The session began with the characters standing in a nearly empty part of the Maladran. Their battle with Triggar riding on the backs of Crodlu had just ended and the characters were discussing the fickle nature of the arena crowd. Tom went about picking up his knives and saw a yellow skull tattooed on Triggar’s chest. Sorrin knew that a yellow skull referred to what happened to a skeleton left in an area of defiled land, the flesh quickly rotted away and the bones turned yellow. Though the group knew that the yellow skull were a group of criminals, they knew little else about them. Sorrin made a biting comment on Tom’s half-elf nature which Theari attempted to deflect. With some sore feelings, the party left the ring led by dwarven guards.
The dwarves led the party to a mess-hall of sorts where a dinner was taking place. All the remaining fighters in the arena were gathered, including Asteron. Many of the tables were full when the party arrived and they quickly got their food and went to sit down. Just as Therai was walking up to the table to sit, another fighter, a woman who had a fierce burn scar covering most of her face, sat down at one of the five remaining seats. When the group sat they began some small talk. The woman was impressed at their win over Triggar and introduced herself as Tassa Thero. Abraxas knew that being a burned slave was a sign of her master’s distaste for her and that was probably why she was sitting alone. While Therai attempted to be kind to her, the rest of the party shut down the conversation. The meal passed quickly. During the meal, Abraxas felt someone watching him. Looking up, he noticed an unfamiliar man staring at the group from the second floor balconies, where sponsors went to oversee the gladiators eating below. He made note of it, but did not mention it to the others.
Soon, the party returned to their cell. As the guards were about to roll the boulder in-front of the door, the party was given a candle from “a fan” and a single match. Once darkness was upon them, Therai struck the match and lit the wick. It was a short wait till their next bout. During the wait, Brendos came to the party and told them that their next bout would be against a number of monstrous men-like creatures. He said that some sponsors preferred to use beasts that passed as men in the arena rather then the real thing. He obviously disliked the practice. He said they would be facing off against a gnoll named Karak the Foul-Toothed. Also, that of the beast men he fought with there was a powerful primal mystic who carried a bone weapon the group should watch out for. This advice given, he departed. In the wait before the fight, tensions among the group members ran high. Tom and Sorrin had obviously taken an instant dislike to one another, with Abraxas cautiously suspicious and Therai awkwardly trying to play the role of mediator.
When it was time for the next bout, the party was led to a ring that had a maze-like quality with many walls and stalagmites. The fight was short, with the monsters numbering four also. Karak, two warrior tareks and a shaman tarek (orc equivalent). The creatures lacked strategy and simply charged and smashed into the meat-grinder of the players formation. Despite their poor strategy, they still caused a great deal of damage to the group before dying. The fight was finished with a number of flourishes as Sorrin tried to play to the crowd and Tom tried to out-do Sorrin, both of which the crowd loved.
When returned to their cell again there was more time to kill than the last break. The group had a long meandering discussion that quickly led from TaNiik to the Veiled Alliance to the three local members of the secret society who had helped the party. It was then that a visitor entered the cell. One Lord Mezabran, whom Sorrin had heard of, and whom Abraxas recognized as the man who was staring at the group in the mess hall. He was the sponsor of the famous Armored Brute, and had been seen at a number of similar tournaments. The Lord was quite ugly and had a naturally cruel demeanor, but seemed interested in the party for their combat prowess. He asked the group a number of leading questions, particularly Tom and Abraxas, who did their best to deflect and evade them. He seemed particularly surprised to learn that a boy raised by an elven caravan should be so good at doing what Tom does… As a sponsor, he considered himself to be somewhat of a collector; a connoisseur of sorts, and said he would make a bid for the group after the tournament. As a seemingly casual aside, he also mentioned when he heard Abraxas’s name that a few dray from the Bloodclaw clan (Abraxas’s clan) had asked him about a dray named Abraxas on the kings road three weeks ago. Abraxas seemed to be unconcerned about this news, but he did fall rather quiet upon hearing it. Having seeming to get the information he wanted, Lord Mezabran left. The party discussed everything they knew about the lord, the party seemed unanimous that they did not want to be bought by him.
Only a few moments later the stone was rolled away again and this time the old man and dwarf girl from the Veiled Alliance entered, posing as a sponsor and his servant. They had good news; they had talked to their contact at House Wavir, and they had agreed to attempt to purchase the party for 1600 gold chits. They also recommended the group take a dive in the last bout in order to lower their going price. Of course, this could totally get them all killed, but the Veiled Alliance members were sure that since the championship bout was a stay-sword fight that the group would be fine.
Abraxas seemed dubious about their skills and questioned their intentions and ability, and Tom all but scoffed and sneered in their faces at their perceived incompetence. Tom was even more amused when Sorrin herself was revealed to be a part of the Veiled Alliance, betrayed by her own expression of frustration and annoyance. It was revealed that she did indeed know these people prior to that moment.
While the two were in the cell the old man mentioned that they could not go to another city and reconnect with the rest of the organization because the servants of Badna were out there, and killing Veiled Alliance members. Most of these servants were magically inclined dray, but there were whispers of other things, much worst things. Creatures made out of green flame roam the dunes. At that rumor Sorrin had to share an event that occurred before she was put into slavery. When she was an active member of the Veiled Alliance she and several other wizards were tasked to kill a few extremely powerful rogue defilers who had mysteriously appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and had decimated a caravan with powerful magic. When the group entered the cave where they hid, they found the dark mages torn apart and a creature of green flame in their midst. This creature attacked Sorrin’s group relentlessly, killing many of them, until Sorrin instinctively lashed out with her psychic powers and the creature screamed and ran.
After the old man and dwarf girl left Sorrin confided that the three (the old man, dwarf girl, and absent younger man) who were helping the party were unfunded and not the brightest specimens to be found within the vast organization. While she was not very pleased with them, she did defend their situation and said they were trying their best. Abraxas and Tom did not seem comforted by any of this.
The next bout began soon after this last conversation. It would be an epic battle against four Thri-kreen sponsored by a thri-kreen. The jumps and difficult terrain gave the thri-kreen a natural advantage which they took full hold of. The party tried to hold their own, Sorrin and Tom taking to the uneven low ground with skilled balance and dexterity, and Therai and Abraxas hurling themselves about on the raised platforms with raw strength. The battle was brutally hard, the terrain bloodying and tripping up the party almost more than their enemies, and almost everyone went down at one time or another. Yet despite their difficulties, every member of the party fought well and had moments of tremendous luck and skill. At the end, when Sorrin and Tom were the last standing and three thri-kreen yet remained, Sorrin managed a last-second miraculous attack, felling two of their enemies with one strike and then setting Tom up to deliver the finishing blow on the last remaining combatant.
When the fight ended with the party barely victorious, they had formed a bond through blood that might yet see them through the coming future. The announcer yelled over the screaming crowd that the final match would be tomorrow at noon, between the party and the group belonging to Lord Mezabran; the party of the Armored Brute. Broken and bloodied, Tom and Sorrin locked eyes for a moment, surrounded by the ecstatic roar of the crowd, and then stooped to aid their injured teammates. With the help of medics and stretchers the group staggered out of the pit-like arena and went to get patched up.