U.O.T.W. Chapter 212 Bear? What Bear?

  • Chapter 212 Bear? What Bear?

     

     

    Legate Rikke couldn’t help but notice how quiet Sotek had become as they rode through Ivarstead. The Companion was too busy studying the layout of the town. In particular, he noted where the mill and the inn were situated; not that he was a stranger to the place. A few times Aela had brought him here to carry out tasks placed upon them by Kodlak. Namely bears which inhabited the forest to the south east.

    “When did you want to spend a few hours here?”

     

    “In a bit. I want to get rid of you first”. Sotek muttered.

     

    Rikke waited for a few seconds then spoke again, throwing him in a state of confusion.

    “Sotek? You wanted some time here?”

     

    Sotek flicked his head around to face Rikke who had so rudely interrupted him. As she looked blankly back at him, he realised he had only answered her in his mind. He hadn’t actually spoken at all. He blankly looked about him then nodded back.

    “Oh, right... hsss. We’ll get to camp first. While everyone is setting up I’ll come over here for a few hours. Maybe for the evening”.

     

    “Yes, that’s a good idea”. Rikke stated, agreeing with his proposal. She wasn’t going to let him slip away without any escort though. However, his comment left her with an idea; one which seemed favorable to her. “Would you care for some company?”

     

    Sotek smiled back at her. He knew what she was thinking; he had an idea she would tag along. He also knew she would be easy to lose should he need to disappear for a few moments.

    “Why not”.

     

    Once they stocked up with supplies and water, the wagons rolled out of Ivarstead and headed east across the stone bridge towards the camp. Just as Rikke had predicted, within an hour they were there.

     

    Initially the site didn’t look like much to Sotek but once the tents started to go up and the camp fire was burning, it looked a lot more like the camp he remembered from the mountains.

     

    Instead of helping with any of the setting up, he went over to Legate Rikke and pointed back along the pathway which they had traveled along several minutes before.

    “I’m heading to Ivarstead. I can meet you there or do you want to come with me now?”

     

    “Oh I’m busy here, but I will meet you there in the inn later”. She said. She knew she couldn’t follow him as she was needed at the camp but she rested easily knowing a contingency plan was already in operation.

     

    Sotek mumbled back and headed along the road on foot. It wasn’t long when Ivarstead came back into sight. He took a few moments to scavenge some plants as well as taking a quick swim in the nearby river where he had managed to catch a few fish. He wrapped them up in cloth then headed off to the inn in the hope of having them cooked for his supper.

     

    Earlier, when the wagons moved through the town, the two Imperial guards who Rikke had briefed about Sotek, moved out of position and hid themselves from sight. One man hid out in the hillside while the other one was in the inn. He had changed his clothing for one of a vagabond and sat quietly by the bar, supping on half a pint of the cheapest drink the inn served.

     

    What either man or Rikke for that matter failed to take into account was that Sotek was a werewolf. As such his senses were far more sensitive than themselves. He could smell the imperial camp all over the man who sat at the bar the very moment he stepped inside the inn. The clothes may have been smoke free but the imperial’s hair wasn’t; he also stank of horses; at least to Sotek he did.

     

    Unaware of the goings on, the innkeeper greeted the Argonian in a friendly manner; after all the Companion was known in such parts as was all the Companions from when they carried out various tasks such as hunting or chasing down bandits.

    “Afternoon. By yourself are you?” the innkeeper stated as he stood behind the bar hoping Sotek would order something.

     

    “Afternoon”. Sotek replied. “Two plates of your finest food please”. He placed six gold pieces on the bar then as an afterthought he added four more gold coins to the growing pile of septims. “Oh, and two of your finest ales if you don’t mind. Also, could you have the cook do something with these for me? Nothing fancy, a bit of butter and a sprinkle of salt would suffice”. With that he handed over the two fish while his stomach rumbled in anticipation.

     

    “If I don’t mind?” the innkeeper chuckled. “For you sir, no trouble at all”.

     

    Sotek gave him a smile then when the meal arrived he pushed one to the imperial who was sitting next to him. “The other ones for your friend; you know, the one that jumped off the cart when you did? I’m sure he is hiding around here somewhere”. Sotek beckoned a child over to him and placed a single coin in the kid’s hand.

    “Tell his friend there’s a meal and a drink here waiting for him”. He ruffled the child’s hair then sent him off on the errand.

     

    “Yes mister! He’s on the hill”. The child eagerly stated before he ran towards the inn door. He flung it open and bolted outside with the eagerness of a lamb seeing the green fields full of lush grass for the first time in spring.

     

    Now that Rikke’s agents had been revealed, Sotek left the bar and headed to a chair by the fire. His arrival hadn’t gone unnoticed and he was soon joined by the one person he was happy to see, Temba the lumberjill. He shuffled his chair sideways allowing Temba to join him by the fireside where she asked him about the manner of his arrival.

    “Hello again Sotek. I saw you come through the town with the Imperial army. What brings you Ivarstead?”

     

    Sotek gave her a discreet wink and whispered back to her lest the imperial agents would hear what they were discussing.

    “Your bear problem”.

     

    “Yes”. Temba stated as she gleefully smiled. “You and Aela did such a fine job; I’m so grateful. The trees were getting in an awful state from those bears”.

     

    “They’re back I’m afraid to say”. Sotek stated somberly. He could almost feel the imperial listening as if he was sitting at the very table. Sotek gave the miller a weird wink which made her discreetly look over the Companion’s shoulder at the man sitting at the bar.

     

    The wood miller looked at Sotek a bit puzzled but she played along feeling she owed him a favor despite paying for his and the Huntress’s assistance.

    “Oh are they? Can you deal with them?”

     

    “Are they in the usual place?” Sotek asked knowing full well Temba had no idea as to what he was referring to. She knew of the cave yes, but there were no bears in the area as they had been cleared out. To aid in her answer he discreetly nodded, coaxing her reply as if to answer his own question.

     

    “Ermm yes? Can you help?” She asked. She felt confused and more than a little silly. One thing she wasn’t though was ready for Sotek’s answer.

     

    “Nope sorry Temba, not without authorization. You’ll have to go through the proper channels I’m afraid”. With that he dismissed the poor lumberjill and sent her off with the wave of his hand.

     

    Feeling startled, she gingerly got up and headed back to the doorway. She glanced over her shoulder and gave him a puzzled look.

    “I will then. Should I?”

     

    Sotek gave her a parting look then turned back to his fish which was now getting rather cold.

    “Yes, you should”.

     

    A few minutes later the second imperial entered the inn to find Sotek sitting by himself at the fireplace while the other imperial was at the bar.

    “Your food is on the bar and a flagon of ale”. Sotek stated without even looking up at him. He never even bothered to open his eyes as he rested in front of the fire.

     

    The Soldier looked at the one sitting down, totally unsure as to how to react. Sotek watched him through a narrow slit in his eyelids and chuckled.

    “Oh relax will you. Eat up, it’s getting cold. No one will say anything to Rikke and no I’ve sent no message; have I?” As he spoke he looked over to the one sitting down.

     

    The soldier shook his head and relayed the events which the other soldier had missed.

    “No he hasn’t he’s just talked about a bear problem the miller has”.

     

    “What bear problem?”

     

    “One the wood millers got! He didn’t help or anything”.

     

    Sotek lent back in his chair and closed his eyes as he listened to the conversation between the two imperials. As he rested, one of the innkeeper’s barmaids came over to him with a stool.

    “Here, this will help”. She gently lifted Sotek’s feet and rested them on the stool before leaving him in peace. As she began walking away Sotek called her back and offered her a gold coin for her troubles. She gratefully placed it in her bosom where it joined several other coins that she had earned throughout the day.

     

    The restful sleep which Sotek succumbed to was rudely broken when the gruff voice of Rikke barked at the two men who were supposedly under her command.

    “Well report! Obviously he knows who you are”. As she spoke it was clear she wasn’t happy, but she was getting to know Sotek rather well so she wasn’t totally surprised with the way things turned out.

     

    The two soldiers pushed away the empty plates as if to try and hide the fact that they had been eating but they soon snatched back the flagons when the innkeeper tried to clear the bar. To sate Rikke’s anger, they gave her a breakdown of the events.

    “When he entered town he had a swim in the river, caught a few fish, picked some plants and he came straight here. The wood miller spoke to him about a bear problem but he didn’t help with it. He declined the job then sat there in the chair. A maid gave him a stool and he hasn’t moved since”.

     

    Legate Rikke looked over to Sotek with a puzzled look. The Argonian must have tried something and yet he looked too smug for her liking. He wasn’t conceited or anything, he seemed relaxed and calm. Something she wasn’t expecting.

    “He hasn’t given anyone anything?”

     

    “No! Except gold for a meal and a gold piece for the maid who gave him a stool. That’s it, he came straight here”.

     

    Rikke walked over to Sotek and stood over him. He opened one eye and looked up at her and grinned cheekily.

    “What have you done? You’ve sent one haven’t you”.

     

    “Pardon?” Sotek said. “Sent one what?”

     

    “Don’t play coy with me you bastard!” Rikke snapped. “You’ve sent a message out to her. Damn it Sotek”.

     

    “No I haven’t” Sotek stated as he snapped upright in his chair. He pointed at her face and hissed, cutting her down in front of everyone.

    “All I’ve done was refuse a job for Temba; a Companion job I might add, because I’m helping you! That’s it. There’s gratitude; all the fighting I’ve done for you and you accuse me of breaking my word?”

     

    Now Rikke didn’t know what to think. She looked around the inn at everyone and each person was staring back at her, each one wondering what she would do next. She lightly tapped Sotek’s leg with the side of her boot and in a hushed voice she asked for confirmation.

    “You swear it? You swear that’s all you done?”

     

    “Ok”. Sotek’s voice was drawn out and tired. He wiped the sleep from his eyes and swore an oath to the Legate officer, quelling any fears that he had broken the Legion’s ‘petty’ rules. Rules he felt were petty at the very least. “I, Sotek, swear on my life and Aela’s life may Hircine make us both wolf cubs, that I have not and will not send Aela any message”.

     

    “What sort of swear was that?” Rikke asked as she screwed her face up.

     

    Sotek laughed and poked her in the chest, pushing her back a step with the force in his prods.

    “The only one you’re going to get. You wait till Aela gets hold of you, there will be swearing aplenty because you stopped me telling her I’m thinking of her and I’m ok”.

     

    Rikke’s eyes flicked around the room. She still didn’t believe Sotek with what he had said but even if he had send out any word there was little she could do about it. Instead she turned to other maters; matters which were in her control.

    “Yes well; it just so happens that I’ve a job for you. Rest up, you can set out in the morning”.

     

    Sotek’s spiky eyebrows rose up at the news. He felt some genuine surprise that Rikke had a task in store for him. He presumed, albeit correctly that Rikke’s intentions were to keep him busy. He readily agreed on the time line until he heard of the jobs location.

    “The morning is good, it’ll keep me busy. Where is it exactly?”

     

    “North of Riften”.

     

    “Nope! Unassseptable!” he said, hissing detestably. “I’ll go now thank you”.


    “What? Why now?” Rikke looked a bit shocked at his outburst. She honestly expected him to go in the morning. The job was urgent but she didn’t think he would set off straight away.

     

    “Because I want to be here tomorrow, that’s why”. Sotek snapped back. He held his ground and refused to budge, forcing Rikke’s hand.

     

    “But I can’t spare any men now”.

     

    Sotek tutted back at her then he looked across to the bar where the two soldiers sat.

    “I’ll take them. What’s the job?”

     

    Legate Rikke shrugged her shoulders in defeat and threw her hands up, surrendering to Sotek’s will.

    “Ok, whatever! There’s a wagon full of supplies near Riften. I want it intercepted and bought back here; it’s from the Stormcloak camp near the city”.

     

    Sotek pulled himself straight up then headed to the door as he beckoned the two men to follow him.

    “You heard her, let’s move”.

     

    The two soldiers both looked at Rikke who obviously didn’t have a clue as to why Sotek wanted it done straight away but she gave them her leave so with no reason to delay, and with Sotek egging them on, the two soldiers followed the Argonian outside. After a brisk walk which was more like a jog as Sotek kept a hard pace, they arrived at the imperial camp where Sotek ‘liberated’ three horses.

     

    Within an hour of being given the appointed task all three of them were riding hard along the road towards Riften.

     

    The journey was void of any complications and also quiet except for the sound of the horse’s hooves upon the bricked road. Sotek never bothered with conversation; he was more content thinking of the next day. Anticipation of tasting the fruits of his labor drove him to ride his horse faster, giving cause for the other two men to speed up.

     

    Despite Sotek’s unprecedented need for speed and swiftness, they still didn’t reach Riften until nightfall was upon them. Knowing his steed was tired, Sotek readily agreed they should stay at Riften’s inn. The three discussed sleeping arrangements and both soldiers argued against having separate rooms. Sotek wanted a much needed sleep so he didn’t bother to argue. To make it simple for them to keep track of him, he rented out the one room to which they all shared. One guard slept against the door, much to Sotek’s amusement while the other man laid out a bedroll and propped himself against the window effectively sealing the three of them inside.

     

    The cook in the inn was always up just before dawn so any early rising patrons could have a hot meal before leaving the establishment. Despite this, the chef had only just started stoking the oven when they looked up at the ceiling and listened to the sounds of clawed argonian feet stepping across the bedroom’s wooden flooring.

     

    Sotek gave both soldiers a light kick, stirring them from their sleep.

    “Come on, get up you lazy bastards. I’ve things to do today and waking you two up isn’t one of them. We’re burning daylight; let’s find that cart”.

     

    Without even stopping for breakfast, they headed off along the northern road in search of the supply wagon. Just as it was nearing midday, one of the soldiers happened to see the cart in a small clearing about a hundred yards off the side of the road. Sotek was on the complete other side so any chance of even Scarface detecting the cart was slim to say the least.

     

    One thing he was thankful for though was the fact that the wagon was still fully loaded with weaponry and supplies. The two guards seemed lazy and disinterested in their job of keeping watch while three others slept. Sotek held his own men back and waited as he tried to figure out why the wagon had stopped in the first place. Giving both men orders to stay back, Sotek crept closer so he could listen in.

     

    He didn’t learn much but what he did happen to chance upon was favorable. He quickly returned to the two imperial soldiers and told them of all he had learned.

    “They are meeting a five man force here this afternoon. We’ll be at the Imperial camp by then; with the wagon”.

     

    The plan of attack was simplicity in itself. The set up of the enemy units required little else.

     

    The two Imperials along with Sotek drew their bows and took aim before firing off three arrows. The two Nords fell seconds afterwards while the other three Stormcloaks slept. The three man Imperial force crept into the clearing, both soldiers wielding daggers while Sotek stealthily changed into Scarface.

     

    Daggers slit the throats of two of the sleeping men while large razor sharp talons struck the last remaining slumbering figure, washing the furs beneath him in a torrent of blood.

     

    Scarface’s fangs snapped shut at the bloodied flesh then he wrenched his head away tearing off a flail of meat. Fighting back his hunger, the werewolf stopped and glanced across the clearing at the horse that was still attached to the cart. Knowing the wagon was important, but not knowing or even understanding why, Scarface slowly backed away so the stallion wouldn’t become spooked and run off, dragging the cart with it. Stifling a howl, the werewolf rose upwards and snarled as it transformed back to its Argonian form.

     

    Sotek looked down at his blood smothered chest and groaned inwardly. Yet again he would have to clean his shirt and the day was moving too fast for his liking. Putting such matters aside, he ordered one of the soldiers to check the bodies while the other man gave the cart a quick check to see if it was in a suitable condition.

    “Check that wagon. The last thing we need is a bloody wheel coming off”.

     

     

    Now that the cart was in Imperial hands, the two soldiers, along with Sotek, readily agreed to keep it that way. The best method to complete such a task; bearing in mind that they knew the forces to which the cart ‘originally’ belonged to would be searching for it as soon as it became overdue, was to get it as quickly as possible to the Imperial camp. Wasting no time they set off straight away for Ivarstead avoiding Riften as much as possible.

     

    As Sotek had more experience manning wagons and carts, he was given the wagon to drive while both soldiers rode either side of him. The Argonian’s own horse was tied behind the cart, something Sotek cursed about for he would have preferred to have the extra power pulling but the lack of harnesses made it an impossible luxury.

     

    Luckily they arrived at the camp without any problems, much to Legate Rikke’s relief. Sotek himself seemed far more agitated than what anyone expected though. He quickly washed himself off in a large bowl of cold water but that did little to ease his temper. Hissing loudly at anyone who was unfortunate to be in his way, he headed straight out to the lake nearby. Without pausing for breath he dived into the depths and stayed there swimming around for five minutes before returning to the shore of the lake where Rikke was waiting.

    “You feel better for that?”

     

    “Yes” Sotek said as he panted heavily. Can’t sstop he’s out of time. He’s off to Ivarsstead; ssee you later”.

     

    “I’ll come with him… you.” She stated as she chuckled at Sotek’s broken speech.

     

    Sotek gave a sigh then he agreed, waving his hand at her.

    “Ass you wish”.

     

    By the time the two travelers got to Ivarstead it was well into the afternoon. Upon seeing Sotek arrive at the edge of the town, Temba rather reluctantly approached him and relayed the reply she had received when she made the report over her alleged ‘bear problem’; just as Sotek had instructed her to do.

    “Sotek, I’m worried and rather confused here. There’s three coming here! They will arrive this afternoon. The Nines knows what I should tell them. What am I supposed to say?”

     

    Sotek looked a bit surprised and somewhat nervous. He fearfully scanned the road leading from Valtheim towers and gulped loudly, inadvertently raising Rikke’s suspicions.

    “Three what may I ask?”

     

    “Bears!” Sotek said abruptly. He hissed in frustration, realising he had little time and he still had the problem of the legion officer snapping at his tail. Knowing time was against him, he ran to the inn and threw open the door, causing the innkeeper to jump. The man angrily threw down his cloth and glared back at the Argonian but he soon changed to a much more welcoming and placid state when a bag of gold jingled on the counter.

     

    Sotek watched the greed in Wilhelm’s eyes and knew the Nord would make an all too willing ally in his time of need. He beckoned the man closer and leaned across the bar so they could talk.

    “You know who I am don’t you?”

     

    “Why yes, you’re Sotek, the Dragonborn, and Companion”.

     

    “Yes, but not so much about me being Dragonborn. Here, three hundred gold for the ‘Companions tab’. That should cover it for the next month or so”.

     

    Wilhelm, the innkeeper looked at him then stared at the bag of gold. Often the Companions would make a point of stopping at his inn when they were in the area, more so Farkas and Vilkas who would spend the night there while basking in the company of the maids. As for Sotek and Aela, they would have a meal and purchase a few bottles of mead or ale before heading off into the wilds. Everyone thought it was odd until the battle for Whiterun; now it was all too clear why they spent the nights outside rather than the warmth of a fiery hearth. What seemed odd now was the mention of a tab. They always paid on the spot for any services.

    “Tab? Tab? What tab?”

     

    Sotek winked at him and pushed the pouch further across the bar.

    “Yes, you remember? The Companions tab? We pay in advance”.

     

    “Oh the Companions tab, yes. Thank the Harbinger won’t you?” He took the bag and was rather surprised by the weight of it. Instead of placing it in the draw, he stuffed it into a small cabinet where he could count it out. An old dusty ledger which had seen too many nights was flicked open and the old dry quill was wiped on a bit of linen before being thrust into a grubby bottle of ink.

     

    “Oh I doubt I will, I’m not allowed to see him”. Then Sotek laughed as he handed over a few extra coins. “Can we have two ales please. As quick as you can”.

     

    He then beckoned Rikke to sit with him while a maid brought over to them their beverages. Rikke took a large mouthful and gulped the bitter ale down her gullet while Sotek sipped his own drink. Before the maid had made any headway back to the kitchen, Sotek’s flask fell out of his hand and spilled out the contents on his lap and over the wooden floor.

    “Oh rats; sorry about the mess”. He said apologetically while the maid tutted back at him.

     

    “Why you no good drunkard lizard! Get out of it, go clean yourself up”. She snapped as she flicked him with a bar cloth. Despite her bravado, she chuckled and gave him a light push, moving him away from the spillage so she could clean it up.

     

    Sotek sighed as he looked down his top at the fermented liquid which dripped off his armor.

    “Yes, that’s an idea”. He headed outside, after asking Rikke to follow him. “Are you staying there or are you following me? Sorry, coming with me Rikke?”

     

    She wasn’t sure what he was doing but she knew he was up to something. It was just a matter of finding out what. Having little choice she followed him anyway. Sotek went to the stream but before he dived into the water, he passed Rikke his bow and axes. “Don’t go selling these. I’ll give them to you for safe keeping so you know I won’t run off”.

     

    “Fair enough” Rikke replied. She watched him dive into the stream while a nagging feeling gnawed at her nerves. She patiently waited for him just as before but after five minutes he never surfaced. Cursing out to anyone who could hear her, she watched the water for any signs of the Argonian, but she knew Argonians could breath underwater. For all she knew he was just below the surface, watching her standing there.

     

    Another ten minutes had passed and as of yet there was no sign of him. Having no other option, Rikke gave up. She went into the inn obviously feeling annoyed at being played. She slumped down at the bar then ordered a drink, there she sat and waited for Sotek to return. The legion officer wasn’t expecting him to though, she was absolutely sure that he was adding off to Whiterun.

     

     

Comments

3 Comments   |   The Wolf Of Atmora and 3 others like this.
  • Aela The Huntress
    Aela The Huntress   ·  May 9
    Now I see why you changed the order around. It does work better this way.
  • Harrow
    Harrow   ·  April 30
    Hah! Those soldiers are a hundred years too early to try and sneak up on a werewolf.
  • FlamezSword
    FlamezSword   ·  April 30
    Hey Sotek I sent you a inbox message, whenever you have the time send me one back with your answer :)