Skyrim Day 098 – An Unexpected Ally

From Traversing Tamriel

28 Sun’s Dusk, 4E201

I awoke in my own manor no better rested than when I woke yesterday morning atop a mattress of cold hay. What will it take for me to have a decent night’s rest?

That I woke three hours before sunrise may explain that, I am getting into the habit of starting my days quite early. This has been useful for the past week or so, for the Legion has no inhibition against ordering me from one side of the province to the other. Perhaps they believe I own a horse and can ride one, neither of which is true.

Whatever the reason my latest assignment was to report to Legate Rikke at her Winterhold camp between Dawnstar and Winterhold, but much nearer to Dawnstar. From Solitude it is a shorter, but much colder, journey, but I will take shorter any day.

One advantage of sleeping poorly is being awake before most others. I managed to walk from Solitude to the ruin of Mzinchaleft without being accosted by Dragon-worshiping zealots, Dark Brotherhood assassins, skooma dealers, or irate Orsimer. I decided to cut through the pass as the road turned north towards Dawnstar and passed Mzinchaleft.

Unsurprisingly a new band of bandits have already taken up residence, one just sitting at the front gate nursing a potato over a small fire. The hungry guard never noticed me and I saw no reason to change that. Perhaps some Hero will come to Mzinchaleft one day seeking glory and be offered a baked potato.

At the Nightcrawler Temple next to Dawnstar I managed to avoid the notice of three Trolls that were meandering about the entrance. I am not sure what they felt was appealing to the place and I imagine some enterprising individual in Dawnstar will be along to eliminate them soon enough. I would have taken the matter on myself were I not short of bolts thanks to Beirand selling the entirety of his stock to the Legion yesterday. He had offered his workshop to me this morning so that I could make my own, but they would just about fly off my weapon sideways if I tried.

After the events of today it seems a better, if more frustrating, armament would be to go back to the more common bow and arrows, lousy shot or not.

The Imperial camp was along the opposite hillside of the Nightcrawler Temple, but no one appeared much concerned about the possibility of the trolls lumbering in for a quick meal.

Legate Rikke was hunched over one of her maps, mystifying me as to what she believes staring at it accomplishes. She addressed me as I approached, not even turning her head from the all-important map. My objective was to meet with a squad of Legionnaires outside of Fort Kastav and assist them with freeing Legionnaires imprisoned beneath the fort. The fort would then be taken between the squad outside the fortress and the vengeful armed prisoners within it.

Fort Kastav sits on the only road leading to what remains of Winterhold, though I know from experience there are several ways of reaching the ruined town from Dawnstar or Windhelm without passing through Fort Kastav, but none of them easy. Fortunately, the walk from Dawnstar to the fort was without incident today.

Hadvar has been moving up in the Legion and not honorarily as I have been. Technically I outrank him in some vague way, but he had five soldiers with him and I have none.

Despite this the capture of Fort Kastav once again depended on me. This time I was to sneak up to the walls, find the hidden sally port, and use it to enter the fortress unnoticed. Once inside I had to find the prison, kill the guards, and free the prisoners. Having done that I would join (not lead, of course!) them in assaulting the courtyard which would signal Hadvar and his men to join us, hopefully overpowering the defenders and adding another Imperial flag to Legate Rikke’s map.

So simple.

Hadvar recommended I wait until nightfall to make my approach, but I had several vials of Invisibility elixirs, making that entirely unnecessary.

The sally port was not exactly hidden and nothing about the walls suggested there had been anything around to hide it. The trapdoor was unlocked, so I simply opened it and climbed down the ladder, thereby gaining an unannounced entrance to an enemy fort. How has this farcical war lasted as long as it has?

There were only two Stormcloaks in the underground passages of the fortress, one of whom was the jailer. They both died soundlessly. I expected the imprisoned soldiers to be suspicious of a murderous Khajiit sneaking about, but they all readily accepted my explanation of being an Imperial agent. Once freed they armed themselves with Stormcloak weaponry and charged upwards, leaving me behind.

The battle for the courtyard was about the same as all the others: charge out, get peppered with poorly-made homemade arrows, and close to melee. But this battle did not remain ordinary.

The sudden wash of intense heat singing my fur and immolating two rebels heralded the silent arrival of a third party displeased with all the noise.

A Dragon, for reasons that are its own, had flown over the fort just as I emerged from it and incinerated two Stormcloaks firing arrows from a small watchtower inside the courtyard. Only then did it roar, driving the Imperial prisoners back inside and I imagine Hadvar and his men back to their hiding place.

But the Dragon was satisfied with the minor carnage it had wrought and flew away south over the mountains, leaving me with five bewildered Stormcloaks. The bewilderment died off about the same time as their burnt comrades did and I found myself battling all five at once.

Fortunately the prisoners re-emerged and engaged the rebels and I suppose Hadvar and his men did the same. Sadly, they came too late to reinforce the prisoners and while we were victorious it was at the cost of all the imprisoned men. Hadvar assured me their names would go down in the official record of the battle, whatever they were.

He and his men remained at the fort to clean up and garrison the place, though I cannot see how six men constitute a garrison for an entire fort, even one as small as Fort Kastav. His orders, not mine.

As for me, I walked back to Dawnstar, a bit more nervous for having confirmed that the Dragons are truly still about even if they do not seem to be interested in the Dragonborn for the moment. Tomorrow I will report back to the General and see what awaits me in the Legion. I cannot help but hope this war is over soon, for I am getting quite tired of all this foolishness.

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