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“But sir, if you would only give me a little more time, I am certain you would be interested in my proposition.”

“The answer is still ‘No’, Mr. Beauchamp. I have no desire to listen to anything you have to say. You may leave now.”

“If I gave offense by my earlier remarks, I apologize. It is simply that one sometimes hears things…. I know that financial remuneration is not important to you, but I thought that perhaps the spirit of adventure might be enough to entice you.”

“Mr. Beauchamp, I have everything I need right here. My family is here, my home is here, my life is here. I have no interest in the ‘spirit of adventure’. I have found that ‘adventure’ is simply another way of saying ‘a desperate attempt to survive the situation in which one has stupidly placed oneself’. You will leave now. That is not a request.”

I heard the front door open and close with a finality that punctuated those last words. Then another voice spoke up:

“Weren’t you perhaps a bit hard on him, dear?”

The response was a growl:

“You heard what he said as well as I did- ‘…your well-known talent for getting into and out of tight places….’ He called me a thief, is what he did.”

“Well, yes, but after all, you were a thief, you know. And he did come to you directly, not lurking behind some intermediary.”

“Perhaps I used to be a thief, but I hoped I had put all that behind me. And besides, he came to me arrogantly and rudely, just as if he were a bloody Imperial, instead of a fellow Breton."

“ ’A bloody Imperial?’ ” I could envision the raised eyebrow that accompanied that innocent question.

The voices moved away to another part of the house, and I could not make out the muttered words that I was sure were an apology. But that wasn’t important; I had already heard everything I needed to know. I had a name now and a goal. Louis Beauchamp- and Solstheim!

Leaving home is rarely easy, or at least so I have heard. But I felt as if I had to, as if I was slowly smothering. If I was going to do the things I wanted to do, I must get away. There were places I wanted to explore- places he had never been. How typical of him to disparage the idea of adventure- after he had lived the kind of life others only dreamed of! And then to just…stop. As if he could pretend that none of it had ever happened if he did not speak of it. But others spoke of it- oh yes. Louis Beauchamp certainly had that right- one did “hear things”. It was easy enough to tell others that the meat was no good when you had eaten your fill. But I had tasted nothing but the scraps of someone else’s greatness for my whole life and I could stand it no longer. I would leave that very night- but not for Solstheim, at least not yet. It would not do to arrive in that far place as a penniless beggar. Although we were comfortable, and never wanted for the necessities, money was not given to me in any quantity. And though I knew the location of the family treasury well enough, I would not steal. I would not be named a thief, no matter who my father was.

Once the house had quieted, I gathered a small pack of clothing, the few coins that were my own, and a well-worn quarterstaff. How I longed for a bright blade to hang at my side! How could a ready fellow such as I set off on a grand adventure without a trusty sword? But of course I had never been trained in the use of swords, and I recalled the answer when I asked:

“Violence is the result of a mistake. If you avoid mistakes, you can avoid fights. A good walking stick will serve you better. Anything that cannot be dealt with by a sharp rap on the snout is best avoided.”

As if I had never seen the scars that marked his body, never heard the stories that everyone knew by heart, never gazed at the virtual armory hidden throughout the house.
Most of the hidden weapons appeared to be no more than well-used examples of the crafter’s art…. But some of them seemed to… whisper among themselves and to move of their own volition. I know it sounds foolish, the overheated imagining of a child, but I swear it is true. He had never gotten those swords or those scars sitting in front of the fire, reading books. And yet, when he went to the corner club for a solitary drink, and the other men related their exploits, he said nothing. Instead, he simply sat in the shadows with a glass of wine. Even so, if ever a stranger came through and became too loud or boastful, someone would nod toward the quiet figure in the corner and whisper a few words. And then the braggart would fall silent, perhaps even turn a bit pale.

All of these thoughts and more tumbled through my head as I waited in the pre-dawn darkness for the silt-strider to arrive. Perhaps it was foolish to use such a public means of transport, but I wanted distance. And going to Balmora first would help throw off any pursuit. In any event, I doubted that there would be much concern, at least not for several days. When the strider driver saw me waiting, he grinned and said,

“Going on a trip are ye, young sir? I’ll have you in Balmora before you know it. Just sit back and relax.”

He waved away my offered fare with a jovial snort.

“Oh, no charge for you, young sir. Get yourself on up and we’ll be on our way.”

I took his generosity with bad grace, because I knew that it was not for my own sake that I did not have to pay my passage. I was nobody, nothing- just another who stood in the great man’s shadow. He was the hero of the age- everyone said so. Books and ballads had been written about him. And why not? After all, he was Trey of High Rock, Nerevar Reborn, savior of Vvardenfell. And I was his son.
The Metal Mallet
Oooo, this is going to be a very interesting story simply based off your introduction, Trey. The focus being on Trey's son is going to provide some nice character development, just based off his disdain for living under his father's shadow and the supposed hypocrisy of his father's teachings.

I can't wait to see what (mis)adventures, Trey's son will get into. Welcome back treydog!
Oh-My...YIPPEEEE!!!! treydog is back !! I am sooo happy with that...This will be interesting, I´d say, to follow Trey´s son, to learn how he will deal with the fact of being the son of such an important and famous man as Trey. Ohlala....I´m thrilled...

Apparently he has some kind of family, already and yet he set out for the unknown.

This quote made me ponder though...


“ ’All Imperials?’ ” I could envision the raised eyebrow that accompanied that innocent question.

So is the young breton already familiar with imperials? Or perhaps one imperial in particular? I wonder...

Anyway, finding this story up and running, made my sunday-morning!

Thank you treydog for sharing it with us... smile.gif
QUOTE(minque @ May 13 2007, 04:12 AM) *

This quote made me ponder though...


“ ’All Imperials?’ ” I could envision the raised eyebrow that accompanied that innocent question.

So is the young breton already familiar with imperials? Or perhaps one imperial in particular? I wonder...

Near as I can tell, that is supposed to be Trey saying that to his wife. His son is overhearing that and commenting on it?

Just the other day I was thinking to myself, "naww, Treydog probably won't write a bloodmoon story: Trey is the sort of character who won't just go someplace for the heck of it, he's got to be dragged in by obligations or some such. Nothing in the game pulls you to Solstheim like that."

Then this comes out: how weird is that. biggrin.gif

Having Trey's son go instead of Trey nicely gets around that motivational conundrum!

This should be interesting since his son has got to have entirely different stats and skills. We're guaranteed that this will be "played" much differently than Trey would have done it.

Now .... how to keep Trey from coming in and pulling Son-Of-Trey's chestnuts out of the fire biggrin.gif

"Aww dad, I was just about to toast this aspect of Hircine all by myself and save the day."

"Never you mind, young man! Time to go home now, your mother's been worried sick"

Sorry. had to tongue.gif

edit: a realization: from (Morrowind) in-game lore, children of mixed parentage generally take the appearance (and stats?) of their mothers race. Son-Of-Trey (what is his name, anyway?) therefore must look like an Imperial. I wonder if this causes any friction between father & son?

further edit:

L. Beauchamp. is a Breton ohmy.gif
Blockhead- you have things exactly right... on a number of levels. The conversation is Trey and Baria, overheard by their son. Trey himself does not care to go to Solstheim- Ice Bears? No thanks! I wanted to be a little cryptic for the beginning to hopefully draw the reader in.

As to Louis being a fellow Breton- urf. You are right. I did not do my usual meticulous study before voicing Trey's prejudice. (bangs head) May have to fix that....

"...arrogantly and rudely, just as if he were a bloody Imperial, instead of a Breton."

Etc., etc.
Yes of course! Mama Baria is also Imperial, I in my opinion Trey has experienced good things from female Imperials...hopefully his son will be openminded, otherwise there´s an Aunt somewhere who would have a thing or two to tell him! tongue.gif

Oh my...I can´t wait for the next part.

Blockie! I know of the rules of offspring from mixed races.....Just you wait and see!
jack cloudy
Great, the master has returned.

So far, it has already got me captivated. Trey Junior (I hope we are going to get a name soon.) has enormous potential. He is the son of a hero, living in his shadow. He has apparently learned none of Trey's combat or thieving skills. Or at least, not officially. (Who knows what Junior has been doing when mom and dad were out to have tea with the neighbours.)

About his stats, I am willing to hazard a few guesses. He is probably quite proficient at Alchemy, seeing as how that is a hobby of Trey. He's likely a bit like a mage, high Int, Wil and stuff. After that though, I have no idea.

And yeah, it would be amusing if Trey suddenly showed up. On the other hand, I think the story would go much better if Junior manages to elude his father long enough to make his own fame and glory.

Hmm, I can already see Junior having to lie low because he'd heard rumours of a stranger asking around for 'whatever Junior looks like'.
QUOTE(minque @ May 13 2007, 12:06 PM) *

Yes of course! Mama Baria is also Imperial, I in my opinion Trey has experienced good things from female Imperials...hopefully his son will be openminded, otherwise there´s an Aunt somewhere who would have a thing or two to tell him! tongue.gif

Aunt? ohmy.gif

QUOTE(blockhead @ May 14 2007, 02:20 PM) *

QUOTE(minque @ May 13 2007, 12:06 PM) *

Yes of course! Mama Baria is also Imperial, I in my opinion Trey has experienced good things from female Imperials...hopefully his son will be openminded, otherwise there´s an Aunt somewhere who would have a thing or two to tell him! tongue.gif

Aunt? ohmy.gif I think I might have confused you! An Aunt in swedish is not necessarily related to you, it is a lady just any odd lady at all..... hints! We do not know if two certain women are related do we? evillol.gif
Burnt Sierra
blink.gif blink.gif blink.gif

I did not expect to see this. I logged on in my usual mode; looking to see what I've missed when out of nowhere....

I think Christmas has come early! santaclaus.gif
Chapter 1

As always, Balmora was a welcome relief after the dusty heat of Ald’ruhn and Bal Isra. Even though the Blight was over 20 years in the past, the reclamation of Vvardenfell progressed slowly, measured in inches rather than acres. As I listened to the cheerful sound of the Odai River running through the town, I recalled the few occasions I had asked why we did not live in Balmora. The answer had depended on Father’s mood: when he was in the midst of one of his black depressions, he simply scowled and spat out one word- “Hlaalu”- as if it was the vilest curse he knew. If he was feeling more talkative, his answer was almost as obscure. He would wave a hand at the walls of Indarys Manor and say, “My honor built this house, my honor and my blood. I earned this place, and here I will stay.” Whenever he spoke that way, Mother would simply shake her head and say, “Redoran” with a smile. And though we lived amongst the arid ridges and gray ravines of ash and stone, she continued to paint the green trees and blue waters of her home in Cyrodiil. And she made no complaint about the ash and the wind, just tended her garden with that same mysterious smile. When I plaintively asked her how she could live in such a place, she again answered with a single word- “love”. It made no sense to me and I wondered if everyone who had lived through the Blight was infected with some form of madness.

My unsatisfactory thoughts carried me to the Eight Plates, where I had a light meal of scrib and kwama eggs. I had been thankfully left alone, although I had felt the eyes of the other patrons upon me throughout the meal. The illusion of anonymity was completely shattered when I reached for my purse to pay and the proprietress glared at me with an offended sniff. She placed her hands on her hips and drew herself up.

“As if I would take a penny from Trey’s son. Why I recall the time he sang for his supper in this very room, before he became famous and all! Didn’t have such a bad voice, though it cracked a bit on some of the notes, he was that young.”

She smiled then, gazing at a memory only she could see. And the meal sat in my belly like a greasy lump of ash. I felt my face flush and my teeth grind at the sound of those never-sufficiently-to-be-damned syllables- “Trey’s son,” spoken as if they were a single word. As if that was my name and all of my name. As if I had no existence independent of him, as if my sole function was to remind people of his greatness. How I longed to scream at her: “I have a name! I am Athlain! I have a name!” But I did nothing, simply sat and endured her addled maundering about a man I did not know. At last, she left me to take care of her other customers and I was able to slip away.

I found a quiet corner of the wall and wrote a brief note which I sealed and addressed to:

Louis Beauchamp
Ald Skar Inn

The contents were simple and (I hoped) enough to keep the fretful Breton from engaging anyone else for the moment. The note said:

“Do nothing until you hear from me. Plans in support of your enterprise are under way. The sign by which you will know me is ‘airship.’

A Friend”

I dropped the note, along with a half-septim, at the bar of the South Wall Club. They would see that the message traveled with the silt-strider back to the Redoran village while I went a different way. Up until now, I had been using the striders myself, as much for the speed of travel as the comfort. But now I would go on foot. The idea would be that, for all anyone knew, I came to Balmora and dropped off the face of Nirn. There were a number of trails out of town, and I doubted that anyone would remember one more cloaked figure disappearing during the darkness of early evening. It would have been pleasant to sleep in a bed, but I was used to camping, and did not want anyone else refusing my money while they told me how wonderful my father was. The trail I took followed the Odai River and took me all the way to the coast. Once there, I turned south and east, toward the sleepy fishing village of Seyda Neen.
The Metal Mallet
I guess it's not in Trey's character to truly tell him all that he's done as it appears Athlain only seems to hear Trey's exploits from others. I guess Trey wanted his son to live an easy life, one that didn't have the troubles that he had experienced. Of course, this is all speculation, but the way you write does that and I enjoy speculating on things.

I don't think Athlain is going to escape the Nerevarine stories in Seyda Neen though. As most of us should know, Trey has certainly spent some time there as well.

Continue when you can trey!
Interlude 1

From a broadsheet posted throughout the Vvardenfell District, late in the 3E.

Dagoth Ur may be dead, but there is still work to be done. If you are a young individual in reasonably good health and with a clean record, the Imperial Legion would like to speak with you! We offer good pay, plenty of food, free equipment, and the best training available anywhere in the Empire.

People looking for a quiet life need not apply! We are engaged in the vigorous suppression of bandits, smugglers, and cultists all over the island. You will work hard, but you can proudly call yourself a member of an elite fighting force. The Emperor and all true citizens of the Empire will appreciate your dedication and commitment. And of course everyone knows how the ladies feel about a man in uniform!

For additional information, speak to any Legion officer. Preferment and rapid advancement are available to those of Imperial heritage.


Text of a private notice circulated to tradehouses, cornerclubs, and taverns of Vvardenfell:

Reward! Seeking information on the whereabouts of Athlain, former resident of Bal Isra. He is not to be harmed or hindered, but a generous reward will be paid for reliable information on his whereabouts. Athlain is 19 years old, with Imperial features. He is tall and slender, with brown hair and blue eyes. He has no scars or other distinguishing marks. He may seek training in the use of armor and weapons. He is an accomplished alchemist, a persuasive speaker, and writes a fair hand. Please report any sightings or additional information to Indarys Manor or to the Ald Skar Inn at Ald’ruhn. To repeat- allow him to go his way without hindrance. Payment guaranteed for reliable information!
Lord Revan

It's not difficult to sympathize for Athlain when you have parents who hover over you like the clouds in the sky.

Well done, Treydog, keep on the grand works! bigsmile.gif
The Metal Mallet
Ooo, an interlude eh? This is new from you. Glad to see you try new things. I also admit the hint of racism/favourtism to Imperials in the job poster was a nice touch. That amused me and it fits sooo well.

Excellent work, trey.
So after two days of a stupid power outage, I come back and see this! ooooooo! biggrin.gif Yay!

Swami predicts ... Trooper[1] Athlain volunteering for duty in Fort Frostmoth? Or ... no ... using his allowance money to finance L.B.'s airship?

I guess I'll just have to wait.

[1] that would *so* piss off pop Trey wink.gif
jack cloudy
Really? I'd say that [2] would piss of pop as well. I don't think he trusts Dwemer machines, especially when built and maintained by someone who is not an expert.

And I loved the notices. It adds atmosphere.
Black Hand
Dang! Can't believe I missed all this in the time I was somewhat gone! Very inspiring Trey! Though somehow,...I knew this was coming.

Also, in case I forget, An early happy birthday! Yes I remember yours, it's mine too!!
Oh Athlain, dear boy! I know it must be very hard and annoying to be your "father's son" but by all means be a good boy now and follow your destiny....I'm sure pop will approve..oh yes he will or someone might just talk him into it right?

Wonderful story dear treydog!
Awesome! I come wandering into the Fan Fiction section to browse for a good read, and I find this!
The several days I spent on the trail to Seyda Neen were remarkably pleasant. I could have made the journey in a single day without difficulty, but I savored the solitude. I also spent the time productively, gathering various plants and preparing potions. Even though the activities and odors of alchemy reminded me of Father, the memories were calming rather than annoying. He had always encouraged my efforts with remarkable patience and never raised his voice, even when I accidentally brewed concoctions whose noxious vapors drove us all out of the house. But my work on the trip to the coast had a more serious purpose than mere nostalgia- I wanted to earn some money- for myself…and for other reasons. I tried to focus my efforts on those potions that would find a ready market in a fishing village , so I prepared water-walking mixtures, along with some that restored fatigue. The time alone seemed all too short, but I knew that Vvardenfell was not so large that I could afford to loiter in one place for very long. Civilization, or at least Seyda Neen, called to me, with the prospect of a fresh start and the possibility of making a name for myself through my own efforts.

Seyda Neen may seem a peculiar choice for someone who hoped to lose himself, but I knew that it was still the main port of entry to Vvardenfell. Unlike most of the other coast towns, it was controlled by the Empire, rather than by a Great House. That being so, one more anonymously cloaked Imperial seeking information and supplies would not cause any comment. I hoped. What I most needed to know about was Solstheim and how to get there. If possible, I hoped to have some sort of employment or sponsorship before I reached the northern island, as that would provide official standing and a source of income. And income was going to be a major issue for me sooner rather than later. Upon reaching the fishing village, I realized that there was another reason for haste, one I had not counted on- if I did not leave soon, the fetid stench of the place would likely bring me to my knees. Thus the cloth I held to my nose was as much to protect me from the fishy air as to conceal my features.

But another odor, that of potent Dunmer beverages (and the sound of enthusiastic if off-key singing), led me to the tradehouse, the most promising source of information. The bartender was an Argonian, who showed his pointed teeth in a most unnerving smile. His voice was a pleasant rumble though, as he inquired,

“How may I help, Cyrodiil?”

I laid one of my few coins on the bar and ordered a mug of matze. When he placed the drink before me and reached for the gold piece, I added a second and asked,

“What have you heard about Solstheim?”

He paused for a long moment, giving me a peculiar sidelong stare from his reptilian eyes. It was almost as if he recognized me- or planned to be sure he could do so in the future. But then he responded to my question and I focused my concentration on his answer and put my paranoia aside.

“It is a cold place, with water that never melts. How can one swim in water that never melts? I prefer the Bitter Coast, with its wonderful heat and humidity.”

He blinked slowly, then continued,

“There are two ways to make money there- well, two legal ways. Young sir could join the East Empire Company- if he has influence with the Duke….?

When I made no response, he shrugged elaborately and concluded,

“There is always the Legion. They constantly seek recruits and do not ask too many questions. Fort Darius is the place to go; at least so one hears.”

He pushed forward a broadsheet that had obviously been used as a place mat- but I could still make out phrases regarding “good pay” and “free equipment.” This was an opportunity that merited some serious thought. I could not help but recall another of Father’s “lessons in reality.” I had made the mistake of speaking admiringly of group of free adventurers who had stopped in at Ald’ruhn for a brief visit. Father shook his head and assumed his “explaining this for your own good” tone.

He said, “The problem with the life of a ‘free adventurer’ is that you soon discover there is very little about it that is truly free. I know you have heard and read a great many stories, but let me warn you: once you separate out the wildly impossible, the highly unlikely, and the graphically obscene; what it boils down to is this- adventuring costs money. To make a go of it out in the wilderness requires food, armor, and weapons- not to mention the potions for the times when the armor and weapons aren’t enough….”

He went on for some time in that vein, and I nodded every so often, just as if I was really paying attention.

Supposing that there was some truth to what he was saying, and that it wasn’t all purposely skewed to “keep little Athlain safe at home,” joining the Legion would neatly counter all of those arguments. They provided armor and weapons. Better still, they would train me in the use of those things. And then there was the added bonus of Father’s reaction when he heard that I had joined the Legion. It would almost be worth going home to tell him myself….
The Metal Mallet
Hehehe. That's one way to get in a potshot at one's father. Join a cause that he whole heartenly hates.

I have a feeling that living the life of a Legionaire isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
Joining the Legion are we huh? Well well....Dad won´t be pleased, that´s for sure! Anyway being Trey´s son he´d be ok in most cases, but of course the Legion is pretty unpredictable. Now he´s a man and that´ll help...Someone would know that.

What I wonder is moms reaction when she finds out, after all she´s an Imperial!
One of my purposes in the town had been accomplished- I had learned that the most likely route to Solstheim was through enlistment in the Imperial Legion. The prospect of service in the Empire’s military was attractive to me; despite my father’s prejudice, I had known at least one person who had risen to high rank in the Legion. I could envision myself in the silver cuirass and red cape of an officer- and surely I would be able to achieve that status fairly quickly. But before I took that first step, I needed to make some preparations. Louis Beauchamp had almost certainly received my note by now, and I would have to follow up soon. The fact that he had been desperate enough to risk Father’s anger told me that the Breton speculator was hard-pressed indeed. Therefore, I made my way down the steps of the tradehouse to see what I could get for my potions.

My ability to make friends easily and my knowledge of the value of trade goods served me well- I was able to amass a reasonable stack of coins with little effort. They made a pleasant sight on the counter, but I knew that the money was only a means to an end. I left them standing while I looked over the stock. The only swords available were iron, and rusty iron at that- the salty coastal air was not kind to that particular material. Even my untrained eye could tell that those weapons were little better than scrap- more suited to bludgeoning an opponent than actual fencing. I lingered longer over the chitin armor, but again let it pass. Though I rather liked the look of the smooth, cream-colored material, I knew that a relatively complete set would have considerable weight, not to mention the cost. I had almost given up when a dull gleam amongst the rusty relics caught my eye. I reached in with a hand that almost shook with anticipation, not daring to believe my good fortune. But when my fingers grasped the richly engraved surface, I knew that I had been right. What I drew out of the trash was a silver quarter staff, marked with runes of protection and abjuration. The weapon did not have any magical properties beyond those inherent in the silver plating, but that was enough. To my delight, the head of the staff was cast into the likeness of a dragon, symbol of the Septim dynasty and the Empire. I took that as a sign that at least someone looked upon my endeavors with favor.

After some intense negotiations, I turned over most of my earnings from alchemy and walked out with the silver staff. The weapon was a necessity if I was going to implement the next part of my plan. I still needed to amass a substantial amount of money, and alchemy was too slow and uncertain a way to do that. Instead, I was going to enter some of the numerous caves and tombs scattered all along the Bitter Coast. I would do my best to avoid the smugglers and bandits themselves, but I would appropriate their loot and turn it in for whatever bounty I could command. In a way, I would be working for the Legion before I even enlisted, at least as far as the outlaw dens were concerned. The part of my scheme that required the silver staff, the tombs, was a bit more problematic. I had mixed feelings about entering the ancient burial places, but not because of any superstitious fear of the dead. My problem was a moral one. I knew that people often left valuable items in tombs- as offerings, as memorials, and sometimes simply to take advantage of the protection offered by the eldritch guardians. And if I took something from a tomb, it seemed as if I would be robbing the dead- a dishonorable act and not the sort of behavior a true knight would engage in. On the other hand, the ghosts and skeleton guardians that infested the tombs were products of necromancy, a foul practice that was surely an even more serious trespass against the dead than merely taking items from the graves. In fact, I would be doing the tormented spirits a favor by releasing them from their unnatural bonds of servitude and allowing them to rest at last. And, even though grave dust and bonemeal had alchemical properties, I would be sure not to disturb the remains of those interred in the tombs. At that point in my reverie, a crescendo in the singing from the tavern above, followed by a gust of laughter, broke my train of thought and sent my mind down another path. The laughter reminded me of a happier time, a time when I knew that my father was a giant who strode the Mundus.

It was a party. My party. It was my birthday and I was seven years old. A number of my friends were there, some who were elf children and others who were not. We made no distinctions based on race, but divided more along lines of gender. When you are a seven-year-old boy, you are certain that girls are from an alien species and probably carry horrible diseases. A great many adults had come too- my “aunts and uncles” as we called them, even though none were blood relations. But these were people whose ties were closer than family, for they had all come through the dark times of Dagoth Ur and the Blight. Children in Vvardenfell were still a miracle, and a birthday party was a first-rate excuse to get together and celebrate. Athyn Sarethi, for whom I had been named, was there, as was Serene. Other Redoran councilors and House members also made courtesy calls. Others came, too, from farther away. Most startling were the Urshilaku, wearing feathered capes and bone necklaces. They were a solemn people who spoke little, but bowed low to my father and looked long upon me and the other children. But I paid little attention to the adults, not really knowing the difference between a Councilor and a steward, and caring even less.

Somehow, Father had managed to find a small, tame guar and had crafted a saddle and bridle for it. With a grin he picked me up and said,

“If we can’t have horses here, we’ll just make our own. Give him a go, son.”

Despite Mother’s doubtful look, he placed me carefully in the saddle and stepped back. The guar took no notice of my additional weight, but instead munched contentedly on the branches of a scathecraw growing in the yard. That was a tricky business, as the plant was more thorns than anything else. The young guar suddenly discovered that fact, as one of the wicked barbs pierced his sensitive purple tongue. With a bellow of surprise, he began to leap about, shaking his head violently in an attempt to dislodge the thorn. Considering that I had never ridden anything more lively than a silt-strider, I managed to hold on for an impressive few seconds. However, the beast gave a sideways jump, followed by an attempt to duck his head between his hind legs which sent me sailing. I knew that a bad fall onto the hard ground was coming. But then, two strong hands plucked me out of the air and held me close. Somehow, my father had seen what was happening and stayed close enough to catch me. He hugged me to his chest and murmured,

“It’s all right, Athlain. I’ve got you.”

He then let go with one hand and laid it on the guar, calming it instantly. I felt a flow of healing magic jump from him to the creature, which made a happy sound and butted him playfully. In that moment, I knew that my father could do anything.
Black Hand
Ahhh, a glimpse from his hildhood! with all aunts and uncles visiting! yay! Simply amazing treydog! It´s always so good to learn more about his background and sort of get "under his skin"

Now Athlain my boy....go ahead and make your dad proud of you! Or??? ohmy.gif
Yes, my father could do anything- or so it seemed. But as I grew older, doubt began to creep in. It appeared that he actually did… nothing. Other parents were warriors or priests, explorers or councilors. They sailed the seas or traveled to distant lands. My father mostly stayed at home, only venturing as far as Ald’ruhn or perhaps Balmora. When each of my sisters was born, he disappeared for several days, gone to Tel Fyr, so my mother said. When I was small, it was a blessing that he was always there to read to me or to call for my assistance with his alchemy. But he didn’t seem to do anything, except read books or scratch away in his journal. Even the alchemy became tiresome after a time, for he simply gave the resultant potions away- often to visiting Ashlanders. We had many visitors, who greeted Father with respect and often affection. Many of them were clearly warriors or perhaps even rogues- their faces were maps of adventure. They would stay for an hour or a day and then disappear back into the wider world, leaving me with a colored stone or a carving or a mechanical toy of a sort never seen before in Vvardenfell. And Father would wish them well and return to his books. Although we had many visitors, strangers were not welcome at Indarys Manor. In fact, on more than one occasion, I saw my father’s hand reach for a sword that no longer hung at his side. He never said anything to me about those moments, but would go into a dark silence that might last for days at a time. He would look off toward the southeast at something only he could see. Mother’s quiet words generally brought him around, but sometimes it took a visit from Serene or Uncle Athyn to restore Father’s good humor.

As fascinating as those memories were, they brought me no closer to my purpose. Therefore, I cleared my head of those melancholy thoughts and made my way out of Seyda Neen, going north along the coast. Not far from town, I came upon a curious sight, one that made me wonder. A monument in the Imperial style had been erected on a lonely spit of land that was otherwise indistinguishable from the rest of the Bitter Coast. Unfortunately, it had been vandalized to the point that it was impossible to tell what hero or event it commemorated. I could only make out the words “Processus” and “…gave his life….” The monument and even the vandalism appeared to be at least ten or a dozen years old; but it was clear that at least one person still cared- fresh coda flowers adorned the stone.

The neglected memorial preoccupied me, but not so much that I passed up the opportunity to bash a few mudcrabs and extract the meat. When raw, it has an unpleasant taste, but it can be cooked with draggle-tail or bittergreen to make a tasty stew. I took care to stay out of the water, for I frequently saw the razor-sharp fins and sinuous bodies of slaughter fish in the shallows. Fortunately, no larger beasts appeared, and I soon saw the shape of a Velothi arch that indicated the presence of a tomb. Part of my schooling had included a study of Aldmeris, and so I was able to determine that this was the Samarys burial. The name itself meant nothing to me- if the family had once been prominent, they had since disappeared into the mists of time. And, to be honest, I was indifferent to their status. What interested me was a chance to test my skills against the guardian spirits and perhaps acquire some saleable items. I did take note that there were no footprints of either men or elves in the mud around the entry, and that was encouraging. Although I was willing to confront smugglers or other outlaws, I would prefer to avoid them, at least until I had better training and equipment.
I looked at the tomb entry uncertainly. Beyond the mudcrabs and a few kwama foragers, I had never actually fought anything before. Certainly not anything that had real potential to harm me. I dried my damp palms on my shirt and grasped the staff firmly, then opened the door. All I saw was a hallway sloping downward to a second, dimly-lighted door. I drew a shaky breath and moved down the passage. As I neared the door, I seemed to hear the sound of bone scraping across the stone floor and perhaps some sort of labored breathing. That was silly- undead creatures had no lungs, nor any need to breathe. The asthmatic wheezing sound was probably just the movement of air around an ill-fitting door. Probably. The hair on the back of my neck bristled and I suddenly wished that my birth sign had been the Ritual instead of the Lady. Having the power to drive undead away would have been rather... comforting. But that would probably have required something else I lacked- faith in the gods. Better far to trust in my wits, my weapons, and the strength of my muscles than the chancy attention of indifferent deities. With my scorn for the gods as a shield, I pushed open the door.

A spectral figure appeared at the far end of the burial chamber, bearing the aspect of a skeletal being in tattered funeral vestments. At the same moment that it sensed my presence, I recognized it as an ancestor ghost. I was glad of the silver staff I held, for ordinary weapons would have passed harmlessly through the insubstantial ghost. A quick thrust, followed by a backward step, blunted the spirit’s initial rush, and I braced for the counter attack. Clawed hands reached for my throat and I swatted away one- but not the other. A terrible chill wracked my body as the claws scored my neck. I swept the staff back and forth in front of me as if I was batting away spider webs. The resultant blows were weak, but the silver seemed to burn the ghost and it recoiled. After a few more thrusts and overhand smashes, the ghost dissolved into a pile of dust. As I rested from the fight, I surveyed the chamber. A few burial urns stood on funeral plinths, and a scroll that glittered with enchantment lay upon the floor. The only other items of interest were a few alchemy ingredients. I collected those and the scroll, which I decided to examine later, in safer surroundings. The passage made a turn, leading to another small chamber, complete with a shrine to St. Veloth, more urns and a second magical scroll. There was also a door leading deeper into the tomb.

Despite my worries, no more ghosts waited beyond the door. I did find a rather weak Fortify Health potion and more urns, including one that actually carried an inscription. The markings indicated that the remains were those of one “Lord Brinne,” but, true to my values, I left them undisturbed. That decision was made somewhat easier by the fact that I detected a magical trap on the container. Of more interest to me was a rough wooden chest, which bore similar markings to the urn. The fact that the chest was locked further convinced me that it probably contained the valuable goods of the deceased lord. I had no qualms about looting the chest, but I also had no hope of being able to force the lock. However, I had anticipated such a need and had therefore purchased a scroll with Ondusi’s Unhinging from the tradehouse in Seyda Neen. The scroll worked as advertised- the lock opened with a satisfying “click” and I opened the lid to find- dust and cobwebs. My frustration quite overcame any pleasure I had taken in defeating the ghost- I had spent nearly 80 septims on that scroll and had nothing to show for it. So far, my money-making scheme was not going well at all. I had used one scroll in order to gain two, plus a cheap potion that I could have concocted myself. As I left the tomb in a foul humor, I seemed to hear an all-too-familiar voice going on and on about the “realities of being a free adventurer.”
Haha! Awesome! So Trey is kinda moody and lazy nowadays? Well well quite understanable, but maybe not so to a young man who´s life lies ahead of him. I´m happy Serene still can cheer Trey up!

Now dear Athlain....impatient are we? Want to make a fortune on his first tomb-raid huh? Well that didn´t happen, right!

So he found the Processus-Vitellius-monument? That was a sweet twist, I´m sure Thavere Vedrano was the one who put the flowers there! So sweet!

As usual you manage to catch your readers interest by your very special way of calmly and detailled describe the moves of the young man...

Oh how I wish I was at least half as good a writer as you are!
Black Hand
"True to his values"? Oh man, the value of his ring finger would have gone up to 8 Grand! Not to mention the Mentors Ring is great for the starting Magician!
@ minque- Of course you are far more than simply "half as good"- I am constantly awed by your insight and ability, esp. as you write in a non-native language. The fact that we have different styles does not change the quality of your work...

@ Blackhand- Yup. I purposely had him obliviously pass up the Mentor's Ring- just as Trey did with the Amulet of Shadows. It is fun to throw in those "insider jokes" for folks who really know the game...
jack cloudy
It took him quite a while to deal with that ghost. I guess our friend has a lot of training to do before he can seek out fame and glory.

And I'm with Black Hand, Mentor's ring is a great treasure to find early on. (Ignoring the fact for a moment that I didn't come to that tomb till level 7 or so which isn't exactly early.) Still, I have to agree that it adds to the enjoyment of those who are in the know. And because it brings up his sense of right and wrong, it's even better.
The Metal Mallet
Very tricky, trey, nice little addition about Athlain missing the Mentor's Ring. The memorial for Processus was a nice addition to, it really gives the impression that indeed time has passed since Trey defeated Almalexia and Dagoth Ur.

I look forward to the next update.
Dire Cheesecake
Hm, I haven't played Morrowind in years, and I don't have it anymore, so I didn't get the reference. I always remember that smuggler cave near Seyda Neen for some reason though. Speaking of which, I wonder how Athlain will deal with his first fight against another person. Trey seemed to get used to killing people rather quickly, but he didn't really strike me as the sheltered type. Then again, Athlain doesn't use pointy weapons so he may end up not killing his opponent anyway.
Mentor's ring is indeed nice. And it was funny to have Athlain so near his "free" adventurer's fortune, yet so far. And because of self-imposed restrictions! Such a role-player, that Athlain. Such scruples may be difficult to hold to, should he ever find his way to Solstheim.
Hehehe... I figured you weren't gonna let him find the Mentor's Ring... woulda been too easy lol.
Reading these stories always makes me wish I had the time and inspiration to go back to writing The Tale of Jonacin, but alas, I don't. Oh well, such is life.
A short one this time, without much action. This story has been harder to write...I am still learning who Athlain is.

Frustration at my lack of success propelled me out of the tomb- propelled me a little too quickly, in fact. I had forgotten that the sea was just outside the entry, and splashed into it up to my knees. My ignominious dive was immediately remarked by a couple of slaughterfish, which greeted me with painful bites. As I flailed at the piscine vermin, I heard an ugly “crack” and my treasured silver staff broke in two. No wonder the trader had let it go so cheaply- it had probably been held together by no more than spit and spider webs. Clutching the pieces, I dashed back onto dry land with the fish snapping at my heels. I was in an ugly state of mind as I returned to Seyda Neen. The tiny fishing village was like quicksand- I seemed unable to break free from its grip. At first, I was determined to tear into the trader, but by the time I reached the tradehouse, better sense had prevailed. I knew it be unwise to berate the only trader in the town- if I annoyed him sufficiently, he would refuse to deal with me. And there was no one else. Also, I had examined the pieces of the staff and realized that it was not a matter of sharp dealing, but rather the nature of the staff itself. To save weight (and expense), it was not solid silver, but rather a thin layer of the metal laid over a wooden shaft. It really wasn’t designed for being slammed repeatedly into things with wild abandon. Besides all that, I did not want to make a scene that might cause me to be noticed.

When I inquired about the possibility of repairs, I received more bad news. The trader folded his hands into the sleeves of his robe and said,

“I am sorry, young sir, but there is no one in Seyda Neen who can craft or repair arms and armor. The nearest smith is in Pelegiad. Or you might take the silt strider to Balmora….”

The meeting with the trader was not completely fruitless, however. I persuaded him to sell me an iron mace and to teach me a fireball spell for a small amount of gold. The mace was an ugly thing, but it had the virtue of being extremely durable. And even though destructive magic was not my greatest proficiency, having the fire spell available would allow me to strike from a distance.

When I left the tradehouse, I did not immediately rush off to another tomb or cave. Instead, I sat on the dock and studied the waves as if they might have the answers I needed. Although I had a couple of goals in mind, so far I had simply been darting about in the brainless manner of a young cliff-racer. It was past time that I put my supposedly superior intelligence to work and made some definite plans. First, Seyda Neen was not a satisfactory base. Beyond the fact that it stank of fish, the village was so isolated that there were no real services. It was the sort of place that most people simply passed through on the way to anywhere else. Reluctantly, I decided that I must return to Balmora. That city had several advantages, including the fact that it was the seat of Hlaalu power. While I had no intention of asking for anything as dubious as Hlaalu protection, the tensions between that House and Redoran would prevent anything as overt as Father sending some Redoran guards to “escort” me home. Better still, Balmora had a Mages Guild house. At Mother’s urging, I had joined the Mages Guild some years previously- my greatest skills were in the schools of magic. That being so, it was odd that my heart’s desire was to be a swordsman rather than a battlemage. But, when I thought of the future, I imagined myself in the silvered armor of a Legion knight rather than the robes of a mage. Regardless of logic, regardless of my father’s wishes, that was what I wanted. But in the interim, the Mages could provide me with supplies and even training. Another advantage was that most of the guild members would be too deeply involved in their own research to even notice me. Therefore, it was unlikely that they would report my presence back to Indarys Manor. As long as I did not use the Guild Guides for transport, things would probably be fine.

Rather than walk back to Balmora, I rode in comfort on the silt strider. It was a luxury, but one I could afford- at least for now. Upon arrival, I went immediately to Meldor the armorer. I had heard that the Bosmer craftsman knew more about repairing wood than anyone else. What I hoped was that he would do more than simply repair the silver staff- I hoped that he would show me the way of it. Perhaps a true knight would have a squire to maintain his equipment, but for now, all I had was myself. When I presented the broken weapon and explained my need, the wood elf was doubtful.

“I don’t know, Cyrodiil. Patching a staff is a tricky business. There will always be some weakness at the point of the repair. I suppose we could strip the silver off the original wood and plate a new staff…?”

I shook my head.

“No, Meldor. If we do that, the power of the staff over undead and summoned creatures will be ruined. If you can show me how to keep the staff from breaking again, I would rather put it back together.”

The Bosmer sighed and admitted that I was correct about the undead. He then produced a number of strips of wood, which he wound around the staff. Then he took me to the back of his shop, where a cauldron of peculiar liquid bubbled over a low fire. He looked at me closely and then said,

“This is the real secret of chitin and bonemold armor. I make a resin from certain plants and animals, which I than apply to the armor. It makes it strong but flexible. We are going to coat the wood strips of the staff with this same resin. It will take several days to dry, but the result should be all you ask for. I will also sell you some jars of resin you can use to maintain the repair. Actually, once the resin soaks in, the mended wood will be stronger than the rest.”

I paid the smith and walked down the street to the Mages Guild. Although I did not know it at the time, a pair of very interested eyes followed my progress.
I wonder who is watching. I imagine that the son of Trey (hears shouting from afar), oh, sorry, Athlain might draw interest from both the friends and enemies of his father. Especially some enemies who hang around a certain club...
The Metal Mallet
Hmm, yes, can't forget about those guys. I can imagine they're the type who don't let go of a grudge easily either. But I have a feeling we'll find out who is doing the observing next update.

Great work as usual, trey!
I was very excited to find a brand new story by Treydog. Writing it about Trey's son seems like a really great idea, and has already provided some very interesting and thought provoking incidents. I am looking forward following him on his journey and watching the ever-present effects of his "noble" parentage.

I find it very interesting that Trey has refused to talk with his son about his "former life." I assume that his reasoning would be that he didn't want to give his son the idea that adventuring is an exciting lifestyle, hoping that his son would take a cue from his attitude and lead a simpler, safer life. It is intriguing, therefore, that this has had the opposite effect, actually driving Athlain toward a life of adventure and excitement. I'm curious to see how his choice will affect his relationship with his father (and, perhaps, the rest of House Redoran as well).
jack cloudy
I liked the bit about the repairs. With the glue and all, it actually felt real. Much better than just whacking it with a hammer a few times.

And I feel rather sorry about the Camonna Tong. Come on guys, there are a few polite ones around. Why must we all assume that they're the bad guys just because they've got different beliefs?
,,But you slaughtered Hla Oad because of them!"

Ehh, nevermind. I never said anything. laugh.gif

Carry on please, oh great master.

I love you Treydog!

I've been a silent sentinel reading your stories for a while, its a great inspiration, and gets me all fired up to pen something of my own. Alas, I am crap at keeping a coherent story, and have yet to discover my own style. Maybe one day, if you've got the time you could tell me how you started, and developed your own methods as a writer.

Keep up the writing trey, its truly great stuff.
Ahhh Athlain, I wonder whos eyes are watching you? It just can´t be our common everyday-assassin, right? Of course you just had to add a cliffie right at the end...hmmm...

And mom´s influence led him right into the arms of the Mages, well that´s good!

Great work, I can´t wait for the next part.
QUOTE(Avego @ Jun 19 2007, 03:08 PM) *


I love you Treydog!

I've been a silent sentinel reading your stories for a while, its a great inspiration, and gets me all fired up to pen something of my own. Alas, I am crap at keeping a coherent story, and have yet to discover my own style. Maybe one day, if you've got the time you could tell me how you started, and developed your own methods as a writer.

Keep up the writing trey, its truly great stuff.

Well, many thanks for the kind words. I am always pleased to "meet" my readers.... As to the how of the writing, you might check out this thread:

which describes my process. The short version is: read. Pay attention to the work of those writers that you like and try to figure out what it is that they do. To be a writer, you have to write. If you can't sustain a long piece, write short pieces that tell a complete story. If you have a concept of what you expect to happen, write down everything you want in the story, without worrying about the order of events. You can fix that later. Make sure your characters have personalities. Give them quirks, phobias, prejudices, and failings- as well as strengths. Above all, enjoy what you are doing.
Thank you, it means alot to have a helping hand from someone I have come to respect merely from the power of their writing. Are you sure you're not a best selling Author in disguise? At any rate, thanks again for the link and advice.
Sorry for the long delay- I could plead RL complications, but the fact is, it was mostly writer's block- not knowing what to do with my newest creation.... Anyway, here he is- and I hope you enjoy his (mis)adventures.

The Balmora Mage’s Guild was a pleasant diversion. They provided everything I needed to live- food, a bed, even stimulating classes in the schools of magic. I was able to pay my way by trading simple potions for lessons. It was odd- the mages could mix potions as easily as I, but they hated to take the time away from their “important research” -research that never seemed to actually yield any tangible results. But, since their intellectual snobbery was to my benefit, I made no complaint. And yet… it was just a diversion, a side path from the direction I wished to go. At the end of two weeks, I was ready to move on, to take the first decisive step in achieving my goal. Thus it was that, on a rainy Fredas morning, I walked out the south gate and up the hill to Fort Moonmoth.

Legion troops were much in evidence, and I felt stirrings of both pride and jealousy at the sight of their Imperial uniforms.

“Soon,” I promised myself, “soon….”

The first officer I located explained that the only garrison that was recruiting was the Death’s Head Legion at Fort Darius in Gnisis. He also mumbled something about “…smelly Orcs,” but I was too anxious to embark on my new career to worry about that. Without delay, I boarded the silt-strider and reached the small outpost on the Samsi River in the early afternoon.

The crab-shell buildings of the town caused an unexpected twinge of homesickness- they reminded me strongly of Ald’ruhn and my home. But I ruthlessly suppressed the traitorous melancholy and examined the other structures. Besides the strider-port, there was a Dunmer Temple, a few homes and businesses, and the Velothi tower of Baladas Demnevanni. I had heard many stories of that rogue Telvanni, and vowed to stay far away from him. Although he had no reason to bear me or my family any ill will, the Telvanni rarely needed reasons for their actions. If anyone had the temerity to ask a Telvanni why he or she had done something, the only explanation likely to be forthcoming was,

“Because I felt like it.”

Of course, that assumed that the response was not the even more probable fireball.

When I asked the strider driver about joining the Legion, he grunted and pointed toward the Madach Tradehouse. Then he elaborated in a rude tone,

“The General prefers to keep to himself, rather than mix with the troops. And he prefers to stay close to his ‘supplies,’ as well.”

That last was accompanied by a crude gesture of someone swilling liquor. I thought to lecture the fellow on showing proper respect for his Imperial protectors, but decided that some folk were too ignorant to be educated. I satisfied myself with giving him the bare minimum gratuity for his services and gathered my belongings. I did not find it all that surprising that the commander of the Legion garrison would take quarters outside the barracks- after all, most high-ranking officers were nobles, and thus accustomed to better accommodations. And the “fort” was actually little more than a customs and inspection point for traffic along the road. It was somewhat disappointing not to be able to go to the Imperial City itself, but I supposed my career had to start somewhere.

The proprietor of the tradehouse directed me to the private rooms on the lower floor, and I was pleased to note that he did so without any slurs upon the commander’s character. When I reached the basement, I was a bit startled to encounter an Orc in Legion garb, but I drew myself up into what I imagined was the posture called “attention” and spoke:

“Sir, I would like to join the Imperial Legion and be of service to the Emperor.”

The Orc gave me a disinterested look and growled,

“Yeah? And what’s that to me, sonny? Does yer mother know yer out this late?”

I flushed red and began to stammer an explanation, which was cut short by a quiet voice from an interior room.

“Enough, Nash. There’s no need to be rude to potential recruits.”

I turned at the sound of the voice and beheld a man who was unmistakably a Legion officer. It was as much a matter of his bearing and steely gaze as the gold-washed armor that he wore. When I imagined a knight of the Imperial Legion, this man was just what I had pictured, right down to the graying hair at his temples. While I was examining him, he was doing the same to me. If he was favorably impressed, he concealed the fact without effort. His expression gave nothing away. Then, just as the silence was becoming uncomfortable, he asked,

“And what skills do you bring to the Legion? What are your talents?”

I desperately wanted to impress the general, but I knew better than to exaggerate. Therefore I admitted that my martial skills were limited, and that I was more conversant with magic than with weapons. Summoning all of my persuasiveness, I added,

“But I can learn, sir. Give me a chance and you won’t be disappointed.”

He continued his silent scrutiny of me and then spoke the words I had hoped to hear-

“Very well. I am General Darius, commander of this garrison. The Legion selects for endurance, the soldierly virtue, and personality, the citizen's virtue, for service in the Legion is the model for the duties of Imperial citizenship. As a trooper or knight, you must master the long blade, spear, and blunt weapons. You must block whatever blows you can, and take unblocked blows upon your heavy armor. The Legion recruit must also be athletic to evade, maneuver, and charge on the field of battle. You have potential that we should be able to develop.”
He scribbled a note and handed it to me.

“Take this draft to the barracks to be sworn in and to draw your gear. After that, locate Senior Trooper Carbo. He will see to your training. Dismissed.”

At last, I had achieved my dream. I was a member of the Imperial Legion.
The Metal Mallet
Hmm, I wonder how long Athlain will still view the Legion in such awe when he's drilled to death out of his element under the training of the Legion.
jack cloudy
Well, I hope he won't get the rough treatment from the Orcs. Unlike them, he lived a sheltered life for the most part. I wouldn't be surprised if they saw him as 'the spoiled, weak brat' and treated him as such.
Call me a pessimist but i keep thinking that something will happen to Athlain.... causing Trey to come out of his, for lack of a better word, "hiding" and do the adventuring thing again.

never the less, your switch in point of views is intriguing and i can't wait to read more of Athlain's adventures (Hey, maybe if it all turns out well he'll have stories to tell like his old man)
Interlude the Second

Contents of a note delivered from an undisclosed location in Vvardenfell to the city of Mournhold:

The fledgling has left the nest. Resided in Balmora and now Gnisis. Awaiting further instructions.

Contents of a letter delivered to the Dark Brotherhood:

You and your subordinates will do NOTHING in regards to a certain recent Imperial Legion recruit. If this order is unclear, I will gladly direct my operatives to explain it to you- or your replacement.


From the rolls of the Imperial Legion Garrison at Gnisis, Vvardenfell District:

Enrolled on this Sixth day of Sun’s Height in the Death’s Head Legion, Knight Protector Darius commanding- Athlain ap Baria Treyson.
Chapter 2

Although I had given my oath to General Darius, I would not formally become a recruit of the Imperial Legion until I had signed the roll. I hastened to the barracks to complete the process- and found that all was not as I had imagined. There was a huge contrast between the general and the trooper who enrolled me. He was a scruffy, unshaven individual, who constantly worked a wad of hackle-lo leaf from one jaw to the other. Some of the juice had dribbled into the whiskers on his chin. When I saluted, he waved a vague hand at me and then proffered the Legion register with a mumbled,

“Make yer mark, kid. ‘Less yer havin’ second thoughts?”

When I reached for the quill, he snickered,

“It’s yer funeral, Bub.”

Amongst the illegible scrawls and shaky “X’s” I wrote my full name:

Athlain ap Baria Treyson

The trooper stared at the neat writing with bemusement and then called over another rumpled Legionnaire. He pointed a grimy finger at my signature and said,

“Looka here, Troop. We got us officer material here. Look how pretty he writes! Is that right, boy? You figger yer officer material?”

This last was addressed to me, but I knew better than to respond. I could have told the lout that the Legion register was an official Imperial document and that it required my full name. I could have explained that I was named for Athyn Sarethi, for my mother and for my father. And I could have pointed out that the explosion of births following the passing of the Blight had necessitated schools- schools that my artist mother and writer/scholar/ warrior father had insisted I attend. But I did not. Some battles cannot be won- only endured. So I said nothing until they tired of their sport and directed me to the quartermaster to be outfitted.

That worthy proved to be a heavyset Breton with a face that had seen it all and liked none of it. He sized me up with a practiced eye and began pulling equipment from various racks and bins, all the while with a running commentary:

“Cuirass, chain mail, medium, slightly used, one each. Bloodstains will come out when you polish it. Greaves, steel, right and left, one each. Those go on your legs, right greave on the right leg, left greave on the left. Helmet, steel, one each. That’s to preserve what few brains you may have left. Boots, steel, right and left, one each. You’ll figure out which is which eventually. Spear, iron, one each. The pointy end goes toward the enemy; try not to put your eye out. Have a nice day.”

I staggered to my bunk under the weight of the assorted iron and steel, feeling uncomfortably like an overloaded tinker’s wagon. I consoled myself with the thought that the weight would feel less once I put everything on. Probably. I laid out all the rusty metal, noting that it bore little resemblance to the shining uniform of a Knight of the Legion. I poked a finger into the rents in the chain cuirass, rents that looked uncommonly like the marks of large, sharp teeth. Before I could pursue that line of thought further, a voice bellowed from behind me:

“Is the sun down, recruit? Did anyone tell you to go to bed? Did they tell you to put all this worthless junk on one of my nice, clean bunks? Well, did they?”

I whipped around to see a red-faced Imperial trooper glaring at me. As I tried to decide which question to answer first, he rolled his eyes skyward and intoned, as if to an uncaring god:

“Why do I always get the idiots? What have I done to get on General Darius’ list?”

He brought his eyes back to focus on me. With a couple of quick movements, he dumped the armor and spear onto the floor. Then he glared at me again. In a low growl, he said,

“That is the bunk of an Imperial trooper. You are NOT an Imperial trooper. You are a recruit. You are lower than the stuff I wipe off my boots after walking in the guar pen. You have not earned a bunk. You will be an Imperial trooper when I decide that you are ready, however doubtful that outcome may be. Now grab that pile of junk and follow me, recruit.”
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