horses. The quartermaster, who was looking out for him, call out to the Argonian and presented to him a quiver of arrows to use.  

    “I was asked to give you these. Their ebony arrows; far more effective than steel or Iron”.

     

    Sotek slipped a single arrow out of the quiver and examined the workmanship. He could see the quality and craftsmanship the blacksmith had put in to them and he made a point of saying so.

    “These are fine arrows; you did a good job”.

     

    One officer, who happened to pass by, couldn’t help but comment on his words.

    “Ha, the Dragonborn feels he can recognize quality blacksmithing”.

     

    Sotek slyly winked at the blacksmith and showed the imperial one of his own Dragonbone arrows.

    “I thank you for these but I have my own”.

     

    The quartermaster’s eyes opened wide when he saw it and he couldn’t contain the excitement in his voice.

     “By the Eights! Where did you get it from?”

     

    “I didn’t get them from anywhere. Well that’s a half truth to be honest. The Companions helped me collect the dragon scales and bones. Do you know Eorlund? From Whiterun? He helped me make these; along with my weapons and armor. Well, that’s another half truth… I helped Eorlund”.

     

    The officer couldn’t help but snub him.

    “Hmph that’s more like it”.

     

    Sotek smiled to himself and waved farewell to the quartermaster then made his way to the horses and mounted up on the stallion which Rikke had singled out for him. Within a few minutes the assault force was heading towards Fort Dunstad.

     

    The journey to the fort took just over two hours as predicted and fortunately for them, the road was quiet and void of any travelers to impede or cause any unnecessary complications on their journey. Now the fort lay just beyond their sight, the force split as Rikke had ordered. Soon two large detachments had formed up with a smaller auxiliary unit alongside them.

     

    Sotek joined the main group attacking from the south however he quickly moved from his position when the thick tall branches of a tree beckoned him. Breaking ranks he approached the officer in command and informed him of his proposal.

    “I’m going to those trees then start the attack from there. It’s a good vantage point and I’ll have a clear shot of the tower”.

     

    The officer barely nodded, leaving Sotek to his own devices. Unbeknown to Sotek, Rikke had already forewarned the commanding officer that the Argonian was best utilized by leaving him to his own devices. By letting the ‘wolf of the leash’ as Rikke had put it, Sotek’s abilities would be unrestrained by ranks and orders. ‘After all, you don’t fire a catapult at an opposing fort then control the boulder. It knows what to do when it hits the wall’.  With this thought in mind, the officer let Sotek break away and fight on his own terms.

     

    The Argonian sneaked forwards, keeping out of sight using the tree line for cover. Once he was in position he scanned the tower and ramparts. Silently he wished the Huntress was there; he could have done with her support and more so her aim. He notched an arrow and picked out his first target; a Nord archer at the top of the tower.

     

    The arrow flew true and slammed into the chest of the Stormcloak, knocking him back a few feet, propelling him over the platforms barrier. The fort’s tranquility was promptly shattered as the body fell to the ground, landing with a crash, slap bang in the middle of the courtyard for all the defenders to see. Seconds later imperial soldiers screamed out as they started their attack. Sotek took aim once more and shot at the second guard in the tower; there by leaving the gate literally blind to the approaching troops. His first arrow missed completely and whooshed past as the Nord had spotted the would be ‘assassin’ and returned fire, almost causing Sotek to fall out of the tree as an arrow split a branch near his head.

     

    Sotek’s second shot struck the Nord in the leg as he was hiding behind a crate, unwittingly exposing the limb. Screaming out, the Nord broke cover and hobbled down the stairway. He lost his footing and fell, breaking his neck on the bottom supports of the guard tower.

     

    Sotek hissed, reprimanding his lack of marksmanship but he allowed himself a smirk and decided the leg was a kill shot. The way he figured it was that the soldier died from the injury for it was his arrow which caused the man to fall.

     

    Within seconds both gates were swarming with imperial soldiers as they poured inside. Sotek was one of the last to reach the gate as he had paused to fire six arrows; killing or eliminating three Stormcloaks. He stopped by the besieged gateway and began targeting the enemy’s forces on the outer ramparts. The soldiers split as planned and the large detachment began its assault and battered against the inner doorway in an attempt to force a  breakthrough but it held solid.

     

    Sotek came over to the doorway then used his dragon shout at point blank range, releasing the force shout’s energies upon the obstruction.

    “Fus Ro”.

     

    The doors withstood the shout more than Sotek expected but the large iron hinges buckled under the strain. One of them was damaged to the point where it was barely hanging on, creating a small gap between the double doors; one which Sotek eagerly used to his advantage. He cast his flaming familiar inside the compound and watched as the portal formed. The bluish hazed portal burst into life as flames smothered it when the flaming familiar stepped out of the hunting grounds from where it previously resided.

     

    The wolf paused as it looked around for any signs of its master until it glanced over its hunched shoulder. Two wolfish, burning eyes saw Sotek peek through the gap at it. The Argonian whistled to his faithful ‘bitch’ causing it to lunge forwards towards him. It whined and clawed at the gate as it tried to bite a hole big enough for it to go through but it began shimmering, warning Sotek of what was about to happen.

     

    He shouted at the soldiers, alarming them of the danger.

    “Get out the way!!!” Seconds later the flaming familiar exploded right inside the doorway, blasting the doors off their brackets as a shower of burning wood scattered across the compound.

     

    The familiar’s explosion knocked several stormcloak’s out of the fight before they even got to see an enemy, allowing the imperial soldiers an opportunity to claim the initiative and charge through the gap, joining the fray against the stricken Stormcloaks who could barely offer any resistance.

     

    Sotek then turned his attention back to the outer courtyard where several Stormcloak’s were vigorously defending the stairwell to the ramparts. The imperials progress was further hampered by the deployment of spikes and wooden barricades of sharpened stakes which blocked their route. Sotek recast his flaming familiar. The blazing ethereal gate formed alongside him and the familiar stepped out from Oblivion for a second time.

     

    It howled at him in a way of a greeting its master then it dashed forwards, leaving burning ash in its stead. The wolf leapt over the barricade and nipped between two others as it closed in upon the foe. Its maw bit into the arm of a Nord, earning the swift strike of a dagger in its gut. The familiar exploded, utterly destroying the barricades and causing the surviving Stormcloak’s to run in terror from the flames.

     

    Having found themselves without protection and the bulk of the imperial army bearing down at them, the stairwell defences crumbled. Several archers fought their way up the stairway of the wooden outer ramparts as other soldiers fought their way inside the compound. Soon enough Legate Rikke’s forces secured the ramparts then started shooting at the Stormcloak archers who themselves were firing at the soldiers still trying to enter the inner yard.

     

    Within a few minutes the Imperial army claimed the ramparts of the inner compound but below the soldiers were floundering from the weight of numbers. Suddenly arrows shot into the melee below as imperials shot out at any Stormcloak’s from above. The officer who laughed at Sotek earlier found himself struggling with two stormcloak’s until a Dragonbone arrow slammed into one punching him off his feet, the blow sent him backwards then he crumpled to the ground dead. The officer and the Stormcloak both stopped and just looked at each other, until a second later another arrow hit the stormcloak’s shoulder like a war hammer spinning him around wildly.

     

    The Stormcloaks were in complete disarray as their last officer was overwhelmed with the ever increasing imperial forces. With him, the last of the resistance collapsed, yielding the forts two compounds and all its defenses to imperial rule. The two small forces were just as successful, stopping the stormcloak commanders from getting outside to the compound to lead the troops while the second force routed the stormcloak’s inside the barracks. Sotek looked up at the Stormcloak flag then sent off a fireball which erupted on impact burning the flag within moments.

     

    Some Stormcloaks surrendered while others ran out the gates just to be cut down by the archers, Soldiers backed up the ones that had already moved inside the complex but the commander surrendered, giving the imperials a victory and a new fort.

     

    The officer, who snubbed Sotek back at the camp when he was talking with the quartermaster, the same officer who the Companion just so happened to save with his archery, shamefacedly approached him.

    “I… I need to apologies for my conduct this morning”.

     

    Sotek slyly smirked as his tail whipped across the ground in a childish manner.

    “There’s nothing like a rather large portion of humble pie after a battle. I prefer apple pie myself though; it doesn’t leave such a bitter taste in the mouth. Forget it, I have”. Having nothing else to add to the previous event, the Argonian began searching around for some weapons to sell later on.

     

    Two soldiers were sent back to inform Rikke of the capturing of the fort while Sotek and the others secured the defences. Four hours later Legate Rikke and over twenty troops arrived with four wagons. She gathered up the officers and Sotek in the commander’s chambers.

    “We are leaving twenty men here along with the wounded. We’ll pick out five of the most fatigued men from each group. They will form the garrison here. There will be another fifty arriving in the morning to bolster their ranks. Meanwhile, the rest of us are heading south past Ivarstead. As of this moment the Imperial army has regained control of the pale. Prepare to move out within half an hour”.

     

    One of the officers complained at the news. His men were tired after the battle and despite moral being high, he knew not to push them too much.

    “We’ve just fought. Surely you can’t expect them to march now?”

     

    Legate Rikke expected her command to cause resentment amongst the men under her but it was of some surprise when an officer spoke up. Regardless of this outburst, she kept her cool and explained the reasons behind it.

    “If we leave later then Ulfric will have time to strengthen Riften. We have to move while we have the opportunity”.

     

    Three more officers joined in the debate, questioning Rikke’s leadership, even the one that had the run in with Sotek earlier questioned the wisdom in their leader’s words.

     

    Sotek briskly walked up to the table then slammed his axe into the top, instantly quelling the argument with an almighty bang.

    “I want to rest too but if we don’t move now then we will be blighted all the way from here to Ivarstead. We will be picked off by skirmish troops all the way, moral will drop and we’ll lose half the men. We have to leave a soon as possible before Ulfric could form skirmishers which will hamper our approach to the Rift, or even worse, bring the advance to a halt”.

     

    The centurion, who had overall command of the attack, raised his hand, quelling the chatter around him. He stood forwards from the others and openly questioned Sotek’s assessment of their situation.

    “And what makes you so sure that is the case?”

     

    “Simple” Sotek replied. “If it was me you were fighting then they would already be in position. It’s what I would do and I’m sure Ulfric would as well. Think about it; he can’t afford for a large force to move into the Rift unchallenged. We must move now”.

     

    The officer who Sotek had saved stepped up to the table and added his own words to the ‘debate’.

    “I agree with him, erm sorry with Legate Rikke. We need to take advantage”.

     

    Rikke pulled Sotek’s axe from the table then handed it over to him, but she never let go of it when he went to take it back. By keeping hold of it, she had Sotek on a short leash, literally forcing him to remain by her side. Instead, she turned to the others and dismissed them.

    “We leave in ten minutes, get ready”.

     

    Once they all left the commander’s quarters she sat down and breathed heavily. The strain of the last few days had started to show.

    “Thanks for your support there. They are right of course, we’re pushing hard”.

     

    “Yes but once Ulfric fights back, things will get bogged down quickly so you have to take the advantage while you can”. Sotek stated as he joined her by pulling out a chair by the table.

     

    “Yes but we won’t get there until after nightfall”. Rikke said as she massaged her brow.

     

    “True, however it beats travelling all through the night. Besides with some luck he’s short of men from the devastating attack against Whiterun”. Sotek added in the hope of easing Rikke’s obvious headache.

     

    She smiled at the fanciful thought.

    “Do you really believe he’s short of men?”

     

    Sotek shrugged back. The uncertainty in his response weighed heavy on Rikke’s shoulders.

    “Not really, where ever there’s a madman there are those that want power and to spill blood for the cause. I have some gear to sort out; will you be heading down with the regular army or will you be overseeing things here for a while?”

     

    “I’m with the main force, I have to direct our efforts in the Rift. I request that you come with us”.

     

    Sotek breathed out hard and heavily.

    “Have I got a choice”. He paused for a moment as a thought began gnawing at him. “Rikke, I’ve a question about the Rift”.

     

    “Oh? What is it?” She asked.

     

    “Where in all of Oblivion is the Rift? I’ve heard Aela and Vilkas mention it but I’ve never set eyes on the town let alone visited it. Why is it so important?”

     

    Legate Rikke looked up at him with wide eyes and just for a moment she thought he was messing with her. She gazed down at the map and almost fell about in hysterics.

    “By the Eight’s Sotek… it’s not a town at all. Look!” She pointed to the region of Riften’s hold. “It runs from Ivarstead to the mountains to the east”. She then started folding up the map that was on the table while she chuckled at the hapless Argonian.

     

    Sotek skulked outside while he listened to Rikke’s giggles and he prepared for the next move which would take him past White River and through Ivarstead. Slowly a plan started forming in his mind.

     

     

Comments

4 Comments   |   A Shadow Under the Moons and 6 others like this.
  • Ebonslayer
    Ebonslayer   ·  August 15
    "sent off a fireball which erupted on impact burning the flag [burned] within moments."
    • Sotek
      Sotek
      Ebonslayer
      Ebonslayer
      Ebonslayer
      "sent off a fireball which erupted on impact burning the flag [burned] within moments."
        ·  August 17
      Fixed the error. Don't know what went on there.  :S
  • A Shadow Under the Moons
    A Shadow Under the Moons   ·  April 24
    Hm. Did you forget to apply a font, or are you trying a new one, Sotek-jo?

    Also, I particularly enjoyed the breaching scene with the familiar.
    • Sotek
      Sotek
      A Shadow Under the Moons
      A Shadow Under the Moons
      A Shadow Under the Moons
      Hm. Did you forget to apply a font, or are you trying a new one, Sotek-jo?

      Also, I particularly enjoyed the breaching scene with the familiar.
        ·  April 24
      Awww Hircine's fangs........ the font...... Thanks for pointing that out Harrow and thanks for your comment regarding the familiar. I like having them play their little parts in the story.