Chapter 8: A Blubbery Accomplice
The ship on the Solitude coast that the Hunter had cleared a couple of months ago continued to provide the warmth and shelter he had longed for many years. He had adored the warmth and comfort provided by the well finished bed, thankful it was not simply a flat rock or rotten tent that was often the used in his life when he was back in the wilderness. Such simple luxury is often forgotten and unappreciated when life has been such a dramatic struggle each day.
Despite the joy and feeling of relief provided by the ship and the supplies within, the Hunter soon realised that he would have to move out eventually. The food supplies were dwindling and he was keen to get a renewed feeling of the lands beyond the precious little ship. The Hunter quickly packed away some necessary equipment for a short trip across the coast for more supplies and headed up towards the deck.
He walked down from the luxurious cabin, and down through the halls past the blood stained wooden planks and corpses of the previous owners that he had yet to clean up. He was shocked when his journey came to an abrupt end before he could even reach the top of the vessel. Two uninvited Imperial Guards blocked his exit and stared upon the confused Hunter.
Two months may have past but the stubborn Imperial Legion and Solitude guards had clearly not forgotten about the Hunter’s successful escape from Castle Dour in the city. Their investigations must have pointed to this abandoned ship and the Hunter soon started to regret foolishly remaining so close to a hostile city.
The Imperial Guards swiftly unsheathed their weapons and moved towards the Hunter, eager to get revenge for those slain by the Hunter during his escape. A battle ensued and more footsteps could be heard above. These two guards weren’t alone as an intrigued soldier headed down the steps to see what all the noise was about.
The first two guards were quickly dispatched by the Hunter, who was still competent at swordplay despite his lengthy resting period. As his two foes fell to the ground, an Imperial Officer, the intrigued soldier and another guardsman rushed down in an attempt to defeat the proficient warrior.
Using the narrow hallways and doors, the Hunter took cover and made the Imperial bows useless, forcing the Officer and his companions to engage in melee combat.
It wasn’t long until only the Hunter and the Imperial Commander remained. The Hunter quickly realised that this was a much stronger foe than the poorly equipped guards he had just slain, so he attempted to flee the ship instead of facing another long, exhausting fight.
Unfortunately this plan failed to work with the Imperial Commander dangerously close to delivering a fatal blow to the running Hunter. He made a brash decision of facing the Imperial Officer just before reaching the exit. He quickly turned and sliced his sword across the chest of the Officer, forcing him down to his knees before unleashing a fatal stab through his shoulder blade.
With a few moments to spare, the Hunter looted some coin from the corpses and rushed out onto the top deck. To both his left and right stood more Imperial Guards, 5 to be precise. Already nearly exhausted from his previous fight, he fled from the ship in hope of losing his pursuers.
Unsurprisingly, the Imperial Legion continued the chase. Three of the soldiers took out their bows and let loose several arrows in the Hunter’s direction. The other two soldiers eagerly followed the Hunter with their swords drawn as he headed north away from Solitude and his besieged ship-home.
When some distance developed between the two parties, the Hunter took the chance to lose his pursuers once and for all by heading towards a small cave to the west of Solitude Lighthouse.
It was deemed a risk considering he was unaware of what creatures dwelt within but he was soon relieved to see that only a family of Horkers inhabited the cave. The Hunter was aware of the Horker’s aggressive and unpredictable nature so he kept his distance as he found a place to hide.
A few moments later, the two sword grasping Guards entered the cave in search of the Hunter. Thankfully the other guards were likely searching elsewhere. One guard took out a torch while the other sheathed his sword in preference of using his bow instead. They started exploring the cave among the Horker in search of the fugitive.
One guard was becoming dangerously close to the hidden Hunter, who was undetected on a small rock facing above the pool of Horkers. The consequences of being caught in a narrow cave by more guards made the Hunter weary of combat but he decided it would be best to eliminate the guard who was simply too close for comfort.
He pulled back his bow and released a precise shot that punctured the skull of the unfortunate Imperial. His torch fell loose from his palms and fell to the ground, followed closely by his bloody corpse.
The talking and movement of the guards were clearly irritating the Horkers and when the first guard finally dropped to the ground; the restless Alpha Horker retaliated by attacking his companion and blocking his escape.
The guard bravely tried to fight off the 3 tusk beast, desperately swiping his sword at its thick, blubbery skin. However, his survival attempt was inevitably futile when the creature mortally wounded the guard.
The Horker seemed particularly happy with his kill as it disturbingly started to chomp on the guard’s head. The Hunter was also very pleased with the help from the Horker but was eager to not disturb the creature after witnessing that damage it could do. The Hunter slowly backed off towards the exit, leaving the Horker with its prize.
The Hunter left the cave and was relieved to discover that no other guards were in pursuit. Unfortunately he wouldn’t be able to go back to the ship he had loved and was now back in the Wilderness of Northern Skyrim.