The Ivory Lord: A Hero Born, V. 1

The soldier waited with bated breath. His hand gripped the blade haft tightly, turning his knuckles ashen white. His sword arm shook nervously as he stood behind the others, waiting for his chance to strike. Any moment now, the Alessian patrol would pass by. He had to wonder, though, what exactly had he gotten himself into?

His name was Erric Deleyn, and even he didn’t know where his part in all of this began. An innkeeper’s son barely of age, his family tree was literally dripping with proud horse breeders, farm hands, and—like his father—cooks. He had as much warrior’s blood flowing through his body as he did muscles in his arms and back. Which is to say, almost none. Yet here he stood, armor hanging loosely on his thin frame, holding a sword he barely knew how to use.

Erric wished he could say that he had joined the militia to gain revenge or honor. That his father and mother had been slain in an Alessian attack. Or that the love of his life was taken to the slave camps of the evil Alessians. By the Eight, he would have settled for any excuse in which the Alessians wronged his family.

But, no. Erric’s family was safe and sound. His pleasantly plump parents happily ran an inn in one of the small towns that dotted High Rock. And the love of his life? Well, there was none. He had never felt the embrace of a damsel or tasted the kiss of serving wench. So why did he want to fight the Alessians? Well, he had heard bad things about them, but as far as he was concerned it was all rumors and innuendo. He had lived a sheltered life.

No, the reason Erric stood next to Kish’na the fierce Khajiiti maiden and Calinden the handsome Ayleid knight wasn’t quite so lofty. It was more mere chance and accident that had led him to this time and place. He had been sneaking off into the woods at night to practice the same fighting techniques he’d seen the city guard practice. He wanted to learn how to fight, but he didn’t want anyone to see him doing it. There was too much of a chance someone would make fun of him. After all, he was just a cook’s son. So every night Erric would grab his rusty sword and mismatched armor and head into the woods to train.

But tonight would be different. There would be no more practice.

As Erric ran through back alleys to reach the hole in the wall he knew so well, he turned a corner and almost ran right into them. His breath caught in his throat when he saw them. A handful of men and women from different cultures all huddled together, whispering. They wore impressive uniforms and carried even more impressive weapons.

Cautiously he approached them, but Erric had little skill or grace. He tripped over his own feet and landed in a puddle with a loud splash. The warriors turned as one, weapons drawn and eyes hard. But they saw his armor and weapon and assumed he was there to meet them. Being too afraid to say otherwise, Erric was welcomed into their group.

It was simply a case of mistaken identity. Later, he might have called it fate.

But tonight? Tonight was the night Erric Deleyn was going to die. And that event would change the world around him forever.

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