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The Day’s Knight


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The knight stepped forward, glancing around the dimly lit tavern, the modest hearth barely causing a shine on his plated breast. He was tall, even for a Breton. Most would put him at fifty... maybe older. A stern face that had seen many a quarrel. His hair blonde-grey and thinning to the top of his head, and gathered in a loose tie as it rests on his cuirass.

“I am Sir Jerian Maurard, Knight of the Dragon. This is my charge, Sir Roderic Townway...”

From the darkness of the doorway a younger Breton emerged. Much younger than Jerian, perhaps twenty years his junior. He was at least a head shorter, but broader of shoulder, broader of stature. Thick leather-brown hair that falls by a closely cropped beard. The silver of his plate armour coming into view.

“...the Lord Commander sent us to this place to locate one of our own, who has been missing for most of this year. We are led to believe he has turned against his vows, against his kin. Joining in brotherhood with the savages of the Reach...” looking down at the Dragon crest on his cuirass, Jerian lets out a slight sigh, a forlorn look on his brow... 

Stepping forward, placing his hand on a wooden table, Roderic continued “...It is said a Breton, auburn haired and a visible scar on his cheek was sighted on the cliff overlooking this hamlet...” His tone becoming more stern, “...If not for the feeling in my heart, the scar alone is enough to say this is our sworn brother. We need anything that may be offered, that can tell us where he went or who he was with...”

Upon being met with disinterested eyes and disinterested whispering, the cause is deemed lost and Jerian looks at Roderic gesturing towards the door. Through the moist tavern stupor, a raspy voice cuts halting their would-be exit.

“Such burdens may be shared... for the right price...” the voice sneered. While scouring the host within the tavern, the source of the voice is quickly found. Piercing green eyes meet the two knights, who stand watching the cat as he slowly yet with a subtle abruptness comes forth, prompting Roderic to tighten the grip on his sword.

“With the severity of our cause friend, if you know anything... speak now” Jerian replies, slowly walking into the centre of the tavern to meet the Khajiit. Flashing a fearsome grin, the cat retorts “...and I tell you... such things have a price” tilting his head. Becoming somewhat annoyed, Jerian places his hand on his belt and growls quietly “surely there is no price for human decency?”

On hearing this the Khajiit looks to Roderic, seemingly noting his impatience. “Ah... but I’m not human...am I? I tell you one last time that such burdens come at a price... a price that you will willingly oblige... if your cause is as severe as you imply...”

The Khajiit steps back slightly and looks at the two knights, one to the other. The grin, slowly forming into a snarl, he hisses “there are other ways that I can get you to agree...” placing his claw inside his vest.

In an instant, Jerian lunges forward unsheathing his sword, as though he was thirty years younger. In a flash of steel light, the blade sits gently at the neck of the beast slowly turning the golden fur a dark crimson... and one that starts to trickle in a small stream down the blade of Jerian’s sword.

Forcing down a strong gulp, the Khajiit scurries his claw down to his side. His eyes twitch to his right towards the corner of the tavern, and back to meet Jerian’s. Following the sight, Jerian slowly turns his head and can see two small Khajiit whelps... no older than five or six. The boy, with his mane gathered into intricate braids holding the remnants of a stale crust. The girl, much smaller with brilliant sapphire blue eyes clutching on to a small tattered doll.

“Tell me what you know...” whispered Jerian, looking back and engulfed by an unspoken understanding.  Nodding and his eyes wide, the Khajiit relents and mouths the word… “Markarth”

The barkeep steps from behind the bar and waves off his clientele “nothing more to be seen here now you lot... as you were...” he then hands Jerian a rag that the latter uses to wipe down his sword. It is then handed to the Khajiit, who softly dabs it over the crimson fur.

“For your troubles...” says Jerian, placing a small but honest sized coin purse into the cats claw, a small smile spreading across his maw.

Outside the tavern, adjusting the saddle of his horse, Roderic turns to address his Lord. “You still paid him mi’Lord?” Not looking to meet the gaze of his charge, Jerian responds. “ I have looked into the eyes of many a man, mer and beast wanting to carve a reputation into the hide of a knight. I saw no such thing in that cats eyes, only a father resorting to a desperate measure to feed his children more than a mere stale crust...”

Placing his hand on Roderic’s shoulder, Jerian continues “...do not tarry on the urgency of our errand Sir Roderic, but we are still knights of this realm... what is a knights compass?”

“Protect and Serve”

“Protect and serve. The most sacred of any vow you have taken... never forget that”.

 

 

 

 

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The sun rises over the crags of the Reach illuminating the snowy peaks of the Throat, and cascading brilliant light to all corners of the North. So sinister a place yet with unspeakable beauty that would garner its own place on the spokes of Aubris. As the dawn brightens more of this rocky realm comes into view. Dykes turn into streams, streams into lakes, lakes into waterfalls that crash with a foreboding elegance.

As the morning draws on, so too does the quest of two wayward knights, clamouring their way through the terrain. One is Sir Jerian Maurard, the seasoned knight as dubious as he is cynical. Something that is known all too well to his companion, Sir Roderic Townway… who feels the ease in which Jerian followed this trail must be brought into question.

“Do you really feel he is in Markarth mi’Lord?” Roderic asks, slightly tilting his head to catch a glimpse at Jerian’s reaction. He would not have it. “That’s what the Khajiit said is it not?” Keeping his staunch expression fixed forwards.

“He did… but to off on his word alone…?” Roderic gazes off through an opening in two small peaks, awaiting yet not expecting a second reply. 

Halting his horse and causing it to rear, Jerian glances backwards “…then we will have lost a coin purse… and a day of our time” he says, a small grin appearing. Not meeting the glance, Roderic smirks knowingly and nods slowly. Turning back to his path, the grin fades as Jerian whispers to himself “…or my judgment has seen better days…” clutching the reins of his horse, he kicks harshly causing the horse to advance which appears to bring Jerian back from his thoughts.

Traversing the rocky valleys, the knights continue south and westward. The further they do, the more frequent are strange formations that take their place in the rocks. Roderic becomes uneasy with every severed goat head, skewered skeever and horridly twisted antler that seems to be set to several cave openings. “Yes, Roderic… we are deep in Forsworn territory” Jerian calls over, taking note of Roderic’s concerns.

The Forsworn. They had heard of them, men and women alike that shared their bloodline. These people were not of Daggerfall, of grandeur nor majesty. Nobility nor chivalry.  These were the savages of the Reach. Bloodthirsty, maniacal. Traded honour to live in the hills… the place they feel is theirs by birthright… the Reach. It is with them that these knights must deal, if they have any hopes in finding their friend.

“Up ahead… a signpost” Roderic gallops ahead to see what it states. Jerian holds back, keeping a close eye out. “Markarth is due West mi’Lord” Roderic calls back. His statement is met by a forceful nod as Jerian draws closer. His face quickly turns from relief to that of stern duress, as a sharp cry fills the valley… and the sight of Roderic falling from his horse clutching his chest.

Jerian approaches his fallen charge and leaps from his horse, grasping his shield from its fastening and holds it firm and high over them both as he crouches down to see the extent.

“An arrow… it… it came from there…” Roderic points past Jerian towards a sharp jutting rock that lies split, somewhat towering over the cobbler path… “Forsworn…? gasped Roderic, trying to pull at the hilt of his sword, his chest wound disallowing any success.

“No… worse than that, Breton”

A deep voice, bellows through the cold air like thunder. The figure shows himself, grinding the heft of his axe along a rock as he slowly saunters into view. The screeching of the iron makes Jerian wince. He was large… so large as he must have been at least twice the size of the Knight. Yes… this beast was of Nordic blood. Thick blonde hair braided to the back of his head, with shaven sides and deep blue woad that covered most of his head like a painted helm…

“Now why would two Bretons be using my road in such small company…” the Nord sneered, lifting his axe resting it on his broad shoulder. Roderic looked past this man and saw a woman, bow and arrow aloft… not taking her eyes off Jerian. She also appeared to be a Nord, heavy set wearing crude furs. He knows she is the one who has shot him, causing him to grasp the arrow and grimace in an ascending anger.

“Our business is ours. You have wounded my companion. You shall not bear any ill from us… we simply seek to pass…” Jerian lowers his shield, and arches his back to stand at full height. Still dwarfed by the Nord, but make no mistake… Jerian is still every bit as imposing. His age cannot hide that.

“You bore me ill the moment you trod this road… this is my road, and you will pay what you owe” the Nord glances past Jerians shoulder, beckoning the coming of several other men. All crudely clad in furs and hide.

Slowly raising to his feet, Roderic jerks the arrow from his breast letting out a quick snarl. Unsheathing his sword, he growls “perhaps you did not hear him… our business is ours. We seek to pass” the wound in his chest still bleeding, Roderic steps forward with an unyielding defiance.

Smiling, the Nord points his axe towards them. “You carry a fine sword there half-elf… a fine sword indeed…” Enraged at this name, Roderic grips the sword with both hands and through bared teeth… “…and by all means snow-back…you shall have it…”

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The Nord removes his axe from his shoulder, and lunges forth in a sprint, bellowing loud like the clouds of Kyne. Roderic stands his ground, tightening the grip on his sword. Unwavering. The Nord woman standing a small distance behind let’s loose an arrow, which whistles past the Nords head looking for Jerian. The arrow is easily deflected by his shield.

Reaching his target, the Nord throws his full weight at Roderic, knocking the knight backwards and sends him crashing to the ground. Seeing this, Jerian advances, running through one bandit with his sword and slicing open his belly, and hurls his shield at the Nord woman clattering her bow out of her hands and sending her back to the rocks.

Roderic scurries to his feet just in time to avoid the axe descending down onto him, he stands atop of the axe, rendering it still and crushes the pommel of his sword into the face of his beastly foe. He does this again and again. The Nord slumps to the side, the blue woad on his head turning a dark indigo as his blood begins to flow.

Close by Jerian is taken by surprise, as a bandit jumps down into him from the jutting rock above and sends them both hurtling to the ground. Much younger, the bandit recovers first and straddles Jerian and clasps his hands around his throat. Jerian grabs the mans wrists and tries to free himself, but to no gain. This foe is too strong. A fear begins to crawl over Jerian, a feeling he has not had for many a year. Once again he tries in vain to free himself from the clutches of this mans grip.

Sensing the weakening of the knight, the bandit wildly smiles and raises his head to the skies and lets out a bloodcurdling scream. Then, he is silent. Jerian looks up to see the mans head tumble onto his breastplate and then down the rocky slopes. Roderic stood over him, his sword crimson.

“On your feet mi’Lord…” he reaches out and pulls Jerian up alongside him. “Where are the others?” Jerian hisses, clamouring the ground for his sword. He looks around to see the blood-soaked ground and several bodies laying on top of it. Jerian, realising he must have been held longer than he thought, nods at Roderic… a silent thank you. 

At the side of the road, crawling away slowly, was the brutish Nord. Groaning and talking to himself, his face a red pulp of flesh and blood. The pommel of Roderic’s sword had done its duty well. The knights follow behind. Finally Jerian steps on the Nords foot, halting his slow escape. Kicking him onto his back, Jerian holds his sword aloft and rests the point of the blade to the Nord’s throat.

“It did not have to be this way. You merely had to let us pass” balking at the statement, the Nord spat blood from his mouth and whispered   “Not bad for a half-elf and his ageing master…” Roderic grimaced and started to walk forward, his advance halted by a raised arm of Jerian’s. “We seek to know the whereabouts of a Forsworn clan that has in their company a knight…” 

“Is this knight a half-elf as well?” Mocked the Nord, wiping blood away from his remaining visage… “you ask me if I know of a half-elf knight that has thrown in with other half-elf madmen that carve a living out of rocks?” Letting out a weakened laugh, the Nord continues… “if I knew of such folly, which I don’t… do you really think I would tell you? The Forsworn… do yourselves a boon and turn back. Go back home to your high towers and pitiful wenches…” resting his head back, he continues “all who meet the Forsworn do not live to tell about it… I doubt your friend is still walking Nirn. He will likely be decorating their walls…” The Nord let’s out a sickening laugh.

Having heard enough Roderic tilts his sword downwards, and with a mighty push, forces the sword through the Nords neck. A small dripping gurgle, and he is gone.

“I do not believe it!” Roderic turns to Jerian, with wild eyes he shouts further “I did not drag myself through musky taverns and mountains to be told by some half-wit snow-back that my struggles have been in vain!” Clutching his chest, a quick painful reminder of his wound calms him. Jerian sheathes his sword, and pulls the reins of his horse towards him. “We need to get to Markarth. As this task draws on, I feel the hopes of it’s success slipping away… stay your head on its course Roderic, or we too will slip away and be claimed by this savage land…”

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