When last we left the Bastards; they had finished their trials in the Traveling Travelers Tournament and received their promised prize from their peculiar presenter who pronounced himself as Oliolio!
The Bastards awoke that morning, tired from their previous day of elaborate games and contests but eager to entertain their gnome host once again. Several members of the crew had disappeared in a puff of smoke late in the night, sacrificing and solidifying their current score in the Tournament for Travelers. No one seemed fazed by the sudden disappearance of their comrades, understanding that the puff of smoke happens to everyone once and a while, and also understanding that their chances of gaining a larger prize had greatly increased.
Ash, Bael, Barakas and Castanza stretched their legs, rubbed their eyes and greeted Oliolio with a happy and friendly good morning. The next of the games proceeded promptly, with a small introduction of what was to come and the summoning of an elaborate walled arena.
The game was “Hide and go Peek”. The goal; was to locate five numbers that were to be entered into a key pad in order to exit the arena. The first contestant to leave the arena would be awarded the most points. All of this had to occur while avoid an unknown and dangerous beast, Oliolio explained.
The four Bastards entered into a complex and dangerous situation in which none of them knew what would await…and in the fashion he was known for: Barakas do as Barakas do; and ventured forth towards danger, blindly. The rest of the companions scattered around the map, filling in the nooks and crevasses that provided them with concealment, searching for any numbers that could open the combination at the far end of the arena. Their search was interrupted by a sudden blast of blue flame and the appearance of an elephant sized hound formed of arcane fire. The great beast roared with the sound of crackling flame and charged at the exposed wizard. While the charge proceeded, the wizard Barakas noticed a number six a flame in blue and glowing from the wolfs’ head. As the beast clamped its teeth around the robed Teifling he was able to scream out: “THERES A SIX, A SIX ON ITS HEAD!”
The four comrades soon realized that the remainder of the numbers must be located on the creature as well, and the game progressed from ``Hide and go Peek`` to ``Avoid the teeth and Seek``. The Bastards scattered around the map, reaching high and low to get a better view of the numbers a flame on the wolfs surface. Everyone was given a taste of the hounds’ power and the hound was given a taste of everyone; as the trial continued… Barakas spotted a two on the beasts’ right side, Castanza a five on the creatures back and both announced their findings to the company. Many attempts were made to distract, harm and on one occasion tame the arcane hound but most failed and many more ended with a strong chomp and an aggressive toss as the Bastards were flung left right and center. Ash had accumulated a large series of numbers and kept them to himself, a number one above the creatures butt and an eight on its left side. With all five numbers now known to the beast master he crept through the shadows towards the combination lock. Bael had beaten him to the location of the pad, the warlock had inspected it and attempted to devise a way of unlocking the combination, but Ash continuing with the theme of winning at any cost; loosed an arrow destined for the magic mans head. The arrow inched down and sliced though Baels robes and part of his neck. The attack was met by outrage from the other companions, which drew the attention of the arcane beast. A stratagem of retreating from the wolf and returning to the key pad eventually locked a few numbers in place. Ultimately; with the distracting help of a screaming Kenku and the aggressive advancement of a flaming orb the code was broken (65821) and Ash was the first to be teleported to a grassy knoll where he was greeted by the loving slobbery kisses of Kafka. The bird Castanza quickly followed, entering in the combination and high fiving Bael as the crow was teleported away. Bael did the same, after checking the connection between his arm and hand which was nearly teleported away with his comrade. The warlock yelled the code at Barakas as he was also teleported to the grassy knoll. The Wizard, trapped between his flaming orb and the giant hound was able to dash around and sprint towards the combination, entering it and teleported just before the beasts teeth clamped around him.
Oliolio congratulated everyone on completing the trial and living to see another day. Congratulations aside, the gnome introduced the last and his favorite trial; ``Friendly Fights`. A trial of two parts, the first part being a show of combat between each member participating, where the Bastards would be pigitted pagainst eachother in a pantastic pa pree per all. Where there could be only one winner. The start of the match would be initiated by a show of magic from the gnome.
With questioning looks and a little less admiration for Oliolio’s rhyming the four Bastards agreed; and were again transported to the same walled arena they had just escaped. With no monstrous flaming wolf around, the four companions separated themselves around the arena and waited for the friendly combat to begin. Barakas moved towards Bael and suggested that the two magic users could work together to defeat their rouge enemies. Agreeing with the alignment, the wizard and warlock placed themselves atop a post and prepared for the fight ahead. The entire walled arena flew up and exploded in the air, but at the same time kept its physical location, with that display of gnome magic the trial began. Combat stated ever so strangely as many happy smiles and waves were issued by Ash, Barakas and Bael towards each other. Castanza found a corner and hid, deciding that he would let the rest of the combatants destroy each other before he revealed himself, but fate seemed to have a different plan. In an attempt to stay out of combat the bird began moving away from the troubled areas, shifting around in the shadows like a graceful wind but all that came crashing down as Castanza crashed down upon the ground. The noise created from the jumbling of equipment in his pack and the three shurikens slamming into the wall gave the poor birds position away. The Kenkus attempt to recover from the fall descended into chaos as he was struck by a few magic missiles an arrow and some arcane spells. Attempting again to find shelter in the shadows; Castanza was forced into another awkward position as he tripped traveling around a corner, the entirety of his pack spilled out onto the arena floor. As he was cleaning the clutter that spilled from his bag the bird was killed by an arrow loosed from the screaming long bow of Ash the Shifter. With Castanza out of the way; the two magic users focused their deadly attention towards the archer, throwing missiles of magic and curses at the beast man and his pup, but Ash didn’t go down without a fight. Knocking several arrows and letting them fly, the arrows found their marks in the flesh of Bael and Barakas. Bloodied by the combat, Ash took his beast form and rushed towards his two opponents in a last ditch effort to damage. Barakas stood stoically as the raging animalistic mass came charging at him, he turned sideways and cast a magic missile. The missile struck the beast in the chest turning him into an Ashen cloud. Oliolio announced that only two combatants were left, and the wizard quickly turned on each other, casting spells back and forth a great visual show of light and flame. When the smoke finally cleared; the wizard Barakas stood tall shouting his own name and pointing to the heavens his opponent dead beneath his feet. All members met at the grassy knoll, with no hard feelings felt they congratulated each other and laughed at the war stories told.
The second part of the last trial consisted of more friendly fights, but these combat competitions would be organized and arranged by the very combatants that would be competing. The four Bastards set the guideline of the two fights, placed their points on the metaphorical table and proceeded back into the arena. The first of the organized fights was a two on two bout, Bael and Castanza vs. Barakas and Ash. The teams found their positions in the arena and the competition began with another show of gnome magic. Ash stated the trial by firing an arrow Castanza from behind, missing him and giving away his position. The bird responded by circling around and throwing a shuriken at Ash, which critically traveled through the shifters throat killing him. Barakas responded to his comrades death by summoning a powerful orb of flame separating him from the two enemies and also firing a missile of magic at his comrades killer. Castanza shifted closer to the wizard, attempting to get a better location from which to attack. Once in position the bird attacked, throwing another critical shuriken which planted itself in Barakas chest. The wizard critically scanned the area from where the attack came, cast a magic missile and bloodied the bird. Responding to the attack, Castanza again threw a shuriken at the wizard this one finding a space between his eyes.
The last friendly fights were broken down into two separate combaters, Barakas vs. Ash and Castanza vs. Bael. Ash defeated Barakas and won his combat; Bael defeated Castanza and won his.