SotF: A Flash of Green

  • V

    Falrielle balanced the point of her knife by the tip of her finger – an old and familiar trick her brother once taught her.


                Bite hung by her belt and her bodied covered by mail, gambeson, and plate – she was as ready as she could be. It definitely wasn’t her first fight and she hoped it wouldn’t be her last. Her wounds itched but it she has survived worse, she told herself. She remembered a time where she fought for two days with her fingers hanging by the skin and another with a knife lodged in her gut. All was as well as it could be.


                …except this time her hands won’t stop shaking. Beaten, burned, and electrocuted with the scars to prove it had not done this before and the fact that it danced now frustrated her. She’s stared down Daedra, Vampires, and other horrors yet they did little to waver her resolve but this just didn’t make any sense. The elf swore and flipped the knife, catching it by the handle; at least she could still do that. She flipped the knife and caught it again and again.


                That bastard, the thought that repeating in her head as she massaged her leg with her other hand. He had her at her most vulnerable and if the situations were reversed, she wouldn’t waste a second thought in slitting his throat. A warrior’s death as anyone deserved. But this… this was humiliating.


                Flip and catch.


                Amused him, he says. Her thigh began to throb again and Falrielle cursed. Just who did he think he was? She wondered. A second-rate mage who fought in the war? She in her own way did fight in the Great War… but Garlas Silvanorn.


                Flip and catch.


                Garlas Silvanorn, her mind wandered to. She’s heard of it many times before – officially, it was a prison-of-war camp during the war where the most difficult of combatants were to be interned. Officially, the prisoners were given ample food and water; basic provisions and were treated with utmost dignity. Officially, the prisoners were to be released without trial at the end of the war as per the Concordat. Officially.


                Flip and catch, this time by the blade.


                Unofficially, Garlas Silvanorn, the ‘Acorn Cave’ as she heard it was a labour camp at the Nibenay Basin – right at the heart of Cyrodiil’s mines. Unofficially, the prisoners only had a loaf of bread for the week and water from the rain. Unofficially, she has heard that there are only two kinds of people who would leave Garlas Silvanorn: the dead and the liars.


                And she knew her share of liars. She threw her knife a little too high this time but she managed to catch it before it hit the ground. She spun the knife in her hands before flipping it again.


                What kind of person survives Garlas Sulvanorn? Someone who was incredibly lucky, she guessed. Or perhaps someone with the favour of the gods.


                Flip and catch.


                But what does that have to do with the boy?


                She caught the knife again but held too tightly by the blade. She let go, and it clanged on the dirt. The elf swore, looking at her fingers – no blood drawn but the view, it seemed dark. Hazy. Comfortable. If only she closed her eyes a bit more, if only…


                Falrielle smacked her head and dug into her breast plate, pulling a purse. She then pulled a glass capsule, crushed it in her hand and snorted the fumes, coughing and gagging.


                The elf pinched her nose together and held her breath, fighting the urge to sneeze. As the moment passed, she blew her nose and sheathed her knife.


                Falrielle stood up, forcing her legs to listen and limped to the table. Little more than planks stacked on piles of rocks, the table was quaint but at least it kept their belongings off the ground. Bandages, non-perishable provisions, effects and… A Vrekiel? The elf tilted her head, she had not expected to see a Vrekiel here. A light crossbow designed and built by the Vrekiel family in High Rock, Vrekiels were all the rage by bandits and guards alike before the war. With a draw of a hundred-and-sixty pounds, Vrekiels are absurdly powerful for their size and as a bonus, they do not need to a windlass to cock.


                Falrielle however was never a fan of Vrekiels. First, pinpoint accuracy meant nothing to her – she couldn’t hit a barn even with her brother’s modifications to his’. Second, because of cost-cutting measures, Vrekiels had a reputation of catastrophically exploding. That also happen to his Vrekiel.

                What was a Vrekiel doing here but the better question was how did Mentor acquire such a weapon and, in an armoury-fresh condition at that?


                The tent flap rustled and Falrielle could hear the distinct rattle of rosaries.


                Speak of the wind and it blows…


                ‘Vigilant Falrielle,’ Mentor said, he too was dressed in weapons and amour. ‘What do you think you’re doing?’


                ‘Equipment check,’ Falrielle said. ‘Getting ready for the patrol, sir.’


                Mentor walked to the table and slung the Vrekiel over his shoulder. ‘You’re not coming to the patrol. Not with the splint on your leg.’


                Falrielle drew her knife and stuck it against the bandages, intending to saw it off.


                Mentor with speed far quicker than the grey of his hair implied seized Falrielle by the wrist. ‘Stand down.’ He released his grip.


                Falrielle shrugged and sheathed her blade. ‘Hunt isn’t over, sir. There is still one more and I’m not resting till’ he’s in chains.’


                ‘In chains?’ he said, stuffing a few quarrels into his belt. ‘Would you be surprise if I were to declare that I am sceptical of that?’


                The elf raised an eyebrow.


                ‘I’ve seen the prisoners,’ he continued. ‘I said take them alive and you’re not daft; you very well understood my orders and yet you chose to disobey them.’ Mentor exhaled in exasperation. ‘What in Oblivion were you thinking?’


                What was she thinking? She was just doing her damned job! words that she wanted to say but knew better to hold her tongue. They were murderers, heretics, and, torturers – evil men and Falrielle was well acquainted with such men. She’s lived under them, suffered them, worked with them. She was one of them and the Gods knew she was still paying for it.


                What she did to those people, in the true North it was called justice. She wanted to say those words but she knew better… except that wasn’t true.


                ‘We are Vigilants, servants of Stendarr – The God of Mercy and Justice,’ she said, pointing at her amulet, a bronzed effigy of Stendarr. ‘Is it not our duty to protect the innocents of the world and punish those evil? I was bringing justice to evil men or are you to tell me that they didn’t deserve it?’


                ‘Do not forget, Vigilant Falrielle,’ Mentor said, his voice stern. ‘That we are his servants, not his enforces. It is not our place to decide who or who doesn’t deserve punishment but what you did is no justice.’


                ‘Not justice?’ Falrielle flung her arm in frustration. ‘Well forgive me, Matthias if what I did was wrong but please tell me which of the things I did was not just? Please tell that boy, who after they took him from his home did the Gods-knows-what to him before they tore his heart out from his still living body and after they were done with him, they just left him for the flies. Look me in the eye – and tell me what I did to them was no justice. Tell me that he didn’t deserve this. What is the point of all of this if we can’t even keep one little boy safe?’


                Matthias strode closer, glaring down at her from a head above. ‘What was his name? The boy, what was his name?’


                Falrielle didn’t answer, nails digging in her fist.


                ‘Beinar,’ Matthias said. ‘And who was his father?’


                No answer.


                ‘Olaeif. He had a name, they all have names but you, you made him something else; you made him an excuse. You’re tired. You’re frustrated. I get it: we all are and we all want an out. You found one and what happened? They hurt you. They hurt your pride.’


                ‘Just you say?’ Matthias said. ‘Tell me where is the justice when you caved in a man’s skull. Or perhaps you can explain to me the virtue of gouging a man’s eye out? Even better – how would any of that bring Beinar back to life? What you did was no justice; it was petty vengeance.’


                ‘What’s the point?’ he continued. ‘We catch them. It’s not the severity of the punishment that deters these men – it’s the certainly that will.’


                He sighed and shook his head. Outside the tent, a horn wailed.

                ‘Falrielle,’ Matthias said. ‘I have wronged you. You are strong and wise and you have become a far greater Vigilant than I’ll ever be.’ He continued, a melancholic smile on his face. ‘It is not your prowess that makes you great: it is your heart. You are brave, compassionate, and committed; I know you truly mean well but Falrielle…’


                He placed a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. ‘You have already proven yourself. First at Darkwater and time and time again you’ve shown your worth. Justice will be served for Beinar and his family and Stendarr as my witness, it will be served. You don’t need to do this; you’re wounded, just sit this one out. We can handle it.’


                Falrielle glared at him with her pale blue eyes as she brushed his hand off.


                ‘Are you done talking, old man?’ she said. ‘In case you didn’t notice, I’m not Junie and they’re calling for us.’


                Matthias didn’t say anything. With a face without expression, he turned and left the tent.


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