City of Lansing
Sandsar/Month IV, 933 HKV
After a night’s rest at the Arrow’s Flight inn, the party awoke to a busy main room, with breakfast being served in a bustling inn. Out the windows, they noticed that the town was much busier than it had seemed last night, with numerous well-armed and dangerous-looking adventurers seemingly filling the streets.
(All of the party, that is, except for Baergub, who seemed to still be sleeping off some rather unusual spirits that he’d acquired from the Bottles before they parted ways the night before.)
While eating, a young rogue introduced himself as Andre, and explained that the Guild was looking at the competitors for the the Festival of the Sand Gauntlet, a grand competition of strength and skill held annually in Lansing to commemorate the day that the sands of Kopul-Vul began to swirl centuries ago.
The party, especialy Vorlos, were eager to investigate, and the barbarian sought a hearty opportunity to test his strength, entering in two competitions, The Brawn, and The Blade, for which he was provided an orrawood duplicate of his preferred sword.
Bathsheba, for her part, wanted nothing to do with the competition, much more concerned about remaining anonymous, with the belief that such notoriety would only make it easier for her enemies to find her. Instead, she blended into the crowd, watching the goings-on from a distance.
Guin searched out one of the more reputable betting houses in the area before the competition began, investing seven gold on Vorlos’ chances, even at 300-1 odds, but being sure to make several side bets on a number of other competitors.
Vorlos began both of his events in brilliant form, able to battle with surprising strength and finesse even against some of the best-trained adventurers and soldiers of Lusionia. Grah the Orc and his mighty greataxe were no match to the barbarian in the first fight, and the burly warrior fell to Vorlos’ swordplay.
Later, he bested one of Guin’s alternate bets, the formidible Talmond Ward with his sword and shield, a man none-too-pleased with losing to the upstart barbarian.
After this victory, Vorlos was approached by a large man, carrying a heavy mace, who introduced himself as Dakka, and congratulated the barbarian on his skillful win. The large man wished Vorlos good luck, and hoped to see him later in the competition.
Vorlos next made his way to his next opponent in The Brawn, who happened to be Woon Shak-Ti, the blind monk. Despite the barbarian’s strength, the monk’s unarmed skill proved far too much, and with a final nerve strike, Vorlos was removed from the competition, left with only The Blade as a chance at winnings.
Guin made sure to keep her jokes about Vorlos’ skills to herself.
The barbarian’s next battle was against a man named Rayleesh, an unbelievably charismatic swashbuckler who definitely had the crowd on his side, and who was revealed to have been last-year’s overwhelming champion.
Vorlos was not intimidated, despite Rayleesh’s best efforts to unnerve him, especially when he noticed some of the observations that Andre provided for him on Rayleesh’s technique.
Bathsheba, watching from the sidelines, recognized the name, Rayleesh, and realized that this was the name that was engraved upon the hilt of the silvered scimitar she’d found in Teloth, on the body of one of the Cultists of the Dragon. She became immediately suspicious.
For his part, Rayleesh was certainly fanciful, but Vorlos’ no-nonsense style was far too effective, eventually launching the swordsman through one of the wooden boundary walls and to his defeat. Two young elves, a boy and girl, made their way to him, worried he may be seriously hurt.
Though dazed, the swordsman eventually got to his feet, and was able to rally back to the crowd, who were more than willing to sing his praises despite his defeat. Even so, Vorlos’ own crowd had grown rather tremendously, and as he headed into the final competition, there were hundreds within the crowd who were shouting out for “The Direfist,” with one hand dipped in red paint and raised to the sky, and the symbol of a red fist painted upon their faces.
Guin, looking to take advantage of the trading opportunities, made her way into the weapons market, eventually speaking with a woman selling exquisitely expensive crafted weaponry inlaid with precious metals and stones. Unfortunately for the rogue, however, her crafty plans at tricking the woman for a cheaper price were stymied by the wizened merchant’s own wariness.
Back at the arena, as the crowd was rallying, and the shouts for both competitors had reached a fever pitch, as finally, the two battlers for The Blade were brought out into the center. Vorlos “The Direfist,” facing off against Dakka “The Great,” in a great battle of strength and skill.
Andre noticed that Dakka’s “support team” included not only the swordsman, Rayleesh, but also the two elves from before, Twitch and Meebo.
The fight was tough and arduous, and both competitors were near exhaustion and in significant pain, but in the end, it was Vorlos who stood victorious, with the crowd shouting out the name “Direfist” in raucous frenzy, even as he was handed his prize – That of the Queda Staff of Rithonne.
Dakka was happy for his opponent, and even offered that Vorlos and his companions should make their way to his Troupe’s camp in the morning, if they were so willing.
A celebration was had in Vorlos’ honor, with wine, women and song, of which Baergub was all-too-willing to participate. Vorlos was able to keep his award in hand throughout the night, but was happy to imbibe as much of his other rewards as much as possible.
Guin, Andre, and Bathsheba, meanwhile, made their way to Thorin’s betting house, and claimed Guin’s prize – That of twenty-one hundred pieces of gold. The three separated the gold, carrying it separately to the inn as quickly as possible.
As the sun rose over the city of Lansing, Vorlos made his way back to the inn to meet up with the others, while Guin meanwhile purchased a chest, a wagon, and two more horses to pull it, all with her winnings from the night before.
The Guild made their way to the camp of Sorem’s Travelling Troupe for a hearty breakfast, where Rayleesh finally noticed the sword that Bathsheba was carrying on her hip. He offered her a chance to exchange the blade for one of his others, explaining its sentimental value, and she chose a sleek dark-metal blade with a serrated handguard.
As they ate and conversed, however, a Shifter runner bolted with alarming speed past the camp and into the city, only slowing slightly as he breathlessly cried out…