Fighting is a necessity here in Wraeclast. It comes straight after breathing and right before eating on the 'how do I keep myself alive today?' list.
Which reminds me, any time you feel like a little pre-breakfast tussle, come and find me out there in Sarn. I'll be happy to kick the sleep out of your eyes.
Oh, and I'm not just good at killing people, you know. I'm also good at making things that kill people! It's a little hobby of mine, something I'm perfecting in preparation of hanging up my champion's mantle some day.
And the funny thing is, the more killing I do, the more of a killing I make. You have to have the goods to make the goods, I suppose.
Anyhow, I'm always happy to show off my wares, should you have the hankering.
You and I, we're what you call 'mature' fighters. Seasoned.
We've done our time kipping in ditches, getting a few winks with our back against a tree. We've earned a holdfast, a little pozzy to call our own. And I know just the place.
Yes, I know you've already found yourself a little hidey-hole, but I recall something my old man used to say to me. "In war, a fighter's only as a good as the guy covering his arse." I could be that guy and, as you've probably gathered already, I'm pretty damned good!
Back in Oriath, there were codes of behaviour, societal expectations, religious doctrines, a whole load of other pointless bollocks that just served to distract you from what was important.
Being yourself. No-one was themselves in Oriath. Just a bunch of lackwits pretending to be what they thought others wanted them to be.
Tried to explain that to wife number one. She didn't take to kindly to being called a lackwit, funnily enough. Neither did wife number two. Got me and my big mouth exiled before I even tried out the idea out on wifey number three.
Probably for the best. Wouldn't have ended well based on prior experience.
Right, now you've gone and done it, exile. You've gone and bloody pipped me at the post. What post? As heir to the legacy that is... Daresso, King of Swords.
There, I've said it. You are, without a doubt, a better fighter than I am. Sure, it's a bit of a knock to the old ego but... I'm a bigger man than that, you see. A bigger man than poxy father ever chose to recognise.
You know what? I reckon you'd be ready to take on the Man himself! No, not my Dad. You'd have had him dusted off quicker than I could say, 'miserable loud-mouthed bastard'.
Daresso. Were you and he to meet today, you'd have given him a bloody good run for his money. And who knows? I might have had the honour of placing the crown of swords itself upon your head. A crying shame that he's long dead.
Well, I shall just have to content myself with glory by proxy. You and me, fighting the good fight, from this increasingly fetching abode.
It's a pleasure to know you, exile. An absolute pleasure.
Do you know where the Duelist tradition came from, exile?
The Ezomytes. Early on, those western potato munchers worked out that war was a pretty bloody stupid idea. At least the wholesale slaughter side of it. So they fashioned themselves a tradition of Championship.
Here's how an Ezomyte battle would go. Both sides get dressed up in their fiercest and finest war garb. They'd all prance about, banging drums and flinging curses at each other. Then, when everyone was het up enough, a few chosen lads or lasses would step forward and fight it out... to the death usually.
The point of it all? My champions win, and I get to have that fish-filled estuary on my border. Your champions win, and I hand over a few hundred cows. Deal done, and most of us get to go home.
The Eternals pinched the idea from the Ezomytes, and the Oriathans pinched the idea from the Eternals.
Daresso claimed the Crown of Swords one day, and the beautiful Lady Merveil the next. Though he soon learned that prizes are easier to earn than they are to keep.
I've worn that crown, and won myself the mantle of 'husband' three times over. Managed to keep the crown longer than most, but those lovely ladies worked out pretty quick that being good at the arena isn't the same as being good at the hearth.
So there's one thing that I've learned that even the great Daresso never did. You can spend your life learning how to fight, but it doesn't matter a damn if you don't know what you're fighting for.