Closing Ceremonies

Posted by Daniel On August 17, 2015 1 COMMENT


Our last battle showed the true victor of this year’s tournament.  It was an incredible fight, on a battleground that tournament and city mages alike worked together to create and empower!  A week later, I swear I’m still shaking from the adrenalin of those final moments!

But the battle has been decided.  One has fallen, while the other has risen to levels of fame reserved for a select few.  As I look around the arena I can see scores of nobility, thousands of citizens and likely just as many guests of the empire in attendance for this great occasion, but none in Caer Holineth draws more attention than Emperor Chazmyr Zoland himself!

The air of regality around him, even as he simply stands at the arena floor conversing with the tournament master and others, is incredible.  There is no question of who he is, or of the power he holds, and I have to say, for an elf who has seen the better part of two millennia, he looks no older than a few centuries!  Emperor Zoland is rarely seen outside of the palace district, so occasions such as this are an incredible honor for us all, and I’m quite certain that his wardrobe will be setting a number of new trends amongst the cities so-called “elite.”  His long hair, usually a cascade of the purest silver, is today a blend of silver and gold, shifting from darker tones to lighter ones as it descends down his back.  The crown upon his head is forged of a black metal, with intricate designs of the purest platinum and studded with gemstones.  If that metal is what I think it is, that crown is easily worth more than most noble houses!  He wears rich purple wizard’s robes, trimmed with silver, runes of power shimmering in the moonlight on its edges.  Beneath is an outfit of black silk.

I can already see several nobles taking notes on his appearance, but it seems like they’ll have to scribble faster, as the conversation between himself and the Tournament Master has come to a close.  Without warning, every torch in the arena goes out!  Darkness descends on Caer Holineth, such that even the moons cannot penetrate it!  The Tournament Master’s voice echoes throughout the complex:

“The battles have concluded.  Many powerful combatants have fallen as we sought out our champion.  And now, only one Creator remains to claim his prize.”

Torches throughout the arena flare into life as the darkness is lifted, just as suddenly as its descent!  The arena itself looks altogether different than just a few moments ago!  At each entrance stands one of this year’s Creators, though Cangile Valuus, the creator of the infamous Arachast, is noticeably absent; likely due to the ongoing investigation.  The pillars supporting the roof are each etched with an intricate depiction of a Creator and their creations, past and present.  This one right beside me appears to be the Horseman of Death with his Caustic Shades, and the workmanship is exquisite!

In the center of the arena we see a small tower of shining black stone, some thirty feet in diameter perhaps.  At its crest, the battlements surround the Emperor himself, seated in a thrown of ebony, platinum and umbral steel!  He sits quietly, absorbing the thunderous applause echoing from every end of the arena, his back straight and the very image of royalty.

Standing on the dirt of the arena floor is the Tournament Master, strategically and humbly far below our renowned leader.  He raises his arms to the sky, calling attention to himself as he continues to speak to the crowd.

“We have all gathered here today to witness the presentation of our Grand Champion, and the bestowing of such a title on this year’s most deserving Creator!  He will arrive here today a mere citizen of the great nation of Illuria, having earned that station, despite his origin, through the incredible actions of himself and his creations as a result of the Arachast attack.  Yet, by the Emperor’s will, he will leave here so much more.  Please welcome, Alchemy and his Razor Fiends!”

Above, the roar of both of the diamond constructs reverberates above and the crowd cheers as they spiral down through the oculus.  The now well-known artificer on the back of the second of his great creations.  He raises his arms to wave to the audience as he descends, spiraling ever downward so as to be seen plainly by all gathered here.  The moonlight shines off of the diamonds of the constructs and his own jewelry alike, sending waves of color flowing across the stands.  Several moments later, he alights on the ground, a short distance from the Tournament Master, dismounting gracefully and waving to the crowd once more.

He steps forward confidently, bowing in respect as he reaches the Master, who offers him a courtesy nod of his head in response.  As we’ve seen in past years, the victor of the tournament must be presented to the Emperor by the Tournament Master formally, so that the Emperor can officially name him as Grand Champion for the year.

As they both turn to the Emperor’s tower, his imperial majesty waves his hand and the very stones of the tower itself shift outward to form a staircase, leading to his throne.  Without hesitation, the Victor and the Master begin to climb.

No words are spoken as they climb, backs always straight, as if the ascent of thirty feet were nothing more than a stroll along level ground to them.  The excitement of the audience grows with each step, building as they climb higher.  Every onlooker has risen to their feet by the time they reach the battlements, the exhilaration rising to its peak!

Without saying a word, the Emperor raises a hand, and the crowd quickly falls silent.  He then gestures to the Tournament Master, who, accompanied by Alchemy, moves forward two steps and kneels in reverence, still twenty feet from the throne.

After a moment, Master Vass Zoland, nephew of the Emperor rises and speaks, as much to the crowd as to his uncle.

“Most high Emperor of the greatest nation in the world, I bring before you one who has earned your attention.  His creations have battled through this year’s Tournament of Souls.  They defeated the Arachast, and saved citizens from the creature when it went berserk.  They defeated the stealthy Blight Stalker, and finally, with the defeat of the powerful magma serpent, he has risen to be this year’s Victor!”

With each declared victory the crowd cheers again, shaking the entire stadium at his last word, but the Master’s eyes stay focused just below the gaze of the Emperor.  Properly deferent to his uncle’s position, and power, as if the words were only for him.

“Your Majesty, may I present, Alchemy Leafhand, victor of the Tournament of Souls!”

The audience erupts in applause, deafening to all within the arena!  A few moments later the Emperor once again raises his hand and silence quickly falls.  When he speaks, his smooth voice carries clearly to every ear in Caer Holineth, though his tone never exceeds one of conversation.

“Thank you Tournament Master.  You have done well this year, and exceeded even my lofty expectation.  You and your mages are to be congratulated.”  Judging by the expression on his face, these are not words Master Zoland is used to hearing.  He looks completely elated at the praise!  But the Emperor turns to our victor for his next words.  “You have created a pair of wondrous creatures Citizen Alchemy.  For that, you have earned the respect of the arcane community.  They have battled through the trials of the Tournament, to achieve victory, for themselves, and for you; and for that you seek the title of Grand Champion.”

A short conversation ensues between them that is not broadcast to the general crowd.  I shall have to pay a lip reader to see if I can discover what those words were!  All the while, Alchemy remains kneeling, with his eyes to the ground, respectful of the Godservant before him.  After several moments, we can all hear them once again.

“You came to us as a foreigner, and have earned citizenship in our great nation.  Now you come to me as a citizen.  Rise now Alchemy Leafhand, and claim your title as Tournament Grand Champion.”

As he stands, still carefully keeping his eyes lowered, a platinum medallion depicting his twin razor fiends weaves itself into existence around his neck, held there by a chain of silver and gold.

“Thank you, your highness.” He says with a graceful bow.

His Imperial Majesty dismisses them with a nod, and the Tournament Master takes our champion to the summit of the stairway they climbed.  Firmly grabbing his wrist, they both thrust their hands into the air, and the silence is broken with thunderous celebration!  For once, there is no division in the crowd this day.  All are cheering the naming of the Grand Champion!

The pair descend the stairs once again, where the Razor Fiends stand, awaiting their Creator.  Alchemy climbs on his chosen mount, and, after a moment’s consideration, motions for Master Zoland to ride its twin!  Clearly surprised by the offer, the Tournament Master is taken aback, and looks at the now bowing Fiends incredulously.  After another wave, and some encouraging cheers from the crowd, the dark-skinned elf climbs onto the diamond construct’s back and they both take to the sky!  They circle the arena several times, waving to the gathered crowd, before soaring up and out of the oculus from whence the Razor Fiends came.

Back in the center of the arena, the Emperor stands and turns to address all gathered here.

“The 101st Tournament of Souls has come to an end.  The Grand Champion has been awarded his title, one well-earned by the victories of his creations.  I know there are those among you who would wish to enter in the coming year.  There are some who, even now, are considering their creations.  I encourage you to do so, but remember that the Tournament is not one to be entered lightly.  For those of you too young to pursue such potent arts, may I remind you that our own Academy of Malla Zhaunil can teach you the necessary skills to triumph in this contest, as so many have in the past.  In the coming months I will be selecting five children to attend the Academy under special scholarship.”

I can’t believe what I’m hearing!  Never before has the Emperor offered to pay the way of ANY young apprentice-in-training, let alone five!  I’m certain there’s more to it, but I doubt we’ll hear those requirements now.

“I wish the best of luck to those who will be competing in next year’s tournament; and to those Creators present, you have fought well and hard, against opponents and battlegrounds alike.  Well done, and I wish you better luck in the coming years.”

“Farewell citizens and guests.  The 101st Tournament of Souls has officially concluded.”

The central tower, Emperor and all, explodes into millions of colorful sparks, streamers and flying wisps!  They float about majestically, drifting from one place to another slowly, beautifully, before finally dissipating.

Thank you all for being with us this year for the 101st Tournament of Souls.  We look forward to next year’s competition and everything in between!

One Response so far.

  1. preston purnell says:

    Flying from the arena Alchemy and his twin razor fiends fly circuits around the city. Landing only long enough to pick up children and their parents, allowing them to fly upon the tournament champions. Setting each family down he continues on throughout the day flying citizens, nobles and visitors alike thanking each family for their support and whispering many rumors of his next creations for the next tournament to each child . Just at dusk he and his twins leave the city flying into the sunset. The suns many rays sparkling and reflecting from the razor fiends hides. In a flash the pair and their rider disappear.

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