The group watches as Rye is carted off of the arena floor after a defeat by The Traveler. She is shouting profanities and giving him the finger, but he doesn’t appear to notice as he leaves the area. Lelouche and Falx discuss their upcoming battles and Falx decides to go first, leaving the stands and heading down to the waiting area. Arriving in the staging area, Falx finds a masked figure in a long black cloak, wearing a full-cover plague doctor mask and a stove-top hat. The figure wields a bladed staff with imagery of snakes curling up the sides. A small group of people are around him, and appear to be his entourage.
Falx listens in and hears the men discussing the arena ladder and what match-ups might be possible the following day, should he succeed in his first battle. Falx approaches and greets the man he assumes to be Horror, his opponent. The man stops speaking and his squire responds for him, asking Falx if he is Horror’s opponent, and if he is ready. Falx confirms that he is and that he can start whenever they are ready. Horror speaks up from behind his mask without turning from the field, and asks Falx whether he would rather fight in the darkness or the light. Falx responds, saying he would rather fight in the light. “Wouldn’t we all?” is the only response from the masked man.
Falx re-iterates that any time the man is ready, they can begin their fight. Horror turns to his squire without saying anything, and the boy rushes off to the official to announce that both contestants are ready. Falx and Horror are led to the tier 3 arena and the official goes over the general rules, as well as emphasizing the possibility of death and that they should both be cautious to not inflict death upon the other. Both Falx and Horror agree and are brought into the arena. Horror’s blade is boffered and Falx places his scythe on a rack, choosing to use only his implement staff for the battle.
The drums of the arena beat wildly to announce a new battle is about to begin, as Falx and Horror are announced. Each takes their separate side but Horror pulls the attendant aside for a moment and there is a short discussion out of ear-shot. The attendant calls another official over who appears to be a magic user, and they inspect the contents of a bag on Horror’s side. The officials pull out small vials of a black substance and seems to be checking them over, but allows them to be used. Falx wonders on this for a moment before Horror takes his place on the other edge of the arena and the officials clear out.
The drums begin to beat again to announce the match, and the fight begins. Horror surprises Falx with the ability to summon areas of darkness that Falx is blind within and can’t see into, striking out from the shadow to pierce at Falx. When the darkness falls, Horror has summoned minions that serve to impede Falx and strike at him weakly. Falx manages to drive Horror back into the dark zones and utilize area spells to lock him in place too far away to counter-attack. After a drawn-out match, Falx strikes Horror but is thrown into a dark zone, only for it to dissipate and for his senses to return and see Horror admitting defeat and the crowd roaring in congratulations. The drums announce the end of the match, and the two men exit the arena.
Falx walks passed Rye, who is still refusing to leave the staging area and giving the middle finger to anyone that passes by. The drums cease for a short announcement about the upcoming matches of the day, as well as a reminder for everyone to come back the next day to see the tier 2 fights. Falx gets back to the stands and Lelouche takes this as his queue to head down to the staging area. Searching around, he finds a young boy dressed in a black eastern tunic with his face covered by fabric and pure white hair jutting up from behind a black bandana. Seeing no one else around that would be Shadow, Lelouche approaches the boy and greets him. The boy asks Lelouche if he is “The Blue Beetle” in an unexpectedly deep, raspy voice. Lelouche confirms he is, and asks if the boy is ready to go. The boy says that he is, and speaks to one of the attendees to begin the match.
Lelouche’s sword is boffered in the arena and the boy trades his sword out for a pair of boffered morningstars. The rules are repeated to each contestant and the drums begin beating to signal the match is about to start. Three consecutive beats signal the battle to begin, and Lelouche rushes to meet his opponent in the center. Shadow utilizes doppelganger magic to produce decoys of himself and teleport around the map. Lelouche counters with the ability to Magic Missile all three decoys to reveal the real fighter, which ends up winning him the battle quickly. Shadow admits defeat and is helped off by his entourage. The drums beat to signal the end of the battle as the crowd cheer for The Blue Beetle. The arena is cleared as another announcement is made to come back tomorrow, including a mention of potential rule changes in the works for tier 2 battles.
The group heads to the tier 4 arenas and sees the battles between citizens, mostly made up of citizens challenging the guards and being hastily defeated. Townsfolk that surround the arenas seem disappointed to see the guards so handily take down the citizens, but the group figures this is to be expected. Rye approaches an attendant and asks to fight three guards at once, and is sent into an arena with her opponents. A group of townsfolk arrive to cheer her on. They are quickly dismayed to see that although she easily dispatches the guards, she also seriously injures two of them in the process, to the point of cruelty. The townsfolk quickly leave the area and Rye is informed she is no longer permitted to take part in tier 4 battles.
The group looks around the arena area as the festival workers begin shutting the area down and packing up the accouterments of the area for the day. They notice the drummer packing up his drums and a few commoners attempt to speak to him, but he gruffly ignores them and continues packing up his things. Lelouche uses Fey-Step to teleport in front of the man, who seems to shake off the momentary surprise after recognizing The Blue Beetle as one of the magic-using combatants. He lets out a rough “What do you want?” while continuing to pack up, not even staring toward Lelouche as he speaks. Lelouche greets him and thanks him for his work during the battles, keeping a beat to the fight. The man thanks Lelouche and turns away with his things, wheeling them toward the edge of his drumming space. Lelouche invites himself to walk alongside the man, and Rye walks up to the man to put her hands on his face. He asks her to please stop, and she stops after a few more moments of mushing his face. Lelouche asks the man his name, and he responds that Lelouche should try again tomorrow.
Lelouche presses the man, jokingly saying that it doesn’t sound like that is his real name. The man repeats to try again tomorrow. Lelouche attempts to win the man’s favor by offering him help with his things, showcasing his Mage Hand ability to raise things telekinetically. The man asks him to stop in the same way he asked Rye prior, in an uninterested monotone. The man places his things back into his cart and continues pushing it from the arena area. Rye considers lifting the man up onto her shoulders, but thinks better of it. Lelouche considers turning the man into a jellyfish, but also thinks better of it. The man continues on and disappears into the crowd.
Falx looks around for Horror and finds the man standing with his posse near the arena. Falx approaches him and asks him if he’d like to get a drink with them. Horror agrees, saying that he could use a drink and the company of a fellow warrior. Lelouche decides to look for Shadow and finds a man dressed in the same outfit, but no longer appears to be a child. Lelouche approaches him and doesn’t ask about the appearance change, noting that it is definitely the same person, only his size and facial appearance have changed to that of an older man, in a way he suspects is magical. Shadow speaks to him first, congratulating him on the superior strategy and fighting that won him the battle. Lelouche feigns modesty, citing that he happened to have the proper tools and that it was partially luck. Shadow notes that he’ll most likely take a while to recover from such a defeat, and he appreciates the challenge. Lelouche, noting that no one who might recognize him is around, takes off his mask to show his face to Shadow and shake his hand. Shadows reveals his face as well, showing himself to be a dark-skinned man of around 40, though his face is similar enough to denote that he was merely disguised before. Lelouche decides not to ask the man about that particular fact, only nodding to him in response before the man covers his face up again. Lelouche introduces himself as Ragnar Brightflame, and Shadow responds that he’ll “stick to Shadow”. Lelouche tells him that he hopes to see him tomorrow, and Shadow notes that he heard there may be updates to the basic rules and he hopes it might involve a way for those that have lost their battles to contribute.
Lelouche bids the man farewell, saying that he hopes to meet the man in battle some time in the future. Shadow waves goodbye as well, heading off with his entourage. Falx walks Horror back to the group as Lelouche arrives back as well, and they all head to [[ The Lion’s Den. Falx removes his mask as they walk, talking to Horror, who tells him that he came from the land south of Eros. The group sits with Horror, who finally removes his mask to reveal an older human male of perhaps 50 years. Falx asks him about his abilities, and he notes that his knowledge comes from the witch doctors of his homeland. When asked about the vials, he explains that they are just a medium through which he can summon servant creatures. Where he comes from, they are used to complete simple tasks like tending to farms and cleaning, but he uses them to fight, since they are soulless and can be used as fodder for enemy attacks. The actual substance is a type of smoky liquid that seeps from the ground in the swamp lands to the south, and allows his otherwise ethereal summons to take physical form.
The group eats and drinks with Horror, and Rye notices a man that seems to be staring at her in what appears to be horror. She recognizes him as one of the townsfolk that were around the tier 4 arena watching her fight the guards. He was also one of the men that left the area when she began doing serious damage to the knights, and it appears he is uncomfortable with her presence now. As he moves away from her, she decides to approach him and his group. The man appears to indicate to his group that he’d like to move farther from her, but she interrupts him to say hello, sliding into the seat next to him. She greets him loudly and warmly, asking him how he’s doing and calling him “buddy”. The man is frozen and silent, seemingly unable to respond out of fear.
Rye stares at him through her mask as his group falls silent. The man eventually stutters out a hello in return. Rye immediately grabs his face and gently mushes his cheeks while asking him his name. The man asks her not to hurt him, but she continues mushing his cheeks while telling him that isn’t his name. He manages to stutter out “Brian” as she continues playing with his cheeks. She asks him how his night is going, and orders a drink for him as a waitress passes by. Rye asks him if he’d like to have a drinking contest, but he tells her that he doesn’t drink much and politely declines. Rye goes from mushing his cheek to patting him on the head and rubbing his hair. Brian swallows his fear and responds that he doesn’t think the fights are for him. Rye continues rubbing his hair, waiting for a proper response to her question. After a moment, Brian stammers out “No, I don’t think I did.” and she begins massaging his whole head. She asks Brian if she scares him, and he confirms that she does.
Myree, seeing the display and the quiet that has fallen over one side of the tavern, rushes over. “Do you need to be doing that?” she asks Rye, who responds, “Yes, yes I do” without looking toward the girl. “I need you to stop doing that to my customer, please,” Myree says. Rye stops massaging Brian’s head, looking slowly over to Myree while returning her hands to her lap. Myree thanks Rye plainly before delivering Brian’s drink and walking off. Rye asks Brian if he is here for the festival or if he lives her. Brian tells her that he lives in town, and his friend interrupts to say that it’s time for him to go, giving him an out from the interaction with Rye. Rye reminds him that he still has a drink, to which Brian lifts it with shaking hands and downs it in one gulp while staring at Rye. He thanks her sheepishly before his group leads him out of the bar. “Maybe I’ll see you tomorrow,” he says as he leaves. Rye blows him a kiss while still wearing the mask, and Brian thanks her as he heads out the door.
300 EXP from role-playing = 300 EXP total (20700 EXP total)