Yes indeed, like h.e.r., you recognized Teresa's spirit guide right away. He will play a very important role in her life. This is one of the things that is completely new for Teresa 2.0 here at Chorrol. When I moved the story here and restarted it, I decided to delve deeply into Teresa's spirituality, which was noticeably lacking in 1.0. mALX
: I am not sure if we will see more of Barenziah or not. If I can, I would like to work her into future storylines though. haute ecole rider:
The river is well over two hundred feet at Silverbridge, so I figured that was enough space for Barenziah not to worry about the picnickers. Of course if I had named her Yogi, they would have been shy one picnic basket before the day was out...Acadian
: Trust me, it is not just a wood elf thing...
Perhaps Barenziah did recognize Teresa. Also if you recall, when Teresa was making her way back to Bravil back in the beginning of this chapter, she saw another bear that give her a long, almost knowing look...
You did indeed, hit one of the main things I wanted to highlight in this episode. Bravil's upper class. Even here in the ruins of Detroit we still have monied nobility. So Bravil would be no different. Teresa has indeed learned to dislike such people, and we will see why in a future chapter. Grits
: It was good to get back to Silverbridge again, however briefly, and see old man Decimus again. ghastley
: I guess Bosmer bowgirls are just not that competitive. At least not for the sake of competition itself. Now show a Skingrad elf some Dunmer sausage, and you will see some fight. Some might say the same of blond Bravilian bowgirls and Imperial Guard Captains from Kvatch... Olen
: The FG qualifications are very close, just a few more episodes to get there. We will be seeing much more of Lady Scaurus as well. Not only in this chapter, but in future ones as well. King Coin:
The Battle of Bruma remains one of my favorite chapters. It was murder to write, given that at the time it was the largest chapter I had ever done (of course now I look at this chapter and laugh at a mere 16k words...
). It was also required very intricate details to be worked out, with the movements and counter-moves of the two armies. I have always been at least a little (and usually a lot) disappointed with the portrayal of major battles in fantasy novels and especially movies. So I was glad to have the chance to show how it can be done with realism, rather than as two mobs brawling with one another. I am glad it all came together for you!Previously on Teresa of the Faint Smile:
Teresa performed a simple contract guiding a group of nobles into the forest for a picnic and bear-watching. While she found two of them to be as annoying and exasperating as she expected, she found that Lady Scaurus was not one to be trifled with however, and is a noble whom she can truly respect. Next we return to the guild hall for dinner later that night, and sparks fly as three orcs are put together in the same room. The fight depicted (and fighting styles of the combatants) was loosely based upon a famous boxing match from the 1970's. Can anyone guess which one?Chapter 34.8 - The Tournament Of Archers
"Well I have to say, you Bravil fellas sure put on a good spread!" Lum leaned back in his chair and belched loudly. Vincent and Pappy laughed from where they sat at the large, round, dining room table. Teresa could not stop herself from rolling her eyes, and she could see Ancondil doing the same across the table from her. Storm-Tail made no sign however. In fact, if his chest had not occasionally risen and fell with breath, the wood elf would have wondered if he might be a statue. Just like all Argonians, she mused. Unless they had to for some reason, they rarely moved at all, but instead remained perfectly still for hours on end.
"Hey, what's wrong, our manners aren't good enough for you?" Kurz's voice was a low growl, like that of a dog after someone stepped too close to its bone. Teresa looked up from her half-finished stuffed cabbage to see the Chorrol orc glowering at Ancondil. The pony-tailed orc had been needling Ancondil all day long with snide little comments. Now he was practically throwing down the gauntlet in front of the other Orisimer. "That's how a real orc shows appreciation."
"Indeed," Ancondil replied in a conciliatory tone. He reached for a bottle of Surilie Brothers as if nothing had happened. "Here, try a glass of this brandy. It is the best way to finish a good meal."
"Orisimer don't drink that fruity elf piss water," Kurz spat. "Beer and ale are a green man's drink."
"Fruity elf what?
" Teresa's knuckles turned white under the force of her clenched fist. She felt Tadrose lay a gentle hand on her own, holding it under the table.
"Piss water, that's what I said twig." Now the orc turned to face Teresa. "That's fine for little girls, but not a real orc."
"Now see here!' Ancondil rose to his feet, his face set into a mask of stone. "A gentleman does not speak that way to a lady."
Kurz now stood as well. His brother reached up to take his arm, but Kurz brushed it aside. He balled one hand into a fist and pressed it into his open palm, and Teresa could hear his knuckles crack loudly. "You wanna learn me some manners pretty boy?"
"I am Ancondil of Cheydinhal, son of Orintur and Eilonwy." Ancondil stepped around the table to face the other orc. "I am calling you out. What say you sir
While his face was an expressionless mask, Teresa could not fail to miss the sarcasm that Ancondil's final word dripped with. The next thing she knew, she was standing on her feet as well. Part of her wanted to tell Ancondil to stop. The last thing she wanted was him being hurt over her. But another part of her very much wanted to see her friend bury a green fist into the Chorrol orc's face.
"Let's dance." Kurz swung at Ancondil. Yet even Teresa saw the blow coming from a mile away. Ancondil rotated to one side, and the ham hock of the other orc slipped past his head. Then Ancondil unleashed an uppercut with his left, and Kurz staggered as the cultured Orisimer's fist sank into his gut.
The others leaped from their seats to pull the two orcs apart. Lum grabbed his brother and drew him back, while Pappy and Tadrose stepped in front of Ancondil. Vincent on the other hand, simply cheered and shook a fist in the air.
"Alright that's enough you meatheads!" Pappy's shout cut through the commotion. "This is the Fighters Guild, not some Waterfront dive." Then his voice softened, and gleam lit his blue eyes. "We do our fighting in the dojo
. Now come on!"
With that Pappy led the way from the dining room to the back of the guild hall. Teresa and the others filed into place between the orcs, providing a buffer to ensure that more fisticuffs did not erupt along the way. Once in the airy training hall, Ancondil stripped off his velvet doublet and undershirt, until he stood in nothing but his trousers. Kurz likewise doffed his own tunic, and he reminded Teresa of an angry lion as he prowled back and forth behind his brother.
Pappy then took up leather straps and began wrapping them around the Kurz's hands. Tadrose did likewise with Ancondil. Teresa saw her whisper something in the orc's ear, and he nodded in return. Finally, the two Orisimer faced one another once more as the others backed away to form a ring around them.
Kurz took a moment to twist his head around in a circle, creating a series of ominous popping noises from his neck, which looked as thick as a tree-trunk to Teresa's eyes. He grinned, exposing his teeth like a predator about to pounce. Raising his hands, he stepped forward in a pugilist's stance.
"I'm gonna beat you into next year!"
Ancondil was unfazed by the other man's threat, and moved forward in a similar pose. However, Teresa was quick to note that while Kurz's steps were heavy and deliberate, those of Ancondil were light and quick. He almost seemed to dance upon the hardwood floor of the training room.
It was Ancondil who struck the first blow as the two closed. It was a quick jab from his left, connecting with Kurz's chin. The Chorrol orc's head rocked back for a moment. Then he smiled, and continued to close in. Ancondil floated away however, and jabbed again. Now Kurz swept aside Ancondil's left with his right. Stepping forward with his left foot, he brought his left fist across his body and landed it square in Ancondil's face.
The Orisimer's head snapped back under the force of the blow, and blood sprayed from his lip. But he did not falter, and a second later he smashed home a right uppercut into Kurz's chin. Teresa could swear that the Chorrol orc's entire body was lifted from the ground, and before he could regain his balance, a left hook buried itself into his temple.
Kurz staggered back and shook his head. Yet he remained on his feet, his hands still up and on guard. Teresa was stunned. If only one of those punches had landed on her, she knew that she would have been a smear on the floor.
"I've got twenty drakes on Ancondil!" Pappy shouted. "Any takers?"
"I'll cover that!" Lum shouted back.
"Hey, let me in on this action!" Vincent cried. "I'll put twenty on Kurz!"
"You're on!" Teresa found herself shouting to Vincent. Her heart was pounding in her chest like a racehorse, and her palms glistened with sweat. She felt as if she were fighting herself!
Tavian joined in with a few drakes a moment later, and even the normally placid Storm-Tail threw his own money into the rapidly growing betting pool. Only Tadrose abstained, remaining cool and composed as usual. If Chance had not been on a contract, Teresa had no doubt that he too would have joined in. He probably would have been the one to start the betting! Teresa imagined.
In the meantime Kurz and Ancondil were still in action, seemingly oblivious to the chaos of bets that had erupted around them. As before, Ancondil's feet were quick and light. He bobbed, weaved, and jabbed. Kurz on the other hand, was slower, and continued to try to close with the other orc. Whenever he could, he blasted at Ancondil with crushing uppercuts and hooks, putting all of the strength of his body behind the blows. Yet Ancondil was too fast, and most met nothing but air.
"This is an excellent example of opposing styles," Tadrose said quietly, so that Teresa barely heard the dark elf over the shouts and cheers of the others. "Ancondil is a classic out-fighter. See how he keeps Kurz at a distance? He uses quick jabs and moves fast on his feet, to keep Kurz back. He cannot hit very hard like that, but he controls the pace of the fight, and is slowly wearing Kurz down. He got cocky at the start there, and let Kurz hit him. But now that he's had a taste of what Kurz can dish out, I think he will settle down."
"Kurz on the other hand, is a slugger," the dark elf continued. "He is slower, both in the feet and the hands. You can often see his punches coming from a mile away. But he hits like minotaur, and he can take a beating like one."
Teresa nodded. Thanks to her sojourn into Henantier's dreamworld, she knew the latter from personal experience! "So he's just a brute then," she observed.
"No, it is not like that at all," Tadrose said, her eyes remaining locked on the combatants as they spoke. "Kurz was not born with the quickness or nimbleness that Ancondil has. If he tried to fight like Ancondil, he would lose. He has to use what Mara gave him the best he can. Watch how he punches. See how he not only throws his arm forward in that left cross of his, but rotates his hip and torso? Also how he moves his weight from the back foot to the front? He's using his body as fulcrum. That sudden shift of weight puts even more power in his blows. He would drop most people with only one of those punches. Ancondil probably only stayed on his feet the first time because it was the start of the fight, and he was still fresh. If Kurz hits him with another after he is worn down…"
"So how can Ancondil win?" Teresa bit her lip.
"He has to keep doing what he is," Tadrose explained. "Keep moving, tire Kurz out with jabs, and stay away from that left cross of his. It is all about endurance, skill, and strategy."
Teresa continued to watch as the two behemoths slugged it out before her eyes. She had been so caught up in her feelings, that she had not really analyzed the tactics of the two fighters. Yet trust Tadrose to turn anything into a training session, even a brawl! Still, she told herself to stop worrying about Ancondil, and tried to take mental notes about the strategy and moves that both fighters were using.
It finally ended when Kurz's body shook like leaf. Letting forth an ear-splitting howl, he leaped forward at Ancondil with a speed that was surprising for his bulk. He pushed his way through Ancondil's warding jabs, and pummeled away at the other orc with crushing punches to the torso. Ancondil pulled his arms in front of him, hands up before his face, to ward off the hammer blows.
Teresa cringed, until she noticed that while Kurz was definitely unleashing punishing blows, he had lost his former skill. No longer was he shifting his weight with his punches, or even striking at vital points like Ancondil's head. Instead he simply flailed away like the mindless brute she had originally mistaken him for.
"He's berserk," Tadrose commented. "One way or another, it will be over soon."
Teresa's eyes widened. She had heard stories of berserk orcs, but had never seen one. Until now at least. Now she stared in horror as Kurz continued to unleash punch after punch into Ancondil's warding arms and the sides of his torso. For long minutes it went on, and Teresa could not believe that Ancondil was able to remain on his feet under the punishment.
Then a strange thing happened. It was Kurz who began to falter. He looked exhausted. Ancondil acted instantly, replying with a combination jab and cross to the Chorrol orc's head. Kurz staggered for a moment, then swung wildly back at Ancondil. The Orisimer ducked under the clumsy blow, and followed with an uppercut into Kurz's stomach, nearly lifting the slugger off his feet from the force of the punch.
Kurz staggered, and Ancondil pressed his attack. First jabbing with his left, he followed with a devastating right cross to Kurz's chin. Blood splattered from the orc's lip, landing hot and wet upon Teresa's face. He tottered, and a moment later went crashing to the floor.
"Kurz!" Lum rushed forward to his brother, lifting his head from the hardwood floor. The Chorrol orc's eyes fluttered open, and he stared up at Ancodil's own bloody and bruised visage.
"Well I'll be a tattooed dragon," Kurz spat blood from his mouth. "You're no ponce after all. You're alright Ancondil!"
With the help of his brother, the orc rose to his feet and extended a hand to Ancondil. Teresa bit her lip, waiting for the inevitable trick. Yet the Chorrol orc had no mischief up his figurative sleeve when Ancondil took his leather-wrapped hand and shook it vigorously.
"And you sir, have the hardest left cross I have ever had the misfortune of stopping!" Ancondil laughed and slapped the other man on the back. Then he turned to the others. "Drinks are on me!"