Finally after torturous days wasting about the city only broken by drama and thank all the gods Terramore Gleba it was the day of the opening ceremony. Asher insisted on borrowing Xerxses for a morning jog which seems destined to become a regular routine before we headed off. The opening ceremony itself was carried out from a balcony perched high above us on the side of a fifty story tower (overcompensating much city dwellers). Framed on either side by the proud three ringed games flag and the Lopanic cauldron, Rod Rambler was given the honour of lighting the true torch as recently rescued by us.
After the lighting ceremony competitors were ushered away to Titan park for a swearing of the oath of truth, “for the glory of the Alliance”, and once inside a cordon was quickly erected and over seen by an elderly gentlemen with a wagon carrying a large crystal. Later as recounted by our competing CrIsis members whose story seemed slightly preposterous(if I wasn’t getting use to stranger things I would have doubted them), they told me they were made to read aloud the rules to the statue there of Rurga who acknowledged with a bare nod which seemed to startle many of the officiators. The statue then went on to speak a warning of death to those who would break the rules. When I questioned the man next to me about the rules he acted kind off shirty but I eventually discovered among the other inane rules that no women were allowed, I very nearly lost my cool if not for representing Crisis I think “A Western werewolf in Lopan” may have been the next big headline. I could taste the metallic tang of blood in my mouth where I bit down hard and tried to distract myself watching the old man with one hand on the crystal talking with each competitor in turn as they left the park. I’m guessing Azariel was not pleased with his conversation as the peeved look on his face and the deliberately placed wards sending the surrounding crowd into various colours seemed a directed insult at the old man from the bow and the wink in his direction. Likewise Overkill didn’t seem much happier with the gentleman’s gestures at his armour. The competitors were then invited to a VIP only party afterwards but all of our elite CrIsis athletes forgo the offer to pursue other matters and game preparations. Azariel took the brief opportunity to tells us about an overheard conversation from the eye tile with Helara Hoppner. Apparently Karowyn’s intended to dump our accounts and charge us exorbitantly for their transfer. It was not a pleasant bit of information and from the spluttered expletives from the priest I felt their very souls in jeopardy. It was also brought up that the tile had gone dark. I mourned the loss of the resource but felt a twinge of guilt at secreting it on the reporter even for the sake of our security. Some discussion was had on how to handle the situation and Azariel took ownership of setting up a independent porter system for the accounts should it prove more financially viable. I glazed over a bit not really having the depth of knowledge in these matters, a rabbit for in trade for a hot meal is about as much as I’d ever felt need for before now. Overkill tried to slip away during the discussion pulling Xerxes with him. As you can imagine secreting a minotaur away is not a job for the amateur. When pressed he told us he’d been summoned to a meeting with a man named Mikala whom apparently was known to some of the party members, and recently been abducted and swapped for an imposter then presumably found. The situation was wholly dubious and known of us liked letting him go in alone but he is a grown man for all his spontaneous stupidity sometimes. We eventually let him go with the warning for his host that we would come rescue him if we didn’t see him safe within the hour and a blessing from Indaris on his dagger to warn of evil as best to prepare him as we could. After another discussion we decided to wait for him at our stall rather than the lovers leap, (we didn’t want to tempt Overkills chastity) and spent the time erecting a sign to let our patrons know the party would be elsewhere for the night. He returned upon the hour Xerxes assuring us he’d passed the sniff test and seemed himself so we resumed our interrupted pursuits. We all headed off to the religious district separating out to our various churches, Azarial to the church of the great one, whilst the rest of them settled in at the church of light. Indaris stopped at the donation box on the way in to leave a valuable okdc for each of the gods of light, creating one of his myriad heartfelt prayers at the same time.
“She of the Great Wings and the Scythe of the Moon
I thank thee for the opportunity to serve the against the forces of darkness in the spirit of competition
I thank thee for the strength of arms to fight as well
I thank thee for the agility of mind to turn the plans of the evil ones back upon themselves in these games.”
Before I left them there I saw Xerxes make his own donation before laying down Uraeus’, his weapon on the alter and kneeling down in prayer, I kept their image in my head, the perfect vision of what we could be. I left then with Overkill, him playing my stern protector as I visited the other churches of the light gods searching out the other faithful competitors. I admit turning on a little of the charm that Azariel had been teaching me when approaching each man I recognised and we finished that night securing the promise of the lung if they should win from four of them and another four that would pray on it. I have great confidence that as men of obvious faith that this is a good sign. As for the first four Osiris’ Lung for a date seems a more than fair exchange, but I was awfully relieved the two that asked for a little more than that were willing to adjust their expectations. I had ambitions of visiting more of the churches but was reminded by a grumpy yawn from the dwarf that he had to compete in the morning. Feeling guilty at letting myself forget him and get carried away we retired to the vegetable stall where I guarded his snoring form, although woe betide the thing that tried to wake him that night.
Our first competition for the games was rowing and everyone was super excited, Azariel thrilled the crowds with ingenious fireworks created from coloured wards that flew into the sky dazzling in the morning sun. Overkill’s appearance was greeted with renditions of verse about him at various skill levels. Xerx’ses championed him on with cheers attributed to Mary my shushing’s not effective in dimming his shout, and I hoped the reminder of his recent indiscretion wouldn’t’ distract him from his efforts. Overkill lived up to our hopes moving through his heats and semi ’s whether by photo finishes or explosive leads he came out on top. Before the finals the dwarf caught the attention of the crowd and whilst somewhat shy clearly announced his sole allegiance with Gold Coast. It smelt of politics even from my vantage but people seemed pleased. The final was horribly white knuckled we watched him fall behind two, three, four meters but then he surprised even us putting on an incredibly burst of speed to take the race home by eight meters! Watching him up on the podium receiving his golden leaf wrists tied in red ribbon with his sponsor, we were so proud, watching Overkill choke out the Eastern Territory anthem though may have been even more fun.
Kingdoms of the East;
The Lands that I call home!
Kingdoms OF the East,
Kingdoms OF The East!
The Land that I call home!
From Sweet Creek to New Crest’s Ports,
From Haven to Nim’ro;
Our providence given,
and destiny manifest!
Long live the kings,
their subjects and their heirs.
For the Father country we shed tears,
Kingdoms of the East;
The Lands that I call home!
Kingdoms OF the East,
Kingdoms OF The East!
The Land that I call home!
The others had explained to me his real feelings about the human populaces over the earlier days and I could only laugh happily as I read his expression in a new light, and our first gold!
We must have all been thoroughly exhausted from the excitement because I can’t honestly remember the night, we must have piled in like hapless puppies after the days efforts piling up and snoring in a corner. We woke up early the next day to venture down the Lopanic zoo were Azariel’s and Tyvernos’ challenge was apparently housed. The title “death match” and the explanation of the last thing standing rules against the hydra were quite concerning but when we finally viewed the creature it was magnificent, my mind started whirling, eggs, mating or grown this would be a perfect addition…….No, that was Asher’s’ stern and in a very unarguable voice.
When we arrived back at the competition grounds we found the indoor course where Overkill had won the rowing (yes indoor! did I not mention that before?), had had a stone floor laid over the water and was hosting the death match. The finger wiggling began. The fact that Az and Tyv seemed to wiggle their fingers first did little to reassure me. One man immediately produced multiple images of himself, the arena would only continue to populate as the fight progressed. Tyv was victim to a falling wall straight up(I mean who drops a wall?), and by some luck of the gods after teetering backwards and forwards under the shadow squeezed out of the way unscathed before flying up into the air transformed into a creature of wind. The pace of finger wiggling increased, more copies populated the stadium this time of Azariel before suddenly half the arena went mad. Someone in the crowd whispered the name “world bizarre” and it certainly lived up to the name the competitors seemed to have been immersed in a realm of nightmare, clawed trees grasping around them whilst their fellow athletes turned into monstrous visions with teeth and claws(not quite as scary as me of course when I want to be but impressive nonetheless). The hydra seemed to have been somewhat stunned by its release until now and started to lash about wildly seemingly effected by the same delusion the others were witnessing. Fingers were temporarily shocked into interruption before we noticed a figure appear next to Azariel and gasped a warning knowing full well he couldn’t hear us. Tyv’s familiar phantom friend joined the increasing numbers on the field whilst lighting spears wildly zipped past the hydra(someone should really be ashamed of their aim, I mean it’s a hydra!). Suddenly a riva of lava appeared mind boggling huge and instantaneously killing two of the competitors, returning the stadium to reality. I thought I heard a choked off scream from one of the family before we realised Azariel had already vacated the now molten area flying away unharmed into the air. Tyv lost a few hairs as the hydra let out a barrage of attacks, fire scathing close beside him, Ice shot toward Az but fell short before it could do harm and a cloud effect of some kind enclosed another hapless competitor. Azariel drew his mace free, wildly swinging at the hydra before finally connecting, but if the creature noticed it wasn’t apparent. Tyv appeared to stop to have some kind of mid air tryst with his phantom before it seemingly shot out of the sky falling to the floor unmoving. We watched as one of the heads bent down and swallowed one of the competitors and all I could think was I just wanted our friends out of their now! It was Azariel’s turn to burn of a few excess whiskers while the now tagged lightning bolt guy kept practicing his aim. Suddenly the situation changed dramatically when the hydra was lifted into the air unable to gain purchase the huge body began a slow spin as it lashed out. Lightning guy gave up in final frustration pulling out a staff and whacking at the dragon like a piñata, his first swing missing as the hydras slow spin moved him out of the way. His face was red with exertion or embarrassment or even anger and I almost felt sorry for him, almost he can’t have been too bright because it was becoming quite apparent that one of the other athletes was repeatedly energy bolting him in the back with some lame excuses about going for the hydra. I don’t know what that stick was he was using was but when it finally connected with the hydra’s foot it definitely noticed. Between the hydra Az, Tyv and the other remaining competitors the arena continued to be filled with fire, lighting, energy, dust and a late multiple images from one of the unknowns. Suddenly Tyv was hit, dropping out of the air landing hard next to his incapacitated phantom, one of the hydras heads darting down next to him and attempted to devour the helpless phantom, Tyvs view must have been exquisitely exciting at that point. More flying, more wiggling then a tornado appeared on the poor hydra whose only option was to twirl hideously fountaining a variety of unpleasantness from all heads as it lurched in misery. The cry of “c’mon guys let’s do this” wasn’t as rallying as one competitor elf might have hoped landing him a quick cloud of slumber from Tyv for his effort which could have been a lot worse I suppose. The final indignity for the hydra as an electric field appeared in the tornado ending the competition and sending the four remaining through to the next stage.
Meanwhile the long jump portion of the Pentathlon was happening elsewhere and with far less near death experience. As I understand it (not being able to be there personally), it was a best of two style effort between eight competitors. The chatter I heard from spectators moving between events said Xerx’ses made an incredible leap in the first round putting himself straight up as favourite. The effort may have psyched out our illustrious arch enemies Joe and Rahl because they both failed to even hit the mark in one of their subsequent jumps leaving Xerx’ses to an overall win in very convincing style.
The night again blurred past arriving at day three. Being a fairly competent archer myself I went off to barrack for former companion of the group Ylren in the 200m archery event, whilst some of the others went to support Xerx’ses in the wrestling. Personally I didn’t think anyone was silly enough to want to wrestle a minotaur but I wished him luck anyway. Of the six archers competing in round one four produced outstanding shots the competition was obviously going to be extremely close. Round two produced another wave of precision with only one imperfect shot and Jidian of Northmoor Legion hitting closest to the mark. Thankfully round three saw our only competing arch enemy Rahl fumble a less than perfect shot putting him out of the running. With a little luck and amazing aim (I definitely envied) Ylren came out in front by two points which doesn’t sound like much but the competition was exceptional. I stayed to watch him sing the song of Phi’ before racing off to catch what I could of the wrestling.
I had the others catch me up on the details but I’ve included the results excerpt from the local paper as entered by the famous Mr Murray.
Joe Vs Foster > winner Foster
Palomedes Vs Arleep > winner Palomedes (win on first pin)
Xerxes Vs Cobert > winner Xerxes (Cobert down to crushing injury)
Blaif Vs Rahl > winner Rahl (Blaif taps out early)
Xerxes Vs Rahl > winner Xerxes (Epic battle of the day, fight could easily have gone either way taking longer than all other bouts combined.
Foster Vs Palomedes > winner Foster (good fight but quick win)
Foster Vs Xerxes > winner Xerxes (Unexciting end to the day, convincing win on first pin)
Xerx’ses looked everything the perfect athlete on the stand, representing us to the people better than we deserve. I understand his sportsmanship cost him a kick to the groin earlier but you would never have been able to tell from his proud and upright appearance. Mother I hope all is well with you and I must leave you there, bed calls it’s convincing song to me and there is so much still to do.
Love you daughter Cami