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Welcome my friends, to Caer Holineth, the grand arena of the Illurian Empire!  The whole city has been in an uproar for the last several days as commoners and nobility alike have been streaming in from across the empire, with several distinguished visitors from beyond its borders as well!  As I look around I see nobility bearing the crests of families from Hezlyn on the shores of the Shadefire Sea, Dirvendeve, the great mining city to the west, and even the fortress city of Bevaris has taken time away from fortifying our eastern borders from the vile Valinite lycanthropes to attend!  There’s even a delegation from the city-state of Kish all the way on the other side of the Demon’s Spine!  But it’s not all about the nobility here.  Commoners from all over have braved the wastelands to see what’s going to be happening here over the next few weeks as stone and steel constructs clash against the powers of necromancy and the undead.

Thousands have gathered for this year’s event.  All have heard the rumors about the competitor’s this year, constructs and undead alike, and by the look of things the opening ceremony is about to begin! Today the Tournament Master himself will be revealing which eight Creators have fashioned entries worthy of the final rounds. Mist is rolling in, covering the massive arena floor as onlookers rush to find their seats.  Ripples of cheers begin to circulate through the crowd while fog consumes the final few feet of the ground.  Shouts of excitement erupt from every side of Caer Holineth as a stalagmite of pure white mist rises from the arena floor.  Without warning, every torch in the building goes out, shadows extinguish the light, and small sparks of lightning, showing every color possible, shoot through the fog, while the rolling of distant thunder can be heard above the din.  At first, a bolt of blue, then a ribbon of red, with every passing second both the number and the intensity of the lightning grows!  The very hair on my head is standing on end!  Several members of the audience are pointing up into the night sky, seeing stars shooting across the heavens in their own form of celebration!  Wait… I don’t think that one is a star at all…

A small orb of purple fire rockets across the sky with incredible speed, heading straight for the arena!  Looking closer, it’s not a ball of fire at all, it’s a humanoid form of some kind!  The crackling lightning from below pulls the crowd’s attention away from the star-filled sky, and just when the gathering storm seems about to explode the heavenly body, wreathed in intense purple flame slams into the stalagmite of mist with such force that several members of the audience in the lower levels were knocked from their feet, and blowing away the dense mist in a single deafening collision!  We could even feel the power of the blast from our seats!

“Welcome to the 101st TOURNAMENT OF SOULS!”

The crowd explodes into cheers as torches all around the arena burst into life, revealing the Tournament Master atop a carved stalagmite of obsidian in the center of the arena, surrounded by eight, as of yet empty, platforms.

For those who have been living under a rock for the last century, Master Vass Zoland is the grandson of our own Emperor Chazmyr Zoland.  He has also previously held high ranking positions on both the arcane organization within the capital as well as the clergy of Lord Steelight Shadowborne.  He is the father of the Tournament of Souls, having been the first to create and foster such competition among talented young creators throughout the imperial capital over a century ago.

This year, it seems he is favoring his clerical rank, as he is clad in some beautiful vestments of black, red, and rich purple, with the symbol of Steelight embroidered on both the tunic and cloak of his outfit in gold thread!  I can only imagine what sort of fashion trends he is igniting amongst the nobility tonight!

“Greetings to all!”  The Master’s hands rise, accepting the thunderous applause and calling the crowd to silence.  “On behalf of myself and the tournament staff I would like to welcome you, nobility and commoners alike, to this year’s tournament.  I’m sure you’ve heard rumors about this year’s contestants, and I promise you that every single one of them will exceed even your wildest expectations.  So without further delay, shall we meet this year’s competitors!?!”

Thunderous cheers echo across the arena in response to the Tournament Master’s words.  The anticipation of this moment has been building throughout the capital for weeks now, and the excitement of the crowd here tonight is at its height!  Master Zoland’s form is rising above the spire on which he stands, his arms out to his side, as though absorbing the elation of all gathered in Caer Holineth.

The Swiftshades

“The first of our Creators hails from the eastern city of Dirvendelve, the richest mine in the whole of the empire!  He has been known for decades as a crafter of exquisite magic, even rumored to have created armaments for the Kranta-Sil themselves!”  Power begins to gather in the Tournament Master’s hands as he speaks, orbs of dark purple energy, flickering with silver light forming in the palms of his upturned hands.

“I present to you, Jol Nor-Vul and his Swiftshades!”

He brings his hands together, and sends a titanic bolt of purple lighting towards the first of the eight platforms!  The power of the lightning is blinding as it flashes, followed by the deafening crash of ground shaking thunder!  As the spots fade from the eyes of the onlookers, they reveal a stout dwarf standing at the platform’s center, clad in ornate leathers rimmed and studded with what looks to be mithril!  At first he seems to be alone on the platform, but as the reverberating sound of the thunder begins to fade shadows rise from the stage itself, swirling ever faster around the dwarven craftsman.  In one hand the shadows themselves coalesce into a shining silver hammer!  With a grin, he thrusts it high into the air, shouting at the top of his lungs as the remaining shades come together to form two strange creatures!  Their bodies appear to be made of the same metal as the dwarf’s hammer, but they are shot through with some manner of black material that glitters like the stars!  Though smaller even than Jol himself, the blade shaped arms, forged of some strange dark material seem menacing.  If I were to guess, based on their size, and their name of course, I would say speed is their strength.

The crowd responds to his appearance with roaring cheers throughout much of the stadium, though it is obvious that some are waiting for something… perhaps hoping the rumors we’ve heard are true.  The Master calls for silence once again as he begins to speak, energy of the purest white forming strange, maze-like patterns in the air around him.

Thrasher the Unruly

“Second among those who have been chosen for the final rounds of this sacred tournament, I give you a Creator who has blurred the lines between necromancy an artifice with his flesh based constructs as we saw in last year’s competition.  I give you Nox and his newest creation, Thrasher the Unruly!”

The energy patterns shoot down into the ground, a stone wall rising wherever the light touches.  The same designs run across the arena floor, a maze of walls forming as the thundering of hooves can be heard entering the arena.  All eyes move to the blur of motion as the beast blazes through the maze, bursting through the final wall with a roar of triumph!  Its body resembles nothing more than a patchwork minotaur with the thick, spikes tail of a manticore.  The construct looks around for a moment and, seeing his master on the second stage, strides forward with movements that more closely resemble true confidence than any construct I’ve seen yet!

Half of the arena is on its feet, applauding for this titanic beast and its noble blooded creator.  The cheers from the sections where nobility are seated seem particularly loud.  The man known as Nox turns to the Tournament Master and, as tradition dictates, offers a bow of respect to the powerful spellcaster, receiving a slight nod in return as all attention returns to him.

Magma Serpent

“Our third Designer is a member of a bloodline long known for its affinity for elemental fire and the arcane arts.”  White flames begin to shoot from Master Vass’ fingertips as his words echo across the arena.

“She is a perfectionist, accounting for every variable in her creations, and a student of construct evolution for over five decades.  It is my honor to present one of the newest professors at our own Malla Zhaunil, the Lady Ignatia Kul and her magma serpent!”

The fires burning in the hands of the Master rise up like snakes, writhing in the cool evening air before plunging down on the third stage, descending with the ferocity of an angry phoenix to the stage below, and erupting into a shower of almost volcanic proportions!  Flames and ash fly out into the night, blinding all for a brief moment, but as the dust clears a beautiful, red-skinned woman with fiery orange hair that seems to dance and flicker remains, standing atop the head of an enormous serpent of stone and magma!  Its eyes burn with angry inner fires, their intensity matching only the heat rolling off of the creature.  I’m certain the lower rows are feeling a bit scorched, but that hasn’t lessened their fervor!

Blight Stalker

“Next, we have a foreigner, well learned in the necromantic arts.  He has come to challenge all who would stand against his creature in the arena, citizens and foreigners alike, leaving his organization, The Sacred Void, behind to compete here, in this wondrous arena!  Our fourth creator in this year’s tournament… I give you Chuliror and the blight stalker!”

At his last words a green mist rises from the arena floor, surrounding the fourth platform and concealing it from view.  The smell of burning wood accompanies the acidic sizzling of the creature’s powers.  For a moment all is silent as the audience looks down upon the vitriolic vapor, waiting to see what will happen next.  Without warning a skeletal figure with enormous, vicious looking claws surges out of the mist, leaving a swirling trail in its wake as it circles the stage, creating a vortex of green fog!  In a lightning fast change of direction, the creature turns and leaps high into the air, landing gracefully center stage, with enough force to dissipate the cloud in a single burst!  Beside the creature, seen clearly as the mist clears, is a tall figure clad in robes of the darkest night.  He neither moves nor speaks as the crowd erupts into cheers once again, excited about the stalker’s potential!


“Another necromancer of some repute has created a monstrosity for the tournament this year.  He is a specialist in a seldom studied aspect of the necromantic arts, the art of undead vermin.  Scorpions and spiders are his specialty, as you will see…  Introducing, in his first tournament appearance, Cangile Valuus and his Arachast!”

The eyes of everyone in the arena are drawn to the roof where an immense, eight legged creature casts a great shadow on the floor below.  The pale white spider crawls over the edge of the oculus and slowly descends, its webs feeding out behind it with a smoking sizzle that shows it to be more than just mundane spider webs.  The creature rears up halfway down and upon its back stands a tall, well built, valshari clad in white robes, embroidered in various places with the images of black spiders and red scorpions.

Suddenly the spider snips the web holding it aloft and springs down, twisting in midair to land upright, with its Creator still kneeling on its back!  As Cangile stands the spider rushes towards their assigned platform, taking its place among the rest of the incredible creations we’ve seen thus far.

The Tournament Master laughs at the tinge of fright in the cheers of the crowd upon the appearance of the arachast.  Emotion flashes across his face, as if wanting to say more but then thinking better of it, before he continues on to the next entrant.

Razor Fiends

“We’ve got another returning Creator this year!  You all remember the Iron Constrictor, which defeated the Talonite Renders last year, swarming over them as the fell.  This year, he presents twin constructs crafted on one of the hardest materials in our world!  I give you… Alchemy and his Razor Fiends!”

Soaring in through the oculus above come two identical forms, sweeping through the air on great wings, the torchlight glittering off of their scales.  From the central stalagmite a beam of intense light lances out, striking each of them and splitting into a hypnotic rainbow of colors!  Where each color strikes, it unleashes a torrent of elemental energy; red beams scorch the very stone of the arena, while blue freeze the air with a deathly chill.  Green dissolves whatever it hits in quick acting acid, and yellow beams transform into lightning strikes, hitting with explosive force and leaving behind the sound of rolling thunder!  The twins swoop down gracefully, their Creator riding comfortable atop the lead construct, to land on the sixth platform.  In unison the Razor Fiends unleash a tremendous roar, triggering a thundering cheer from the marveling crowd!

Chord Caster

“This year we’ve got a rather unique entry, one whose power is not that of flames, or acid, or even lightning.  From the coastal city of Hezlyn comes a member of the undead whose very voice spells doom for all hear it.  Welcome to the arena, Agane Volanthik and her Chord Caster!”

Haunting music fills the arena as a solitary figure strides in from one of the gates on the arena floor.  By the reaction of the nearest observers I can only imagine their fright!  Several rows of onlookers are scrambling back from the arena’s edge, holding their ears and trying desperately to get away from the creature!  From this distance, the haunting melodies of the Chord Caster’ song hold a certain beauty, even as the hairs on the back of my neck are standing on end.

Standing atop the seventh stage is a gnomish woman, clad in the simple clothing of a commoner, though her garb is made out of much finer materials than that of the average peasant, and in far better condition as well.  Her creation’s song slowly fades as it approaches its mistress, stepping up onto the stage with the air of nobility, despite its undead nature.

Few cheers greet this fearful creation, though the peasantry does seem rather enamored with its creator.  Calls of her name ring out from the seats of the lower classes, though I’d bet none of them are even glancing at the Caster, for fear of its song!


“For our final competitor this year, we have a powerhouse of stone and steal.  Don’t be fooled by its simple appearance, for the examinations have revealed a great fount of hidden power within what appears to be a simple stone golem.  Introducing our eighth and final Creator in this, our 101st Tournament of Souls, Gor-Kar the stonesmith, and his creation, Tumbler!”

A rumble can be felt as well as heard throughout the arena.  People all around are grabbing hold of whatever they can for stability, the rails, their seats, and even each other!  All at once the rumbling stops, and there is a moment of anxious silence… Then, without warning an immense humanoid, crafted of solid stone, bursts from the very ground of the arena, leaping up to the final stage while losing a shout that resembles nothing less than two mountains grinding together!  As the newly formed hole in the ground begins to close, the dwarven craftsmen Gor-Kar steps forth, striding cheerfully up to the platform and waving to the crowd, a huge grin on his face, as though he had not a fear or care in the world!


“Now that we’ve met our greatest competitors, and shown the truth behind all of the rumors that have been circulating throughout the capital and beyond for the last several weeks, it is time for the tournament to truly begin!  The tournament brackets will be posted throughout the halls of the arena in short order, so pick your favorite creation, place your bets, and let this year’s Tournament of Souls begin!”

Heavy mist begins to roll in as all eight stages erupt in pillars of fire, light, acid, and other energies.  In unison, the creations unleash roars of triumph and pride that echo through Caer Holineth, shaking the very foundations of the great arena, and as suddenly as they formed the pillars dissipate, leaving the floor as empty and silent as it was when the ceremony began, the roiling mist consuming it all.

Thunderous applause combine with shouts of excitement from every part of the stadium!  This is going to be a year to remember without doubt, so enjoy your celebrations over the next few days as the first combatants prepare for their coming battle.  Until then, I suggest you take the Tournament Master’s advice, pick your favorite creation and place your bets, for the 101st Tournament of Souls is underway!

One Response so far.

  1. preston purnell says:

    Awesome. I cant wait to my twin razor fiends in action. Im realy curious about the cord caster and archast. Looking forwards to this years tournament. Congratulations to those who made it and good luck to all.

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