Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Their Fated Travels...Chapter 32 - The Fighting Pit Round Three

or below right here at the blog

Their Fated Travels…

RPG Party events as told By Robert James Freemantle

Chapter 32
The Fighting Pit
Round Three

   The tension in the crowd was at last beginning to tell. The hairs on the back of Maestro’s neck stuck up at the testosterone around him – even though he didn’t know what testosterone was. But he knew it was lots of men confined together who were too loud for his ears, too smelly for his nose, too close for comfort and too tall to see over properly. His tip-toes were beginning to hurt.

   The first combatant to be announced for round three was Tordrad. His opponent was the dwarf Grimdal DalDuraz.
   As the handlers unstrapped him, and applied the mad cap paste to the wound in his arm he was simply held resting there, against the wooden structure.
   The dwarf had barely any clothes and he was bare chested. He held little in the way of weapons – simply two hammers, the tools of his trade before he was captured and enslaved...But, he had another trade too, for he had just been promoted to a member of the hammerers of his hold. All of that seemed so long ago now...
   Tordrad was the polar opposite to Grimdal. He was so large that he would dwarf other humans, so the size difference now was immense. Then there was the way that Tordrad was armoured so heavily. He wore thick plate and bore a shield with main weapon.
   The horn sounded once to indicate that the bout had begun. It would not sound again until the match was over but Tordrad remained hesitent to move in on his opponent yet. He realised from the state he was in and the way the handlers had dealt with him that this dwarf was their slave. This couldn’t be allowed surely? But then he remembered that this fighting arena was illegally run. He would have to do something about this he noted. He would try his best to find and free that long as he didn’t kill him here and now.
   Grimdal was still partially tied to the wooden pallet, even at the neck. The handlers were too fearful to finish the job properly. Still the dwarf did not move.
   Tordrad wondered if his opponent was alright and he carefully began to make his way forwards. The dwarf did not move a muscle. Tordrad wondered if he was even alive. He shouted something in the Kislev tongue up to the overseer wizard above him. The wizard got the gist of what Tordrad was saying because he lowered his listening device below him to check for a heartbeat. He could not hear one at first...then he thought he did hear one. It sounded like they were very far apart though and getting slower by the moment! Grimdal’s body was beginning to give up on him and shut down from all of the punishment he had endured up until now.
   Tordrad continued to step closer by the moment.
   The overseer wizard strained his ear intently to the trumpet like device and heard another faint heartbeat at last and then nothing again.
   Perhaps even the mad cap mushroom paste going through his bloodstream would not be enough to move him now.
   Tordrad remained about ten feet away from the dwarf, looking on in concern then upwards to the wizard again before returning his gaze to the dwarf once more.
   The slave driver had pushed one of the dwarf’s handlers through the crowd and shouted at him to sort his “merchandise” out.
   The handler was about to jump into the ring when the dwarf who sat up upon the high rafter shouted a warning down, his gun aimed carefully at the cowled figure. The figure looked back to his master whom he feared more than a dwarf with a gun and still motioned to jump down anyway. The dwarf with the rifle opened fire with a shot aimed for the man’s head. Suddenly, an intervention seemingly from the slave driver’s direction saved the cowled man’s life. The bullet that had been aimed for the handler’s head impacted through the cloth of the cowl with a metallic sound.
   A magical spell had coated the handler in metal skin! This much was clear from the parts of his body that could be seen.
   The bullet that had been intended for the handler ricocheted off of the metal surface, pinging upwards towards the wizard. It struck the platform he sat on, very close to his listening device. The shock of this had startled him with a jump and he had dropped the thing.
   Quickly the wizard scrambled to reach down and catch it so it didn’t fall into the arena. This was an expensive piece of kit. A one of a kind item. Were it to break, he didn’t know what he would do.
   This mad scramble to catch the listening device resulted in the wizard losing balance on the platform and falling into the arena! He fell right onto the dwarf! Though he had succeeded in catching the trumpet like device.
   “Gosh” came Maestro’s response. Of course, he wasn’t worried about the wellbeing of the wizard as half of the crowd had been. Nor did he want to see some fun with the dwarf and wizard in the ring together like the other half of the crowd did. No, instead he was concerned about the trumpet instrument. He began to push his way through the crowd at once! That meant getting up close and personal with very many big smelly people...
   Meanwhile, inside the ring, Grimdal’s eyes remained shut but his body kicked into action. His body was acting on instinct. He grabbed the wizard by the throat and began to throttle him. Tordrad took a step back in alarm!
   The wizard reached his hands up to Grimdal’s arm as he tried to pull them free. He also tried to speak but couldn’t due to the choking. The dwarf simply grabbed the wizard’s nearest hand and broke it at the wrist with a sudden snap. He then bit the wizard’s neck tearing a chunk of flesh away with his teeth.
   The frightened robed human fell backwards onto his backside clutching the wound in panic.
   Grimdal had been given a shock to the system, forcing a burst of adrenaline to course through his body. Adrenaline was what the madcap compound interacted with! It was a potent recipe indeed.
   Maestro had at last reached the ringside, still up amongst the crowd. He shouted something to Tordrad. The Kislevite man missed it the first time, his mind focused on the horror unfolding before him as the dwarf continued to attack the wizard. At last Tordrad heard his employer speak, “Tordrad, don’t let the listening device be damaged! Throw it up to me!”
   Todrad looked quizically at Maestro, not understanding a word of what was said except for his own name and “me”.
   Maestro pointed multiple times in short stabbing motions at the trumpet on the ground, “That, I want that. Rescue it my good man!”
   Tordrad saw this and wandered across to the strange object. He picked it up and listened at the large end. He heard nothing coming from it. He then listened from the other end but had the input receiver end pointed at the audience! So many sounds came through at him at once! It was overwhelming and frightening. Even through the cacophony of noise that drenched his ears, he couldn’t escape the wailing tone of Maestro shouting to him and gesturing his hands towards himself.
   Tordrad walked towards his employer and realised that Maestro wanted the instrument. He could have it, thought the kislevite. Horrible loud magical thing. So he chucked it at Maestro.
   Maestro stared in alarm as the trumpet spun towards him, through the air. He knew he’d have to catch it, no-matter what.
   If one could have listened in slow motion one would have heard a series of sounds as it travelled through the air. As the receptor turned to face him, the listening end could hear Maestro’s thudding heart. It spun a little more in the air and for a moment, the crowd’s own noise reflected back on them, making many of them jump in fright. At another stage of its travel path the listening end faced the dwarf and wizard, as Grimdal pulled the man’s arm out of its socket so that he would have something else to scream about, along with his broken leg and shattered eye socket. Every gruesome sound that came from that direction could be heard through the device, but all of this happened so quickly that nothing could be seriously discerned or singled out. Just a rush of fast changings sound forms.
   Finally the trumpet reached Maestro. This was the moment! The moment he had waited for since he had first clapped eyes on the device. It was about to be his! He figured this because he couldn’t see the old owner surviving the punishment he was going through. He peered back at the carnage just to be sure. Yes he thought, it will be mine.
   All Maestro needed to do now was catch it. He concentrated all of his efforts into catching it. He reached out with both hands, ready to scoop it out of the air and bring it tight about his chest, like a mother hen might with her prized eggs soon to hatch.
   He reached out with a grip as ready as he had ever been and...still floundered with poor co-ordination, missing the instrument as it slipped through his fingers and clattered to the ground noisily. This created a massive feedback effect and the audience held their ears in pain.
   Grimdal was about to finish the wizard off. He looked up to his security and shouted, “Stop him, kill him if you must. Get me out of here. Get me to that shallyan girl backstage.”
   The dwarf on the upper area with the gun opened fire at Grimdal. He hated opening fire on one of his own kin but he had no choice. His employer was about to die and by all accounts as he had heard it anyway, this dwarf was a kin killer! He had killed many of his own to be spared. The dwarf with the gun felt that any decent dwarf would have taken his own life long before allowing such a thing of himself. What he hadn’t been told though was that these killings were in fact done under the forced influence of drugs by his captors and that those of his kin that he slew were also under the effects of chemical drug highs. If he hadn’t killed them for their sick slave master’s amusement, they would have killed him. But that side of events had indeed not been explained.
   Meanwhile, Maestro messed about with the various pieces of the instrument on the ground, trying to put them back together again. He tried to figure out what piece went where. Of course this was a perfect engineering jigsaw puzzle for him, but he also knew he was pressed for time. After all, this matched needed adjudicating and this trumpet was the key to that. Tordrad was in the ring after all. He didn’t want his bodyguard and the bet of a sizeable three figured sum of gold franz coins to be put in peril any longer than it had to. Soon he would have it put back together. Or close to how it should work at least, he reasoned.
   The dwarf gunner bit his own lip, realising that if he pulled the trigger he would be no better than the slave dwarf.
   He knew what he would do. He would fire a round into the dwarf’s back, knocking him down. He would aim for a non lethal position, to the right side where the heart wasn’t placed. He took aim, and gently began to squeeze the trigger...
   Just at that moment, Maestro had affixed a new piece to the instrument and he spoke quietly to himself, “Right, that might have sorted it. Now to test it!”
   The problem was, Maestro had fixed all of the pieces together, but now the trumpet was working in reverse! For the words he spoke quietly had amplified in a shocking decibel.
   Everyone present had jumped in fright at the ghastly high pitched voice that rang out across the entire area. Though the fighting arena was located underground inside a warehouse, even the birds in the trees outside jumped in fright, as did the predators that crept up on the birds in the trees ready to eat them. Even the prey of the birds in the trees, the worms and insects stopped and looked, just for a moment. Maestro had that effect on everyone in the world around him. His presence was a truly chaotic thing anywhere he went.
   The one significant thing that did happen as a result of this loud noise though was the gunner dwarf’s shot. He had fired at the same moment the sound rang out. The sound had made the gunner jump in fright too, sending his shot well off course. The bullet still hit Grimdal though, but it instead embedded itself right into the dwarf slave’s skull!
   Grimdal stumbled backwards and fell against the wooden platform, still standing, perhaps being propped up by the structure. Blood ran down his head. He had a bullet lodged in his skull and partially into his brain. Surely this would be the end of him. It was a test of how thick dwarf skulls were that the rounded ball hadn’t passed right through to the other side.
   He stumbled forwards suddenly and dropped to one knee as the security staff pulled the overseer wizard out of the ring at last.
   “What have I done?” said the gunner.
   Then Grimdal roared and his eyes opened for the first time.
   The gunner saw this and commented, “I’ve woken him up and pissed him off, that’s what I did!”
   Grimdal tore forwards in a charge. He did not see a kislevite warrior before him. In his hallucinating state he instead saw a troll. Tordrad was so large that it made sense for his mind to adapt an unreality in that direction.
   He lashed out with both hammers, Tordrad ducked under one and side stepped the other. He brought his shield up to stop the first hammer’s next attack and thrust his own weapon forwards to carry the second hammer off away from its mark.
   The speed and intense ferocity took Tordrad by surprise. He felt sorry for this dwarf too but started to realise that the competition might come down to he or his slave opponent’s life. That then would be no contest. He had a duty to the wizard and to himself after all.
   Tordrad tried to dodge the next wave of hammer attacks. He managed to avoid one but the second hammer caught him in the head.
   Tordrad was bent over backwards and pulled his body upright once more, a visible red mark on his forehead. While the blow had struck quite hard, it had done very little damage to the large man. It had annoyed him though. So much so that he stowed away his shield and hand weapon and drew his axe. Meanwhile, Grimdal circled him, looking for the next opportunity to slay the terrible troll that threatened his very existence.
   Grimdal lashed out with his hammers, testing the Kislevite’s armour in several places. Still it held true. Much of the man’s money had been spent on expensive repairs to maintain it to its very best. His armour was a thing of pride. It carried the sigil of the bear of his people. Though blows would cause bruises, none managed to penetrate. Tordrad was able to do little to stop these attacks too. This also disturbed him, that his foe was so fast even in this state of apparent dying.
   Tordrad went on the attack with all out determination, swinging his axe with martial prowess in diagnal arcs that would be hard to defend against.
   To Grimdal’s vision, the Troll was simply clawing with its hands as the dwarf looked for an opening. He saw no opening and attacked anyway. He jumped forward to strike with both hammers at once – as Tordrad’s axe made contact in its upswing, striking and partially entering the front of Grimdal’s skull. There is stuck for a moment. Blood ran from the wound but still the dwarf raged and roared in defiance.
   The blood loss though took its toll on the dwarf, as Tordrad proceeded to pull his axe free from the bone it had lodged into. How this dwarf’s skull had remained intact from an axe and bullet was a miracle, a very terrifying one. But Grimdal fell to the ground, bleeding out all over the floor. Tordrad put his weapon away and called for help to assist the dwarf. Medical personel came on and assessed his condition. Tordrad stepped back away from him to let the doctors do their job.
   Maestro at last had fixed the machine and was pointing it at the dwarf as it poured out the sound that indicated an unconscious state. 
   The great battle horn was sounded to indicate that the match was over.
   As Grimdal slipped away into darkness, he prayed that his life was over at last. He prayed that he would drink with his ancestors now. He remembered though, that by dawi law he was a kin killer. He would have no honour, no glory. He would only fade to bone and dust. Now though was not his time to die, for the machine that Maestro held still started to register a faint but continuing steady heart beat.
   Tordrad didn’t stay to soak up the adulation from the crowd. He felt terrible at the events that had occured. Seeing the dwarf soak up so much damage and still live too, shook him up deeply.
   Rissandrea herself attended to Grimdal’s injuries, doing her best to patch him up and save him from long term damage. Her healing hands glowed. Her skill was becoming impressive to behold.

   By the time the next fight came about, it was decided that the overseer wizard was in no condition to keep monitoring the bout so the position was offered to Maestro for a bit of coin. He accepted enthusiastically, saying that he would do anything to get to have the trumpet instrument. They explained that he would not be able to keep it though. Maestro replied that it was understood. He understood alright but he still planned to take it anyway. He would slip it in his robes when the bout was over. It would be his, to tinker with as much as he wanted later on.
   And so it came to be that Maestro was sat atop the platform overlooking the ring as the new overseer.
   A surge of new uncomfortable magical backlash energy told Maestro who was coming down to the ring next. Dieter made his way quickly and quietly into the arena. Picking up some of the bloody sawdust and tasting it.
   He was already holding his conjured amethyst scythe in one hand. Again the magical influx backlashed against him, this time throwing his gauntlet weapon out of his hand and onto the ground. There was no time to recover it though as his opponent arrived: A pit fighter champion.
   Both men came at each other, exchanging shots, their weapons impacting each other. As Dieter’s scythe struck against the metal sword, magical sparks flew off to the sides, setting the sawdust somewhat alight for just a moment.
   The pit fighter though began to overcome the would be doctor, with better martial training showing through. His blows began to send Dieter onto the defensive, stepping backwards. It was clear that he was trying to figure out a way of dealing with the situation. Before he could decide, a decision was made for him. The pitfighter suddenly raised his sword and brought it down with both hands for extra strenth in a full power chop!
   Dieter only just managed to dive out of the way of this attack and stumbled with his limp as he tried to get back to his feet before the fighter was upon him again. Dieter once again forward rolled, sweeping his stave up to not get in the way.
   These actions confused the pit fighter who saw the doctor walking with his limp, requiring the aid of a stick to stay upright, yet here he was performing acrobatic manouvres. It didn’t make sense.
   As the pit fighter reached him again, Dieter was on one knee. Dieter lashed out with his walking stick, sweeping the legs of the man. This knocked him too to one knee. He reached for Dieter and the trainee doctor attempted to pour a spell from his hands into the man’s body. He relied on the spell to push the man back but at the last moment the spell did not work! The man struck his blade across Dieter, from arm to neck, cutting him open.
   Dieter had pulled back in time to not take the full extent of the damage.
   The pit fighter came on again, sensing weakness in his foe, he was close to being beaten. He had seen this look of stress, of strain on enemy faces many times before. This man fought for a living. Dieter was merely a doctor...and perhaps something more.
   Just as the man brought down his killing blow Dieter spoke, “I refuse to quit! You’ll have to kill me! Unless I kill you first.”
   The pit fighter’s weapon swept through the air that Dieter used to inhabit. He had sidestepped with a magic spell, travelling quickly through the hedge to a position on the far arena. Every time he entered this state, he was in danger of encountering “the other”, but he had no time to worry about that right now.
   Dieter appeared in real time almost immediately after disappearing in front of the fighter. His next move was to pick a bottle of pure medicinal alcohol out of his jacket. The bottle had a rag already poked inside it. He focused his miniature scorching spell from the palm of his hand, which set the soaked rag alight.
   The pit fighter saw this and started to dodge, to move out of the way. Dieter read this and threw the bottle at the ground where he was going to run. It shattered and flames coursed up at him.
   The pit fighter shouted in pain as the skin on his exposed legs blistered from the heat damage. However, the heat did not spread any higher than his thighs and the fighter quickly regained his composure again to charge Dieter.
   Dieter nodded impressed at the man’s obvious veterancy to being dealt pain. He figured he would need to think of something the fighter hadn’t yet experienced. He would work on that next...
   Dieter slid out to the right hand side to trip the pit fighter up. The champion fighter did not fall for this ploy though and stopped short ready to gut the smaller man there and then.
   Something strange about Dieter’s shadow on the built up back wall of the pit put the fighter off for just a second. Somehow it looked like it was shifting even though Dieter himself was not. This distraction was all Dieter had needed. He scowled with joy as he channeled a spell and unleashed a shock spell from his fingertips against the man’s forehead. This left him disorientated to the spot.
   Dieter however was troubled, for the winds of dhar kicked up around him once again this time causing a massive gust of aethyric energy to blow through the ring. Everyone in the audience felt uneasy suddenly as if some evil had been unleashed about them. It had! The spell Dieter had cast had been touched by chaos itself! Raw presence from the daemonic realm had been unleashed upon the mortal world. All of the plant life that grew on the edge of the river outside of the warehouse instantly began to shrivel and die. Small animals, the like of which were kept in poeple’s pockets such as mice inside the building suddenly died too, all at once. All of the ale the men had been drinking suddenly turned foul and noxious. People were spitting it out across the floor and coughing. The barman saw only thick black sludge coming from his ale taps. But worse than all of this combined was the threat to Dieter. Though nothing had happened to him yet, the doorway to the chaos realms had opened directly inside his soul and whatever foul thing was on the other side of it had affixed its eyes upon him. One more mistake, such as a miscast and it might have its opportunity to come through!
   Dieter could feel the presence inside him, his brother screaming in terror at the daemon watching him internally. Good, thought Dieter, you can keep whatever daemon has arrived distracted while I finish this fight.
   Dieter’s scythe amidst all of the confusion, had disappeared. He spent a few moments re-calling it into his hands magically. He almost expected this spell to go wrong as well, but it didn’t. He didn’t like how out of control his magic was in this place...
   The trainee physician began to cut at the stunned fighter with the amethyst weapon, slashing his body in two places. However, because Dieter was untrained in actual combat strokes, he couldn’t turn them into a killing blow.
   The fighter came back to his senses enough at last  to step forwards. As he did this he struck his sword out at Dieter. This took the the trainee doctor by surprise! He didn’t manage to dodge the blow very well, but it didn’t matter because the man was still somewhat stunned from the effect he had just been placed under.
   Dieter drew his kris knife from its holder. The leather container that folded over the handle and buttoned down has been pre-filled with a dark oil. The blade was covering in it. Dieter snapped his finger aross the blade tip and encanted a minor spell of flame which ignited it. He held this in one hand as he lashed out awkwardly with the scythe in his other hand, only managing to keep the fighter back from him with the slash.
   The pit fighter swiped at Dieter, still a little unsteady on his feet as he returned a shot, missing his opponent.
   At this point Dieter had had enough of it all. He brought the scythe round and curled it downwards into the ground. It impailed the man’s foot, going through the boot and sticking through the sole into the ground below it. He did not let go of the weapon for it was conjured and would disappear otherwise, but he stepped forwards, using the shock of the last attack to thrust his flaming kris knife into the man’s head, straight through the temple. He shuddered and bled ferociously as Dieter snarled and pulled the scythe free, before swinging it one more time and cutting the man’s stomach open so that the internal contents were free to spill out onto the ground before him.
   The man fell over backwards dead.
   Dieter fell to his knees, still growling and gnashing as he began to devour some of the intestines and other bits. His eyes had turned black again as he did this. He was in real danger of having “the other” take control of him once more but after a great internal struggle, with him holding his own head and shouting expletives there was no posession. Dieter calmly wiped the blood from his mouth onto the dead man’s clothing and then stood up and walked back towards the dressing room. The attendants had rushed on. Dieter grabbed one of them and wiped his char blackened bloodied kris knife against the man’s clothing. He fearfully yelped and Dieter ignored him after this, just continuing to walk back where he came from. At that moment in time, the audience would have believed him were he to say he came from some hell.

   Next to fight was a Middenheim mercenary versus Taros the wizard.
   When the wizard stealthed as was usual for his style the mercenary concentrated his senses all around him. He waited for the battle honed sense of danger, the hairs on the back of his neck to rise as he swung his huge greatsword around him in a circular motion.
   The huge blade cut the wizard open, as he re-emerged into being. His hands shook with fear at the pain his body was now subjected to. The cut had tore open his arm, shoulder, some of his chin and a chunk of his neck. He quickly concentrated all of his energies into the wound, to stop the bleeding as best as he could. He realised that with his magic, he could focus power into the wound strong enough to hold the bleeding back for as long as was needed, in theory. But maintaining this spell would mean that he would not have been able to use magic to fight, nor his hands, for they were clamped across his neck staunching the flow of crimson that tried to escape through his fingers. He considered his options and submitted at once.
   What had seemed like such a formidable foe had been stopped at last with but one blow from the right sort of opponent. This man who wore a wolfskin cloak had fought wizards before, especially grey wizards. All of this had simply been bad luck for Taros...or had it? For Taros had entered the competition to win money for himself, but a man of such power sometimes would have powerful enemies too. A man like Taros entering such a competition might well find that a rival to him may have hired a specialised wizard killer mercenary just for the job of knocking him out of the tournament. Not that a fellow magister would ever allow such evidence of these things to ever get out, but Taros already began to suspect it. He decided that if he lived (and he was sure he would, with the shallyan woman on hand to help) he would pay his fellow magister Tyrell a visit and recount old times and perhaps present times too, with mention of how a mercenary came to fight him in Nuln...His next step though would be to capture and interrogate the man. He just hoped that no one killed him in the next round!