SotF: Something to Prove

  • VII

    They had been walking for hours through familiar roads and pathways and the gods be kind; the day was far cooler than the day before. Matthias said nothing through the journey and neither did Falrielle; she was busy thinking – reflecting on her life. When Matthias finally called for a short break, Falrielle dropped down and changed her foot rags.


                ‘You have been quiet, Falrielle,’ said Matthias, stopping to take a drink from a waterskin. ‘What’s on your mind?’


                For a few seconds, Falrielle could not reply for it was not a thought but a storm in her mind. She had many questions to ask: What of the werewolf? What awaits her at the Keep? She bit her lip as he tried to calm the noise.


                ‘Mentor,’ she said finally. ‘Why did you join the Vigil? Why would you choose this life?’ She wasn’t quite sure why she asked that.


                ‘Truth be told, I’m not sure myself. Why?’ he said, offering her a drink.


                Falrielle took the waterskin with a nod and drank. She gagged at first taste: not water but wine. She was surprised that Matthias had wine of this sort on him for the Vigil maintains a strict dry-rule in the Keep with only medicinal wine being permitted. She never really did had must of a liking for wine, too much of a Southerner’s drink for her though she drank it anyway. She needed something strong.


                ‘Because I’m having my doubts if this is the right life for me. You chose to join the Vigil of your own will, correct? It is a hard life but it is a life you chose. For all my life, I just drifted from one end to another. I didn’t choose to be born in some no-name hamlet, I just was. I didn’t choose to move to Dawnstar and join a gang, I just did. I didn’t choose a job where I have to kill, I just did. I didn’t choose to live while my brother died, I just did; I mean I did have a choice but what choice is it if the other option is death? We survive no? What do the smart people call it, “rationalising”?’


                She turned to Matthias but she averted her eyes. She couldn’t look into his eyes.


                ‘I joined the Vigil because I had nowhere else to go. I couldn’t stay in Markarth, I just couldn’t. Not after what happened there, too many painful memories. Heh, I think I only remembered about the Vigil when I woke up one morning after burning my coin pouch in a tavern somewhere – I don’t remember where. Just remembered Carcette mentioning something about the Pale, home that is. I thought: why the fuck not? It had been awhile since I’ve been home and it was not as if I had anything better to do. Maybe that’s why I’m that “problem” Initiate the others keep saying. I’m sorry, Mentor. I’m babbling aren’t I?’


                ‘Its fine, Falrielle,’ said Matthias, his tone soft. ‘Speak your mind and speak freely.’


                ‘Thank you, Mentor- Did you know you’re the only one I call Mentor? I like you, I really do. You’re the only one who has ever shown me any respect. The only one who isn’t treating me like I’m some abomination. The others can go suck a- you know. Life in the Vigil isn’t so bad, don’t get me wrong. Warm food and warm beds almost every day, good and frequent training; a sharp body is a sharp mind or however that saying goes: point is - I like it in the Keep. It’s the best roof I’ve ever slept under. No ale or “release” but I’ve learned to live with it. It’s not too bad. At least I don’t have to deal with fleas or frisky bastards. Heh.’


                She clenched her fists and looked at him.


                ‘But I don’t really belong there, do I? Who joins the Vigil? Soldiers, farm boys, priests: honest and honourable men and women. And who am I? A violent whore-mongering drunkard thug. Please, don’t deny it, I know what I am and I live with what I am although sometimes I wonder how I do it. I’ve done many terrible things. I’ve killed, murdered, tortured, stole, robbed – I’ve even killed a few people I loved yet I felt nothing. Like a dagger or a sword. Heh, maybe I am an abomination? My hands were covered in blood when I showed up at your doorstep and every page in my book was overflowing and the Vigil just let me in. I-I-I’m sorry, Mentor but what I’m trying to say is…’


                Falrielle gritted her teeth and fought back the tears before finishing. ‘That I don’t think that life in the Vigil is the life for me. I’m so sorry but it’s something I’ve been thinking about for some time now and after yesterday – I’ve made my choice. I don’t think it’s the best choice but it’s something-’


                Falrielle flinched when Matthias placed a firm hand on her shoulder.


                ‘There is nothing to forgive,’ he said with a gentle smile on his face. ‘And you are not a puppet of fate or a weapon; you are you – you are Falrielle, a person and not I nor anyone else can tell you who you are and what to do. The Gods gave us free will after all and is it not this freedom to choose is what sets us apart from one another?’




                ‘It’s alright, Falrielle. I’ll tell them myself but remember: our doors are always open to you and neither Stendarr nor his faithful would turn away those in need.’


                Falrielle smiled. ‘Thank you, Mentor.’


                The elf removed her tabard, a light brown instead of the blues and greens of the Vigil, folded it and gave it to Matthias. When she reached for her mace, Matthias stopped her.


                ‘Keep it, you’ll need it,’ said Matthias and Falrielle bowed. When Matthias extended his hand, Falrielle grabbed it and shook. ‘You need not call me Mentor.’


                ‘Stendarr watch over you, Falrielle.’


                ‘And he to you too, Matthias – No, Mentor.’


                Her shoulders felt lighter.



    The sun was midway setting in the west when Falrielle had finally returned to the camp. Even in the distance, she could see the smoke of the bonfire and hear the work songs of the labourers and the guards. She thought she was too late but the Divines be willing, she smiled when she saw a set of familiar pelts marching from the camp.


                ‘Hey!’ Falrielle shouted as she ran towards them.


                ‘Ho, Vigilant!’ said Brant with a spear in hand. ‘Didn’t expect to see you so soon.’


                ‘Me neither,’ she panted with her hands on her knee. She found the feeling of a breeze on her hair odd, even more so when she realised how scruffy it must be. ‘You have room for another blade?’ she continued, wiping the sweat off her brow.


                The party laughed before Brant stopped them with a raise of his hand. ‘Now, now, don’t be hasty, milady,’ he said. ‘I was just being friendly before but werewolf hunting is no child’s play, fellow elf! You’re not daft, you’ve heard the stories: large as a carriage, more vicious than a sabre cat, strength of-‘


                ‘Ten men, I know. I have been trained by the Vigilants of Stendarr after all.’


                ‘Yet you do not wear their colours?’


                ‘A deserter then?’ said one of the men in the back. ‘Or were you thrown out in a noon? Weak!’


                They laughed again.


                Falrielle’s hands flinched at the touch of her mace. ‘If you want me to prove myself to you; take but a step forward and we’ll see if your own mothers can recognise you when I’m done. I don’t need my mace, just my fists and I can take more than one.’


                ‘Alright, little elf,’ said the bald one, breaking formation. ‘I accept your challenge but don’t cry when I-‘


                ‘Don’t do it, Roald,’ said Brant. ‘We Wood Elves are stronger than we look.’ He turned and gave Falrielle a wink.


                ‘Even better!’ the bald one continued. ‘Tell you what, little girl: as I am such a good man, I’ll let you get the first strike.’


                The other men laughed but Falrielle merely raised an eyebrow.


                ‘Not a good idea, Roald!’


                ‘Shut it, elf! Come on, girl – make it your best shot and remember it’s the only one you-‘


                Falrielle bumped her fists together before throwing the hardest punch she could make, knocking the bald man to the ground and bloodying his nose.


                The men laughed even harder.


                ‘Do we take turns exchanging love taps or can I snap his neck now?’


                ‘Enough, enough,’ said Brant as he carelessly waved his hand. ‘See lads? I told you not to underestimate a Wood Elf. We may be small but we’re strong – how else do we become the greatest bowmen of all of Tamriel?’


                Roald groaned and picked himself off the ground.


                ‘Nice face,’ said Falrielle. ‘Better than the old one.’


                ‘You fucking c-‘


                ‘There’s no need for that,’ said Brant. ‘Give her a spear. Let’s see if she can handle a werewolf as well as she can handle a boar!’




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