U.o.t.W. Chapter 224 The Apple and the Slave

  • Chapter 224 The Apple and the Slave

     

    As it was well into the early hours, all the Companions headed downstairs, vacating the hall of Jorrvaskr. Even Farkas and Vilkas were feeling the strain of the last few days. Sotek headed straight for his room. He made his way to his bed then sat down on it without bothering to take off his armor. 

     

    Instead, he slumped down on his side. His breathing was slow but deep and his eyes were closed, not tightly though. As his mind stretched back to the mountain top, he became lost in his own thoughts.

     

    Sotek never shut his door; in his weary state he had left it ajar making it easy for Aela to peek inside. He was vaguely aware of her entering his room. She laid out a fur then settled down the cub in the corner before turning her attention to her mate. She walked up to him then took his head in her hands and rested it against her chest. He pushed his head into her bosom, and murmured where he lay so she knew she wasn’t intruding. 

     

    Aela stroked his brow and lightly shook him.

    “Hey, let’s get your gear off then you can get some sleep”.

     

    Sotek clung on to her waist and whispered back softly. The usual strength in his voice was vacant, showing his true weakened state.

    “In a minute”.

     

    “You still got that bloodied shirt on haven’t you?”  As she spoke she slightly shook her head at him. She wasn’t angry, more concerned than anything else. “You rest there; I’ll be back in a sec”. 

     

    Aela then went off and got a bowl of water and a cloth but in the few minutes she was gone Sotek had turned over to his side once again and was now entering a deep sleep. When Aela came back in the room and saw him, she gave out a sigh then set to work. 

     

    Her intentions proved to be more difficult than she first thought.  She struggled for a minute or so trying to get his armor off. She started cursing all the while trying to keep quiet so she wouldn’t wake him up.

     

    Moments later Kodlak walked in and moved her aside.

    “Out of the way lass; I’ve got the hang of this”.

     

    “Huh? Oh ok”. Aela stood aside while Kodlak masterfully moved Sotek around all the while removing his armor. The Harbinger seemed so proficient that Aela felt she had to ask him as he had quickly stripped off Sotek’s armor in the time it had taken her just to fetch the bowl of water. “How often have you done that?”

     

    “What with Sotek or in all?” Kodlak asked as he placed Sotek’s chest piece on the floor by the end of the bed.

     

    She looked at him a bit puzzled as if there could only be one answer.

    “With Sotek?”

     

    “Oh first time but nearly every week for a few years I had to get Vilkas and Farkas to bed. Especially when they were this age, but that was from drinking, not...” His voice trailed off as he noticed the state of Sotek’s shirt. “Oh my, he’s been a busy one hasn’t he? Is he hurt?”

     

    Aela shook her head but she didn’t really know what to say. All she could do was to retell him what Sotek had told her.

    “Not now but. He… he fell on the mountain, down a steep slope. He said he broke his arm and leg, so his trousers are probably the same, but he’s healed up, at least physically. I don’t know. When you broke your leg you needed days to get over the wound. He was up in less than an hour”.

     

    The Harbinger nodded and eased her troubled mind.

    “Ahh yes. He is far younger than me Aela. I’m no wolf cub. More like an old tired wolf who sleeps all day”.

     

    “You don’t sleep all day”. Aela said with a grin.

     

    “No. Sometimes wounds and injuries do the most damage to the mind. So try not to worry. He has got the spirit to shake it off. I advise you stay around Jorrvaskr for the week and rest besides that ‘pup’ of yours! You can‘t take him out for a while in case he runs off”.

     

    “Yes Harbinger. Harbinger... are you sure it’s ok to keep him? I know Sotek kind of tricked you, but… is it ok? You can say no; I’d mind but family’s important. He shouldn’t have played it the way he did. I’m sorry about that”. She took a deep breath then held it half expecting the Harbinger to say she couldn’t keep the cub.

     

    Kodlak fell silent for a few moments he knew Aela would be upset if he said no and yet as she had said Sotek played the rules of war very loosely. He made up his mind one final time and nodded.

    “I‘m not happy with the way he went about it but at the same time I am. It’s an odd sensation really. He didn’t do it to score points against me, or to win favor with you but he saw an opportunity to make things easier for you when he wouldn’t be around. One should do what they can for family and that’s how he see’s us all; a family. So my dear girl yes you can honestly keep him. But… I warn you, no more pets, animals, or anything and you keep him under control”.

     

    “Oh I will”. Aela said with an enthusiastic nod of her head. “I haven’t thought of a name for him yet, but I will. I’ll make sure he behaves”.

     

    “Good, but I was on about Sotek”. Then Kodlak gave her a smile. 

     

    Moments later there was a crash of plates as Tilma shouted out.

    “Damn that bloody rat!!!”

     

    Aela shot a quick glance to the corner which was now empty. Kodak looked at where Aela glanced to then covered his brow with his hand. 

    “Aela where is it?”

     

    Aela gave him a weak smile then shot off out of Sotek’s room and went running upstairs.

     

    As soon as Aela entered the hall, Tilma who was armed with her mop, grabbed her by the arm. She spun her around and yelled in her face in a rant.

    “Young woman, If I ever catch this… this rat up here by itself I swear, I’ll… I’ll… I don’t know what I’ll do but you mark my words I’ll damn well do something and you won’t like it! Now get that bloody rat out of here”. Then she shoved Aela forwards a few feet.

     

     Aela looked down to the floor where Tilma pointed. There was the cub standing between several plates and bits of food which were scattered all over the floor. As the cub saw Aela it started wagging its tail and gave her a few yelps.

    “Arf, Arf”.

     

     She bent down to it as it ran to her, but as it did so it grabbed a piece of leftover meat.

     

    Aela picked it up and tapped it on the nose making it whine slightly and then she apologetically turned to Tilma.

    “I’m sorry, the Harbinger and I were sorting out Sotek. Sorry about that, really”.

     

    “Get that bloody thing out of here!” As Tilma spoke she pointed to the stairway with her mop.

     

    Aela’s eyes popped wide open and she hurriedly took the cub downstairs.

     

    As she headed downstairs she passed the Harbinger and apologized a second time. 

    “I’m sorry about that, ermm oh crap”. Then she went by and entered the Undercroft. She stopped in the corridor and held the cub to her face. “Oh well done you, the first night? Nice”. Without any further sound, she scampered off to Sotek’s room.

     

    Once she left the corridor the Harbinger closed the undercroft door then went over to Tilma in the Hall. He couldn’t help but laugh despite the face Tilma was giving him.

    “She’s just told it off”.

     

    “She’s lucky I didn’t hit it with the mop”. Tilma stated as she started picking up the plates.

     

    Kodlak bend down and helped her gather them up along with the scraps of food. 

    “I saw you grab hold of her”.

     

    “Well what does she expect? It hasn’t been here a day!” She stated, defending her actions.

     

    “What I expect, is Aela to have a go back after being manhandled not to apologize straight away then go running off without another word”. Kodlak stated as he raised his eyebrows. Such a thing never happened before and a part of him still didn’t believe it.

     

    Tilma stopped then looked over to the stairwell in surprise.

    “She did didn’t she! Well I never, I didn’t think about that”.

     

    “Neither did she”. Kodlak then sat down and poured out two flasks of drink before offering one to his counterpart. “Nightcap?”

     

    “Why not”. She said as she sat down. She glanced down at the table then lifted her head up and looked straight at Kodlak. She had something she wanted to ask yet she already knew the answer. “You’re going to let her keep it aren’t you?”

     

    “Yes, I’m afraid so, but I think you may regret it more”. Kodlak said with a heavy tone in his voice. He knew she wasn’t happy about it but what Sotek had said was true. 

     

    “Oh no I won’t! She might but not me”. Tilma stated forcefully. She seemed so certain but although she said it she wasn’t entirely convinced. “What on earth are those rags?” She asked as she pointed to the pile of bloodied clothes Kodlak placed on the floor.

     

    “Oh those rags? That’s what’s left of Sotek’s shirt and trousers. He fell on the mountain according to Aela. She’s worried the wounds are playing on his mind. We’ll give it a few days then I’ll have Vilkas take him up the old trail on the Throat of the World. We’ll soon see how he is”. With that Kodlak swallowed the last mouthful of his drink then placed the empty flagon on the table.

     

    Tilma got up then lifted up the shirt. As she examined it she turned to Kodlak and spoke.

    “There’s something in his pocket”. She checked the pocket then pulled out Hircine’s ring. “Here, you best hold on to it for him”.

     

    Kodlak’s face turned pale when he held the ring in his hand. The light glinted off the silver ring but such beauty was lost to Kodlak. All he felt was dread.

    “Oh dear”.

     

    Tilma saw the change come over him; such were the effects of the shift in his mood. 

    “Whatever’s the matter?”

     

    “Apparently he told Aela he lost it”. Not knowing what else to do with it, he tucked the ring in his breast pocket for safe keeping. The ring puzzled him as Sotek had clearly stated it had been lost. The Harbinger couldn’t help but to begin wondering about Sotek’s motives. “Now, did he in fact think he lost it or was he regretting letting Aela have it?”

     

    “No he loves her, he would give her anything”. Tilma vehemently stated.

     

    “True”. Kodlak replied. He wholeheartedly agreed with Tilma yet there was one thing which raised doubt. “Then again he’s Dragonborn. That changes things. He’s drawn to power and dominance. These things play a big part of who he is irrespective of whether he likes it or not. Giving Aela infinite control over her transformations while he can only change once a day is a bloody big step in the wrong direction”.

     

    “Yes but... he wouldn’t hide it from her! Would he?” Whether Kodlak meant to or not, the seed of doubt had been planted. 

     

    All Kodlak could do was sadly shake his head. He ran through his options and each one left a nasty taste in his mouth. Having no other choice, he decided to play ignorant.

    “No I don’t think he would but here it is. Don’t mention anything about it. We’ll pretend we haven’t got it and we’ll soon see what he does. Tomorrow we’ll find out if he has been hiding it or if by some chance he really had thought he lost it”. With that the Harbinger wished Tilma a good night then went off to his room with a heavy heart.

     

    Late the next morning, Sotek opened his eyes to find Aela curled up with her back to him. In her arms, fast asleep, was the cub lying on its side with its paws stretched out. Sotek had a bit of a smile as he recollected her face when she first saw it. As he turned over and moved up close to Aela, he noticed she was wearing one of his shirts as a night shirt. 

    “That explains where they keep going”. He whispered to himself. It was only then that he realized he had a new shirt and a clean pair of trousers on. He couldn’t recall changing his clothes yet here he was. 

     

    He suddenly shot up alarmingly and looked around for his old cloths but he couldn’t see them anywhere.

     

    “Morning sleepy head”. Aela said whilst being half asleep herself. “What you looking for?”

     

    “My shirt and trousers. What happened to them?” Sotek asked as he lay back down. His hand followed the curves of Aela’s leg and hip to finally rest on her waist. 

     

    “What you want them for? They’re ruined. Kodlak took them; he was going to throw them out. This morning I think”.

     

    Sotek gave her a kiss on the top of her head then climbed out of bed, leaving his mate behind. She half sat up as she watched him head through the door.

    “Where you going?”

     

    “I got to get something, I won’t be long”. Once he closed the door behind him, Sotek headed upstairs. Much to Sotek’s relief, when he entered the hall the first person he saw was Kodlak who was sitting at the table. Wasting no time Sotek approached him and asked about his clothes. 

    “Harbinger, my shirt and trousers from last night where are they?” 

     

    Kodlak instantly looked over to Tilma who returned his look straight back at him. The maid pointed to the pile of bloodied rags, directing Sotek to them.

    “They are over there”.

     

    Sotek literally ran over to them causing the Harbinger to raise an eyebrow. Kodlak and indeed Tilma expected him to search the shirt but he simply threw that aside then picked up his trousers. He dug into a pocket then pulled out the old tatty bloodied piece of Aela’s armor from months ago and smiled with relief.

    “Panic over; I got it”. He stated as he threw it up in the air just to catch it seconds later. He put it in a pocket so it was securely in his possession before throwing his old trousers down. 

     

    Before he could head back downstairs, Farkas looked over to him and called out.

    “You still hold on to that? That was months ago; I thought you were over it”.

     

    Sotek stopped then looked at everyone in the hall. Such was his intent on recovering the leather piece that he hadn’t realized the other Whelps and Companions were in the hall. He weighed a few things up in his mind. As he did so he saw Aela come upstairs with the cub in her arm. Sotek gave her a smile then walked over to two chairs. He pulled her one out then picked up the other one and placed it by the fire pit and spoke back to Farkas.

    “Let me tell you a story”.

     

    “A long time ago in Morrowind, there lived a rich Argonian. Now he wasn’t rich by a few gold septims or even to the point where he had decent living standards, he was ridiculously rich. He owned three stalls and a shop in Vivec’s market district and they made him a lot of money. However his story never began that way. His tale started as a young slave. Each day they would be paraded in the streets in the hope of being sold off. Every night they were given the most basic of foods. Often a slave would starve as fighting would break out for the scraps. The strong fed off the weak while the tired slept with one eye open in the fear that they would be next. One particular day he was sold to a Vivec trader. Gradually, over the next few years he earned the respect of his owner”. 

     

    “One day, by mere chance, as he was cleaning the floor a merchant came in who wanted to sell some goods. The Argonian’s master wasn’t about; he was finalizing a deal with a shop the other side of the plaza. Now, this Argonian was told not to sell or buy but to simply state that his master would be back soon”.

     

    “The merchant shook his head and began heading out of the shop. ‘No I can’t wait around. Sorry, I’m off; the next shop would be interested in my wares’ and with that the trader tried to exit the shop”.

     

    “The Argonian then broke all the rules and actually bought the goods using the money from the till. When the owner came back he was furious for not only did the Argonian defy him, but he had spent nearly a thousand gold septims! Such a thing was almost unthinkable. Just before he was whipped to death, he ran over to the goods and showed the owner what he had bought. Instantly the owner knew the slave had done a good deal but he still threatened the Argonian.

    ‘For every gold you don’t make back, I will whip you ten times’. And so the Argonian set out to sell all that he had bought”.

     

    “Over the course of the week the Argonian sold the goods while his master counted the coin. The Argonian actually made six thousand gold septims from all his sales. The merchant, his owner, was so impressed with his ability at bartering and trading that he made the Argonian an offer. He didn’t release him, but made him a partner instead. Gradually he earned his freedom but they still worked together until he could buy out the other man. From that day when he became a partner, with every meal he would have an apple”.

     

    “One day, several years later, someone asked him a question. ‘Why do you always have an apple with every meal?’ He answered ‘Once I was a slave and I starved. I have an apple not because I’m afraid of starving, but so I remember what it’s like when someone starves’. And so there was his reason for having an apple”.

     

    “You see Farkas, I don’t keep this because of what I did or from the fear of what happened. I keep this to remind me what could happen if I ever lose control”. Then Sotek got up and sat next to Aela. He picked up a piece of fish and broke off a small piece then fed it to the cub in Aela’s hand.

     

    An hour later he turned to Aela and gave her a nudge.

    “Come on, I’ll make him a collar then you can take him around Whiterun for a walk”. As he got up his tail slammed down then twitched about nervously. 

     

    Kodlak couldn’t help but notice the change in the Argonian’s posture. He had been waiting to see if Sotek was troubled over the ring but as of yet there was no sign of deceit what so ever, until now.

    “What’s up?” 

     

    “Arcadia!” Sotek stated nervously. “She wanted to see me this morning after waking her up at midnight by banging on Belathor’s door”. He gulped loudly and headed downstairs.

     

     

     

Comments

2 Comments   |   The Wolf Of Atmora and 7 others like this.
  • Ebonslayer
    Ebonslayer   ·  August 15
    He really thinks the Ring was taken by Hircine? I wonder if that was a ploy by Hircine to see how long it'd take him to find it.
    • Sotek
      Sotek
      Ebonslayer
      Ebonslayer
      Ebonslayer
      He really thinks the Ring was taken by Hircine? I wonder if that was a ploy by Hircine to see how long it'd take him to find it.
        ·  August 18
      Ermmmmm  time will tell.