I can see you. All of you. I can read your thoughts through the twitching of your muscles. The tenseness of your legs. The shifting of your feet. I can see you.

Don’t breathe. Don’t move. Turn not to your left nor right, or you will die. Do not back down, or even let the thought of flight take your mind. You will die. You have seconds to make your decision, a bare instant to steel yourself, and no time at all upon which to act.

If your sword is not already drawn, then you are already dead.

Do not think for a moment that I will not beat you. I have seen every trick there is to play with steel, every front, every feint, and every approach. There is not a step your feet can take nor a twist your trunk can make that I have not already outmaneuvered a dozen times before.

I can see your eyes. What you watch tells me who you are. Where you focus reveals how skilled you are. My hips? Excellent. My hands? Fool.


The blade may be the sharpest part of me, but it is not the most dangerous. Steel is a tool, an extension of myself, but it is not lethal. I am lethal. All of me. The blade merely expresses that in the final instant. Without me it is inert. Harmless.

This is why I am the deadliest sword in all Eight Kingdoms. In the reaches of the Old Empire, I am first on the field. In all the godsdamned world I have yet to meet my match, because there is no one I cannot see. There is no body I cannot read. There is no plate I cannot pierce.

Unlike Dionus, my reputation protected me rather than bringing an endless stream of challengers to my door. Unlike Bolton, my life’s work was honorable and something of which I would never be ashamed. Unlike Starlark, I was not cast out but drawn into the folds of every righteous circle. And unlike Balthandar, I have a sense of all that I have lost in coming to the Nanten.

No one here knows who I am, nor should they. But they will. I built a reputation for myself in the civilized world. A reputation that was marred the day the Tetrarch cast me from the order. I will build a new one among these savages. The jungle will ring with the sound of it. They will tell stories of the great Ocada that slew the darkest evil they had ever known.

Whatever Daedric Prince sits at the heart of the Nanten, I will find and kill him where Salisir failed. Then they will know me for a prince in my own right. When I leave this jungle it will be on my own terms. I will not be an exile, but a hero. And then I will return to the Old Empire, and reclaim the name that is rightfully mine.

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