UOTW Chapter 183 Ironbind Barrow


    The whole mountainside was awash with snow and frost giving the Whelp cause to shiver. Above them the clouds mirrored the environment. They were dark and heavy, filled to the bursting point with snow. Aela’s boots crushed the freshly laid snow beneath them, causing a loud ‘crunch; with every step.


    Even before they reached the archway, she stooped and held her fist in the air; a clear sign that something had disturbed her. Acting on her signal, Sotek tilted his head up and listened to the breeze almost at the same time as Aela did while the Whelp looked on like they were crazy.

    “Voices. Two of them, carried on the wind”. Sotek stated, relaying the information to the other members of the pack.


    Aela was a bit closer to the arch though and she could also smell the different scents of people.

    “There’s more than just voices. A Redguard and an Argonian”.


    Without thinking the Whelp whispered to the two senior Companions.

    “What in all of Tamriel is an Argonian doing here? He will freeze to death!”


    Aela, being as bold as ever, moved forwards with her bow in hand.

    “I don’t know. Let’s ask them”.


    They stepped under the archway to be greeted by several pillars spread amongst various boulders. A small shelter made up of timber and furs was set up near the center of the small clearing where an Argonian who was dressed in robes, sat by the fire. Opposite him was a young Redguard woman who was clad in steel armor.

    The Whelp moved next to Aela and whispered so the two strangers couldn’t hear her.



    “No”. Aela stated. “Their gears too well maintained”.


    As she approached them, she lowered her bow to show she wasn’t hostile although she was sure to keep her hand on the drawstring.


    The Argonian was startled to see Aela appear from around the corner. He almost dropped the flask he was drinking from. Nervously, he called out to the other member of his group.

    “Salma; We have visitors!”


    “We were here first damn it!” The Redguard woman stated. She soon changed her tune however when she saw Sotek and the Whelp who were just behind the Huntress. She paused to sum up the situation and realized they were too outnumbered to defend their claim. She rested her hand on the hilt of her mace and nodded to Beem-Ja, telling him to prepare himself. He slowly backed away from the fire and moved closer to his partner in preparation for a fight.


    The girls hand moving towards her weapon wasn’t lost on either Aela or Sotek. Aela raised her bow, pointing it straight at the Redguard while Sotek partly drew his two axes. The atmosphere between parties darkened with every passing second.


    The Whelp however was in a different place altogether. She virtually ran between Salma and Beem-Ja and promptly sat by the fire to warm her hands. Nearby was a large bag filled with bottles of ale which caught her eye as well as several pieces of meat cooking on the fire.

    “Oh wow! You have mead? Oh, it’s ale. Can we buy a few bottles off you? Rabbit! Oh yummy. We had eaten today but I threw up when we went through the gauge… pass sorry. There were bandits there that Aela killed. That’s Aela, she’s a Companion of Whiterun; sorry Jorrvaskr, like Sotek here. I’m just a Whelp. Can I have some rabbit? I threw up earlier. The pass you see. Oh, you don’t know; Sotek we should warn them, shouldn’t we?”


    Sotek stared back blankly at her as he hadn’t the feintest clue as to what she was on about.


    The Whelp watched him for the fraction of a second then started talking again just as excitedly as before.

    “Trolls! They ate the bodies… there was blood everywhere”. She helped herself to a rabbit and gingerly pulled a leg off but as it was hot, she ended up juggling the meat between her hands as she tried to eat it. “This is really nice. Sotek cooks nice rabbit but he doesn’t add any seasoning like you do. Who cooked it? It’s really nice. Aela can’t cook, she’s terrible at it. Tilma, she’s the maid of Jorrvaskr, she banned Aela from the kitchen. Could I have an ale please?”


    She looked up expectantly at the girl, Salma who was too dumb struck to say anything other than ‘yes'. The Whelp gleefully replied and too a bottle to drink.

    “Thanks! Aela’s curious as to why you two are here. Well we all are to be honest. We’re here to find an enchant. It’s a special one. Firing Soul Trap or something. I dunno… What about you? You here for the enchant as well or you here to find your fortune? We heard you talk about gold and treasure but you don’t need to worry, we’re not after treasure. All we want is an axe. You know the one with the enchant on? Heheh sorry no, I don’t expect you do. We don’t either. Are you two going in? There’s draugr in there. Sotek, you think we should team up?”


    Beem-Ja seemed to settle down and he pulled Salma’s hand away from her weapon and spoke somewhat nervously.

    “I admit, there is strength in numbers. Perhaps between us?”


    Aela ignored him and walked up to the Whelp she lightly tapped the Whelp’s leg with her boot and abruptly chastised her.

    “How can you say all that without even pausing for breath? You don’t go helping yourself to other people’s food. Now, get up we’ve a job to do”.


    Sotek leaned back against one of the pillars and chuckled. He smiled at the Whelp and gave her a sly wink.

    “Well it did help to break the ice. So, Salma? I would ask what you are doing here but as we are in the middle of nowhere freezing our tails off outside a Barrow there is little point. As your companion has said; there is safety in numbers. We’re after an axe. It has an enchant, fiery Soul Trap. If you give your word the axe is mine, then I can see no issue as to why we can’t all go together. There’s plenty for all. All I am after, is the axe”.


    The Whelp started laughing and grinned at Sotek as a thought entered her mind.

    “He’s usually just after Aela’s ass but he had that earlier”. She looked over to Aela in horror having forgot she was there. “I ermm… I meant”.


    Aela growled then angrily approached the entrance of Ironbind Barrow.

    “I think we best get started before trolls are attracted by the blood”.


    The Whelp, having not understood Aela’s meaning, glanced up at Sotek in the hope that he would explain.


    He did so all too willingly by drawing a clawed finger across his throat.

    “She means yours you silly cow. Let’s make a move before she carries out her threat”.


    “You’re not leaving me behind!” Salma said as she ran towards the entrance of the tomb.


    As soon as they entered Ironbind Barrow, the icy chill of the cave tore at them, causing Beem-Ja, Salma and the Whelp to shiver. Sotek couldn’t help but notice the change in their mood so he countered it the only way he knew how to.

    “Break out your torches”.


    Aela argued about the entire idea. If they were to make progress then the last thing they wanted to do was alert everything to their presence.

     “We can’t sneak with torches”.


    Sotek dealt with Aela quickly and effectively. All he needed to do was to point at Beem-Ja, the Argonian.

    “They can’t sneak frozen still either; break them out”.


    They Huntress glared at him but even she felt a bit warmer as soon as the three torches were burning. Salma looked oddly at Sotek who was in front and enquired about his unearthly tolerance to the icy conditions.

    “Sotek isn’t it? Don’t you get bothered by the cold?”


    Sotek’s eyes opened wide as he struggled to think of a suitable response. Even the Whelp looked on expectantly as she waited for his answer.

    “Ermm yes, but I try to hide it. It’s a man macho thing I guess”.


    Aela gave him a smile and sarcastically commented on his ‘manly actions’.

    “Oh my hero”.


    He acted chuffed and slid alongside her. He began walking with a swagger in his stride as he puffed up his chest.

    “Oh am I?” He asked. He deliberately exaggerated his response by raising his voice as if he was exited at the revelation of being Aela’s ‘hero’.


    The Huntress laughed as he played up to her. She gave him a friendly shove and giggled back at him.

    “No, you’re a bloody moron”.


    Both Beem-Ja and Salma passed strange looks to each other as they wondered about Sotek’s and Aela’s relationship. They had a strong bond between them but neither Beem-Ja or the Redguard could work out what it was.


    Now they had some light they could see their surroundings better. The walls were thick with ice from all the icy deposits that built up over countless years. As they made their way through the cave they headed to a slope heading down into the depths of the barrow.


    Sotek started to lose his footing on the slippery surface of the slope. He managed to prevent himself from sliding by holding onto the tunnel wall and sighed in relief. Aela burst out laughing at him as he slipped a second time but she failed to notice the Whelp behind her. The Whelp slipped up but unlike Sotek, she couldn’t recover. Instead, she hit the floor hard and slid straight into Aela, swiping her feet from under her.


    Salma, Beem-Ja and Sotek watched helplessly as Aela and the Whelp screamed as they slid past. Unable to help them, Sotek closed his eyes and listened to the shrieks as they started speeding up. All he could do was cover his ears as they crashed into the wall at the bottom of the slope.


    He couldn‘t help sniggering at them as he walked past, leaving the two Companions sprawled out on the icy floor.

    “So that’s how you sneak is it?” His comment caused Salma to chuckle but she was too far away from Aela for the Huntress to hear her.


    Aela, only being aware that Sotek had laughed at her, directed her anger to him. She scrunched up her face as she snapped at him, giving him yet another taster of her ferocity.

    “Aww shut up, moron; before I shut you up!”


    The Whelp got up to her feet without daring to say a word, until Aela looked at her then for some strange reason, the Huntress proceeded to burst out laughing. Salma glanced at Sotek who was standing by the entrance to a large chamber and asked about Aela’s behaviour.

    “Why is she laughing?”


    He turned around at her; he also had a big grin on his face as he watched Aela try to control herself.

    “Because it was funny”.


    The Whelp joined in on their conversation, mentioning Aela’s earlier attitude when they left Jorrvaskr. She couldn’t fathom how Aela was, at the time, so hostile but now the Huntress was completely different.

    “Aela, earlier you were angry over nothing and now I screw up you’re happy; I don’t understand. Why?”


    Sotek gave a heavy sigh then he tried to explain the reason for the change in Aela’s emotions while being ever watchful over what he said because of the Whelp, Salma and the Argonian; Beem-Ja.


    “Earlier when we set out Aela needed... ermm; she needed to let herself go, be herself. You Whelps always see us when we are in control of our emotions. We’re warriors; sometimes we need to just go for it. Just forget the rules and have an unrestrained rampage. That was why she was so frustrated; when we took you along she knew she couldn’t”.


    The Whelp paused and glanced back at Aela while she thought about the sequence of events in the pass. Clicking her fingers together, she finally understood what had actually happened and more importantly, the reasons why.

    “So that’s why you paid the bandits! It was so she could go wild and kill them”.


    Aela came over to them and held the Whelp by the shoulder. She pulled on it, turning the Whelp around so she could face the Imperial girl properly.

    “Yes. Sotek knew I needed to burn off some ermm, energy? Now, as soon as they said he paid them to kill me, I knew that was his reason. He even left four arrows behind; letting me know there were four of them”.


    The Whelp felt numb. She stared at Sotek with vacant hollow eyes. She tried to but the Whelp couldn’t turn away.

    “You sent them to their deaths”.


    “Oh hell” Aela said. From the tone in her voice, everyone knew she had no remorse over either Sotek’s or her own actions; instead she defended them. “If Sotek didn’t do that then he would have killed them before I got there. They were dead the day they decided to be bandits. Just because I needed to kill, that doesn’t make me the bad guy here. Wolf, girl...”


    Sotek dived in with a quick rescue, protecting Aela from any infraction she may have caused.

    “What she is trying to say is this; Aela, a wolf, hell even a troll. In the end it doesn’t matter who killed the bandits. What matters is that they are dead”.


    “No, not a bad girl”. The Whelp looked deep within herself and wondered if she had what it took to be a Companion. There were times when she loved to hear the tales of their adventures but right now she wasn’t sure whether she could cut the cloth. “You’re not a bad person; you’re a killer”.


    Beem-Ja gave her a funny look as he tried to work out her expectations. She seemed to him to be like Salma; naive to the world and the evil within it.

    “What do you expect Companions to do? Let the bandits live so they could attack a trader walking through? Or attack us?”


    The Imperial girl fell back in surprise over Beem-Ja’s apparent anger in what she had said. She dived right in and tried to correct things before it got out of hand.

    “What? No that’s not what I meant. I mean; Aela and Sotek; they are so... err...”


    Sotek rested his hand on her shoulder and tugged her forwards to get her moving again so their progress didn’t come to an abrupt stop.

    “We seem detached from the reality of what we do?”


    “Yes”. She nodded. “You don’t care”.


    Aela falsely laughed and slapped the Whelp between the shoulder blades, almost knocking her off her feet.

    “They were bandits for crying out loud. All I care about is that we are safe and the pass is now clear for travellers”.


    Sotek pointed out one other thing to the Whelp, successfully straightening out the troubled mind.

    “Don’t forget they had the money I gave them. They could have just warned her of what I did and let her go back. They didn’t though; they attacked first!”


    She stood there for a minute thinking about it before moving towards the large chamber.

    “Yes, you’re right! They could have warned Aela couldn’t they? Yes you’re right! Sorry, I’m ok; it was just a bit of a shock knowing you sent them after her. We all see you two together you see. That was so unexpected. Sorry everyone, I’m slowing the group up. Salma, would you lead the way? I’m ready to carry on”.


    Sotek gave Salma a discrete tap on her arm. He winked at her and strolled forward, taking the lead. He went ahead into the chamber and immediately signalled to the group, warning them to proceed quietly. They all sneaked towards Sotek who stood there with his bow out ready to fire.

    The Argonian started laughing as he jestingly patted Aela on the head.

    “Oh wow! You can be quiet then”.


    Aela cursed at him as she threw a light punch but he dodged out of the way.

    “You bloody moron. Come back here and take your beating; snake!”


    Sotek fled along the tunnel so Aela couldn’t hit him, he smelt a musky smell alerting him of the danger they were heading into. He pointed along the passageway to where a large group of webs at the other side of the chamber laid in wait.

    “Spiders ahead”. He placed his bow on his back and concentrated on his flame Spurt spell. His hands erupted in fire, lighting the way ahead.


    Beem-Ja’s hands crackled with magical energy as his spell, Sparks, smothered them. Side by side, the two Argonians proceeded forwards, ready to face the frostbite spiders with the destructive elements of fire and lightening.


    As the two Argonians headed off to clear the cavern of arachnids, Aela pulled the Whelp aside and questioned her about what she had said about her and Sotek’s relationship.

    “A word, now! What did you mean when you said you all see us together?”


    Salma looked at her in surprise then glanced at Beem-Ja who had started casting two electrical blasts of energy against three spiders. The air began to fill with the stench of burnt spider hairs as Sotek’s flame spell took dramatic effect. Fearing for her friend, Salma moved forwards to help in the fight, calling Aela to her side.

    “Shouldn’t we help them?”


    Aela didn’t even bother to check on either Argonian. She brushed off the fact that they might have needed help and carried on with her untimely interrogation.

    “He will be fine; they both will. Salma, interrupt me again... Whelp I am waiting!”


    The Whelp gulped loudly and nervously shuffled behind Salma for protection and began trying to explain what she had meant without giving Aela cause to hit her.

    “Well I ermm we... we all seen how you both look at each other and the way you both are when you’re together. Especially when you both have play fights on the floor in the hall. Even Farkas and Vilkas stops what they are doing and just watches you both. Hell Aela I’ve even seen the Harbinger and Tilma smile at each other as they observe you both. I’ve been told by men before that they care and that they love me but you and him; you both really do don’t you?”


    Aela’s face screwed up as she glared at the Whelp. She knew they were watched as they played their games but this felt like she was on show. A wolf in a cage for people to poke with sticks. Her response was full of hostility.

    “Do I what?”


    Unaware of Aela’s feelings on the matter, the Whelp seemed to melt with passion as she answered the Huntress.

    “Love him! You really do love him. But why hit out at him so much? Why at all?”


    Aela stopped dead and stared at Sotek who was now searching around to see what he could find. Her anger dissipated and the hole it had left was quickly filled with shame. She looked away from both the Whelp and Salma who was listening with interest.

    “I... I don’t know if I’ve ever actually told him, not properly. I don’t know why I hit him so much either. You’re right; I shouldn’t”.


    The talk was interrupted when Sotek called out to them, summoning the three girls to his location.

     “You finished you chit chat or are we going on without you three?”


    Sotek had unwittingly given Aela the perfect weapon to strike back with. She delivered it gleefully by yelling back in jest.

    “Shouting? Now that’s stealth for you”.


    He just shrugged back at her and grinned.

    “What’s the point of stealth after that racket you both made coming down the slope? If the dead aren’t awake after that then nothing will wake them”.


    Having her ‘revenge’ ripped out of her hands, Aela cursed back at him and without meaning to, she pushed past him, nearly sending him into the wall.

    “Aww shut up you lousy reptile”.


    The moment she said it she was struck with regret. She stopped and turned around to apologise. Shame was plastered all across her face and she found herself staring into his eyes.

    “Sorry, I didn’t mean…”


    Unaware of the conversation Aela had with Salma and the Whelp, Sotek found himself in a rather unusual position. Instead of the she-wolf he was used to facing, here in Aela’s boots stood a near petrified rabbit. He stood up straight and saw the torment in her.

    “What’s up? What are you sorry about?”


    Aela’s insides were wracked with turmoil. Where shame and embarrassment grew, anger quickly festered. Fuming at her own faults and imperfections made her irritable and touchy. She cursed herself and dismissed the entire episode, while silently wishing she had one ounce of control.

    “Nothing It’s nothing ok? Can we go now or does everyone want more time gawping at me like I’m a freak? Forget it...” She moved off along the second tunnel, fully aware of the heavy silence that tainted the very air. She thought back to when she returned from the temple when she and Sotek were trying to patch things up after he nearly killed her. The air was thick and heavy then until Kodlak mentioned something to her. She tried to remember what it was called then it struck her form the blue.

    ‘Lapsa Luna. I can use that’ When this is over, I’ll use it; put things right’.


    The tunnel had a few torch holders but they were emptied long ago. Fortunately Sotek had a few spare ones so he used two to banish the darkness. Thanks to the extra light, the section they found themselves in gave up the shadows to show the burial chamber.


    Aela was still thinking about ‘Lapsa Luna’, the bond between Companions used to pay a blood debt. She felt she owed it to Sotek for all the times she lashed out at him. Her chain of thought was rudely broken by an exited Beem-Ja. He cried out to the group as he ran towards a door.

    “This is it! We’ve found it! Warlord Gathrik’s tomb!”




5 Comments   |   The Wolf Of Atmora and 6 others like this.
  • The Long-Chapper
    The Long-Chapper   ·  January 3, 2017
    Fun chapter. Hehe, nice to see that little imperial get under Aela's skin. 
  • Ebonslayer
    Ebonslayer   ·  December 5, 2016
    No matter how little sense it makes for Aela to beat the shit out of Sotek all the time she shouldn't change, that's who she is as a character and Sotek is okay with that.
  • Sotek
    Sotek   ·  November 26, 2016
    The reference should be to the sword itself. I'll recheck it and make sure I got it right. Crap.... I didn't. Fixing now.
    Thanks Axius.
  • A-Pocky-Hah!
    A-Pocky-Hah!   ·  November 26, 2016
    I'm pretty sure Ria is like that in-game if Besthesda gave her more lines. The one thing that's off about this chapter is the sudden use of the word 'Ebony'. You didn't clearly state why you suddenly named the Whelp Ebony. Other than that everything's good. 
  • The Sunflower Manual
    The Sunflower Manual   ·  November 25, 2016
    Now I wonder what Sotek's little group would do if things turn out as they did in the quest...