To Kill a Minotaur
A lone Khajiit walked through the grassy fields of the Nibenay valley, his name: Fa'dul. The Suthay-raht was leaving the Dominion territories behind to avoid conscription into the Altmer's war. It had been mere hours since Fa'dul had left the safety of Arenthia, but already he had to dispatch a highwayman to the afterlife. Planning to make his way to the Imperial City, Fa'dul decided to leave the relative safety of the road to shorten his journey. The young ranger didn't put too much thought into the dangers that lie waiting in the rich valley. However that was not to say that he foolishly bumbled about. No Fa'dul was nearly noiseless when he wanted to be, and now was one of those times. He melded into the surroundings when he was able, trying to conceal his travel. However the valley was not a dense forest and there was still a lot of open area with little cover.
Fa'dul hoped to find an employer for his skills in the Imperial City. He was a well trained ranger, spending a few years in Valenwood with the Bosmer. Fa'dul was also a very keen observer and hoped to find work as a scout, or some other job in a similar vein. Though skilled with various weaponry Fa'dul was not necessarily a killer, so simply becoming an assassin or mercenary was not something he wanted.
Eventually Fa'dul stopped to take a breather, resting in the shade of a small tree. He took a sip from his canteen and looked across the valley. The Nibenay river valley was quite lush this time of year, and many types of colorful plants were present. Fa'dul completely forgot about his journey for a few moments as the beauty captured his attention. The sound of a twig snapping behind him quickly ended the peaceful moment. Fa'dul's heart raced and a cold sweat overtook his body as he whipped around to face the direction the noise had come from. The danger turned out to be naught, for it was merely a passing deer. He uttered a sigh of relief as he saw the tail of the deer as it leaped away, chased off by his sudden movement.
Fa'dul collected himself before continuing on with his journey. The deer had given him a scare, but it only served to make him more cautious. Fa'dul traveled for sometime until some Ayleid ruins came into sight. Their still-bright stone starkly contrasted the vibrant green landscape. Fa'dul was drawn nearer to the ruin, almost as if he could not control the urge to step inside the old ruins. To see what wonders the wild elves had left behind. As he neared the entrance, Fa'dul spotted something that should have convinced him to abandon his lofty ideas of entering the ruins to claim long lost treasure. However the young ranger could not resist the thought of what lie within the ruin.
Outside the entrance to the ruin, a minotaur stood guard. This was no ordinary minotaur, but a hulking minotaur lord. It was covered in thick muscle and was even equipped with some armor plates. A massive ebony warhammer was held with a tight grip in the creature's hands. It's eyes looked like pure rage and his black horns were a terror to behold. Fa'dul foolishly underestimated the minotaur's strength and began to position himself to fire at the beast with his bow.
The minotaur lord was oblivious to the nearby Khajiit, giving Fa'dul a sneak bonus for the first strike at least. The ranger steeled his nerves and drew back a iron arrow on his glass bow. Fa'dul paused for a long while before finally aiming it right for the head of the creature and releasing the string. As the arrow tore through the air towards it's target, Fa'dul was already notching another arrow to his bowstring. The first arrow buried itself deep into the thick hide of the creature. The minotaur staggered for the slightest moment before letting out a mighty bestial roar that echoed through the valley. The sound was enough to make the fur on Fa'dul's neck rise up. He quickly fired the second arrow at the beast and scored another hit. However this time the minotaur was actively searching for his assailant, and the arrow gave away Fa'dul's position.
The mighty foe dug it's feet into the ground and charged forward at Fa'dul, taking a few more hits from the ranger, but the iron arrows seemed to do little damage to the raging beast. Before he could do much, the minotaur had already closed the gap and lowered it's head to stick Fa'dul with it's mighty horns. Luckily, the Khajiit managed to tuck and roll under the beast before it hit him. The minotaur's horn harmlessly rammed into the tree that Fa'dul has been taking cover by. With his left hand he quickly slung his bow across his shoulder, and reached for his steel ax with the right hand. Fa'dul swung the ax sideways into the creatures exposed left calf. Though the area was unarmored, the creatures muscles were like steel and Fa'dul was not strong enough to make a serious wound.
The minotaur let out another furious burst and swung an arm behind him, clothes-lining Fa'dul. The ranger toppled backwards and clumsily scrambled to regain his footing. The minotaur pressed it's advantage and swung it's massive hammer at the grounded Khajiit. Fa'dul barely had enough time to roll to the side before it buried into the soft soil where he was just lying. Finally regaining his footing, Fa'dul drew his blade and began to swing both his weapons at the minotaur. However the creature swung the hammer down on the attack, sending Fa'dul's weapons to the ground. The minotaur then thrust the hammer forward at Fa'dul, toppling him over again and knocking the wind out of the ranger.
Fa'dul closed his eyes and desperately pleaded with S'rendarr to grant his mercy. The minotaur lord though, was not struck down by an act of the gods. Instead the beast raised it's mace for a finishing blow on the stunned Fa'dul. The ranger opened his eyes to see the horror that would be his own death, the minotaur was just about to swing the mace down on him. When he saw it begin to fall, Fa'dul closed his eyes for what he expected would be his last moment. However the hammer would never crush Fa'dul that day. All he heard was the sound of metal clashing. Fa'dul was too stunned to believe that he had actually been spared from the strike.
To be continued...