Part 44: Race

The races happened today! Well, I mean, more than that happened, too. I’m so very tired today! I have been up all night trying to deal with some things. Everyone thought I seemed a little manic today, and it’s true. 

To start with, the day started like all the other days of the Great Games. Briar made breakfast, Clio and I had tea, Torag disappeared to go training some more, Shadow and Rendu were chatting about the games, and Actaeon went off to his room to polish his weapons or something. I don’t know. I have no idea what he does most of the time. Maybe he’s washing his beautiful hair underneath that helmet? Pholon and Ilharg were happily talking about something or other. I think Corinna spent most of the morning at the markets on an errand. 

Today’s contest of strength is the foot race around the arena. Only Shadow qualified for the event out of all of the Heroes. Which is surprising, actually. I remember during the qualifiers that Clio and I were chatting while the others were competing, and we were both very shocked to see that Torag didn’t qualify. He was exhausted from some other earlier qualifier, but still. Torag was actually a little sour when we were watching Shadow in the race.

The race went really well! Shadow won, of course. Who wouldn’t have expected it? He’s very lean and strong. It’s not that I’m surprised that he’s as fit as he is. It’s just that we only ever see him with his armor and cloak on. And to be fair, we didn’t even really see him in this competition either. He’s very fast! 

The race was over sooner than most everyone else expected. I had to talk to Shadow after the race to get the play-by-play or whatever was going on in his head. He started the race staying back and waiting, following those who rushed ahead. Spira and Hatria both pulled ahead as quickly as they could, with Leyland not far behind. Kano kept pace with Shadow for a bit before tearing ahead. But Spira and Kano both started looking tired, and Shadow suddenly darted forward and claimed the victory.

Before I go on, I need to say some things about our competitors. I think the rest of the Heroes of Prophecy will agree with me on this. I like Kano and Spira. They’re both very cool people. But the rest of them? I’m not so sure. Heath, I don’t think it would serve me well to write what I feel about Jorges, the captain of the League of Storms. He holds his head mockingly high though he’s absolute trash in the Great Games. Hatria, the amazoness is exactly the same. Neither of them are making friends here. I don’t really know the others well enough to judge, but I still want us to beat them all.

Except Kano and Spira. If they won the Great Games, I’d be very happy for them. They were both congratulating Shadow after the race, and the three of them together seemed in very good spirits. It’s nice to see Shadow smile!

The Grand Spectacle for the day is the chariot grand prix, a sylvan word meaning ‘race’. Each contestant is given a magic chariot pulled by a spectral ‘creature’ (it’s a horse. They don’t really have horses here like they do in Ylisse. So no one knows it’s called a horse). The contestants do six laps around the arena, constantly trying to avoid or crash into each other. I expect I’ll see Torag and Actaeon doing this a lot.

I should mention, Shadow, Torag, and Actaeon are our champions in this event. Spira, Egan the dwarf – whom I kind of forgot about – and Jorges were the others. We coaches cast a few spells on our competitors for help, then we got to go up to the stands with the others and enjoy the spectacle. Briar was fully into cheering for our friends. I bought far too much popcorn again. Clio sat quiet and dignified as usual, occasionally shouting to our friends when they pulled ahead in the race. 

When the race began, Jorges immediately started attacking the others. Shadow deftly swerved and Egan got thrown wildly sideways, running into Spira. Shadow recovered quickly and sped forward with Actaeon and Torag close behind. Maybe Jorge thought he was taking out the competition at the start, but it didn’t work. Egan caught up to him and rammed him again, slowing him down. Spira pulled ahead of them, but just couldn’t overtake the Heroes. 

In the end, Torag, Actaeon, and Shadow all tied for first place! They played the game very cool and surprisingly calm rather than chaotic. I’m going to admit to no one that I’m a little sad they didn’t try to wreck each other, but I understand their reasoning. Jorges took second place and Spira got third. Poor Egan, though. He got stuck on Spira’s chariot wheel for a while and his chariot passed the finish line barely holding together. He looked a little shaken and a lot upset.

After the event, we wanted to take an evening to relax and enjoy ourselves a bit. We invited Kano over for dinner. Before he came, I spent some magical energy on the message spell Clio taught me. Azorius confirmed something we had been questioning: for some of the recipes he has at the Mithral Forge, we can in fact use Clio’s hair. I’m not sure how she feels about that. We can use it to make some instruments, temporary replacements until we recover the ones stolen by the Four Winds. 

My other message was to Damon to see how he’s doing. I wanted to ask him if he knew anything about Helios, but he only knew Helios by name. I guess they had never met. None of the Five know much about him either. I guess it was a rare event for us to have met the sun god.

Finally, I sent a message to Mother. This is odd, though. I couldn’t get through to her. I asked Clio about it later if she had ever experienced something like that. She thinks something may have been blocking the magic. As in, something where Mother is locked up is causing her to not receive messages right now. That’s kind of terrifying. I pray she is alright.

Kano arrived after the messages were sent, and we discussed the final day of the games in a few days. The last Grand Spectacle will be the Great Relay, a long-form race. We wanted to be sure what our team would be, and we had heard that Kano was not going to compete. Charming as he is, I can’t help but wonder if he’s a little shy. He doesn’t have a team because he couldn’t get anyone to join him! We presented our plan: join up with a few of us!

Let me rephrase that. The team of the Heroes was decided pretty easily. I overstepped when it came to Kano’s team. Since the teams for the relay have a maximum of five racers, we offered Kano to create a team with those of us who won’t be on the Heroes’ team. Where I overstepped is this: I may have been overly excitable in making suggestions about the team. The truth is I haven’t had a drink in a few days and my body feels very fidgety because of it. More on that in a second.

Honestly, I think we will both have pretty good teams. Clio is very brave and could get through the harpies pretty easily, so she’s going to be doing the harpy races with me. Against me. Oh, Heath, what if I beat her? What if I run faster than her? Will she be angry with me? Even worse, what if she beats me? Will she think I’m not athletic enough? I’m not. I know that! Oh, no. What will I do?

I ended my night by sneaking off to the Temple of the Five. Something about what the Oracle told me is weighing on my mind. I made a quick prayer to the Morninglord before sending a prayer to Kiora. I offered her service if she wanted it. I’m hoping that she’ll speak to me sometime soon. I’d really like to make her acquaintance, too.

Tomorrow’s event is the long jump. I have a pretty good feeling Actaeon’s going to win that one. Clio keeps talking about her jump spell. There’s no way anyone beats Actaeon if Clio is helping him!

I’ve been looking at my reckoning of the Ylissean calendar. I left Ylisse during the beginning of the Rainfall Moons, and we’re already in the Forge Moons. It’s been three months! Three months since I got on that damnable boat. I have nightmares every night still. Many of them are about the night I lost you or the night that boat sank and I lost Mother. Lately they’re different. They’re about my friends. My new family here. I don’t want to lose them. I don’t know, perhaps ‘nightmare’ isn’t the best word for it anymore.

I’ve officially decided to stop drinking as of a few days ago when I made a fool out of myself in front of my friends. Mother will be very pleased to hear that, but I have to admit that it is very difficult. I’ve been stealing drinks from my companions every day. Did certainly knows about it but I don’t think she’s been publishing that in her stories. It makes me irritable and funny. I think that’s why I got so excited when talking to Kano about his new relay team. I really just can’t sit still and my head hurts constantly. At first I thought it was because I keep sharing pain with Torag and Actaeon, but now I’m pretty sure it’s because I’m trying to be sober. I’m trying to be better. This is my penance for that first bottle of wine you and I stole when we were twelve years old. I blame you for that, you know!

Am I doing better? It’s hard to say. I don’t know. I’ve taken my vows to the Morninglord, but now Kiora is speaking to me, too? I’m very confused. I’m myself now, all in my true form just like I was when we first met. My hair is getting longer and I’m not shapeshifting it shorter. Maybe I’ll let it grow longer like Rendu’s or Actaeon’s. Maybe I’ll braid it like Clio’s pretty hair. But I definitely won’t let it get crazy like Briar’s was! (Clio and I help her with her hair every day now) I’m still embarrassed about people seeing my scars, especially the ones on my wrists and my neck. The one on my eye doesn’t bother as much as it used to. Whenever I feel self-conscious about anyone seeing anything, I look at Actaeon’s scars and feel like I really shouldn’t complain.

But things are looking up. I’m a hero now. We all are. Actaeon’s still hiding his face for now, but he’s always putting himself into harms way to protect us and the people we help. Briar’s come a long way since I met her, and she’s incredibly friendly. Clio has been incredibly brave throughout her trials, and is starting to open up to us more. I’m so very glad to have Rendu with us. Shadow’s been doing better since we’ve been busy with the games and I know he’s excited to leave Ellandyr again. Even Torag is looking rather heroic, though he’s still charging head-first into every conflict he can find. I just hope I’m good enough for all of them.

I’ll write again soon, Heath! Rest well, my love. We’ve got more games to do, and I need to make new clothes for us all.