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The Arrival: Legacy
Session 15: Chapter 3: Cruel Cowards and Competitive Changelings in the City of Silk.
{Hello Frisco,
I left some editing notes in this one, in font like this, because some of the truth is a little bit bent, and I want your advice on if I should make any changes.

Yours mostly truly,
Thane Ilamin}
What we expected when we entered the tavern with our wolfish companion, on that day of trickery, was merriment and celebration. At worst, we expected a harmless prank or two to be set. But Nimlasser herself would be wary to play a trick so cruel as Fate aimed at my party. The mask of a wolf couldn’t be more accurate, for the man who had come before us had hidden himself in plain sight, a wolf in wolf’s clothing. He offered a drink to me in a form of friendly contest, and I was forced to remove my mask to drink it. Although I was unaware of the man’s alliances and cunning at the time, I’m sure this was his exact plan of events. He was hoping that I would expose my identity, and incapacitate my abilities with the drink, which was an especially intoxicating Yalban elixir.
Thankfully, by the blessings of the Gods, my constitution overcame his potent potable, and I was saved from incapacitation. However, the liquor did affect me enough so that my skills were dulled for his nefarious plot to come into action. For right as the drink began to warm my stomach, I saw something that froze my blood. Out from the back of the inn strode the wicked wizard Vorimbor, the one behind my attempted kidnapping in Etir. He exclaimed that he was a conspirator with the man sitting across from me, in one line turning the image of a jovial new companion, to the heartless and calculating monster he truly was.
My hand went to the mask astride my head, but then I decided that I should not cower before the evils of these two men. Even I make mistakes in my adventures, and this, dear readers, was one of them. For I had no idea that when the wolf’s clothing would be removed, I would see the scarred face of one of the most powerful sorcerers and hellish warlords I had ever met, and a ghost of my own past.
His name was Phanalan, and he was once a dark sorcerer in the country of Galmran, who led helpless villagers into the world of the occult, even going so far as to sacrifice children for his own power. I managed to defeat him by calling down a lightning bolt from the heavens, but he apparently survived the attack and had come many years earlier to Janav, no doubt in fear of what may happen if our paths crossed again.
My companions kept their cool at the reveal of this new information, but curse my hot blood, for I could not stand the sight of such evil. I had been a child when I defeated Phanalan, and I was lucky that he did not recognize me when my mask was first removed. {People may figure out who you really are if you give away too much information on your histories} However Vorimbor recognized me rather quickly, and was able to ascertain the identities of most of our party, before he began to threaten us one by one.
I assumed these two ruffians to be wild cards of death and destruction, but they instead turned out to be high-ranking officials in a business corruptly sewn into the fabric of Yalba’s government. The yarns of their business colored many different factions of society in Yalba’s great tapestry, and it quickly became clear that we were out of our element dealing with the two in such a public place. Distracted by thoughts of strategy, and admittedly dulled by the drink, I was suddenly overcome by a force I was too slow to recognize. Phanalan had intruded upon the sanctuary of my mind by some unholy power, and commanded my body to attack the bar and my friends.
Hagar, still disguised as Lisa, managed to restrain me, preventing me from any heinous crimes {Make sure to leave out the part where Phanalan had me kill the barmaid. It would look bad. Make sure you talk to Midi and make sure she leaves it out of any songs she makes.} but not before the combined surprise force of Vorimbor and Phanalan overpowered the other members of our party. They were even able to convince the public that we were the instigators of the attack, though of course, when power like mine is used, it is only natural to be afraid. Phanalan had me break free of Hagar and dash towards himself, striking him and feigning my self control. His little theatre play debuted just in time for his audience, the city guard, to arrive, and have me and my party members arrested.
Once I regained my wits, I struggled to convince my party members that my body was not my own in the bar, and even Midi, as kind as she was, did not believe me at first and was appalled by my behavior. Our new friend Zari was able to convince the palace guard of our innocence later in the today, and we were freed into the open public. However, after my failure as a guardian of peace at the hands of a great foe, I was still feeling very much imprisoned.
We decided that we needed to make preparations for the coming adventure, and set out to first get a map of the city with which to orient ourselves. Zari saved us from the unfortunate irony of being lost in a city and trying to find a map, which makes you more lost in the city, by directing us to the store of who must be the greatest living cartographer. It may seem insignificant to you, my esteemed reader, but as someone who loves only to fight for good and defend the endangered, it does my heart good to see citizens of a caliber as strong as this one. His name was Rafiq al-Ir, and the map he provided us with was clearly one that had taken hours upon hours of slow refinement, careful dying, and a master’s brushstroke. My and my companions hearts were set aflame by this inspiring young man, and swore doubly to protect this city, and this weak, weak boy who had charmed us all so much.
To arm ourselves against the empire of evil infecting the city, we went to a nearby auction, hoping to procure some magic items that would help us to remove those unfit for the power they wielded from their high thrones. However, we found surprisingly stiff financial competition in the form of none other than the Djinni Moroden, the one who had instilled me with even greater power after glimpsing my true character. He had come to the auction to collect more of his magical wares, no doubt to sell at an exorbitant rate later on, and to thwart the efforts of seemingly every other person in the auction hall. He bid hard and fast, especially against my party and I, and a Dao named Calvinia across the room, who appeared to be a scorned lover from his past.
I tell you now dear reader, if it were not for the abilities of our party, we would have struggled to snatch the mystical items at our disposal from the jaw of someone as sly and clever as Moroden. However, with the financial fortitude of our heroic wallets, we managed to come across some beautiful and powerful items. We procured an elegant elemental emerald {Sapphire, whatever, the alliteration is important}, a concealing clandestine cloak, and some persuasively pleasant perfume. Hagar even managed to receive a truly beautiful spear of lightning, which reminds him of me so much that he declares my praises every time he uses it on the battlefield. He is a truly kind man with a beautiful spirit.
Zari then took us to the palace to meet the retainers of the beautiful, charming, and tasteful Raha’s missing brother. They were two incredibly athletic specimen, a sinewy and handsome changeling named Fazil, and a towering brick of a Tiefling named Rashad. The two were fresh off a gripping wrestling match when we entered, and had their full bodies on display, barely covered by matching loincloths so that they could preen themselves in front of our party, I imagine they were attempting to intimidate us, but they had no idea who they were up against. In the arrogance you so often see in the physically powerful, they decided we would need to prove ourselves in battle to earn their trust and information. Wykeera, in her characteristic selflessness, did her best to convince them that it would be best for their prince if we began searching for him sooner, but their skulls, thickened from years of abuse, were unable to pass the message on to their brains.
I realized during the exchange that it was my fault, once again on this trip I had been careless. My presence had begun to make Rashad terribly afraid, and it began to become difficult to tell if the marks on his loincloth were sweat or something even more unsavory. The slimmer Changeling realized this as well, and looked to defuse the situation, ending all further negotiations. We were faced with one option, engage in their paltry games, or endanger the life of the prince. For true heroes like us, there was only once possible option.
One week later we found ourselves at the bloodsport coliseum of Yalba, a sickening architectural blemish of horrible combat where meager slaves fought for an unachievable freedom. {Should I add the part about Midi researching Dragonborn culture? It was kind of a downer what with the priest who seemed depressed an everything. I should definitely leave out the stuff about me losing money gambling…} In spite of the unpalatable atmosphere of the stadium, we knew that we had come for the achievement of a just cause, and forged ahead into the tournament of glory. The tournament was set up simply, our party made up one of the many teams competing to rise to the top. We would fight waves of monsters, and eventually the other teams until the final two remained, and the winner would be rewarded with glory and gold, though such earthly pleasures disinterested are party when compared to the chance to save the prince.
One of the competing teams was Fazil’s Fighters, led by the changeling retainer and his lover Rashad, and they established themselves as the team to beat with ease in the first round. Whereas the first team struggled for a full minute to dispatch their opponents, and even then seemed to escape with barely more than their lives, Fazil’s team struck the monsters down in merely thirty seconds. We clearly had our work cut out for us as we walked up to the entrance of the stadium prepared to meet our first challenge.
Before us lay a mock ruin of the Zeharian people, with a group of Gnolls placed around. There was also a fair maiden in the midst of these gnolls, being held captive as an objective of rescue for our team. {Switching it from a dummy to a real woman is going to make the kiss at the end better, but it might make it less believable…} For those of you readers who have no knowledge of the gnolls, count yourselves blessed, for their grim visage is almost to horrible to recount. Each one of the five stood on spotted and matted haunches, like hyenas learning to beg, with thick and bloodied bodies haphazardly strapped to pieces of metal and stone creating makeshift armor. Their grizzled necks led to lazily hanging jaws with long strands of viscous slobber leaking continuously from their frenzied grins. They turned their smiling faces towards our party and began to growl, looking to protect the terrified woman between them. The ringing voices and thunderous applause of the audience would have been distracting if we hadn’t all become so single-minded in our pursuit of both this rescue and the next.
Hagar ran headfirst into battle, sprinting up to his first opponent and drawing Ostan’s blade from its sheath, preparing to wet it against the neck of the foul monsters before us. Zari brandished her flails and cast two spectral hands that gripped two of them by the neck and began to enshroud them in a dark necrotic energy. Wykeera too leapt forward, sending a knife of ice singing into the throng of enemies, deftly causing shards of ice to hit the targets and miss the maiden. Ever eager to rescue, I teleported to the maiden in a flash of lightning and mist and grabbed her from the gnolls. Midi encouraged me forward, and I was able to frighten two of the gnolls away from me. However, one of them, incredibly brave, or more likely, incredibly stupid, managed to score two heavy strikes against me as I threw myself in front of my new charge. I was buffeted back by the blows and almost thrown into the pit of spikes below, but managed to get cushioned by my favored winds and landed safely on the bridge. The maiden, now unprotected by my frightful presence, was grabbed again by the gnolls, and I kicked myself for not being more careful.
However, it was at that moment that Hagar was suddenly knocked from his position on the bridge onto the spikes below. The crowd gasped in horror, and I too was worried for Hagar’s fate, but I knew that he would want us to continue our rescue. I furiously aimed my next spell at the two gnolls who had knocked my friend in, and vaporized them both in one searing ball of electricity. Wykeera and Zari continued their assault on the other three gnolls while Midi did her best to help Hagar recover from his fall and to exit the pit. Zari grew her necrotic shroud on the two gnolls from before, and Wykeera deftly noticed the weakening constitution of the one on the left, and took him out with a well-placed ice knife.
I was debating if I should attack the remaining gnoll holding the maiden, or the larger gnoll captain who had so deftly struck me with his blade when, suddenly, a thick forearm and sizable hand sprang out of the pit and grabbed ahold of the gnoll captain and pulled it down. Hagar hadn’t been able to spring himself from the spiked pit, but was able to succeed in bringing down one of the enemies to his level. Knowing that no ragged monstrosity like the gnoll could stand up to Hagar in a one on one fight, I turned to the final gnoll on the ruins and blasted them backwards with my magical might. However, my blasts were so strong they managed to cause the maiden to lose her balance as well, and she began to fall backwards. At the last second, in a flash of lightning and mist, I was above her, my arm securely fastened around her shoulders, protecting her from above. The audience went wild with the last minute salvation of the woman, and were only propelled to greater heights of enthusiasm when she passionately embraced and kissed me as thanks for my heroism.
However, there was one thing they wanted to see even more. The battle with the final gnoll had become surprisingly intense, as he was of a sturdier breed, pit bull or some other large dog probably, than the rest of his litter. Even worse, the battle in the pit was too low for anyone in the audience to see, and the sound of shouting, yelping, and metal clanging against stone and metal alike, had driven them into a frenzy of speculation. Hagar, distracted by the audience and his disguise, had made some surprising mistakes, and was having trouble keeping the gnoll at bay. Wykeera in her classically resourceful way, had begun firing her bag of unending water at the mongrel, washing years of grease, blood and decay from its matted fur, and giving Hagar the advantage in the fight. Zari sprung down lithely and managed to hit the gnoll with her flails, sending it stunned and reeling backwards.
However, the true disadvantage was becoming clear, the spikes on the bottom of the pit were hindering Hagar and Zari’s attacks by reducing mobility, while the more animalistic fighting style of the gnoll was unaffected. I realized the best way for them to defeat the beast, was by leaving the pit. So I told the fair maiden to step back, and summoning every ounce of my being, I cast a spell and caused the faux ruins to explode out ward, leaving a method of escape for my teammates. Wykeera followed it up immediately with an especially strong geyser from her bag, sending the gnoll rolling back into view of the audience, battered, wet, and afraid of the hulking warrior now sprinting across the sand towards it. The beast reared up for one final attack, which Hagar easily outmaneuvered, driving his blade through its grinning mouth and out of it matted back. The crowd was silent for a moment, and then erupted into peals of applause and cheers, as the announcer brought it to our attention that we had finished in the same amount of time as our true opponents. Thirty seconds.
An hour later, after rebuilding the stage and testing the other teams, it was time for our second round of the tournament. As we took the field, the thoughts of the previous teams, the ones who had faced this same challenge and been beaten savagely, weighed on our minds, and we prepared ourselves for a battle that would likely not go as easy, as the stadium began to shake from the steps of some monolithic Monster.
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