Legend: Champions of Geram
Towering, wiry fighter with a shaved head
It’s warm anyway for this time of year, and the throngs pressed together into the square for this year’s Freedom Day parade make the morning even hotter. You yawn and loosen the collar on your shirt. All the riders are long past and there’s still no sign of the Fighters’ Guild envoy. This was a stupid idea.
It’s then that you spot the tall, strong man marching at the head of the sword dancers. Brilliant cerulean and crimson feathers in the plume of his golden helmet make him easy to spot, just as the old beggar had said they would.
The zweihander he’s twirling glitters against the sun as it dances in his hands as if with a mind of its own. In a group, it’s easy to see that the sword he’s wielding is nearly a foot longer than those the other dancers are using. He tosses it around like it’s a toy.
The man himself is no less striking than his obvious agility and strength. A suit of polished steel plate gleams bright in the morning sun, the detailed contours of each individual piece catching the light as the stylized edges twinkle and scatter it all across the square.
Just now, the large sword soars up into the air in a lazy spiral. Senshan’s bare hand flashes up to seize the weapon’s hilt, and he powers it one-handed in a whistling downward chop. Without pause, he takes the hilt with both hands and swings it up halfway through a graceful arc, ending the motion pointing with the blade upward toward the morning sun.
This giant is the man that leads the Telosi Fighters’ Guild? Glory, strength, and honor seem to glow around him like a halo. Your hand goes in unconscious anticipation to the hilt of your father’s sword, strapped to your belt. Oh, yes. You are definitely enlisting for a chance to be a part of that.
Senshan is not a talkative man, but his quiet strength exudes the kind of confidence and competence that demands respect, even among mercenaries. His enormous size doesn’t hurt anything, either—the man towers at least half a span above most of the tall men you’ve seen in the city.
When you approach him, though, it’s his eyes more than anything else that strike you. They’re like the eyes of a hawk: they scan you and measure you in the blink of an eye. After the first glance, he waits and watches you, silent and still like a panther, as he lets you approach. And while you greet him, those eyes are entirely focused on you as he regards and analyses what you’re saying.
He smiles at you but doesn’t respond immediately, instead taking a few more seconds to study your clothes, your gear, the blade at you hip. His eyes catch on the twin rubies in the base of the pommel of your father’s blade. Does he realize their significance?
His voice is firm, but silky and nuanced. It’s a good voice, just as appropriate in a meeting hall as on a battlefield. “Come by the guild house in a few days, when the excitement from the festival settles down. Do you have an inn in town?”
His sudden interest catches you off-guard. “Th… The Bay Mare,” you stammer with a self-conscious nod. “Down by the dock.”
He chuckles at your sudden shyness, but his face quickly turns stern. “That’s not very safe for someone like you—some of the sailors that hang out there are pretty rough. Fighting skills won’t save you from poison in your cup or a dagger in your sleep. It takes a certain kind of skill to survive in places like that. You’d be much better served staying at the Dancing Stag, here on the square.”
His advice doesn’t exactly come as a revelation. You’d been wondering about the beggar that recommended the place ever since he disappeared into the crowd.
Still, the price was good…
Senshan seems to divine the tenor of your thoughts. “If it’s the cost that worries you, just tell Tairis you’re with Senshan’s party. I had a few members cancel on me at the last minute. The group rate is much more reasonable than the standard rate.” He flashes a toothy grin. “Especially for me.”
“Thank you,” you mutter quietly as you turn to go.
His hand catches your elbow before you can step away. His eyes are locked on your open collar, where the tailing crest of the pact seal that circles your left breast is barely visible. It writhes a little, as though uncomfortable under his scrutiny.
“Your father was Devlan Kaith,” he whispers, half to himself.
You nod at the ground and tighten up your drawstring self-consciously with one hand while he thinks for a moment. Finally, he releases your arm.
“Forget the Stag,” he tells you with a friendly smile. “There’s a bed for you at the Guild. You should have told me Devlan was your father. How is the old badger? He moved back west to be with your mother, right?”
“Yes,” you confirm. “He started a farm outside of Kardol, on the old imperial road north of Loma.”
“Just like he always wanted.”
“Yes. He died two winters back.”
He frowns sympathetically. “I’m sorry. He was a good man.”
“Thank you. But he did leave me his sword.”
There was a glint in those hawk-eyes of his as a wide grin spread across his face. “And is it now yours?”
He did understand. “It is,” you confirm, just the tiniest hint of pride coloring your voice.
“Welcome to the Guild, then,” he declared, bowing low and flourishing his hands, “Fire Breaker.”