The final day of the festival arrived and the party woke up with anticipatory grins on their faces. They made their way out of their rooms at the Wandering Spirit. On her way out Aleera noticed that another blue flower had appeared on her door. She was starting to form her suspicions about who it could be. They all gathered in the community area for their connected rooms. They spent some time eating breakfast and psyching themselves up for the coming competition.
They showed up to the competition grounds and checked what the first challenge was. To eliminate all other guilds but the top ones, the guilds had to move through a series of puzzles. At the end only 12 guilds were left standing and the next challenge was announced. It turned out to be an all out brawl with other guilds, winners advanced until no one was left. The teams were listed:
The Chosen Blade: Composed of the regent and his personal contingent of fighters.
Golden Fist: The main security of the city and current reigning champions.
House Duskrin: a Drow only guild with both male and female Drow working together.
The Elysian Protectorate: A collective of paladins working to bring justice to King’s Crest.
The Hand of Destiny: The party’s guild.
The Errant: a grey mage guild known for working on the edges of the law.
The Moonlit Roar: a group of roving werewolves in hiding, fighting for a home.
The Dravir: A mercenary guild known for their ruthlessness and many kills.
Gnomebody’s Business: a group of gnomes proving that small is powerful.
The Children of Ash: an obscure new guild previously unheard of like the Hand of Destiny.
The Dwarven Lords: an all dwarven force of brawlers.
The Tribe of the Claw: a band of fighting orcs from the northern reaches of the island.
The party had to fight the Tribe of the Claw. They faced off against the band of 6 orcs and beat them down until they were the last standing. Having won their first match they watched the others to see who they might be paired with next. The Chosen Blade moved on after beating the Golden Fist in a surprising display of power that removed the previous champions and favorites to win. The next winners were House Duskrin over Gnomebody’s Business, taking out the lively band of rowdy gnomes. The Children of Ash beat out the Dwarven Lord’s in a brutal way. The Errant beat out the Moonlit Roar with ease. Finally, the Elysian Protectorate won against the Dravir and the next three matches were released shortly after.
The Hand of Destiny was against House Duskrin. The party won when Hepolita decapitated one of their members and the others forfeited to tend to the body of their fallen comrade. They had almost lost as Aleera had been incapacitated at almost the outset of the battle. One of the Drow mages had cast hold person on her and she could not break the hold until Hepolita made her move. (7 ROLLS LATER!!!! It was a frustrating nightmare!) The next match was between The Children of Ash and the Elysian Protectorate with the Children of Ash coming out victorious. In the last battle between the Chosen Blade and the Dravir, the Chosen Blade came out victorious.
For the last three teams the next fight was a three way fight for the top spot. The groups were led to the final fighting grounds and made their way in. The Chosen Blade was announced first, followed by the Hand of Destiny, and finally the Children of Ash. The battle was about to begin when The Children of Ash began hurling fiery magic at the two other guilds. The Hand of Destiny and the soldiers of the Chosen Blade began fighting the Children of Ash, sensing something wrong with the intensity of fighting. The Regent stood a ways off and produced one of his many blades and hurled it at the air right above the open air fighting arena. The clear blue sky above them cracked and shattered, breaking the bubble around the arena. They had never left the pocket dimension of the puzzle rooms.
The vision Aleera had a few days ago had already come to pass. The sky was ablaze as fiery meteors crashed all over the city. The buildings around the arena burned, casting their orange glow over the three guilds. The Children of Ash began touching the people that were now openly running in every direction. Where they touched burned and many people fell to the floor writhing only to rise a few moments later as some sort of ash monster. The party fought these beings alongside the Chosen Blade. When they had dispatched the members of the Children of Ash and their weird monsters they found Magistrate Styx as he hurried into the fighting area. He looked at them and smiled.
The smile was not friendly, it was cold and cruel. His very visage transformed before their eyes and revealed a red skinned demon. He cackled at them and Kaladrax yelled at him asking why. His eyes were full of tears of betrayal and Styx showed no remorse. He yelled back, answering that his name was no longer Styx but Malthazar, loyal chosen of the Queen of Ash. Before they could ask who this queen was, there was a giant explosion in the center of the colosseum.
The party barely managed to dodge the collapsing ceiling above them. When they managed to look towards the disaster area once more they saw a chilling vision. It was a dragon, an ancient red dragon, by Kariss’s exclamation. It just stood their for a moment before the hide began to burn away in a delicate brush of ash. The body disintegrated. Out of the free floating ash came striding a woman. Delicate lines of red were painted on her face, accentuating its beauty. She was dressed in a flowing gown of crimson and gold. Her gaze swept over the gathered people. At this point the party noticed that their throats were burning and speech was impossible. The heat emanated from her in waves and damaged them as she passed. With a gesture she activated the fae gate where the puzzles had been staged and stepped through.
No sooner had she disappeared than Regent Phillip and his band of soldiers followed her through it. They had worked their way around the chamber slowly, to reach the Queen. They disappeared too and the gate closed. Malthazar began his offensive immediately. He summoned more ash creatures and the party soon realized that touching them resulted in an ashy rash that spread. They used almost everything they had to fight. Seeing that he would lose if he stayed longer, Malthazar teleported out of the area. His final words rang out as the party was left to deal with the aftermath of disaster. “She will return!” King’s Crest would never be the same again.