Winter Takes Hold

Posted by Daniel On June 28, 2015 7 COMMENTS


Welcome back to Illuria’s grand arena for this week’s battle in the Tournament of Souls!  If you haven’t been back to Caer Holineth since last week’s battle, you missed all of the great events that have been going on here.  Every day has been filled with a variety of events from incredible wizard duels, featuring summoned monsters and blasts of fire and lightning, to races through shifting mazes where any citizen of the empire has a chance to win a prize purse of hundreds of gold coins!  I’ve even heard tell of a masquerade ball held at the Orn’riven estate, featuring a veritable who’s who of Illurian nobility!  Certainly the events surrounding this time of year fall second only to the tournament itself.  And with that in mind, let’s turn to this week’s competitors.

The Arachast, created by Cangile Voluus of Bevaris, is an undead creation in the form of a great spider.  Based on its entrance during the opening ceremonies, I imagine its web has acidic properties, but beyond that the creature remains a great mystery.  The flying Razor Fiends on the other hand, seem to trumpet their greatest ability.  This takes the form of colored beams of energy that lance forth from Alchemy’s twin constructs.  Do these amazing creatures have more up their preverbal sleeves, or will their prismatic nature be enough to defeat the undead arachnid?  It looks like the tournament mages are taking their positions around the arena, so I think it’s about time for us to find out!

As the powerful magisters raise their arms and begin to chant the temperature of the whole area begins to drop.  In the span of only a few moments every member of the audience can see their breath before them, and frost begins to form on all available surfaces, but none more so than the arena floor itself.  Above, the light of the moons seems to tinge ever so slightly to a blue hue.  Ice has begun to form around the oculus in the arena’s ceiling!  It’s growing as we watch, like a living thing, slowly bridging the immense hole above, and blurring the light of the heavens as it sends rays of blue dancing across the seats. As we watch, every torch in Caer Holineth changes to match the color of the lights from above and the people cheer in excitement.

Streams of white and blue energy begin to blossom up from the ground, twisting and weaving through the air in complex patterns and gently spiraling together to form bricks, then buildings!  Watching the ribbons of light and energy gracefully dance through the air, shifting into such amazing structures is utterly entrancing!  I see one portion of the arena becoming an ice cavern, while another is what appears to be an immense shrine to what I can only imagine to be the frost giant gods!  The statue on the altar must stand over twenty feet high, formed of deep blue ice, with veins of the purest white throughout it.  It takes the form of a giant, with an axe upraised, as if to bring it down upon any who would dare to stand at its feet.  The statue alone is an incredible piece of work, but looking at the temple itself puts the statue to shame.  We see braziers the size of two carriages side by side being woven together by ribbons of light, igniting into blue flame upon completion.

On the other end of the arena is the icy cavern.  We can only imagine what dangers lurk within, though I have my suspicions that it’s more than just darkness and cold.  From the way it is forming, it looks like there are several chambers inside, with walls of ice and compressed snow.  This section of the battleground though, seems like it was intended to be wrapped in a bit of mystery.

Between the two areas lies a wasteland of snow and ice.  Snow drifts shift constantly under intense winds, their bite being felt even by those beyond the arena floor.  Pillars of ridged ice form, scattered across this no man’s land between the temple and the cavern, but they do little to abate the fierce winds.

Ice can be seen clinging to every pillar in the place, the torchlight glittering beautifully off of the frost as the sky begins to darken.  The crowd looks to the ice ceiling as the sounds of cracking echo throughout all of Caer Holineth.  With a thunderous snap the ice shatters, sending the crowd scattering as pieces as large as an ogre fall from above!  At the last second, before the massive chunks take their toll on both the arena and those visiting it every last shard bursts into a puff of soft, white, snow!  The light from the torches reflects on the snowy bursts, sending a myriad of color scattering across the building, and revealing the appearance of Tournament Master, Vass Zoland!  Once the crowd recovers from their certainty of doom a cheer erupts, echoing throughout the capital at the Master’s latest entrance.

“Welcome!” the dark elf says laughingly.  “There is nothing in life more bracing than facing certain death, only to be saved at the last moment, wouldn’t you agree?”

The audience responds with a mixture of laughter, curses and nervousness as he continues, the battleground’s ferocious wind soothing as he speaks.

“Now, fellow nobles, distinguished guests, and all Illurian citizens, you see before you a piece of a once prosperous frost giant temple.  Pulled from icy lands far to the south, it was brought here, to Illuria, for your entertainment, and to challenge tonight’s competitors in our second battle of this year’s Tournament of Souls!  Shall we meet them?”

The eruption of shouts from the crowd clearly signals their response to the Master’s question.

“Then I shall delay them no longer!  In the east, we have a pair of constructs crafted of exquisite diamond, soaring in on enchanted wings, I present to you, the Razor Fiends!”

Twin shrieks echo from above as two winged creatures dive into the arena, their valuable hide glistening, reflecting every conceivable color in the moonlight.  They land gracefully at the temple’s altar, giving the crowd its first up close look at the creatures.  Large, lizard-like bodies, with powerful hind legs shaped to show the muscles of the strange and foreign creatures they were meant to mimic.  Their forelegs, while not as large, appear just as capable, sharp talons clawing lines in the ice with every step.  They stand together, a most beautiful vision of violent destruction as I’ve ever seen.  Unleasing another roaring shriek they fall silent, crouching down as if ready to pounce, preparing for the match to begin.

The response from the crowd is incredible.  After receiving a mention by Death himself at our interview with him earlier this week, the Razor Fiends have some high expectations to live up to.  But by the looks of them, they are more than ready to reach even further, to exceed those expectations, and show the power of artifice over necromancy!  After several minutes the gathering begins to quiet down, allowing the Tournament Master to introduce tonight’s second combatant.

But before he can say a word, an ear piercing scream echoes through the structure, followed instantly by a dozen or more panicked shouts!  Looking across the arena, it appears as though the Arachast has crawled up through one of the citizen’s entrances rather than use the gates below!  Acid drips from its mandibles as it scurries forward with blinding speed.  All before it, noble and common alike dive away, desperately trying to get out of its path as it charges to the edge of the stands.  Calmly, his face a stoic mask, comes the white robed Cangile Valuus!  Amidst snarls and plaintiff shouts from those around him, the necromancer steps down the stairs behind his creation, to stand at the arena’s edge.

With the slightest of gestures from its master, the Arachast leaps through the air, landing without a sound on the soft snow below, disappearing into the ice cavern.  An instant later, any trace of its presence on the battleground is erased as the snow shifts in what slight wind remains.

“Aha!  I see you’ve already been introduced to the Arachast!”  the Master laughs.  “Now, if you’ll please return to your seats, we shall let the match… BEGIN!”

The Battle

As the last word leaves his mouth the illusion fields that allow the audience to see all aspects of the battle blink into existence, just as Master Zoland himself fades out.

In an instant the combatants are in motion.  The Arachast moves through the caverns toward the southern entrance, spiting acidic webs across tunnel entrances and along the walls, as if preparing the ice caverns for an ambush.  Already this undead insect shows remarkable cunning!

On the opposite side of the arena, the two Razor Fiends display caution, as one of them soars up to perch itself on the upraised arms of the frost giant statue, gazing hard across the field in search of any sign of the spider they face.  The other strides confidently through the line of blue flamed braziers, to stop only steps before entering the no man’s land between the temple and the caverns.  It looks around, inspecting the pillars and the snow itself as if expecting something bad to happen.  I’ve never seen constructs or undead creatures display as much emotion and intellect as they have in this year’s tournament!  Congratulations to all the Creators in that regard.

Its partner still scanning the battlefield for signs of their prey, the forward Razor Fiend leaps into the air, spreading its wings and taking flight in an attempt to speed its way across the wasteland.  But no sooner do its feet leave the ground than the wind returns in all its fury!  Caught completely off guard, the Fiend is blown well south of its path and only narrowly avoids being slammed into one of the pillars by the sheer force of the gale!

Only moments later, the flying construct adapts to the new winds and glides to a nearby pillar, leaping then to another, floating on the winds between them to close the distance to the ice caverns.  As its claws bite into the icy pillar the spider emerges from the southern entrance, all but concealed as its white body blends with the snows.  But not for long, as a web shoots out from the tunnels, wrapping up the Fiend’s wings and forcing it to the ground, the webbing pinning it against the pillar.

Seeing its partner drop from the air the construct left behind launches itself from the statue, cracking the sculpture with the force of its leap!  The creature speeds through the air towards its fallen twin and the undead spider like an arrow as the other tears itself free, its body showing barely a scar from the caustic webbing.  Yet the Arachast is relentless, launching itself at its downed opponent just as it works itself free, and biting down hard on the construct’s shoulder!  Wait… did I see that right?  This undead creature came away with chunks of diamond between its mandibles!  I’m not entirely sure what just happened in the flurry of battle, but the whole of the defending Razor Fiend is covered in the same substance the Arachast uses for its webbing!  It would appear as if a portion of the Arachast exploded in a spray of acid when it was pierced by the sharp scales of its opponent!

Just as it seems the spider has the upper hand, the other Razor Fiend swoops down upon it, taking a bite out of its undead flesh, scorching it with searing fire and receiving a blast of acid in the face in response, though like its mate, the corrosive effects seem to hinder it very little.  The undead creature now turns to face its new opponent.  Using this to its advantage, the wounded construct moves behind the ice pillar, already damaged from the acidic web of the spider, and begins slashing away at its base with its claws!

For a moment the spider and its opponent are locked in a stare, each waiting for the other to act first.  Suddenly, the construct surges forward, attempting to use its wings to speed its assault, but at that very moment the wind gusts hard, throwing the Fiend off balance and forcing it to dig its claws into the ice to keep its feet, but it looks like its partner has a plan to end the fight in one blow!

The base of the pillar has been severely weakened by the elementally charged attacks of the second construct and as the beast shoulders into it with all of its tremendous strength, the pillar begins to topple over, with the spider standing directly in its path!  Yet spiders are known for having eyes that see in many directions, and it appears to have noticed the attack.

In a lightning quick move the undead leaps aside, sending a web forth to snare the off balance Fiend.  With a powerful show of strength the creature yanks its opponent in line with the pillar at the last second and one of the Fiends is crushed into the ice by the weight of what must have been a thousand pound pillar of ice, but what’s more, the ice below seems to have exploded in a fierce display of elemental power, sending a tremendous wave of frigid cold and icy spikes out from anywhere the ground cover was broken!  Several small spikes pierce the spider, resulting in the now common acidic ruptures of its flesh, yet it still stands firm.

Wait, the piles of frozen rubble is shifting… With an amazing show of strength and durability, the crushed Razor Fiend claws its way from the remains of the destroyed pillar, shaking itself off and snarling fiercely at the spider, this worthy opponent that has become its prey.  Its partner is giving no quarter, pouncing on the undead creature from its flank and tearing into it with claws and fangs alike.  Blasts of electricity and cold can be seen radiating from the terrible wounds, but the spider somehow manages to shake it off and regain its stance, though it doesn’t remain standing for long.

In an attack reminiscent of the well-known sword spiders, the Arachast throws itself through the air, pointing its legs at the Razor Fiend that has done so much damage and impaling it with several off them before biting off another large chunk of diamond!  The onslaught shatters the construct to pieces, the acidic venom of the arachnid eating away at the diamond shards.  Its acid seemed to be significantly more effective in those last blows than when the battle first began, as if the substance itself was eroding away the creature’s resistance!  However, the battle isn’t over yet, one more opponent still remains, and by the looks of it, it is far from defeated.

The remaining Fiend prowls slowly around to the side of the spider, waiting for the attack it must know is coming, and it does!  A flurry of sword-like legs and biting mandibles streaks through the air  as the Arachast launches itself at its final foe, but the construct, showing yet again more intelligence than I have seen before in such creatures is ready for it.

With all its heavy weight and tremendous strength, the Razor Fiend slams its forelegs into the ground, shattering the ice below and causing an incredible eruption of cold energy, temporarily blinding even the illusion fields with snow and ice!  When the snow settles, the Arachast can be seen, impaled upon a wave of razor sharp spikes of ice.  It twitches for a moment, and then stops…

The Victor

In an instant the crowd is on its feet, some applauding loudly for the victorious creature, other cursing it, and their bad bets!  But it seems we have our victor, the Razor Fiends emerge from the fray, one step closer to claiming the title of Grand Champion!

Wait! What’s happening?  After several moments of motionlessness the defeated spider is pulling itself from the spike and turning away from the construct it was fighting.  With blinding speed it shoots across the arena floor and into the seats!  Without hesitation it begins tearing apart wood and stone alike and batting aside any who stray too close.  Before long it comes upon a trio of common citizens that could not avoid its path.  The Arachast lets loose an angry hiss and charges forward, teeth bared at the trio before it!

In a flurry of shimmering light, claws and teeth, Alchemy’s flying beast swoops down from above, tearing at the undead creature with every weapon at its disposal, and bathing itself in the potent acid within!  I can’t believe what I’m seeing!  First, an entrant creature escapes control of its creator, and then another defending innocents from it of its own free will?  What in the world is happening here!?!

The spider twitches a final time as Illurian soldiers pull the family away from the battling creations and off to safety.

“The spider has been slain!  Twice by my count.  Settle down citizens, the creation will be disposed of, and the creator dealt with appropriately.”  His eyes level on the white robed necromancer still standing on the opposite side of the arena, the obvious anger in his eyes penetrating the stoic veneer on Cangile’s face.  “For now, we have tonight’s victor… the Razor Fiends!  We will honor the Creator of such a valiant construct, and for saving the lives of three Illurian citizens, Alchemy!”

The still shaken crowd cheers for both the remaining construct, and its creator for many minutes before dispersing to handle their wagers and attend the celebrations that so commonly accompany the Tournament of Souls.

Tournament Brackets - 2nd Match

7 Responses so far.

  1. Daniel says:

    Enjoying the Tournament? Let us know what you think! We’re interested in what YOU want to see on our blog. So let your voice be heard here!

  2. GrandLordThoth says:

    An excellent battle with some big twists!

    • Daniel says:

      We’re glad you enjoyed it! I can’t wait to see how the other battles turn out. We’re having a blast with them so far, though I think I’m losing our internal bet… :(

  3. preston purnell says:

    Wow! I must say i was worried for a moment there. Good effort on the archasts behalf. But in my experience the goodly will most often come out on top. Attacking the fans is not a good thing, Alchemy says with a wink and a drag from his cigar.

    • Daniel says:

      The rules of the Tournament strictly prohibit the attacking of anyone other than tournament competitors. In this case, the Creator actually lost control of the creature and it started to go on a rampage before being torn to pieces by the Razor Fiends.

      Stay tuned, there actually will be a reward of sorts for your creature’s actions. 😀

  4. preston purnell says:

    Oh im tuned in. Lol. Ive set the phone to alert me when anything is posted

    • Daniel says:

      Good to know! Spread the word and we’ll get some great posts and discussions going. After all, we’re always looking for what people want to see from our blog posts, whether they be related to the Tournament or not!

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