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This is the autobiographical journal of Arvil Bren, a somewhat reluctant hero who has been placed on an unknown quest by powers that he barely knows exist. Follow his journey as it is updated daily, Monday through Friday, and enjoy! These are the most recent entries in Arvil Bren's third journal; Politics of the Redoran. His first journal can be found in its entirety here. His second journal, Trail of the Archmage can be found here.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Day 124: River of fire

I awoke this morning with the sun rising over the gleaming Dwemer towers on the horizon. The ruins held my gaze as I ate my breakfast. I fear this corprus disease. I roasted the last of my nix hound, and the usually tangy meat tasted bland. The zesty hackle-lo leaf was like chewing paper. Food seems to have lost its flavor, and at the same time the journey through the wastes of Molag Amur has depleted my supplies. The idea rose unbidden, cloaked in curiosity, but my corprus ridden flesh would grow back if I took off a small piece. It would be easier than hunting, and perhaps it would have some flavor. I was disgusted at the thought, but it kept coming back throughout the day.

A great ridge running down from red mountain ends abruptly, falling away like a cut off stump. The shoulder created at the end of the ridge offers commanding views of the valley below, spread on three sides. At one time it must have been beautiful, and the great Dwemer castle an enviable palace. The valley now is filled with the petrified husks of trees, and where once perhaps flowed a mighty river a jagged fissure seeps molten stone. The devastated towers shimmer in the rising heat. A huge bridge of Dwemer metal spans the gap to the next ridge running down from the mountain, offering an easy path to continue my journey. An easy path had the bridge been unguarded.

As I drew near I could see what could have been a statue of gleaming golden armor. It could have been a statue, but it was not. The golden armor was actually the unnatural skin of a legendary golden saint, conjured in the untold past to guard the bridge. Although its masters were long gone, the creature still stood to its task, and as I approached the bridge it drew an ebony bladed broadsword. A shield dangled by straps from the saint's left arm, and as it brought it up and to the ready I recognized it as Daedric; nearly impenetrable even for Lifetaker, my Daedric wakizashi. My own shield of dreugh hide would not be near as effective against the ebony blade, but it is lighter and more maneuverable. The creature stood, poised on the balls of its feet, blade raised at the ready. I eased from side to side, stopped by the railings on either edge of the bridge. Only the yellow eyes moved, tracking me.

I knew that the enchantment of the Lifetaker was my only advantage, but I worried about my lack of skills. I have been practicing the Akiviri styles, but I am nowhere near as comfortable with them as I am with the spear. Against the inhuman skills of a golden saint I was afraid I would be found wanting; found wanting and sentenced to death. I cast my defensive spells and took the fateful step forward, the one step too far onto the bridge that its defender could not abide.

I intentionally approached along the right hand railing, to give myself room, and as the saint sprang to the attack I countered with an Akiviri spinning back slash. Stepping left and forwards I dodged the thrust of the broadsword and slammed the flat of the blade with my shield, then continued to rotate, bringing the slashing edge of the wakizashi to bear on the saint's right side, away from its shield. Unfortunately the golden saint is masterful in many styles with many weapons. It rode with the push of my shield and the slashing blade met only air at the most powerful point of the stroke. The last trailing swipe of the tip connected lightly with the saint's armored hide, doing little damage, and the magical nature of the creature resisted the Lifetaking enchantment. In return I took a clout to the shoulder from the flat of the heavy ebony blade. Not an effective swing, but given the defensive movements the creature had executed connecting at all was an impressive display of swordsmanship.

After that first clash of blades I detected a tactical advantage that I hoped would even the odds with my opponent's expertise. I continued moving to my left, on an angle that carried me further onto the bridge. A swordsman of the saint's great skill would normally have continued to their left also, circling away from my shield and jabbing with the longer stouter blade of the broadsword. The saint moved right instead, cutting off my access to the bridge. Its assigned task would limit its options; a limitation I hoped that I could exploit. I immediately launched an attack to try to take advantage.

The wakizashi is a very responsive weapon, using quick movements of the wrist to bring its keen edge to bear. I lunged, again to the left for what would look like a passing attack with another backhanded slash. The saint was compelled to shift to its right to cut off the pass, bringing the broadsword up vertically to block the expected slash. With a twist of the wrist the wakizashi whirled a graceful circle and dragged across the golden chest. There was little force behind it, but the sharp blade left a thin bloody furrow as it slid off. In return I took a hard blow to the shoulder, but I was well inside the effective arc of the broadsword. Near the hilt the ebony blade struck with only the force of the saints arm behind it, not the momentum of the heavy blade, and my armor was equal to the task. The force of the blow drove us apart. Warier than ever the saint moved to prevent even a semblance of a passing attack.

I had drawn blood, twice, but done little damage. The wakizashi would continue to leave shallow slices across my enemy's golden flesh, eventually carrying the day if I could avoid taking a severe blow from the heavy broadsword. The Akiviri call swordplay 'the dance of death'. In an individual battle like I had with the saint it is very effective against the heavier swords of the empire. The Akiviri fight for honor. In the empire their methods frequently fail against the blades of their foes, who feel no remorse at wading in in sufficient numbers to constrain the artistic movements and batter down the Akiviri with their clumsy heavy blows. I was grateful that the saint stood against me alone.

The critical turn of the battle hinged not on swordplay, but on enchantment. The saint was bleeding lightly from a half dozen wounds. My shoulder was stiffening from the first heavy blow it had taken, compounded by a crashing swipe it had absorbed from the heavy Daedric shield. I was also bleeding badly from a hard chop that had slid off my shield and torn through the muscles of my upper left arm. I could still manage the shield to my defense, but I was weakening. Then the saint's powerful magic resistance slipped briefly, and the healing energies of the Lifetaker drew upon my opponent's life force to heal my wounds. Not quite completely, but well enough to push the battle firmly into my favor. A few more exchanges and the weakened saint was no longer quick enough. The wakizashi sliced through the tendons of the wrist and the broadsword clattered to the metal deck of the bridge. The saint was defenseless as a final spinning backslash crossed its throat, cutting to the bone. I added the broadsword to my already heavy pack, and claimed the Daedric shield as my own.

I feel somewhat safer tonight as I make camp. The barren wastes of Molag Amur are behind me and I have reached the coast. Even my deep and dream addled sleep should not put me at terrible risk from the rats, mudcrabs, and beetles that make their homes here. Tomorrow I should reach Tel Fyr.

3 Comments:

Anonymous Paul said...

Fantastic chapter - one of the best

I had expected you to duck into the old stronghold and scout it out, but I should have realised Arvil had more sense than that, and the corpus was his bigger "threat" - the stronghold isnt going anywhere and can be explored any day

3:23 PM  
Anonymous Talkkno said...

Hmm nice chapter. I wonder if ARvil will get any of the artfacts after cured.... hint hint

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Zelda_Zealot said...

Great chapter. The begining was a bit disterbing though, the thought of eating your own flesh is disgusting. But it is made up for the amazing fight scene.

8:21 PM  

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