U.O.T.W. Chapter 270 The Trials of Sotek:- The Provider

  • The Trials of Sotek... The Provider

     

    The next morning, as Sotek entered the hall from downstairs, he was surprised to see the Harbinger sitting at the table. Kodlak motioned to the Argonian, asking him to sit at the table.

    “Ah, there you are. Take a seat youngling. It would seem you all had quite a night. We were somewhat pleasantly surprised to see the hall tidied up and cleaned. You all did a grand job. Well done”. 

     

    Sotek smiled and nodded back.

    “The Companions did most of the work and the Whelps helped a lot as well”. 

     

    Kodlak shook his head and muttered.

    “Stop being so bloody modest for once. I’m trying to build you up so I can have a go at you. But... I suspect that you know that already. The least you could do is act like you don’t know what I’m trying to do”. 

     

    “Would it help if I went downstairs then we can start again?” Sotek said with a cheeky flip of his tail. 

     

    Kodlak smiled back and shook his head.

    “No, probably not. Now we really appreciate the thought of you all saving us some food and the like but that changes nothing. Your behaviour and Aela’s for that matter leaves a lot to be desired”. 

     

    “Yes” Sotek stated. He closed his eyes tightly and wished the two of them would sometimes calm down but they influenced each other all too easily and all too readily followed one another’s lead. “For all that has happened, I apologise. I have already spoken with Proventus and Jarl Balgruuf. I have offered my services at their disposal”. 

     

    “Yes, I heard about that. However I have a task for you and you will take that girl of yours with you. Listen well, this isn’t an excuse to go gallivanting across the plains of a rampant blood fuelled orgy of fur and claws. There’s to be no long nights at the camp fire. No Scarface and Red running about, no long rests in your bed or her bed, or anywhere else for that matter. You both have forty eight hours, I strongly advise you use this time well. It will disappear extremely quickly. I want twenty fish, twenty skins and twenty meat pieces”.

     

    Sotek stared at him in disbelief. He found himself repeating the Harbinger’s request lest he missed some vital detail.

    “Twenty fish, skins and meat? In forty eight hours. Are you serious?” 

     

    Kodlak stopped for a few seconds and thought about the order.

    “Yes, well since you put it like that, yes your right. Considering it’s you, you have thirty six hours. Get a move on”. 

     

    Aela came up to Sotek and thumped him in the arm.

    “You moron, next time shut the hell up. Farkas had to do this once with that brother of his. They were gone for days.” 

     

    Tilma came over to them all and butted in.

    “Why is Aela going? Shouldn’t they be separated? Not for me to say but a cell didn’t stop them so how is a trip on the plains going to? You might as well throw six furs out in the yard for them. We both know what will happen”.

     

     

     

    Kodlak looked at Aela with his cold hard stare.

    “She didn’t exactly behave”. 

     

    “Oh? In what way?” Tilma asked as the wheels in her head started turning.

     

    “Her and Sotek in the cell?” Kodlak stated. He knew he was asking for trouble but he hoped at least to keep them out of the way for a few days.

     

    Tilma gave a slight smile but only Sotek saw it. He watched her with a good deal of interest. Tilma rested her hand on Kodlak’s shoulder and patted the muscular shoulder.

    “She was there because you told her to go there. Is it any surprise what they would do? No, of course it wasn’t. They are young and in love. So you have to take some blame”. She then turned to Sotek and waved a dustpan under his nose.

    “You have thirty hours to complete your task. I want twenty fish, twenty furs and twenty pieces of meat. You’re taking Aela and the Harbinger with you, now get a move on”. 

     

    Sotek rolled his eyes at her.

    “What the hell... Why am I taking the Harbinger?”

     “Yes!” Kodlak stated. “Why me?”

     

    “Because you caused that mess, that’s why. Not all of it, I grant you but you certainly didn’t help matters. These two won’t keep their hands off each other so I need someone to chaperone them. Besides, I have the hall to clean and it’s a damn sight easier doing it without your carcass in my way”.

     

    Sotek slammed his hand down on the table. For one fraction of a second he had a plan but it was instantly shredded to pieces with the news of them being escorted by the Harbinger. As Sotek watched him, a thought occurred to him. Tilma was a bit angry with Kodlak as well...

    “Tilma, are we taking the Harbinger or Kodlak with us?”

     

    “What’s the bloody difference?” The maid demanded.

     

    Sotek hissed his reply at her.

    “Everything... hisss”. 

     

    “One day you’ll hiss at me and I’ll cut that tongue out”. She declared, running her fingertip across her own throat.

     

    Sotek managed to withhold a hiss in reply but the will was too strong and a low growl escaped the confines of his mouth.

    “Grrrrr” 

     

    “Fine” Tilma stated in a huff. “Have it your way. Aela, I’d shut him up if I were you. You now have twenty four hours”. 

     

    Instantly Aela went up to Sotek and thumped him in the arm.

    “Shut up you bloody moron. Damn it”. 

     

    Sotek slightly shook his head and refused such a task.

    “It can’t be done, not without wiping out a hunting area. I won’t do it”. 

     

    She smiled gently at him as her fingers wrapped themselves around a broomstick.

    “Sotek, don’t fail, and the times ticking”. 

     

    “At least answer me this”. Sotek said as he tried in vain to get some new perspective on the hunting problem. “Is it the Harbinger or Kodlak we’re taking with us?” 

     

    “I fail to see the difference but very well, it’s Kodlak. Oh, and another thing, no horses”. 

     

    Sotek muttered under his breath then headed outside with Aela and Kodlak following behind. Outside the main gate, Aela grabbed Sotek by the arm and almost screamed at him.

    “What the hell difference does it make if we got the Harbinger or Kodlak? They’re the same person you moron”. 

     

    Sotek smiled back at her.

    “No they’re not. The Harbinger would insist that we do it the proper way, but with Kodlak I have some scope to manoeuvre. Kodlak, you are not the Harbinger at this time. Tilma stated we have Kodlak with us. We can do this but you got to let me do it my way”. 

     

    Kodlak sighed as he looked across the plains.

    “It’s never been done in thirty six hours let alone twenty four. We’ll have to split up”. 

     

    Sotek shook his head.

    “No. We hunt together, but we do this my way. Kodlak get on”. With no further explanation, he transformed. Scarface lowered his shoulder, allowing Kodlak to climb on. Aela followed Sotek’s lead and dropped to the ground as she transformed into Red. Within moments they were off, heading towards Riverwood.

     

    When they reached the river, Scarface stopped for a few seconds as he watched the fish then once again he was off. Soon enough they arrived at Riverwood but Scarface didn’t stop, he simply ran straight through the small town.

     

    After passing through Riverwood, they ran past the rapids where days earlier Scarface and Red hunted for salmon. Again, Scarface stopped for a few seconds then headed along the path once more. Once they arrived at the mouth of the lake, Scarface headed south much to Kodlak’s surprise. Scarface scrambled up the mountain side for a few minutes then he came to an abrupt stop right outside a large house. He slowly walked around the side then lowered a shoulder allowing Kodlak to get off. Seconds later Sotek changed back. As he turned around he noticed Aela had already changed.

     

    Aela walked up to Sotek as she examined the structure.

    “What the hell is this place?” 

     

    “Lakeview Manor. It’s an ermm... It’s a den of mine; so to speak. I’ve been meaning to bring you here but every time we get the chance to, something rears up its bloody head. Come inside, I’ll show you around”. 

     

    Kodlak himself was a bit lost for words when he saw the scale of it for the first time. Whatever his initial thoughts on it were, he kept them to himself. 

     

    Aela however fired off a barrage of questions.

    “When did you build it? How did you manage it? Oh wow, look Harbinger, it’s got a garden. Hey, wait a minute... these plants? They make healing potions”. 

     

    “Yes they do, well done. Wheat, Blue Mountain Flower and Juniper Berries for taste. However I think the plants inside will be more to your liking”.

     

    Aela’s eyes lit up as she approached the door.

    “Show me”. 

     

    Sotek chuckled as he watched Aela bounce around like a little child. She reminded him of when he gave her the Dragonbone bow. The three of them walked through the doorway and entered a small rectangular room. By the western wall were a small table and two chairs. Set into the north wall was a door. Aela turned her nose up at the room and chuckled.

    “I thought it was bigger than this”. 

     

    “You sarcastic mare!” Sotek stated. He led them through the next door which opened up to his main room. There was a large table in the centre which could easily seat six people. The far side of the hall was a large fireplace with cooking utensils. Aela stood there looking confused until Sotek pointed to the western double doors. “Through those doors”.

     

    Within a few seconds Aela shouted out.

    “He’s got everything in here, Deathbell, Red Mountain Flower, Nightshade, Imp Stool, even Giant Lichen and Jazbay Grapes. Sotek, dearest? You remember that legendry dragon we killed with Ebony when we were outside Ironbind Barrow? I used all my poisons on it...” 

     

    Sotek groaned as he tapped his fingers on the table while Kodlak laughed. Knowing it was too late to stop her, Sotek called out, allowing her to harvest what she wanted.

    “Yes, take what you want, but we haven’t got long”. 

     

    Sotek pulled out a chair and offered it to Kodlak who gratefully accepted the seat. As he spoke he gazed around the house in admiration at Sotek’s hard work.

    “Thank you. So, this is what you‘ve been spending all that gold on? It’s certainly impressive. It puts most of the buildings in Whiterun to shame. But, it’s a bit big for a small base; it’s almost like... a home”. 

     

    Sotek sat near him and poured out two glasses of water from his flask.

    “In some ways that’s true; I had built it as a home. There’s a bedroom upstairs with provisions for two more rooms. Behind the fireplace is a storage area with space for an extra room to be added onto. Aela, who is at this moment in time tearing apart the poor plants, is in the greenhouse. Behind the other doors is an armory, that’s where I keep my spare weapons and armor. Then there’s the cellar where I have my forge”. 

     

    Kodlak sighed as he weighed things up in his mind.

    “Sotek, I have to ask. Are you considering asking Aela to move in here with you?” 

     

    “We’ve briefly discussed it, believe it or not. Aela was afraid I would ask her to move away from Jorrvaskr, even Breezehome, but no. I’m more than aware she likes her solitude at times but that’s not enough. She needs the others around her. Not necessarily in the same room as her, but there none of the less. She needs her pack around her. So no Kodlak, I’ll never be asking her to move in here. Then again, we may spend the odd days or even a week here, once in a while, same goes for the Whelps and the others. This is a great staging ground for the mountains here and Falkreath. The terrain is so different to the plains. Good training for everyone”. 

     

    Sotek waited a few seconds for Kodlak to accept what he had said then Sotek turned to the matter at hand.

    “Kodlak can you help me downstairs while she’s giggling away to herself over possible concoctions?”

     

    “You said you wanted to do this your way. What are you up to? What are we after?” Kodlak asked as he followed Sotek to a large hatch in the far corner.

     

    “Well, initially furs and ores for trade. Vilkas happened to mention Fort Greymoor had supplies recently. They were given way too much food and not enough equipment so I want to try and trade with Rikke”. With that simple explanation, he called his mate to his side. Or rather he tried to. “Aela? Follow us; we’re going in the cellar... Aela? Aela! Oh, forget it”.

     

    Leaving her to her own devices Sotek led Kodlak down into the cellar where Sotek’s smithing workshop was set up.

     

    Once he climbed down the ladder, Kodlak stood there for several seconds in the dim light, giving Sotek time to light a few torches, thereby allowing Kodlak to take in the scale of Sotek’s forge.

    “By Shor’s breath! You must have taken ages setting this all up”. 

     

    “Oh, I had done some of it yes. Although to be fair, a lot of the work was done for me. I just had to pay for it all”. Sotek stated as he thought back to the various blacksmithing jobs he had to do to return the favours.

     

    “Even so, you must have put a lot into it”. Kodlak stated.

     

    “In all, about twelve thousand septims but also a lot of odd jobs”. Sotek went to the left side chest which was near the skinning rack. He opened the chest up then set about removing various furs. Once they were piled up he went to the right hand side chest which was near the smelter, then he started gathering iron and steel ingots from the chest. 

     

    At that point Aela came down the steps to the cellar to investigate the Companion’s disappearance from the main room.

    “What the hell? Sotek how long have you had this place?” 

     

    “A little while, but it’s a works in progress. Help me with these furs and ores”. 

     

    Between the three of them, they managed to get the furs and ores to the ground floor and stack them all by the entrance. Then Sotek went back inside and entered the armoury. Aela, overwhelmed with curiosity followed him inside.

     

    As soon as she looked at the various mannequins she gave Sotek a light thump in the arm.

    “You cheating git. That’s how you made my bow so fast, you got spare ones”. 

     

    “Ha-ha, yess. And a spare set of our armors”. He picked up four large saddle bags and exited the room. “Right there’s one more thing I need to get before I forget. He went over to a book shelf in the main hall then dug out a red book. He placed it in his pack then gave them the nod to say he was done. “Let’s get going”. 

     

    As soon as they were outside Kodlak discreetly asked him about the book.

    “It’s a spell book is it not?” 

     

    “Yes, flame atronach. I don’t use it myself but Kul-et might find it useful. It’s just a case of finding the right moment to give it to her”. 

     

    Kodlak nodded at him.

    “Oh one day you’ll find yourself the perfect opportunity, you’ll see”. 

     

    Sotek smiled back then headed towards the lake. Near the rocky over hang overlooking the lake was a hunter near a small wooden wharf. At the end of it was a row boat. Sotek walked up to him and greeted the man warmly.

    “Hello hunter... How is the forest treating you? Have you caught much?” 

     

    “Nope, but I did get a stag and a wolf earlier”. The Hunter replied as he pointed to a pile of meat wrapped in a fur.

     

    “Hmm. I don’t suppose you got any meat for sale?” Sotek asked, half hoping to acquire the stag meat. As they talked he couldn’t help but notice the net the hunter would use for fishing. An idea popped into Sotek’s head.

     

    “Just that I’m afraid”. The man replied.

     

    “Sold. Now how many coins would you want for the use of your net for say half an hour?” As Sotek began bartering he jingled his pouch, lighting up the hunter’s eyes.

     

    With the net now in his possession, Sotek and the Companions stored the furs and iron bars in the boat along with the four saddle bags. Then, when they were unburdened by the supplies, Sotek led the Companions to the rapids then explained his plan.

     

    “Kodlak, you wait here with this end. Aela, you’re crossing the river with me”. With that he entered the river leaving Kodlak on the bank with one end of the net. Aela swam across with Sotek, then when they were on the other side, he gave her the other end of the net. “Right, hold on tightly”.

     

    The next second he cast a series of lightning spells at the rapids. Within moments dead fish were swept down the river straight into the net. Aela laughed as she watched the dead fish get caught up so easily.

    “You cheating bastard! Yu got that idea from Kul-et”. 

     

    “Yess. I just expanded on it, but yes, she gave me the idea”. Within ten minutes they had twelve fish. Sotek took a small net then pointed across the lake. “You two take the boat across. Head over there, I’ll meet you in about ten? Fifteen minutes? We need more fish”. He then dived straight into the lake, holding the net as he disappeared below the water’s surface. 

     

    While the two companions rowed across the surface of the lake, Kodlak grinned as he looked at the furs and fish in their possession.

    “We left six hours ago and we have the twenty furs and twelve fish. I can’t see him making it, but he’s doing bloody well”. 

     

    Aela turned back to the house which Sotek had built. As she spoke to Kodlak she couldn’t help but feel a bit pressured.

    “I had a look at the upstairs. He’s got a double bed up there. Two wardrobes, two chests of draws even two end tables. It’s nice, in fact it’s great, but it isn’t home. He’s going to ask me to move in with him, isn’t he?” 

     

    Kodlak gave a slight smirk as he watched her features. To him, she looked scared.

    “You don’t feel ready for that? You’ve been together for months now. Some couples would have been already married”. 

     

    Aela’s eyes opened wide.

    “Oh god he is, isn’t he?” 

     

    Kodlak laughed.

    “No he isn’t, he has no intentions on asking you to leave Jorrvaskr. Mind you, now I know that you both have somewhere to go it’s a lot easier on my mind when I decide to kick you both out for a few days”. 

     

    Aela glared at him.

    You wouldn’t?” 

     

    Kodlak raised his eyebrows at her. Instantly she felt a bit nervous.

    “I kicked you both out the night you both ermm... Come on, he’ll be there in a minute”. 

     

    Soon enough Sotek emerged from the lake and walked up to them both. A leather bag which he had brought down from the manor was bulging with fish.

    “Fifteen fish here but no salmon. I hope Tilma isn’t going to be too fussy”. 

     

    Kodlak reassured him, as he inspected the fish.

    “These will be fine; but where’s the net?” 

     

    “Oh I took it back. Come on we got to run”. Within a few seconds Sotek changed.

     

    Aela groaned as she looked down at all the supplies.

    “Great Scarface, leave it all for us to carry. How the hell are we supposed to bring this lot? There’s not even a hand cart”.

     

    “Well we have these bags”. Kodlak stated. “Although we’d never be able to lift them is they were filled up”.

     

    Aela looked back at Scarface and grinned.

    “We won’t have to. They weren’t for us to carry. Scarface! Come here boy. That’s my boy... good boy. Now, you hold still”. Kodlak watched as she strapped the bags onto Scarface’s back like he was a pack horse. Once the four bags were secure, she and Kodlak spent ten whole minutes loading Scarface up.

     

    Kodlak was apprehensive, fearful that they had inadvertently put too much strain on Scarface’s back but he didn’t seem to notice the extra weight at all. He even lowered his shoulder and let Kodlak climb back on. 

     

    Within the hour they were heading towards the fort. Once they got close, Scarface slowed down so he would be recognised. Various yells and shouts by the sentries alerted the garrison but such a werewolf as Scarface was easily recognised. Three soldiers pulled a spiked barricade, allowing unhindered access to Fort Greymoor.

     

    Scarface quickly turned around, causing Kodlak to quickly grab hold of a hand full of fur in a desperate attempt to stay on.

    “Bloody hell, no wonder you have trouble riding Sotek”. 

     

    By now red had changed. Aela walked over to Kodlak, grinning broadly. “Ok you asked for this. You should learn to pick your words more carefully. I have no problems riding Sotek at all”. 

     

    Kodlak frowned at her as he got off.

    “That’s not what I meant”. 

     

    Sotek walked up to them both.

    “Sorry about that, for a moment he was kind of heading over the wall but I don’t think you are ready for that yet”. 

     

    Aela snapped.

    “No, don’t you dare, he’ll fall off. It’s bad enough when I’m riding Scarface”. 

     

    Kodlak started laughing.

    “Oh sweet revenge. You should watch what you say. Now, Aela; doesn’t Red or Sotek get jealous? What with you and Scarface?” 

     

     Aela blushed and then turned her attention to Sotek. She pointed her dagger at his chest.

    “Not a word” 

     

    Sotek took a step back and raised his hands mockingly as if to surrender.

    “Oh look! We’re here, let’s go”. 

     

    Leaving the four bags where they lay, Sotek and the rest of his pack walked towards the officer’s quarters when they were greeted by Rikke, Vilkas and Farkas. Feeling somewhat surprised both brothers were there, Sotek gave then a slight nod before walking straight up to Rikke. “Ah just the one I wanted to see. How goes your supplies?” 

     

    Rikke eyed him suspiciously and she wasn’t prepared to give a straight answer lest she got caught up in one of his deals.

     “So, so. Why? What are you after?”

     

    Knowing Rikke was being apprehensive, Sotek decided to go straight for the jugular although he also wanted to play her a bit. He had reliable information stating she had too much food so he immediately offered her some, knowing she would refuse.

    “We have an abundance of meat here. Did you need some?” 

     

    Rikke shook her head at the thought. Their larders were overstocked as it was.

    “Oh no anything but, we had extra rations from Solitude then the Jarl sent over a load from the other night. If anything, we have got too much”. 

     

    Sotek looked disappointed and he dejectedly turned away.

    “Oh rats! I was hoping to offload some”. 

     

    She shook her head apologetically.

    “Sorry we got way too much”. 

     

    Almost pouncing on her, he whirled around and pressed home his proposal.

    “Too much? How much is too much? Could you say, spare twenty meat portions?”

     

    “Yea we can easily spare that amount”. Rikke stated. She eyed him cautiously although she had a feeling she was too late. “Why?”

     

    Sotek smiled then he moved in for the kill.

    “I’ll give you ten furs, seven fish, twenty iron ingots and twenty steel bars for twenty meat pieces. But we do the deal now and you lend us a wagon to transport it all to Whiterun. Right now... clock’s ticking... nineteen steel bars... eighteen steel bars...”

     

    Rikke cast a quick look at the girl who Vilkas had a fight with a few nights before. She nodded her approval so Rikke snatched Sotek’s hand and shook it.

    “Deal. You there! Bring the wagon over to the quartermaster. Help load up the supplies”. 

     

    Soon enough the three of them were heading back to Whiterun on the back of a fully loaded Imperial wagon. Kodlak chuckled to himself as he thought back to that morning.

    “I’ve never seen anyone collect this lot in a day and a half. You did it with in twelve hours. Ha-ha-ha! Tilma! She’s going to go nuts at you for this”. 

     

    By the late evening they arrived back at Whiterun. The moment they were seen, Tilma started heading down the path to meet them. She yelled at the Harbinger, demanding an explanation of their early arrival.

    “What the hell are you doing back here? It’s not a joke you know”. 

     

    Sotek walked up to her and grinned.

    “We’re done, as requested. Twenty furs, fish and meat. Oh, except these two pieces of venison. These are ours”. With that he took the two pieces of meat from the stack and wrapped them up in a spare fur before slumping them over his shoulder.

     

    “What?” Tilma cried. “No, you can’t be finished. You three rouges wait there”. She spent the next five minutes checking the supplies but when she found they were indeed telling the truth, she sat back stunned.

    “But how? How did you do it? It’s only been twelve hours”. 

     

    Sotek smiled as he and Aela headed off to Jorrvaskr.

    “Your trouble is you underestimated us. Never underestimate a Huntress and her wolf. Woof, Woof”. 

     

    Aela tugged Sotek’s arm. When he turned to face her, she raised her eyebrows a few times and smiled at him. Two seconds later they both threw their heads back then howled out loudly in unison.

    “Awwoooo”. The pair of them started laughing then Aela called back to Tilma and the Harbinger. “We’ll send the Whelps to you to help shift that lot”. 

     

    Tilma looked across at Kodlak and yet again demanded an explanation. “Tell me, how in all of Skyrim did they do it?”

     

    Kodlak smiled at her and patted the maids shoulder.

    “Ermm... No”. With that, he laughed then headed up the path towards Jorrvaskr, leaving a rather befuddled made behind.

     

    That night, everyone awoke to the sound of Rikke banging on the doors to Jorrvaskr.

    “Kodlak? Harbinger? Sotek! Wake up damn you!”

     

    Kodlak managed to unlock the door, which was hindered by the constant shaking of it as Legate Rikke tried to force her way in. He asked for an explanation but was totally ignored.

    “Whatever is it? Where are Farkas and Vilkas? Weren’t they with you at Fort Greymoor?”

     

    Blanking him, Rikke burst inside and seemed almost frantic as she screamed out at Sotek who had only just climbed the stairwell. She pushed past the Harbinger and ran to Sotek, cursing with each breath.

    “You stupid bastard! They’ll hang cause of you. I said don’t contact her. Now look at the mess they’re in”. She started laying into him, pounding at his chest as she shouted. 

     

    Sotek wrestled with her arms and pushed her away so he could at least look at her. 

    “What are you on about? Who’s going to hang?” 

     

    “Farkas and Vilkas. Sotek, you have to present yourself at the fort tonight. Harbinger, if he doesn’t then the General Tullius will hang them both from the ramparts. Sotek you got to stop him”. 

     

    Sotek gulped as the hot breathe of a growling she-wolf blew into the nape of his neck. He turned around to see Aela two feet away from him and her eyes blazed with fury.

    “Now what the hell have you done?”

     

     

Comments

1 Comment   |   Shy Knight of the Shovel and 3 others like this.
  • Ebonslayer
    Ebonslayer   ·  August 19
    “Yes, well since you put it like that, yes [you're] right."
    “Sotek, don’t fail, and the [time's] ticking”.
    “You cheating bastard! [You] got that idea from Kul-et”.
    "By now [Red] had changed."
    "leaving a rather befuddled [maid] behi...  more