I was born and raised in the warrior province of Altene. Like all Altenes, I was instructed in the arts of stavefighting. My father was disappointed initially as he put me through my drills on the dummy, when he realized that I did not possess extreme strength or endurance. He did everything he could to rectify this: I was bathed in water that neared freezing or that boiled and scalded my skin; I was dropped blindfolded in the middle of deserts and forests to find my way home or perish; I was subjected to incredibly intense exercise. My father did this not out of malice, but to make sure that I would not consider him a failure. In his eyes, my weakness was his fault, and every blow I received for a weak strike on the dummy was felt tenfold in his heart.
I grew, and one day in a tavern, another man called me a weakling. I ignored him until he commented that my father, who was sitting nearby, must have been either a fool or a woman. Furious, I snatched a nearby ornamental fangstave and attacked. The man stood his ground, and grinning held his fangstave point first to make me run myself upon it. Faster than sight, I sidestepped the point, and pushed his stave down with mine. Predictably he pulled up on his stave to free it. I used this impulse and my own enraged strength to unleash a fierce upward swing at his face. The impact crushed through bone and cartilage, and had it been an inch higher the bridge of his nose would have fatally pierced his brain. As it was, he collapsed onto the floor in a stinking groaning heap. For a single hit to cause unconsciousness was an amazing thing, and the bar patrons spoke in wondering whispers to one another speculating how one so young and obviously not strong could achieve such a feat. However, the unconscious manís drinking buddies attacked me, one of them wielding a gladius. But the battle was mine. Exhibiting such speed that my movements were a blur, I struck four, five times for each of theirs. The two soon withdrew ashamed, dragging their incoherent companion between them.
On the road back home, my father spoke to me in an awed tone. He revealed that Hurindeals of several generations past had been knifefighters of legendary speed and skill. He admitted that the drills I had been instructed in had stressed systematic fighting, and not the real fighting that would have made evident my latent speed. He told me also that in the city of Iridine there was hidden an artifact, a family heirloom: a beautiful dagger of exceptional workmanship and incredible balance, weight, sharpness, and temper. The last of the great Hurindeal knifefighters had hidden it for reasons unknown, but it is possible that a jealous rival had claimed falsely that the weapon was enchanted with magic, and thus highly illegal. It was concealed such that only a knivesman of the Hurindeal family could find and obtain it; however, it was not known to my father or myself by what mechanism it was hidden from those not knifefighters of the Hurindeals. Perhaps to find and receive the weapon the seeker was required to succeed in tests of speed and skill that only could be achieved by a knifefighter of great mark. Perhaps the way to find the blade was put forth in clues that only a true Hurindeal with the desire to discover it could decipher. Perhaps the dagger was entrusted to a friend of my great ancestor, in which case that personís descendant would possess the dagger and would give it only to a Hurindeal knivesman. Perhaps some combination of these methods was used, or maybe even those that defy imagination. No matter what I would have to do, I vowed I would recover the knife and return home to show it to my father to prove to him that the Hurindeal knivesmen have returned. I acquired a dagger and headed off to Iridine with my fatherís blessing.
Now I search over Iridine for any clues, while improving my fame and skill. Due to the fact that I left Altene before thoroughly ingraining myself with the Altene ways, I have lost the ability to craft and temper fangstaves, though my stavesmanship remains fresh. My search for the Hurindeal dagger has imparted upon me the habit of checking every nook and cranny I find and ravenously investigating anything I think could be a lead. Recently I disappeared from the city, and I have no recollection of what happened during those months. I do not feel angry with my father for his harsh treatment of myself. Indeed, his training has made me stronger in many ways: the extreme temperatures of my baths have intensified my resistance to pain if not to damage; my excursions through wilderness have given me a great sense of direction and a knack for keeping my head (even if I donít seem to); my exercises have made me stronger than the weak little boy who grew up in Altene years ago.