The Ordinator regiment had found the Ashlander bandits all right. And the Ashlanders had not been happy to see them.
The regiment was currently bivouacked out on the sloping ridge of a canyon in the ashlands. The ground rocked as the Ashlanders’ destruction magic pummeled the slope around them, and the Ordinators returned fire in fitful bursts. Shizzal mostly ducked and covered, attracting the ire of the Ordinators as much as he attracted errant arrows from the Ashlanders.
“You came to practice, so practice! Grab a bow and make yourself useful,” the captain had snarled when he had once again found Shizzal standing in a place he shouldn’t have. Shizzal had meekly followed the order, and he now crouched close to the edge of the canyon, Ordinators on either side of him.
“Come on, lads!” called the captain. ” I want to see those dust-bags shot pricklier than my grandmother’s pincushion!”
Another blast hit the side of the canyon. One of the mer beside Shizzal screeched as the rock face disintegrated beneath him, tugging him down into a rolling avalanche of stone and ash. Shizzal shuddered.
“Easy now! Hold your position!” cried the captain. “Get ready to return fire! On my mark…now!”
Shizzal pulled back with the rest and let fly. He had never been a very good shot, and the arrow went wide, bounding off the rocks on the other side of the canyon harmlessly. Cursing, Shizzal nocked another and drew back.
“Draw melee!” shouted the captain. “Forward rank, charge! Let those heathens know the fury of the Tribunal!”
Before him and beside him, Ordinators tossed aside their bows and drew their swords. They leapt down the canyon cliffs like goats, surging across the river at the bottom and back up the other side. The fireballs abruptly stopped, and squinting through the rising ash, Shizzal could just see the Ashlanders retreating back behind a copse of dead trees on the other side.
“Back rank, follow them in and finish the job!” shouted the captain again. “That means you too, dress-mer!”
Shizzal tugged his twin swords from their scabbards and bolted off after the other Ordinators. His long robes fouled him up however, and he ended up tumbling down the slope, rolling into the river. The water was shockingly cold, and Shizzal sprung up, gasping, to wade to the bank like a half-drowned skeever. The current tugged at his clothes and he struggled to pull himself out at the farther end.
By the time he gotten up and rearranged the damn robes, the skirmish was over. Ordinators were picking through the dead and helping wounded to their feet.
“Priest!” came the captain’s harsh voice. “Over here, now!”
Shizzal hurried over. The captain was standing over a wounded Dunmer who had taken a spear to the gut. The Ordinator held his hands to his stomach, wheezing in pain.
“If you can heal, then heal,” commanded the captain tensely, and he pushed Shizzal roughly towards the mer.
Shizzal gulped, fighting back panic. The wound was bad, but he thought he remembered a page out of the healing book that dealt with something similar. He knelt down beside the Ordinator, putting a hand to the wound. In return, the Ordinator wretched up a cough, spewing blood. The force of his breath sent more gore from his gut, and he groaned in pain.
“What are you waiting for, dress-mer?” said the captain. “Heal him! My own men are out of magicka.”
“I’m trying!” Shizzal cried out, but the book of healing was growing blurry in his mind. He put one hand on top the other over the wound, pushing hard and praying for the bleeding to stop. The Ordinator coughed again, and Shizzal tried to ignore the entrails and other unidentifiable masses oozing past his hands. The Ordinator’s eyes fixed on his, going glassy.
“Damnit, work!” said Shizzal. He reached inside himself, trying to find the center of magicka as the book’s author had instructed. “Oh, come on… Vivec, please!”
Another Dunmer knelt on the other side of the Ordinator to administer what healing she could, but the Ordinator was fast fading. After several minutes of their combined efforts, his breath caught, and did not start back up again.
“It was a good try,” said other healer after a long pause. “He was just too far gone.”
“I don’t understand,” murmured Shizzal, swallowing. He sat back, staring at the dead body. “He gave me the magic. I felt it when I prayed. He gave it to me…”
“Nevermind that now,” snapped the captain, his own voice heavy with anger and grief. “Those cultists are still out there on their guars. We need to move to a defensible position now, or we’ll be caught in this dead end canyon.”
The Ordinators immediately fell into line behind him. The healer strayed with Shizzal, looping an arm under his and pulling him to his feet.
“Fortunes of war,” she said, patting his arm briskly. “You get used to it.”
“I never want to get used to this,” Shizzal answered. He rubbed his torso, just under the ribs, but the warm glow he felt from his god was gone.