Wednesday, February 15, 2012

EPISODE 65: The Trial of Champions I - Battle Royale

Maya 8 - Juliar 15, 754 YE


During the first month of the new Republican government of Elan, political a lot of dissidents, Guilders, and reporters are arrested for being overtly unfriendly to the new regime. Otherwise, most people who dislike the current political climate "go along to get along." Most pro-Empire people keep a low profile, holding on to the hope that either a) Tairon will send an army to take back the city, or b) the Holy Emperor himself will appear to smite Raknian and his friends.

Aoska, the celestial member of the City Council, is permitted to resign while the other council members must swear allegiance to the new government or be executed for treason. Raknian doesn't want to mess with certain factions in the city and only targets his most provocative and brazen challengers.

The new Constitution of Elan basically takes all citizen rights away ("You have universal eternal rights, unless the government finds it more convenient to deny them"), actually making it worse than the Holy Empire's Vast Codex which despite its flaws accepted that citizens had private property rights. New taxes are implemented, including a 50% tax on adventurers and a 50% tax on Guilders' profits and capital gains.

Organizations such as the Shuul and the Holy Order of Vigoor are put on "terrorist watch lists" and their public activities greatly limited.

Despite promises to "immediately" correct high prices, there really isn't much Raknian's government can do. The Central Banking Council in Tairon is using their wizards to inflate. i.e. fabricating gold, there supply & demand imbalances persist. The Republican price controls and minimum wage laws aggravate huge shortages and unemployment.

But despite how shitty things are overall, many fools and mooches have convinced themselves that Raknian is awesome and will eventually fix everything.

The Rosegate Company -- Dziga, Early, Emeris, and Vatex -- wonders if they are on the Republican's "hit list" due to their cooperation with the prosecution of Helmut Itlstein. So far, though, no sign of retribution...

Financially, the government is not good. When they took over, they discovered that the Commissar had left the treasury virtually empty. This would make it hard to set up all kinds of expensive Republican social programs. In an effort to raise money quickly, the Trial of Champions will held this summer, instead of next year. Tourists and would-be gladiators start filling the city in preparation for the event...


The Rosegate Company reaches a consensus that they too will enter the Trial of Champions as a gladiator team. They begin doing training montages to prepare.

Between training sessions, Vatex investigates the Republicans, trying to find out who Raknian and the Republicans' allies are. He learns that unlike the former Republican leader, Helmut Itlstein, Raknian -- a well-known veteran of the Zeltennian War -- has more than just the Vai as unsavory alliances. Turns out he is supported by the Balacazars, who now basically run the entire City Watch. This gives them a huge advantage over the crime organizations of Aggah-Shan and Kevis Killraven. The Republicans also have connections to the Vai, left over from Helmut's days.

There are also rumors about the so-called "Rebel Four" who is supposedly the Republicans chief benefactor. But no one seems to know what Rebel Four is -- some say it is a shadowy group of wealthy Elanian nationalistists, others say it is an old dwarf wizard, others say it is some kind of dark cult. Others still say "Rebel Four" is/are one or more alien invaders from outer space, like an X-Files sorta thing.

Eventually the group tries to register and discovers that in order to be entered as gladiators in the Trial, they need to get a licensed sponsor, who needs to be on the Trial of Champions Executive Committee. They ask around but it seems most sponsors have sponsored gladiators already.

Concurrently, the companions 'negotiate' with Gareth Porter, the reporter who'd been rescued from the Dark Reliquary, to have him publish a new broadsheet painting the Rosegate Company as "totally awesome" and improve their public image.

Then they receive a message from the capitalist Dorzan. When they meet with him, he talks about the worries the Guilders have with the new government and its heavy taxes and regulation. He says they collectively hope the more business-friendly Holy Empire will take over the city again, or all the Guilders will take their capital elsewhere.

Dorzan says he knows a guy on the Trial Executive Committee who can sponsor them, but he will want a favor in return.

So they meet this guy, a human bard named EKAYM, and his associate CELESTE, an aasimar rogue, at an inn called the Crooked House. Ekaym reveals that he is a member of the secretive trades guild called "The Chisel", and they are trying to attack Raknian's legitimacy and turn popular opinion against them.

He says that in exchange for sponsoring them to get into the Trial, he asks that they investigate throughout the event and try to find anything about Raknian that can help him, including a) find who is loyal and not-so-loyal, b) find evidence that will make people turn against him.

At first Ekaym says he wants to take 50% of the 100K gold prize for the champions... but Emeris uses some bluffing and diplomacy to convince him to take only 30%. That will leave 75,000 gold plus a flashy Champions' Belt for the Rosegate Company to share.

The companions return to their training montage for the next month or so... they will show the city of Elan a tournament they will never forget!


It is a hot Juliar in Elan as the Trial of Champions approaches. On the 14th, the day before the Trial begins, there is a big event called "the Free Dinner" where all the gladiators, their managers, the executive committee, the press, and special guests all eat a lavish feast and mingle. The Rosegate Company attends this with Ekaym.

There are 25 teams in the tournament this year, including the previous champions, Auric's Warband, consisting of the fighter Auric, the wizard KHELLE, the rogue TIRRA, and three stone golems. Vatex and Early had coincidentally met Auric, the team leader, in Diamond Lake during an unrelated adventure. Vatex and Early publicly denounce Auric as a wimp who was too cowardly to fight the black dragon Ilthane. This earns Auric's ire and he swears to humiliate them in the final round -- if they make it that far.

Emeris looks around for some all-female gladiator groups and maybe arrange some kind of orgy. There are only two such groups, the Pretty Girl Squad, which appears to be three underrage girls who have no business in such a tournament, and Arcane Auriga, which consists of five elven archer babes, exiles from the elven court of Selene. Emeris flexes his charming personality, but discovers Arcane Auriga seem to be all lesbians. Even so, they find Emeris rather likeable and say that if they fight in the battle royale, they should team-up until the end.

Vatex notices Raknian watching them. No doubt the Republican leader recognizes them and knows that they were largely responsible for the death of Helmut Itlstein. Ekaym suggests that Raknian may do something that interferes with their participation in the tournament somehow.

The schedule for the tournament is revealed. The first day will consist of battle royales where groups of 4 or 5 teams have a big free-for-all. Days 2-4 will consist of team vs. team battles and monster vs. team battles. Day 5 will have the best performing team face-off against last year's champs.


After the event, the Rosegate Company retires to their quarters beneath the arena in the Coenoby -- a converted part of Ghul's Labyrinth. It's quite comfortable, but full of activity -- it might be hard to sneak around tonight and investigate Raknian.

Before sleep, they are visited by Tirra from Auric's Warband. Vatex's rich local knowledge suggest she is a member of the Longfingers' Thieves Guild. She proposes her "friends" would like to place a special bet that if the Rosegate Company makes it to the finale, they will defeat Auric and his team. The company declines.

Then they are visited again, but RENNIDA the leader of Arcane Auriga. She says that they are in the same battle royale tomorrow, and proposes teaming up against a team called Badlands' Revenge. They agree to do so before starting to hack up each other.


The first event takes place at 10:00 am and puts the Rosegate Company in a battle royale with the following:

Arcane Auriga:
> Rennida the elven archer mage.
> Her four archer companions

Badlands Revenge
> Joren, the human druid who wears plate mail forged of dragon scales.
> His animal companion, Scriminiduro, the dire badger
> His four gnoll halberdier mercenaries

Pretty Girl Squad
> Mio, tiny pink-haired girl who carries a stuffed rabbit and looks harmless
> Setsuna, hand-to-hand fighter with lightning-speed
> Kunichiko, golden haired girl who uses magical fragrances

Sapphire Squad
> Korush, a janni swashbuckler
> His team of three mercenaries, who ride war horses and fight with long spears and bows and scimitars.

The battle begins! Setsuna yells out "Speed Drive: Hawkeye!" and moves through the air so quickly she might as well be invisible, then systematically attacks every single combatant in the arena in the space of five seconds. She then reappears with her group. Impossible speed! This attack has left most other combatants dazed, and Mio begins skipping over to the elven archers. She is charged by the only undazed Sapphire Squad merc, whom she dodges easily. Kunichiko uses her magic fragrances to dominate the mind of the merc and add a new ally to their team.

With the elves dazed except for Rennida, the Rosegate Company attacks Badlands' Revenge on their own. Emeris fires two umbral rays that slays one of the gnolls. Joren takes a hit from Dziga's bow then he and his badger rush the advancing Early. The warblade skilfully dodges the druid's spear but takes a cut from the badger's claw. Rennida recovers from being dazed and hits Joren in the back with an acid arrow. Early uses Soaring Dragon Strike to hit the druid, leaving him bloody and stunned. Vatex seizes the opportunity to thrust his swords into the narrow gaps in Joren's dragon armor and kill him. At this point, the surviving gnolls surrender, but the badger keeps fighting. Early uses his Raging Mongoose Wolf Blitz attack against the badger and explodes it in a gruesome display of overkill.

Meanwhile, Mio continues towards the elves who have regained their senses. They fire arrows at her but she is very quick, and it seems her little dress gives her some level of armor. A second mounted merc from Sapphire Squad charges her, but she easily dodges again. Annoyed, she runs after the merc and swings her rabbit. "Mega Punch!!!!!" The rabbit hits the rider and literally blows him to pieces, leaving a big wet splatter of gore on the arena wall. She and the dominated rider continue towards the elves, who continue firing. Rennida powers up and create two mirror images around herself.

Setsuna yells "Speed Drive: Black Bird!" and hits the third rider with a spring attack, using her airwalk power to spring back into the air. The attack leaves the mounted merc blind! He hangs on as his horse runs around the arena periphery for a half a minute before surrendering. Korush, able to fly, rushdes her in the air with his scimitar. She is impossibly fast and he may as well have been trying to stab a flying mosquito with a toothpick. She hits back at Korush when Dziga hits her with an arrow. Emeris fires umbral rays at her but she is too quick, and retreats without taking further hits. Kunichiko whispers "Maiden Temptation!" which paralyzes Rennida as Mio closes in.

The little pink haired girl swings her rabbit and explodes one of the elf women with another Mega Punch. They try to fill the little girl with arrows but she is ridiculously tough and quick.

The gaze of Korush meets Vatex and they silently agree to duel. Early and Emeris go after Kunichiko while Dziga heads towards the main melee between Pretty Girl Squad and Arcane Auriga.

Korush fights gracefully with his scimitar, his defenses capable and his speed impressive. As Vatex spins to the right, Korush's magical sword cuts deeply into his back, and a follow-up slash should have cut him across the neck had Vatex's magical cloak not shifted him at the last moment. Vatex sneers and turns up the pressure, the speed of his dancing swords accelerating to the point where Korush can no longer keep up with his deft parries. Blades flash and various cuts open in Korush's flesh. Two more downward chops take off both the janni's arms. A final blow takes off his head.

Early hacks at Kunchiko and hears her whisper "Temptation Garden", which causes him to reconsider his desire to attack her. Emeris teleports behind the golden-aired pretty girl, trying to strike her down with the Shadowgeist Reaver. She dodges easily. She then retreats while she whispers "Marlboro Cloud" and and big acid fog appears around Early. The fog feels like molasses and in addition to burning his flesh and lungs, it is painfully slow to move through it.

The dominated rider merc attacks some elves with his scimitar. Mio Mega Punches another elf. Setsuna darts in with hit-n-run attacks. Dziga continues firing arrows at Setsuna but she is very tough to hit. Another Speed Drive: Black Bird attack leaves a bunch of elves dazed, but she takes another of Dziga's arrow which wounds her badly. Emeris teleports in that direction to support Dziga and the elves, then unleashes maximized Killing Shadows upon the group.

The blast engulfs all the combatants, and when it clears, Setsuna, the dominated rider, and all the elves are dead. Seeing so many gladiators wiped out with a single attack sends the crowd into a big cheer. Mio is very sad when Setsuna dies and charges Emeris, swinging her rabbit and yelling "Polymorph Rabbit!" The attack hits the shade and staggers him a bit, but worse than that he feels his body begin to change! Probably into a kitten or some other cute critter. He resists it and hits her back with the Reaver. Seeing her near death and in tears, he tells her to surrender, and when it seems she intends to do so, he teleports to cut off Kunichiko. He hears a gunshot and sees Vatex kill Mio with a shot from his rifle.

Early breaks through the acid cloud and then is hit with the Maiden Temptation attack, paralyzing him. Kunichiko Marlboro Clouds Emeris and Vatex as they close in on her from the other side. Dziga tries to shoot her down with arrows and scores a few hits, but she is tougher than her girlish appearance would suggest and she continues to resist. She targets Early with a Crown Marionette attack, bringing the warblade under her control.

The Rosegate Company chases Kunichiko around the arena for a few moments, while the dominated Early chases her companions. She slows them down with her Marlboro Fog and Maiden Temptation attacks, and killing her becomes an extreme annoyance. However, she understands that while she might be able to draw this out for a long time, she cannot win without her allies. She surrenders.

The crowd goes crazy! They chant "Rosegate! Rosegate!", clearly impressed by the Rosegate Company's incredible power. They are awarded a small bag of gold and a bronze trophy of a dwarf warrior for their Day 1 victory.

After the battle, the Rosegate Company learns that they have been randomly selected for the "Monster Mash" event where they fight a giant powerful monster on Day 3. They learn that this year's giant monster is an especially big and powerful froghemoth, a big and rare aberration. Since they will not be fighting on Day 2, they figure that will be a good time to look around the Coenoby and see if they can dig up any dirt on Raknian...