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Garyn isn't quite sure where he is. He's been told this is Vivec City, in some place called the Foreign Quarter. But what that means, where that is, he has no idea. He has seen nothing but stone beneath him and stone above him. He has clambered up four tall flights of stairs from the Mage's Guild teleportation chamber to what he has been assured is the central plaza of the canton - he supposes this must be something like a district.

And indeed, a plaza seems to be what he's found - a large open square, lined on both sides with shops and residences. But the air is still musty, and the wind does not blow freely. The bustle of men and mer going on about their daily gods-know-what echoes around a great stone dome that stretches overhead. The whole canton is one enormous building.

Garyn sees now his error. From what little he'd heard of it, he had been led to believe that Vivec was a city, not a citadel.

Looking across the street, he sees the shield-and-crossed-swords that mark every Fighters Guildhall in Tamriel.

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"Welcome to the Fighters Guild, boy."

Garyn blinked as he entered the well-appointed red hall. Bright red banners marked with crossed shields hang draped from the walls.

"Y-yes," he said. "Thank you, sera."

"You're welcome," said the Old Mer. "Do your job well, and this will all be yours someday."


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It doesn't look anything like the old place. But then, with the way the city's looked so far, he's not surprised. It's a series of cramped corridors and staircases, descending further into the canton with no obvious exterior. But it's the Fighters Guild, alright - the sound of training swords crashing against wood is unmistakable.

For the Guild of the largest city in Vvardenfell, there isn't much to the place. The hallways are narrow and the stairwells are steep. Gods forbid there's ever a fire inside. Still, it only takes one point in the right direction to lead him toward the man in charge - a long-haired Nord, currently nose-deep in a ledger.

"Sjoring Hard-Heart?"

"That's me," he says. "Haven't seen you around before."

"I haven't been," Garyn says. "I'm a mercenary looking to join the Vvardenfell guild. In Cyrodiil I -"

"Talk to Lorbumol downstairs. He'll see if you're worthy to join our ranks. I'll draw up the paperwork if he gives me the word. Until then, consider yourself a freelance associate."

He jabs his thumb rightward and Garyn descends the stairs to meet the orc.

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There was no family at the funeral of Salms Balvadares. None that counted for anything, anyway. The public consensus was that they probably existed somewhere. But the old mer's instructions were clear. His ashes were not to be returned to Morrowind. Instead they were to be scattered over the banks of the Niben. His people had surrendered their sovereignty to the Cyrodiils willingly enough; in his sight, the homeland they had so freely given was as much Cyrodiil as Leyawiin was.

None were to be invited to the scattering other than the persons specially mentioned. Not a single Balvadares was on that list.

There was, however, one person by that name in attendance. Salms's will had stipulated the mandatory attendance of "all standing members of the Leyawiin chapter of the Fighters Guild."

The ceremony, or what passed for it, proceeded under a shroud of dull silence. None had imagined it would end like this. Death not in battle, not even within eyeshot of an enemy, but on his own privy, from a sudden failure of the heart.

His face had always made him look older than he was - the lines, angles, and scars did him no favors. But he was hale and hearty, and carried about his physical labors with the strength and vigor of a soldier in his prime. He was a chiseled granite statue of a mer - muscular, imposing, unstoppable once he started moving. It seemed impossible to think that a mer like that could ever die. Surely one stare from those glinty eyes would have held back Arkay himself if he ever came for him.

The last of Salms swirled apart amidst the rushing current. Modryn Oreyn, the deputy guildmaster of Cyrodiil, read aloud his instructions for the distribution of his estate, unsealed after his scattering as per his will. It was not a long reading - for, it cannot be stressed enough, no family or natural heirs were present at the ceremony. Why he had never endeavored to marry and produce issue, none could be certain, though there were many guesses. It was a popular rumor that he had been castrated in battle, and that he kept his member in a jar on his mantlepiece. No such thing could be confirmed now, of course. His body was gone, and the contents of his office had been willed to the Guild itself, to be held in its stores under lock and key, never to be opened.

Three-fifths of his personal savings were to go to the central coffers of the Fighters Guild of Cyrodiil. The next 15,000 septims were to be spent on the addition of a new wing to the Leyawiin guildhall, to be enabled by the purchase of adjacent land. Control of the Guild Chapter was left to the discretion of the central leadership in Chorrol. They had chosen Lorbulg gro-Bagamu, previously the drillmaster, on the basis of his seniority and experience. Vantus Prellius would be named the manager of the chapter's financial affairs. The rank of Warder and the title of deputy drillmaster, along with the remainder of those savings not already devised (the latter considered as an eight-month advance on his base pay), were granted to Guild Defender Garyn Balvadares.

The banks of the Niben were silent again. There were no words, no expressions of regret, no benediction to his departing spirit. For there was no family at the funeral of Salms Balvadares, nor any who truly knew him.

The Guild turned their eyes to their new chapter leader. Lorbulg stared back at them, his face marked with an unexpression conveying not so much stoicism as utter gormlessness. He turned over his shoulder, as though believing they were expecting someone else. It seemed an eternity before he finally cleared his throat and spoke.


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"New blood?" the orc said.

Garyn's eyes narrow. "That's me."

"I'm Lorbumol gro-Aglakh. You want work, you'll be reporting to me. Sjoring's got better things to do. I bet you expect me to give you a job right away, don't you?"

"I didn't come for the pleasant conversation. Sir."

The orc puffs his chest and takes a step closer. Garyn doesn't flinch. A flash of respect shows on Lorbumol's face.

"Well, today's your lucky day, junior. I got some grunt work for you. Nar gro-Shagramph said he'd deliver a ring to Ranes Ienith, but he hasn't delivered. Go find him in the Hlaalu Canton Plaza and bring the Juicedaw Feather Ring to me. Do it quick and you might even get paid."

Garyn nods. "Yes, sir."

Garyn keeps his complaints to himself. He knows better than to ask a question like "Is that all?" He especially knows better than to ask questions about debt collection jobs on his first day here.

If nothing else, he'll finally have the chance to step out into the fresh air.
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Garyn Balvadares

January 2017

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