Balthandar seems the least anxious of any of us. I have a deep respect for the islander. He stands a head taller than any on this barge, and with his strength he can kill with the greatest ease. Perhaps that’s what lends such an air of unshakable courage to him. He rarely smiles, and is slow to anger.

Implacable. That’s the word I would use to describe him should you ask me for it. The tattoos that line his features only make him all the more surreal to look upon. A mask of death for a face that has dealt so much.

I told you about Hinuck Balthandar if I told you stories about any of my companions. When I found him under attack I was astonished by his sheer presence. The majority of his comrades had fallen protecting his lord, the Prince Regent of Saluda, and he was soon to follow. The ambush had been a success, the Daedra overwhelming the prince’s bodyguard with relative ease. With the exception of Balthandar.

As you have learned in your own training, I’m sure, the footwork of a soldier is the source of his strength and his speed. If he does not maneuver correctly, plant his weight in the appropriate way, his thrusts will stray and their power diminish.

Balthandar was like a mountain on the battle field. He was immovable. Majestic.

It’s a rare warrior who causes me to stop and watch. I’ve seen men fight and die in countless ways, from back-alley brawls to the open battlefield. Most men get tunnel vision when their adrenaline kicks in. It’s natural. You have to learn how to control your body, for when your life is in danger all you can see is the threat before you.

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Balthandar danced on a tiny stage of death, never leaving his partners wanting for his attentions and ever changing between them to the rhythm of his blade. I could swear I heard the tune myself.

He could see the battlefield, and I mean see it. There was no surprising him, and every move he made only led into his next. I can honestly say he was almost as good a fighter as me. The only way he would lose was to sheer overwhelming numbers, and unfortunately that was exactly what he faced. Luckily for him, our enemies were shared that day.

I am grateful to have him on this leaky old barge with me now. He’s the only man on it whom I fully trust. As we seek to find Salisir, or more likely to find his remains, I am glad to have an honorable man with me to watch my back. Even though the rest owe me great debts, are good friends even, none of them hold to any oath like an Islander holds to his. My hope is that he doesn’t alienate himself for it.

Even though Tarsh mumbles threats, and the Nanten looms heavy in my mind, at least I have one true friend along with me. Whatever the savages there have in store for us, they won’t be able to stand against me with the greatest spear in the world by my side.

Gods be good, I hope that’s true.

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