Incredible Speed – Overwhelming Power

Posted by Daniel On July 5, 2015 3 COMMENTS


The greatest arena in all of the empire is shaking with anticipation tonight, as the third battle of the 101st Tournament of Souls is getting ready to get underway.  The red moon is riding high in the sky this evening, and if astrologers are to be believed, this can only mean a savage battle is on the horizon.

This evening we will be witnessing the battle between an immense undead creation the people have begun calling a Minocore, despite the odd sound of the name, and a pair of much smaller constructs known as Swiftshades.  The minocore is an animated blend of both minotaur and manticore in appearance, with the size and stature of the labyrinth lairing bulls, and the long, spikey tail and leathery wings of the high flying monstrosity!  In the opening ceremonies we saw this creature, named Thrasher the Unruly by its creator, crash through a solid stone wall!  What strength it showed!  Momentarily we will have a chance to see if that strength will be enough to defeat its opponents, the Swiftshadows.

Created by Jol Nor’voul, a noted artificer and owner of a kobold operated silver mine near Dirvendelve, the Swiftshades were designed for speed, and I can only imagine stealth being part of the arsenal as well given their small size.  Given that, and the rumors that Jol has crafted armaments for the elusive secret police, I have a feeling that there is much more to these diminutive creatures than meets the eye.


The wizards are entering the arena now, surrounding the floor as they have for every battle thus far this year.  I can’t wait to see what they’ve got in store for us with this battleground, the lava caverns!  Once again they erect the wall of magical force surrounding the arena floor, but no sooner was it complete than spectators began pointing towards the oculus of the stadium!  That red light from above has to be from more than just the moon… It’s much brighter than it should be… and flickering…

All at once, waves of fiery magma flow over every side of the oculus, pouring down into the arena like an enormous waterfall with incinerating heat that can be felt even beyond the magical barrier!  I can’t imagine the power required to do this!  They must have emptied an entire volcano, down to the heart!  Lava continues to flow into Caer Holineth, filling up the reservoir created by the wizard’s wall.  We’re looking at a field of boiling earth standing at least thirty feet deep!  Those members of the audience with seats closest to the ground have begun moving away, likely because of the incredible warmth radiating from within.

Slowly the tide of molten rock slows, stopping altogether after just a few moments more.  For what seems like an eternity several of the tournament mages chant and weave their arms in what I can only imagine to be intricate works of arcane magic, yet we see nothing happening… The pool of lava remains unchanged.  But wait, great bubbles are starting to emerge from the liquid surface, and the level is beginning to drop!  Slowly, the lava drains, leaving small islands of red hot stone in its wake.  As it continues to drain the true nature of the battleground is revealed.  The stone cools to the black hue of the midnight sky, and a labyrinth of tunnels appears!  At last the magma drains away into deep chasms, remaining now only in the form of small pools, and a steadily flowing river that flows down the stone into the central chamber of the battleground, only to drain away into the earth below.

The awed silence is broken by applause as the mages lower their hands, their performance, and the creation of the lava caverns all but complete, save the large, bright red and orange bubbles bursting from the biggest of the lava pools!  In what can only be describes as an earthshaking, miniature volcanic eruption, a humanoid form, covered in flames streaks up from the pool, stopping above the arena’s center with arms outstretched to its sides!

“Hello citizens!”

The Tournament Master has appeared, and as always, his style has brought out the loudest members of the crowd!  The cheering could deafen the students in the great library on the other side of the city!

“I know you’re all looking forward to tonight’s battle, but before we set loose our warriors this evening I must warn you, the heat in the arena alone is enough to burn mortals like you and I.  As such, I must ask you to remain seated, lest a sudden surge of molten earth be unleashed by the battle…”  A sly grin crosses his face as his thunderous voice takes on a more devious tone.  “A word of warning to you all, our competitors have a surprise awaiting them, one that will surely shake things up a bit.”

“And now,” he says, his voice returning to its thunderous volume, “I give you tonight’s creations, to battle amidst a flow of lava and vents of steam.  To the northeast, the Swiftshadows!”

The illusion fields blink into life as a small sphere of darkness appears in the middle of the northeastern starting area.  In the blink of an eye it grows to the size of an ogre, and then dissipates into wisps of black shadow, leaving behind two small creatures that resemble nothing more than kobolds with sword-like arms forged of quicksilver and darkness!  Soundlessly they separate, leaving several feet between them, and assume a stance like a runner preparing to begin a race.  These creatures seem to be more compact, sleeker versions of the Blight Shadow that fought in the first battle.  Time will tell if they are as vicious.

“To the northwest, we have a vision of strength and physical prowess!  Presenting… Thrasher the Unruly!”

The enormous minotaur-like creature bursts through one of the entrance gates, rending steel and shattering stone in its wake, its dark skin unmarred by the impact.  Adamantine, one of the rarest metals in the world, can be seen woven through its undead muscles as it hefts its paired great axes.  A roar of deafening volume echoes through the lave caverns and across the arena as it readies itself for battle.

Undead Minotaur

Image courtesy of Ubermonster

”Strength and power to the west, against silence and speed in the east.  Who shall prevail?  Let’s find out!  BEGIN!”

The Battle

Before the tournament masters last word has finished echoing off of the stadium walls the swiftshadows sprint off at full speed, one heading through the tunnel to the north, the other heading west in an effort to flank the enormous beast they face.

Thrasher, on the other hand, is already coming to understand what his biggest hindrance in this battle is going to be.  It would appear that there is only one tunnel he can move through without having to squeeze, and thus make himself vulnerable to attack.  As such, he heads east into a chamber with little floor to speak of.  An enormous chasm fills much of the room, leaving only ten to fifteen feet on either side to get around it!  Though I imagine its sheer size would prevent the minocore from falling to the depths it chooses caution, and skirts around the edge instead, just as one of the swift shadows rounds a corner ahead of it.

Surprisingly, the shadow stands its ground against the beast!  I would have expected it to flee, taking a more tactical and stealthy approach, but instead it readies its sword arms and slides back into a fighting stance!

The undead minotaur takes several more steps, then looks up and smiles as it sees its enemy standing in the open.  With a thunderous roar Thrasher lowers his head and charges, with all of his incredible strength and size bent on destroying the construct in one blow.  The seconds tick by as the bull rushes towards its opponent, who remains motionless for what must seem like an eternity in the face of such a beast!  At the last possible moment the swiftshadow leaps and spins to the side in an incredible dodge!  But wait… I could have sworn one of the beast’s horns sliced him as he flew through the air… there’s something strange about these creatures…  But it seems that we’ll have no more time to consider that as the second construct comes racing up one of the side tunnels and leaps onto the minocore’s back, stabbing deep with one of its arms before losing its balance and being thrown from its perch in a burst of acidic ichor that leaves the construct sizzling!  Enraged, Thrasher spins around to vent his anger on the little beast that wounded it, only to open his back to its companion!

Taking full advantage of the opening, thrusting three times with its blades and… I’m quite sure it scored three solid hits, but there are only two wounds!  Spurts of the undead creatures acidic blood spray across the swiftshadow as it retreats back a step, shimmering strangely.

We all know that incorporeal creatures were made illegal by tournament officials after last year’s victory by Death’s caustic shades.  You can find more details on them in the transcript of the interview we did with the Horseman a few weeks ago.  To let these creatures enter the competition, it’s got to be something else, some temporary magic that seems to be affecting both his ability to be struck by an attack as well as his attacks themselves!

The walls of the cavern shake as the bull unleashes a deafening roar of anger and pain as the fallen shadow regains its feet and charges, once again leaping through the air in an effort to strike at the huge creature’s vitals.  Thrasher lashes out with a fist, backhanding the swiftshadow in midflight, and sending it soaring hard against the rough stone wall.  Its adamantine reinforced muscles ripple as the immense creature follows the shattering blow with an unnaturally fast swing of its axe and cleaves the construct in two before its body can even reach the ground!  Gods!  I knew a creature of that size must be strong but to split a construct of mithril in half with a single blow is incredible!  The minocore turns back to the remaining swiftshadow, smiling evilly.

Before either side can strike the next blow the entire arena begins to shake!  Dust is falling from the ceiling and pillars are starting to crack OUTSIDE of the battleground!  Have the mages lost control of their volcanic creation?  After only moments, larger chunks begin to fall.  The crowd is panicked and many of them are fleeing their seats!  My gods!  Blasts of magma are erupting from within the lava caverns even as pillars are beginning to collapse around the seats!  Oh no!  A boulder larger than a horse just broke off of the oculus and is falling for the stands!

An instant before it impacts, crushing several members of the audience, the boulder vaporizes, saving them from certain death by squishing!  The quakes seem to calm a bit outside of the battleground, though they can still be felt in our seats.  Yet within, eruptions and falling rocks can be seen throughout the arena floor as the lava caverns appear to be destroying themselves!

Wasting no more time, the swiftshadow charges across the uneven ground, dodging around two chunks of falling ceiling as it moves.  Its blades flash out, slicing the minocore twice as it passes.  Thrasher lashes out once again with his great axe, but misses, taking a large chunk out of the wall and receiving a savage sword slice across the wrist for his efforts!  Even as his axe falls from his now useless hand the beast turns toward the swiftshadow, now some distance away, and flings two iron spikes from its tail with deadly precision!  One of them is deflected by the quick reflexes of the construct, but try as it might it couldn’t avoid the other and a gash opens in the metal of its side where the spike sliced through.

The central area of the caverns is beginning to flood with lava now, as the quakes continue to worsen within the arena and the two foes square off.  The swift shadow looks incredible tiny, almost comically so, next to the power and immensity of the undead beast.

Suddenly, a globe of darkness, just like the one in which the swiftshadows appeared when they first entered the arena, envelopes Thrasher and the construct runs off to the side at full speed, stopping just short of the slowly flowing magma and disappearing into the shadows!

Now knowing little beyond its rage, the undead monstrosity charges out of the darkness and angrily glances from side to side, searching for its final opponent.  Like a black streak, the remaining construct sprints out from the darkness, leaping at full speed towards its foe in a desperate attempt to catch it unawares and take it down before it can land a single, devastating strike!

Somehow knowing the attack is coming, Thrasher turns to face his opponent, swinging its remaining axe out wide in what will most certainly be a death blow for the small creature, but once again the blade phases through the swiftshadow and it passes the minocore’sguard unharmed, landing on the it’s exposed chest with both blades biting deep!

The force of the impact drives the monster from its feet, to land flat on its back with such force that I’m quite certain we would have felt it from here… if there wasn’t an earthquake going on.  The construct is going for a finishing blow, pulling its bladed arm back before plunging it so hard into the undead creature’s throat that it most certainly struck stone.  Wait!  There’s no wound!  Whatever magic it’s using caused its own attack to fail!!

In a last ditch effort the minocore reaches its remaining hand up, attempting to grab the swiftshadow and crush it to death, but despite its failed attack, the construct lives up to its name, leaping atop the grasping hand and jumping high into the air!  Thrasher belches forth a great blast of acid, spraying corrosive fumes into the air, instantly hiding the swiftshadow from site!  There is a deafening crack as the small, bladed creature descends, dripping with the effects of the minocore’s breath weapon, and burying both of its arm-blades into the beasts skull.  All movement ceases for a moment, but the sound we heard wasn’t the ringing of metal on stone, it was that of a great chasm opening right beneath their feet!

The swiftshadow scrambles, leaping off of the body, even as it falls into the depths of who knows where, and driving its blades deep into the stone of the battleground!  Slowly but surely it climbs back to the surface to claim its victory!  It wasn’t an easy win though, the acidic traits of Thrasher have taken their toll on the shadow.  The damage caused to it is visible even from this distance, and its body is still smoking as the acid eats away at its metallic form.


“Did I not promise you a surprise?”  The loud voice of Master Vass Zoland echoes through the arena as the earthquake quickly subsides.  “What a battle we’ve had tonight!  Such power!  Such fury!  Such agility!  This is one we’ll be talking about for years to come.”

The crowd cheers in resounding agreement.

“Our battle is over, the victor declared.  Congratulations to the swiftshadows, and their Creator Jol Nor’voul!  Now, as always, I leave you to handle your wagers, and to your celebrations.  May the stars smile down upon us all as we drink our fill, and enjoy tonight’s revelry!”

The voice fades away as the crowd begins to exit the arena, still in awe of the sights they have seen tonight.
Tournament Brackets - 3rd Match

3 Responses so far.

  1. GrandLordThoth says:

    *standing round of applause* I had so hoped speed would win out over brute strength

    • Daniel says:

      It was a very close match though. A single hit from Thrasher would have destroyed the swiftshadow, as it did with the first one.

  2. preston purnell says:

    Incredible display of brute force and precision there. Very good fight.

Leave a Reply