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.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

14: Cheats and deceits

I brought the Redas artifacts to Vivec City this morning. As I strolled the path from Pelagiad I pondered my next move. I expected that my success at the tomb would surprise and impress the treasurer, Faral Retheran, but probably not win her outright support. Whether to spend more time getting familiar with the Redorans of Vivec or return to Ald-ruhn was an open question. It was open until I arrived in the city at least.

The mid-morning sun streamed down as I crossed the bridge from the shore of the bay onto the wide decking of the foriegn quarter canton. As usual there were heavily armed Ordinators pacing their rounds. They almost always recognize me, and since I am known to have completed quite a few pilgrimages in the Temple they normally give me a friendly greeting. Much to my surprise I walked past two Ordinators who seemed to barely notice me. They were engrossed in animated conversation! Not like Ordinators at all! As I passed I heard one saying "...certainly not like a Redoran to...", but I couldn't make out the rest. I picked up my pace. Whatever had happened, it seemed better to get information from Faral in the treasury than gossip on the streets.

I got information that was accurate, but it certainly wasn't good. Last night the arena had filled with boisterous spectators, anxious to witness a duel to the death between a couple of minor nobles. Most disputes are settled in a less final, less dramatic fashion. A duel to first drawn blood is common. Death matches, being infrequent, draw a huge crowd. In the honor bound society of the Dunmer great houses it is unthinkable that someone would not show up. But the crowd was disappointed last night; Rothis Nethan, a minor noble of House Redoran, did not appear for the match. It was hard to say if Faral was more shocked or apoplectic.

"It is an outrage against the honor of our house!" she fairly screamed.

"Yes." Clearly, she was right, so I agreed quickly. Not quickly enough. Her eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets before I could get my one word out. "There must be some explanation," I continued.

That was a mistake. I thought a vein in the side of her neck was going to burst. "Explanation?!!?? There is NO explaining! If he were dead, maybe, but he isn't. He is holed up at the Flowers of Gold! If YOU think there is an explanation YOU talk to him. I have a report to draft to the council!"

I took that as an invitation to leave and scurried for the door.

At the Flowers of Gold I found Rothis Nethan alone at a corner table. The black looks he was getting from the other patrons accounted easily for his being alone, the similar look from the lass behind the counter accounted for the bare table in front of him. I pulled a chair from a nearby table and sat.

"Sitting with me is liable to get you killed outlander," he said stiffly.

I shrugged. "That's why I sat with my back to this wall," I said. He grunted, a non-commital noise. Clearly he did not want company. "What happened?" I asked.

"Listen, four people have already told me that Brethas Deras rescheduled our duel for tonight. I don't need another messenger."

"I'm not a messenger. Actually, that's news to me. I assume you plan to be there."

His hand leapt to the dagger at his belt. "Have a care outlander..." he began, but his words trailed off. "I suppose after last night I have no right to defend my honor," he finished, and his hand fell away from the silver hilt.

"A man can always defend his honor, but I meant no offense. I'm just trying to understand what happened, and what is happening."

"What happened I don't understand myself," he said. "I was resting in my room, reading, trying to keep my nerves loose as the hour closed. I could not imagine falling asleep, but somehow I must have. The innkeeper says they knocked at my door. When I didn't answer they assumed I had left for the arena. I could not have slept so soundly! But apparently I did." I didn't know what to make of this tale, and I suppose he read my silence as disbelief. "No one else believes me either. I can't even buy healing potions to use tonight."

"Healing potions?" I asked.

"Yes, that was our agreement. Healing potions only, no other spellcraft. No armor. Daggers. I will gut the wretched Hluulu, but it is likely too late to restore my reputation. And, as I said, the Temple here in the compound won't even sell me potions."

"I'll take care of that," I offered.

He was obviously grateful. I avoided any questions that may have arisen at the temple by getting the potions at the guild hall. I watched him throughout the afternoon to make sure nothing prevented him from defending the honor of our house a second time. I only wish I had seen the tendrils of the plot that were drawing him to his death.

Once he was secured in the antechamber below the arena to await the appointed hour I returned to the treasury, armed with solid assurances that the duel would take place as rescheduled, anyway. Faral was considerably calmer, and agreed to my company at the festivities.

We took our seats far above the arena floor. As a highly ranked official of the house Faral holds a reserved box, and the view was excellent. Trebonius, my predecessor as Archmage, had demanded such a box for himself, alienating most Dunmer, who considered such a priveledge being given to an Imperial guild a direct affront to their traditions. I had released the claim shortly after leaving Trebonius dead in this very arena.

The sands of the arena were roughened by the hands and feet of tumbling acrobats; entertainment while the onlookers streamed to their seats, then smoothed again by men with large rakes and brooms as the announcer stode to the center of the ring. From his sleeve he drew the agreements of the duel, and began to read.

He had not gotten far when a voice shouted from the stands. "The oddsmakers said this was a light armor duel...with daggers!" I was trying to make sense of what the announcer had just said myself, and was glad for the interruption.

The announcer clearly wasn't. "That was LAST night," he bellowed, glaring in the direction of the offending voice. "After the failure of one of the contestants to appear new terms were agreed upon." He read on and my confusion grew. I should have thought. If Rothis had failed to appear, who had agreed to new conditions? I had no time to ponder.

The doors opened at opposite ends of the arena. From the door to our left Rothis leapt onto the sand. He was nimble, landing in a crouch with his two silver daggers raised at the ready. He wore a tight shirt tucked deeply into his trousers to allow him freedom of movement. There was a momentary pause as the crowd gaped, then there was a gasp as the Hluulu noble Brethas Deras strode from the door to our right. He was clad in full bonemold battle armor, a great two handed sword whirling above his helmeted head! Even from the height of our seats I could see the venomous glow of the blade.

Rothis neither ran nor flinched, much to the honor of our house. It was no duel, it was a slaughter.


Blogger Joseph said...

Well, that's... that's just not cricket!

I never made it very far into the Redoran quests, so it's interesting to read about them here. Especially given the way you bring them to life.

- Joseph.

5:19 AM  
Anonymous Random said...

It's a bit unfair, granted, but that hlaalu will die to the better blade of the Redoran!

1:22 AM  
Blogger Xikorolkel said...

Wow! I finally give Arvil up for dead, assuming that somehow the Sixth House had ambushed him somewhere in the Ashlands, and then on a whim I check back here to find new entries! Thank you so much, Tim, for returning to this project. You do good work.

5:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had a dream about this chapter... The Redoran guy won, though, because short blades > broadswords.

5:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

whoa whoa whoa. short blades over broadswords?? are you nuts? apparently you haven't found the better swords and artifacts, such as Umbra, and Chrysamere just to name a few. dude, seriously, the best weapons in the game are longswords

7:37 PM  

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