Shortly after finishing Finn’s Shiere Knight trial, the UTA decided to head off to the Fettered Ward for some much-needed down time. It was unfortunate however, Finn decided he was not in the mood for entertainment and wished to be left alone. While Vanguard, who is always in the mood for fun, wanted to go but had to seek emergency medical attention for his “mitten-hands.” So alas, Rusty was left to babysit Leif and Orsik all by himself (an epic tier mission if I say so myself).
Like children in a candy shop the three ran down the streets of the Fettered Ward in search of ale, women, and a good time. Passing by a large toothed building, Leif stopped for a moment to read the dilapidated wooden sign. It read: The Honey Pot – Gloomwrought’s Finest Gladiatorial Arena Open once a month — Today only!. The three were overjoyed. Just then Orsik muttered something that the other two had all but forgotten, “Isn’t this the place where the City of Brass ambassador, um, Azuun Bennic, fights?” he said. Leif and Rusty agreed; maybe they could talk to Azuun about this impending war and garnish some support from either him or Prince Rolan.
It was decided. The “Brain Trust” decided that they couldn’t be in the wrong be seeking out additional help. Surely Finn and Vanguard wouldn’t mind — no, no, no, they’d be impressed. They then passed through a pair of wooden doors and were greeted with a familiar odor. A trollish looking ogre named Gar’burge, the arena master and a relative of Brugg, introduced himself to the trio. After sizing them up he decided that they should fight on a low ticket fight against some animals instead of prime time; what a jerk, he obviously doesn’t understand how awesome we are.
Rusty quickly conversed with a shadar-kai named Tom Justa’duud and learned some info about some of the other fighters. On the docket today was a fight between Ambassador Bennic and the Ghost Hall Runners, a gladiatorial group of shadar-kai from the supremacist organization known as the Ghost Talon. Tom leaned in close to Old Rust and said: “Hey, between you and me, I heard that these Ghost Hall Runners are planning on killing the ambassador as a public demonstration. Be careful, pal.”
The three strapped on their armor and got onto the loading platform. Rusty informed his comrades about what he had just heard and they agreed that this is working out perfectly. They stepped onto the sand of the arena and called out to the crowd, “We are the Uncomfortably Tall Adventurers from the Material Plane. Prepare to be entertained!” Entertained they would be…yet no one knew what would soon unfold.
Three blade-wielding spinning traps stood in the middle of the arena and far on the other side roared a massive owlbear. He was flanked by a small troupe of antelopes who’s eyes glowed blue with energy. Leif and Rusty proceeded towards the owlbear while Orsik single handedly took on the magical (contrary) antelopes. Leif took the brunt of the hits from the owlbear and fell into a pit of snakes with the beast to the amusement of the crowd. After much hacking and slashing, the antelopes were defeated and Orsik landed the final blow on the fey beast. The crowd went wild.
After the fight, our three heroes patched up their wounds and discussed what to do next. Gar’burge was so impressed he decided to put our names on the marquee fight with Azuun Bennic. After a short discussion, Leif convinced the ogre to let us have a three-way with Azuun. No! A three-way fight! Gar’burge imagined the gold he could make from a fight like that and was swayed. He went away to make arrangements while the Brain Trust discussed what to do next…some new information came to light: the leader of the Ghost Talon is Nira’s brother, Oristus.
Orsik was firm in his resolve, we should help the Ghost Talon. They support the one, true deity (and, who knows, maybe if things work out Oristus would be his brother-in-law one day). Rusty, still jaded by the fact that Rolan is a dick wanted to side with the Ghost Talon as well but he had creeping thoughts. Leif was also unsure, maybe Azuun would be able to convince Prince Rolan that we need more support than just the gargoyles. Just then, a bell rang, it was time for the fighters to put their armor on.
The clamored onto the lift and ascended into the light. The crowd was on their feet chanting, they knew this was going to be a fight to remember. Azuun waved to the crowd and summoned two salamanders, spear-touting flaming elemental beasts, to his side. Not more than forty feet away stood the Ghost Hall Runners, angry-looking shadar-kai dudes who had their sights set on the City of Brass ambassador.
Salamanders?! What a slippery situation!
A salamander skewered one of the shadar-kai with his spear (it wasn’t easy to tell if he was dead or not) So the UTA ran in weapons blazing — unfortunately for them, Azuun ran into the fray as well, weapons literally blazing. Rusty caught a salamander in between two of the spinning blade traps and made a poor, rash decision ("This definitely won’t have tier-long negative consequences). With his blood pumping and the Dagger of Ursh clenched in his child-sized fist, he proceeded to eviscerate the salamander, push him into the spinning blade trap and eviscerate him again. Azuun looked on in horror; He and Roger had grown up together, they were neighbors! In a shout he exclaimed, ""Tell me, who sent you assassins?!" That basically ended any and all hope for negotiation between the parties.
A few minutes later, our heroic heroes, mostly Rusty, decided that what they were doing was wrong, they needed to save Azuun from the Ghost Talon. Maybe they could get him to surrender, he could return to the City of Brass and live a long happy life, maybe find an old flame from high school and start a burning hot romance. But no, he refused. So, in typical UTA fashion (with or without Finn and Vanguard, honestly) our heroes decided that the only ally they could salvage from this mess was with the Ghost Talon.
A beaten, bloody Azuun Bennic rested his weary head on the pommel of his flaming scimitar. “I ask again, who sent you?” Orsik’s shadow engulfed the genasi’s face, panting he replied: “The Raven Queen,” and with a shout he bludgeoned the defeated ambassador until his life was extinguished. With his last breath, he removed a small piece of parchment from inside his coat. He held it aloft in his hand as it incinerated, the ashed trailed off into the soul-laden skies destined for a location unknown.
With the battle won, Leif stood among the corpses and addressed the crowd with Rusty at his side.
“Very soon a countless force of undead will converge upon the fair city of Gloomwrought with two liches most-powerful leading the way. They will slaughter ever last man, woman, and child. We need your help to quell this abominable threat for we cannot do it alone! Nigh, good people, whenceforth for the darkness, they shall arise and seek to take all it is that you love! What you have witnessed here today, Azuun Bennic and Prince Rolan the Deathless have refused to help our cause; they in their blindness see it as no threat at all. We were forced to kill this honorable ambassador so as to this city, her people! We musn’t let the city crumble in their lifeless hands! Now only Prince Rolan stands in our way, we must rise up against him to stop this encroaching onslaught.
In his cold, uncaring heart he would let you die and for that crime, he must be forcefully, and immediately, deposed!"
Meanwhile, Orsik watched in silence as the ashed from Azuun’s letter trailed off in the wind. He thought to himself, this fight is far from over.