"No boy, again!" A deep, raspy voice said as the elf who it belonged to easily disarmed me. "You'll be no use to us in this war if you cannot even fight properly."
"You're supposed to train me! How do you expect me to get better if I can't even swing?" I angrily remarked.
"You need to learn to have a firm grip on your weapon Sero. You cannot hope to learn how to fight if you can be so easily neutralized," The Dres elf retorted with a stern voice.
The Dunmer that was attempting to train me was Llyrin Dres. A soldier and noble belonging to the Great House Dres. He was clad in heavy chitin plate armor. Very similiar to steel in construct, only it was made with chitin from local ash hoppers and reinforced with resinous glues. His ebony scimitar gleaming a black silver in the torchlight. It was late at night and I was to train inside with him until I could get the lesson right. I was becoming more and more exhausted with each attempted swing. Llyrin was still wide awake and not the least bit tired as I was. Groggily, I went in for another swing and.... failed miserably.
The elf sidestepped my overhead swipe from my chitin shortsword with a swiftness I thought only a cliff racer could possess, my sword burried itslef into the wooden floor and for the love of The Tribunal I could not wrench it free. Llyrin took the opportunity to bring his elbow crashing down onto the back of my head rendering me dazed and confused. The blow dropped me to my knees.
I scrambled to my feet and looked up to see three Llyrins staring back at me with blurred and wavy outlines. He dashed towards me and cut me across the chest diagonally, but just enough to cut through my chitin armor and draw blood. It stung. I recoiled from the swipe while also trying to distance myself from him and his blade so I could regain my eyesight and hopefully land a blow on him. Even though I was seeing triple and my vision was blurry I could swear I saw Llyrin smirk.
Knowing I couldn't retrieve my shortsword, for fear of Llyrin to take it as an opportunity to land another hit, I rushed him with as much speed as my tired, aching body could muster.
Llyrin kept his composure and simply ducked with a swipping leg, tripping me up and knocking me on my ass.
"Tsk, tsk, tsk," The elf clicked with his tongue while shaking his head in dissapointment, his black flowing hair shifting as he did. "We shall continue this session tommorow Sero, for it seems you cannot grasp this lesson and I wish to retire to my bed. I want you at your best tommorow morning at four o'clock right back here. Do I make myslef clear?"
"Yes sir," I said whith a huffing breath.
Llyrin sheathed his sword with a showy twirl back into the scabbard and stretched forth his right hand to help me up. I looked up at him, my stomach falling and rising with each labored breath. I reached up for his hand and grasped it with what little strength I had left. Llyrin yanked me to me feet and looked me over.
"Seems I did a little damage to your armor and some to your body as well what with that blood dripping fom your cuirass," Llyrin pointed to the slash across my chest that trailed from my left shoulder down to my lowest right rib. "However I feel I've done more damage to your ego than anything, but worry not, I will whip you into shape before long. Never-the-less go see Ervyna at the temple to get healed up. You're going to need it for tommorow. And take that armor off and give it to me so I can repair it."
The Dunmer went over to a table where some armors, weapons, and a few clothes layed. He tossed me a brown shirt and I snatched it from the air. I quickly loosened the amor and attempted to remove it. As I did I whinced when I lifted my arms above my head. The cut still stung, but Llyrin was right, my pride hurt worse than the physical damage. With a little effort and ignoring the slight pain I removed the torso piece of my chitinous armor to reveal the slash mark. A Scrib could have done more damage, but that didn't stop it from stinging anyways.
"Did you have to ruin my armor?" I asked in an annoyed tone as I pulled the shirt Llyrin gave me over my head.
"Oh please Teldryn, don't give me that shit," Llyrin said in his monotone, grumbly voice. "Your armor might as well be made out of Netch dung, besides I said I would take care of it for you. How many nobles do you know would actually do that for someone like you?"
"None," I replied.
"Exactly, now off with you."
"Yes sir," I said in an affirmative tone as I turned to go out the door.
"Yeah?" I asked as I turned back around to face Llyrin.
He pulled the chitin shortsword from the floor and tossed it in the air towards me. I easily caught it with my right hand, then tried to mimick what Llyrin did when he sheathed his sword, but ended up slicing the top of my hand when I tried to put it back in its small scabbard and missed.
"Dammit!" I grunted as I dropped the blade.
"Hahaha, quit fooling around boy and go see Ervyna before you get hurt anymore," The older elf laughed.
I picked my sword back up and gently placed it back into its small, cheap leather sheath.
With that I let Llyrin close up the training hall and headed for the door. It was probably around eleven or twelve o'clock at night so not many people where on the streets. Just a few guards and people closing up their market stalls. Tear was a fine city, but not as fine as where I grew up. Blacklight. I have fond memories of that place, but others I'm not so fond of. It's where I took my first job.
On my walk to the temple I lost myself in thought about how life was growing up in Blacklight. I wasn't exactly raised by the most loving parents, but I managed. They both died when I was but a small elf, no older than ten years of age at the time, but like I said I managed.
Instead of doing what most would do when thrust into an existance such as mine, which was begging or thievery, I decided to work for a shop owner. The shop owners name was Slythe if I remember correctly. He sold just about anything you could imagine. Anything from magick tomes to armor and weapons to even goblets and gems. His store was filled with items that adventurers had sold to him in their travels including a few daedric weapons and pelts from animals I had never seen or heard of, such as a sabre cat I believe the man called it.
Slythe was kinder than most people I suppose, I say that because he kept me around when nobody else would and he clothed and fed me. He never really paid me until I became older, around eighteen or something I suppose. That's when I picked up on the diffirent habits and interests of certain races. For instance, Khajiit would almost always attempted to pocket something from his store when he wasn't looking and it was always, always gems. Of course I told this to Slythe who would then have the thief arrested. Another example was when Imperials came to his shop. Most the time they would attempt to persuade or flatter him into parting with something for a ludicrously low price and half the time he buckle under their haggling.
Around the time when I was eighteen I said I was getting paid by Slythe. That is because I worked for him as a guard to make sure the afformentioned didn't steal from him or, Tribunal forbid, harm him. I wasn't the most compitent fighter, but I was intimidating enough that we rarely had trouble out of customers and we started getting a few regulars in too. Slythe paid well too, around seventy drakes a day.
However when I reached age twenty-eight Slythe was killed. He was in his shop as usual and I was standing just inside the door guarding as usual and keeping a close eye on the customers in the store. It was a slow day, but there was about four people in the store. I remember it vividly. There was one Dunmer dressed in typical town clothes, an Imperial man and I assume his wife both looked rather wealthy, and an Orc wearing a musty grey cloak, the same color as my ashen skin. I kept a close eye on the hooded Orc because he looked like your typical ne'er-do-well. I paid too much attention to him when I should've been paying more attention to the Imperial couple. The orc was perusing some daggers on a small table than had a linen cloth laid over it and I thought he was going to steal one when I heard a loud yell come from behind the counter.
Slythe had been stabbed by the Imperial man with a dagger and the woman was behind the counter filling a sack with money Slythe had placed in the drawers there. I reacted instantly running over to the table the orc stood by and picking up one of the daggers mid-stride.
"Malacath curse you!" I yelled as I charged the imperial who had now turned to face me.
Before he could react I tackled the Imperial to the ground and plunged a dagger in his forehead. The Imperial lady panicked and attempted to jump the counter and kill me with a dagger of her own. She died before she even cleared the counter, her corpse straddling the top of it.
I turned my head quickly to look back at who had just saved my life. It was the orc in the dusty cloak who had thrown the dagger he was looking at earlier and pierced the womans heart within the blink of an eye. The other Dunmer had fled, presumably to get the guards.
The Orc lifted his hood and spoke in a way you wouldn't expect an Orc to speak.
"Are you alright?" The Orc asked in a slight Dunmer accent.
I stood there for a minute out of breath and trying to process what in Oblivion just transpired before I spoke.
"Y-yeah, I'm f-fine, thanks f-for asking," I said in between heavy breaths.
"You'd better check on the one behind the counter," Said the Orc.
Immediately I remembered Slythe, I had forgotten in all the excitement and jumped up and ran around the counter. Slythe lay clutching his stomach, eyes open, motionless. He had been killed instantly. I went back around the side of the counter and looked back at the Orc.
"He's dead," I said in a colder tone than I would've liked.
The Orc let out a long sigh before speaking.
"Damn, and I was planning on doing business too," The Orc said in response.
"Just who in Azura's name are you?" I aksed with a little grief in my voice.
"Just a mercenary," The orc replied.
"With the way you dispatched that woman I'd say you're not just a mercenary," I said, "with skills like yours I probably could've saved this mans life."
"I am truly sorry for your loss, friend." The Orc voiced trying to console me.
At that moment the elf who had fled before had now returned with a few guards in tow. Me and the Orc gave our stories to the guards and we both went our separate ways. When the guards left with the Imperial corpses I asked them to let me handle Slythe's. They agreed to let me be over his burial. I had Slythe cremeated and his ashes shipped to Necrom where one of his relatives lived.
Since Slythe had no will and testament the store and all its contents where now property of Blacklight. Meaning I had nothing but the clothes on my backand the coin in m pocket. I was all alone...again. However one thing did stick with me after I had grieved for who I thought of as my father. It was the Orc and his skill at how he handled that Imperial woman. I decided after that I would learn to use a blade and make money at it as I still had no desire to steal or beg for money.
I found a few sword trainers and trained here and there for nearly two years. I didn't have much gold to pay them so I took odd jobs here and there to fund my training. Just when those two years had passed I got word that House Dres had entered a war with Argonians from Black Marsh who had revolted and apparently before that they kidnapped a Dark Elf merchant and tortured him. They dubbed him Saint Roris and he became a rallying cry for war.
Seizing an opportunity to make some gold with my newfound swordsmanship I decided to see if Dres would hire me on. Who would say no to an exta soldier?
As that thought finished I came back to reality and found myself at the temple. I climbed the steps and went in to see Ervyna.