With Kaladrax now sporting his new hand cannon and the rest of The Hand of Destiny waiting on the ship to be completed, they found themselves with some time on their hands. With the greater goal of outfitting major cities with the large cannons under way, there was time to finish certain things off and prepare for what was to come.
Kaladrax wanted to get a tattoo to commemorate his father. Aleera went with him when he teleported to the Oasis in search of an artist for it. She teleported herself back to Waterdeep to face the challenge she had so far managed to avoid. She had to face off against that annoying Bard, Victavio. His pomposity was beyond comparison and he was nothing like his predecessor. Rictavio, or Van Rickten as the party had known him, had been a somber drum soloist. He told the stories of Van Rickten’s adventures to spread the word of the fight against Strahd and the hope that it brought.
This fledgling bard was nothing like that man. She dreaded the ridiculousness of a face off with this man but felt that she had no choice. So she went to Waterdeep and requested that their face off take place. They settled on a time later in the afternoon when more people were out and about in the streets. They set the place, the courtyard in front of the Yawning Portal, and then went off to prepare. Aleera went and retrieved Kaladrax with his brand new tattoo and met up with the rest of the party for the Bard Off. When they arrived, they were surprised to find a large crowd already gathered.
Victavio clearly wanted an audience to play witness to his performance. That was fine with Aleera, she took a deep breath and stepped forward. The crowd had been whispering among themselves and speculating on the two competitors. Face Off’s like this were common in the city. New Bards often “fought” each other for bragging rights and advancement in social circles. A good bard could go from playing for coppers at a seaside shanty bar to entertaining royal and noble families for gold and platinum. Everyone wanted to be at the top.
Aleera was the only one in the circle of onlookers. Victavio had not arrived yet. Suddenly, there was a loud trumpet sound, music sprang up and the ground began to shake. The crowd parted to allow a procession to enter the ring. It was Victavio aboard an actual elephant with players and dancers swirling in front. The spectacle was almost blinding as they dominated the ring with their entrance. After a drawn out entrance, Victavio, dismounted from the elephant and bowed to the crowd. He bowed to Aleera and asked if she was ready to begin. She nodded and the crowd that had loved that entrance now exploded in cheering once more. Then quiet fell as they awaited the performance.
Victavio asked if he could go first. He hoped to dazzle the crowd before Aleera got a word or dance in. She agreed and let him. He performed yet another elaborate song full of grandiose crescendos and loudness. The crowd cheered and danced in the streets while throwing coins at the performing Bard. The performance, although good, was not as grand as the entrance he had made so while the crowd cheered they also awaited the next performance with baited breath. Aleera stepped up to the crowd as Victavio stepped back. Silence fell over the circle.
Aleera decided not to go with spectacle; she instead told the tale of The Hand of Destiny, the story of the old gods and the tragedy that was unfolding. She danced and played her lute singing with the tune and relating her story. Everything was silent in the square as her voice and her dance mesmerized the crowd. When she finished with a delicate bow the crowd was silent, not a peep from the masses. Victavio was confident he had won. Then the people exploded in a cacophony of cheers and claps. People in the crowd were crying, tears rolling down their faces in rivers.
The crowd surged forward to congratulate Aleera and meet the great Bard she had become. Victavio was disappointed but bowed out when it was clear he would not win. The rest of the Hand of Destiny took Aleera back to their tavern to celebrate once the crowd had had enough of handshakes and autographs. They toasted to Aleera’s success and prepared to board their new airship in the morning.