Rage in the Hippo
We’d earned ourselves a fair bit of coin, to say the least, and a good deal of respect from our fellow guild members. As such, we were nominated to venture to The Hippo, the city’s arena, to represent the guild in the festivities. Success in the controlled battles (with clerics immediately on hand there was no concern for death so participants needn’t hold back) means renown and coin. We, of course, were all in.
Our initial venture consisted of Noggal, Octavia, Nymeria, Varis, Truda, and myself as Flynkin and Branok worked the crowd placing bets on us to up our winnings. An impressive coliseum, The Hippo was packed with citizens–commoners almost entirely. As we stepped out onto the dusty floor, I raised Sparkjaw in an attempt to get the crowd on our side. Charged and waiting to be unleashed, the teeth of the greatsword spat out strands of crackling electricity. It had the desired effect.
Suddenly across the way, the slanted wooden gates where our opposition were to emerge exploded into splinters. A huge ogre came bounding forward holding a battering ram followed by another with some kind of basket apparatus on its back filled with goblins cackling in hateful glee. This band was announced as Team Howdy. As Noggal and I rushed the ogres, the others loosed a volley of arrows and magic. With Octavia’s precision, the goblins were soon dispatched. Nymeria cleverly brought up Spike Growth around the ogre howdah trapping it but leaving Noggal, and myself furiously enraged, only slightly effected. I was single-minded intent on bringing down the howdah. Behind me, it sounded as though the other were doing an excellent job taking down the other ogre. I watched as column of moonlight surrounded the howdah burning it with lunar radiance. Then, I unleashed the full power of Sparkjaw crippling the ogre to the wild cheers of the crowd. As is becoming a habit, Octavia sent an arrow into the head of the ogre stealing the last of its life dropping it to the ground. When I turned around, I saw a blood soaked Noggal standing beside the other ogre also fallen with Varis and Truda cheering with fists raised. We had won, as evidenced influx of rushing clerics to heal the opposition.
Returning to our corner of the arena still flushed with victory, we decide to do another round. Flynkin and Thyrsus, having seen the fun we were having, came down to join us. Our next duel was against a team called Bosun’s Boys. Our augmented party of eight faced off against two very skilled and grizzled looking sailors that apparently Varis knew. Entering the arena again, the crowd went wild when I raised Sparkjaw. Clearly, the blood-loving crowd saw the greatsword as prime entertainment. As I held it, Nymeria created some arcane flame that swirled around Sparkjaw into the form of a dragon as Thyrsus played to the crowd. It was clear we were the crowd favorites.
The battle begins and the two sailors bolt to opposite sides of the arena drawing us apart. I was slow moving, as the others were able to engage the two before I was. However, we seemed to be coordinated as half of us focused on one and half on the other. Once again, Varis, Truda, Octavia, and Nymeria were more than able to take down their foe. Alongside Noggal with Thyrsus and Flynkin backing us, I faced off against the fancier looking brigand. The slippery sailor managed to dodge my first attacks but I eventually struck him. Looking him in the eye, I smirked. The commoners nearest us suddenly realized what was going to happen and began whooping as I unleashed the powerful strike of Sparkjaw. The lighting bite of the dragon teeth sawed into the corsair nearly crippling him. Although he was able to throw some final punches upon Noggal, Flynkin set the pirate down with two arrows.
As his body dropped, the crowd surged in praise of our performance. We collected our winnings, healed our wounds, and left the arena flush with adrenaline.
Sting in the Park
The next day, we were still talking about our performances in The Hippo. Each of us couldn’t get enough of replaying the events of our victories. Coming to the Guild for a new assignment, our geniality dissipates as we learn the task before us.
Apparently, some kind of poison, a drug or an enchantment, has been finding its way into the mage’s college. Whoever is responsible for the drug seems to be targeting wizards and are selling their contraband in a park across the river from the college. The Guild commands us to capture a wizard named Ton who is dealing and find a sample of the substance. The dealings seem to go on in the evenings in the park. We take the day to plan our sting…
It’s decided Nymeria will be our bait. I’ll go through the park ahead of her having cast Disguise Self to scout using my Message spell to give her the lay of the land. Varis will hide in the park and Thyrsus will take up a perch in one of the trees while the others take up posts in nearby taverns waiting to hear from me via Message.
I disguise myself as a sallow looking human as I draw my blue cloak close around me. I wander into the park seeing a couple of thugs talking around a makeshift campfire. I come by pretending to need some momentary warmth. They stop their conversation giving me stern glare and nod. I move on. A couple of youths are necking beneath a tree while a gnome sits under another seemingly lost in his meaningless magic making faerie fires.
“Two dodgy looking characters just inside the park near a fire,” I mumble to Nymeria in my hands acting as though I’m blowing into them to warm them up, “a couple of kids making time with each other, and what looks like a stoned gnome. I’d check him out…”
As I send the message to Nymeria and she enters the park, a fellow enters the park from the other end escorted by what looks like a personal guard. “Wait…something is going down…” I frantically being to message the others to let them know what’s happening.
The fellow is clearly a wizard. He speaks with the gnome who passing him some coin and then receives something from him. As I tell the others, they decide to move into the park. Before I can finish relaying what is happening, the wizard fellow and his escort approach me. I drop my hands casually and draw my cloak tighter around me.
“Friend, how goes it this evening?” The wizard fellow asks politely but clearly with some ulterior motive.
“Well enough, just trying to keep warm.”
“Ah, well, I have something that may warm you. For one gold…”
It’s clear this is the guy, Ton. We need him alive, captured, but we also need a sample of his product. The easiest way, the most direct way is just to buy it, here and now. I’ll have the drug and then the others can capture him. It makes sense to me and doesn’t really throw our plan off too much.
I make a show of looking for my coin purse. Drawing out a coin, I flick it through the air to Ton as I reach out to take his product. He snatches the coin in midair and smiles.
“Oh, no, friend, not quite like that…”
A thin spike pops from within his sleeve at his wrist. The escort grabs my arm pushing up my sleeve as Ton quickly injects me with his serum. Immediately, I feel my blood boil as a wave passes through me. My sense suddenly feel heightened. My vision wobbles for a moment but soon comes back more pristine than before, more focused and seemingly deeper into the night. It feels amazing. Yet I curse myself for failing to get a sample. My mind is racing as I try to come up with a way to get the drug out of me–perhaps draw some blood or use an herbalism kit to draw out the poison. I look up. Apparently several minutes have passed.
Ton is about seventy feet away from me, his escort on guard and himself seemingly looking towards something or someone else. I can see my compatriots have engaged the pair. As I feel the drug in my system, I feel a sensation of anger flood through me for being so stupid to allow myself to be violated by the poison. The anger grows and soon I am raging…
I break into a full sprint towards the wizard. The others have taken down his escort but it seems as though the two thugs from around the fire are engaged. I see Flynkin and Noggal fighting and can just make out Truda in the distance. Once I get close enough, I see Ton look around as he is mostly surrounded; he disappears. We all pull up short for a moment trying to suss out what had just happened. His vanishing didn’t look like any kind of teleportation spell I had ever seen or read about, so I step forward reaching my arms out in the area where he was. Sure enough, I feel a human form.
Instantly, I wrap my hands around the form pulling it towards me in a bear hug. Noggal sees me grappling with…nothing…I call out to tie him up. Confused, Noggal wraps his rope haphazardly around what he guesses is what I’m talking about. I squeeze tighter and the wizard appears, his invisibility dropped. Flykin comes closer doing a better job of tying Ton up. Varis appears over us casting some spell that steals all sound from the wizard and the rest of us. While not necessarily chaos, we’re all rather confused by what is happening. Then, suddenly, Ton goes limp in my arms. I feel his full weight. The wizard is dead.
I stand as we silently confer about what to do. I begin to search his body when suddenly a serpent-like creature slithers out from underneath his cloak. It lunges out towards me but I’m able to catch it and hold it tight. This pull this long, eel from the body as Noggal moves to hit it. I try to gesture to not kill it reasoning we need this thing alive rather than dead. As we’re doing this, Varis kneels and heals Ton bringing him back to life but just barely so.
The four of us stand dumbfounded as Nymeria, Truda, and Octavia come over after having dispatched the other thugs…