So this week in the Anduwin Chronicles…

Down a short set of steps, we run, into a smaller cavern entrance, light breaking the dark. Beyond the cavern, is sand, and an open air collaseum with several teams battling. Sword striking sheild or flesh or dirt. We see one individual strikes a killing blow and is surrounded by light, before being raised above the fray. We quickly realise, in order to pass this test, we must kill. A system clicks and whirls, and we hear the tube care leaving, before water rushes behind us. It first hits Brant, who spins in the coming wave but is pushed by the torrential current. We make it out of the cavern, onto the combat sands, and the entrance way seals behind us, keeping the water at bay.

As we get out, an arrow skims past Karl’s ear. Looking around, we see a group of wounded combatants nearby, as well a female Greyborn of some importance up in the crowded auditorium. Abraxos spots the source of the arrow and notices a series of symbols and runes being drawn in the air. They are all female, and notice our entrance, turning their bows to our direction. All snakelike elvish individuals. However, the immediate threat is a large human, with a pair of clubs barrelling down on Karl. The paladin swings his long sword in both hands, channelling his divine might into the blade. The assailant tenses his muscles and his skin hardens into a rock form. The blade skims the stone, but doesn’t seem to wound, fracturing the steel weapon. The divine fire burns this man, but doesn’t seem to catch a blaze. Karl then in anger lashes out trying to grapple the mans windpipe. His raw power beginning to crumple the stone neck slightly. The man swings his club at Karl, and due to closeness, he cannot miss. The wood strikes his temple and dazes the paladin, knocking him to the ground, stunned.

Patch sees the bows being levelled at us, and the wounded group. Although he is naturally the fastes, he is unsure what action to take. He begins to cast a spell, but holds off completing he incantation until any of our team strikes another person. Brant picks himself up from the floor and also surveys the scene, seeing the club warrior only having stone flesh over the front of his body. He pulls on his belt of small animals, and uses it to summon a magical creature, hoping to kill this rather than take the life of other combatants. A moorhen appears, and Brant immediately stabs at it whilst it’s still in the bards hands, instantly killing it, and causing it to burst into magical smoke. He is bathed in light and begins to rise skyward.

With no one to protect Karl now, the club barer swings again, beginning to cave in the paladins skull. Granuelle moves closer and ignite her warhammer and connects it with the stone skinned man, burning him slightly. In a twist of the magic, the flame jumps from the initial target and also sets fire to Karl. Granuelle swings again and although it connects, it seems to chip at the stone, but doesn’t appear to injure him. The half orc draws on her fighting spirit and swings again, managing to hit in the same broken stone part, and wounding him again. The two sea elves then draw daggers, and in unison throw two blades each at the stone solider, but these don’t connect either. They leap into the air, synchronised and leaving a blue trail in the air where they travelled, pulling thin blades free each, and again they slash into the man in unison, ending his life, and both being ensorcelled by bright lifting light, and taken upwards having killed. No sooner has this happened, than three long dark arrows fly through our group. The first grances off Granuelle’s armour, but the two strike at Kavan’s and Abraxos’s abdomen, the strike hurting, but leaving ongoing poisonous burning. Farandril moves to Karl’s side, now that the foe is removed and begins to work on Karl. Abraxos tries to remove his arrow, but slips on the acid, and the shaft breaks, leaving the head inside him. The samurai shouts out a warning about the arrows poisoning, and moves to stand in front of Patch, blocking him. Kavan then draws on his magic, and teleports five feat away, leaving the arrow behind. As soon as the bolt is out of his body, it explodes, with the fire engulfing Patch, Abraxos and Kavan. Their speed allows them all to escape the bulk of the flames but they are still thrown to the floor. Patch looses concentration on his spell in the flames, whilst Kavan moves over to Abraxos and shoves the arrow through, trying to throw this away to save the samurai. As soon as the arrow is free it erupts. The distance shields Patch from the blast, but Kavan and Abraxos are caught. However, this time, they also avoid the bulk of the blast being able to anticipate the blast. Kavan, being so close to the arrow, loses his ring finger in the process. Karl stirs mid battle, dazes and suddenly remembering the trial, as two explosions occur and a finger flies before his face. He wonders just how long he was knocked out for. He stands, and charges towards the wounded group, and throws his broken sword into the throng. Drawing his muscular power he is able to land the pommel into the wounded man with enough force to take a kill, and he too is bathed in light, to be risen upwards. As his floats upwards he heals himself. He joins Brant and the sea elves in a sort of champions holding area, but is protected by a magical bubble.

Patch reaches out his magic into the mind of a warrior in the distance, and magics him into believing that everyone around him is his foe, and unleashes divine healing into Abraxos, before seeing the injured Kavan missing a finger. Granuelle looks around and sees a humanoid toad battling for revenge. He is struck by a firebolt which dehydrates the toad and kills him. The half orc is the brought skyward as a champion. Farandril rushes over to enemies and begins to move his hands, in preparing something. Abraxos looks over to the female snake archers and sees which one shot him. He beckons her forward, in a challenge, before drawing his blade and dashing the distance between them. In response, an arrow is launched at him, richoceing off the bone armour into the arena wall, exploding on contact. She is bathed in light and ascends as someone on the other side of the wall must have died from the impact. The other snakey warriors begin to increase their assault, and three unleash six darts each at the samurai. Abraxos is quickly riddled with darts which chipped away his armour.

In pain, Kavan screams, and drops to his knees, conjuring a magical darkness around him and the cat. Patch cannot see Kavan to heal, so clicks his boots of speed together and charges towards where Abraxos was, healing he samurai on the way, and continuing to the snake warriors. He swings at their leader, but she catches his blade mid swing, in an electrically charged hand. Frustrated he pulls his blade free with such speed that he cleaves several fingers from the warriors leader. Farandril moves up to a man, and snaps his neck to get out of the fight, being drawn up. Abraxos then catches up with Patch and swings at another of the warriors, it misses initially. He takes a fighting stance and draws his reserve of talent to injure her successfully.

In the holding area, the female sea elf asks Brant about his killing of the moorhen. Brant states this is his easiest kill, but she shares that it looked like a dark magic sacrifice from her position. Karl offers Lady Granuelle a wager on the continued fight, but she declines. Frustrated with this decline, Karl tries to use a dagger to reflect light down into the arena, as a distraction to aid his companions but is unable.

The warrior leader is thrown a sheild, and uses this to knock Patch prone to the floor. A second solider throws her a pouch of powder which she pours onto her bleeding hand, and five fingerlike stumps start to appear. The third solider unhinges her jaw, becoming more snakelike, and showing fangs. She leaps at Abraxos and bites into his neck. He feels a draw from the bite as his life essence is slowly brought towards her. Kavan is still to injured to think clearly, so holds his ground and his finger. Patch ignites his blade as he stands to attach the snake leader, but she parry’s it with her sheild. Abraxos then draws his sword upwards and into his attackers neck, trying to drive the blade into her spine, to decapitate the assailant. In pain, she recoils backwards and reattached her jaw reverting to a more human appearance.

The warrior leader gingerly draws out a sickle from her back and removes a cloth from it, showing a purple dripping liquid. She swings this through Patch and as it passes through him the liquid blade leaves the handle, and spreads into him, with only the grip left in her hand. The hit doesn’t do too much damage, but the cat if forced to his knees, as though the liquid is pulsing electrically and turning solid, holding him in position. Another solider throws sand into Abraxos’s face, and catches him in one eye. The third solider brings her rapier into Patch, at a critical point, in his paralysed state. Kavan, in shock, conjures a shadowblade in his hand, and stabs himself in the chest, hoping he will die from the damage. He enters a twighlight state between life and death, but his connection to shadow magic draws him back to life, and he is drawn into the sky. Karl commands his ox, from his viewing place, into the arena to assist Abraxos and Patch. The ox charges magically descending a combatant, and trying to pin them down, for an easier kill. He succeeds in this, but misses the group engaged with the snake warriors. Patch wrestles his strength against the rapidly hardening metal but is unable to break free. Abraxos manoeuvres around his enemies and stands between the cat and the snakes. He places a hand on the cat and imbues healing energy. The ox gets up, and Ollie charges into the snake warriors knocking them out of the way, like bowling pins. The cat still can’t break free, and is weakening against the strengthening metal. Abraxos dashes the snake leader looting for a possible antidote to the sickle weapon which has so stricken Patch. Raiding her person, her finds a bubbling vial, a pouch of teeth, and several coins. He is unsure what the vial is, and prays it is the antidote. In fury, the snake warriors stand, and all simultaneously stab the magical ox to death. His summoned body fading away as the leader of the warriors rises upwards. Abraxos goes to pour the vial, and tries to judge the reaction of the warriors, and senses they are confused by his actions. Patch has used the last of his strength, and the weight of metal is beginning to stop him from breathing. The samurai choses to return to attacking to weaken the warriors, and hopefully help him and his friend survive. The two warriors rush him, one becoming more serpentine, and successfully latching its jaws around the samurai once again, drawing life essence from him. Abraxos feels he is permanently weaker. Drawing in his royal Greyborn blood has some sort of an interaction with the snake woman, who drops to the sand, convulsing, and her mouth frothing. Her ally goes to her aid but cannot seem to help.

Abraxos pulls Patch’s metal frozen body over to the dying warrior, and uses Patch’s sword to kill her. Both Patch and Abraxos are raised to the champions area. The battle rages on, and on, but eventually more winners are raised, and we are separated out as an individual team, the metal magically washed from Patch as soon as he appears in the hall. He is, however, exhausted from his ordeal, and terrified having very nearly suffocated.

In the room, we are shown how to work the chariot for the next round, as well weapons and armour to outfit themselves for the race and the mountain. Farandril approaches Kavan, who is shook and looks more ill and pale than usual. The Templar is also looking lost, but does help. Abraxos supports Farandril and Kavan while Granuelle asks for someone to translate the chariot instructions from nagini. Brant steps up and begins to read this through his own magical translations. Patch is ushered over to join Abraxos to rest and recover. Granuelle sets to making flaming arrows. The tears plane banners and ties the cloth to bolts in preparation whilst Brant reads out the instructions. Through conversation with the sea elves we learn the vial Abraxos had stolen from the snake warriors is a potion of flight. We decide to give this to Karl, given his history of falling.

As we begin to plan our next moves for the chariot round, a door appears in the floor, and opens into darkness. Ester, Dark Shaper steps through and congratulates is on a cowardous display. She was hoping for a more bold execution of the trial assessment. Granuelle asks her for alcohol, to be used as a burning agent for Granuelle’s flaming bolts. This will be sent to us swiftly. We are encouraged to win, and take out the other barges quickly, and warns they roll. She tells that when barges are cut from their steeds, the vessels seem to fall into the abyss. Ester explains she cannot simply give us supplies and encourages use to enjoy ourselves and to make a show of it, as the crowd seem to love this, and similar shows of visciousness and ichor. We are also warned not to look into the creature’s eyes in the final stage. Kavan asks her how often she has made the deal with us, with other teams. It turns out we are the seventeenth. Brant confirms to Ester that he didn’t do dark magic, and she shares her wife was pissed, referring to the Greyborn female we saw in the stands. Her name is Venracka, and Abraxos recognises the name of the princess in exile. He sends a greeting to the woman, and Ester leaves through a magical door once more. Her gifts of alcohol, chains and rope are sent to our chamber.

We set down to planning, examining the weak points on the barges, and coming up with strategies for approaches. We consider breaking the chains and losing the steeds from other vessels, or pirating and taking over other chariot barges. We also think about puppetting or commanding other contestants to leave their positions, or become aggressive towards their own team. Fire arrows are distributed amongst us, and the sea elves. Patch offers up his jar of alchemists fire, as well as a bullseye lantern with its top ripped off, as a make shift brazier. Patch spends his rest waking, reading and dipping more arrows into alcohol.

Fidgeting and terrified many people encourage the cat the sleep, until Kavan cast a magical sleep over him, and in his exhausted state, he cannot stay awake anymore, but his dreams are uneasy.

Brant approaches Abraxos having overheard name the samurai used in his message to the Greyborn woman. Anford. He asks Abraxos where he heard this name, and what it means to him. Brant shares he has met Remly Anford, a descendant of a famous Anford in history. Abraxos seems surprised that there are still Anford’s in the world. Brant shares an experience he once had, when his and his friends essence inhabited two adventures of the time. One of those who was possessed by Brant and Croxium was an Anford, and their experience in this time was to save the heirs of Maurdorne. The princes. Brant shares he has since had his own dealings with Anford’s descendants. Neither has met a female Greyborn of importance since then. Brant shares he didn’t know that the princes had survived beyond the Sundering, and certainly only recently learnt who they had become. The Emperor and The Seer. Abraxos asks if Remly had any siblings, and when the last time he was seen. Brant shares this was several months ago, and that Remly Anford had been sent to Lady Granuelle’s estate. The bard asks the samurai how he knows the name, but Abraxos is not forthcoming about wanting to share this information just yet, but he does thank Brant for the information the bard gave him. Brant starts to leave and tries to read Abraxos’ mind, but in completing the magic, he is able to read everyone else’s surface thoughts, but gets nothing from the samurai. Brant addresses this, and asks why Abraxos’ thoughts cannot be read. He shares its a useful ability, but doesn’t explain it further. However, he does then share what he does know about the Anford family, and how they connect with the Greyborn Venracka. There is some sort of tie between them, but he doesn’t say anymore. Brant then pours a truth serum into a glass and offers a toast with Abraxos. The samurai thanks him and drinks it, not knowing it’s real effects. Having taken effect, Brant asks how much he really knows of Venracka. Abraxos thinks “not very much” but under the magic says, “she’s my mother”. As soon as it’s spoken, he suspects something has been put in his drink. He warns that he had planned to tell us eventually, but in a safer environment, but that here, they are not safe. Abraxos says he could supersede the emperor for ascension to Grey Drake, due to Venracka’s higher lineage, being the daughter of Vu. Through a series of complicated revelations, it seems Abraxos has the Most Legitimate claim to the throne, when they think of the Grey Drake Family trees. The reason this is important, is Abraxos biological father was an Anford, but he has never met him, or his mother, Venracka. Those of us awake (Granuelle, Karl and Farandril) swear to keep this a secret. Abraxos tells that he was told his parents have been buried in Maurdorne- thinking this was Anford and Venracka. Brant warns that buried can have many meaning, but that clearly someone didn’t want him to meet his parents. He is sure his adoptive brothers wouldn’t lie to him about his birth parents deaths. He asks not to talk about this anymore, and wants to be left be, to rest. Before letting him, Brant asks how he would react to meeting any Anford man now. Brant hopes to help Remly, as he doesn’t believe his family to be noble. Abraxos shares he would be joyful to meet any family, as he doesn’t have a lot, except for one person. And the samurai finds he can withhold the truth again, so doesn’t give a name.

Eventually, sleep takes the remaining party members and we rest ready for our race in the morning.

And that’s where we left off.