Part 45: Victory

Day of Burning Sun, Inalis

Oh, my goodness! I’ve been terrible at keeping up with my writing in this journal. Normally, Heath, I’m very good at writing consistently and updating you and this journal on everything we do. Dia has been insistent on getting a run-down of our adventures daily. I hope she won’t be cross with me because I’ve been so exhausted.

It’s the events, Heath. They make me so terribly tired by the end of the day! Worrying about my friends in the events is one thing, but the crowds that gather around us all the time while we are here! The King loathes us, of this I am certain. Any appearance he makes now is done on the back of Uriangr, his haughty silver dragon. All of his public appearances are with the dragon now and I believe it is simply because we wound his fragile pride. Underneath his smile, I can see the fury in his eyes as random people bring us food and drink.

So what has been going on? Well, let me summarize it as succinctly as I can. We won.

That’s not very good story-telling, is it?

I guess it’s because I’m a little melancholy right now, too. I’ll explain later.

The 300 Meter Dash, the Long Jump, and the Wrestling contests of strength were all won by my friends. Clio did some very neat magic on Actaeon, something that I think even the Oracle may not have expected. It was something akin to a jumping spell, allowing Actaeon to actually leap outside of the sandbox he was supposed to be jumping into. Next year’s Great Games will no doubt ban such a spell. And to no one’s surprise, Actaeon won the wrestling contest as well.

Wait, no, that’s not quite right. There was a lot of surprise with that event.

So, Captain Jorges, the man from the League of Storms. Something was wrong with him on the last day of the Great Games. All throughout the games, we had expected some very stiff competition from him. It was shocking how poorly he was doing. Torag kicking him off the tower was comical but a little sad for him. Not that I feel remorse for anyone in the League of Storms. No, Heath, they are wicked people who use their religion to oppress the masses. Regardless, Jorges was most certainly not winning any events, and I felt genuine pity for him when he earned a singular point during the chariot races.

Today, something was different. Rendu wrestled him first, and he seems extraordinarily heavy to him. Rendu is a master athlete and he couldn’t pin Jorges, or even get a good grip on him. Actaeon said the same thing, barely managing to win against him. Jorges was growling and snarling the whole time, too, which was upsetting. Jorges has some fans in the crowd, but even they were having trouble watching it. Shadow suggested to me that he was being very threatening, and we were concerned that he may try to sabotage us or harm us during or after the last event.

So, what else happened? Leaping Spires was a fun event in which everyone was shooting each other with arrows to capture some flags. Shadow ended up winning, though Torag and Actaeon were both very close at one point. Rendu was playing the game very strategically. I think the Heroes’ greatest threat in this competition was actually Kano! So Rendu held Kano back the while time, and it was so great! The Chariot Races were a hoot to watch. I’m not sure how much I really helped Torag in that event, but he did well. There was a tie to win. Eye of the Storm was quite the match. Torag and Shadow took the center of the arena, trying to shoot down wind elementals and mephits. They both looked so frazzled afterwards! I think Shadow and I spent nearly an hour trying to pat down his hair afterwards.

I was about to talk about the Great Relay, but I need to mention something first. Between Actaeon’s wrestling match with Jorges and the start of the Relay, Shadow and I grew very concerned about Jorges. Clio made Shadow invisible as he cast a spell on us to make it easier for us to sneak about. I shapeshifted into one of the Leaguers so I could tail Jorges without drawing attention. We followed him to the gates of the coliseum where he mounted a chariot and disappeared towards the temple district. I returned and reported what I had seen to my friends while Shadow followed to make certain what was happening. He came back to us a bit later and said he saw Commander Gaius welcome Jorges wordlessly, but Shadow was to shaken to keep following. He saw a silver dragon around the back of the temple, and dragons are able to see invisible people like Shadow. We want to investigate further, but we have a relay to run first.

Oh, something else happened! So, last time I wrote, I had written down some plans that we had decided on for the relay. Some stuff changed. First off, Briar wanted to cast a spell of water breathing on all of us as none of us knew who would be the one doing the water swimming leg of the race. Rendu and I wanted to have some fun so we quickly ran down the street to the bathhouse and played underwater for… what, an hour? We sat at the bottom of the pool and had fun conversations about food, drinks, music, and adventures. When we got back, everyone got ready for bed and the next game.

The Great Relay went like this: there were five legs or sections of the race. The first was a dash across the beach of Ellandyr. The second was a swim underneath a magically frozen section of the ocean. The third was a cliff climb up a shear wall. The fourth was a run across a hot section full of fiery snakes. And the last passed a series of nasty harpies in cages. We changed up the teams after learning of the final standings: Actaeon and Shadow were both just one point away from each other. Whoever won the race would win all the games! We decided to put them on different teams, then. Otherwise if their team won, Actaeon would win by default and that didn’t seem like a very spirited competition if Shadow was guaranteed to lose.

The lineup was as follows: the first Heroes’ team consisted of Ilharg running on the beach, Torag going swimming with his fancy magic ring, Shadow is going to do the cliff climbing, Pholon will run through the fire, and I will finish the race by running past the harpies. The second team (dubbed the Fey team) is Rendu on the beach, Briar swimming as a dolphin, Kano climbing the cliff, Actaeon rushing through the fire snakes, and Clio going past the harpies. They were called the fey team because Clio and Briar and Kano are fey, Actaeon speaks fey, and Rendu is just as pretty as any fey. Our competitors made up their own teams.

Ilharg and Rendu kept pace with each other pretty easily, and Briar made the underwater swim look effortless in the form of a dolphin. Torag kept up well, too, being not even slightly winded by the time he passed his baton to the next racer. Shadow and Kano managed the cliff without any difficulty whatsoever. Pholon and Actaeon kept up their pace with the fire snakes, who hissed and snapped at their feet. Clio and I felt a little out of place in the competition. Neither of us is particularly athletic so we were mostly just hoping to have some fun. We were lucky that we were slightly ahead of Spira from the other team. The harpies cried at us, but Clio and I are not people to be so easily charmed. I mean, Clio is very charming already, but this was different.

I didn’t end up winning. I just could not keep up with Spira and Clio! Spira is a master athlete but I think Clio just wanted it more. Our fey team pulled off the win! We gathered at the finish line, cheering for one another and celebrating the victory of the Heroes of Prophesy. Shadow helped pick Clio and I up and placed us on Briar’s back, who led us away from the game and back to the coliseum. I gave a quick handshake to Hatria to congratulate her on her race, too, but I don’t think she likes us very much. At least, not Shadow. He targeted her a lot during this last week.

At the closing ceremony of the Great Games, the Oracle spoke about unity between the three kingdoms before giving a bronze medal to Torag, a silver metal to Shadow, and a gold medal to Actaeon. The crowd cheered mightily for us before King Acastus descended on Uriangr (mostly to win the crowd’s favor) and presented Actaeon with a crown of laurels as his grand prize. Actaeon dedicated the Great Games and his victory to Kiora before the crowd went home and we got to collect ourselves once again.

To celebrate, we decided to have a big party back at the Starfall Estate. Naturally, we invited Spira and Kano to join us, as well as the Oracle, Kalista, Lumi, and Candle. We also extended an invite to Falana, the dragonborn warrior, as she had always showed us much kindness and respect during the games. Briar and Torag went back to the estate with Ilharg and Pholon to get ready for the party (Torag went to buy some ale), I went to the Academy Arcanum to buy some spell items, and Actaeon, Rendu, Shadow, and Clio went to speak with Aminatou about what Shadow and I learned about Jorges.

Aminatou believed them when they told her about the problem with Jorges. He thought that the dragon he saw might have been the same one that a League of Storms rider used to threaten us a month ago when we were on our way to the Mithral Forge, and that the Jorges we saw at the Great Games might actually be a dragon in disguise. Aminatou dismissed this idea as Gaius’s dragon, Laxus, cannot yet transform into humanoid form, but did accept that it could have been the dragon that threatened us. Further, they spoke about our dealings with the Lady of Coins. In her wisdom, Aminatou suggested that we merely use the Lady of Coins as a tool to help us achieve something right now, and to definitely not trust her to keep her word at the end of our quests.

Aminatou also spoke of something that the Oracle had mentioned to us a few days past: a turncoat amongst the League of Storm warriors may be willing to help us. His name is Demitri and he was the leader of the Reckoners, important figures in the League. His last known location was in the Obsidian Sierras. Like the Oracle, Aminatou and Mikhaila both suggested that we find him as soon as we are able.

Clio asked the Oracle about the Fates and her dealings with them, as well as the mysterious Raya who spoke to the Oracle before we had breakfast with her. Raya is fey as well, and is a medium (she talks to the dead). The Fates want the Oracle to die so as to end her prophetic visions, but the Oracle has a plan for this. She recommended that we steer clear of them unless in dire need of their assistance.

Back at the house, Clio and I performed a sacrifice with Briar. Briar had been taking great care of a sheep for the sacrifice on the Day of Burning Sun – which would end tonight at sunset. I helped make Briar some ceremonial clothing for the sacrifice. It was beautiful, haunting, and terrifying. I don’t know if I’ll ever truly understand the nature of the gods. What is the sacrifice for? What does it signify? Why does my god not require it of me? I am not certain, but I can only imagine that the sacrifice is a showing of humility. I will ask more about it later.

The party began with a big of a ruckus. Vaevictus, Torag’s father, decided to show up and he brought his own cask of ale. Dia spent most of her time with him, trying to curb his drunkenness to no avail. Pholon and Ilharg started singing some strange drinking song, and Falana and Rendu started playing some music. Clio and I danced together for a while before Shadow cut in to dance with me. To my chagrin, Kano snuck in to dance with Clio while I was away with her.

Oh, stop, Leef. Jealousy is a bad color on you. Besides, Clio already made it very clear that she’s much more focused on fighting the titans than anything else. I might still ask her out again at some point to do something fun together, but I know where the boundary lies. And I get it. Kano is very attractive. He’s a fey! Clio would probably be much more interested in someone like him than someone like me anyway.

The party must have lasted hours! Eventually all our guests save Kano left for the evening. Kano had a lot to talk with us about. He has currently two leads on the location of the Sun’s Avatar, the legendary once-in-a-lifetime beast. Slaying and sacrificing this beast would provide great blessings for us, enough perhaps to win the war against the titans. Kano’s first lead is on the mainland near the Sunsmith Centaur tribe. The second is on Fire Island, an island in the sea full of Lizardfolk. Kano will go to the Sunsmith and, when we are able to sail on the sea with the Gjallerhorn, we will investigate Fire Island.

But first, our team has something important to do. The Gjallerhorn would be a few days yet before Aminatou had it finished, so we are off tomorrow to go to the mountains. We must find Demitri before the League of Storms does, lest we lose a potentially important and useful ally.

And with that, I think I’ve finally caught up! I went through my scriptures tonight and have all the spells I need prepared for a voyage out of the city tomorrow. My shoes are all cleaned up, and we all look as good as we can! Food is packed, and we all are very eager to get out on the open road again. We’re going on adventures, Heath! Just like you and I planned all those years ago!