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18+ The Corrupted Guardian: Death in the Family

Discussion in 'Active Stories' started by The Honorable Gidian Diva of Sass, Feb 6, 2014.

  1. CapObvious

    CapObvious Gramos Goat-Shaker

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    As the others became engrossed in the words of the man who had come to speak, Maere's mind focused instead on finishing her inspection of her friend. She wouldn't let this interruption catch her off guard, as she felt what he was shouting wasn't nearly as important.

    As she continued her inspection, he felt herself become slightly lightheaded. She felt like she needed to sit down, but refused to stop now. She needed to be sure...be sure of...

    What was she need to be sure of again?

    Her eyes caught sight of Spero again, but she couldn't recall what it was that had been going on only moments prior.

    It was as if something about this scene, surrounded by shouting and chanting, low growls and pounding of feet...as if she had been here before, and it was scrambling her mind as she tried her best to place it. Surely that was impossible, there was no way she could have been here before...Or had she? Her mind became fogged even further, frustration cropping up as she soon found a seat behind her, resting her back against the table behind her. She sighed, blinking her eyes as she tried her best to focus. But that all came to a halt when a figure made it's way through the crowd before her, and looked upon her silently. The sound around her began to reverberate, and the images around her distorted, but she could still see the figure before her clear as day. He wore an imperial style armor, covered by a blood red cloak, that came with a hood that covered most of the figure's features with shadow. She felt she had seen him before. Wait...she did...This was the man from earlier, the man who had been watching her. Wasn't it?

    The man then stopped before her, his hands reaching for his hood, and gripped the edges of it. He then pulled it down, and his arms lowered again, with Maere's dizzy gaze following shortly after. Her eyes had darted away from his face, as she felt a sense of fear. Something inside her begged to keep her eyes away. But with anything forbidden, came the urge to do the opposite. She felt a need to see this face, to know just who she had seen follow her here. As Maere traced her way back up toward his face, she took in his strong form, her eyes glazed over his toned features, tanned by both sun and bloodline. She felt her self fight the urge to admit it, but she wasn't in the best state of mind. She couldn't help but state it plain. Whoever owned this body was a fine specimen indeed. Her need to know the face that went with it became harder to fight against, and it scared her. She had never felt this feeling before, and she didn't want to feel it now, or ever again. But right now, she needed to know.

    Who was this man?

    But as she let herself catch a glimpse of his face, her mind flashed, and her eyes closed shut. Her breathing slowed, and the voices around her went silent. Her eyes opened again soon after, but as she soon discovered, she wasn't there tending to Spero any longer. She was away again. In a place she hadn't seen for years. Not since she had first met Do'Vassal. A nightmare she had begged Stendarr to let her forget.

    Maere soon found she was surrounded, not by the brutes that had been in the arena before. No, these were a people far more familiar, as they were apart of the nightmare that plagued her since she was a child.

    As always, she was laid out on a table of stone. Voices and chants could be heard in a low murmur, but with feet pounding, laughter and growling loud enough to shake the ground beneath her. She felt herself bound by the wrists and ankles, tied down as four figures made their way around her. They all were cloaked in shadow, unable to be discerned by physical appearance alone, despite the great pyres that were built ceremonially around the table. This was the nightmare she had seen for many a year, since before Do'Vassal had rescued her from...whatever it was that had bound her. This nightmare was bred from an actual event, according to her khajiit guardian. But it was of a different reality. One where he didn't make it in time. But he explained it was only a terror, nothing more. So she held fast, decidiing to treat it as such. It would be over soon, and then she could get back to the hell she was currently trying to escape.

    So far, the terror continued on it's predictable path. Soon, the darkness would descend upon her...and consume her. Just as the many times before, the darkness swirled above her, and she closed her eyes, bracing herself for the phantom pain.

    But this time, it wasn't the case.

    Instead, the nightmare changed in a way she did not expect. The faces of two of the four figures slowly were revealed. The first face came to light, and it was a face that brought her a feeling of peace and comfort. It was Do'Vassal, the great khajiit monk who had been her protector and teacher for years. He was clad in white armor, with a white aura radiating from him. The sight of him, despite how strange he seemed with the holy aura, calmed her quickly. It felt so good to see him again, and she fought against her restraints, wanting to wrap her arms around his furred neck, and beg him to get her out of this nightmare.

    But before she could, the second face materialized, and stopped her dead in her tracks. The second face belonged to the man in the courtyard. A Strong, rugged face, imperial in frame,with piercing eyes that tore at her soul. He was covered in blood, and donned an aura just as red. He looked angry, impassioned by something, and it caused any comfort to be cast away.

    The darkness continued to swirl above her, and she looked to Do'Vassal, begging him to take her away. The khajiit watched instead, as if he couldn't hear her.

    She felt her eyes form tears, screaming for him to listen, before the darkness descended upon her, bringing on a sensation of deep pain and suffering. To describe it simply?

    The darkness was eating her alive, and she could feel it.

    She felt herself writhing in agony, her skin feeling as though it was being ripped from the bone with gnarling teeth, and it was all over her body. The hot flashing pain was too real, and it caused her body to thrash more against her restraints, despite knowing it was futile.

    She felt as though this time would be the time she would die for real. With the pain being as harsh as it was, she almost wanted to.

    But she soon felt her body jerk awake. In a split second, she was free of the consuming darkness. She was live, and unbound.

    But she was also not where she was when the nightmare hit.

    She looked around herself, seeing herself in a different room entirely. The other's were around her, and did not look phased at all by her appearing there. Nor did they seem to have been carrying her at any point in the last few moments.

    Which meant that she had been in a trance the entire time, and had been somewhat coherent enough to follow them.

    She felt thankful for this, until she saw Spero's mouth bloodied, flashing her teeth at...her eyes got big as they reached the monstrosity that was before them. How the hells had she missed all this? As they continued on, Maere decided to keep what had happened to herself for the moment. They didn't know her well enough yet for her to explain her problems. Instead she decided to listen to the back and forth between the large...thing and Gidian, who seemed to be pushing the big bastards buttons.

    I swear, if you make it hit you, I won't be helping pick up your pieces. She felt herself think, but not on her own merits. She ignored the stray thought, and pushed forward along with the others.
     
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  2. The Honorable Gidian Diva of Sass

    The Honorable Gidian Diva of Sass Sahrot Vahlok Spaan. Bahnahgaar. Minion #88!
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    “Well… no questions…” Dolun said, more to himself than to anyone else. He completely ignored Gidian’s threat, although he had obviously caught it. “Thats fine. I’m more of a man of action myself as well. Being surprised is more fun anyways. I’m sure we won’t be needing the real details for your next fight then…” he said jovially, pulling out a piece of paper and burning it on a torch along the path. “Clever move, trying to switch your number like that. But you should know by now that we have long memories here in the Arena.” He made a show of nursing the flames, before letting the paper fall to floor as, finally, he seemed to reach his destination.


    He stood beside a door for a few moments, as if expecting something to happen, before letting out an angry grunt and wopping the giant of a man on the shoulder, mostly because reaching his head would have been difficult. “What are you waiting for? Get the door!”


    The giant’s eyes turned to Dolan, taking him in with the casualness of a boot accidentally crushing an ant. The man evidently had a lot of patience, as he got the door without a word. “Pretty ones go first!” He said with some enthusiasm, winking and giving a slight bow at Maere and Skadi.


    The room was quite an advanced armory, quite large coming out of a cramped hallway and possessing enough weapons and armor to fully equip a small army. “Well? What DO you think?” Dolun singsonged, sweeping his arms grandly, as if he was presenting a some great mansion for a potential royal buyer.


    “I think you’re not smart enough to plan something like this on your own.” Gidian accused.


    “Now, now. Thinking is a dangerous thing, Gidian. Best not hurt yourself. Of course I planned this on my own!” The giant rolled his eyes at that. Dolun noticed. “Hmph. Not like I had a choice. Everyone else is dead! That,” he sighed, “or they moved up in the world. So sad, they grew up so fast.” His tone was quite mocking.


    Gidian didn’t dignify him with a reply, instead moving along the weapon and armor racks, inspecting the gear. He found that most of it had evidently been used, probably scavenged from dead corpses, but was still in rather good condition. Most of it wasn’t better than steel, though there were a few gems among the common stuff.


    Dolun clapped very loudly, as some sort of signal, and waited expectantly. When nothing happened, he turned to the giant and hit him on the shoulder again. “Move already!”


    The giant, once again, was unmoved. Yet, despite evidently wanting to flatten the smaller man, he elected not to. Instead, he complied with the mysterious order, and disappeared, only to return with several not small chests, which he placed on a large table in the center of the room. Gidian eyed them suspiciously, as Dolun approached and grandly threw one open, practically giggling to himself as he pulled out what appeared to be a normal steel sword.


    Gidian, however, recognized it immediately. And he did seem at least somewhat surprised. “How did you get that?” Gidian said with mild curiosity, now approaching the table himself. Instead of answering, Dolun simply tossed it to Gidian, who caught it with ease, and inspected it. Once he got to the chest and looked in, he almost glared. It was all his old gear he’d left behind in the palace. He then looked at Dolun with a calm expression, as his back was turned, presenting the other members with what was apparently some of the items and gear from wherever it was they had come from before the arena. Gidian pulled out a hefty Saxe knife, weighing the blade in his hand as he coolly regarded Dolun, the barest trace of murder in his eyes. The giant noticed it, and smiled, wickedly amused.


    Dolun smiled, knowing what Gidian was thinking without turning around. “Always so paranoid. Relax. It was the overseers who took it… I just re-appropriated it.”


    This apparently satisfied Gidian, who put the knife back and shut the chest, electing to choose from among the other weapons and armor in the room. Skadi looked back and forth between them, apparently confused by the exchange. She had been unable to read the subtle signs that had been in the air, the tension, but didn’t let it bother her for long, as she too browsed the weapon and armor racks, predicting that there wouldn’t be chest for her, quite accurately. There was no qualified inspection to her search, however, just curiosity and boredom.


    Although she did come back to the table, and approached Gidian’s chest. She reached her hand out, and was opening it slowly and quietly, and looked in. She took in the contents rather quickly, absorbing it all to the tiniest detail. Leather, chain, plates. Some sort of complicated specialized armor, as it didn’t look impressive to her compared to the plate that most of the guards she’d seen wore. There was a dark cloak and face cover, which was odd for an arena, where being seen and noticed were everything. However, she noticed on the inside shoulders of the cloak was some sort of markings or writings. Initials maybe. She next noticed the weapons. The Saxe knife from earlier, a less imposing throwing knife, and the sword. They looked shiny and sharp, though evidently Gidian hadn’t cared for them much. He had simply put them down anywhere, without bothering to put them back in their scabbards. One look at the throwing knife, however, and she was sure that she recognized it from somewhere. She stared at it hard, as if trying to intimidate it into spilling its secrets, feeling with somewhat of a headache that she should be able to place it. It was something important. Something painful. Definitely painful, as she reached out to pull it from its scabbard, even as her head’s throbbing intensified.


    She had lost track of time. She was suddenly ripped from her trance as she realized there were eyes on her. She turned and was a bit startled to find Gidian had approached, in armor a fair amount heavier than what was in the chest, looking rather annoyed. Skadi didn’t have it in her to look or even feel ashamed in the least, but she was still surprised at Gidian’s first words.

    “Never had to wear armor before? You go in there like that, you’ll regret it. Hope Maere can help you change into it, or you can figure it out yourself.”
    He absently moved closer and reopened the chest, pulling out the two knives, placing them in their scabbards, and tossing them to Skadi. She was too surprised to catch them, and had to pick them up. She was then surprised even more to find him holding out the cloak in front of her, and she assumed he wanted her to grab it. But, just as she did, he pulled it back, leaving her more than a little angry and confused. He pulled out the sword then, and she took a few steps back as he brandished it for a moment, and brought it down hard on the cloak, which he’d placed on the table. He then raised it again, and said casually, “This will have to do.” And tossed it to her. She had still been holding the knives, and was unprepared to catch the cloak. As a result, it fell on her head, covering her up. It had been made for someone bigger and taller, but had been cut down considerably by the sword.


    Gidian then looked around for Garret, and instead saw Dolun suited up and ready for combat himself. The left side of Gidian’s face twitched into a split second snarl, before he demanded, “What in Oblivion do you think you’re doing?”


    Dolun blinked, as if he didn’t know what Gidian was talking about. “Whatever do you mean?”


    “You know damned well what I mean.”


    “Hm. What does it look like?”


    “Like you want to die.” Gidian said flatly.


    “Eventually I will, gloriously I hope. But first, you’re what? Two? Three members short? Not to mention two of the ones you still have, while easy on the eyes, won’t be worth much out there. Don’t worry, I won’t bring the giant. They’ll have no idea it’s me!” he reassured, putting on a full face covering helmet.


    “Two or three?” Gidian blinked, before cursing. Garret had slipped off at some point. Gidian grumbled under his breath, but did not question it further. Instead, he searched the room for a bit, before finding a small crossbow and bolts, and added them to Skadi’s growing burden. She looked livid, and ready to murder something herself.


    As Gidian walked away to browse the armor section again, she threw down the knives and cloak and began to load the crossbow angrily. Before anyone could stop her, she fired a bolt at Gidian, hitting him squarely in the back. She looked pleased with her shot, as it connected with the backplate of his armor and drove him forward, drawing out a pained grunt as he barely caught himself before hitting the ground. The bolt did not penetrate the armor, but the bruises on bruises were now definitely, if they weren’t already, a hindrance to his movement.


    He slowly raised himself back to his feet, back still turned, breathing heavily through clenched teeth, the color of rage on his face. But, with a few deep breaths, he quietly went back to what he was doing, getting control over his anger, or at least hiding it very well.


    At least, before Dolun’s laugh seemed to echo across the room, prompting Gidian to whirl around and hurl an axe at him. Dolun quickly stopped laughing and raised a shield, which the axe hit rather hard, but bounced off of. Gidian had been aiming for his head, after all, not a shield a few feet away. Still, the power of it was enough to make Dolun grunt a bit.


    Some time later, Skadi was faced with getting all of her gear on properly, Gidian picked a helmet seemingly at random, and put it on, still checking the balance of the sword he had chosen, but also surprisingly armed with a mace. Dolun raised an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. He was similarly armed, and he reasoned it was because great minds think alike. Also because this fight, he knew, would be nothing short of a war, and wearing lighter armor would be risky. The security that heavier armor provided would be invaluable for the coming conflict. Gidian and Dolun approached the table, moving the chests out of the way, and the group members that were already done joined them.


    “So, what’s the plan?”
    Dolun asked promptly. He glanced at Gidian noticing the glare, before saying, “Oh! Right. Burned the details of the fight, didn’t I? Sorry about that." He didn't look very sorry.
     
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  3. fellowknight

    fellowknight Private Lil' Num-Nums

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    Baroth let out a hard puff of air as they navigated the halls, their destination and purpose of it still unknown. He'd played these games before and was smart enough to recognize the effect that complete illusion had here. And while he had a great, great MANY questions for Dolun, he knew they'd lead to no better end than the day had so far. These people were organized, trained, and paid to lie to, kill, and confuse those below them. Dolun at least had fun with it, but Baroth still despised the game they played.

    Just another check on his to-kill list.

    His breath had grown slightly heavier though he managed to keep up, but for Shor's sake, had these people found no way of ventilation? He understood the sentiment, maybe just another annoyance to unsettle the crowd, rattle their cages so to speak. Either way, he shrugged off the stale aroma and the stifling heat as they seemed to reach their destination.

    Dolun, being not so amused with the brute of a man at the door, hurriedly prompted the giant to open the door with a none-too-patient slap on the shoulder. The giant seemed amused himself with his superior's impatience and took his time in popping the door open. Dolun once again greeted the group with uncalled for enthusiasm and Baroth, being one of the last few through the door, had the inviting temptation to spit right in his smug face. But he was in a deep and rather muddy pl*pshole as it was, not to mention with no shovel, and had no intention of digging any deeper.

    Though, the incentive to do so was around corner he passed.

    He wasn't surprised in the least at what he saw in the next room, and glared spitefully at Dolun as he pranced into the space.

    “Well? What DO you think?”

    "That you belong in a fruit basket and I can breath a little better in this room.." He mumbled aloud as Gidian landed his take.

    “I think you’re not smart enough to plan something like this on your own.” He accused.

    Dolun humored him, insisting he'd planned it on his own and his colleagues hadn't lived long enough to protest or got lucky, and that's where Baroth lost interest. He was too busy scanning the racks on racks of weapons and armors, all hung up, ready for their next bearer. At a glance, one would think the equipment was new, albeit aged to some degree, but shiny and bulky enough to impress. A closer inspection, however, would reveal dried blood and small knicks in the blades and plates. It was used, preowned by a now, more than likely, deceased combatant.

    Well, at least they had efficiency in all this. Baroth was yet to be whelmed, though.

    An obnoxious clapping and, “Move already!”, tugged Baroth's momentary attention as he turned to see Dolun once again bossing the well-sized behemoth. The man passed an inconsiderate, almost murderous glance to the diminutive scamp of a man and locked eyes with Baroth for just a moment. Baroth could almost smell his desire from where he was standing and shook his head, lazily blinking as he conveyed a silent message.

    Not yet.

    When the giant hobbled off and returned with spacious chests, Baroth waited and watched as the others did. All thinking, at least feeling, the same thing. Dolun happily flung one open and brandished a sword that seemed instantly familiar to Gidian. He asked where the blade had come from and Baroth ran several takes on the situation. Before he could consider one, his mind snapped. He almost mouthed the words too.

    Son of a b*tch...

    It was their own gear, before they'd been thrown into the hellhole.

    Dolun tossed Gidian the blade a proceeded to reacquaint everyone else with their according chests. Baroth watched as he went around, the whole situation screaming presents and children, and it seemed everyone breathed a little easier, having their own gear to hold. Dolun didn't bother with the last chest, jerking his head from Baroth to the lone chest, and Baroth answered, approaching begrudgingly.

    "I assume they were all checked." Baroth stated, more of a statement than a question. He knew they'd checked them, but then again, they were all in the arena, so any little weapon would've made the difference between life and brutal death. It was just a matter of who they liked more.

    Dolun flailed his arms up in response as he skipped off. ”Why not!"

    Baroth grumbled after him, flipping the latches back and cracking open the container, studying its contents. He, much like Gidian, instantly recognized his gear and shuffled through it as he began weighing his options. Not of escaping; that much was certain, made clear by the others. But of the fight that lay ahead. Dolun, the genius, burned the details of their imposing fight and that told Baroth those details were false and expendable, or Dolun was simply trying harder to kill them all.

    If anyone slipped up, he'd get his wish and maybe a healthy promotion to spare, though Baroth doubted the man gave a damn about political rank. In any case, the battle ahead was uncertain and Baroth needed to prepare for it in the best possible way. He'd spent centuries adapting to various armor types and found that he, cliché to his frame and origin, was the most whelmed in heavy armor. It simply weighed right on him. Light armor was like carrying feathers and Baroth doubted its durability made up for its weight.

    However, maybe this armory had something...heavier, than his own armor and he decided he'd investigate that speculation. Slipping on his gauntlets that still housed two very sharp hidden blades, and his boots, that also harbored hidden blades, Baroth set out to find a matching armor set. Upon doing so and donning it (it being an assumed ebony plated and copper-trimmed set), he returned to the chest to retrieve his own weapons. A sharpened Nordic sword with tribal designs and leather trimmings, a slightly curved elven dagger, and a hefty shortsword, a little bigger than a butcher's knife.

    He strapped on the weapons, except for the shortsword that was missing its shield-equivalent. He'd meant to catch Dolun about it earlier, but in that split second he knew he wouldn't have to. He instantly dropped the blade and spun on his heel to catch the steel-trimmed, hub-capped shield with both hands, the giant behind the heavy pitch. He stole a humorous chuckle as he turned and left the room once more.

    Baroth clenched his teeth and shook the ensuing shock from his body, though not entirely as he got a cold shiver of pain. He stuffed the small blade in its sheath on the wielder's part of the shield and turned to find a helmet, absorbing a surprise instead; aside from the rather over-encumbered Spero covered in a cloak. A refreshing laugh, though not out loud.

    Dolun was armoring up, as if he were leading a regiment of soldiers into the pits of Oblivion itself. Gidian voiced his bewilderment almost as quickly as Baroth thought it and Dolun couldn't be more confused. He intended to join them in the arena, being they were actually a member or two, or three short now that Baroth looked back on it.

    He shrugged it off and continued searching for a helmet, finding a steel suitor adorned with a dried-bloody hand print on the forehead. If Dolun was so deadest on getting himself into the thick of action, Baroth wouldn't stop him. Accidents happened all the time in battle, after all. Such a move was risky, but Baroth doubted he'd do it anyways.

    The man clearly had more cards on the table.

    He stuffed the helmet under his arm and turned to gather himself at the table when a crossbow bolt shot by him and hit Gidian squarely in the back, causing him to fumble and fall. It didn't stake in the armor, but it definitely caused a nasty bruise and a bad beginning to a horrid fight. Yet somehow, Gidian paced himself and proceeded about his business, letting it slide. Until Dolun let out an atrocious laugh that was swiftly met with Gidian's axe, which the man blunted with a nearby shield.

    Three things were certain from that: Spero was crazy but definitely had a deathwish, Gidian had outstanding control over his impulses (another fact for Baroth's ongoing notes), and Dolun was one lucky bastard.

    For the hell of it, and extra security, Baroth found a suitable ebony war axe and fluidly spun it about for a minute, weighing it before he slipped it under his belt. He headed to the table, where Gidian, Dolun, and some of the others had gathered, and listened as Dolun began.

    “So, what’s the plan?” Dolun asked promptly. He glanced at Gidian noticing the glare, before saying, “Oh! Right. Burned the details of the fight, didn’t I? Sorry about that."

    "No, you're not." Baroth said plainly. "Anyone else remember those details? I doubt it'd matter now. This place is as still as clockwork."

    For the time being, he'd keep his "acquired tools" hidden in his under-armor, until he was back in a cell block or somewhere else indoors. There were weapons for the arena and weapons for its lurking inhabitants.
     
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    #103 fellowknight, Jul 29, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 29, 2015
  4. CapObvious

    CapObvious Gramos Goat-Shaker

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    Maere remained silent the rest of the way, content to let the large man and Gidian verbally duke it out for the time being. It gave her time to shake the former dream from her mind as much as she could. However, he doing so was interrupted by the sight of another giant man opening a door, and Dolun bowing slightly for them. “Pretty ones go first!” He said, winking at her and Spero. Nevermind, he was bowing for the two of them only. She pondered just how often girls like the two of them actually made it this far, but tried to avoid the more...grisly side of those thoughts. Instead, she and Spero entered ahead, and Maere took in the room around her.


    The room was filled to the brim with arms and armor, the likes of which she had only heard tales of. The vault around her was awe-inspiring to say the least, a note that Dolun didn't let slip by him, as he waved his arms about with a ta-dah like fashion. He asked what they had thought of the room, but Maere wasn't sure what to think of it all. There was just so much to see. She let her eyes wander while the banter between the two continued behind her.

    As Maere gazed upon the items on the racks and shelves, she took note of it's condition. The gear didn't look fresh from the forge, for certain. But the quality was still intact. It was all in good condition, and anyone who wore or wielded any of it stood a solid chance of surviving this hell, in her mind.

    Her attention was broken however by a loud clap, followed by a meaningful exhanged look between the large and even larger men, before the largest left the room. After a moment, he returned, with multiple chests that he then laid out before them. As she watched with obvious curiosity, and a slight bit of confusion, she noted that the first chest contained a simple sword.

    But it wasn't so for Gidian, whose interest was immediately peaked as he made his way for the table, catching the blade as Dolun tossed it to him. Maere took a look among the other chests before Dolun opened another, which after seeing it's contents, caused Maere to shift uncomfortably.

    Poking out from the top, she saw a feather hanging over the edge of the chest. The silver accent gave it away, and Maere stepped forward for it slowly, before taking in the sight with her eyes.

    There it was. Everything she had lost to the Guard captain. All of it. It wasn't much to begin with, but the contents meant the world to her, despite being few in number.

    She reached her hand in the chest, and grasped the hilt of the object tightly, feeling the leather straps twined about it, as if she hadn't felt it's touch in years. She then pulled it out slowly, before raising it level to her eyes.

    This object, was a staff given to her by Do'Vassal as a gift. Had it made especially for her, and blessed by the divines before he let it even touch her hands. This was a priceless gift, and she couldn't believe it was in her hands again. As if the staff recognized her touch, (Knowing Do'Vassal, it probably did), the crystal catalyst at the top began to glow, giving off the golden glow that she had missed. The feather tied about the bottom of it hung and swung gracefully about, shining from the light it radiated. A tear came to her eye as she beheld it again, nearly forgetting there was more inside.

    She stopped her wistful recollection and scanned the chest again, soon finding that while important, much of the rest were simple keepsakes she had found in the market, and not much else. She had found a simple dagger, along with the robes she had used in the days before all this. (OOC: Refer to the robes in the cc, if you can find it) which she hung on to as she closed the chest.

    She looked about the room again, knowing she should take advantage of the rest of the equipment here. There was no telling what would come of it after this moment.

    She looked about, mostly at the armor, for something light enough to move about in, but sturdy enough to let her keep breathing. Simple enough she thought.

    But there wasn't much but light leather armor lying about when it came down to it, and she believed it too bulky to serve her right now. However, as she pondered on it, she came up with a plan. She moved about the room, searching for a dagger before she brought it back to a set of leather armor. With some doing, she was able to carve some of the pieces free from it, fashioning it into something more like leather plating, enough to cover her chest and back, along with important areas on her arms and legs. It was crude, she had to admit. But She knew it would be better in the long run to do it this way. She'd be useless in armor like Gidian's, whether he agreed with her decision or not, it didn't matter. She believed she had proven her capabilities with the shield before...

    If he said anything about it, she would promise to miss her toss the next time around. Poor Gidian didn't want to be a shiskebab did he?

    The thought nearly stopped Maere cold. If it weren't for the situation at hand, she probably would have been collapsing to her knees in shame, crying.

    But she wasn't willing to give them any more. She was done sobbing like a child, and today she was to prove it.

    Speaking of which, the thought had reminded her of something.

    Should she take a shield into battle?

    The object was crude in the test battle from before, but she thought of how useful a more sturdy one could be in the fights to come. She imagined just how much more she could accomplish...and how many near death experiences she could avoid.

    Not willing to debate it any further, She searched about, her eyes scanning furiously for a light shield. Her eyes caught the glimpse of sturdy hide shield, in much better condition than the other, and grabbed it immediately. She carried her things, looking about to see what the others were doing. Her eyes eventually set on Spero, who was still proud of herself for her shot on Gidian's back. She looked a bit conflicted with the gear she was handed, and Maere thought she may be of some assistance. Spero seemed the type to do things herself, but she didn't want to take any chances. Spero was her only friend now, and she'd be damned before she lost her now.

    She made her way over to Spero, and spoke up to her, her voice still in a whisper despite the situation not being so dire as before. She decided to make a slight quip, to lighten her up a bit. "Think he got you enough? You might be under-prepared." Spero gave her a look, and Maere giggled softly under her breath. "Come on, let's get this over with."

    They made their way to a more secluded spot of the armory, away from the men, and began to get geared up.

    Maere started to put on her robes from the chest, but not before making a few modifications to them to make them more compliant with what she was about to do with them. Then, with a small sigh, she began to strap on the leather plating to her clothing. She had left enough of the original material on the chest so that it would fit sort of like a sleeveless tunic, still connected at the bottom, but looser fitting and able to be slid over her head. She then applied the vambraces on her arms and legs, leaving the joints free enough to bend and move quickly, but still be able to avoid a good slice or two.

    When she finished with her own gear, strapping the shield on her back, she turned to Spero and aided her with finishing up. When they were both done, they made their way to others, who were still finishing up gathering around Gidian and Dolun. Maere looked to Spero, then back to the others with a sigh, using her staff as a support in her left hand.
     
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  5. CapObvious

    CapObvious Gramos Goat-Shaker

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    Maere continued to look about as the others got ready, as she did so, her mind wandered. Her thoughts traced through out the day, thinking over the time she had spent getting here.

    Further than even she would have imagined, frankly. Her luck with situations like these seemed akin to the beginning plot to your average droll mystery novels she would read.

    Well, except for who would investigate. It wouldn't be the guard, but mostly Do'Vassal scouring the province, hunting down those responsible and tearing out their throats.

    He was...efficient like that.

    Her mind shook away the sight of blood-faced khajiit as more recent events came into mind. Mostly when she was nearly removed from this all entirely. When the Elite Guard had tried to remove her from the arena entirely. Her mind wandered as she thought of where she would have gone, but realized it was futile shortly after. The moment was over, the location lost to the past. But the thought did linger some still.

    Could it really have been much worse than all of this?

    But a more interesting thought came to mind. Something she had ignored mostly, but something she had decided that should be brought to light, even if it was just to her. She had heard his comments to the Nord from earlier, but her curiosity was getting the better of her.

    Gidian knew more about this than anyone else in the party, as far as she could figure. His conversation with the Elite proved that much. But what exactly gave him this knowledge.

    She moved over to Gidian, her eyes watching his, ready to catch any sort of hesitance, resistance, or even signs of resentment, that would no doubt come from her line of questioning. But she was ready to fight for the knowledge all the same.

    She felt she had the right to know what the hell was going on.

    She spoke up, still quietly enough that Gidian wouldn't chastise her for being too loud with this information. She didn't want to end up like those guards. Especially since he was probably still a bit sore from those bolts to the back from before.

    "Gidian," She started, nearly hesitating. "I wanted to talk about what happened, with the guard." He looked to her, his eyes began to narrow, just as she had anticipated, but she continued. "You two spoke for awhile while I was under his spell. Long enough for me to catch something you said to him." She inhaled before she spoke. "You know more than you've let on and I want to know what's going on here." She watched his eyes as her resolve strengthened and wavered both, waiting to see what the man would say.

    Would he brush it off, or answer plain?

    His eyes then narrowed, as if he was studying her, gauging her for something. She didn't know what it could be, but wasn't to surprised. It was Gidian, after all. The man seemed to analyze everything.

    After a bit longer, he waved the giant man on, and looked back to her.

    "'What's going on here'? Isn't it obvious?" He returned, mocking her. This approach was unnecessary. Sure, she could have been more specific, or had better worded her question, but his snark was unwarranted. But she refrained from speaking out, waiting to see if he'd even bother to answer.

    He finally spoke up. "I was hired," He paused for a moment, as if recalling something, or trying to put his words carefully. He was still holding things back, but he was still answering her question. She would take what she could get. He continued. "to get Spero out of here alive." He paused again, before taking a breath, letting loose his explanation.

    "She's a a young noble caught in the crossfire of a bloody political struggle, and I'm the hired thug her pompous parents hired to get her out. They hired me because I have a history with this place. It's where I started my career, after all. Now do you have any specific questions? Make them count. We're stressed for time, here." He didn't want to get too specific, too elaborate left more room for mistakes. His expression was one of resigned annoyance, as outwardly he saw this as a pointless discussion, but inwardly knew that he couldn't afford to push these people too far away just yet, especially not the only one Skadi had likely become attached to, and especially not just before a fight.

    Maere's eyes went a bit round, as not only did he answer her question, (which alone was a feat beyond imagining, from his personality), but he included details that she hadn't anticipated. But it was more than enough to explain what exactly brought Spero and Gidian here. She shifted her weight on her other leg, soaking in the information as he spoke. The look on his face gave the impression that he didn't believe any of this was relevant, or even her business. Which he was right. In this situation, it did seem unnecessary at best, nosy or prying at worst. But it was important to her. She wanted to know these people. Her life depended on them, and whether they acknowledged it or not, theirs on her. She spoke again, not willing to miss the opportunity to know more.

    "I do admit my question was rather...vague." She said, not letting his look faze her. "But that was more than enough to answer your involvement, so I can say that question is answered." She moved a bit closer, keeping her eyes on him. "You say you've been here before. Got your start here. That answers what you were saying to the elite guard. But you also said that you were sent here to get her out. By her parents. Who are nobles. Why would she be here in the first place, if she is of royal blood? Surely they wouldn't put her in battle like this? She'd be a far better bargaining tool, used as blackmail for money by...whoever is in charge of this place." She looked about, pondering still. That much sounded like common sense. Even to someone who believed putting someone like Spero in here was abhorrent, her worth as nobility would go further than spilling her blood here. Her mind realized it was drifting, and she shook her head, looking back to Gidian. She realized that she didn't really have any more substantial questions at the moment, and she knew any further line of questioning would lead to Gidian getting bull headed. She couldn't afford to push him away now. She wasn't going to last long in here on her own.

    She spoke up again. "No, I won't bother you with my questioning anymore. I believe this will suffice." She stepped further away, but looked back to him as she steadied the staff in her hand. "But I will warn you. I will have more later. I hope you will remain this forthcoming then." She then made her way to Spero, giving her one gear one more look, for Spero's safety, as well as her own peace of mind. Thanks to Gidian's explanation, it showed that Spero was now more of a target than before.

    She wasn't going to lose her only friend, not if she could help it.
     
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  6. The Honorable Gidian Diva of Sass

    The Honorable Gidian Diva of Sass Sahrot Vahlok Spaan. Bahnahgaar. Minion #88!
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    Gidian raised an eyebrow at the lines of thought Maere seemed to be pursuing, and was about to say something before she decided to end the conversation. With a mental shrug, he decided it wouldn't do much good to worry about it now. Especially considering the chances were low that she would survive the looming arena battle.

    He made his way to the table to join the others who were, by now, waiting on him. However, there was a long moment of silence in which no one seemed to want to speak, each person likely for their own reasons. He supposed Skadi and Belzebub weren't the types to talk anyways, for whatever that was worth.

    Gidian rolled his shoulders to ease the tension in his back, still getting used to the weight of the heavier armor in addition to the general awkwardness the current circumstance. The quiet gave him time to think twice about his choice in armament, but he quickly shrugged it off. It would do no good to worry now. He was just about to break the silence himself, electing to take the job no one else wanted to, but Dolun (unsurprisingly) beat him to the punch.

    "Well, I can tell I'm in the midst of the most lively of bunches. So... I'll just get to the point. For most of you this talk really isn't necessary, but for the rest, it wouldn't hurt. We're going to-" He was the abruptly cut off by Gidian.

    "... have our work cut out for us. The first thing you're going to have to contend with is the noise and sheer enormity of the place. It will be deafening, and at times impossible to communicate audibly. If you lose your nerve or your head, you will die. If you become isolated or fail to work with the team, you will die. We're likely going to be facing a professional team, outnumbered, outgeared, and outclassed. I know most of you probably aren't used to working with a team, or even combat at all, but try to be quick on your feet. You don't have to stand your ground alone, just support the others wherever and however you can. Most of us are probably going to die, so get right with whatever gods you follow now. You probably won't get another chance." Gidian was not an inspiring speaker to say the least, but as if he felt some of the tension he had just created, he stretched and yawned, finishing his speech on a casual note. "So let's get this over with."

    Dolun laughed hysterically and smack Gidian on the back, causing Gidian to wince and growl from his bruises. "How dare you put that evil on us! Yawning is contag-!" He then promptly yawned, dancing out of Gidian's reach in expectation of retaliation. When none came, he promptly made his way out of the room, casually calling back, "I'd hurry if I were you! We've got less than two minutes til show time! You might even be able to squeeze in a bathroom break if you're quick enough." He laughed again.

    Gidian and Skadi made their way after him, practically running. There wasn't time for a bathroom break, as the closer they got the gates the louder the shouts and stomps of the crowd became. It eventually got the point where the corridors seemed to be shaking, the noise slowly growing to be unbearable yet still somehow growing louder.

    Upon arriving at the gate, a new sound could be heard. The magically enhanced, booming and echoing voice of a speaker. With loud instruments heralding his preparation to speak, the crowd fell silent. An almost disturbing contrast to the earlier uproar. "Beloved people, tonight, we have a very special gift to show our thanks for your support." He paused while the crowd let loose another uproar. "Tonight, on the left, a brand new set of contenders, gathered from all across our fair Empire, has seen fit to make their debut hard and fast. I give you... THE SENTINELS!" The amplified voice, shouting to be heard over the uproars of the crowd, was deafening as the massive gates before Gidian and Skadi began steadily opening.

    Gidian glanced accusingly at Dolun. "I don't remember choosing a name."

    Dolun smirked. "I took the liberty of choosing an appropriate one for you."

    Gidian snorted at that, and turned to step put into the sand. Not knowing what to expect, he put on his helmet and drew his mace. Skadi wasn't far behind, covering her ears to block out as much of the noise as she could.

    After Gidian's senses adjusted, he found himself having to do a double take, and make sure his jaw hadn't dropped. It had been a long time since he'd been in the arena. It had been considerably smaller in his day. They obviously had put the funds the arena drew in to use making it bigger and grander, to the point where it wasn't even comparable anymore to what it had been.

    He felt as if he were surrounded by mountains rather than the seats of a coliseum. It was impossibly large, and the typical coliseum type layout meant that the enormous amount of noise was only magnified as he got closer towards the center. Of course, their fight couldn't hope to span the whole of the arena, so both sides would make their entrance and meet in the middle, where they would be magically projected in order for the crowd to more easily view.

    The ring was surrounded with torches as well, making it overall a well lit area, in tandem with the moon and stars. The walls were, naturally, much too tall to ever have any hope of climbing. Perched on several balconies were what appeared to be large soul gems, and there were several Dwarven looking contraptions and machinery which Gidian had no idea what to make of.

    He didn't have much longer to dwell on it once they finally reached the center, Skadi looking quite pale in the dim light under the scrutiny of so many people. There were more than a few flirtatious whistles from the crowd. However, even those ceased as the speaker once again raised his booming, magically amplified voice.

    "These mighty warrior, brought together through the bonds of survival from all across Tamriel, have seen fit to challenge one of the most fearsome bands of warriors to make their mark on our continent in generations. Introducing THE MAAAAARAAAAUUUUUDERS!"

    "They sound terribly creative." Gidian remarked sarcastically, tapping the butt of his mace against his thigh several times, as if in anticipation or nervousness.

    With an unprecedented and truly painful roar of approval from the crowd, who had promptly taken up the chant of Marauders, even Gidian was driven to wince and bring his hands up to his ears, his shield and mace now held awkwardly.


    However, even the noise wasn't as painful to him as the sight of what they were fighting. He looked at Dolun, shock on his face, and could tell from the scowl and movement of Dolun's lips that he was cursing like a sailor. Gidian shouted as loudly as he could, in a probably futile attempt to be heard over the noise, to get in formation. Any formation, he didn't care. "CLOSE TOGETHER! NOW! SHIELDS READY!" He made a point to take a ready stance and raise his shield, brandishing his weapon, Dolun joining him to form a rough, two man shield wall.

    Seven warriors came from the gate and made their way across the sand to them now.

    The first and closest was a rather large man (though not as giant as the one who had been managing part of the administration earlier), who was made even larger by the hulking mass of Dwarven armor and machinery attached to him. It was a striking and ferocious amalgamation of Dwarven machinery and wilderness savagery, the Dwarven armor and furs creating the impression that the man was anot enormous boar. The armor was carved and crafted into the shape, the helmet melded into the visage, and furs were melded into it in several places, making the distinguishing of man, machine, and animal very difficult. He was armed with a wicked partizan spear, holding it casually over his shoulder, not electing to carry a shield.

    The second was a man decorated as a wolf rather than a boar, armed to the teeth with a vast array of wicked knives and swords.

    The the third was a woman, and apparently meant to be a spider, armed with two small crossbows, a bow and arrow, and knives. There were also odd protrusions on her armor, apparently meant to be wickedly sharp spider legs.

    The fourth and fifth were twins, and were actually rather small. Gidian wasn't sure about their gender, nor their armaments. If they had any, they were well concealed. He wasn't entirely sure what they were meant to be, some sort of rodent. Maybe a ferret.

    The sixth was also a woman, meant to be a raven. The seventh was a man, meant to be a bat. Gidian couldn't distinguish much else about them, their weapons concealed similar to the twins.

    Gidian weighed their odds of survival. Outnumbered as they were, Gidian and the other mainstay fighters would be hard pressed against multiple deadly enemies. He did not anticipate coming out in one piece, but he resolved that he would at least give a good show before he went down.

    He caught movement from the Boar while he was trying to discern what sort of weapons the bat, bird, and the twins. He had pulled out another, huge spear, and thrown it with wicked speed and agility. Surprisingly, the spear covered the still vast distance between them, and Gidian cursed as he grabbed Skadi and jerked her behind him, for she too had been examining the enemy, but more out of some sort of morbid curiosity. The spear made a very audible noise as it cleaved through the air beside him, burying itself in the sand.
     
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  7. CapObvious

    CapObvious Gramos Goat-Shaker

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    Maere watched as the enemy formed before them, her mind grasping at the information their stances and gear meant for their odds of coming out alive.

    And she did not like those odds. Not at all.

    She sighed audibly, before raising her shield and joining Gidian as he called for a shield wall. She prepared her staff in the opposite hand, ready to bring its power down on them should they get too close.

    Her being on the front line sounded like a poor choice, especially for someone of her size and temperament. But there was something going on in her, a sort of transformation that she did not recognize. She was growing bolder, more...She thought back on the things she thought about Nathan and Gidian, and shook her head. ...Aggressive than the scared girl she was a short time ago.

    Whatever it was, it was most likely going to get her killed.

    She reached into her satchel, grasping at a vial inside. The blue liquid swished about as she uncorked it and, with little hesitation, drank the potion within. As the brief magicka recharge began to take place, She dug her feet, before raising the staff, using it as a catalyst to call the only thing she felt to be useful at a time like this. A flesh spell taught to her by Sha'Vira, that was at best a area cast of iron flesh, one that would cover the party as they went against this interesting enemy. The spell took a lot from her, but she hoped the potion would take some of the brunt off her magicka reserves. She was going to need them.

    However as she looked around at the group, which now flashed with the familiar green shine, she didn't feel very confident. She wasn't going to lie, it probably wouldn't help too much, but against these guys, it was the best he could do before they descended upon them.

    She waited for the others to take their places, but was caught off guard as the one dressed as a boar clutched as spear and chucked it toward them. Going by the trajectory of the spear, which was traveling the sizable distance all too quickly, Spero was the intended target.

    Maere wasn't fast enough to react to this new development, but thankfully, for both the girls' sake, Gidian was. He grabbed her and pulled her aside, letting the spear continue unhindered untl it found it's mark in the sand behind them. Maere looked back to the boar, a look of anger taking place of the fear for Spero's life. Her eyes narrowed, and her teeth ground, as her face contorted until she was almost unrecognizable. As this moment took place, something inside Maere snapped. She growled under her breath, before moving back to the spear. She gripped it's hilt and yanked upward, until the spear was plucked from the sand. She smirked softly to herself, before reaffirming her grip on it and moving back for the front of the group. She looked to the boar, before calling out, uncharacteristically for her, at the top of her lungs, while still retaining her anger and conviction. "You aim for her again, and your head will be on the end of that pike, Pig!" She then prepared to launch the spear herself, using all the pent up rage that seemed to build from nowhere.

    The spear was released from her grasp, and it flew through the air toward the boar. However, despite the welling adrenaline that had built up in her, she simply was not strong enough for the spear to go past their group like he had done before. However, the spear was able to land close enough to him for her message to remain threatening. It sunk into the sand before his feet with a thunk, bringing the overwhelming loud crowd down to a dull roar. Obviously, something like this hadn't happened to this group before, that or they were surprised she was able to do what she did with such ease. Either way, the attention was on her now, which would most likely make her prime target. She grimaced as she got a hold of her emotions, realizing what she had done.

    As if being the company healer wasn't going to be enough of a challenge...
     
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  8. fellowknight

    fellowknight Private Lil' Num-Nums

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    Baroth gritted his teeth as the spear divided the shield wall and planted itself in the sand between them, the shaft trembling from impact. Strength of that magnitude would only become more impossible to outmatch up close in combat, let alone evade. There was no telling how the machinery that was connected to the boar amplified his sheer brute strength, but combined with the tenacity and agility of the others, the group would have to divide themselves or face being surrounded and possibly slaughtered.

    Before anyone could move, Maere stepped forward and snatched the spear, standing at the front of the group and shouting a defensive threat, after which she then hurled the spear at the boar. Her seemingly random rage, (which in itself was a disturbing change), wasn't enough as the spear thumped in the sand before the boar's feet. He didn't even seem phased at the act of indignation; maybe amused, but definitely not intimidated.

    Where had that come from? The spear would've impaled Spero, were it not for Gidian's reflexes. Had the two grown that close? That certainly couldn't sit well with Gidian, considering his obligation to the girl. It didn't matter for now. They needed to buck up and prepare for either more ranged combat, or advance and divide into close quarters.

    Baroth leveled his shield with the others, blade rested on the top edge, jutting outwards as he raised his voice to no one in particular.

    "Not exactly a great lounging spot we have here! If we wait until they're on top of us, they'll surround and possibly overwhelm us! We should spread out, use this distance against them!"

    (OOC: Definitely not my best, but i think the point was presented clearly for now. Just a catch-up post! Glad to be back guys and i look forward to wherever this goes!)
     
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  9. Daryl Dixon

    Daryl Dixon Well-Known Member

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    Nathan awoke on a lightly cushioned infirmary bed. "Wow." He muttered. He ached everywhere, but it felt good. He felt his muscles healing and his mind clearing. His anger at Gidian subsided. He did his best to understand the man. He shouldn't be so mad at him. He is a hardened survivor and doesn't know the extent at which Nathan contributed to helping Maere. If Nathan himself had been through what that man has, maybe he would also be gruff and unappreciative. He sat up and gauged the room. He was alone in a small, well lit room. His bed was by a window and a chair aside the bed. Apart from that, the room was empty. He considered leaving, the door was wide open, but he opted to stay.

    "Nathan." A soft, familiar voice said.

    "Violetta. But how, why would they let you in here?"

    "They told me you were injured and I came for you straight away. I was worried about you."


    "Violet, these are bad people, you need to leave. Now." He said, sitting up.

    "It's okay. I'm going to be here for you, I'll watch the fights. Nathan, we're going to get through this. I was in shock when you came to me about Aerin, but I've come to terms now. It'll be okay. We'll be okay."

    "I'm so confused.. Why did-"

    "Hush." His sister said, bringing him into a warm embrace. He doesn't know how long they hugged, but when it was finally over he just stared at her face. It hadn't been that long since he saw her last but just a day in this prison felt like months.

    "I want to go home."


    "I know Nathan, I know." She said, squeezing his hand.

    The two began to talk, to distract themselves from the predicament Nathan was in. They spoke for hours. "One day, when I'm 300, I'll look back on you and you'll still be just a baby. Even if you live to be 80."

    "With the way things are in here I'll be surprised if I live another year."

    The light coming from the window got brighter and glared into his sisters eyes. She seemed unbothered, but now he could see her face clearer than ever. He stared at her features, remembering this moment. He never wanted to forget his sister. He was worried he would in this place. "Now Nate, they're going to make you fight again. I want you to win. I need you to come home to me. We're leaving this city."

    "I'm right here Violetta..I'm alive, I can walk. We can escape."

    Violetta closed her eyes and shook her head. "You need to fight again."

    "I'm not exactly in the best shape. I mean I can run but-"

    "I don't care! Wake up and deal with it. You can complain of your sores and how much it aches when you survive. Right now you need to fight."


    "Even if I do survive the fights, I'm going to be murdered in my sleep.."

    "Get yourself some allies. You know how to win their favour, I know it. Nathan, please, I'm begging you."

    "Only if you promise to get as far away from here as possible. When I'm out, I'll find you."

    "I will."


    It was then that three guards led by Gidian marched into the room. After spearing his sister through the heart, he lunged for Nathan. He woke up in a cold sweat, forcing himself into a sitting position.

    He gauged the area. Many beds lined the room with injured men and women, some of them were dead. He saw two blurry figures taking one of the bodies and carrying them out, and Nathan fell back down onto his pillow-less stained mattress.

    As he began to pass out again, he flung himself over the edge of the bed, hitting the hard wooden floor. He could not afford to fall asleep again. In a hazy mess of pain he got to his knees and clutched his stomach. He had an incision on his abdomen that had just opened. "Why did they cut me open?" He tried to say. A jumbled mess is what came out. The poorly done stitches had come undone, they looked like a rushed job. He stood up, using the bed to support himself and made his way over to what looked like medical supplies. There was numerous saws, bandages and unrecognizable brutal objects. The bandages were soaked in blood, thus rendering them unusable. The air smelt of rotting and burning flesh, Nathan struggled to resist gagging while his nostrils burned. He could really use Maere right now. He made his way to another island counter where he found unused bandages and very used saws. Surveying the room one more time revealed a lot of amputees. They would likely be killed for their uselessness or fed to the animals. He could only assume there was dangerous animals in the arena.

    Upon poorly bandaging around his abdomen area he walked off down the open room looking for an exit. He hit his knee on a bed, awakening an angry patient whom shouted many curses at Nathan, in turn waking more angry patients. The room roared in anger and confusion before simmering down, many beds shaking.

    "That bandage isn't going to hold."
    A rough reptilian voice called. Nathan turned around. An Argonian in white attire approached. "You a nurse?"
    "The only one it would seem. They never send enough of us down here."
    It was eerie, he didn't know what it was about her, but he felt like she wanted to dissect and eat him. Maybe he was just being racist. She sat him down on a blood soaked bed that smelt of urine and copper and she undid his bandages. "This is infected. I'm going to need to stitch this back up. This is horrible, did you do these yourself?"

    "No, I-" As Nathan's head dropped to look at his wound the nurse lunged her claws into his chest and pushed him to the floor, a dagger in her hand she narrowly missed stabbing his head. Nathan's legs were still on the bed, with his back against the floor. He held one hand to her scaly throat and his left hand to her wrist. She flipped him over on top with herself onto the floor, in a move to lunge the dagger into his heart with his collapsing weight but Nathan's grip did not weaken. The nurse had not stopped clawing at Nathan with her nails, he was dripping blood from his chest, throat and back. Nathan slammed her hand onto the floor, grabbed the dagger and was stopped by her hand on his wrist. She choked him with her free hand. He pushed harder and harder until he could no longer breathe. Then he dropped the dagger into her eye, causing her to immediately pull it out. He snatched the dagger and repeatedly stabbed her face until she was no longer twitching.

    With barely a seconds rest heavy footsteps approached from behind. "Who's this one?" A curious Nordic voice bellowed, grabbing Nathan and pulling him to his feet. "You don't look too bad, why'd they send you here?"

    "Because they're stupid." He puffed, all he could think of to say.

    The Nord laughed. "Is this him?" He called back, not releasing his grip from Nathan's shoulder.

    "Too young." Called out another Nord.

    "You know how to fight, boy?"

    "How do you think I'm still alive?"

    The Nord nodded. "She try telling you she's a healer? There are no healers here." The two Nords laughed.

    The second Nord caught up with them. "She cut you good."

    "I cut her better." Quick witted, but felt like a poor response.

    They looked down at the bloody pulp that remained of the assassin. The two exchanged a look before one of them said "You help us find Gavin and we'll take you to our medical bay." When Nathan's eyes brightened, he added "it's still pl*pse." Nathan's eyes dulled once more.

    The Nordic men continued scanning the aisles, turning over bodies and investigating the wounded while looking for their man. Meanwhile, Nathan dealt with the Argonian. He put the body onto the bed and searched for a place to hide it. He heard the sound of ripping and crunching and followed it. A Wood Elf ripped into a meaty meal consisting of the unrecognizable remains of a Breton. Nathan vomited. The bosmer leaped up and clutched Nathan's face, giving him a sour lick on the cheek.

    Nathan pulled the shiv he was given in the mess hall and held it to bosmers throat. "You like people flesh huh?" He asked.
    "They never feed me what I want. Only in the infirmary I get to dine. This is my mess hall, and you are intruding."
    Nathan put the shiv back into his pants. "My apologies." Nathan gave a bow. "Allow me to make amends, I have brought you a meal. Highborn Argonian, swam only in the freshest of waters and raised on honey and cheese."
    The mouth of the unworthy drooled. Nathan still couldn't get the stench of the Bosmer breath out of his face. "Bring it. Now."
    Nathan carried the body over his shoulder and gently placed it on the bed where the remains of what he thinks used to be a Breton were violently pushed off.

    The Bosmer looked at the Argonian face, and back to Nathan. "I have taken the courtesy of mashing the finer juices out of her face, now you can really just dig your fingers in there and taste the essence. I recommend slathering some of that onto the thigh."
    "You are forgiven. Go!"
    The elf ripped the clothes from the body and dug in. "Could you burn these?" Nathan asked. He had to repeat himself. The elf flung a fireball at the clothes, but the impact caught Nathan as well. Before he could put it out, it scorched the bottom half of his torn shirt. Nothing remained of the old clothes but ash, and he put it on a deceased body nearby with cauterized wound.

    When he found the two Nordic men again they were discussing the fate of a deceased Imperial. From what Nathan could gather, he was sent to the wrong place and died here. They were just about to leave.

    "What's your name?" Nathan was caught off guard as the attention suddenly shifted to him.

    "Nathan."

    "Baldor."
    Said the first Nord he met. "Vlad." Said the other.

    "In our last fight we lost one of our advancers to a bloody wood elf. If you know how to swing a sword, I reckon you could replace him."

    "If this means somebody to watch my back in and out of the arena, I'm in."


    "It means two strong Nords, three ugly Orcs and an Argonian to watch your back in and out of the arena."

    "Deal." He said, although the thought of another Argonian sent chills down his beaten body. The two exchanged a handshake. "Now what say we get out of this piss hole." As they walked through the corridors, they approached two guards. One of them escorted the trio to a better stocked infirmary with far less death. It was also smaller.

    "You might want Gorgo to check you out." Baldor led Nathan to the most vicious, blood thirsty Orc Nathan had ever laid eyes on.
    "This boy lost?" The Orc rumbled.
    "He's with us now."
    "Let me take a look at you, boy. Remove your shirt."
    When a 7ft beast with teeth half the size of your head tells you to remove your shirt, you do it. Nathan did his best to remain fearless. "You should have bandaged this." Nathan hadn't realized how soaked with blood his shirt was until watching it's crimson leak on the floor. The walk had made him a little woozy. "I need to rip out these stitches and redo them. Are you ready?"

    The voice deep as the sea asked him a question Nathan could not decipher, so he nodded. As the stitches were ripped from his tender and swelling flesh Nathan roared. He gripped the Orcs shoulder as the rest of the stitches were removed. "Not bad, imperial." As the blood trickled down his body the Orc pulled a look one might recognize as curiosity, but Nathan saw only anger in the Orcs rough features. "There is something in here."
    "What?" Nathan yelped as the Orc dug a gold coin out of his wound. "Curious."
    Nathan passed out.

    He awoke with a fresh shirt on, his wounds cleaned, stitched and bandaged. "Water?" Offered Vlad. Nathan took the cup and sculled the water down. He had not realized how dehydrated he was until now. "I'll get you another." Twenty or so minutes later, having hydrated and rested the group decided it was time to go. Baldor had his own, minor injuries looked at and the rest were fine to leave. Gorgo, Baldor and Vlad left with Nathan to their living quarters unescorted by the guards.

    At the end of their walk, he noticed they had taken more steps up than they had down. The first thing he noticed was the smell. It didn't smell special, but in comparison to the infirmary Nathan almost wanted to cry. His nostrils no longer burned. The temperature was no where near as humid, hot and sticky. This was a relatively comfortable living space. As they made their way here he noticed the further up they went the better the living quarters got, he could only imagine what the top floor was like. He imagined a beautiful estate like condo with a huge hot tub, fountain and plenty of food and wine. They sat down with the others and began to introduce Nathan to the rest of the group.

    There was Baldor and Vladimir, the first ones he had met. Gorgo, the doctor Orc. Ghorbash and Umog, brother and sister twin Orcs. Lastly there was Teinaava, the Argonian. He got to know their talents well, their tastes and their style. He never had to ask, they were quite readable. Oddly enough, despite his charisma, the Argonian seemed most deadly. They started to figure himself for a mediocre swordsman who needed training urgently but most importantly, somebody who could gather crowd influence as they noticed he liked to talk. He didn't believe it though. He warned them of the hatred he managed to stir between him and the overseers and they decided to leave Ghorbash to guard Nathan at all times when outside the arena. Teinaava, their leader, decided they would give the guise of Nathan acquiring a high ranking position when in the company of others to bolster his reputation. In reality, between the group, Nathan was new blood. To the eye of those around them he was highly valued and commemorated on his judgement and skill. They made sure the fire didn't didn't get out of hand but it was definitely lit. After all, they couldn't be seen with untested mettle in their ranks. This new man among them would be named Bloodmime. Nathan had to have died in the infirmary to avoid unwanted vengeance coming their way.

    "Hang on, look at me." Teinaava said. Nathan turned his head as the lizard studied his face. "I recognize you." Nathan swallowed. They had been talking for hours. "You were in a lineup, with Ire."
    "Yes, I wasn't happy."
    A confused look strung across their faces. "You don't know much about Gidian, do you boy?" Vlad asked. "I know more than most." Nathan winged it.

    "Then how don't you know who Ire is?" Baldor chipped in.
    "The alias?" A sly guess on Nathan's part, although they could tell he didn't know anything.
    "Aye. Gidian's alias." Teinaava shifted his position and Nathan leaned closer. "Gidian came to the arena rather young. Nobody took the boy seriously, he wasn't sought after for teams. He was chalked up in a lot of easy fights. That had been a mistake. Didn't look like much, but the boy was merciless. His first fight was a slaughter, he didn't care about the show. He just killed as quickly, efficiently and violently as possible." The Argonians lips curved. At least Nathan thought they were lips. "Dead before they hit the sand."

    Everybody was listening.

    "But by the time they realized their mistake, it was too late. Boy was feared in those so called 'easy' fights he'd been put in. But, most of them had been challenges, so there was no backing out. Once you challenge someone to a fight there's no going back. Guess they should count themselves lucky they died quickly. Overseers weren't happy that he didn't wait for a command, but the crowd acquired a taste for his brand of violence pretty quick. There was something about a boy mercilessly slaughtering others that caught their attention."

    Gidian being here before made so much sense. His lack of fear, the way he understood the inner workings of the Arena. He was a liar. Nathan was embarrassed he hadn't put two and two together sooner.

    "Took awhile to figure out just how good he was. He didn't let too much of his skill show, so it was a guessing game for a while. Constantly trying to find his breaking point, but wanting to milk him for every Septim he could bring in.

    Of course, when they finally did find his limit, it was a bit late. He started losing some, sure. Lots of people here hated him, wanted him dead. Something about a friend being executed that shortens tempers. Trouble was, we could beat him, but he was hard to kill. Glutton for punishment, and a very capable fighter. It was easier said than done to execute him before the crowd saved him. Closest we ever came was setting some minotaurs on him. Put him in the infirmary for months.

    People started calling him 'Ire', because he was so good at attracting it. There's still an uncollected price on his head. Of course, no one knows where he came from or what he did with his winnings, and he was here for years! Hundreds of battles. Then one day, a man in a cloak and a demon mask shows up and whisks him off. Luck of some devil, that one. Few people still alive to remember, but the ones that do... well, we like to keep this a VERY close secret. Wouldn't want too many knowing about that price now would we?"


    Nathan felt a sense of power over Gidian in knowing his past. "If anyone within the group kills him, do I get some of that reward?" He asked.

    "Of course. But be warned, he does have his allies. And from what I saw, he's raked in some new ones. It's either brave or downright stupid for you to be switching sides. He won't like that."


    "I side with winners. Not a has-been."

    There was a chuckle around the room and a thumping on the door. That's when Nathan realized, it was just them. So much privacy. Ghorbash got the door. "The fight is starting." A guard informed them. "Time to see our competition." Teinaava said, everyone got up and followed Ghorbash out. They were led through more twists and turns and corridors and eventually made it out into the grand stands. "Wow.." His stomach lurched for his companions. They haven't had any training together, they couldn't fight as a unit. He still wasn't sure about his situation. Was he really to just leave them? No matter what he did, he was betraying somebody. As the group fought Vlad spoke to Nathan, speaking of techniques and moves. He mentioned a fight between The Sentinels and The Marauders and Nathan immediately knew it was them. They knew Gidian's face and if Gidian was with The Sentinels then so were the rest. Having a sense of peace knowing what name they go by, he enjoyed the rest of the fight.

    After the fight they left the stands and walked through another maze to get back to their quarters. But to his surprise, they were somewhere else when they finally went into a room. Vlad entered the room first. He would be the one training Nathan today.

    "Your training begins now. You're too green. You say the overseers hate you yes, why?"

    "Bit of a mouth on me."

    "If you harness that right you'll be making more friends than enemies. How'd you end up in that infirmary?"

    "I was trying to help someone."

    "That'll get you killed."

    "She was one of my own."

    "Alright, you get a free pass this time but don't stick your neck out for anybody not in our group. You hear me? We are your people, you're one of ours. We protect each other. No one else."

    "I got it."

    "Good. Pick a weapon."

    He walked over to the weapon rack. He fancied the sword and there was many different kinds. They were all blunt steel however. He took a random one.

    "The katana? Interesting. They're a single edged blade. You see that?"

    Nathan noticed. "Keep that in mind. They take a bit of skill to get used to."

    "Alright, let's fight."

    "Bloodmime, if you're to adopt this name you need to have the skill to back it. We are not fighting. We are training. When you fight make your kills messy. That's going to be your signature. Blood. When somebody sees a body you left, let em know it was you. Get real acquainted with messy kills real quick, we're counting on it."

    "Why? I thought I was going to lead."

    "No, you're going to be well respected. We're going to make you look big. We need you to stand out."


    "Is it that important?"


    Vlad being done with conversation began to approach, and it was obvious he was going to bring his sword down for an attack. Nathan lifted and deflected the blow, hopping back to put space between them. "Good, good. Be quick on your feet. Block less, dodge more." Nathan ran in for his own attack, swinging rapidly. He was quickly disarmed, Vlad's blade at his neck.

    "Don't run. Hold your sword in one hand." He said as he returned Nathan's sword.

    A few hours of this and Nathan had begun to form a technique. He had the right body build but his style needed more work. He had been in very few fights with actual people and he'd only killed four times before. All of those were recent. They trained Nathan relentlessly. Teinaava took over his training and formed technique and honed the more delicate skills, the others tested it. Two days of solid training had passed since his old group fought in the arena.

    Vlad was helping train Nathan on his footwork and moving as little as possible while still dodging the blade. The two enjoyed talking while they trained.

    "Blood, you're an impressive learner." Vlad said.

    "If you're going to keep calling me blood, why was I named Bloodmime?"


    "What, can't your friends use nicknames?"

    "I thought friends could use real names. I'm the only one with an alias."


    "You're the only one stupid enough to give the overseers the what for."


    "How'd you end up here anyway?"

    "Ah, I chose it."


    "Really?"

    "Yeah, after my brother died I left the fighters guild. It didn't feel right doing it without him. But fighting's all I'm good at. I met Teinaava and Gorgo and here we are. We formed the rest of the crew within the arena."


    "That explains how you've made it this far."

    "What about yourself?"

    "Uh, I killed the man who arrested my father. I stole a horse too but I don't think they cared much for that."

    "What was he arrested for?"

    "Not anything worth dying for."


    "Was vengeance worth dying for?"


    "Never thought of it that way.."


    "Well now that it's done, you need something to fight for. When you're beaten down laying in the dirt you need a reason to get back up. When things get bad, sometimes it's easier to just die."


    An interesting quote from a man he wouldn't expect to have such thoughts. "I'll keep that in mind."

    Vlad began to increase the speed of his strikes and mix up the technique a little as Nathan was beginning to predict his strikes. A few more hours and he began to learn through trial and error. They retreated to the mess hall with a few more cuts and bruises.

    Nathan poked his head around. "Looking for your old group?" Teinaava asked.

    "Uh, yeah."

    "Forget them."

    "I can't. They think I'm dead. I need them to know I'm alright."

    "No, it's better that way. You'll be glad to know that we're too high above them to be pitted against them for now. We challenge teams now. Ones that if we defeat will raise our position."

    Nathan sat down with his food and began to dig in. It was a decent feed with 3 different kinds of meat, potato and peas. "You like your meat, Blood?" Baldor asked.

    "Yeah, love it." As a hunter he was used to catching his own game. This was the first time since his father died that he'd actually eaten meat killed by somebody else.

    "Good. It'll help you keep your strength up after training. You don't want all those hours to go to waste."

    "Baldor." Teinaava said with a cutting edge in his tone. "The Bloodmime knows. Stop patronizing him lest he think us fools."

    "My mistake, apologies Blood."


    This treatment surprised Nathan at first before he remembered their plan from earlier. Making him look like a valuable asset. Nathan ignored Baldor and dug into his meal. Afterwards they retreated back to their living quarters. Nathan had taken Gavin's old bed, above Vlad. To Nathan's surprise, Vlad was quite the late night talker. "Nathan, I've known these blokes for years. None of them are quite like you. Bloodthirsty and all about the fight. You've got heart."

    "Thanks Vlad. I appreciate that."

    "I'm serious. When I lost my brother I gave up on companionship. Felt like if I bonded with other people, I was betraying him in someway. But in all those years I never thought I'd gain another one."

    "Are you saying.."

    "Yeah."

    "I don't know what to say."

    Nathan was glad Vlad could not see his face on the top bunk. He was extremely confused. They'd only really trained together and hung out for at least 24 hours in two days, which was a lot, but it had to be more. Maybe it was his personality and demeanor. He didn't know, but he was flattered but felt awkward. It was a big thing to say to someone you've known for barely 3 days.

    "Goodnight buddy."


    "Night Vlad."

    The next week was full of non stop training. They were in a big room with many other contestants and fighters, but they weren't interrupted in their own private corner. In the middle of training 5 days after The Sentinel's won their fight Vlad halted the spar match between them.

    "Hold it Blood. The ones we challenged have walked in. They're approaching Teinaava and Umog. Could get vicious."


    The team they were set to fight spoke to Teinaava, the leader of Nathan's new group, with respect. They appeared to be just enjoying conversation. They were respectful of the team and it's leader. "Never mind, they're honourable or something."

    "Vlad, what's our team name? Nobody has spoken it since I arrived and it's been a good week."

    "It's been 5 or so days, Blood. And we're The Steel Snakes."

    "Not bad."

    That day Nathan began to show some real mettle. He defeated Vlad in a well crafted maneuver of almost staying in the same space while dodging the swings very narrowly before completely disarming his opponent and using Vlad's blade against him. He went on to defeat Umog, Ghorbash and Baldor. Nathan was no match for Gorgo. He had seen a much more honed version of this fighting style with Teinaava and the years before the arena they knew each other and years during he was able to counteract his ally. However the potential was there. Teinaava saw it and was so impressed at Nathan's quick learning that he secured an uninterrupted week of private training. Considering how expensive it was it was a huge investment in Nathan. A proportional size of septims that Nathan had no clue about.

    Nathan had gotten to know his way around a little and walked to the training area by himself with some directions. When he walked in what he saw was not what he imagined. It was a dimly lit room with one weapon rack and two chains dangling from the roof. "Good. You arrived on time. Vlad told me the katana was your weapon of choice?"

    "Uh yeah, most days."

    "From now on this will be the only weapon you use. If you'd like to change it, now's the time. Once we begin training you will specialize with the katana or whatever you change to."

    "The katana will do me just fine."

    The two began with movement. Being quick in close quarters. Dodging an attack while remaining within proximity to launch a counter strike. They started relatively early, at 6 AM. And at midday they rested before continuing.

    "Nathan, before we continue I have a very serious request for you. One that will change your life forever."

    It was odd being called Nathan. Nobody ever called him that anymore, except for Vlad in private when they spoke before they slept.

    "What is it?"

    Teinaava was standing an arms length away now. "I was trained in a very secretive, very powerful organization. Have you heard of The Devils Union?"

    "No."


    "I'm going to admit, I'm glad. None of our enemies live and very few not involved with the organization know of it's existence. Most who hear tale of something we've done mistake our deeds to be done by the fools clad in black calling themselves a brotherhood."


    "I take it you and the dark brotherhood are rivals then?"


    "No. If we were rivals they'd be dead. I just don't like them."


    "Very well then."
    Nathan was eager to hear more, but anybody calling themselves The Devils Union can't be good news. Claiming such power above the brotherhood? Insane. They've been around for era's.

    "This organization has provided me the money to procure this location. It's very expensive . There are a lot of people in the arena, all of them needing to train. We're training with real weapons and armour. It's unspoken of. But the Union has it's agents and it's allies, along with the funds to invest. They'd like to invest in you."

    "How have they heard of me?"

    "You fool, I am the Union. Or merely, a very small extension of it. Your ability to quickly adapt new ideas and skills, it's magnificent Nathan. But to be taught in the ways of the Union, your potential could be reached. To be taught any other way is holding you back. I don't want you to survive the arena, I want you to conquer it. You'll find this place is more of a home than any other."

    "I.. Doubt that. Strongly."

    "Your sister, Violetta. She misses you, you know. I could have word sent to her that you're alright. Safe."

    "What, how do you even- I thought there was no contact between those in and out of the arena. Not for the fighters anyway."


    "Kid, we're not the rookies. We're not murderers tossed in here for the slaughter either. We're champions."

    "Could you give her a letter for me?"

    "Of course Nathan. I've a quill and parchment just over there. Go on, this can wait."


    Nathan hurried over. Dipping the quill into the ink he began to write. The letter was long, but when he was done he sealed it in an envelope. He thought it odd this was here and considered it a trap, but he couldn't pass this up. He handed it to Teinaava.

    "I allowed you that time because should you choose to accept to join the Union, Nathan will have to die. You will need to truly become The Bloodmime. This letter," he said holding it up, "is the last remnant of who Nathan was. Your sister deserved that at least after all that's happened to your family."

    "Well, I don't know about all that.I just feel so lucky to be able to contact her."

    Teinaava struck him. "There is no luck. Only skill."

    "Argh, has Sheogorath consumed your mind!? All you had to do was so say so."


    This side was one he had never seen of Teinaava. The kindness. He was eternally grateful for the opportunity, although a little angry at being hit in the face for reasons he wasn't certain of. "The Devils Union is run by he who carries the mantle of Diabolus Rex. He has run the order for all of recorded history. When time for a new leader comes, he must be defeated in combat. The challenger, should they succeed, will be named the new Diabolus Rex."

    Nathan was intrigued by the order. "They don't like politics then huh?"

    "Now is not the time for jokes Nathan. It is important you understand the order."


    "And If I refuse?"

    "You will be let go. But should you mention anything of the Union, you'll be killed before you finish your sentence. Otherwise, this was just an advanced training lesson."

    "I'm ready. I've made my decision."


    "Very well. Nathan, do you accept my proposal. Are you ready to become The Devils Union?"

    "I accept, Teinaava." He didn't see any other way. The decision was all too easy, it was the best way to get out of the arena and back home to his sister. A symbolic death meant nothing to him. If this Union could contact the outside he could break out with their training, this was his motivation. He did it for his own safety.

    "Nathan, I sentence you to death. From here you shall be reborn The Bloodmime."

    Teinaava held his hand up and pressed it against Nathan's head. A spell was cast and Nathan was unconscious and paralyzed. A few minutes later he awoke, arms chained to wooden pylons and shirt removed. He could still stand. Teinaava held up his katana, black hilt with gold engravings. In a swift motion he dropped his arm by his side, raised it and cut Nathan's flesh on his chest. As Nathan yelled in pain the blade was stuck in the middle right of his abdomen and brought up to the left side of his chest. A few more deep cuts were struck on the front of his torso. Nathan screamed in pain at the assault. When it was over, angry and confused he yelled incoherently. "Hush, my apprentice. In time you will understand why this was necessary."

    "No, you're crazy. You're a crazy Argonian and you can keep that crazy sword away from me! Guards, help!"


    Teinaava slowly walked behind Nathan before slicing down his body, starting at his left shoulder and moving all the way down to the bottom right of his back. Nathan bled deep, but before he passed out a spell was cast on him. He didn't know what it was called, but adrenaline filled his body. A few more strikes and Nathan, bleeding all over his body, slowly began to fade away. He wondered how he could be falling asleep, but as the throbbing began to slow, he realized he was dying. First his heart stopped beating, then his consciousness faded away. His last thoughts were of home.

    He awoke some hours later, still chained, with his wounds stitched and the blood wiped from his body. Light blood stains still covered him. "Nathan has been sacrificed to Diabolus. His blood stains your body, his life drained from the scars that'll decorate you. But in this state you are weak. Conflicted. Pieces of him are still within you. We will drain you of them. But your training takes a different direction for now."

    Teinaava unshackled him and he fell to the floor. The golden engraved katana was passed to him and Nathan made a wild swing at his master. "Do not forget your discipline Blood, use your hate as a strength, not a weakness. Focus your emotions and let them align with your skill. Don't go in wild. You'll fall that way."

    Nathan honed his energy and tried to strike Teinaava down. He wanted this man to die. The same pattern was repeated for the next three days. He was tortured, mostly healed, then training continued. They trained on various different things such as movement, defense and attack. All honing in the fighting style of the Union.

    Nathan awoke on the fourth day, dangling by the wrists from the roof still. Teinaava approached. "I know you want to kill me. It burns inside you. I give you a blade, I teach you the skill, but you cannot strike me down. I felt the same with my master. Now, I idolize him for the brilliant fighter he is. Still alive to this day. Blood, are you ready?"

    "I don't give a pl*ps about your life story. When the overseers find out what you've been doing to one of their fighters they're going to gut you like a fish."

    "The Union has more than enough wealth to hide you from them. By the time you're out, our investment would have been worth it. You'll serve them well, in and out of the arena."

    "I'm going to kill you."


    "There is no death. Only freedom."

    Teinaava threw a fireball to Nathan's chest, his right side burning up. The scorch mark was red and blistering. Another one hit the same spot, stripping the skin bare. The meat and muscle was exposed, he was screaming out in pain. Teinaava walked behind Nathan. "The hate burns within you. You hate your enemies. I sensed it. Its why you're here in the first place." He began to scorch the bottom of Nathan's back as he shook and he screamed. Then he began to reopen old wounds with his katana. At the end Nathan was put to sleep, stitched and healed with magic. He was weakened but able to fight. Being held back like a dog. The pattern continued again with a day break from the torture. This day he was fed well and healed more. It was the day of rest. The stitches were removed on the morning before his fight. It had now been weeks since he saw The Sentinels. He had been forced to sleep while strung up by the wrists. They hurt. Teinaava managed to get away with it. His assets were unknown but they were many.

    Nathan had changed. His hate for Teinaava had grown along with his respect. One day he hoped to be free but for now he was bind to his new master. Through all of the warnings he could never have expected this kind of mental and physical torture. For now his goals were simple. Learn. He had a gift for it.

    At 6 AM Teinaava gave him his last meal before the fight and showed him to his armour. It was on an armour stand next to the weapons rack. An addition to the torture chamber. "This shall be your new self. Put it on."
    He did so immediately. It was a thin black armour suited for maximum maneuverability. It was noticeably thicker on the torso, elbows and kneecaps. At least when you're wearing it. Externally it looked almost the same. The rest was an extremely light armour. The hard spots providing a little more protection. "Your skills are your defense, not your armour. Should you be struck, it is through a lack of will. You have been trained to handle it. Should you perish the Union will merely be weeded out of the weak willed and so we will benefit. You won't be missed."

    Bloodmime helmet.jpg
    There was a helmet, very skull like, his eyes hidden behind black meshing.Nathan put it on and faced Teinaava. "Your identity." He handed Nathan his blade. It was sheathed on the back. "It's time to fight, Bloodmime. Follow me."

    "Yes, master." His voice was much deeper and demonic through the helmet. It suited his new self well. Twisted beyond words. It was surprising to hear himself like this. He was controlled, disciplined and did as he was told. He was like a machine. Unless somebody altered his settings there would be no change.

    He followed behind Teinaava like an obedient dog through a maze of twists and corridors. A man spoke ahead with him as they walked. He overheard speak of cleaning arrangements of the room and how he cannot keep a contestant hidden away for that long again, at which Teinaava said he wouldn't need to. The thundering roar of the crowd got louder and louder as they approached. The teams were introduced, Nathan heard the name "Firehawks."

    That was their enemy.

    They would fall before The Steel Snakes. The team caught up to them. "Teinaava, he's in the Union now isn't he?"

    "Yes, and he is better for it."


    "Blood, are you alright?"

    "Yes Vlad." Nathan replied.

    "Okay.." Vlad was clearly uneasy.

    "We'll show them death." Baldor commented.

    "There is no death. Only freedom."
    Nathan said, correcting his peer.

    "Whatever you say kid."

    Where he usually would've been getting nauseous, The Bloodmime did not. The gates opened and the teams met in the middle. Sound and image was amplified with magic, although he paid no mind to it. The Firehawks had a colour scheme on their steel armour of red and black. There was 9 of them. 6 men and 3 women. Most of them were heavily armoured, with varying weapons. A few them were more lightly armoured and equip with a bow and duel blades.

    The enemy bowed before them as sign of respect. One he had not seen with the last fight he witnessed. They returned the gesture.

    Ghorbash wielded a great sword, Umog an executioners axe. Both orcish in style. Baldor used a steel sword while Vlad used the traditional sword and shield fighting style. Gorgo was equip with an axe and bow and Teinaava the same as Nathan, katana. The fight began when Teinaava tapped his blade on the ground.

    Umog, Ghorbash, Baldor, Vlad and Teinaava charged in, taking the enemy head on. Gorgo used a bow to line up his shots and attack the enemy from afar. Nathan stood there for a moment. The clang of steel on steel ringed throughout the arena, the thumping of the shields and the roar of the crowd being taken in. Then he looked up and saw it all. Two enemies were approaching him. Nathan unsheathed his weapon and awaited an attack. One came at him from the front while the other flanked from the side and struck at him. Nathan swayed to the left, right and then repeated avoiding the strikes. The helmeted enemy growled before swinging side ways, to cut off any possible dodge. Nathan ducked under it and moved behind his foe, making precision cuts at the leather straps that bind the armour. He missed, and merely scratched it. He looked a fool, and so the fire that was Nathan had to show the crowd he could strike and strike hard. After dodging numerous strikes between the two enemies he swung his katana into the side of the Firehawk, leaving a large dent. The crowd roared, someone had fallen. Nathan couldn't afford to look to see who it was or where it happened. He cut the two small leather straps at the top of the armour, unbinding it and having it fall down almost like a dress. Not only was he exposed, his movement was hindered. He rolled under and cut the ones at the back as well. While his foe tried to cut the bottom straps to completely remove the armour so he could move again Nathan focused on the other opponent. A lesser armoured target with no helmet, he parried his strikes and dodged others, using his training with Teinaava to his advantage. Just two weeks ago he would have died here. Now he was able to use his agility to do precision dodges. He wasn't very talented with the blade and so Teinaava focused on Nathan's movement and speed. He was good enough to outlast the Firehawks, though.

    Nathan allowed the enemy to strike at him, parrying his strikes he awaited the perfect moment to counter attack. As the enemy made a downward strike Nathan dodged left and swung up, dismembering and disarming the opponent. Then Nathan began to toy with his prey. He spun aside the foe twice, cutting off his ears. He sensed the enemy he was fighting before approach, he impaled him in the gut by unexpectedly stabbing backward. Then Nathan struck forward at the disarmed foe, cutting through his cheeks and smashing his teeth yet not reaching far enough to completely kill him. Then he sheathed his weapon, turned around and swung his body under an incoming strike. He grabbed at the Firehawks weapon hand, twisting the arm behind his back, forcing him to let go. Then he stabbed him through the leg with his own blade and kicked the helmet off his head.

    His other foe was lying in the dirt in complete agony, holding the wound on his mouth with half his face cut open. Nathan let him bleed and turned back to the other Firehawk. He walked around him and held a hand on his shoulder to keep him from falling. He accepted his fate as he kneeled there wounded, oozing blood from his stomach and leg. He had been defeated with his own weapon and now it would be his tombstone. Nathan plunged the sword down his neck scraping against the collar bone and shook it back and forth ensuring an extremely large amount of pain and blood. The man screamed in agony before dying rather quickly. But Nathan wasn't done. He plunged the sword deeper until it came out the other end and dug in to the dirt. It held his body upright, a fountain of blood oozing out over his body and onto the ground. Then he walked over to the mess of a man that still lie there on the ground. He picked up the blade from his dismembered hand, lifted the man up onto his knees and poked the blade deep into his abdomen. He cut right across the gut and his insides began to fall out. He desperately held at the blood, dying in intense pain. Nathan moved his hands and reached inside, pulling out the large intestine, moving behind his foe and strangling him with him it. He tied it as best he could around his neck after he died. He only just now began to hear the applause and the cheer. Standing up Nathan gauged the arena. A Firehawk lie in the sand aside Gorgo. Vlad and Baldor were having trouble fighting off a resilient foe. Nathan looked no further before sprinting toward them. He took complete advantage of the situation and drew his katana and impaled the woman in the shoulder. He thrust the blade all the way through and shook it violently, causing her to bleed heavily and scream in pain. She went to strike at him with her free hand, but Vlad cut it off and her war axe fell to the floor. Then Nathan violently jerked the blade out of her shoulder, spun around and completely decapitated her. Sheathing his weapon he and Vlad locked hands in a mighty grip before continuing on in the fight.

    All but one had been defeated. "We will finish this with a duel." Teinaava hissed. "I will free her, my master." Nathan said with a ghastly voice. The Steel Snakes formed on both sides of Nathan and the sole surviving woman of the Firehawks. She had clearly got the upper hand of Ghorbash, somehow. She was bleeding already but he was dead. Umog shouted for Nathan to give him vengeance.

    "Very honourable to not all charge me at once." She quipped.

    "There is no honour on the battlefield."

    "Very well. Pray to your gods while you can."

    "Your team lie dead and bleeding in the dirt. Even if you make it out of this fight, you have nothing. It is you who should pray."


    Then the commentator spoke up, his amplified voice filling the arena. "Finishing off with a duel, how exciting!"

    The woman rushed him. He drew his blade and parried her strike. His advantage was he hardly allowed a blade to strike his and so there was hardly any blocking to be done. He didn't minimize damage, he avoided it. She was beaten down and worn out. Nathan too was tired, but not injured. He was getting sloppy though, he parried multiple strikes each consecutive strike cutting closer and closer to killing him. Eventually he managed to get a good cut at her leg and while she was trying to regain her form he cut her head clean in half. Her body slumped to the floor, with her jaw the only part of her skull still attached to the body.

    "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, WE HAVE A WINNER. THE STEEL SNAKES!"

    The team reformed themselves and soaked in the glory of the crowd. Umog was the only one who broke formation to grieve for her fallen brother. Nathan searched the stands looking for The Sentinels. If they were here, he couldn't spot them in the crowd. The team made their back through the way they came in as a unit. Everyone was directed and led back to the armory via guard where they were to remove their armour. And relinquish their weapons. Nathan began to remove his thin black armour before being stopped. "That won't be necessary. That's too thin to be counted as anything other than underclothes for armour. Removing it won't be required." Nathan removed his helmet and continued on.

    When everyone was done they had their victory feast. No one had spoken a word to each other until Teinaava stood at the head of the table with a bottle of rum. "We lost a brother today. I understand why you're grieving, but we must celebrate his life and the fact that he died doing what he loved and he died a glorious death! So brothers, dear sister, let us drink his favorite rum in his honour! Feast as he would. Angues dine nocte!"

    "Angues dine nocte!" They all said in unison. Everybody got up and filled their plates and their mugs. Nathan drank in small quantities while everybody else got wasted. They mourned Ghorbash and he did not. As the night moved on in due time they were all drunk. Nathan ate alone until Vlad sat aside him "Nathan! How're you feeling?"
    "Vladimir, you forget?"
    "Oh, right, Bloodmime! How're you feeling?" He slurred his words.
    "Well. It's a shame about our comrade."
    "You're telling me! He died saving that bitch for last."
    "What do you mean?"
    "We needed you to get the most kills, me and Baldor held off our opponent just fine but gods, he got flattened holding her off for too long. Way too long! Wanted to help him, we did, but Teinaava's orders."
    "I see."
    Umog joined them, sitting aside Vlad. "You were slow." She said, being much more reserved.
    "I was slow? I killed the most of them."
    She growled, clearly holding back the information Vlad had just spilled. "Her death was too quick."
    "Agreed. I was losing the battle, I had to take advantage of the situation. My sympathies Umog, I grieve with you this day."
    Her face softened a little, and she raised her cup. At the end of the night, as they walked back together, he spoke with Teinaava. "I can't help but feel our enemies were much less skilled than those our inferiors faced. We slaughtered them."
    "Blood, you didn't see the whole fight. Good work on dispatching the first two you faced, that was excellent work. However the rest of us worked as a unit to defeat the rest. You were suppose to join our formation, only Gorgo was to hang back. We discussed this during your training. What happened?"
    "It was my first fight, master, a simple mistake."
    "Your simple mistake cost Ghorbash his life. Do not fail me again, we've been challenged by The Wright Clan. Their skills are diverse and their victories unmatched by anyone we've faced before. You'll require more training."
    "I'll do whatever you ask."
    "I recovered your helmet. It doesn't have any sharp edges protruding, they'll allow you to keep it on your person."
    "Thank you. Tell me, does the Union work for the daedra?"
    "No, but we had connections to a few. Lately they've been... Distant."
    "I see."
    "You're an extremely quick learner, Blood. Almost eerily so. It's a talent I've not seen since..." It's clear his mind began to drift.
    "Teinaava." Umog walked aside them. The two spoke for the rest of the walk.

    As they got back to quarters they each went to their beds. Vlad crashed out straight away instead of talking like he used to. Their quarters were silent. Nathan thought of how he'd leave, he would just get up and walk out. But he had to be sure no one was awake. At around 3 AM Vlad woke up. "Nate? Nathan... You awake?"
    "Yes."
    "What happened... I thought you'd died."
    "I was tortured."
    There was silence. "By Teinaava?"
    "Yes."
    "By the nine.."
    It was unusual to hear people still use the phrase, but being a traditional Nord Vlad still counted Talos among the gods.
    "How'd you learn so fast? And- and how'd you fight? I knew that damn offer was bullpl*ps!"
    "He was very motivating. He healed my injuries and reopened them multiple times. He's a very powerful sorcerer."
    Vlad had mostly sobered up but was still groggy with his words. "He could have saved Ghorbash... And he didn't.."
    "I'm glad you believe me." Nathan silently climbed down from the top bunk. "I need to leave."
    Vlad immediately sat up. "No, Nathan, you cant."
    "If I don't, I'll stab him in the back next time we fight. Help me, please. I need to go, now. You need to trust me."
    "Nathan, its unheard of. You can't just-"
    "Vlad I NEED THIS!"
    "Alright, alright. Keep your voice down. Where will you go?"
    "My old team."
    "It's been a fortnight.. Who says they'll just take you back with open arms?"
    "Whatever they do can't be worse than Teinaava. I'd leave too if I were you. They'll take you in, I know it."
    "No. Don't think I support this. Goodbye Nathan."
    "I can't say it's been fun."
    "Gods guide you brother."
    Vlad stood up and gave him a hug. Nathan quietly exited the room, helmet on and looking for his old rooms. When he came across the first guard they were surprised to see him but didn't question him for downgrading himself. He gave the guard a small bribe to locate The Sentinels from the money Teinaava had payed him for the fight. He slowly opened the door to their quarters. Everyone was asleep. He silently crept into his old bed, removed his clothes so he was only wearing black pants and hid his helmet in the blankets. He didn't sleep that night and instead sat there awake awaiting the rest to get up. He felt anxious as to whether they'd welcome him with open arms or greet him with suspicious minds.

    He had escaped The Devils Union for now but if Teinaava had a letter delivered to his sister they could kill her too. Of course he could've been lying, but it was doubtful. He was very resourceful as evident by their 'training'. He would need to find leverage on Teinaava and fast lest he retaliate harshly. As the day began he heard the ruffling of someone finally awaking.
     
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  10. The Honorable Gidian Diva of Sass

    The Honorable Gidian Diva of Sass Sahrot Vahlok Spaan. Bahnahgaar. Minion #88!
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    Gidian took a moment to swing a bewildered look in Baroth's direction, about to point out that splitting up was a terrible idea, but noticed that Belzebub was already moving in his peripheral, and Skadi and Maere already looked uncomfortable and confused. Cursing under his breath, he decided it was best to do it wrong together rather than shout out conflicting orders and confuse everyone.


    Of course, he thought a little too slowly as he turned back to their enemies, only having one word to describe the situation as the Boar and Spider came charging directly at him. "Shi*."


    "Dolun! I'll knock down the big one-" Gidian stopped abruptly as he saw Dolun heading off to support Baroth and Belzebub. He did not bother with his usual string of curses, instead caught in momentary surprise. He gathered himself quickly though, and faced down the approaching monsters, prepared to do whatever it took. Skadi and Maere had stayed by him, though Skadi was definitely not coping well with the arena. The noise was getting to her, as she covered her ears and watched Dolun run off, unsure of whether she should retreat as well or not. She'd froze.


    Gidian couldn't physically move Skadi without leaving himself vulnerable, and he did not trust Maere to properly read the situation and act in sync with him without outlining a strategy verbally.


    And so, he drew a line in the sand with his steel plated boot, and then took a ready stance, balanced on the balls of his feet, and beat his shield with his mace several times, hoping the noise would also serve the dual purpose of snapping Skadi into action. Staring down the Boar as it rapidly devoured the distance between them, the Spider hanging back for support, he was reminded of another time when he’d been staring down an unstoppable force. The hair on the back of his neck raised as a shiver went down his spine. He shook himself out of the feeling quickly though, reminding himself that this was a charging man in armor, and no charging man could be worse than a charging minotaur. Gidian advanced steadily, step by deliberate step, gaining speed until he was at a full sprint charge.


    Movement in Gidian’s peripheral vision caught his attention and caused him to abruptly turn to look as Dolun was assaulted by the Wolf, and Gidian's eyes widened into what could have been worry, an amateur mistake. Ducking his giant helmeted head, the Boar charged with reckless abandon... only for Gidian's wide eyes to narrow as he threw his mace at the Boar's legs, tripping up the Boar, though his momentum carried him forward as he managed to just barely keep his feet. Gidian instantly lunged into action, holding his shield in front of him with both hands, meeting the Boar's unsteady charge head on. There was a terrifically loud clang of metal on metal and wood as the Boar’s tusks bit into the wood of shield and narrowly missed his arms.


    The two titans seemed locked in place for a moment, but only for a moment. Gidian shouted in pain, the damage to his back forcing him to give ground as the Boar forced him backwards. Instead of allowing the Boar to completely recover and gain the advantage, he allowed himself to fall backwards with the Boar's momentum, and jerked the Boar by its tusks violently and forced it to fall on its back. The tusks ripping free from the shield nearly caused him to lose his balance as he tried to keep hold of it, but he wasted no time in regaining his balance and diving on top of the downed Boar. There was no way the Boar could regain his feet quickly or easily with all of his armor, and the Spider was still trying to catch up now that she was in no danger of getting in the Boar’s way.


    So Gidian took the opportunity to ram the metal rim of the shield against the Boar's neck repeatedly as the he tried to throw Gidian off, another memory surfacing. This time it was of Gidian pinning down another man, in a similar place, and crushing his neck flat. He winced from the memory, but did not relent despite the fact that he wasn’t sure if it was the armor saving him or the man simply had a strong neck. He put enormous force behind his shield, but the Boar seemed to be recovering quickly from an assault which should have done far more damage. He gave up then, and turned abruptly, just in time for the spider to catapult into his raised shield with a flying kick, making use of each of her mechanical legs. The attack put dents in his shield, and sent him rolling across the sand.


    Knowing the spider would be hot on his heels, Gidian rolled faster with the momentum from the kick, trying to get to his feet before the Spider caught him. He attempted to sling dirt into the Spider's eyes as he finally found his feet, but was too dizzy to be accurate and missed. Can you even still see straight after all that rolling in the dirt? Ha! another memory mocked him, the voice reinvigorating him with the sheer amount of anger it evoked. Of course, now he was out of tricks, more than a little off his balance, and not able to take the time to draw his sword as the Spider pressed him. He defended himself as best he could with his shield, attacking wildly with it through his dizzy stupor.

    That didn't get him very far. If he hadn't been wearing heavy steel plate, he would be dead already. No human could possibly dodge and block the sheer amount of attacks the Spider was dishing out with its swords and mechanical legs, especially not dizzy. Gidian acquitted himself well though, parrying, dodging, and trying to force his way under the reach of the flurry of limbs like a mad man (albeit a dizzy one). But it was for naught, as for every one he evaded or blocked a dozen more attacks connected elsewhere. So he had to choose what he guarded carefully, and attempted to twist his body to have several attacks glance off as he finally saw his opportunity. He brought in his shield to nail the Spider right in the face. The movement was too much, however, and sent pain flaring all up and down his back as he twisted his body. The shield bash quickly became a desperate block to protect his neck and head. The spider had expected these natural instincts, and instead swept his legs out from under him.

    As he looked up at the Spider’s mask, he couldn’t help but remember another masked foe that had put him on the ground more times than he cared to count. What? You like the view down there? So stop hiding behind that shield, and start fighting!

    The split second the Spider took to give the crowd a victorious celebration was just enough for Gidian to risk not guarding and instead blindly ram his shield at her knees. Unfortunately, the Spider wasn't quite that stupid, and jumped backwards out of reach even as she brought several of her spare mechanical limbs down in deadly arcs. Gidian was no slouch either, and was already rolling out of harm's way and to his feet, equilibrium now sufficiently restored to fight properly and draw his weapon in the same motion. Naturally his luck took a turn for the worse after that, as a monster sized spear came hurtling towards him. And so, left with no time to dodge, Gidian angled his shield and his armor to the side and braced himself for impact…

    Then, he was suddenly no longer in the arena, but gripped in memories he hadn't bothered entertaining for a long time. First he was back in the palace, a crossbow leveled at his chest. This memory was relatively recent, assassins making another attempt at killing Skadi and her older sister. He'd killed two of them, but this third one had surprised him. He barely had time to react, before Skadi’s sister had brutalized the assassin with a kitchen knife. Of course, that hadn't stopped the assassin from taking his shot, and Gidian was jolted into a new scene as it connected with his shoulder. That had been the event that forced him to listen to what the girl had to say, as the last assassin had been wearing a familiar mask.

    This time he faced down several forsworn tribals, more than one improvised projectile hungering for his flesh as he attempted to guard a small caravan. This memory was several years old, before he'd made his way to the arena. Crime had been on the rise, bandits and other raiders everywhere and a caravan raid almost a guaranteed event. With the extreme risk and extreme mortality rate, trade had become tense, prices rose sharply, and so had the pay for guards. After all, most of them wouldn't live to receive payment anyways. This particular mission had been one of his first and as such he was still practically a boy. He'd acquitted himself well considering his age, but it had become evident the caravan would be taken as a thrown spear took him off his horse. It was then a sympathetic thief that had been caught in the middle, seeing an opportunity, had convinced Gidian to help make an escape. Throwing open the door to the underground he had been so slow to embrace.


    Back in reality now, the spear completely split his already badly damaged shield in half, shearing off the top as it sent splinters in every direction. Then it glanced off of Gidian's thick plate armor, albeit with more ungodly loud noise as it knocked the breath out of him and nearly knocked him off his feet.


    The Boar was charging close behind his spear, leaving Gidian no time to catch his breath as he retched for air. In a desperate attempt to buy time, he tossed the remains of his shield at the Boar, seeking to entangle his feet as he had with the mace. The Boar wouldn't fall for the same trick twice though. He smacked the shield out of the way and kept coming. Steeling himself, Gidian prepared to dodge, as taking the charge head on would be suicide.


    As the Boar closed in, Gidian moved to launch himself to the side, but was surprised as something sticky wrapped itself around his sword arm, like a net, and pulled him fast back into place and off balance. Gritting his teeth for the inevitable, throwing a hateful look at the advancing monstrosity, which was beginning to look more and more like minotaur. Every step the Boar took seemed to be in slow motion to Gidian, a steady boom, boom, boom… the footfalls a drumbeat as the crowd's indecipherable roar turned into a chant of “STURND! STURND! STURND!” Then a thunderous crash echoed across the arena, drowning out Gidian's cry of pain and even the ravenous crowd as he was thrown backwards like a rag doll, digging a trench in the sand as he came crashing back to the ground and rolled to an eventual stop, back at the line where he'd started.

    They weren't done with him yet though. The Spider's web was still attached to his arm, and she used it to brutal effect. With help from the Boar, the two jerked their end of the web towards them, lifting Gidian into the air and sending him flying in their direction. The whole world spun as Gidian desperately retched for air, completely blind through his pain as he couldn't even force out a scream. The Boar picked up the spider, and with a monstrous throw, sent her through the air to meet Gidian, whom she kicked directly in the chest and sent crashing back to the sand. Blood spewed from his mouth, and he vomited up the contents of his stomach into his helmet as his whole world spun, burning his eyes. Spots danced in his vision, the world taking on a blurry red tinge as he struggled for consciousness. He managed to roll over on his back, so the pressure on his ribs wasn't so intense. He could do nothing for the moment but watch as the Boar and the Spider embraced, then the Boar taking slow, deliberate steps to finish Gidian off. There would be no retreat, no reprieve, and his current state he was only dimly aware of the rest of the world, and expected no help. He wasn't in the fight anymore, everything around him slowing to a crawl, as another memory forced itself into the forefront of his consciousness.

    He could hear slow footsteps, though they weren't the heavy tromp of the Boar. They were the sound of a man's muffled boots casually strolling through sand, deliberately making noise. Then, there came a slow, sarcastic clap, and a sardonic chuckle. You look like plops.

    I feel like plops

    Smell like it too.

    I've been busy.

    Getting your ass kicked, I know.

    Let's see you do better!

    Oh I could. But this isn't about me, it's about you my dear bloodthirsty killer.

    Still sentimental I see.

    Well at least I've stayed true to myself. You, on the other hand, have been living in a fairy tale for far too long in that palace. Do I need to wake you up again?


    Gidian let out a menacing growl as the familiar voice got closer to his face, the man kneeling over him now, that Demonic mask covering his face. The voice hadn't changed a bit, and he was surprised how well he remembered it. Smooth, jovial, sarcastic. Alarmingly normal, despite the mask, and even disarming. He hated the voice, just as he hated the mask, and just as he hated the face that stared down at him as that mask was removed.

    The face under the mask was shockingly mundane. Dark eyes, long dark hair, full and thick beard, the man in every way was a gritty, seasoned survivor. He wore a sarcastic, sideways grin that he never seemed to drop, and as such the face was cheerful one, shaped by a life of smiling. There were few wrinkles, and no bags under the eyes, as the man was impossible to fluster or stress. He always got his sleep in, even tailed by all manner of man and beast.

    Ha! Good. There's hope for you yet. The man said, chuckling at the downright evil glare Gidian was giving him. But I see you need to WAKE UP!

    Gidian roared in pain as he was punched in the chest, the dark eyed man putting a hand over Gidian's mouth to stifle the roar. His eyes burned with more hatred as he retched some more.

    Don't you remember dear old dad? You look like him now that you're all grown up!

    This time there was a kick.

    Oh, I'm sorry. I forgot he's dead!

    This time a backhanded slap across his face.

    Your mother too, now that I think about it. Both in battle. Such noble individuals! True nords both!

    Another slap.

    Oh let's see, who am I forgetting? Oh yes! Your dear brother. But you should remember that one, you killed him yourself!

    Now the man was shaking Gidian violently, his eyes glinting with enjoyment from every second of torture.

    Didn't you have two brothers though? Oh I see. Couldn't stand the sight of you, so he got away early and never came back!

    The man let Gidian fall back to the ground now, and got to his feet, pacing back and forth beside Gidian as he was paralyzed by pain.

    Too bad you're sister-

    “AAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!” Gidian both yelled in pain and roared in fury. The man brought a hand down to cover Gidian's mouth, holding him down to keep him from flailing as well as to stop him from making noise.

    Shhhh. It's rude to interrupt. It's too bad your sister didn't go with him. She would've been happier. Never would have-

    That one brought Gidian roaring to life, literally. He broke free of the dark eyed man's grip, seizing the old man by the throat and tossing him away like a rag doll.

    “AAAAARRRRRHHHHHHHHHHK!” He roared again, blindly swinging himself to his feet as he slowly came back to reality.

    You remember now... the dark eyes man was now right in his ear, mask back on. You remember that this is why you're still alive. That no matter the mask you wear, you love this feeling. And more importantly, killing.

    Then he was completely back in the world of the living, eyes filled with pure hatred, but gleaming with pleasure at the same time from the promise of violence. Adrenaline now flowed through every inch of his body, his wounds still very present, but forgotten as he tunnel visioned on the Boar and the Spider.

    They looked shaken, as the Spider still absently held on to the web attached to Gidian's arm. He'd lost his sword somewhere, but he didn't care.

    This is where the real fight started.
     
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  11. CapObvious

    CapObvious Gramos Goat-Shaker

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    Maere watched in horror as the crowd went wild for the rough treatment that fell upon Gidian, who now lay broken on the floor, unmoving. Maere and Spero looked to each other, before they both rushed to the fallen Gidian, Maere digging in her bag of vials for something. Anything.

    She tried her best to assess the situation, but the pressure of the crowds rallying cries as well as the looming threat of the Boar and Spider readying themselves for another round with their newest toy, was taking it's toll on Maere's nerves.

    She pulled off his helmet, and the rest of his stomach content's spilled out onto the floor. Maere stifled a gag, before letting the helmet roll to the side and moving him to lay flat on his back. He began mumbling unintelligibly. Which was good. At least he wasn't dead yet.

    She checked his arm, still attached to the web, and looked for someway to remove it. She felt her breathing pick up as she scrambled about, looking for a knife, anything that she could cut this confusing contraption off. She pulled the one from her bag and began cutting at it hurriedly.

    But the more she looked at it, and the more she sliced at it, the more foolish it seemed to try and remove it. Time was short, by the time she got it off, all three of them would have been crushed by the boar. She needed more time.

    She reached for the vial, and looked to Spero, who was still in shock. Maere called for her. "Spero!" No reaction. She called again, this time shaking her a bit. She turned her gaze to Maere, but was still torn. She could see it in the girl's eyes. She gritted her teeth, and spoke up. "This is going to get him back up, but I'm going to need your help." Spero didn't respond, but Maere didn't need her to. She just needed to do as she said. "I need you to help me get him to drink it." She handed it to her, while Spero looked back to her, confused, probably as to why Maere wasn't getting him to drink it herself. Maere understood, and she nodded toward the pair who had done this. "I need to give you time to give him the potion, and he needs the time to recover. I'm going to try and get their attention, give you both whatever time you need." She started to stand, but Spero's hand grasped her wrist. She looked to Spero, who looked pained. "Don't." She said plainly. The emotion behind it was, however, anything but simple. However, Maere needed her to focus. She took Spero's hand off and looked her in the eyes. "Please. We don't have time to argue about this." You know as one-sided the argument would be. "Gidian needs your help, and now..." She pulled the shield off her back, and tightening her grip around her staff. "So do I." She looked to the boar and spider, before growling under her breath, stepping for them with uncharacteristic determination.

    The pair looked uninterested at first, watching the leather-clad healer step toward them, stave and shield in hand. Maere hoped to take advantage of their complacency, at least long enough for Spero to get to work and Gidian to get back up. She stood tall, calling out again. "So." The pair of them looked to her. "Which should I be more impressed by?" She raised a hand to the Boar. "That you can't run as stampede on your own?" She then pointed to the spider. "Or that you need fancy toys to win a fight?" Her grips on her tools tightened as the pair started to notice her. The Boar growled menacingly, but the Spider patted on him gently, hushing him. "Quiet dear. I can handle this little...pest." She looked back to Maere, stepping forward with a trained showmanship; the sway of her hips getting more than one or two whistles from the men in the crowd.

    Ah, so she enjoyed giving a show, did she? Maere needed to use that to her advantage somehow...

    Maere stepped forward a bit as well, showing she wasn't going to be intimidated.

    The spider stopped before her, resting a hand on her hip, the other readying to strike. She smirked softly, eyeing Maere up and down slowly. “Look at the little girl, trying to look tough in her little armor.” She laughed mockingly, before looking her in the eyes again. “I can’t imagine you’re any tougher than that mess of a man your little friend is still cleaning up.” She gestured toward Spero, but they still had their attention on her. Good.


    Then again...She wouldn’t say either of them focusing on her was good.


    “So inexperienced. So weak. You lot wouldn’t last in here, even if it weren’t us across from you today.”


    Maere growled low, slamming the bottom of her staff on the ground, causing it to spark with lightning. An image of the imperial man flashed before her mind's eye, and she spit to the side. Why was she thinking of him at a time like this? Unwilling to let it distract her, she focused on her enemies.


    The two looked unimpressed, but the crowd was watching intently. They obviously hadn’t been defied so openly before. That or they were waiting for the boar to smash her to paste.


    She clung to hope it was the former.


    She slammed it again, then thrust the staff in their direction, casting a lightning bolt between the pair. The spider ducked away, while the Boar looked on unfazed, but their eyes stayed on Maere, who was fuming. “I have been a warrior long before you were even born, you sniveling swine!” Another bolt of lightning flashed forth from her staff, and the spider tucked and rolled again, looking shocked that Maere had changed so abruptly. The crowd was crying out, either in support of Maere’s outburst or calling for the spider to put her down. Maere ignored them, and continued. “I have more experience in a strand of hair than you’ve had in a lifetime!” Another bolt flew from her staff, which the spider dodged again. But she didn’t care. She wasn’t honestly trying to hit her. She just needed more time, hoping that one of the others would be able to fend their opponents off long enough to help Spero, or her against the two she was currently occupying.


    However, as the spider dodged this one, she launched another of her web...things...and it was headed straight for Maere. Maere cried out angrily, taking her shield and chucking it toward the web.


    The shield spun as it entered the net, knocking them both to the ground. The crowd roared at the defiance, and the Spider was furious. The woman took off her helmet, her brow furrowed deeply, a low growl emanating from her. The woman’s long dark hair fell out from beneath and Maere studied the woman. She was quite beautiful, well, as beautiful as a savage could be.


    Maere, capitalizing on the show, used a telekinesis spell to draw the shield back to her, and raised it before her. She smirked coyly at the spider, calling out again. “What, not used to fighting without your toys?” The crowd got deafeningly loud again, this time in clear support for her. moving toward Maere, but the spider placed a hand on his chest, holding him back. “She’s mine!” She begged Spero to hurry under her breath.


    Spero looked on horrified at Maere’s distraction, nearly forgetting that she had a job to do, afraid that Maere would get torn to ribbons before Gidian got back up. She finally found her resolve to raise Gidian, and began trying to get him to drink the contents of the vial. However, as she attmepted to get him to open his mouth, he seemed to button it closed, clenching his jaw tight. Spero began to become frustrated, enough so that she started to shake him, and even hit on him, trying her best to get him to drink the damn thing.


    Finally, as he was mumbling something under his breath, she seized the moment and stuck the vial in his mouth, pouring it down his throat quickly.


    The effects were near immediate, as Gidian’s body began to move more erratically, as if he were fighting something off in his sleep. Spero hit him again, and this time he got up swinging, flailing blindly as he got to his feet, still tethered by the net that the spider had lauched at him...the same net that the Spider was still unwittingly holding on to as Gidian came to. Spero stepped back from Gidian as he got up, slightly surprised by the adrenaline rush he was currently experiencing.


    Maere’s attention turned to Gidian, and with a smile she called for him. But before she could get the words out, a solid force hit Maere from the side like a rock, sending her to the ground with a thud. She winced, groggily trying to get her bearings as she sat up slowly. As she did so, she winced, feeling a sharp pain and a bit of wetness on her side. She raised her hand after feeling on it for a moment, and saw the crimson blood she was expecting.


    From a far place, she could have sworn she had heard the spider scream again. “Damn it, I said she was mine!” Maere growled painfully, taking a hand to it again, as the white light of the healing hand spell began weaving her flesh back together slowly. Maere looked up slowly, still dazed from the blow, looking to see Gidian’s focus turning to the pair she had been tangoing with prior, and hoped she would be able to get back up in time.


    She sure as hell wasn’t going to go down now.
     
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  12. Blackdoom59

    Blackdoom59 BATMAN!

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    As the overseer made his entrance and desperately try to hype everyone up for the following fights, Garret tried to listen to him, while keeping close to his group, but the man's words were meaningless. Eventually he ordered the inmates to go outside. Garret staggered a bit behind as his group marched to an enormous room. It was there where he got lost.

    Haphazardly, people were moving to different corridors and rooms, both alone and clustered together in groups. Due to his wounds, Garret couldn't muscle his way through them as easily. He was lost, strayed from the only people he knew, and it didn't look like they could go back for him even if they wanted to. A very unpleasant situation to be in, Garret had little to do but hang around in a quiet corner, inspecting all the other inmates and waiting for something to happen, perhaps a guard might relocate him to another group.

    Waiting in that mess was a harder task than he'd initially believe. The drunks, the sick and the deprived were grabbing at anything, from the ankles to the shoulders to the groins of their fellow inmates. Garret did his best to remain unnoticed, but only for so long.
    "You...hooded rat" a chubby man that could barely stand straight, with a shaven head, pointed at Garret before spitting at his feet. A bunch of similar looking drunks, all dressed in rags followed him.
    "fl*ff you doin'..*hic* out of yer pl***hole?"
    Garret didn't do more than frown, but, as his face was covered, the guy could only notice the silence.
    "This bloke dead?" another one asked. Garret was laying against the wall with his arms closed and his head tilted down. "We ought to..wake him up" they all started laughing and approached. Garret raised his head and grinned his teeth, uncrossing his arms and preparing for a scuffle he'd likely lose. Behind the front row of pl***faced prisoners, another one screamed his lungs out, to everyone's surprise, even Garret's. As they turned they could see skin on his face getting ripped apart by claws. As they witnessed that, they dispersed, running and tripping in different directions from that sight like a pack of wolves from a forest fire.

    The man's screams continued as he fell on his knees and elbows, covering his disfigured face, containing his tears and blood. Behind him there was a rather short Khajiit, with fur gray like silver. He stepped over the wailing man and approached Garret, blood still dripping from his claws. He wore a sleeveless leather armor dyed crystal blue, in amazingly good shape, especially compared to what everyone else had on them. He had pieces of jewelry, all gold, hanging from his hair and embedded in his ears. Plenty of golden rings as well, one of which had an amethyst on it, expertly crafted to resemble an arrow.

    At this point, Garret didn't know what to say, or to expect. The khajiit was, without a doubt, an unfamiliar sight that stood out in the arena like a draugr on the Sommerset Isles. The Khajit stopped, a meter before the Breton and proceeded to bow in an exotic fashion. "This one is pleased to see you well, master Garret".
    Garret was surprised, to say the least. He hadn't dealt with many Khajiit in his lifetime, and he'd surely have remembered that one. Master Garret? Certainly, this was the first time someone addressed him like that. "And you are?" Garret tried to sound as polite as he could when inquiring, but he couldn't contain his shock. "This one is Keshur of Torval. Do you not remember me?" This was the first time Garret had heard that name "Perhaps you can refresh my memory?"
    "Of course - you saved this one's life, back in Morrowind. Your elixir cured my blood. I am in your debt still."
    Garret was certain of it, he'd never met this Khajiit before. Perhaps he sold an elixir to someone, and that someone later handed it to Keshur? He could only guess. In Morrowind, the clientele was more interested in poisons than potions and whenever he'd sell them, he'd do it under the alias of "The Cold Benefactor", never revealing his name. But, Garret couldn't imagine why the Khajiit would lie.
    "Follow me, master Garret. I know a perfect way to thank you."

    The Khajiit led on through, muscling through the masses, clearing a way for Garret, and patiently waiting for him to catch up, as if he knew he was wounded beforehand. The situation was sketchy, very much so. But if this Keshur wanted him dead, he wouldn't have saved him. They walked through a long corridor with doors left and right, then took a turn to reveal a staircase. "This one can help you walk, should you have trouble." Garret paid him no mind at first, but after walking a few steps it became obvious he couldn't keep going with his wounded leg like that. Keshur placed Garret's arm on his shoulders and helped him up the stairs. Two floors above there was a rather short corridor which led to a dead end. Keshur walked over to the wall and looked to his bottom right, where the corner was hidden under a pile of bloody rags. He cleaned his hands on them, and then took them out of the way. He took off his ring and inserted the amethyst part into a hole in the wall, which led to the stone wall slowly retracting, revealing a modest chamber. The second floor was much more cold than the rest of the arena, the chamber had lit candles everywhere to counter that. Besides the candles, there were barrels that release a strong smell of wine and dried meat, and a desk with a few chairs near it, and on the desk there were plenty of files and documents and a jar filled with septims. There was more to the room than that, but Garret couldn't see much else. He turned to Keshur, whom layed against the wall, expressionless.
    63d7c0903599596208a1d723db878ad38b3b79a2025b0070f73c5f659bc97546_1.jpg
    Garret remained quiet, glaring back and forth between Keshur and the chamber, but staying out of it. He started to hear footsteps coming from inside the chamber. At this point he was getting more and more tense. Someone was coming, he could tell his or her footsteps were quite light. Upon looking to Keshur, Garret noticed the Khajiit was smiling and subtly licking his lips. At this point the Breton felt even more uneasy, clenching his fists, he tried preparing himself for whatever was to come. From the corner of his eye Garret could see a Dunmer walking in. He had pitch black eyes, dark long hair and a stubble. From his wrinkles Garret could notice he was old, and to look like that as a Dunmer, he'd have had to be over 100 years old.

    The elf also appeared crippled as he used a dark, ebony-clad cane to walk. He wore some odd-looking dark orange robes with fur on the shoulders and upper back. He looked at Garret and nodded in a very courtly way, then glanced at Keshur, whom handed him the ring. "Well done. Your reward is at the usual spot." The dunmer had a rather deep voice, and his tone indicated authority and severity. Keshur bowed, with a wide smile on his face, he looked at Garret and chuckled briefly, before starting to go down the stairs. The Dunmer grabbed Garret's fist, unclenching it "This is yours now-" he said, as he placed the ring on his finger. "Come in." he turned around and walked inside, Garret followed to witness the elf's hand glowing blue, with an odd aura circling around it. He clenched his fist releasing an unique miasma that filled the room, overpowering the smell of wine and candle wax. The stone door begun closing behind Garret as the dark elf sat down on a chair. The moment the door fully closed, the Dunmer unclenched his feast, his aura vanishing and the miasma disappearing. He gestured for Garret to sit opposite of him, which he did.
    "Garret Rendon, the cold benefactor. I was very surprised when I discovered a man of your caliber allowed himself to be caught." The elf looked him directly in the eyes, all the while tapping his fingers impatiently on the table. Garret frowned, his expression being hidden by his hood. He never revealed his name to anyone, and absolutely no one knew him by both his name and his alias, not that he knew of, at least. Whoever this man was, he knew a lot, and he could use magic, making him even more dangerous. Garret easily resumed his composure and decided to try a more diplomatic approach when handling this stranger, thus taking off his hood and replying:
    "I don't believe I've had the pleasure."
    "You won't get it either. Just know, in here, they call me The Arrow. I expect you do the same. You look troubled, I assume you have plenty of questions on your mind. Gidian didn't fill you in, did he? Don't be surprised, he doesn't trust anyone."
    "You know him?"
    "I know everyone worth knowing here-" The elf stood up and started gesturing as he spoke "And by here, I mean the Imperial City, not just the arena, and without my aid, you would have died twice by now." Garret started mumbling for a moment, trying to inquire what the elf meant
    "Arosia already planned your execution, the moment you were caught. It took a great deal of favors to instead have you sent to the arena, and a great deal of risk as well. It isn't easy to undo the orders of the emperor's cousin in law." Garret was left speechless. Either the arrow weaved a good lie, or actually saved his life. "She is afraid of you, believe it or not. Afraid that you might get out and seek vengeance - ordered a guard to send those drunks after you, and I had Keshur save you."
    Garret raised a brow. "Why go through all this trouble to save me?"
    The Arrow's expression changed, a very brief and barely noticeable smirk appeared on his face. "Follow me"

    Garret got up and the two of them went to a door in the corner of the chamber, upon opening it he could see a whole other, smaller room, with an alchemy table and a wardrobe of different ingredients. The elf pointed at the crates lying around "There's plenty more in there. Shipments are delivered here weekly, it's a shame no one puts them to good use."

    Garret took his time to check everything out. The ingredients were of poor quality, and there were very few things that could be considered rare. Still, this was better than nothing. He could only assume he was meant to work there. "You seem enamored." The Arrow took a seat on some crates. Garret looked at him and, after sighing, begun speaking with much more confidence than he had before.
    "Am I to brew for you? You're a mage, and you expect me to believe you haven't figured these out?"
    "I never liked it, and I'm very poor at it. Here's what's happening - I am not a fighter, and, starting today, neither are you. We will be working together, I'l bet and make assurances certain teams win over others, and your...talents, will make it so."
    "What's in it for me, mate? If we're going to be business partners you have come clean with the details."
    "Your other choice is going back to fighting in the arena, and I won't cover for you anymore. You'l die. This job is for the truly discreet, that's why I chose you and not some other aspiring alchemist that somehow got sent here. If we pull through and I win myself enough influence, septims and favours, you might just be let out of here."

    The offer seemed to good to be true, but it also made a lot of sense. Garret stared the elf down, trying to notice any hint of dishonesty, but to no avail, he seemed genuine. He glanced back at the alchemy station, before turning to The Arrow again, chuckling a bit "So be it, I'm in."
     
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  13. fellowknight

    fellowknight Private Lil' Num-Nums

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    Baroth expected Gidian's disapproving gaze but it couldn't have mattered less. Aside from the impossibility of verbal communication, half of the group hadn't been used to combat, not mention they were missing a body. Before either could review the details of the dandy plan, Belzebub moved into a flanking position, assuming a strategy had been established.

    He made a mighty first strike against the Ferrets, who were the first to clash with him. They torpedoed for his legs and chest, but he used the worn battle-axe and his brute strength to keep them at bay as the others advanced. Regardless, he had gotten himself surrounded and would easily be overwhelmed if no one helped him. Baroth was the next to move, sprinting after the orc, sheath slapping at his thigh wildly. The Bat, Wolf, and Raven had all fallen in closer at this point, spotting the opportunity to dispatch a member of the enemy unit, and weaken them.

    And if Belzebub went down, they'd only have three powerhouses to hold seven, let alone subdue them. It was suicide and Baroth had no plans for dying on sun-baked sand.

    Baroth's Superior-steel boots skidded through the sand and he jumped up, twisting his body to sling the shield across the distance with incredible force. It whizzed over them, and tumbled to a stop just past them. A hectic action but it served its purpose as their heads swiveled in his direction. They seemed disinterested in the notion, casually spacing themselves, and approached him without hesitation. Though he had their attention, they hadn't shown a trace of fear or concern and that meant brute force wouldn't scare them.

    While Baroth mostly relied on his strength to disperse his opponents, he was glad to know how to evenly distribute it in a short span of time. Not to mention his 'watch-before-strike' strategy had already failed. Baroth couldn't help but scowl as he yanked his sword from it's scabbard and gradually worked into a steady trot.

    The Wolf, a wild looking fellow in what appeared to be various furs and pelts of animals, grew excessively eager and stalked towards him with an erratic vigor, dashing across the sands. He plucked one of many sharp 'teeth' from his armor that turned out to be an elongated dagger, and then another, brandishing both as a child might with wooden dolls. Baroth slowed up at this and drew his sword to a lowered angle, as to entice the Wolf's move, and he twitched in response. A grin crept on his lips, flatting into a growl as he lunged himself forwards, barring his blades out. Before he could strike, someone brushed past Baroth and sounded off in a familiar tone.

    "Pardon me!" Dolun yelled, bringing his Imperial long-sword down on the Wolf's blades, provoking his livid retaliation.

    Baroth ran past their tussle, meeting head-on with the Bat and Raven, also at ease with their armaments. The Bat coiled his body in a furious flying-whirl, the set of spikes along his arms clashing with Baroth's sword, setting him off balance, if slightly. But he couldn't stop. There was no way he could take on the duo without his shield, or at least time to plot behind it. The Raven, a witty-eyed woman behind a winged helmet and feather-scaled dwemer armor, hung back as if in observation before gliding into Baroth with her arms in a cross-guard, pinching his blade between them. She then tightened the guard and raised it, but not before Baroth could steal a jab at her ribs, forcing her to undo the tangle to protect herself. As she did this, he collected his sword and side-stepped to angle a hard strike on her side, blocked by the same guard. This time though, she parted her arms harshly and sent Baroth fumbling backwards completely off balance. He used the momentum and scrunched his body up into an evasive roll, distancing himself from the others.

    He couldn't take his eyes off them, and risk an onslaught for which he wasn't prepared, but he did feel the warm edge of his shield and that made him a little more comfortable. Turing it over and stuffing his arm under the straps, Baroth rose to his full height and adopted a defensive stance, taking in as many details of his attackers as he could. He was able to get a decent second look at the Bat's armor as he launched into a pressed sprint, two bat-shaped blades in each hand; black-dyed Dwemer metal contorting to his body, leather fittings that curved between his forearm and waist, jagged spikes in a bat-like design up his plated and padded arms, a skin-tight cowl that revealed the area around his mouth, and large metallic wings folded against his back. It was evident he had some sort of thing for nocturnal creatures. Maybe that could be used to Baroth's advantage.

    The Raven's armor was similar in that it represented a bird, prominently the raven, as she fell in behind the Bat, producing two curved blades with feather imprints; Blueish-purple scales covered her for the most part, ruffles in the scales curled into pointed spikes, 'feathers' along her arms jutted out in an inconsitent manner, a winged helmet with a sharp protruding beak, and large metallic wings folded against her back. She always seemed to be the last to engage, which poked that she observes to assess a strategy before exploiting the target. The woman clearly wasn't unsure of herself and had tasted combat more than a dozen times, building her confidence. Or maybe she was just an overly cautious scamp.

    And suddenly they were on him. They striked fast and Baroth could just barely keep up, swinging and lashing out almost savagely with his shield and blade in inconsistent intervals. Baroth caught movement from the Bat and he flailed his shield, the Bat's blades glinting off the rim. The Raven seemed to fill in where the Bat had left off, and left Baroth no reprieve with her flurries that put his flexibility to the test.

    The clang and thud of metal on metal was a constant, and Baroth started feeling suffocated. The Bat had cleverly deduced a weakness in Baroth's shield, his every stroke chipping away more and more of the wood. Baroth tucked himself in a roll in an attempt to regroup himself but it had little to no difference; the duo seemed to advance as fast as they encumbered him. The Raven discovered and exploited Baroth's shortcomings in a stunningly concise amount of time. And for each that he atoned, she found a loophole his response and turned that against him. The Bat seemed to follow and even anticipate Baroth's movements, undeniably stomping out his offensive reactions. Sometimes literally.

    The Raven put her blades to deadly use and led a bold simultaneous assault alongside the Bat, further exhausting the nord's will to fight. Baroth braved a stern kick in the Bat's direction, it landing hard on the length of his blades, and forcing him into a back-flip to regain balance. With him momentarily disabled, Baroth occupied the Raven and left her ribs exposed to a hard slam from his knee. Though her side was armored, the sheer force behind it would leave at least a nasty bruise.

    When she crumbled, Baroth's gaze whirred across Dolun in a death-struggle with the Wolf, having all but one of his shorts words disarmed from him. The two locked eyes and Baroth flicked him the short-sword within his shield, snagged from its flight by Dolun's accepting hand. Their fighting continued.

    Baroth was practically thrown off balance as the Bat's boots slammed into his shield, sending him across the sand in a violent tumble. Even though he was relatively quick to recover, it could've never prepared him for what came next. The Bat had stuffed what Baroth could only assume was a crossbow bolt into his bracer, and waved aim in his direction. Baroth threw his shield up and the bolt clicked with release.

    An explosion stole the crowds appraisal, their hysterical cacophony dripping with entertainment as Baroth flew further across the sands. He face-planted with the charred ruin of his shield under him, and could only manage a groan, lost in the parched roars of the audience around him. His entire body felt sore and fiery, even if he knew his shield had taken most of the impact, and he knew his arm had two-degree burns if not more severe.

    Belzebub's attention snapped to a smoking Baroth with the Bat and Raven sauntering triumphantly towards him, but he couldn't help him. Anywhere else he spent his focus risked one of the Ferrets landing a critical blow. He continued to keep them busy.

    Baroth's phase of cramping aches and blazing bruises seemed to be numbing out and that wasn't good. If he lost control here, in his weakened state, there was no telling how long before he could regain control. And when that happened, he couldn't tell the difference between enemy, ally, or civilian.

    In a final, futile attempt to resist, Baroth pushed himself onto his backside and tossed away the molten-hot clump of metal on his arm, unable to wipe the sand from his face or eyes. He craned his neck up and saw the figures of his opponents. His executors. His head plopped back into the sand. He couldn't fight anymore. And if he could, he'd need more time to recuperate and that wasn't looking generous. Though how the Bat and Raven basked and exchanged kisses bought him time, that explosion had stripped him of any breath he had, and left him teetering on the edge of consciousness.

    But something in him tore. His mind reeled back to a primal state of survival. His stubborn subconscious refused to let him give up and die. He wouldn't die here. Not like this. Pain rippled through his body as he sat up on his knees, retrieving the hidden blades in his gauntlet and boot. He shouldn't have been able to speak but he fought that too, his defiant voice as shaky as body was, but loud enough to be heard.

    "N-not gonna..be that easy.." his eyes stirred with a heavy mix of determination and disorientation. "You want a...shot at the title?" He found the courage to raise to his feet, chest heaving from the effort. His brow set and his eyes locked with theirs. He was going numb now, but it wasn't from his other side taking control. It was adrenaline.

    "Come and take it.."
     
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  14. The Honorable Gidian Diva of Sass

    The Honorable Gidian Diva of Sass Sahrot Vahlok Spaan. Bahnahgaar. Minion #88!
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    The Boar had noticed Gidian regaining consciousness and attempted to knock Maere out of the picture. After knocking her over the head, he turned swiftly to charge at Gidian, ignoring the Spider's protests.

    This time, rather than standing his ground, Gidian charged right back. He stumbled at first, almost falling face-first in the sand, but caught himself with a hand and shoved forward. The Boar, for his part, was throwing up sand and stomping his feet with much more urgency. Under his massive metal helmet, all that could be seen of his eyes were narrow slits of rage, as if incredulous that this fight was still dragging on. He beat his chest several times and let out a battle cry, putting more steam into his effort. Literally. Steam loosed from several parts of his armor as he gained momentum, trying his best to shake the ground with every step.

    Just as the two were about to collide, Gidian sidestepped the Boar with contemptuous ease, sand flaring off into the air with the rapid movement of his feet. In the same motion, he also pulled the web on his arm fast across the Boar's path, digging in with his heels and twisting his body as he yanked it for all he was worth, tripping the behemoth. Then Gidian's widened in shock as his arm was yanked with an audible pop, the webbing pulled so tightly that it began to crinkle the armor under it. The only thing that saved Gidian's arm completely were the cuts Maere had made, which now caused the web to snap.

    Face contorted in pain as he did his best not to scream (only somewhat succeeding), Gidian rolled out of the way as the hulking mass of dwemer machinery and man fell to the dirt with a massive thunk. Letting himself roll to a stop, face first in the sand, Gidian held on to his arm as if it might somehow reduce the pain, and doubled over. He gritted his teeth, taking some time to compose himself before suddenly shoving his arm back into place with another pop. He forced it back into socket and did his best not to bite his tongue, roaring through his clenched teeth.

    With a few more deep breaths, Gidian got to his feet, now absolutely livid, looking for a target. The spider was similarly regaining her feet after she had been yanked away by the web she had been holding. With a low growl, Gidian wasted no time in closing the distance, casually dodging a few of the Spider's attempts to web him again as he closed in.

    Now within striking distance, Gidian moved to open up with a very telegraphed charging right hook, forcing the spider to react to protect her head as she lashed out with an immediate counter attack. However, while Gidian's body was slowed by his injuries, his mind was still quick through his battle fervor. The right was a feint, followed swiftly by several quick jabs as he muscled his way into close quarters, not relenting in his assault as he trusted his armor to weather the storm of attacks.

    The spider rained down dozens of strikes with her extra limbs, but it became more and more awkward as she was pressed, Gidian inside of her reach. Most of them glanced off harmlessly as she tried desperately to retreat, but to no avail as Gidian suddenly ducked and rammed her legs, picking her up and throwing her over his shoulders and into a body slam. With his injuries, there's no possible way he could keep up in a traditional hand to hand fight, he needed to use his weight and strength and end it quickly.

    He attempted to pin her down, expecting her to try and throw him off with his own momentum and stopping it fast. With eight limbs to contend with, however, that was easier said than done. All he needed was just one good strike to her head, and he could end this… “You're smiling under that helmet… aren't you? Lachskoll.”

    What?” Gidian managed to ask, completely taken off guard. But that distraction was all that the Spider needed, slipping her legs under him and using them both to kick him off. He grunted at the pain to his injured ribs, but snapped out of it quickly as he shifted his weight to the side to dodge one spiked mechanical leg from skewering him through his eye socket and deflected another with his arm, just before the Spider pinned him.

    “Sinder Terat, 37!” the Spider yelled, delivering a hard punch to Gidian's ribs. He let out a rasp of pain, giving the spider an incredulous look, asking the unvoiced question of, What the fluff are you talking about?

    The Spider's glare was murder. “Don't play stupid with me!” She slammed his head back into the sand several times, before listing off another name. “Rex Terat, 16!” this time, she let loose a volley of strikes with her mechanical limbs, denting the already dented armor on his abdomen and chest area, causing a soundless wheeze to escape him as he simultaneously had the breath knocked out of him and his previously somewhat healed injuries worsened again.

    “Tried to hide your face under that stupid helmet, but I'd recognize those eyes anywhere.” She had her hand around his throat now, testing her grip, as if she was getting ready to crush it flat. “Gave that stupid girl pieces of your old costume. I'm sure she's honored. She dies next.” the spider was hissing the words out through clenched teeth, in an absolute fury that Gidian despite his condition, could not comprehend what she was ranting about as he attempted to get her off of him.

    “Since you can't remember on your own, allow me to jog your memory.” She drew a knife with her free hand, and held in front of Gidian's nose, allowing it to dangle back and forth, back and forth. At first, Gidian didn't recognize it as his eyes followed it. But then, it hit him. Recognition dawned in his eyes, and the Spider noticed and smiled. “Good.” She raised the knife deliberately, aiming for his left eye…

    But then Maere clubbed her over the head with her staff, knocking her off balance and allowing Gidian to throw her off, rolling instantly to his feet as he tried to catch his breath. The spider recovered quickly too, but not before Gidian roughly threw his shoulder into her, sending her catapulting backwards as he stumbled and fell from his lack of breath as well as the poor balance from not having properly regained his feet yet.

    But that didn't slow him down for long, as he stumbled his way into a charge, not intending to give the Spider even a second to regain her wits. “I remember you! The idiot girl who let her family die.” He shouted, ignoring the snarl of fury she showed in return.

    From there, the two clashed once again. But this time, catching the spider out if rhythm, he was able to deliver two furious jabs to her head, further disjointing her concentration as the mechanical limbs flailed wildly, apparently going haywire as their wielder was knocked off balance. “Almost as slow as dear old dad!” He taunted mercilessly.

    With that, Gidian might not be anywhere near as fast as he was normally, given his condition, but he was still a force to be reckoned with as he tore into the woman with seemingly renewed vigor. The woman was by now almost completely on the defense, doing everything in her power to defend her head from the vicious assault as she desperately threw up her arms and did her best to avoid attacks. “Hold still you little brat.” He belittled her.

    Gidian could sense her weakness like a shark smells blood in the water. Rather than trying to break her guard, he feinted a punch at her face, before sidestepping partially around her, grabbing her by the back of her head to drive her forward and knocked her legs out from under her with a kick. He then promptly tried to drive her face into the sand, but she had the werewithal to catch herself with her mechanical limbs. Rather than trying to overpower all of them at once, he picked her up and slammed her down again. “That delicate figure won't do you any favors here, Ms. Terat!”

    And again. And again. But the next time, the mechanical spider limbs inverted themselves and began pounding and grabbing at Gidian, as the Spider bucked and threw her weight to one side, turning around just far enough to shoot a directly at his head. He was too taken off guard to react quickly enough, and the web covered the eye sockets of his helmet, rendering him effectively blind as the Spider kicked him away, and disappeared from his senses.

    As a natural reaction, he moved his hands up to his helmet, as if to try and remove the web. He was right in time for something to hit him hard, directly in his side, sending pain all throughout his body as he fell to a knee, holding his side. Of course, it didn't end there, as attacks rained down from all sides, he desperately tried to regain his feet, only to be knocked down again.

    After receiving a harsh beating, Gidian let out a chuckle, which turned into a laugh which he maintained, even as it felt like it was going to shatter every bone in his chest. He received a furious blow to the chest in response, sending him wheezing into the sand. But he didn't stop. He slowly got to his feet, maintaining the wheezing chuckle. The next assault was a relentless one, coming from seemingly all sides with double the ferocity, leaving him slow to get back up. But get back up he did, still laughing.

    “What's. So. Funny?” the spider demanded through clenched teeth, kicking the back of his knees and causing him to fall. She then kicked his head into the ground. He took the moment to launch himself backwards, trying to hit her, but only found empty air. He was on his feet again, but the spider would have none of it. She went into another punishing assault, which Gidian did his best to weather with his arms protecting his head.

    “You're-” He could barely squeeze out words between the hits he was taking, “letting-” He had the wind knocked out of him again, “your-” and again, “boyfriend die.”

    The assault came to an immediate stop. Gidian seized the moment, and the Spider, jerking her towards him as he took off his helmet, revealing a wicked and bloody smile with a victorious glint in his eyes. He brought his helmet down hard, hitting the Spider over the head with it and sending her reeling, before grabbing her and pulling her into another hit, sending her staggering.

    The Boar was still struggling to get back on his feet and get the webbing off his legs, but in the attempt had only gotten it more thoroughly tangled. But he was in no immediate danger of dying. “So sentimental. So gullible. So dead.” Gidian said between hard breaths, pulling her in for one more hit, this time knocking her nearly senseless. “And in the end, weak. Just like your brother.” He picked her up by the head, holding her aloft so that they were eye to eye. “Time to meet your family.” The only response he got was a dull moan as the mechanical legs spasmed wildly.

    He tossed the helmet up and and down casually in his free hand, as one does to show off in sports. He then released the Spider's head, letting her fall, and swung the helmet around and clubbed her over the head, knocking her down, though he noted that she was still breathing. “Stubborn.” He said out loud, taking a few deliberate steps forward, eyes glinting dangerously. “But for nothing. Your family's already dead. Where was all of this fight while they were still alive?” She blinked her eyes open slightly, giving her best look of defiance as she dimly watched Gidian's approach.

    Gidian stopped as the look in her eyes changed, and he saw a glint of triumph. He cocked his head to the side slight, becoming dimly aware of someone off behind him shouting, “LOOK OUT!”

    Letting his instincts take over, he dove to the side immediately, looking up to find a spear devouring the space he'd just been occupying. It had buried itself in the wall of the arena. He cursed as he turned and saw the Boar armor, now and abandoned shell tangled in a web, as the man who had been wearing it ate up the distance between them in a charge. The look in his eyes was of desperation and murder.

    Gidian cursed as he tried to stand back up to his full height, only to be crushed by the full weight of his fatigue and injuries. Only slowly did he finally completely regain his feet, his breaths labored, and sharp pains covering almost every inch of his body. He felt like one big living bruise, and his armor was covered in dents that stabbed into his body in several places, especially where the web had nearly crushed his right arm. His shoulder was also killing him as it threatened to come out of socket again.

    But the man was fresh, and completely without injury as he came charging forward, well muscled but surprisingly small compared to the Boar suit. He still had some vague exoskeleton with several Dwarven Cores attached to it, but was considerably less armored and more mobile.

    Despite the odds, Gidian stumbled forward with a grin walking to meet the man, holding his right shoulder as if that would hold it in its socket. Adrenaline and force of will allowed him to dodge the man's opening swing with the mace Gidian had dropped earlier (having retrieved it during the charge), but that put him right where the man wanted him. The man continued his charge, using his free arm to grab Gidian like he weighed nothing, carrying him all the way to the wall of the arena where the man slammed Gidian into it. Too tired to offer much resistance or a proper outcry of pain, Gidian offered a dull sigh instead, as pain ricocheted all throughout his back. Too dazed to move much, Gidian slumped against the wall while the man dropped the mace by his feet, turning a concerned look to the spider.

    Gidian let out a short chuckle, prompting the man to let out a roar as he turned eyes of furious murder on Gidian, forgetting his mace as he delivered a hard punch to Gidian's stomach. If Gidian had had anything left in his stomach, he would have just thrown up. Instead, it sent him dry heaving as the man picked him back up and positioned him on the wall again, only to repeat the process as he relentlessly unleashed his fury. Gidian could dimly feel and hear his bones snapping in several places as each hit landed with an audible crack.

    “Any last words before I knock all of the teeth out of your smile?” the man said with careful deliberateness, holding Gidian up by his throat.

    Gidian responded by shouting as loud as he could muster, “KILL HER ALEADY!”

    The man responded immediately, turning a horrified look back at where the Spider had fallen and dropping Gidian to slump against the wall. Gidian reacted immediately, using his foot to hook under the mace and kick it up to his hand, swinging it for all he was worth, putting his entire body behind it as he twisted, and hit the man over the back of the head hard. There was a very audible clang, and the man fell down to one knee, holding his head. Gidian went to hit him again, but the man shoved Gidian away, trying to regain his senses. Gidian would have fallen and never got back up had he not been pushed into the wall. He caught himself and launched into an all out assault on the man, swinging his mace like a wild man and not particularly caring where he hit. The man gave ground steadily, but was astoundingly resilient. But, despite not really leaving much of a mark on the man, Gidian didn't relent. Once he stopped his offensive, he was dead.

    Gidian felt like his arms were made of lead as he put his entire body into swing after swing, at first discouraged by the seeming lack of damage he was doing to the man's bare skin, but encouraged as signs of damage slowly began to show. Just as it was looking as if he might actually win, however, something caught his arm. He looked down, completely and utterly disbelieving, at a metallic web that had wrapped itself around his arms. As he turned to look at the spider, he was stricken by a blinding flash of light, electricity arcing all the way the web and into his body, rendering him helpless as more webs ensnared him, and more of the electricity was poured into him. He dropped like a sack of bricks, helpless against the mind numbing pain. Once it finally stopped, the Boar picked him up and threw him, and he thought he would never hit the ground in his barely conscious state.

    But he did, hitting the sand with an umph and slamming into a person. Or maybe they'd slammed into him, he didn't know. But he collided with someone. He blinked open his eyes slowly, and saw it was Baroth. With a resigned exhale, he muttered, “Wake me up when I'm not on Nirn anymore.”
     
    • Winner Winner x 2
  15. CapObvious

    CapObvious Gramos Goat-Shaker

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    Maere got up slowly to her feet as the boar charged off after Gidian, who responded with a charge of his own. She clutched her head, using the last of her magicka to heal it up as best she could. She felt exhausted as the mite left her body, the fatigue setting in as all the fighting they had gotten into finally caught up to her. That, and her now throbbing skull wasn’t helping.


    She took a moment to gather herself again as she watched the Boar run off, with Gidian charging back at him madly. The look in his eye worried her, but also brought some level of comfort. At least he was finally in the fight again. But she was confused, as she tried to understand why the hell Gidian thought running back at that monstrosity was a good thing.


    But as the scene played out, it all began to click.


    The web wrapped around the boar as Gidian sidestepped his charge, sending the boar tumbling to the ground with a loud thud. Thanks to the once futile cutting she had managed to do on the net, Gidian was able to rip it off his arm using running boar’s momentum. The boar fell to the ground, trying his best to get himself untangled quickly so he could get back into the fight. Gidian had stopped for a moment to care for his now terribly injured arm, before he looked up to the spider and began to focus his attention on her. Maere’s eyes then focused back onto the Boar, and she smiled softly to herself. “Spero, we need to take advantage of this.” Maere called out, standing up straight as she looked back to the girl, who was looking at Maere confused. She pointed to the tangled boar before them, and spoke again. “We might not get another chance like this. Let’s see if we can find a soft spot in that armor. If we can exploit it, maybe we can make this a somewhat even fight.” Spero still retained her incredulous look, but nodded. Maere started for the boar slowly, watching him as she only got himself tangled further in the net.


    Maere looked back to Spero, then back to the boar, noticing how the man was writhing madly, and that any attempt to penetrate his armor would be for not if they couldn’t get him to hold still. She looked to Spero, who seemed to already see what Maere was thinking. They both moved toward the sprawling man, who had by now noticed the both of them moving toward him, his frustration at being stuck even more apparent. He knew that all he had to do was get loose, and both those girls would be done. So he just had to…


    He struggled at the web again, and the girls seized the opportunity.


    They both rushed over and grabbed the web by the edges, wrapping it tighter around his arms. The Boar kicked about angrily, but without the use of his arms he wasn’t quite able to work himself around to where he could shove them off of him. When his arms became tangled enough to remain locked for a while, Maere latched what little slack she had left on to his helmet, effectively binding the hands of his armor to his face. With how tight they had wrapped that web around him, he wasn’t going to be able to get out. Not soon, anyway. She looked to Spero, about to have her help her look for the weak point. But before she could get it out, when Spero pointed behind her, a worried expression staining her face. Maere turned to see the Spider, who had Gidian pinned, with a knife in her hand, toying with it as if she were going for his face. She gripped her staff tightly and spoke quickly. “Get a look at the Boar’s armor see if we can somehow through it. I’ll be back as soon as I get her off him.” She sprinted off toward the Spider, who had just raised the dagger deliberately, ready to bring it down on him.


    “Oh no you don’t!” She shouted, taking the blunt end of her staff and clubbing her against the head with it. With the spider staggered by the blow, Gidian took advantage, getting back to his feet. Maere, now more confident in Gidian to take care of a staggered Spider, made her way back to Spero, who looked a bit worried as she stared on at the Boar, who was still struggling, but seemed to somehow be making head way. Their time was running out. “Spero! Did you see anything?” Spero shook her head, causing Maere to curse to herself as she took a look for herself. Her fears soon became realized, as she found the same result. There were no spots that either of the girls could exploit, leaving themselves useless until one of the others were able to take over.

    But from the looks of it, that wouldn’t be happening too soon. As Maere tried to think of what to do next, she saw that his armor began to open up, as if he were…

    Oh pl***.

    She grabbed at the webbing and tried her best to bound it tighter, but to no avail. The boar was loose, and she was the only thing between him and Gidian. However, it seemed that he was more focused on Gidian at the moment. He grabbed one of the spears that had fallen near him, before chucking it in Maere’s direction.

    Maere dodged before the spear left his hand, but he did not relent in the toss. Maere wasn’t sure why, until she looked behind her, and saw the spear was not aiming for her. But for Gidian instead. Before Maere could do anything, Spero called out at the top of her lungs. “Look out!” Gidian heard her, and dove away as the spear landed firmly in the space he had been standing previously. Maere cursed as the Boar began to charge at him, unarmored, but still very dangerously. Maere got to her feet, watching as the man grabbed Gidian’s mace mid charge, and went full force at Gidian. The first blow he threw missed as Gidian side stepped him, but only got him where the man had wanted him. The man picked him up effortlessly, before charging him into the wall with a nasty thud. Maere watched in shock as what little life Gidian had seemed to be crushed out of him, causing her to look to Spero. “Let’s help him!” They ran toward Gidian and the boar, as Maere tried her best to come up with some sort of plan, before they were quickly deterred. In her haste to save Gidian she had forgotten that there were two of these bastards over here, and the Spider took full advantage as she came from the side and threw all of her weight into Maere, bringing them both to the ground.

    Maere tried to scramble to her feet, but was soon pinned down by one of the spider’s extra limbs as it tore through the tunic behind her neck. She reached down and picked something off of the ground, and uncorked it, taking a big swig. It took a moment before Maere cursed and dug for her back, which she found to be open. She had spilled its contents out when the two had collided, and now the spider was almost back to full health. “Damn it. Damn it. DAMN IT!” She called, before she threw herself upward, the back of her tunic tearing as she thrust herself upward into the spider, bringing them both to the ground with Maere on top of her. Unable to find a weapon in the second or two that she had this chance, she did the only thing she could. She brought down her fists upon the spider’s head, hitting her on each side of her jaw before the woman threw her off. Maere tumbled over to the floor, looking up as the woman returned to her feet. She looked to Gidian, who looked to her and shouted the loudest he could. “KILL HER ALREADY!” The Spider and Boar both were distracted, as they both turned to each other to see what Gidian was yelling about. As they did so, Gidian took advantage and got down from the wall, kicking a mace into his hand and bringing it down on the Boar’s head. Maere then did the same with the Spider, grappling her in an attempt to distract her long enough for Gid to do what he could to the boar.

    However, the spider quickly threw her off, before she turned to face Gidian, and threw another web for his arm.

    The shot rang true, wrapping around the target before it quickly changed to a blue hue, running currents of electricity into Gidian. Maere called out to him, but it was useless. Soon the shockwave stopped and the Boar picked him up and chucked him back toward the others in the arena. Maere soon realized that now that Gidian was removed, the focus would be back on the two of them, and she quickly ran for Spero. “We need to get back to the others, we’re sitting ducks out here!” They both turned toward the group and ran for it, seeing that the boar had managed to bring both Gidian and Baroth to the ground with the toss.

    Gods, they really weren’t going to make it were they?
     
    • Winner Winner x 2
  16. Archer Drake

    Archer Drake Parkour Enthusiast

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    Fires raged inside the mortar mouth of a blacksmith’s oven. The coals were stirred, causing a storm of burning red embers to dance through the air, outlining the silhouette of a figure against the setting sun. He stood at the edge of his inferno, fanning the flames and watching with interest as the roughly shaped rod of metal glowed white with heat. The figure carefully removed the searing metal and placed it on a wide anvil pockmarked from the many blows of a hammer. The sizzling metal shifted from white to red as a hammer morphed it into the shape of the blade it was to become. After a series of strikes, the figure returned the blade to the fire and fanned the flames, satisfied with his progress. The young Argonian had spent three days working the blade so far, the first two days were spent folding the metal countless times until he was sure it could stop a meteor without breaking. The faint light from the forge played on the Argonian’s face, revealing scales the color of the dying embers floating through the air, a burnt crimson turned bolder by the light of the fire. His face was marred by a thick black sash covering the scarred mess of his blind left eye. The lone right eye shone in the golden light from the setting sun, a pale gray like the moon only partially visible in the ever-darkening sky.

    A heavy set Nord in worn iron armor strode up to the Argonian, who shook himself from his thoughts.

    "Been busy today?” the Nord asked. The Argonian tilted his head to the side,

    “Yes. The sword is coming along well. The curves may need a bit of work.” The Nord laughed,

    "Kiyoshi, you are too critical of your work. I’m certain it will be magnificent.” The Nord, Ulferth, chuckled and set a massive hand on Kiyoshi’s shoulder, “When do you plan to leave?” He asked. Kiyoshi shrugged, blowing out a long breath in the process.

    "I wasn’t given a deadline, but I plan to leave within the next three days.” He paused, unsure of how to continue, “I have never been to the Imperial City. This trip could take a number of weeks.” Ulferth chuckled again, his cheery demeanor taking over,

    "I suppose we’ll actually have to do some work while you’re away. You make running Warmaiden’s much too easy, Kiyoshi.” Kiyoshi lowered his head, staring at his feet and shifting uncomfortably,

    “I’ve told you, working the forge helps me deal with…everything.” An unpleasant memory forced it’s way to the surface and brought with it a flood of emotions. Ulferth noticed the pain written across Kiyoshi’s face and didn’t press the subject further. Instead, he turned and left, knowing from years of living with Kiyoshi that it was the best thing for him to do. Kiyoshi remained still, his eyes clamped shut and his arms hanging limp at his sides. Visions of his home raced through his mind, bringing the same feelings of despair he felt on the day of his capture. Each memory, each second crystal clear in his mind’s eye. Each sight magnified further by terror, desperation, and the knowledge that his parents had been slew before his very eyes. His hands turned to clenched fists as the image of the Akaviri man with a blade coated in his family’s blood stood in his mind, instantly transporting him to that terrible day.

    The man towered over Kiyoshi, his fierce armor glinting in the sun. He stood, dark eyes tearing into the writhing Argonian he had pressed under his boot. The soldier laughed menacingly as blood dripped from the gleaming sword at his hip. He brought his hand down and struck Kiyoshi across the face,

    “Stop squirming worm!” He boomed, his voice alone sending icy shots of terror down Kiyoshi’s spine, freezing him in place. The man removed his foot from Kiyoshi’s chest and allowed him to get to his knees. The soldier turned away to speak to another as Kiyoshi dashed forward, his hands closing around the shorter sword at the man’s waist. An iron grip clamped down around Kiyoshi’s arms, a sinister grin flashing across the soldier’s face. He tossed Kiyoshi away and brought the sword across his face in less than a heartbeat. The five year old Argonian fell to the ground, clutching his eye, his small voice screaming in agony. Blood poured from the wound and mixed with Kiyoshi’s tears as he rolled in the dirt, his ears filled with the twisted laugh of a murderer, a laugh of sinister joy. After a few moments of drinking in the oddly pleasuring scene, the man struck Kiyoshi hard, silencing his screams and knocking him unconscious.

    The moment the memory faded, Kiyoshi’s eyes snapped open, his breathing ragged, slowly unclenching his shaking hands as the last pangs of terror faded from his system. He quickly pulled the now white-hot sword from the oven and returned to his work before another round of memories brought him to his knees. Hours later, satisfied with his work, Kiyoshi fed more coals into the oven and placed the sword inside to bake overnight. The dim moonlight greeted the young Argonian as he stepped away from the forge, brushing embers and bits of metal from his worn leather apron and tucking his fraying leather gloves into his belt. The city guards paid him little mind as they strode around, eyes peeled for thieves and assassins, many of them reminding him to keep out of trouble. Nords and their petty racism, always assuming the worst of races other than their own. Stubborn and stuck in their ways. He brushed the thought from his mind as he walked along a small path to his house, no use causing trouble. Besides, I would lose many customers of mine, however unwilling they are to buy my work. Pure silence greeted Kiyoshi as he strode up to his house. A small shack was a better term for the thing. It was, by far, the smallest building in Whiterun, a single-level house with no rooms, no basement, and only just enough room to provide for two people. It was small, poorly-made, creaky, and the roof leaked in so many places it almost made one wonder if the thing was some sort of sponge. It had a single, lonely window just to the left of the door, but it was foggy and cracked, obscuring anyone on the outside past recognition. Kiyoshi tiredly slid the key into the lock and pushed on the door. It didn’t budge. He checked to make sure the lock had actually turned, it had. The blasted door was just stuck again. Sighing with frustration, Kiyoshi threw his weight against it, connecting with a thud. The door swung in about an inch. Kiyoshi cursed to himself, he needed this one sale…then he could buy Breezehome and at least have it cleaned. Just a few more days, he thought. With frustration, he stepped back and spartan-kicked the door. It flew open and slammed into the wall, bouncing back on it’s hinges. Well, at least the door didn’t break off, he thought sarcastically. Kiyoshi stepped past the threshold of the door and worked the damned thing shut after four tries. He slid the lock into place more out of habit than necessity, shutting the blinds on the single window, again, out of habit. The house was pitch-dark, but after a few minutes of fumbling around and tripping over a chair, Kiyoshi lit several candles and the house was bathed in a dull, golden glow. Water was placed on the stove to warm for a bath, and the leather apron and gloves were laid atop the small dresser at the opposite corner of the room. Set into the furthest corner from the door was a slender black closet, roughly four feet tall. Kiyoshi strode over to it and carefully pulled the doors open, inside was a hooded black tunic and oversized black pants, black leather boots, and various black leather and silver moonstone armor pieces resembling Kendo sparring gear. Fastened to the doors were three different swords in their scabbards: a Katana, a Wakizashi, and a Kaiken. A grin spread across Kiyoshi’s face. Akaviri armaments. How ironic, the culture he despised and hated provided him with the means to destroy. When they took power from him, he forged his own. Blades hungering for blood. Akaviri blood. He paused, aware of the anger pulsing through his body. He shut the closet and sat on the floor, meditating to calm his mind. He bathed quickly, letting the warm water relax his tense muscles, and changed into a pair of loose black trousers afterwards, falling into bed and drifting off in minutes.

    The next few days were filled with the same as Kiyoshi worked the dull metal pole into a deadly ebony sword modeled after elven styling. The cutting edge of the black sword was painted silver, the hilt became an elaborate pattern of red and white cloth with a short red sash tied at the end, and sprouting from the hilt was a twisting red tree painted against the black body of the sword. The scabbard was simply black and unassuming. The sword slid into the scabbard perfectly. “Crimson Night” was complete. Kiyoshi slumped back on a stool inside the shop and admired his work. The blade had been finished last night. Today he would begin the journey to the Imperial City. He was itching to go, but something just felt…off. A knot of worry had formed in the pit of his stomach and a foreboding feeling had swept across him. He shook the thought from his head and quickly headed to his home to pack. It took less than ten minutes to gather everything into a large pack. A regular outfit, a nicer outfit he rarely wore, a couple of sashes for his eye, a heavy black coat, his forging leathers, a bag of septims, a couple of healing and disease curing potions, and a bit of food. Kiyoshi quickly changed into his full suit of armor and fastened the Katana and Wakizashi to his waist in the Daisho formation, and slid the small Kaiken dagger into the hidden sheath on the back of his right calf. He tied a sash over his eye and flipped the black leather hood over his head. He locked the door and picked up “Crimson Night” at Warmaiden’s before heading out of the city’s gates. It was very early, and very few guards were still roaming the streets at the hour. The fields surrounding the hold were covered in a light fog. A cool air drifted across the open plains as dull gray clouds rolled over-head, their fluffy bulk blocking out the sun. Kiyoshi pulled in a long drag of the misty air and moved toward the stables, regretting his choice not to tell anyone he was leaving. If this sale went well, he may not come back at all. He had two options after the sale: travel back to Whiterun, buy Breezehome, and live out his days at the forge; or he could take the money from the sale and start again, actually start without being shoved under someone’s thumb from the get-go. Finally, he could be free. Kiyoshi shook the thoughts from his head as he fixed a saddle to his horse, Solstice, a beautiful stallion with a midnight-black coat, bright blue eyes, and a silver mane. After securing a bed roll and his pack to Solstice, Kiyoshi lead the horse to a southern trail. He clambered into the saddle and set off at a slow trot, unable to shake the knot of worry from his stomach.

    The journey to the Imperial City was long and arduous. Aside from the occasional wolf – which Kiyoshi dispatched easily – the trip was rather lonely. On the third day of travel, a group of the Vigilants of Stendarr forced Kiyoshi to take a two-day detour around the base of a mountain they claimed housed Falmer inside. He put up little argument at the mention of the unholy creatures. This trip was worth a lot, but no amount of money was worth death. Six days after his departure, Solstice was slain by a sabre-cat. A white object shot from the cover of trees and landed at Solstice’s hooves. The horse reared back, and threw Kiyoshi to the ground, only allowing a fleeting glimpse of the animal before it sunk it’s fangs into his companion’s neck, ending her life in an instant. Kiyoshi had less than a heartbeat to react before the massive feline came hurtling towards him, it’s bloody claws outstretched. He rolled out of the way and drew his Katana as the cat turned on him again. It rushed forward and swung with one massive paw. Side-stepping, Kiyoshi brought his sword against the cat’s flank, cutting a deep gash from shoulder to hip. The wounded animal cried in pain and fled, a trail of blood following. Sighing with frustration, Kiyoshi gathered his things and cleaned his sword, swinging the pack onto his back and tying the bed-roll to it, he set out again. Adrianne would surely have his head for letting Solstice die. She had raised the stallion since it was born, caring for it almost as her own. Solstice was the joy of her life, and now her beloved mount lay dead in a forest, swimming in a pool of it's own blood. Kiyoshi shook his head in despair, he was tasked with keeping a simple horse alive and he failed even that. His punishment, he now had to walk the rest of the journey and all of the return trip, adding days, if not weeks, to the trek.

    It took him an added day to get to the border of Cyrodiil, three days behind now. He slowly worked his way to the narrow channel running between the rest of Cyrodiil and the Imperial City. A natural defense that would surely hinder advancing troops and provide quick dispersal of more troops if the need arose. A small ferry had him on the front door of the Imperial City, it’s grand walls sprawling across the island in a magnificent spectacle as polished walls reflected the light of the setting sun. It was truly a breath-taking view, grand golden spires glowed with color as hues of green and blue mixed into the sight. Kiyoshi stood dumbfounded by the gleaming city, drinking in the glow. From the outside it felt alive, it felt prosperous, welcoming the sore eyes of weary travelers. It looked perfect. Once inside, the smokescreen was cleared as the true tales of the people living there were shown. They were starving, suffering, dying in their own filth as the impossibly large Arena stood before them, roaring with energy as lives were ended on the end of the pike. He couldn’t help but feel sorry for those trapped within, those wrongly accused.

    His client stood, leaning against the wall of a local tavern. This man was no doubt a Breton, cloaked in the long golden robes of an experienced mage, the symbol of royalty embriodered across the sleeves and shoulders. This man was a member of the King's court. Kiyoshi immediantly felt unprepared for the exchange. He should be in nice clothes offering his sword inside the castle itself, not in his armor next to a dirty tavern. The man idly played with bolts of lightning as Kiyoshi approached, casting a level gaze at the half-blind Argonian. He paused a moment, dark eyes scanning Kiyoshi’s features.

    “So, you’re the smith I’ve heard so much about.” The Breton’s voice was like ice, each syllable sharp and cold. Kiyoshi nodded,

    “I suppose so, though I am curious as to what you have heard about me.” The Breton cracked a sly grin, his voice darkening further,

    “That depends on who you ask, Argonian.” He paused, taking notice of the hilt of “Crimson Night” peeking out behind Kiyoshi’s head, “But we did not meet to discuss rumors, Blacksmith. I would very much like to see your handiwork.” Kioyshi politely inclined his head and offered the sheathed blade to the man. This Breton had set Kiyoshi’s nerves on edge, but he couldn’t quite figure out why. The man pulled “Crimson Night” from it’s scabbard and looked over it’s lines carefully,

    “You impress me, Argonian. I wouldn’t have thought your kind capable of such craftsmanship. You always seem...preoccupied with murdering those I hold most dear." The man's voice became laced with hatred.

    “Is there a problem?” Kiyoshi asked, his voice gaining a steeled edge in response.

    “No, no. Many prefer simple bone, and your Saxlheel jewelers haven’t exactly dazzled me with their productions. I’d have thought your kind ignorant to the ways of blacksmithing, but I suppose I can’t always be right.”

    “Are you here to buy my sword, or not?”


    “Ooh, I sense some anger. Perhaps I should apologize before I anger Mister Ryudo further.” Kiyoshi stepped back in surprise,

    “How do you know my name, I signed my contract with a K. How do you know my name at all?”

    “Oh, Kiyoshi, information has never been hard to get. If I want to figure out who you are, all I have to do is find the right person. I should be able to figure out that your parents were killed by the so-called 'Akaviri' when you were five, or so you claim. Poor baby Kiyoshi. Or should I call you Nerian. Your mother certainly took a liking to that name.” The mention of his true name forced a gasp of surprise to escape Kiyoshi’s mouth. It had been so long since anyone referred to him as Nerian, it almost seemed foreign to him. He clenched his fists and struggled to maintain his composure.

    “I suggest you pay me before I lose my temper, Breton. You’re wasting my time.”

    “Ah, right. I assume four thousand septims will suffice.” Kiyoshi shook his head, this man was playing with him, and his anger flared in response.

    “No! You insult me and my kind and then attempt to skate away without paying. No. Our agreed upon price was eight thousand, five hundred.”

    “I’m afraid I can’t simply hand over that large a sum over to an Argonian. You understand, don’t you? Akaviri slave.” It was over, this man had lit the powder keg. Kiyoshi roared with anger and struck the man across the face. He stumbled back, but Kiyoshi kept coming, beating the man savagely. The Breton tried to defend himself with his sword, but Kiyoshi bashed it away and snapped two fingers. The Breton screamed in agony and sent forth a torrent of electricity from his uninjured hand. Kiyoshi’s tail wrapped around the man’s neck as he broke this man’s other arm, throwing him to the ground. The guards had taken notice and charged down the street, but Kiyoshi hadn’t finished yet. He clamped his hands around the Breton’s neck and lifted him above his head, squeezing the life from him. A guard tackled Kiyoshi from the side and the Breton crumpled to the ground, gasping for air and cradling his wounds. The guard pinned Kiyoshi and brought the hilt of his sword down across Kiyoshi’s face, knocking him out.

    He woke later in the back of a covered wagon, stripped of everything but his hooded black uniform and boots, his sash pulled down to his neck, but thankfully still there. He buried his head in his hands, defeated. They were going to send him into the Arena. He was dead.
     
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  17. Melee

    Melee Codename: Maverick

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    The morning was calm and quiet as fog rolled across the valley, blanketing the ground and gradually disappearing just before the treeline of the Great Forest. It surrounded the silhouette of Chorrol, casting an eerie, ethereal feel on the distant city. The silence was almost unsettling; there were no birds or other animals to be heard, and even the wind had ceased rustling the leaves in the trees.

    The quiet was broken by the soft whizzing of an arrow piercing the air before embedding itself in the neck of an unfortunate deer that had decided to leave the relative safety of the trees and make its way into the open. A small Wood Elf, Solenne, slipped off the branch of a nearby tree and landed quietly in the grass, leaving small imprints in the dew-covered grass as she made her way over the deer. The arrow had proved fatal, killing it the instant it was struck. While the deer wasn't quite as large as she wanted it to be, she could tell by the feel of the fur and skin that it would still make leather of excellent quality. With a decisive nod, the Bosmer got to work skinning the animal, working quickly and cutting with practiced ease. A short time later she was wrapping the skin up and adding it to the pile tied to a makeshift backpack.

    A short time later Solenne stood up, looking over the large stack of skins tied to her backpack. It was becoming a bit of a burden to carry all of them, so now seemed like a good time to take them into town to get some money for them. She hadn't stayed in an inn for quite some time, mostly because she preferred sleeping outside anyway. There were hardly any people to deal with, and nobody outright staring at her as she made her way through town. However, over the past few days she'd been followed by a strange sense of foreboding that had made her unnaturally anxious. The Wood Elf knew she could take care of herself in the woods; she had been practically all her life. Solenne was respectfully cautious of nature and all its inhabitants she came across, knowing full well just how powerful they were. But she had never been afraid of it. This was such a strange, strong feeling that she decided it was wiser to sleep inside of a locked room until the feeling passed.

    Shaking her head and hauling her skins on to her back, the Solenne threw a glance over her shoulder at Chorrol as she set a brisk pace in the opposite direction. The residents and shopkeeps had made their feelings toward her known right off the bat. Most of them refused to list decent prices for her skins, and some flat out ignored her as she stood in front of their stall. She would be taking her business to the Imperial City instead. She huffed softly and blew some unruly hair out of her face, watching glimmers of sunlight start to peek through the trees as she trekked through the Great Forest.

    ---

    It was well past midday by the time the Solenne made it to the Imperial City's gates. She was now part of a loose, motley group of traders, wanderers, and farmers making their way into the city. The bustling, chaotic sounds of the city never ceased to irritate the young Bosmer, and with her heightened anxiety bearing down on her, today was no exception. Normally she would take the time to walk a full circle around the city, occasionally crisscrossing down different alleys in order to take in the new additions to the city. New buildings would glow and tower above her, old tenements and housing towers leaned further over the roads, ready to topple if the wind blew too hard in the wrong direction. Despite her distaste for the city and most of what she encountered while in it, Solenne had to admit that the ability to build such massive and breathtaking structures was impressive.

    She broke away from her group, slipping down an alley that she vaguely remembered from the last time she visited the city (had it really been years ago? skies above it had). It was a bit narrow and twisted and wound itself to be a bit out of the way, but it had been quiet and nobody bothered her, especially if she threw a glare their way. This time was a bit different, however. Even before Solenne had made it inside the city, she had noticed a distant, dull roar behind the normal sounds of the city. She thought perhaps she was just hearing things, but now that she was working her way further into the city, there was no denying it. Something was making a terrible racket, a racket that sounded an awful lot like cheering and screaming, and pounding that made the whole city around her shake.

    Sure enough, as she rounded a corner, Solenne got her first glimpse of the gargantuan structure where the noise was originating from. A giant coliseum, stretching as far as she could see from her opening, seemed to have risen from the ground right in the middle of the city. She'd heard vague rumors of this "Arena" in neighboring towns and even into other provinces, but had assumed they were only dramatic stories of a fighting club. The real thing was far larger than any stories that she had heard. I wouldn't want to be caught dead in that place, Solenne thought as she imagined the sheer number of people that the arena could hold and the type of people it housed.

    Tearing her eyes away from the looming wall, Solenne turned right onto a main street, scanning the signs hanging from the buildings that would indicate where the shop she frequented sat. She had only traded with the shop owner once before, but although he was quiet and barely spoke to her his prices were fair. Who knows, she thought to herself, he might even give me some extra coin for my better skins and I can spend a few days in an inn. It was highly unlikely, given how most people in Cyrodiil seemed to regard her, but she could hope. It wasn't often that she felt optimistic.

    After a couple more minutes of wandering down the street, Solenne found the sign she recognized and turned to go into the shop, bumping into someone who was in a hurry to leave and mumbling an apology as they scurried away. Rolling her eyes and making her way up to the counter, Solenne heaved the pack of furs and skins off her back and onto the counter with a thud. The shopkeeper, a large gruff-looking Nord, appeared from a door behind the counter, giving her a quick look-over before approaching her.

    "What can I do for you?"

    "I'd like to sell these deer skins. Some of them are a bit small but they're all good quality."

    The shopkeeper briefly looked through her pile of skins, searching for any unwanted marks or problems. Solenne waited patiently. She had lugged 20 hides around for who knows how long (2 weeks, actually) and was hoping to get close to almost 200 septims for them. She didn't think that would be a problem considering their condition. She took her hunting very seriously.

    "50 septims," the shopkeep grunted, crossing his arms and frowning at the small Bosmer standing across the counter.

    Solenne blinked in suprise. "There are 20 pelts there."
    "Aye."
    "They are all excellently trimmed and maintained."
    "Eh. They are a bit small. My son could catch bigger game."
    She bristled. "They aren't so small that you can't make quality leather from them. 50 septims is not a fair price."
    "It may be a bit low. But then, I don't treat thieves fairly."

    His last comment caught Solenne by surprise, and it was clearly visible on her face. "I am no thief."

    The Nord laughed, waving in someone coming through the door behind her. "Whatever you say, little Bosmer. But I think these people will take my word over yours. I saw you take these hides from other hunters. No need to deny it," he said with a wink.

    Solenne felt a chained hand clamp down on her left shoulder, heavy and gripping like a vice. She looked up into the face of an Imperial guard, sneering down at her through the gaps in his helmet. "We've been watching you, Elf. We know of your prowess with a bow and think you would make an excellent addition to our group of fighters." Solenne's flight response kicked in and she made to pull away, trying to use her small size and nimbleness to get out of the shop and into the street. The guards were ready, using their larger stature to trap her and get her wrists tightly bound behind her back, but not before stripping her of her bow and the iron dagger strapped to her calf.

    "Who knows," the guard continued as Solenne continued her futile attempt to kick free of her captors, "maybe I'll even bring my sweetheart to the next event to watch you fight for your life. Nothing gets people going more than spilled blood. And the next festival is supposed to be a big one."

    Solenne finally stopped struggling, breathing heavily and glaring daggers at the guards around her. "What are you talking about? Where are you taking me?"

    A hearty laugh echoed through the small, wooden shop. "Where else? You're headed for the Arena," a guard snickered as a sack was put over her head and the world went black.
     
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  18. Keidivh

    Keidivh Noble exile of High Rock

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    A deathly silence seemed to reign across the vast expanses of the Great Forest, as if the very essence of life and vibrancy that any forest should have was brutally ripped from it. Only on the Black Road could there be seen any signs of life, if one could call the solemn bunch there lively. Only the crackle of bonfires could be heard, placed just on the side of the road to give the traveling group the cover of the trees. A truly motley assortment they were, all manner of folk clad in various arms and armor. Bows, battle axes, longswords, shield bearers, spears; leather, plate, chainmail. It couldn’t be mistaken what kind of people these were. Sellswords, butchers who offered their bloody work for coin. And this particular bunch fought under the banner of the Crimson Reavers, one of the many mercenary forces that now operated in Imperial lands. Once the peace might have been kept by the Legions, local guards, or even the Fighters Guild. But the Legions couldn’t be bothered by mundane issues such as the plight of the peasantry, local guards were too weak to combat any significant danger, and the Guild was too depleted. So such work fell to the likes of the Reavers, who got the job done. And if some villages were pillaged, a few rapes occurred… Well, that could just be written off as collateral damage. Not like such groups were known for being honorable. Amidst the sea of barbarians, cutthroats and beleaguered warriors sat one that stuck out like a sore thumb. While most of these folk were caked in dirt and grime, their arms and armor thick rust and filth, he was well groomed, his dark tan skin washed, his short, dark brown hair and beard well-groomed and trimmed. His steel armor was of exquisite quality, the finest of steel, etched with glowing blue runes that run across the trim of it.

    The Breton warrior sat against a tree, slumped up against it as he let his eyes rest, dark heavy bags set beneath them. Sleep was something that rarely graced him these days. Instead he simply lay with his eyes closed for hours, praying to the Divines he would be graced with some kind of rest. That had yet to happen, so he simply lay there, waiting for the order to move once more.

    Well, well. My blue eyed lover doze off again?” He groaned as he realized the voice was directed at him, knowing all too well who that Valenwood accent belonged to.

    Remind me when the last time I dozed off was again? Sounds to fantastical to be true.” His voice was dry, but there was slight bit of humor in it as a half irritated, half amused smile formed on his weary face.

    He suddenly felt a familiar weight fall into his lap, but still kept his eyes closed, much to the chagrin of the she-elf. “I seem to recall you were fairly well rested after my last visit.” She purred into his ear, stroking his cheek with her soft hand. “Now come on, show me those eyes of yours Rol.

    He let out a sigh of resignation, and with great effort opened his eyes, which were a curiosity to behold. They were blue as the Bosmer said, but what was strange was that they glowed an icy blue color. “As I recall you didn’t let me rest much.”

    The light glow of his eyes shone across her fair skin. She was quite a bit shorter than him, and lithe like many of her kind. Her blood red hair was shaved on one side and brushed over it, with Bosmeri war paint emblazoned across her face. “And as I recall, you didn’t complain about that.” She teased with her fierce smile before planting her lips against his. He enjoyed spending his time with Grove. She was just a fun girl to be around. Didn’t ask any questions, didn’t try to get attached or any bull like that. They simply had their fun, and that was it. It was simpler that way. Safer.

    If you two are quite done, we have ourselves an infestation to clear out!” This voice was much different than Grove’s lyrical voice. It was harsh and gravely, the kind of voice that got a Legion off its ass, and he knew it well. It came from a giant of a man, a brutish Redguard, clad head to toe in what looked to be Orsimer armor, with a giant claymore that stood nearly as tall as him to top it off. Reaver, of the Crimson Reavers. Being clever most certainly isn’t his specialty. Rolard cracked a smile as he push Grove off of him, giving him a pout as she stood up.

    It seemed a lot had happened since he rested his eyes. The camp had been largely torn down and the majority of the force was nearly set to move out. It was an impressive group, numbering at least fifty, more than enough to clear out a bunch of Goblins. At least that’s what Reaver kept saying.

    Any of the forward scouts get back from Fort Ash yet then? We know how many of the beasts we’re dealing with.” Rolard inquired as he readied his own equipment, attaching a beautiful scabbard to his hip, inlaid with swirling designs of High Rock.

    For Oblivions sake Rol! We don’t need any forward scouts for this plopse mission, its Goblins for Divines sakes! We simply walk in, bloody em up a bit, and off into the forest they run, and the Black Road is open once more, and then we’ll bleed Count Vulga of every Septim he’s got for the trouble!” Reavers voice left no room for argument, which was truly unfortunate as this plan was absolute plopse. If there was anything he had learned in his time at war, it was to never underestimate a green skin. Orsimer or Goblin, they could prove to be far more cunning then their brutish nature let on. But Reaver would hear none of it, so he just have a curt nod and started the final stretch to Fort Ash.

    (Two hours later)

    Fort Ash had grown a great deal since its original creation. Where once it stood mostly as a singular tower, it had been turned into a much larger complex back during the Great War, serving as a key defensive point for Imperial forces. Even after the war it had been maintained by Emperor Mede, but under the new regime, most forts were quickly abandoned as the funds were sent to other, more shady areas. Still, it was quite a formidable bastion, and it was teeming with Goblins.

    Rolard and his fellow Reavers had stuck to the tree line on their approach, and were now on the very edge of it, merely a few hundred feet away from the Goblin horde. It was an impressive force, at least eighty of the beasts milling about the general area and walls.

    A paltry force, we’ll have them cut down within the hour.” Rolard turned and gave an irritated look to the man who had spoken. An Imperial, Tiberius. He was twin brother to Romulus, both of whom wore partial plate armor, and wielded a thick iron shield and spear. They were good warriors, he had fought alongside a few times before, but they were cocky.

    I wouldn’t be so sure about that. We have no idea how many more could be inside. How many could be surrounding us in the forest. We should have scouted the bloody area before waltzing in.” Rolards face was contorted into an irritated grimace as he assessed the current situation. If wasn’t piss poor and his family near starvation, he’d walk away right now and leave these idiots to an early grave. But that unfortunately was the case, so he stayed, and prayed to Stendarr and Julianos for guidance.

    Reaver raised a hand that called for silence and everyone to prepare. With great care, Rolard unsheathed his sword, which would turn out to be even more beautiful than the scabbard. It was white ebony, a rare substance that made for deadly weaponry and excellent armor. Multiple Bretonic runes were etched into its face, the pommel was lined with sapphire gems.

    A nearby Orsimer berserker snorted as he looked at the blade, giving Rolard a look of contempt. “I still don’t know where a street rat like you managed to get such equipment.” He

    Rolard didn’t dignify his remark with a response, besides spitting in his general direction. The orc rose and looked as if he were about to try and cleave him in two, when Reavers hand fell. The signal was given. Time to make war. With a thunderous war cry the Crimson Reavers charged out from the tree line. The dozen archers they had stayed towards the back and began picking their marks, arrows and bolts whirring overhead, striking down a good score of Goblin filth. They were able to let loose one final volley before the main force crashed into the disorganized Goblin rabble outside the walls. Screeches and guttural roars were heard as the Goblin nest was stirred, and more began to pour out from the gate and over the walls. Rolard charged in beside Grove, the twins, and the berserker, easily parrying the nearest Goblins strike before lashing out with a strike of his own, slitting the Goblins throat with relative ease as he strode past it and moved onto the next. Grove had here twin dark steel daggers out and was twisting and weaving her way through the Goblin lines, eviscerating the graceless creatures with well-placed strikes that would incapacitate and slow the beasts, while the twins fought side by side, no blow able to break through their shield wall.

    It was at this time that the first of the Goblin Berserkers entered the fray, leaping off of the walls with a mighty war cry, and landing atop a five Reavers who had moved to far ahead of the main force. They were mauled and ripped apart by the ferocious beasts, leaving bloody piles of gore in their wake. Reaver swore loudly as a part of his force was so swiftly eliminated. They were killing a lot more than the Goblins were, but at this rate they’d be worn down by attrition. Reaver pointed towards Rolards group. “All of you, take down those berserkers now. 25 septims per head!” The man always knew how to motivate his people. Rolard slammed an iron fist into the Goblin he was currently fighting, feeling the bones in its face crack from the pressure, before driving his white ebon blade through its stomach.

    Come on kiddos, time for a real challenge!” Rolard shouted eagerly as he led the charge. He collided with two berserkers, blocking their near endless stream of strikes. They moved with unnatural speed, like they had hit a crate of Skooma each before coming out to do battle. The Berseker Lugdul followed quickly after him, slamming into the nearest berserker. The beast stabbed into his arm multiple times, but Lugdul hardly seemed fazed as he cleanly snapped its neck and moved on to the next with unhindered enthusiasm. The rest had engaged as well by now, and a truly bloody melee had begun.

    It took a great deal of effort and concentration to parry each blow from the tireless Goblin berserkers, and even then he was unable to block every one. While his armor absorbed the blows well, he was still bleeding from multiple points across his body, many cuts raking his left leg and right arm. Finally the berserker on his right made a mistake, stumbling back after Rolard blocked his latest blow. Not wanting to lose the opportunity, Rolard ducked beneath the berserker on his left, throwing it off its feet as it went too far into its swing before coming back up in a quick spin, cleanly decapitating the right one, its head flying off with a spectacular spurt of gore flying from its neck. This left him open to one on the ground though, who was able to get a vicious slice in on his left leg, causing Rolard to stumble to the ground in agony. With a vicious roar he twisted around and drove his blade deep into the creature’s stomach, his glowing eyes staring straight at the beasts own as he watched the life slowly drain away from it. It took a few minutes before the rest had finished off their own adversary. Grove has able to sever the tendons in the creatures arms, allowing her to easily dispatch him, although she received a nasty blow to the head in the process, a different kind of red mixing into her war paint now. The brothers had finally skewered the three they faced, not to worse for wear thanks to their shielding of each other. Lugdul however was covered in lacerations and cuts, bleeding quite a bit, but the warrior seemed unfazed, clearly in the throes of his battle rage which was thankfully still focused on the Goblins.

    At the sight of some of their best warriors being cut down, the rest of the Goblin force began to falter, fleeing back to the keep while the Reavers pursued, cutting them down every step of the way. Finally the battle turned in their favor. Reaver led the charge, crying out for them to finish the job. “On me Reavers, let’s clean up this filth!” He cut down three of the fleeing Goblins with one sweep of his claymore before moving towards the gate. The battle had turned to their favor just in time. Ten were dead, and well over a dozen others were to injured to fight on. Only the weak morale of the Goblins granted them victory.

    Or so they thought.

    Right when Reaver got the main gate, a horrendous roar was heard from atop it, drowning out the sounds of the raging battle itself so great was its fury. Everyone stopped in their tracks to see what kind of creature could emit such a noise, and the sight made even Rolards blood chill in fear.

    On top of the gatehouse stood a goblin that was as tall as Lugdul, a whopping 7 feet at least, its skin a dark shade of blue. It was thick with muscles that were thickly scarred from countless battles it had likely been in, and was dressed head to toe in the bones of various enemies. Man, Mer, beast. Everything it seemed. In its hand it wielded a massive mace, made of dark iron that looked to be well used. It was Gnarltooth, Warlord of the Blood Fists clan. This was a lot worse than even Rolard could have imagined.

    [​IMG]

    It hopped off the gate house and smashed into the ground before Reaver, who nearly stumbled to the ground from the impact. He was a true warrior though, and lashed out with a war cry of his own, but was cut short as the great beast easily evaded the strike, and broke the claymore with but a single blow from the massive mace. Reaver stood helpless before Gnarltooth, and it let out a sinister smile of jagged, sharp teeth before bashing him to the side like a child hitting away a doll. Upon seeing their leader enter the battle, the Goblins were filled with renewed vigor and charged into battle, far more fierce then before. The Reavers were quickly being overwhelmed by this renewed assault, as they themselves were quite battle weary. A great score of them were cut down within minutes, and Roalrd knew they could no longer win through force of arms. But his time fighting orcs had taught him a few things about greenskins. Most important was that they follow the strongest. He just needed to remove the head. Cutting down one of the Goblins in his path he moved towards Gnarltooth before shouting out a word in Orcish. “Mak’gora!

    This caused the battle come to a sudden standstill. The Goblins looked to their leader, eager to see his reaction. Gnarltooth stared the Breton for a moment, before its sinister, disgusting grin returned to its voice. “Mak’gora.” It growled, causing Rolard to clutch his sword all the harder from anxiety.

    The Goblins backed away from the battle, and the few remaining Reavers watched in utter confusion as Rol and the Goblin warlord seemed to engage in some Greenskin challenge. As Gnarltooth approached him, the Goblins began clashing their weapons together, or smashing them into the ground, chanting as their leader prepared to crush the puny challenger.

    Muluk. Muluk! Mulul! MULUK!” The chant became deafening, and at its zenith Gnarltooth let out another horrific roar before charging at Rolard, leaping into the air and bringing his mace crashing down where he stood. Rolard barely had time to react, diving out of the way right before Gnarltooth crashed down. He didn’t have much time to recover as almost immediately the warlord was upon him again, swinging the massive mace as if it was a feather. Rolard strained greatly to dodge each strike, not even bothering to try and block such strength. He was already worn out from the battle, and the laceration on the back of his leg was taking its toll. Each doge became slower, each strike a bit more lethargic. He simply couldn’t find an opening where he could strike true, and he was quickly running out of time. Finally he miss-stepped, and just caught his sword, knocking it from his grasp and causing him to stumble onto his back. Standing victorious over his opponent, Gnarltooth gave a victorious roar much to the joy of his followers, who were eagerly eyeing the remaining Reavers, who watched, horrified as Gnarltooth picked up Rolard and make an example of him. The beast drove his fist into his face repeatedly, breaking his nose and leaving Rolard on the verge of unconsciousness. He could barely hear Grove shriek out his name as he faded in and out, and Gnarltooth brought him close to its face. It hissed something in its strange tongue, apparently gloating over its easy victory. Rolard whispered something back.

    Pride comes before the fall ya cocky bastard.” Both of Rolards hands were suddenly wreathed in blue flames, both the Goblins and Reavers staring, stunned at this sudden development. Not wasting a moment, Rolard grasped Gnarltooths face, digging his hands deep into its skin as the flames scorched and burnt it.

    It let out great howls of pain as it dropped Rolard clutched its face. He wanted to do nothing more than close his eyes and blissfully black out, but he had to finish the job. With great effort he reached over to his sword, and upon grabbing it, it burst into blue flames as well. With one final cry he swung Saphfire at the Warlord, and slit his throat open. Gnarltooth stumbled back and made gurgled cries for help, terrified by the fire warrior. It managed to claw itself up and lope into the Great Forest, blood marking his path. Stunned, the Goblins came to the realization that their leader was defeated, and soon broke in a panicked rout, fleeing as fast as their feet could carry them back into the woods after their dying leader. Fort Ashe was liberated, and Rolard finally blacked out.

    -----

    Rolard awoke with a start as he shot up from his cot in a cold sweat reaching for his sword that was out of reach. plopse, where’s my armor, my sword! Damnit to Oblivion! Upon hearing the distressed movements Grove walked over and gently stroked his hair as she laughed at the sight. “Easy there Arcane Blade, don’t go busting all your stitches. Worked hard on those.” Upon seeing that he wasn’t still surrounded by Greenskins, he relaxed and laid back down, happy to be in a tent. Hopefully they were close to home.

    What in Oblivion happened back there, and what’s up with that stupid nickname?” He muttered as he took into account the many new pains that were registering in his brain. He had taken more hits than he thought. Sloppy.

    Oh don’t tell me you don’t remember, you went all alpha on that massive warlord that tossed Reaver around like a ragdoll! Sent those goblin plopses running with their tail between their legs. And that’s what everyone’s calling you now. City’s abuzz with news of the blue flames warrior who struck down a Goblin Warlord.” She was smiling, like it was some grand accomplishment or something, but for Rolard that was about the worst news he had ever heard.

    It can’t be that big of a deal…” He groaned as he painfully pushed himself up from the cot, before realizing his lack of clothing. “And did you have to strip everything off?

    Well, I had to have some form of repayment now didn’t I?” A playful grin danced across her face as leaned against him. “And you’d be surprised. That Gnarldick guy was a serious pain in the arse in the Great Forest region. And with those blue flames of yours, makes for a hell of a story.

    So now I’m well known, have a bloody nickname, and people now know there’s a man who uses blue fire in the Reavers. Wonder how many days I have before they hunt me down?

    Rolard just dragged his hands across his face as he got up and began the process of getting dressed and packed up his equipment. Seeing as they were out of immediate danger, he dressed in relatively simple clothing. Some brown wool pants and white linen shirt, with a thick black coat on top and exited the tent without saying another word, to frustrated to say anything to Grove right now.

    He was relieved to find that they were already back at the Imperial City, telling him he was out for nearly five days. As he exited he was surprised to see Reaver hobbling about with what was left their company.

    Ah, there he is, the Arcane Blade himself!” Reaver excitedly limped over to him and clasped his shoulder. “Well done lad, well done! You can’t even begin to imagine the kind of contracts we’ll get after this! I promise you lad, stick with me and you’ll be drowning in Septims!” Rolard was going to scoff when Reaver pushed a rather heavy coin purse into his hands.

    That’s a thousand septims there boy. Four times what you were supposed to make. And we got ourselves an even bigger contract.” Reaver then leaned in close and lowered his voice to a whisper. “Perform well in the next one as well, you’ll have a shot at becoming partner.” Rolard’s eyes grew wide at that, scarcely believing those words. If that was true, he could make more than enough to support his family, and having a full mercenary company at his back would be a great boon to taking back Akaire.

    What was left of the Crimson Reavers disbanded and headed into the city, the twins and Lugdul heading to the Tavern, while Grove decided to head to the Gold Coast for some vacation time. “Come with me blue eyes, you look like plops, and that was before ol Gnarldick got hold of you. You need to give yourself a rest. Even you can’t keep fighting forever.

    Rolard smiled as he gave her a kiss on the cheek and began walking towards the city, “That’s one thing I can do.” One thing I have to do… “Sides, gotta big contract coming up next week. Can’t miss that kind of payday. Have fun seducing some sailors.

    Grove rolled her eyes as she got on a carriage, “Ah come on now Blue eyes, you know you’re the only one for me.” She offered him one final wink as he headed back into the cesspit of the Imperial City, and immediately regretted not going with her.

    After a couple of hours winding through the glorious, never ending slums of the Imperial City, Rolard made it to the no less awful Water Front district. It was here, snuggled up somewhere between a warehouse that stored fish, and dilapidated tenement building that his own little shack lie. Not too bad all things considered, last place anyone would expect to find a noble family.. Equipment and coin pouch in hand, he headed inside. It was quite simple and meager as one would expect. A few candles lighting up the gloomy interior, a small table with three chairs, two cots, and a door leading to a small bedroom. And to top it off, a Breton with a spear in hand, drenched in sweat and dressed in dock workers attire.

    There was a brief standoff between the two, before the Breton cracked a smile and embraced him. “You gonna try and skewer me every time I walk into the house Vaynar?

    He laughed as he slapped in on the back and took a step back. “Gotta keep you on your toes dear brother. Divines you look like plopse though!” He was slightly surprised to see how bruised and beaten Rolards face was. He simply shrugged as he smiled at his dearly missed brother. The two looked a great deal alike, tan, brown hair, blue eyes, although Vaynar’s didn’t glow.

    Got in a little fistfight with a Goblin warlord, you know, the usual.” Vaynar sighed and shook his head, not surprised that he put himself in such a situation.

    Ellia was worried sick about you, she isn’t gonna be happy about all those marks on your face.” He knew he wasn’t lying, Ellia had inherited their mother’s ability to nag and scold.

    Rol?” Speak of Mehrunes.

    He turned towards the bedroom door to see his little sister standing in the doorway, a small lass, no older than six. She had red hair, and blue eyes that came from their mother, as well as a few freckles speckled across her face. Upon seeing that it was him she rushed forward and jumped into his arms, nearly knocking him off his shaky feet.

    Oof, easy there Snowflake. You can charge like a minotaur, you know that?” She giggled into his shoulder, but refused to let go, taking a moment to look at his face, a horrified expression appearing on hers.

    Rol, your face! Did the bad men hurt you?” He kissed her forehead softly and held her close again, gently stroking her to put her at ease.

    Hush little one, the bad men are nowhere near us. Just got in a scuffle with some Greenskins.” He set her down and gave her a broad smile, as much as it hurt to. “But I beat him up worse.

    This brightened her up, and she clapped in adulation for her big brother. “Good job Rol! Da would be proud of you! Ya always knew how to cut the Greenskins up proper!” She said as she tried to copy some of the moves she had seen him use in the practice yards of Akaire. She stumbled and miss-stepped adorably as she tried to do it right. “One day, I’ll learn to fight just like you! Then I’ll cut all the bad men and Greenskins! Make them pay for hurting us!

    This brought down Rolards spirit somewhat. She was such a sweet girl. Compassionate, loving, intelligent. But she had lost her innocence, her childhood. She spoke of things no child should even know about, and it terrified him that he didn’t know how to fix it. Finally she fell flat on her back after trying to do a spin attack, causing both the brothers to chuckle at her antics. Vaynar took her up in his arms.

    Don’t you worry yourself about that Snowflake, by the time your our age we’ll be back in Akaire, and you won’t have to worry about the bad men any longer.” She didn’t seem satisfied with this, but gave a small nod, knowing she wouldn’t win an argument with the brothers. Seeing her dissatisfied, Rolard went into his pack and pulled out a small dogwood flute he kept with him on his travels.

    How about I play you a song, put you back to bed, huh?” The young Breton girl gave an excited yelp as she jumped out of Vaynars arms and into her bed, eagerly awaiting her song. Rolard eased himself into a chair by the head of her bed, and prepared to play.

    Can you play the one momma played for me?” Her voice was soft as she was already beginning to fade into rest. Rolards voice caught in his throat for a moment as he remembered the tune. They hadn’t played it since Akaire.

    Of course Snowflake, anything for you…

    ( )

    --------

    The week went by relatively smoothly, the family greatly enjoying being reunited once again. It was a rare treat, as Rolard was nearly always out looking for some kind of work, desperately looking to bring in coin for his siblings, but with this bonus, it gave him time to relax and enjoy their time together. They spent time at the Elven Gardens district. While nothing near as wondrous as it once was, it was a nice place to sit back and relax, something they family got to do quite rarely. But such time together was always short, and by weeks end, Rolard was off once more to head off on a contract. His wounds had largely healed, although his face was still worse for wear. A reluctant Ellia wrapped herself around his leg though, refusing to budge.

    You can’t go again Rol! Ya just got back!” She pleaded, making puppy dog eyes that could melt any heart. The girl would be a master manipulator one day.

    You know I must sweet Snowflake, got to bring in the Septims somehow.” While Vaynar made a small income as dock hand, it was nowhere near enough to support the entire family. He just worked it so he could be home with Ellia and keep an eye on her. She herself was far to young to do any kind of work. Instead she would stay home, and occasionally sneak out to play with the other street rats.

    Finally Ellia loosened her grip, wiping a few tears away from her icey eyes. “I understand Rol, but before you go. I wanted to give you something!” She sprinted back into the house as fast as her little feet could carry her, remaining inside for a minute, before coming back out with a small wrapped package.

    I saw it in the Market District at Fighting Chance, and I wanted to give it to you! When you fight the bad men!” There was a great deal of hope and excitement in her eyes, praying to the Divines he’d be happy with her. It was a beautiful Elven dagger, which must of cost no small maount of coin. Truth be told he was happy, but at the same time disturbed and annoyed. She was far to fascinated with “killing the bad men”, and he didn’t like that she would sneak out all the way to the Market District! He’d have to talk with Vaynar when he got back.

    I love it Snowflake! Many a beast will fall by this blade!” He wrapped his arms around her, before sheathing it in his boot to catch foes off guard. Patting her on the head, he waved farewell to his brother, and began his trek to the Crimson Reavers Chapter House.

    It was a fairly long walk into the slums to get to the Chapter house, but it was one he was quite used. The usual ruffians that hung about quickly learned to stay out of his way after a few lost some limbs. The Chapter House itself was fairly simple, a larger building in the center of the slums, with a bloody sword and axe on a banner.

    Home sweet home.

    He strode up to the house and entered, the outside guards nodding in acknowledgement, their main focus being on vagabonds and thieves trying to scope out the house or cause trouble. The main entrance room was fairly simple, a few trophies from past contracts such as troll and Goblin skulls. Right ahead of him was Reavers office, guarded by the twins, dressed in full arms and armor.

    Morning gentleman, beautiful day for an expensive contract eh?” He was met with silence, neither even bothering to offer him a glance. Dicks.

    Not bothering to see what was wrong with them, he headed right in to the main office where Reaver would be waiting to brief him, and hopefully discuss this possible partnership. He doubted it would be this quick, but it could be a possibility. Upon entering he saw Reaver in deep discussion with a hooded man. He couldn’t hear much, but he heard big numbers, which was quite promising.

    Greetings gentlemen, trust this here’s our contractor. What’s the target? Another Goblin infestation? Raiders?” Reaver looked up at him, and gave him a look that he had never seen before. One of malice.

    No Mr. Seton. We have a very different target.” Rolards heart dropped through the floor upon hearing that. He never told anyone his last name. Not even Grove.

    Where in Oblivion did you get that bloody name?” He hissed through gritted teeth, feeling heat beginning to rise in his hands.

    Why from our esteemed guest here.” He gestured to the hooded man, who now stood and turned towards.

    Greeting ‘Lord’ Rolard. It seems House Seton has fallen low indeed to work with such scum. Truly pathetic. Thankfully, scum like this are easily swayed by coin.” He leaned his head back towards Reaver, who was greedily digging into a pile of Septims that was laid out on the desk.

    He knew this face. Enric Blardyn, third child of Lord Blardyn. The same Lord who butchered his parents in their own home. “You piece of plopse, you dare show your face before me!? I’ll skewer you where you stand!

    You’ll do no such thing.” Reaver stood up and walked around the desk, a brand new glistening claymore made of dark ebony. “Like it? Got it as a little gift for myself when I was contacted about the bounty on your head. Think I earned it.” He petted the massive blade, enamored by how beautiful it was. Rolard heard the door open behind him, clearly this wasn’t a secret to the elder members of the Reavers.

    So here’s what’s going to happen, you are going to lay down your arms, lead us to your family, and you’ll all die quick painless deaths. More than what can be said for your parents.” Enric had a cocky look on his face, feeling like he had hunted down the last of the Setons. The twins came up at his sides, ready to strike him down should he draw his sword. Seeing how they would strike him down if he used his sword or magic. So he placed the sword down, and slowly knelt down to the ground in submission.

    I’m sorry Rolard, we’ll make sure they show your family some mercy.” Romulus mumbled, his voice laden with guilt as he reached out to apprehend him.

    No Romulus.” Rolards eyes began glowing fiercely as he looked into his eyes, “You’re nowhere near sorry enough." Rolard then grasped the elven dagger in his boot and slashed it out, cleanly slicing through his eyes and blinding the traitorous son of a bitch.

    House Seton shall never fall! BURNING BRIGHT!” With his captors caught off guard, Rolard grabbed Saphfire and prepared to slay all those who dare stand before him. Tiberius roared in rage upon seeing his brother blinded, and launched himself at the noble with his spear while Reaver charged him with his claymore as Enric looked like he was about ready to crap himself. Pathetic, boy like him didn’t deserve to be nobility. Rolard launched a fireball at Reaver, causing him to veer off and crash into the ground and crack his head on a table knocking him out, while the fireball engulfed the wall in the back, quickly taking to the old wood and spreading with surprising speed. Rolard turned his attention to Tiberius his white ebon blade once more engulfed in blue flames as it struck out at the Imperial warrior, the ferocity of the betrayed noble and grieving brother bringing them to a standstill as they were matched blow for blow, flame and steel colliding. Finally Rolard was able to get under his guard, slicing beneath his shoulder and weakening his shield arm. He started to gain the advantage until a blade pierced his own shoulder, from the still quaking Enric.

    Ah, bloody coward. That’s all your kin can do, strike from the shadows! Your family know nothing of bravery, of honor!” Rolard twisted around and smashed his gauntleted fist Enrics face, knocking him out cold, blood and scorch marks on his face.

    Rolard turned about to see the bloodied form of Tiberias, cradling his blinded brother with his good arm. He looked up at him, desperation screaming from his eyes. “Please, Rolard. Have mercy.

    Rolard smiled lightly and approached the wounded brothers, kneeling down in front of them. “Would my little sister have gotten mercy from them? My brother?” Silence reigned in the room after the question, only the crackling of fire and creaking of the near collapsing house. They both new the answer, and they knew his answer. Rolard stood up and sheathed his weaponry, walking out of the building. He turned back to the chapter house, summoning flames to his hands once more. An uncharacteristically savage smile formed on his face as he launched flames into the already burning building, engulfing the entire structure in a blue inferno.

    There he is officer! That’s the one who killed our boss! And his noble contractor! Divines save us, he’s burning the district down!” The cries came from the outside guard, who must have fled to get the Imperial Guard of the city when they saw the flames. He watched as the heavily armored guardsmen surrounded him, waiting for an excuse to cut him down like a dog. And their numbers would allow them to do so easily. So he sheathed his sword and knelt down, awaiting their judgement.

    Blue flames… This is the one, that Arcane Blade fella.” The gurds looked at each other, their curiosity peaked. “Be a shame for such talent to go to waste. But there’s a special place where it can be used." All the guard nodded in agreement. The Arena would be his fate.

    No, not there. Divines sake don’t…” He didn’t get a chance to finish his sentence as a club to the head sent him to unconsciousness. They picked up his limp form and cuffed him with Dimeritium hand cuffs before tossing him into the cart that was on its way to the Arena, a few occupants already filling it.
     
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  19. fellowknight

    fellowknight Private Lil' Num-Nums

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    "Come and take it.."

    The words seemed to echo across the sands, the dynamic duo taken aback by Baroth's unprecedented persistence. But it didn't last long. The show was over and action spurred their limbs, and one thing was conveyed: This ends now. Baroth worked himself into a rushed sprint to match their's and rode on the adrenaline rush to numb as much pain as possible; when it ran out, he might not have the strength to hold them back While even moving caused him pain, Baroth didn't let it hinder his second wind, the distance between himself and the duo closing. The Raven, on cue from the Bat, threw herself into a kneel and crisscrossed her winged gauntlets; a firm foothold for the Bat to propel himself over Baroth, swiping downwards with his blades.Baroth blindly threw a gauntlet up to parry the attack, it being caught under the Bat's blades and violently yanked backwards. Simoultaneously, Baroth dove to the side to avoid the Raven which only seemed to evoke her follow-up assault.

    Even moreso spiteful than before, the Raven launched herself at the burly nord and drowned him in yet another merciless assault. Her determination seemed unwavering, even willed as she tangled her blades in the arms of the nord, making his every attempt to retaliate futile. It was over quicker than she expected, apparently, as Baroth punted an attempt to blind him and shoulder-checked the Raven with abrupt force. She fumbled backwards, unable to cope with the momentary disorientation, and Instead fell flat on her back with a pained grunt. Though in recovery, Baroth caught movement in hisperipheral and side stepped just in time to avoid the Bat's flying kick. He landed on his back and Baroth wildly threw his foot down, which the Bat avoided with a tucking roll. Baroth didn't give him a chance to regain his footing however, and threw his foot into the Bat's chest, caught in his clawed hand. Seizing the moment, Baroth shifted all his weight into the trapped foot and hopped up, spin-kicking the Bat's jaw and sending him back to the sands.

    With the two temporarily disabled, Baroth turned in time to see Spero and Maere bolting back towards the group, the boar having heaved something into the air. And before he could move, a sweaty, bruised mass slammed into his chest, crushing him to the ground and racking the air from his lungs. The amount of force left him severely dazed, his prior injuries haunting him as his adrenaline threatened to run out and leave him unconscious. However, speech from the heap said stirred his senses, if only barely audible over the enthused roars of the crowd.

    "..ake me up...not on Nirn anymore..."

    Baroth swiveled his head downwards and instantly recognized Gidian. He promptly pushed the body off him with pained effort and rolled onto his knees, fighting the urge to collapse and surrender. Another painful grunt and he was on his feet, collecting his daggers and a discarded blade as he shook himself, as if to free himself of the pain.

    "Yea..You take a minute.." he called back, stumbling over to his ruined shield and picking it up hesitantly. It was burning to the touch, the melted part of it still flaming as he struggled to keep a grip on the handle. It wasn't much, but it was probably all he'd have for a while, and it could make all the difference. Exhaustively, Baroth peered in the direction Gidian had been thrown from, observing the Spider being tended to by...

    ...who the hell was that?

    On first glance, Baroth didn't register it was the Boar due to his vastly small size, but after recognizing the clump of web-tangled armor on the ground, he steadied himself. How he came to shed the armor was one story, a rather irrelevant one he'd bet; the problem now was dealing with the Boar's newfound mobility. Not to mention how he'd managed to sling Gidian like a ragdoll. Baroth tried to pick out any weakness in the Boar's new set of armor, rather exoskeleton, anything that could give him the upper hand. But it seemed the more unphased injuries he spotted, the more his stomach sank. Eventually he concluded while a head-on assault was more than likely suicide, with the Spider's aid, it would at least provide the others time to recuperate and regroup.

    Haphazardly, Baroth started for them, shield and broken blade in hand, and a dagger under his belt. His body ached all over, and sand was caked in his ruffled hair. The adrenaline rush left him wanting to collapse, and his hands felt clammy and stinging from constant combat. However, against all his injuries, he pressed forward off his heels and advanced on the Boar, catching his eye. A tap on his arm caught his attention, and he looked down to find Spero at his side. She gestured back at the webbing still attached to Gidian's chest, and to the mass of armor before them, entangled with webs.

    And, finally, realization dawned on him.

    (OOC: OOOKKAAYY SO. Took forever, I know it sucks but I promise I'll edit it later. I've just been so bogged down and stressed I haven't felt a writing passion, but the main point here is Baroth disables his attackers and moves to occupy the Boar and spider. Let me know what needs immediate changing and it'll be done ASAP! Sorry for the wait, again, and the cruddy post!)
     
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  20. Archer Drake

    Archer Drake Parkour Enthusiast

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    The wooden prison moved along cobblestone streets, it’s wheels clattering against the loose stones. The wagon stopped twice, each time a body thrown in. Kiyoshi remained as still as a tree, head buried in his hands, fighting back tears that threatened to overwhelm him. His mind raced with images of his death, each one more brutal than the last. He stood in the bowels of the Arena, his ebony swords jagged from countless parries, now useless. His armor destroyed, the last of the silver plating hanging on by mere threads. His body bleeding and bruised, yet still alive. He watched from the side of the battle, outside of his body. A giant of a man stood ahead of him, hefting a gleaming spear, it’s tip coated in crimson red. Kiyoshi drew his dagger and rushed forward, each second moving slower and slower until he could count the grains of sand thrown up by each of his impossibly slow footsteps. The spearman grinned beneath his armor and readied himself as the wounded Kiyoshi threw himself at him. He brought the spear forward, but Kiyoshi side-stepped and kept coming. A black and red blur of movement. He was too slow to react as Kiyoshi drove his dagger into the man’s thigh, maneuvering the blade between the impenetrable armor plates. He ripped the dagger from the man and rose to meet his collapsing form, his dagger finding it’s way into the base of the man’s head. Kiyoshi ripped the dagger from the man and turned to face his last opponent. But a meteor materialized just outside of his field of view, an arrow. Kiyoshi turned in time to see the arrow connect with his vulnerable chest, burying itself down to the fletching.

    The Argonian’s legs failed and he crashed to the sands, his killer standing before him, a twisted grin framing his features. The same grin of his parents’ murderer. The man drew back another arrow and the world went black.

    Kiyoshi jumped back and slammed into the wall of the wagon. He hadn’t realized he’d fallen asleep. His eye focused on the, now dark, interior of the wagon. Two forms lay at his feet, both of them unconscious. The first was a well-built Breton. Kiyoshi grunted in frustration, there is no way my luck can be that bad. His anger flared in response, but he diverted his attention to the Breton’s features. He had a number of cuts across his body, some of them stitched. His face was rather unassuming, well-groomed yet marked by battle. It was difficult to make out much detail in the dimness of the wagon, but the man seemed…different somehow. Something about this man bothered him, but it was impossible to tell exactly what it was. He turned his attention to the other figure in the wagon, a Bosmer. She was surprisingly small, her body looked lithe and agile, and not much heavier than a greatsword. What was a young Bosmer doing in a prison cart headed to the Arena? The Breton looked like he could put up a fight, but what in the world had she done? Everything about her seemed out of place. The Arena was a place for hulking Nords and Imperials dressed in heavy armor and wielding massive warhammers, not Bosmer. Kiyoshi paused, shaking the idiotic thought from his head.

    Bosmer are elves, clever and intelligent, with experience only attainable by their longevity, with unmatched skill in archery to boot. Small, agile, clever, and probably deadly with a bow. He analyzed her features again. Agile build with powerful arms, an archer no doubt. As deadly as she may or not be, she still seemed out of place. Kiyoshi shook his head, all of this was speculation, he couldn’t form opinions of these two with a first glance in the back of a dim prison wagon. He would have to wait until they awoke. The deafening roars of the Arena grew ever louder as the wagon approached. An alienated thought drifted through Kiyoshi’s head, it seems the gates of hell are hungry. It’s high time to return to them. Kiyoshi was taken aback by this thought, it had been so long since…No! I cannot return to that! He clamped his eyes shut and gritted his teeth. He would have to return, the Arena demanded it. Kiyoshi gazed out of the wagon’s barred window at the darkened sky. Mother, Father, I ask for your forgiveness once again. I must call upon the dark talents gifted to me by the Akaviri. I promised I would never call upon them again, but it seems I have little choice. Pray that I do not lose myself to them as I have in the past. May the Hist preserve us as I have failed to do.

    The wagon bounced to a halt, the roars of countless bodies blocking out all thought. Before the doors were ripped open, Kiyoshi was able to recite the line taught to him as a toddler, we all shall receive the due rewards of our deeds. He tied the sash over his blinded eye and turned to the guard,

    “Look alive, Argonian. It’s time to meet all your adoring fans,” the Guard’s voice dripped with sarcasm. Kiyoshi stepped out of the wagon and put forward a neutral face, hiding any emotion. His one eye burned with a fury that could stop a troll mid-stride. Crowds gathered on either side of the entrance to the Arena, clambering over one another to get the best view. A tangle of arms obscured Kiyoshi’s vision as he pushed through the frenzy, struggling to maintain a neutral face. Truth be told, he was terrified. The impossibly large Arena stood before him, and inside it housed the most brutal and animalistic people in Tamriel. It was not death that scared Kiyoshi. He feared that he would permanently lose himself and be unable to return. If he was to die here, he wished for his mind to be clear and his own, instead of manipulated by rage and bloodlust. A hand suddenly latched onto Kiyoshi’s left horn, pulling his head back harshly. He tripped and landed heavily on his backside, staring into the face of an ugly old Nord with a balding head and an unruly gray beard, he reeked of mead.

    “Yer kind are a blight on da’ Empire! I’ll kill all a’ ya! I’ll rip yer parents’ scales off an’ use ‘em to make me armor!” The man spat everywhere as he yelled his slurred and drunken lines. Kiyoshi slowly got to his feet and stared the man in the face,

    “Ya hear me ya stupid lizard?” Kiyoshi gripped the man’s neck and flipped him over his shoudler. The Nord tried to get up, but he was met with a jaw-shattering kick from the enraged Kiyoshi. He wiped the spit from his face and left the broken form of the Nord lying on the ground, a sudden surge of anger racing through his veins. By the time Kiyoshi reached the threshold of the Arena, he was able to control his anger, his mind becoming his own again. Any fantasy of keeping his head by sheer force of will was extinguished. The real Kiyoshi would have to make an appearance again. There was no more room to run from his past, and it was his only hope of ever making it out of here alive.

    The Guards led Kiyoshi through a labyrinth of tunnels and turns underneath the Arena. He tried to remember the route, but the sheer length and amount of turns quickly made the task impossible. To amplify the effect, each of the hallways was near identical to the next, completely lacking in outstanding detail. Lighting, length, color Kiyoshi couldn't find anything memorable. Eventually, the guards led Kiyoshi and his unconscious companions to a large room with coliseum-styled seating and a sand-filled ring below. It was a miniature version of the Arena's main ring, but what purpose did it serve? Was this some kind of screening to see if an arrival was even worth sending out to the public?

    The guards shoved – or in the Breton and Bosmer’s case, threw – them into the sandy ring and slammed the doors shut as they retreated. The boom of the doors echoed around the empty room for a few seconds before the area was plunged into utter silence. Kiyoshi sighed and strode into the center of the arena, dropping to his knees. If he was going to fight, he needed to become the soldier he once was. He needed to stop living a lie and running from himself. Kiyoshi Ryudo is not known as simple slave to the Akaviri, nor a blacksmith. Kiyoshi Ryudo is a ruthless Akaviri Capitan. A shiver of doubt crawled along his spine, it isn’t that simple, it never was. Kiyoshi shoved the thought from his mind, he needed the power, the confidence he felt as Capitan before…before he became aware of his treachery. While he may have been trained under false assumptions, he was still a powerful Akavir swordsman. At heart he was a warrior. Blades felt comfortable in his hands. His mind was quick and perceptive on the battlefield. Being a warrior was in his nature, his very soul. However tainted it may be, he needed to stay true to that. Kiyoshi pulled in another long drag of air and the memories of his training came back to him in crystal-clear detail. He hadn’t lost his touch with his weapons, and only time would tell if he still had the nerve.
     
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