U.O.T.W. Chapter 325 Winds of Evil


    The moment the door started to open, Aela felt the icy cold chill of the mountain air. The light of the two moons were spent and the sun had started to rise, casting twisted shadows upon the ground. She stopped just outside of the doorway, forcing the others to nudge past as they tried to get around her. She however was oblivious to them as she stood motionless with her face held up in the crisp morning air as she let the sensation overwhelm her senses.
    “Oh, by the Nine can you feel that? Cold air; pure and sweet. There’s nothing that’s gonna make me go back inside there... not ever”.


    Farkas’s eyes opened wide at his comparison to the breeze.
    “Like a fine mead, chilled to perfection”.


    “It’s nothing like a mead at all you useless oaf”. As she spoke, she lowered her head then gazed upon Sotek. “You understand don’t you? Please say you do”.


    He nodded in response, giving him the precious few seconds to think of a suitable reply.
    “I imagine it as ermm... Ah, take Red and Scarface. Imagine, if you will, that they have been feeding for weeks off the deer hanging in the stores. Then one day they get outside to the plains. The thrill of the hunt, the chase, then... The kill. Tasting fresh meat, blood in your maw. The scent of the beast as your claws rip into it and the feel of its flesh tearing on your fangs as you rip off a chunk of raw untouched meat to feast upon. That’s how fresh the air feels”.


    Vilkas gave him a slight shove from behind.
    “That’s great. Now I feel sick. I think I’m gonna vomit”.


    Sotek turned to face him but instantly received a second punch. This time it was against his arm.
    “You moron, now I feel bloody starving. Oh Hircine, I’d love to see a deer right now”.


    Sotek gave up with Vilkas, who was leaning against the wall. Instead he held Aela’s shoulders firmly as he grinned.
    “We’re done, finished”. Behind him, his tail swished side to side as it seemed to relish the freedom of the outside.


    Aela stared at him briefly then broke into a big smile.
    “Below us is the path from Riften to Ivarstead. It passes through a woodland ripe with deer and the like”.


    Farkas slapped his hands together as he rubbed them furiously.
    “Great, we’ll go get some mead and you two can go chew on a deer”.


    Aela scoffed at his idea.
    “That’s stupid, we’re gonna need more than just the one. Red’s starving”. From out of nowhere, a strong gust of wind cut across the derelict fort, blowing Aela’s hair across her face. But then just as quickly, the gale stopped. “What in all of Skyrim?”


    Sotek’s eyes tried to pierce the morning fog as he sniffed the air.
    “We are not alone”.


    The next second his bow materialised and he fired up in front of him at a large grey dragon. His arrow bounced off the scaly armour which made him groan, disheartened about his useless assault. The dragon breathed in deeply as it prepared to breath out its devastating flame attack, causing Sotek to glance around at their surroundings for suitable cover. Realising they were on the walkway with nowhere to go, Sotek grabbed Aela by the arm and started running inside the fort. “Back inside, all of you. Hurry, damn it”.


    Farkas, who was just behind Sotek, suddenly, somehow, appeared in front. He ran as hard as he could as the passageway started to light up from the flames that was rapidly approaching.


    Aela, oblivious to the whole situation, pulled herself away from Soteks grasp.
    “I ain’t going back inside. We’ve killed dragons before”. She took half a step forwards then suddenly flew backwards as Sotek roughly dragged her inside. With just moments to spare and no hope of them both hiding around the corner where Farkas and Vilkas were, Sotek forced her into the passage wall as he pressed his body against her, almost crushing her against the rock face. Aela tried to push him back slightly, but he just pushed against her even harder. “I can’t breathe”. She gasped, all the while Sotek was pushing heavily against Aela’s chest, near restricting her breathing completely.


    The very next second a bright glare stung Aela’s eyes as she felt the hot blast of flames roar along the passageway. She screamed out in agony as her arm which was caught in the open, burned as flesh peeled and blistered. At the same time Sotek fell back away from her and dropped to his knees as his Dragonscale armour cracked and smouldered. Both Sotek and Aela cried out from the pain, and both of them were useless to help each other. Vilkas went to grab Aela but he was too late, her pain receptors were way overloaded, forcing her to transform. Red howled out from the shock and agony and she blindly ran along the tunnel, nearly crushing Vilkas underfoot.


    Farkas called out to him as he quickly threw himself against the wall to avoid the behemoth that was running towards him.
    “I’ll get her. Grab him and pull him to cover. Quickly!”


    Vilkas didn’t even nod. He just grabbed hold of Sotek’s arm and dragged him back without even trying to get the Argonian on his feet. With every step, Vilkas feared for his shield sibling as the tunnel filled with the smell of burnt flesh.


    For a few seconds all Vilkas could do was look on, horrified and overwhelmed at the mere thought of Sotek’s burnt back. He tried to help Sotek, but he just couldn’t block out the Argonian’s screams or the vision of Aela’s arm which burned in his mind.


    Sotek prized himself up to his knees once more as he screamed out in agony. This spurred Vilkas into action. As he tried to pull off the Dragonscale armour, he yelled as he burnt his fingers on the armour. Grabbing a knife, he hacked at the straps and managed to free Sotek from the armours bonds. The Dragonscale armour fell to the ground and instantly split into two pieces, from a large crack that formed from the dragon attack.


    Sotek cried out once more as his eyes set on Vilkas. Wide eyed and with trembling arms, Sotek screamed out once more. Vilkas opened his pack and pulled out a bottle to pour down Sotek’s throat but the moment he touched him, his scales flaked and were charred as they disintegrated into nothing but ash, leaving scorched tissue and the putrid smell of burnt flesh.


    Farkas ran back with Red trailing behind. Literally screaming out, Sotek tried to cast a healing spell. Golden light flooded the passageway as it engulfed the room but unlike before, it dissipated far too quickly to have any effect. Red howled out at him, desperately trying to get any reaction from him.


    Farkas gasped in shock when he saw Sotek’s charred back, tears of desperation tore at him as he begged Sotek to try again to cast his healing spell.
    “Heal yourself. Heal yourself! Sotek, listen to me”.


    Sotek yelled out once more then dropped to all fours as he saw the desperation in Red’s eyes. Where there was pain and agony, rage wasn’t far behind. Seeing Red’s unbridled fear was the final step, his rage consumed him, and he changed his form.


    Seconds later Scarface howled out with all his spite and anger. He pushed Vilkas aside as he turned towards the exit of the passageway. The Dragon was still there, peering along the tunnel, when Scarface started to run down it. His paws pounded like thunder as he charged headfirst at the dragon.


    Vilkas, Red and Farkas ran along the corridor, trying franticly to call him back, but instead they saw him burst out of the passage entrance like a rampaging beast of legends, and leap up at the dragons neck, snarling and dripping saliva from his wide open maw.


    Within a foot from impact, a second breeze swept along the forts ramparts. Black talons suddenly, as if from nowhere, grabbed Scarface and lifted him up, snatching him out of the very air like he was nothing but a goat on the mountainside. Scarface was lifted up a few feet, clearing the walkway, then was dropped like a living bomb to smash against the main wall of the fort. A sickening cry filled Vilkas’s ears as he stared wide eyed in fear, having just watched the lifeless form of Scarface hit the wall, then drop to the ground.


    A dragon as black as night, swooped around then landed just a few feet away from Scarface’s corpse. Whether he was just curious or had intended to eat his prey, none of the Companions could be sure but as the two brothers drew their weapons to avenge Scarface, they heard a groaning yelp. Scarface rolled to his side then lifted his head up slightly. Agony tore through him from the broken bones and ripped flesh from the dragons claws. However, Scarface was tough, and his death less than certain. The boons that poured through the blood of the beast inside him, wasn’t prepared to let him go to the Hunting Grounds just yet.


    As his wounds rapidly healed over, Scarface pulled himself up to his paws. Sotek changed form once more, but instead of the blinding pain which he expected, he smiled to himself as he remembered from when long ago, Scarface’s boons also healed him. He flexed his shoulder as he remembered the stiffness from nigh a year ago, then faced the black dragon whose mighty form bared down at him. All the while the grey dragon swooped overhead, patrolling the very sky above them.


    Red gave a whine of relief then bolted across the courtyard, ignoring the two dragons altogether. The carcass from the dead deer which they all ate a few days ago before first entering Forelhost was still there but that quickly changed as Red tore into it, gulping down meat and vital minerals from the corpse as she sated her hunger.


    Ignoring the red werewolf altogether, the black dragon strode towards Sotek, shaking the very ground with each step. His voice boomed out over the mountainside, each word dripped venom as he spoke.
    “Dovahkiin zu'u los alduine diist kiin”.


    Once he straitened himself out, Sotek lent back against the wall. What with the close proximity of the gigantic dragon, the reality was there wasn’t much else he could do. He huffed slightly, as he addressed the reptilian beast.
    “Sorry what?”


    “You are Dovakiin? A pathetic excuse of a species thinks he can better me? Your kind are but slaves to the realm of men, but to me you’re nothing but a worm in the swamp. You who calls yourself Dovakiin does not even know our language. Such arrogance. I am Alduin, first born”.


    Sotek shook his head slightly, the fear which he held in check up to now dissipated, in its stead grew annoyance.
    “You bloody what? I don’t call myself dragonborn, or this Dovakiin whatever that is. And just so you know, I didn’t ask for this. My name is Sotek, Companion”.


    Alduin’s eyes opened wide as he snorted at Sotek through his nose, forcing Sotek back against the wall.
    “Ask? Ask? You do not ask to be a Dovakiin! I have wasted enough of my time, you are no ally to be had and are certainly no foe to be feared”. With that he flapped his wings and took off into the sky. Within moments, Sotek lost sight of him, but his booming voice left little to the imagination of his intent. “Kill them, feast on their flesh. I seek another”.


    Sotek spun around to see the great grey dragon swoop down towards him. The dragons mouth opened as a long massive blast of flame shot out and rapidly consumed the very air as the blazing inferno closed in within a few seconds towards Sotek. He himself had just enough time to look up at the dragon and utter two words.
    “Aww rats!”


    By now Aela had transformed back. Her arm had healed over thanks to Red’s resolve at reaching the deer carcass. Vilkas didn’t waste time in checking. As soon as Aela stood up, he tipped her head back and poured a healing potion down her throat, half drowning her. She collapsed to her knees, coughing and spluttering but already fresh skin had started smothering her arm.


    With newfound strength she looked across to the dragon and Sotek. Aela didn’t have time to react, let alone scream as she watched, horrified at the sight of Sotek disappearing in a fireball of flames. The roar of the dragon’s breath deafened the three Companions from Sotek’s screams as the blazing fire consumed everything in its path. Vilkas had to step back from the intense heat and shield his eyes, protecting them from the scorching heat of the flames. The dragon maintained the bellowing roar of flames for several seconds before even considering stopping.


    When the flames died down, the dragon gazed at the ash and cinders on the ground but then looked a second time, for Sotek’s body was gone. Aela looked across to where Sotek’s corpse should have been. Her eyes strained at what she initially thought was a ghost, for just in front of the dragon stood Sotek, almost transparent.


    His form solidified in a blink of an eye, then faced the dragon once more.
    “You missed, my turn”. Two blue blades formed in Soteks hands as he struck against the dragon’s maw, blow after blow rained down upon the dragon.


    It snapped out at him, but he just managed to dodge the lethal fangs. After hitting the dragon once more he shouted out to the others desperately.
    “Shoot you stupid bastards!”


    Aela fought back the tears as she took aim a second time, but her eyes started stinging. She had little choice but to lower her bow and wipe her eyes, before she could even think about shooting. Farkas and Vilkas, both drew their bows and for what felt the first time in months, started shooting arrows at the dragon. Vilkas watched with disbelief as their arrows bounced off the dragons armour, just like Sotek’s did. Then he turned towards Aela.
    “What the hell’s up with you? Shoot, damn it”.


    “I’m bloody trying to, asshole”. She shouted desperately as she tried to take aim. Seconds later Sotek felt some relief as the dragon promptly exploded in flames as Aela had managed to clear her eyes to respond to the threat.


    As the dragon turned towards Aela, Sotek ran to the side and quickly attempted to open a wound in its side. The dragon’s scales proved too tough, and although he managed to cause a few cuts, there was simply nothing he or the others could exploit. Once again, the dragon burst into flames from Aela’s bow, but even that damage seemed to do little to slow it down. Sotek found himself running a second time as the dragon’s maw snaked across the courtyard as it chased him, all the while it blanked the arrows fired from the three Companions.


    Sotek ran through a narrow archway and managed to throw himself to the ground as a blast of flame roared overhead. Moments later he changed to Scarface and stealthily moved around a ruined tower. As the dragon peered through the archway, Scarface leaped from the tower which he had climbed and landed squarely on the dragons back. He ripped and tore at the dragon from his back and cut a wave of wounds but before he was able to inflict any sort of noticeable damage, the dragon threw him to the side.


    With lightening reactions, the dragon grabbed Scarface in its claws and slammed him against the wall. Scarface yelped from the agony as he felt his entire body slowly get crushed in the dragon’s razor sharp and immensely powerful talons. The dragon held him tight against the wall, pinning both his arms to his side. There was nothing Scarface could do but howl out in anger and pain.


    Sotek rapidly changed back in the hope of falling through the dragon’s claws, but the moment he changed, the dragon’s talons tightened, reasserting their grip on him. Once again Sotek found himself pinned and just as helpless as Scarface had been.


    The dragon turned towards Aela, who was now the only threat he faced, and that was only due to her bow’s enchants. The dragon stared at the weapon for a few seconds, asserting its capabilities. With a soft growl, he decided that it was more of a hinderance than any actual threat as the flames warmed him more than cause actual harm. He had faith in his scales which were far tougher than other dragons. She was still a hinderance though, one which would meet her fate soon enough.

    “Shoot once more and I’ll tear him to pieces”. As he spoke, he tightened his grip, forcing Sotek to yell out in agony.


    Aela stopped firing instantly and lowered her bow.
    “I done what you ask, now let him go”.


    The dragon slightly released its grip, allowing Sotek just a fraction to breath. Sotek, in his open defiance yelled to the others.
    “Shoot it, damn you all”.


    The dragon kept its gaze on Aela as it grinned wickedly.
    “Go ahead, puny human, shoot and I’ll feast on his corpse, then I’ll feast on you”. He then turned his attention back to Sotek. “Hi Dreh Ni Faas Dinok. Why?”


    Sotek weakly laughed, as he stared right in the dragon’s eyes.
    “Say what you want to say slug! I don’t understand you, you dumb maggot!”


    The dragon paused for a moment, and looked peculiarly at the Argonian as if he was trying to trick him.
    “A Dovakiin who doesn’t speak Dovah? What is this?” He leaned closer and spoke a second time, almost accusingly at Sotek. “You do not fear death! Why is this?”


    Sotek pulled his head back then tried to headbutt the dragon but it was just out of his reach. Instead, Sotek started yelling back to the titanic creature, shouting out any insult that came to mind.
    “Aela’s better at burning things than you, she burns whole dinners while you can’t even burn a bloody roll. Three times you tried to incinerate me, every time you screwed up. Alduin didn’t tell you to kill me, he was telling us to kill you. And you have the nerve to call yourself a fire breathing dragon. I’ve felt hotter breath from Aela when she passionate, you ingrate of a worm”.


    The dragon pressed Sotek hard against the wall, instantly Soteks face screwed up as he fought against the pain.
    “You think I’m a worm do you? You think I can’t breathe fire. Taste it, taste my Thuum, Dovakiin”. It breathed in and within seconds its chest glowed red as it prepared to blast Sotek at point blank range. Aela screamed at him, but there was little Sotek could do.


    While there was little Sotek could do, he wasn’t in a position where he could do nothing. He in turn shouted as well.
    “FEIM ZII”. Although his shout was restricted, it proved to be enough and he changed once again to his ethereal form, if only for a few seconds. He fell through the dragon’s claws and landed upon the ground.


    The flames died down just before he changed back. He turned to his solid form to find the dragon staring angrily at him.
    “You done well to avoid death, but I am fire, burn”. This time the dragon breathed in as much as he could. Sotek knew in his heart that the blast of flame which would pour out from the dragon’s throat was beyond his ethereal shout. Aela cried out to him, but Sotek simply smiled at her.


    Just as the dragon prepared to blast Sotek in a jet of unimaginable flame, Sotek whispered to the dragon.
    “My turn”. The dragon stared at him for a fraction of a second then it unleashed all the fires of Oblivion upon Sotek. Sotek in turn shouted a second time, but due to being far smaller in size, his Thuum sounded out first. “FO KRAH”.


    Sotek shouted his ice breath straight in the dragons open jaw which was barely a foot away, just as it was releasing its own flame shout. The icy blast ripped through the dragon’s maw and down its throat, freezing delicate flesh which was fully used to flames. Ice was a completely different matter. In agony the dragon roared as flames poured out of its mouth, but due to the ice damage, the flames wrought destruction to its throat. Dragon blood spilled out along with the flames and burnt flesh as blood poured from its mouth. It thrashed about in agony, clawing at its throat. Sotek’s bound swords manifested in his hands and he launched a new assault against the dragon’s neck.


    Aela resumed her shooting, but she also aimed for the neck which the dragon was ripping apart in a rampage of pain as it vainly tried to get to the ice damage. In uncontrollable agony, the dragon clawed itself apart while the Companions merely added to the damage. Within seconds the dragon collapsed but Sotek was relentless. He started throwing fireballs at the dragon’s mouth and throat with one hand while he used his ice spears with his other.


    Knowing all advantage was lost, the dragon turned its back to Aela and knocked Sotek to the ground with the tip of its wing. Then with a mighty effort, it lifted itself up in the air and swooped down the mountainside as fast as it could to escape its rapidly approaching demise.


    “That was a bloody dragon all right, wow he was tough”. Farkas stated as he sat on an empty barrel as he looked at Sotek. Aela was too disturbed to speak. She wiped her face and tried to smile, but Sotek could see she was battling her emotions.


    He slowly pulled himself up, then looked at himself. His shirt was torn to pieces, like it was hacked with a pair of scissors. Blotches of blood filled the once off-white shirt, which was now more red than anything else. He cast his healing spell on himself and felt the wounds heal over rapidly. Only then did he look at the others. Aela was in Vilkas’s arms as he held her, giving her some comfort. Farkas on the other hand, was dangling his legs over the side of the outer wall. He was looking down at the dragon who had flown to its sanctuary in the mountain range to the south.
    “That bastards still there you know”.


    Sotek cast a confused look at him as he studied the ramparts.
    “You can still see it?”


    Farkas nodded as he pointed it out to the others.
    “Yep, it’s there, on the other side of the valley”.


    Aela walked over to the edge and looked across herself.
    “What a bastard! It’s there alright”.


    Sotek changed his form then ran at the ramparts. Scarface launched himself against the wall then proceeded to climb it, tearing out chunks of rock and stone as he climbed the wall.
    “Red hates it when you do that, ya great fur ball”. Aela stated as she walked over to where he was climbing up. Scarface turned back to her and dropped to the ground then he tilted his head and lowered a shoulder, allowing her to climb on his back. Aela wrapped her arms around him as best she could and held on to clumps of fur.


    The pitch black werewolf pulled himself up to the ramparts, taking Aela with him. Once she dismounted, he stood up to his full height and howled out for all to hear. Then he gazed across the valley and true enough, there on a word wall was the dragon staring back. Aela felt a paw on her back as Scarface pulled her close to his chest as if he was trying to protect her.


    Aela looked up at him to see him looking back down at her, he then lifted his head up and stared at the dragon in the distance. Moments after, a low heavy growl echoed around the fort as Scarface snarled out at the dragon.


    Sotek transformed then held Aela properly. She started hugging him but then a deep rooted fear entered her heart and she savagely pulled away from him, much to the others surprise. As she yelled at him, she pointed across to the valley, leaving no mistake that she knew exactly as to what Sotek’s intentions were.
    “No! Enough Sotek, we just got out of that alive. He’s too strong, you’ve no armour. All you got is that bloodied shirt. Look at it”.


    Sotek blanked her for a few seconds as he walked to the edge of the ramparts.
    “He’s weak, he can’t breathe fire anymore. Now we have the advantage, else he wouldn’t have ran. Besides, if we don’t finish him then he’ll heal over and we’ll lose the ground we have. I won’t get that lucky a second time around and he won’t make the same mistake. We have to finish it now, while he’s weak. Aela, I know you feel this is a bad idea, but we have to strike now. You’re a huntress, you know damn well the best time to strike is when your prey is weak and defenceless. That time is now”.


    Aela stared at the dragon for a few seconds then poked Sotek in the chest.
    “I know, damn it, but you’re weak as well. You’ve no armour, you remember that. Farkas, Vilkas, you two tank it, we’ll attack from a distance. Sotek, I swear to Hircine, if you get close to that miserable worm then I’ll send you to the Hunting Grounds myself. It’s not a threat, I’ll not have my emotions played by the likes of you, it’s a bloody oath. You get near that thing and I’ll kill you”.


    Vilkas came over to the pair of them, then handed Sotek a piece of Nordic armour.
    “Maybe that won’t be necessary, there’s loads of this in there. Everything’s killed off so it won’t take a second. Sotek, go get a chest piece that fits. Farkas go with him”.


    Sotek headed back inside the fort with Farkas following close behind. The moment they both disappeared, Vilkas approached Aela but she beat him to the draw.
    “I don’t want to hear it. I am so not in the mood for your bloody preaching about me and Sotek. Save it for another day”.


    Vilkas held her in his arm as he pulled her close. She rested in his chest as he whispered two soft words.
    “I know”.


    A few minutes later, Sotek and Farkas re-emerged from the fort. Farkas was grinning like a demented cat while Sotek’s face was screwed up.
    “I feel ridiculous”.


    Aela looked across at him then automatically started laughing.
    “You look, ermm...Yea, sexy... Not!”


    Sotek just blanked her and looked across at the dragon, only then did he remember the word wall.
    “Let’s see what this shout is”. As he approached it, the words on the wall glowed a feint blue then disappeared as he absorbed the knowledge.


    Aela, who was still laughing at him, called out.
    “Well? What shout is it?”


    Sotek had a bizarre look about him. He shrugged his shoulders as he re-joined the group.
    “I’m not entirely sure. Strun Bah? I think it was Storm Clear or something. I don’t quite know to be honest.”


    Aela playfully gave him a slight shove.
    “You’re dragonborn, can’t you speak dragon?”


    “You’re a werewolf, can’t you speak dog?”


    She broke into a smile as she nodded.
    “Actually, yes I can”.


    Sotek glared across at her as he replied sarcastically.
    “Good then what does, you’re a growl, woof, woof, mean?”


    Farkas smiled as he looked over to Aela who in turn was glaring at Sotek.
    “Well? What does it mean?”


    Aela spat on the ground then glared in a hostile manner at Farkas.
    “It means moron, that I’m gonna bite him on the bloody arse”.