The Ivory Lord: A Hero Born, V. 3

Everywhere Erric looked, he saw white armor and Alessian banners. It wasn’t a scouting party that the mercenaries attacked—it was an entire cohort of Alessian soldiers.

The mercenaries fought hard, but they were undisciplined. They lunged at the wall of armored soldiers like drunks in a tavern brawl. They were cut down, one after another, with relative ease. The Alessians simply blocked and parried each attack, taunting their foolish foes before cutting them down.

The only members of the mercenary band that appeared to be having anything close to success were Calinden and Kish’na. The Ayleid knight Calinden’s massive two-handed sword sliced through armor, flesh, and bone with equal ease, while the Khajiit Kish’na’s twin blades twirled around her in an exotic dance of death.

Erric watched in awe as the battle played out in front of him. He knew that if he charged in to help the mercenaries, he would be cut down before he could so much as scratch an Alessian shield with his rusted sword. But if he turned and ran, and if any of the mercenaries survived, he would be remembered as a coward and a fake. They might even come after him, looking for revenge. All these thoughts and more bounced around and collided inside his head, leaving him frozen with indecision and fear.

But nothing brings clarity of mind like a sharp blade cutting through the air in front of you and rushing toward your face. Erric barely dodged out of the way, just as an Alessian soldier backed into him and knocked him to the ground. The rusty blade that Erric had been holding so tightly flew from his hand as he landed on his back. His helmet slammed into the wall he had been standing next to, and for a moment everything went black.
The next thing Erric knew, Calinden was standing beside him and lifting him to his feet. The street around him was littered with Alessian corpses. The Ayleid knight said nothing. He simply turned and walked back into battle.

Erric had seen enough. He couldn’t take it anymore. With growing frenzy, he looked for a path of escape. He could count the number of remaining mercenaries on one hand, but the sea of Alessians seemed as wide and deep as the waves that crashed along the Daggerfall coast. At that moment, Erric knew that he didn’t want to die. He picked a direction and started to run—right past the most frantic and bloody fighting.

As Erric’s legs carried him past the combatants, he reached down and grabbed a sword lying near one of the many corpses. Drawing on reserves he didn’t know he had, he increased his speed. He focused on reaching the nearest open doorway or getting around the next corner. He knew that he could lose himself in the back streets if he could just get away from the fighting. He was close. He was going to make it.

As Erric turned the corner to make his escape, the sword he carried before him slid into something soft and wet. He was staring into the face of an Alessian officer who looked as surprised as he was. The officer wore multiple badges of honor, but not one of them had been enough to save him. Erric’s blade had slid into the space between where the officer’s armor connected front to back, slicing between ribs and puncturing a lung. The officer gasped as his eyes rolled back and his knees buckled.

As the officer dropped to the ground, he let go of the ivory horn he had been holding. It rolled to a stop next to Erric’s right foot. Erric stared at the horn for a moment, then he picked it up and stowed it in his belt. He had no idea what he was going to do with it, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

That’s when the arrow buried itself in Erric’s back. He stumbled forward as pain radiated from the point of impact. Already, his vision was starting to blur. He saw the Khajiit and the Elf run toward him. He saw an army of Alessians chasing after them. He tried to breathe but that made everything hurt even more.

And then everything faded and Erric saw nothing at all.

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