Part 40: Sunken

6 to Burning Sun, Inalis

Here we are, Heath! The first day of the Great Games has finally come! Well, sort of. We have a bit of rest right now before we go out on the town after the events. I have so much to write down, and I’ll try to get to as much of it as we can before we leave.

I don’t think any of us could sleep last night, honestly. Even being mentally injured in Actaeon’s bout yesterday, I wasn’t able to find sleep at all. Clio doesn’t sleep much anyway but she was just sort of watching the stars all night, and Briar kept shifting and rolling over. The only reason I know that is because they usually sleep outside my window. I kept getting up to get a cup of water and there was someone new in the kitchen or dining area each time. We were all restless, but in an excited kind of way.

When morning finally came and we all got up and ready for the Great Games, we had a quick team meeting beforehand. A few options were given on how we wanted to approach the games. Should we all band together and make it so only one of us is the victor at the end, or should everyone try their best? It was hard to come to a decision, but ultimately we decided that as long as the Heroes of Prophecy were standing on the victor’s platform at the end, we would be very happy. Torag and I have been planning to have him be the ultimate winner, but I’m very happy to cheer for any of us. 

So I guess I forgot to write this out last night after the opening ceremony. There are twelve competitors that qualified for the Great Games. The four Heroes of Prophesy (Shadow, Torag, Rendu, and Actaeon) make up a third of that. That gives us some pretty good odds! The rest of the competitors are gladiators, bards, hunters, and warriors from Ellandyr, Altea, Novarra, and some places in between. The crowd favorite is clearly a warrior named Spira. There’s also a warrior from the League of Storms and Shadow muttered under his breath that we should kill him. I mean, don’t get me wrong, Heath, I hate them just as much as anyone else. But I’m still not super comfortable killing people. I am, however, more than in the mood to humiliate him in this competition. Maybe afterwards he’ll be dumb enough to get into a fight with us and Torag can kick him in the face.

Whoops! Getting off topic!

So each day, there’s a contest and a grand spectacle. The contests are the same events for which my friends had to qualify. The grand spectacle is exactly what it sounds like, and from what I understand, each one will be very grandiose in nature. Today’s contest event was archery. Only Shadow qualified, so Rendu, Actaeon, and Torag had to sit this one out. We briefly met Shadow’s coach, an elderly tabaxi woman named Lumi. She is so incredibly kind and walks with a cane kind of like Mother. We’re going to have to invite her to tea because I want to hear whatever stories she has for us. Anyway, Lumi performed a blessing for Shadow and sent him out to the archery contest.

The contest was over before it began, in my opinion. Hatria the amazoness and Egan the dwarf missed their shots immediately. Jorges the League of Storms man and Kano the hunter performed very well on their first shots. Shadow was oddly calm and stoic, just like he is when our group gets into a dangerous battle. His shots looked effortless. The dwarf Egan seemed to be having some trouble in the competition, as did Jorges. Hatria held her own but couldn’t catch up to Shadow’s and Kano’s scores.

Shadow, the mighty hunter and warrior and my friend, won the competition! I’m so proud of him! We cheered like crazy, and he was happily chatting with Lumi afterwards. That hunter Kano apparently said some kind words to Shadow, too. Jorges looked very unhappy, and Egan looked embarrassed. Briar cast a spell and wrote words “Shadow, your hunt is proud of you” in the clouds, and Shadow looked so pleased!

The Arcanist and the Archmage came into the arena to set up for the grand spectacle. The ground shifted under magical duress and began filling with water. I’m curious what spells they cast to do this, but I couldn’t watch their somatic movements closely enough. It took perhaps an hour for the spectacle to be set up. This was the Contest of Sunken Souls and it was going to be exciting!

Actaeon, Shadow, and Torag were going to compete, and that meant Clio, Lumi, and I would be the coaches to help. Briar had been experimenting with spells last night and ended up casting a water breathing spell on everyone. I don’t know if she meant to do that or not, but it helped immensely. No one was particularly worried about holding their breath, but now we didn’t need to worry at all. Jorges was in this competition again, as well as Cy the monk, Leyland the gladiator, and Spira the pretty crowd favorite. 

The rules are as follows: there is treasure at the bottom of the gigantic pool in the colosseum, and the competitors had to dive to get them and bring them to their coach on a small platform in the center of the pool. But beware! There will be monsters in the water, and after a certain amount of time in the spectacle, more and more monsters would be added to the pool. That all sounds absolutely terrifying, but Torag just had this grin on his face the entire time. He was wearing his magic ring that was supposed to help him swim. Actaeon changed into the mariner’s armor we found on the Gjallarhorn. Shadow, I guess, is already a strong swimmer. He seemed the least worried of any of us. 

Anyway, as coaches, we (Clio and I) were allowed to cast spells on our champions (Actaeon and Torag) during the competition. I started by putting a protective spell around Torag and tried guiding him towards some treasure I thought I saw. Clio did something similar to Actaeon. Lumi surprised us by putting a speed spell on Shadow. He zipped underwater in a flash!

Some mud monsters were in the first wave of dangers. They tried to tie down Shadow and Torag, but the two of them were too quick and nimble. Surprisingly, Actaeon was fast, too! Clio put a speed spell on him as well, and whatever cool powers she had, she bestowed on him (she’s so cool and cute and awesome!). Actaeon became the fastest swimmer in that pool, and he pulled up treasure after treasure after treasure. Shadow was doing the same, but he kept getting attacked by water weirds, which are apparently invisible when submerged. Torag and I had a lot of trouble. He was getting surrounded by monsters and my protection spell could only block so many attacks. And all the while, we kept hearing the crowd cheer. Over the tumult, I kept hearing Briar saying such funny things that she almost broke my concentration a few times. I love Briar so much!

While I was so focused on Torag and keeping an eye on Actaeon, Clio, and Shadow, I didn’t really get a chance to see what happened to our competitors. As it turns out, Jorges almost drowned when a weird pulled him underwater. Cy got almost away, but a group of weirds and mud monsters eventually got him. Leyland didn’t end up with a single point. He was being assaulted on all sides the whole time and finally succumbed to the water. Fortunately whenever someone was knocked out, the Arcanist teleported them to safety to make sure no one drowned. 

Some water elementals tried to attack us, but Clio and I had protective spells on Actaeon and Torag and they were fine. Shadow got beaten up pretty bad and Lumi had to cast some spells to pick him back up. Finally, a krake spawn – miniature kraken, I guess – came out. I didn’t want to look scared in front of Clio and Lumi, but I couldn’t really help it. This thing was enormous and horrible to look at! It’s tentacles lashed out at our champions, but Torag deftly dodged and just kept diving for treasures. Actaeon got trapped by a weird but he got out of it easily enough. Shadow pulled out his bow and started shooting underwater at anything that got close.

In the end, Actaeon won! He pulled up the last piece of treasure and victory was his! The best part is that apparently he wasn’t really listening to the rules of the game and had decided to just do whatever Clio told him. Her instructions were “bring me treasure” and he took it to heart. He didn’t even know he won, but he looked so pleased with himself! There was a small award ceremony at the end once everyone had dried off. Actaeon took first place, Shadow took second, and Torag earned third. The Heroes swept the competition! Each of them got a lovely bouquet of flowers. I gave Torag a great big hug and told him I was proud of him.

We have a bit of rest right now while the colosseum empties and the spectators go home for the night. Shadow thought it might be fun to go out to drinks to celebrate our victory, and I think that’s a great idea. That gave me plenty of time to write this in my journal. I’ll write more before I go to bed, Heath, just in case something fun happens. I think some of the other champions in the Great Games will be there.