The Awakening

The Feud

I go to grab the journal from my pack and pull out this book. I don’t understand why so many pages are skipped. Paper is a precious resource and there are only so many pages in here. Chaos. Perhaps my entry will set things right in this journal once more.

The sun is up. It’s around 7am on feud day!

I’ve never been in a melee fight, except that time I dropped Mezla for sucker-punching me. That was too easy though.

The Colosseum should be a sight to see. Possibly the only thing worthwhile beyond the temples in this prison called a city. I’ll have to find a place to drop my first message… maybe with Jeeves if the Colosseum doesn’t pan out.

I join Mezla heading down the stairs. Arlor is playing with his rapier cutlass in a manner that strikes me as odd. I ask him of the steel’s name, and why he put it down. “Steel never lets you down.” He says it’s named Hruntink.

Mezla asks where the entrance to the Colosseum is, and I hear it’s behind the temple of Pelor.

As I finish my beer, I set the folded note under my mug and walk out. Nobody seems to have noticed.

Walking through the square toward the job board, I hear a shout , bordering on a shriek, coming from the Crimson Pipe. Mezla joins as I head that way.

Mezla shouts to Leo’nel, Glim and Garil. The consensus is that that sound belongs to Son. and I’m the choir boy?

Glim says Son was totally fine this morning. We went to check on him.

At his room, Son tells Glim he tried to pee again. He clearly wasn’t okay when Glim spoke to him before. Why lie about that??

Son sounds to have contracted a slow clap from Beata. I tell him, “Son, I will pray for your penis.”

We head to the Colosseum.

Once we arrive, we grab any seat we can. This place is YUGE; filled with diverse peoples. I may have underestimated this event.

Deacon Orange raises and asks all competitors to walk to the sands. All sorts of movement. I wonder who are champions and who are simply pompous like our bard.

The Deacon announces a man named Fullbort Bloodwart. A halfling steps out and the crowd raises in cheers with him. When our time has come, we will be called upon by the guard. We walk to a preparation/training/holding area.

A guy I somewhat recognize is practicing with his longsword. To cinch up my armor, I ask Garil for help. He wants gems and asks for my squire to do it. I don’t have gems.

I ask Leo’nel. He doesn’t trust me, so I offer him Jericho’s platinum crown in exchange if I tell him where to cinch. It’s sad that’s what it takes for a person to pull some straps tight.

We see a dead body hauled from the arena. Mezla’s name is called. Are those cheers for him or his death?

Noise from the crowd was a succession of ups and downs, then a sudden hush.

Mezla comes back, boisterous as ever. He won. I guess I should have bet on him. Apparently the Halfling was throwing smoke bombs, although I’m not sure what I can believe from Mezla’s mouth.

Another eruption. The hero must have been revived. My name is called, so I move to the gate.

I shove a note into the guard’s belt loop. It may not have been my most graceful move, so I hurry along before anything can come of that.

I walk toward Fullbort with my sword raised. He throws smoke. No jest. Alright. I see a blade come toward my face; just missing.

He steps beside me. I reach for him and grab tight. Somewhere around my torso I hear my armor tink. I try to throw him down and lose my grip. As he stands, I slash his chest. He returns a stab. I step to the side and slash again. He’s still here.

He runs to a distance. I run at him with a stab; no connection. boom A bomb goes off. Where is he?? I step forward and slash blindly. Nothing.

I’m hit.

My vision is clearing up. I look over my back shoulder and see Fullbort Bloodwart right behind me. I quickly stab backward, and the Halfling falls. I raise my arms to cheers.

As I’m returning to the prep area, Glim pulls out the Deck of Many Things. Two cards.
1) Ruin – all non-magic items lost
2) Moon – 1 wish to be made within 1 minute (dope +4 staff)

Glim is suddenly naked, however a bright light appears when he asks his god for help. Some aura seems to be emanating from a new weapon in his grasp. Glim turns to me and throws the deck; hitting me squarely in the chest.

He turns, still nude, and walks to the arena. This fight has got to be a spectacle to behold

The cheers sound… awkward.

Glim returns on his two feet.

Leo’nel goes next. He survives as well.

Garil’s turn. The place is going wild; erupting in cheers. The dwarf quickly returns.

Our fellow adventurers all advancing, the Deacon asks us to get our rest for the next day’s festivities. As we leave the arena, I take some time to pray.

Returning to the square, Mezla approaches with a page of the Brothers’ whom has my winnings. I’m satisfied on that front. Mezla and the page tell us that feud rules have changed.

We go to the Deacon to hear about the new rules. Apparently, our party are the only competitors to have advanced through the first day. How droll this “city” is. No gumption… The people and the council have decided to slightly alter the rules accordingly.

For the remainder of the feud, only one competitor will take on the hero each day. If the competitor loses, the group advances to the next day, however that competitor may no longer compete. If the competitor wins, the whole group advances to the next day, however that winning competitor cannot compete again for two days.

I head to the Crimson Pipe to check on Son. He opens his door looking pale and rough. On my request, he allows me into his room so that I may close the door behind me. I cast Remove (slow clap) Disease.

His cheeks instantly regain rosy color, and he turns/sprints to the corner where he pees like a firehose, in obvious relief. I retire for the night.

Day 2

I hate to admit that Garil is clearly the dominant fighter for this competition within our group. He will try his hand at days 2, 5, and 8 in order to get the champion Alder in the event we make it that far.

At 2:1 odds, I give five plat to win four. We head to the arena.

A monk stands ready.

Garil hits the monk with his hammer. The monk misses. Garil sunders the monk’s quarterstaff with his hammer, and it bows.

The monk swings his staff and wildly misses. Garil steps passed and swings his shield into the opponent. The monk misses again and steps back. Garil brings his hammer around into the monk’s skull. The monk cripples to the ground.

Garil raises his hammer and waits.

Robed figures come out to instantly revive the monk.

We collect our winnings.

Day 3

Garil cinches my armor and the party pushes me into the arena. I bet on myself before the gate closes behind me.

Concentrating, I call for fire in my palm. I’m rewarded with naught but a small fizzle.

I hold up my silver holy symbol and yell to the crowd. Preaching free will, I assure any listeners that a defeat for one’s own cause is always worth more than victory serving the cause of another.

An old man shouts above the crowd, “HE’S JUST A CHOIR BOY!”

I put away my symbol and pull my sword.

The spearman approaches, sticks at me with his pole arm. I close and swing into his spear with no luck. He misses after stepping back. I close again and miss.

We repeat our dance once more, both missing successive opportunities.

He strikes as I close. I hit him this time, but not as well as he got me. We repeat, and the light fades behind my eyes.

I wake with a coin on my chest. I’m out, but the group still advances. There goes that bet. I was mismatched from the start with no magic against superior speed and reach.

Day 4

Mezla takes a turn. Nobody takes the Brothers on the 2:1 bet excepting the bard himself.

The crowd chants, “Tristan! Tristan!” The hero draws a circle in the sand around himself with his sword. Mezla takes a defensive stance.

Tristan misses his first swing. Mezla attacks. Tristan strikes.

Mezla misses, and dodges from Tristan’s counter. Mezla once again does not connect.

Tristan hits him good, bloodying the bard. The crowd is getting into it.

Mezla connects a valiant strike. Tristan clutches his arm to chest as he swings a miss.

Mezla finds comfort with his rapier, sending it straight through Tristan’s throat.

Tristan is revived. Mezla walks out proud. And boy is he celebrating tough tonight…

Day 5

Glim enters instead of Garil. 6:1 odds, but no takers.

The crowd is surprised at the gnome. Glim slams his staff into the ground in an attempt at intimidation. The dwarf hero visibly trembles, swinging his two-sided Morningstar.

Glim advances, swings. The dwarf trips Glim. Glim stands from his prone position, connecting with the dwarf.

Glim avoids the next trip attempt and swings his staff in a counter-trip maneuver. No dice. One more staff swing at the meat of the dwarf again falls short.

The dwarf catches Glim’s ankles with the chained weapon, tripping him prone. Glim rises, swings, hits.

Tripped again. This time Glim is hit during his attempt to raise. Lather, rinse, repeat.

As the spry gnome finds his feet for the hundredth time, he swings for a critical hit.

Another trip. Glim tries to get up as the chain comes smashing back down on his face, putting him down for good.

In reflection of the tourney to this point, I pull out the Deck of Many Things in the privacy of my room. I pull three.
1) Sun – 50k exp + wondrous item (small marble elephant figurine named Donald Trunk)
2) Sun – 50k exp + wondrous item (ioun stone – incandescent blue sphere, hovering 2 feet over me)
3) Fates – Can’t stop something from happening, but can return myself to a state as if a certain passed event did not happen. Does not return others to same state.

Day 6

Leo’nel. 13:1. The odds aren’t a good sign, assuredly. Mezla takes the bet.

This hero wields a rapier, rushing into Leo’nel. Leo’nel stabs with his dagger and misses.

The hero tries to pig-stick with both hands and skewers Leo’nel, who proceeds to pull himself off the weapons while taking a slash of his own.

The skewer comes again, connecting on one side.

Leo’nel is bleeding out.

On his way out of the arena, I hand Leo’nel the Deck as a consolation prize.

Day 7

Mezla makes a 4:1 bet on himself. Surprise

The crowd is so silent that crickets echo through the Colosseum.

Mezla picks up sand, rubbing it between his palms, and pockets a handful. The hero probably saw that.

Mezla closes the distance and swings, connecting.

The hero misses. Mezla swings twice, hitting once.

Screaming in pain, the hero tries to cut Mezla in half. Firm hit.

Mezla comes back to connect with two raging slashes.

The hero strikes back.

One more critical hit from Mezla finishes the hero off. _What. In. The. Fuck. How did the bard – who can’t take a chained fist – manhandle THREE heroes of the feud?

Garil requests and takes the two rings remaining in my pack. His desperation for gems has me a bit confused, but I tried them on once and couldn’t see them through my gauntlets, so I don’t foresee a need to hang on to them. They haven’t felt magical.

No sooner do I hand the rings over than Garil is donating them to his god. Hrmph. It better work.

Day 8

Garil is ready to go.

Things are different in the arena.

Earth-shattering cheers at the sight of the dwarf across from Alder. My ears ache from the noise. I make a 10:1 bet in Garil’s favor.

Garil drops his shield.

Alder reciprocates by dropping his helmet into the sand. This place is going bonkers

Garil throws something, but misses. Alder glides in for a hit.

Garil power-attacks; misses. Alder returns the favor, also misses.

Garil tries again. Crater in the sand, not in Alder. Alder, an apparent copy cat, tries again unsuccessfully.

The dwarf finally lands a blow. Alder hits back.

Another hammer swing from Garil caves Alder’s skull, but the hero remains standing.

Alder sprints backward to the wall. In the process, Garil smacks Alder’s ankles. Alder rolls the rest of the way to the wall, all the while Garil boasts.

Alder charges in and grapples Garil. Garil shifts his weight and gains control in a power-top position. Alder is pinned.

Garil punches. Miss. Alder takes control of the grapple. Garil takes it back. Alder again.

Alder releases the grapple, swinging his Morningstar. Miss.

Garil powers his hammer toward Alder and misses. Alder connects with the Morningstar.

Both miss a few times.

As the competitors stand face to face, Garil throws an acid flask at their feet. Both are splashed.

Alder pulls a shield off his back and bashes Garil critically. Garil is hit again while trying to grapple.

Both attempt power attacks, each missing in succession.

Garil hits once more. The last hit Alder could take. The hero and feud champion has fallen! The crowd goes wild.

Post-feud

I wake on the first day after the festival. The feel within Aelford has changed as a whole. At the Crimson Pipe, I meet up with the squad.

Son walks in and gives Glim a piece of his mind; announcing his good health to the rest of us. I’m not certain whether he actually learned or not from Beata.

We inform Son about the festival’s feud results. He had heard about the changes himself and learned more – although the festival has concluded, there is still more to do with Deacon Orrin.

Some of our best fighters may be offered spots as hero next year, or the new champion Garil.

The barkeep, Churri, tells us that he believes the Halfling hero from this year is retiring. He goes on to inform us that the new champion, Garil, has the duty of publicly executing Alder.

Garil wishes to get details from the Deacon. If he wants to follow through, I’m all for it.

Son accompanies us, but still no sign of Thrash or Bro throughout the feud or since.

At the temple of Pelor, four robed acolytes approach and say they were just on their way to retrieve us. They lead Garil to an outside stage area in the temple district.

As we enter the staging area from another location, we speak with Garil once more. He tells us that the Deacon looked uncomfortable AF while saying to Garil that he does not wish for this tradition to continue, however the council and decision-makers of the city believe in the old ways to appease the gods. Garil says the Deacon continued on to confirm his duty to behead Alder with a rather ornate-looking sword.

Does Garil even know how to swing one of those? I only ever see him bashing things.

Garil finishes by saying he was informed by the Deacon that the council will execute him and, likely, the rest of us (as accomplices) if he does not follow through with the execution.

The dwarf refuses to shirk his responsibilities, however he assures us that he does not intend to stand as champion once the task is completed.

Glim is writing away in a new book of his. The crowd is gathering in and packing close.

As I hone in on some chatter, one woman is very excited for the execution and optimistic regarding the city’s success to follow this sacrifice to the gods. A son perched on his father’s shoulders asks uneasily why a man is being killed, to which the father responds, “This city remains full of draconic tradition, unfortunately.”

I bow my head in prayer, and for a moment, all of the commotion around me quiets in my mind.

The crowd is parting. Glim and I are two steps from the execution seat. I lost Mezla and Leo’nel.

A hush comes over the crowd.

Footsteps behind me. It’s Alder. Not in his armor. Very clean, simple clothes.

I brush my shoulder against his. As he turns, I pass him one final message to do with as he will. He reads my note, passes it back to me, and walks on to his seat. He sits silently.

Garil approaches the seat and looks around.

Moving behind the chair, Garil pulls the sword back, ceremoniously points the blade at the temple of Moradin, and strokes.

He hits the throat, cutting halfway before the blade halts. Alder’s eyes go huge.

Blood sprays across my face.

Garil pulls the blade from Alder’s spinal column and swipes back the other direction. The head falls.

The sight catches me very much by surprise. It’s so ghastly! He’s just staring at me…

I vomit. I’m concerned about how this will affect my psyche, but I don’t think I’ll have night terrors. Glim seems unphased. What the heck is this little guy’s deal?

Garil stands there.

As the crowd begins to thin, an acolyte takes the sword back from Garil’s hand, wraps it, and heads back toward the temple of Pelor.

The area is nearly clear. One man with a bucket and rag begins scrubbing the once-white, bloody stones at our feet. I consider my religious knowledge of Pelor for honoring a fallen soldier, and we decide to move along.

As we turn to go, a group of seven others approach. They are the first seven heroes of the feud. Moving quietly passed us, they pick up Alder’s remains and carry him toward the temple.

What’s next?

We still have this vampire queen thing. We proceed toward the square.

On the walk back, Son rejoins us and asks if we want a drink.

The Fat Minstrel is fortuitous for me. We go there.

Arlor, the owner, is standing at the front entry, looking chipper, as though he anticipates good business. Arlor stops Garil at the threshold and encouragingly offers him a bath in order to stay. Barbra guides Garil away with a bucket and washcloth.

Arlor appears to be armed as he was before. I order up some grub and a flagon of ale.

Everything in this place seems to hit the spot

Arlor accepts my order for the dwarf’s meal, and winks. Was that with his left eye?? I ask if that matters. Mezla tells us that a left-eye wink kinda means ‘fuck off’ and/or ‘die soon’. I don’t remember which eye he used, although the action felt intentional.

On his return, Garil tells us that the Deacon was not in attendance for the execution, and may be upset with Garil. I’m ready to get out of this city.

Mezla thinks Nhilos will find us, with our growing reputation, thus there is no need for us to hunt him (or her) down.

Garil recalls the vampire queen bounty. The provider of said bounty has requested we meet with her after the festival for more details. We stop by Ivar von Ivan’s, then to the Crimson Pipe to find her.

Ivar is willing to teach me a trick or two when time allows, however this may be somewhat difficult to find ample time around adventuring. I’m not real keen on this city business, anyway. He tosses me a warn book, called “Armoring: Simple repair of Faults and Cracks”. There is some good material in there, I’m sure. Ivar tells me that I may find a squire with wide eyes in the stable who will wish to adventure with us. I offer a gold piece for the information, which he graciously declines.

At the Crimson Pipe, I hear guys talking about a place haunted by dragons. A female elf merchant looks similar to the one Thrash previously spoke to.

Glim approaches the men, and later tells us their talk of Ghostlight Woods, where Lord Greywolf lives.

I walk with Mezla up to Inderdas.

He asks her about details regarding the side-action. She feared the Ranger ran off with the coin. Yet here we are.

She says a small city near Llino Forest, called Redhawk, is where we should start. She’s heard rumors, but cannot verify exact whereabouts of the queen because none of her caravans return. Inderdas does not think highly of Thrash – he seems lazy – much like her, she says.

Although she cannot prove the existence of the vampire queen, she trusts we will report back to her as our findings progress.

Time to ketchup with our whole party and prepare to blow this popsicle stand. This particular recounting may prove useful down the road, so I ought to copy it over to mine own journal for safe keeping. Too much writing. I’ll leave this other book in someone else’s gear.

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