The Bad Man
Photo: Fantasy Ink
It’s just like Vera said. Two men in ebony armor. Two in chainmail.
The men wearing ebony are huge—both of them almost seven feet tall. Nords or Orcs, I figure. The other races of Tamriel don’t grow so high. They have crude, gray blades in their hands, so I’m betting Orc. They tend to favor unpolished weaponry.
I curse to myself. When Green-Skins get the bloodlust, they can be real bastards in a fight.
Their chainmail-clad friends are much easier to figure out. Both Redguards. They have wiry, quick looking bodies, and they’re carrying one-handed steel swords. Light weapons.
“You are Vera the Skagit.” One of the ebony-wearers says, coming close to the fire. I was right, definitely an Orc. There is no mistaking that low, animal growl they have.
Vera is still sitting by the fire with her legs folded beneath her. Back straight and arms in her lap.
“Some people call me that,” she responds. Her hair looks like a waterfall of flame, even in the darkness.
The Orc who spoke motions to his three comrades, and they all spread out around her.
“We are here to bring you back,” he says.
Vera looks at each of them in turn.
“I’d have thought Akavarin could muster more than a quartet of stray mercenaries. The evil bastard lords over half of Skyrim now.”
“Akavarin uses the tools that are needed.” The Orc shrugs. “And we found you, didn’t we? It’s time to go, witch.”
Vera smiles at that last word. But instead of standing up, she unstraps my traveler’s cloak and lets it fall to the ground. Runs a hand down her neck and squeezes one of her full breasts. Her nipples are light pink and her nipples are hard.
“Want to fuck me first?” she asks.
There are about three seconds where all four men glance at each other, trying to gauge the other’s feelings on the matter. One of the Redguards lowers his sword half an inch. The silent Orc lets out a lusty kind of growl.
A moment of weakness is all that it takes to get yourself killed. I draw back my bow and fire an arrow into the Redguard’s face.
Pull a second arrow from the ground. Draw and aim at the other Redguard. Fire.
But he’s already moving, and I lead him too much. The arrow sails wide, into some bushes. There is nothing more unsatisfying than the quiet whisper of a poorly-aimed projectile hitting leaves instead of flesh.
But I get lucky. The idiot stops and tries to figure out where the shot came from instead of finishing his run for cover. So I nock and fire while he’s trying to get his bearings.
Punch a big stick of wood right through his heart.
So now I’m left with two ebony-clad Orcs. Both of whom have a very good idea of where I’m located.
The common wisdom around fighting men in plate armor is patience. Bide your time with parries and dodges—try to tire them out until they can barely stand, and you can sneak your blade into a seam near the armpit or the knee. But I can’t really bide my time when there’s two of them, and one of me.
I always figured the best kind of fight is a short one, anyway.
So I drop my bow, pick up a big, snow-covered rock with both hands, and rush them.
“Jorzracj!” one Orc yells. “There!”
But he is already too late. I heave the rock into Jorzracj’s chest—putting all of my body weight and the momentum I got running down the kill into the throw—and knock him over. He hits the ground with a satisfying kind of thud.
Have you ever seen a turtle on its back? Arms and legs flapping, trying to get a grip on all that empty air. The back plate on ebony armor does the same thing. Ask a Blacksmith—that’s why they sell so much fucking chainmail.
Far more practical.
The last Orc standing moves pretty quick for someone wearing a hundred pounds of armor. He bull-rushes me, swinging that two-handed sword up over his head, ready to cut me in half.
But he isn’t quick enough.
I dodge right and draw my sword in one smooth motion. A bunch of snow and dirt chunks into the air as the Orc’s blade crashes into the earth. And what do you know? I have a nice view of a crescent-shaped seam in his armor, right along the back of his shoulder.
I shove my blade into the seam—punching through mail, skin, bone, and heart.
The Orc grunts. Stumbles back a few paces.
“Fucking cunt,” he mutters. Then I step forward and pull my sword free. There is a lot of blood, and he is dead before he hits the ground.
I walk over to the turtled idiot. Kick up his visor and jam my blade through his face.
There is a gurgle. Nothing more.
Vera has watched me do all of this. Now I watch her. Green eyes and pale skin. Hair that doesn’t seem real.
“Tell me true,” I say. “Am I the bad man in all of this?”
“Yes,” she says. “But so were they.”