It was the 6th day of the seventh month Reannos and the party was resting in their new property, the Bloody Raven. Dolvion was excited for the chariot races and had his blue sash at the ready. Daxis was spending the morning deciphering the tomes left behind by Eon, and was making some headway in translating the ancient Elven and Dwarvish. Acedia was hibernating, celebrating one of the kingdom of Sloth’s most important holidays: the Festival of Many Dreams, while Montgomery was out and about, doing God knows what. The party headed over to the coliseum amidst the hustle and bustle of the city. Passing the city square, the party caught sight of prisoners being transported in cages towards a guillotine that had been set up in the city square. A large orc with a top knot ordered a young woman brought onto the stage. “This woman is a member of the resistance. She tried to destroy us, the great kingdom of the sins, but she was weak! And weakness deserves death! Hail Vornoth!” Some in the crowd cheered, and Daxis and Anlon made mental note of who those people were. Regretting that they could do nothing but watch, the party continued on to the coliseum.
The coliseum was not especially busy as it was just a day for new gladiators and entrants. The “Blues” were already outside, drinking and partying, and they were elated to see Dolvion walk up, sporting his solid blue sash. Dolvion was pointed to go speak to Leera, master of games, who was responsible for registering new entrants and general management. Leera was a broad, large, and in charge. Dolvion registered and was told to speak to Mormon, the stable master and manager of the chariot races. She recommended that Aeros accompany Dolvion as his chariot defender, all the while rubbing up on Aeros, much to his chagrin. Aeros also signed up for the contest of strength later that afternoon.
Dolvion met Mormon, the charioteer manager who showed Dolvion some of his higher quality (i.e. expensive) chariots. The first chariot was a “Dwarven chariot.” Anlon inspected it, and went into a fuss about the obvious fake. “No self respecting dwarf would craft something like this on his worst day!” Embarrassed, Mormon showed off a few more chariots, and with Daxis’ masterful bargaining skills, Dolvion procured himself a chariot and two horses. After some shopping for proper ranged weapons for charioteering, Dolvion and Aeros got into position. The other racers were also getting into position, most notably, a very strange looking old man with a full head of white hair, poofed out as if he had been hit with an electric shock. Even stranger, he had no defender. The other notable charioteer was Mur’agh, a huge orcish woman with black pigtails. Her chariot was being pulled by two large winter wolves with a rather burly orc male as defender. Dolvion and Mur’agh exchanged “pleasantries” before the race, to which Mu’ragh replied that she would “paint the walls with your gore.” Mur’agh then displayed her red sash. Anlon positioned himself in the pit with the other mechanics, ready to repair Dolvion’s chariot if need be. As manager of the team, Daxis was allowed into the manager’s viewing booth which was in the first row. Not as luxurious as the sky booths for the more wealthy managers, it was still fairly comfortable. One rather burly man in the manager’s box was screaming for “Reggie” who was going to make his debut today in the races, while another man, rather slender and haughty, simply sipped at his wine glass and enjoyed grapes, as if the result of the race was a foregone conclusion.
With a sound of a gong and a wave of the flag of Greed, the chariots were off. Except Mu’ragh, who was having an especially difficult time getting her wolves to move, whipping them furiously. The chariot race was furious and fast. Aeros made good use of his glaive and nets to try and keep foes off balance while Dolvion kept the horses under his control. The wizard “Reggie” proved to be a rather haphazard driver. His translucent glass chariot was difficult to maintain. At one point, Reggie was shoved aside by an invisible force, which quickly took over the reins. Meanwhile, in the pit, Anlon, disgusted by the goblin team, decided to start a fist fight in the pit. He picked a fight with one of the goblins, tripping him and letting the creature land on his anvil, when he brought down the full force of his hammer. Mu’ragh was again trying to get control of her chariot, when her own wolves turned on her and attacked. Dolvion and Aeros tried their best to keep their chariot from tipping over. Reggie proved to be a rather uncontrollable sort. One pair of charioteers calmly took the lead though, while Dolvion and Aeros could only watch. The charioteers who were in the lead (Etholeth and Ian) managed to knock down one of Dolvion’s horses, and their speed was drastically reduced as the horse fell to the ground and broke its leg.
As the charioteers rounded for another lap, Aeros “commanded” Reggie to take over the chariot, knocking his invisible servant out of the way and commandeering the chariot for himself. Reggie activate the special ability of his chariot, the “flaming” chariot, which greatly increased his speed, but clearly at the expense of control. Reggie’s chariot sped across the race track, leaving scorch marks in its trace. Dolvion and Aeros continued, however, without a horse they were starting to fall behind Etholeth’s team, while Mar’agh was close behind them, ramming her chariot into theirs at every opportunity. Aeros gave as good as he got, and aimed his glaive attacks at Mar’agh’s winter wolves. Rounding another corner, Anlon had bested several goblins in a fist fight, and with the help of the other humans in the pit, fashioned what Anlon lovingly referred to as the “goblin cannon,” throwing unsuspecting goblins onto the track where they would prove to be deadly obstacles for oncoming charioteers. Etholeth nimbly jumped over the goblin, while Mar’agh wasn’t quite so lucky. Disgusted with her defender, Mar’agh literally kicked him out, screaming “You are useless!” As they were nearing the end of the second lap, Aeros brilliantly stuck his glaive in the wheel of Etholeth’s chariot, breaking the wheel and sending the charioteers hurtling forward into a wall without a wheel. Etholeth’s team had managed to prop the chariot up on a stick and were attempting to drag themselves, but to no avail, as Mar’agh lost control of her chariot, sending the chariot portion flying over the wolves drawing her chariot and, like a missile, was flung into Etholeth, leaving the charioteers nothing but a bloody stain along the side of the wall. With most of the racers either dead, unable to move faster than a brisk pace, or without a chariot, Aeros and Dolvion were declared to have won the qualifying round. Anlon took Mar’agh’s bloody sash as a prize for the blues, draping it across their lodge in the coliseum.
Later that afternoon, after some beers and celebrating in the hall of the Blues, Aeros participated in the test of strength. The competition wasn’t as fierce as the chariot races. The first challenge was to leap across a chasm filled with magical water. Aeros and several of the other contestants made the jump easily. The last competition was to lift magical cubes made from some dense matter. Aeros won the contest easily. His only real competition suffered a hernia and had to withdraw. Aeros and Dolvion were admitted as professional charioteers. Anlon set about upgrading Dolvion’s chariot at his workshop in the guild, hiding it behind a curtain so that no one could see his masterpiece before it’s time.
On the way back to the Bloody Raven, Anlon noticed that the orcish guard was out in force, picking up the strays, vagabonds, and lepers off the streets. Anlon helped an old man, seemingly insane, off the street and into the Bloody Raven. Daxis was disgusted by this clear and blatant act of charity, but Anlon explained all the people they helped would owe them a favor. Anlon picked up a few more people and took them to the Bloody Raven where they had a warm meal. Anlon wasn’t convinced entirely by the old man’s crazy act, and conferred with Daxis. When Anlon came back to question the man, he was gone. He had apparently taken a kitchen uniform and disappeared through a hallway window into the city. Suspicious, Daxis invited Una downstairs to a cold room, where he and Anlon interrogated her, suspecting that she wanted revenge for losing her bar. Una wasn’t lying, she really had no idea who the old man was and what was going on. Not wanting to take any chances, Daxis ordered the kitchen staff to clear the restaurant of all the prepared meals and anything they were currently cooking, and made new meals for all the patrons. Wary, the party went to bed.
The next day, the party mostly rested, Daxis continued his research, making some headway. Night fell, and one of G’rumsh’s soldiers appeared at the inn to lead Daxis and his crew to their new “special venue.” The party headed to the western wall and into a guard tower, where the guard revealed an underground passage leading into a cavernous area beneath the city. The area itself was huge, most likely carved out from years of erosion from underground rivers. After some walking, the party caught sight of a huge crowd of orcs, goblins, and other dark folk, as well as a group of humans who were standing off to the side. There was loud cheering and whooping, amidst cries of “Kill him!” There were two humans, bare chested, slugging it out in a pit sunk into the earth. There was a throne on the far side of the room overlooking the pit, empty. Daxis and his crew looked around, and saw that many of the humans were vagabonds and lepers, most likely picked up the previous night. Daxis took out his daggers and began playing with them, waiting for G’rumsh to take the stage, which he soon did. G’rumsh ascended to his throne, flanked by another orc, who Anlon recognized from the execution of the rebel the previous day. G’rumsh gave a speech, announcing that he was going to create a fighting force of orcs and humans, but only the strongest humans were worthy to serve. Those who were too weak would be cast out. Daxis grinned.
Daxis’ group was chosen first as “honored” guests, and lowered into the ring, along with 4 other humans. The orc shamans surrounding the ring began their incantations, and transformed the bare ring into a lush rainforest, wet and humid. G’rumsh called the games to begin, and said this would be a “test of guile and strength.” Daxis and the rest of the party decided to lie in wait, hiding in the foliage, while Anlon began pounding on his anvil in a rhythmic manner. Dolvion felt the ground, and felt several strange vibrations. The party heard a loud, horrible scream from within the depths of the jungle, most likely one of the other humans in the jungle. Just then, an ankheg burst forth from the ground, and tried to catch Aeros in its mandibles. The party began a fierce battle, as more ankhegs burst from the ground, spraying acid from their maw or trying to grasp their prey in their mandibles. The party fought valiantly, and when the ankhegs were wounded, they burrowed under the ground and disappeared. Daxis remembered that one of the other humans was positioned northwest of their current position, and hacked through the brush to find the human in question…cut in half, bobbing in a river of acid. Peering into the gurgling depths of the acid river, Daxis caught sight of an ankheg, bathing, healing its wounds. Anlon continued his pounding, when out of the brush, a strange man clad in a cloak appeared. Anlon studied him up and down, and figured out he was the same man from the night before, except clearly less old and less crazy. Calmly, but firmly, Anlon told him to keep close. He had some questions for later.
The fighting continued on. The party split up momentarily, when Dolvion was attacked by an ankheg as it burst from the ground, biting him and holding him with its mandibles. Aeros met a similar fate, except the ankheg successfully latched onto him, dragging him into the river of acid, scalding him. The party fought valiantly and eventually ended victorious, but not without a few bruises, scrapes, and acid marks. The rainforest disappeared in a puff of magic, and G’rumsh, laughing, declared them the winners. The orc who had stood next to G’rumsh’s throne was none too amused. The party was raised up out of the pit. The imposter old man introduced himself as Mathe, but declined to comment further on why he was in the inn the previous evening until the orcs had gone away. The entire arena was clearing out. Some of the humans simply left, while others who were wearing grey uniforms were chained and had bags placed over their heads as they were hauled off.
Upon returning to the inn, Daxis and Anlon led Mathe down into the “cold room.” Anlon played more of the good cop, while Daxis found the role of the bad cop much more to his liking. Mathe, somewhat trusting the Anlon since he had seen his cleric powers, Anlon had proven to be a charitable sort, and they had fought together for their very survival, revealed that he was a member of the resistance of Kerfalazud. Mathe had no idea who Eon was, or that he had been arrested, but that a member of his own cell had already been executed. Mathe also revealed he had not been in the inn to poison or to do any damage, but simply to case the place. The resistance was aware of the parties entry into the city, and they were persons of interest, so Mathe was sent to investigate. Daxis and Anlon continued the conversation with Mathe well into the evening.