Level 5 Human Fighter
“In death matches, everyone you face is undefeated.” -Vaeril
Bastard of Ebonwell
Cyn was born a bastard to Algernon Hythe, the Duke of Ebonwell, head of a long storied family whose noble conquests included many a pricey vintage and pleasant conversation alike. As with many noble families of the southern continent, a bastard of House Hythe was relegated to the sort of household duties that were unfit for baseborn servants—cup bearing, seal bearing, and bearing of a great number other noble accessories. As Cyn’s very existence was a constant reminder of the Duke’s frequent infidelity, she was fortunate that the Duchess of Ebonwell had born a brood of healthy, entitled, horrible sons to occupy her attention. Cyn, however, was content in avoiding as much noble pomp as possible, preferring instead to adventure about Ebonwell’s considerable grounds in search of imaginary opponents.
In her thirteenth year, Cyn was granted the rare privilege of accompanying her father to the tourney at Springhaven. While the tilts were somewhat lost on Cyn, who saw the sport’s skill as being the province of the horses, she became instantly enamored with the melee. On that particular day, she watched with considerable excitement as a masked warrior defeated six consecutive opponents in single combat, thus winning the day’s contests. As the warrior received her laurel and prize, she revealed herself not only to be a woman, but an elf. This latter revelation provoked the crowd’s ire such that they ran her out in a flurry of thrown tankards and fried food.
Seeing the victory lit a spark within Cyn, and she spent the next three years of her life searching for the mysterious warrior. Any time that she was able to catch a cart into a local village she would be at the arena or tourney grounds, searching and incidentally learning much about the fighting styles of the continent. Finally, during her sixteenth year, Cyn followed a bounty man to a ruin in a clearing in whistle wood, just three miles from the boundary of the Duke’s estate. There she saw the elf warrior relieve the harrier of his ugly head, an improvement in Cyn’s mind, before introducing herself as Sariel, a sylvan elf of the forests across the sea.
The next year was an extremely transformative time for Cyn, as she learned to fight with sword and spear and elven cantrips, as her body grew hard, save her arse and chest, which grew round and plump, and as she learned of the sensuous aspects of the elven tongue. Despite a great many split lips in her melee tutelage, she also learned from Sariel that split lips aren’t always a bad thing.
In time, Cyn began to go to tourneys to prove her mettle on the field of combat, and on the day she took her first life, the Goddess of death in Her insatiability, mirrored the tribute with the life of the Duchess of Ebonwell. Though by tradition the Duke should have gone into mourning for a period of six months, he immediately and quite unfashionably announced his intention to marry Lady Verillia Aryn, Baroness of Corith, a recent guest of Ebonwell. All of the Duke’s Lady acquaintances scoffed at his haste, at her station and at the woman herself, after whom all the men swooned inspire of her obvious plainness.
Once Dutchess Hythe, Lady Verillia dispensed with her initial convivial attitude toward Cyn, in favor of abject contempt and ridicule. This shift was strangely echoed by all of the men of Ebonwell, whose collective attitude toward Cyn drove her ever more often to Sariel and the whisper wood.
On a summer day in Cyn’s eighteenth year, she and Sariel were caught in a pear grove, entwined in each other’s limbs and yards away from their clothes and arms. The hunting party that happened upon them, formed of noblemen from a dozen houses and strangely, Lady Verillia, loosed a volley of arrows which struck Cyn in the shoulder and Sariel through the heart. Cyn could have sworn that all of their eyes portrayed a sunken cast, and all of them black as pitch. With so many opponents, Cyn was unable to defend herself and in turn was beaten, violated, and left lapsing into unconsciousness as the party dragged Sariel’s body away.
I was suspended from my wrists and the hot sun beat down on my skin. My head pounded. “We’ll start the bidding at five pieces of silver. Do I hear ten—.” Black. My hands were free, I saw a sword haft. “I thought she was—.” My face and chest were covered in blood. A sword was in my hand. I tripped over something—a body at my feet. “I’ll give two-hundred gold for the girl! She’s no—.”
Two days before the summer solstice, I was bought by a sword slaver called Vaeril Alinar, a high elf of the eastern isles, banished to a small island off the mainland. He had inherited a small half-ruined arena there and had built a pair of dormitories enclosing a practice yard. It was on that island that the bastard girl of Ebonwell died and Cyn, short for Cynaarï, a flower that grows in sand and blood, began to bloom.
Thrust, pivot, slide, parry, counter, roll, feint, slash. I was a gardener, and I nourished the flowers that were my namesake. I leaned over the dying half-orc on the ground, I pressed my lips to hers, sucked her tongue into my mouth and bit it out. I chewed, swallowed, wiped the blood from my mouth and bowed low before the crowd with a smile. I saw the crowd cheering, but heard only the gurgling at my feet.
I was nearly twenty-three, I think, when I won the tourney at Dalaren by slaying Agraz, the Giant of Guul’ran. My shoulder was dislocated, several ribs were cracked, my bicep was cut nearly through and my body looked as though it had been dipped in pitch. I netted a small purse and several freemen girls who knew of my tastes leaned over the arena wall and beckoned me. Shame that I wouldn’t get to claim the latter reward—so many tongues and me with just two little holes.
I heard the first explosion in the east and saw the fireball rise high above the buildings. The second knocked me from my feet and leveled part of the arena, including the patrons’ box. Vaeril had dropped a bag of gold and as he stooped to gather the pieces, he was crushed by a wagon-sized piece of sandstone that fell from above. I climbed the rubble after regaining my composure and from the top, I witnessed a dozen hooded men slaughtering plump nobles as they scurried about in the frenzy. When I came to the port, a deckhand of a merchant galley offered me escape in exchange for ‘a sheath for his sword.’ His grin showed a mouthful of crooked yellow teeth, but if fell away so quickly when the urge struck him to collect them from the dock. I slumped down against a crate once aboard and shrouded myself with a cargo net.
“Wake up.” Someone slapped my face lightly. An elf or half-elf, maybe. My arm, and torso were wrapped in bandages and I wore a sort of improvised sling. “You broke some ribs, and your nose.” “I killed an orc the size of a draft horse.” It hurt to talk. “Oh?” The black blood covering me from head to toe must have registered. “Well, the name is Edran, miss.” He tipped his head. “How would you like to kill a few more?” “I work for coin.” “I promote fights much better than dead men.”