U.O.T.W. Chapter 219 A Second Chance

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    “Unfortunate, isn’t it? There’s a war coming and I was hoping you would be of some use. It’s a pity, I had such high hopes for you both”. Hircine’s voice cut into Scarface the wolf spirit like a silver bladed knife.

     

    Scarface snarled at Hircine who waited just outside the cave in which the wolf was searching for a way back to the mountain where Aela and legate Rikke were fighting a dragon.

    “You can’t let this happen”.

     

    A hollow chilling laugher seemed to echo across the rolling hilly landscape. Hircine peered inside the cave at the glowing emerald eyes of the spirit beast and sneered with contempt.

    “I didn’t; you did”.

     

    Upon hearing this, the wolf darted outside and threw itself at Hircine’s feet. Its voice rolled over and over in Hircine’s mind as the wolf pleaded with every bated breath.

    “Hircine please, help her!! I beg you, help her!!”

     

    “Why? This isn’t my doing hound. You gave her the ring like a pathetic hunter sharing his meal with a stranger. She is no stranger to you though is she? Now such a sentiment will cost her life. If you kept it then you couldn’t have dropped it”.

     

    Scarface snarled angrily at Hircine, and leapt forwards to attack. The spear swung around in a dazzling display of speed and struck the wolf in the side of the head. Scarface fell on his side and whined from the blow while Hircine waved his finger at the disobedient hound.

    “Don’t try my patience a second time”.

     

    Scarface growled, spraying out spittle and saliva as he showed his fangs. Whether it was fear for Aela, for himself or desperation it made little difference. One thing he did have was a will; a will bearing all the marks of defiance. He prepared to lunge forwards with Hircine as his prey.

     

    Hircine’s eyes flicked between Scarface’s fangs and his paws. The wolf seized his opportunity and leapt upwards with his maw opened wide. Hircine moved sideways, narrowly avoiding the wolf’s fangs as they slammed shut, catching nothing but air.

     

    Hircine swung the spear around full bore into the wolf’s side but the blow never came to be. Scarface snapped his mouth at the shaft and bit hard, wrestling the tip of it against the strength of the Daedra Lord.

     

    He wasn’t surprised from Scarface’s behaviour. Unbeknown to Sotek, Scarface was an old soul of the Hunting Grounds and had spent many a thousand years as a spirit wolf; although not so many a year hunting there for one cave lay in a small valley, a valley where the sun never shone. A large stone doorway sealed the cave for near millennia. It kept a wolf spirit in darkness, in solitude bound to the rock. This wolf was so wanton for destruction and death that to have it set free was little more than folly.

     

    Alduin forced Hircine’s hand. Should the world of men fall then so with it would the realms of the Daedra Lords. No fresh hounds would join Hircine... Such a fate was unthinkable so Hircine done the unthinkable; he let the hound of the hunting grounds free to roam Tamriel. And roam Tamriel Scarface did.

    To placate the wolf Hircine gave him five partners. Five mates who would stay by his side. Five female werewolves presented themselves to him and five times he mercilessly killed.

     

    The fifth werewolf ran. She bolted across the snow and plains of the Hunting Grounds in search of shelter and protection from the beast that hunted her. In an attempt to bring the ‘hunt’ to a close, Hircine barred Scarface’s way. For three days and nights they fought, spear against claw, cunning and guile against fang.

     

    Even Hircine didn’t fully understand how; all he knew was the claw won. The bitche’s blood stained the snow as Scarface fed from her corpse.

     

    Hircine was fearful that Aela would meet the same fate. Years of solitary darkness did little to placate the raging beast yet something about her steadied him. He ceased to be the monster and became the wolf. Against Hircine’s judgement he finally let the wolf roam free. Although ‘free’ still meant a leash, a leash of sorts.

     

    Hircine had full control of Red, of Aela. She worshiped him, he was her master. For some strange reason Scarface answered to her. Whether Hircine liked it or not he needed Aela to keep Scarface controlled. She was his leash.

     

    Aela was his pet; a devotee who worshiped him beyond sanity. Her feverous prayers sung to him. Her howls full of passion for what she was; who she was.

     

    Red though, she was his favourite of the wolves. She had passion, a will to kill and an unyielding hunger for the hunt. However she was also a dilemma. It wasn’t Red who held Scarface back; it was Aela. Sotek, despite all his disobedience and defiance of Hircine, was right. He had to do something.

    If Aela died on that mountain then Red would haunt the Hunting Grounds as was her destiny; but then who would hold Scarface’s leash...

    “You’re not helping yourself but I have to admit hunter, you don’t give up. Soon she will be here, within a few minutes. The dragons ready; he sees her weakness. In a moment he will strike”.

     

    “You have me, I follow you! Help her and I’m yours”. Scarface pleaded yet he still wrestled with the spear, his fangs refusing to let go.

     

    “You’re mine anyway, did you forget? No, no you didn’t”. Hircine fell silent as he thought back. “What was it you said? What was your oath? Ahh yes, I found it to be quite amusing. ‘I Sotek swear on my life and Aela’s life may Hircine make us both wolf cubs’. Yes, you do remember”.

     

    He kicked out, catching Scarface in the head. The wolf whined as he rolled on the ground. Even before he stopped rolling, a heavy foot pressed down on the wolf’s neck. The wolf growled and snarled but he could do nothing as the figure of Hircine bore down upon him.

    “There’s a war coming, far greater than mere men, Empire and Nord. You have a part to play; and so does Aela. Very well hunter. Serve me, fight for me; remember your oath. Aela’s life hangs on the edge of a spear. See that she doesn’t fall”.

     

    The wolf spirit felt a strange sensation like he was being pulled in a million directions. Everything faded as a white glow got stronger and stronger and then it all vanished into nothing.

     

    Sotek opened his eyes and for a fleeting moment he felt nothing. The numbness was shattered like glass as a searing pain shot through his body causing him to cry out which in turn caused him to pull on his arm. It was on fire; the bones were wickedly twisted round in a mangled mess of scales, flesh and blood. His leg felt no different, it took the full force of the fall and was subjected to forces beyond the bones capacity to withstand. His foot was tucked underneath his leg while shards of white protruded through the scaly skin.

     

    His own screams were drowned out by the frantic shriek of the Huntress who was now fighting for her very life. Sotek looked to his side with the twisted contorted features of a man being tortured for information he never had; tortured beyond limits of endurance; beyond the limits of which the mind could stand. He hoped to see the ring; the one thing to release him from insanity’s grip but it was nowhere to be seen. He shouted, desperate to help his mate but totally unable to do so.

    “Aela!!!”

     

    Suddenly and without any warning, the whole mountain glowed red. Above him the sun vanished but the whole sky blazed in a blood red as the large moon shone full of blood. Sotek screamed out as his entire body contorted in agony and over several seconds he changed. The process was slow; his arm straightened out causing unbelievable pain. He wished and begged for it to stop but it didn’t; nor unmercifully could he pass out. While his arm straightened, his leg kicked out as fur smothered his body.

     

    Sotek thrashed about uncontrollably. Until the whole pain passed, there was nothing he could do. To him the whole process took hours, but in reality it was over within seconds.

     

    With a numbness smothering his senses, Scarface stood up. His forearm and hind leg healed rapidly and then he heard Aela scream out once more. He leapt up at the rock face and clawed his way to the top as fast as he could.

     

    Aela was scrunched up, crumpled in a corner behind a rock. Her leg was smothered in blood from a gaping wound while her bow lay broken in two pieces. Rikke stood near her; trying to get to her but the dragon knew the Huntress was vulnerable. It wanted the kill, just as much as Red would if she was the hunter.

     

    The dragon lunged for Rikke, forcing her back another few steps. This pushed her too far away to ever reach Aela. The archers still fired at the dragon but its hide was too thick, the only weapon that caused the dragon any hurt now lay broken by Aela’s side. The dragon snapped once more at Rikke then turned its head to Aela who desperately tried to crawl away. Victory was within its grasp and it would once again revel in the taste of Nord flesh.

     

    The dragon bought its head up then prepared to lunge once more at Aela; it’s maw fully intending to end her life. True to herself, she drew her dagger defiantly and stared death in the face.

    “You bastard! Come on, take me you overgrown bloody lizard! You think I’m afraid? I’m ready for you; slug!” She fought to stand on her two feet but she could only manage to put weight on one leg as blood poured from the wound in the other. The dragon looked down at her as if it was smiling. She could almost hear its voice calling her bluff; as if to say he could smell her very fear.

     

    The dragon started its final attack, its maw open wide ready to rip her in half. Just as it was a few feet from biting into Aela with its dagger like teeth, Scarface ran headlong into the side of it. His claws glinted in the red haze and each tip raked across the dragon’s face, tearing through scales as easily as he would tear through rock. He struck blow after blow in a wild frenzy like some wild demented animal, tearing and clawing at the reptilian juggernaut.

     

    Within moments he had tore out the dragon’s eye, leaving its face smothered in blood. As it reared up in pain, Scarface dropped to the floor and ran at full speed to Aela. Without stopping he snatched her from the rock where she chose to make her final stand. Razor sharp claws dug deep into her leg just as the dragons head came crashing down where Aela lay.

     

    Scarface ran, pulling Aela along by her leg while she screamed as he dragged her along the mountain path away from the immediate danger to relative safety. The dragons head impacted with the rock, where the dust cloud of Aela’s ‘exit’ was still in the process of forming.

     

    Now they were out of harm’s way, he released the Huntress’s leg mid run. She sprawled forwards in a tangled mess as she rolled. With his claws free of their burden, Scarface renewed his attack.

     

    So he could stay in the blind side of the dragon, Scarface’s claws dug in deeply into the dragon’s neck so he couldn’t be thrown off. His fangs bit through the scales and he wrenched his head away, ripping out scales and flesh, tearing veins wide open. Blood poured out of the wounds as Scarface let his prey go. He ran down the length of the reptilian titan and kicked up dust as he ducked under the tail. Claws swiped out again cutting a swathe of gashes as he ran around the beast.

     

    Then he was gone, like a shadow. The dragon’s head followed him, almost wrapping its neck around itself until moments later he attacked again from the other side. He bit and clawed at the exposed side of the neck, catching the dragon by surprise. Blood spilled everywhere from the wounds but still the dragon fought on. Scarface ran down the side of the dragon, dragging his claws along the belly, opening the scales and flesh.

     

    Rikke seized her chance and started firing her bow once more into the wounds. Now the arrows could penetrate the flesh as the thick scales were heavily compromised, all the remaining archers joined in, each one adding to the onslaught.

     

    Aela’s head spun around, causing her to feel disorientated. In agony, and with the clumsiness of a drunkard, she reached into her pack and pulled out one of the few remaining potions. Glass and soggy equipment masked a few of the health vials, protecting them from her rough treatment at the paws of Scarface. She yanked off a stopper and guzzled down the warm liquid.

     

    The potion took effect instantly and within moments Aela could run. She sprinted past the dragon and snatched a bow from the feet of a fallen archer. She grinned with the cunning of a wolf as she peered inside her pack a second time. Her poisons survived the rough treatment as the vials they were in were much smaller than the healing potions. She pulled out one such bottle and poured its contents all over the arrow head then took aim.

     

    She fired with the cool precision she always had and watched with satisfaction as the missile pierced the dragon’s neck in an open wound. The dragon roared out from the hit. It knew there was more than just a simple arrow buried in its neck. It was a Dragonbone arrow yes, but there was more at work. Aela never rested. She used a second one then a third vial.

     

    Even Scarface could see the blood of the dragon thicken from the potent poison that coursed through its veins. Its head slammed into the ground, then it stopped moving, its breathing became erratic as it lay there trying to fight off the poison inside its body. Scarface clawed at it again and again into its neck, ripping off flesh, but he refrained from biting lest he succumbed to the potent poisons. The dragon stopped bleeding as the blood became simply too thick to escape its veins. There, after a titanic struggle, the dragon died.

     

    Flames erupted all over it as it burned like all the ones before. Aela dropped the bow as she sank to the floor. She couldn’t stop shaking and she felt exhausted while her eyes stayed transfixed on her target; her prey.

     

    Upon seeing the glassy stare of the Huntress, Rikke came over to her and knelt beside her.

    “Are you ok?”

     

    All she could manage was the simplest of nods.

     

    Scarface dropped to his knees as he absorbed the dragon’s soul. He briefly turned to Aela and whined as she shifted her weight and leaned back against a large boulder. As she sat there she gave him a smile and a nod of appreciation for she knew he had saved her life.

     

    Sotek transformed and fell on his back. His arm didn’t hurt anymore but he was shaking and exhausted. He felt befuddled as he hadn’t realized Scarface had climbed back up the mountain. He felt sick, dizzy and disorientated. As he tried to stand, he fell, landing as he always seemed to do, on his backside. Giving up his fight against gravity, he lay back in the dirt then closed his eyes as he desperately tried to stop his head spinning.

     

    He was only dimly aware of a hand on his chest and the soft yet weathered lips which kissed him tenderly on the forehead. He slowly rolled his head so he could look at his mate who had now sat beside him. Aela lightly brushed his cheek with her hand then she started removing his armor. She struggled to free him from the Dragonscale so she called out to Rikke for aid.

    “Rikke can you help me?”

     

    “Sure” Rikke replied and she moved towards them to offer assistance. While the archers tended to their wounded, Rikke pulled Sotek’s shoulder and hip, rolling him on his side. He groaned from the strange feeling which clouded his head while Aela managed to free him from his chest armor. It was only when she pulled it off that she realised how badly damaged the chest piece was. Several fractures ran along its length and a massive chip had been broken from the side. His old white miner’s shirt was red with blood. Instinctively she knew it was his blood and not of the dragons while the sleeve from where he had broken his arm was shredded.

    “What the hell happened to him?” Rikke asked as she replayed the fight. Nothing, at least nothing she could remember gave cause for such damage which Sotek had sustained. What confused her even more was that Sotek was unhurt. There was no sign of any wounds to explain or account for the loss of blood.

     

    Aela thought back to when she passed him the ring. She felt sick and lightheaded as she explained.

    “He went down the slope! He must have fell down the mountainside”. She moved closer to him and rested his head in her lap.

     

    “But his shirt! That’s fresh blood”. Rikke exclaimed.

     

    As Aela held Sotek’s head she tried to clarify Sotek’s and Scarface’s Symbiotic relationship.

    “Yes it is. Scarface heals himself. When Sotek changes into his werewolf form, he is also healed. So, the wounds whatever they were, they have healed. It comes at a price though. Scarface takes a hefty toll, often Sotek pays a heavy price for his abilities; hence this half dead reptile staring blankly at me”.

     

    Sotek started catching up with reality and he blinked heavily as he listened to Aela’s words. She saw him weakly smile and she lightly shook him, aiding in his focusing.

    “Hey, you ok?”

     

    He closed his eyes briefly then gave out a low moan then he opened his eyes once again and focused on Aela’s face. He could see she was worried about him, her eyes said it all. He tried to reassure her when in reality he felt a lot worse than he made himself out to be.

    “Yes. Sorry about that, just a bit dizzy. I’m going to rest here for a minute then I’ll get up”.

     

    “What happened to you? Your armor; it’s damaged”. Rikke stated in her quest for answers.

     

    Sotek half heartedly glanced at his chest piece which was thrown to the wayside. Knowing the armor was beyond repair, he closed his eyes tightly and groaned at the wasted effort in its construction.

    “I slipped; lost my footing then fell down the slope”. He tried to sit up but the lack of strength brought him back down with a thud. “Aela, the ring! It’s gone! I lost it!”

     

    Aela frowned at his foolishness. She knew what the loss of the artefact meant to them both and to Red and Scarface but she also knew Hircine would claim back the ring one day. Such items were never in the hands of men or women for long.

    “Shh, sod the ring”. She leant over him and gave him a kiss before lightly tugging on his arm. “Come on you, up on your feet. You’re making the Companions look bad and we can’t have that, especially when the trumped up Imperials are watching. Up you layabout”.

     

    Aela got up to her feet then lifted her knee so she could check her legs over. With a satisfactory smirk she stuck her hip out at Sotek, showing off her curves.

    “Well it could have been worse, I’ve no scars”. She then smiled down at him and tutted as he was still laying sprawled out upon the ground.

     

    He gave a slight laugh then held his hand up for Aela to hold and help him up but she shook her head at him and refused to offer aid.

    “Oh no; you clawed me you bastard. That bloody hurt, dragging me along by my bloody leg you moron. Get yourself up”. Aela sounded harsh but she was always one for tough love. Sotek slowly climbed up to his feet but she didn’t move to help him. All the while though Aela kept her eyes on him in case he started to fall.

     

    Once Sotek was up, he briefly staggered sideways but soon shook it off. He gingerly made his way to where Aela was standing and held her by her waist as he pulled her close.

    “How’s your leg?” He asked as he lightly traced the contours of her hips with the tips of his clawed fingers.

     

    “Which one? The one mauled by the dragon or the one clawed by Scarface?” Aela said with a playful smirk.

     

    “Yess ssorry about that”. The Argonian sheepishly replied.

     

    Aela tutted as she looked at Sotek’s guilt ridden face. She gave him a light shove, snapping him out of his dark sombre mood.

    “Sorry about what? You saved me; if it wasn’t for you I would have died there”.

     

    Sotek snapped back at her without meaning to. He glanced at the rock she was hiding behind when Scarface rescued her from her untimely death and he felt sick in the stomach at the sight of it.

    “Aela, right now I really don’t want to think about that thank you”.

     

    He took a deep breath to mentally prepare himself then he started heading up the pathway while he called Rikke and Aela to his side.

    “Come on let’s see what’s at the top”.

     

    Now that the threat had been dealt with, the archers returned to the camp although Rikke stayed with Aela due to the curiosity of what was awaiting them at the top of the mountain. Within a few minutes the three of them had climbed the last of the slope to the very top where the dragon obviously rested due to the amount of bones scattered about. At one edge was a word wall which Sotek for one was surprised to see. He walked up to it while Aela and Rikke looked on. A word, written in what looked like claw marks glowed a subtle blue before it disappeared as the Dragonborn absorbed the knowledge from within the wall.

     

    Aela wrapped her arms around him as she enquired about his new found word of power.

    “What’s the shout?”

     

    “Animal Allegiance, it makes me friendly to animals. Or... animals friendly to me... Either way animals won’t or shouldn’t see me as a threat; I think”.

     

    “That’s helpful; if it does what you think it does but I prefer to have Scarface over anything else. He never stops fighting for me, neither do you”. She planted a kiss on his lips and wrapped his arms around her. Slowly, during their embrace, Sotek’s hands slid down her back to rest on her haunches and squeezed her body against his.

     

    Rikke looked across at them and rolled her eyes.

    “Oh please! Get a room”.

     

    Aela laughed while she stayed in her mate’s arms.

    “We got one, well it’s a cave actually but there you go”.

     

    As Aela and Sotek held each other, Rikke, who felt like a third wheel, had a look around. She called out in a surprised tone as she pointed to a large chest which was hidden from Aela and Sotek’s view.

    “Hey, you two! There’s a large strongbox here. Why in all of Cyrodiil is a chest here?”

     

    With Aela taking the lead, they both came over to where Rikke was. After remembering what she was told, Aela explained the purpose of the chest to the best of her understanding.

    “That’s where offerings were made to the dragons; either that or the dragon priests. What’s inside it?”

     

    “I don’t know. Its locked”. Rikke declared after struggling to lift the lid.

     

    Aela laughed at her and smirked.

    “Then pick the lock you silly girl”.

     

    Rikke shot Aela a look like her suggestion was against every rule in the legion.

    “I can’t do that!”

     

    Aela gave Sotek a quick kiss then left him behind. She nudged Rikke out of her way and set about unlocking the chest to reveal its secrets.

    “I can, I’m a bad girl”.

     

    “Who taught you that?” Rikke asked. She was somewhat shocked to find the Huntress was taught in the ways of the thief or rather those skills known in that line of ‘work’.

     

    “The same one who taught me to pickpocket. It was my mate”. As she said it she gave Sotek a wink.

     

    Rikke gave Sotek a dumbfounded look. It was a surprise to hear that a Companion had such skills but she wasn’t prepared to find out that the Huntress had learned such a criminal art from another member.

    “You taught her? To pickpocket?”

     

    Sotek nodded back at her and gave a knowing smile.

     

    Once Aela unlocked the chest, she stepped aside, allowing Rikke to open it. The lid was heavy and creaked as ice broke away as the lid was lifted up. Inside were a Daedric bow, and a few precious gems. Ignoring the gems, Rikke picked up the bow and examined it as she held it out to the Huntress.

    “Oh wow, it’s amazing! Here Aela, you have it. It’ll replace your bow”.

     

    Aela walked sexily over to Sotek and snuggled into him. Knowing it crushed all his resistance to her, she spoke in her husky sexy voice which she used to manipulate him.

    “Sote...’K’ I’ll give you what you need if you give me what I need... and I know what you need; don’t I? Hmm?”

     

    Sotek simply gave out a long drawn out sigh and caved in.

    “You and your sexual manipulation... Two days. I’ll need two days”.

     

    Aela cheered gleefully and winked at Rikke.

    “Yes, got him by the tail I have. You keep it Rikke. I’ll have a new bow in two days”.

     

    Rikke bashfully turned away and smirked at Aela’s audacity.

    “Got him by something else I reckon. Are you sure about the bow? It’s Daedric; they are worth a fortune”.

     

    “Oh positive. Make good use of it”. Aela said. She pointed across the mountain range, past the Throat of the World and stated a simple fact; forewarning Rikke not to interfere. “We need to get to Whiterun to sort out my bow. A pressing need as in ‘immediate and undeniable’ so we won’t be at the camp for long”.

     

    Rikke nodded and slyly glanced back at Sotek.

    “Agreed. I presume it’s not just the bow you’ll be sorting out? Don’t answer that! Let’s get back to camp; I might be able to sort out a few more days than just the two. By the looks of it you both need it”.

    The Argonian saw the look Rikke had given him and he slinked off to the pathway, leaving the two girls sniggering behind him.

     

    As they headed back to where they killed the legendry dragon, Sotek stood to the side of the mountain and looked down. Aela and Rikke came over to where he was standing and as they looked down the slope, they saw scuffle marks where Sotek had fallen. Sixty feet below them was a ledge. Just above it was a bloodied large rock.

    “Is that where you fell?” Rikke asked as she peered over the edge.

     

    Sotek looked down the slope, the imagery of him falling flashed through his mind as he turned away as a sick, nauseating feeling filled his gut.

    “I really needed to see that, thank you. Yes, it’s down there somewhere, the ring”.

     

    Aela fought the temptation to try and climb down. She took a single step forwards when Rikke pulled her arm.

    “Don’t think about it, it’s not worth it. I know what it can do for you both but you need to let it go”. She held the Huntress’s arm then gave her a tug leading her away from the edge.

     

    Without another word they all set off down the mountain side and by the time they reached the camp, the archers who had left after the fight with the dragon were already resting up. Rikke made her way to the main tent while Aela and Sotek collapsed by the fire, after ten minutes Rikke came out to find them both asleep their arms wrapped around each other, slap bang in the middle of the camp.

     

     

Comments

3 Comments   |   The Wolf Of Atmora and 5 others like this.
  • Ebonslayer
    Ebonslayer   ·  August 15
    The positioning is so weird. Ancient's Ascent is slightly East of Falkreath and Southwest of Helgen whereas the Imperial Camp near Ivarstead is miles East of Helgen, on the other side of the canyon.
    • Sotek
      Sotek
      Ebonslayer
      Ebonslayer
      Ebonslayer
      The positioning is so weird. Ancient's Ascent is slightly East of Falkreath and Southwest of Helgen whereas the Imperial Camp near Ivarstead is miles East of Helgen, on the other side of the canyon.
        ·  August 17
      Urgh....... I was sure I had the camp right. Double checked it.... I was sure I had the Dragon Lair right...  Only checked it the once...
      Got the wrong shout........ Meh!! Shout should be 'Marked for Death' at Autumn Watch Tower. 
      <...  more
  • A Shadow Under the Moons
    A Shadow Under the Moons   ·  May 7
    I certainly hope that's not the last we see of the ring, it hasn't seen nearly enough action yet in my opinion.