The warrior sat upon the cold stone of the keep, gritting his teeth as he looked at the blood coming from his sword arm. He had fought all day, driving back the forces of the Dominion together with his fellow soldiers, most had been wounded, some would not be able to return home ever again. It tore into his soul, having to notify their families, their sons, their daughters… Husbands and wives… They were lost to the winds.
He found a somewhat clean strip of cloth, tying it around the wound on his arm, it stung, and it was soaked in red as soon as the cloth hit the skin. But it would have to do, he could hear the sounds of horns, coming closer as the night had fallen. By the Divines, another siege was underway. He had not heard her coming closer, as if she had materialized at his feet. A Dunmer woman in dark armour presented him with her hand, urging him to take it. The glowing eyes had tried to look reassuring, yet seemed unable when he took the hand and was raised to his feet. Her gaze briefly relocated to the blood-soaked piece of cloth, wrapped around his arm, her grip upon his hand tightened ever so slightly, before letting go. She moved a step back, allowing him for some room.
“The fort will be besieged and you are not fit to fight, brave soul.”
“If I do not fight, who else will?”
The woman had smiled at him or smirked, perhaps.
“Healers are present in the small town not far behind the lines, if one were to start walking now, he would make it there safely.”
He studied the small woman, easily two or three heads shorter than him, with a scoff. She carried a dagger on her person and a bow and quiver were strapped to her back. He knew that sort of people, hiding in the shadows, waiting for their chance, that perfect shot. They were not honourable like him and his ancestors before him.
“And you are supposed to hold the keep?”
“When the night falls… We will hold.”
Where she had been forthcoming before, the look upon her face shifted at the sound of another horn. Her eyes seemed to light up a little and her lips curled into more of a snarl. Due to her size he was somehow reminded of an angry wolf pup. He knew well that even a young wolf’s bite could sting.
“Go, and return with your men at dawn!”
She walked with him for a short period of time, keeping an eye on whether he was truly leaving the battlefield. When the Dunmer was content, she paused. Sending him off with a nod and those few words she would speak to him every night since then.
“Go now, never look over your shoulder.”
For some reason, he didn’t. Those words had puzzled him when the healer was tending to his arm. Had the female meant to say he should not look back? That he should keep on walking without the urge to join the fray even though he was unable to? He brought a cup of mead to his lips as he pondered, a droplet running down through the stubble of his unshaven chin. He rested short, but easy that night, likely due to some of the herbs the healer had provided him with. His arm looked well and the sun was slowly rising, high time to return to the front. He bowed his head to the healer on his way out of the tavern, starting his walk towards the fort he hoped had not fallen.
The fort was still well within the grasp of the Pact. He shrugged his shoulders. The little lass must have packed more of a punch than he had originally thought. He stationed his men on key locations, manning the watchtowers and placing archers upon the walls. The day passed relatively quietly. Only a small regiment dared to knock on the keeps doors, and the strong warriors that had a good night’s rest to strengthen their arm, culled them with ease.
As the sun was setting beyond the horizon, the Dunmer woman came. She told him to take his men back to the healers and a good pint of mead or two. Which made him smirk, nodding his head in gratitude. Never looking over his shoulder, nor did his men.
Day and night followed each other, and each time he left the night to the Dunmer, holding the day with his regiment of men. It was a balance he did not question, for it was effective. That one day was different however. No enemy force had tried to attack the lines as of yet and he could feel something stirring in the northern winds. They were preparing for something, something big. He readied his men the best he could, looking at the horizon from one of the watchtowers, but the enemy force did not march. As if they were waiting for night to fall.
The moon did once again adorn the skies that evening, and once again, the woman came. She noticed the sudden reluctance he felt to leave the fort to her defence.
“I feel a large force is inbound.”
She merely nodded at him, the light of the full moon reflected on her silvery white hair. She could sense it too. But no fear could be found within her shining eyes. Her red lips curled into a smile, an actual, soft smile like he had not seen on her before.
“Do not fear for us, brave soul… And never look over your shoulder.”
His warrior heart did not agree upon turning around with his men, leaving the woman to face what was coming with whatever forces she had gathered. She had kept the fort every night, enabling his men to rest and heal. It felt like cowardice to leave for home that night, none of them wounded, as none had attacked the keep. Cowardice he could not let pass.
The warrior looked over his shoulder.
The woman still stood there, surrounded by others, at her side a tall Nord man in dark plate armour, besides them a male Dunmer and a female Nord. He could see the little Dunmer sprint, her dagger drawn, blood was shed. The enemy had not even heard her yet as she placed her lips around the wound she had created. Her entire face bloodied as she looked at her comrades, eyes shining like a torch in the dark. More crept from the shadows, howling ensued as the male Dunmer and female Nord that had been at her sides began to change, growing into hulking monstrosities with the features of wolves. The man in dark plate armour joined in the bloodshed, his sword slashing through the enemy with strength he had never seen before.
They were numerous and they were empowered by the night.
He should not have looked over his shoulder.
He should not be doing this.
The warrior raised his axe as his men still stood in horror. Sprinting towards the battlefield with a lust for battle unlike he had felt in a long time. He roared as he passed by the Dunmer woman, his axe sinking into the skull of an unfortunate Altmer. Even with her grey skin dirtied by the blood she had feasted on, he could see her surprise. Theirs was an army none should speak of. But they held the night.