The Freeport Chronicles

Battle Royale

What happens in the octagon, stays in the octagon

Summary

  • the orcs enter the second section of the gauntlet
  • bolas equipped with bells are thrown at the companions
  • blinded land sharks (bulettes) are released into the pit
  • via magical means, the bulettes are led into the nobles box-seats
  • the portcullis to the central octagon is raised
  • the other combatants are unable to cooperate to open their portcullis
  • a gelatinous death trap is bested to gain access to the hammer
  • Herder coup de graces Derp to achieve champion status

Details

The memory of their fallen companion Ferp still fresh, the orcs do a double take as a near clone jogs up from behind. The new orc introduces himself as Derp, the barbarian brother of Ferp. Interested in revenge, he leads the charge forward.

The next section of the gauntlet is a long hallway of fine coral sand. The corridor is broken up by several large barriers that appear to funnel combatants towards a gate that presumably leads to the central gladiatorial pit. The sounds of large creatures can be heard from an enclosure on the left. A platform of box seats to the right houses nobles.

The orcs cautiously enter the corridor. The crowd begins to chant – buel leh, buel leh – as the portcullis leading to the enclosure on the left begins to rise. Several nobles in the crowd raise bolas, the cords specially equipped with bells. The bolas prove difficult to dodge, with Herder, Gargle Rat and Strangles entangled by the thrown weapons. Strangles manages to escape from the cord and hurls it back at its owner. The crowd goes wild as he successfully wraps the bola around a noble.

Rooster, who has run ahead, notes something odd in the sand and bends down to investigate. He warns the orcs to tread lightly as there are other noise-makers hidden under the sand.

The portcullis rising, the orcs sprint across the sand. A curtain drops across their path, the rope filled with all sorts of bells and other noise-making devices. The orcs valiantly attempt to avoid the bell strewn cord, but alas, are unsuccessful. Clappers and bells sound as the portcullis opens.

Two large beasts burst into the corridor from the enclosure. The creatures appear to be land-based sharks, their eyes are covered by metal bands that are tacked to their skulls. The noise-making devices begin to make sense – unable to see, the bulettes rely on the bells and clappers to locate their victims. The powerful charge of the beasts takes them clear through the barriers, sending the hapless orcs sprawling.

Deciding that brawn is not the way to defeat such creatures, Magus Mork targets the platform of nobles with a spell. The sound of many bells and clappers can be heard emanating from the noble’s box-seats. The orcs stand silent and hold their breaths. The bulette’s heads jerk around to the platform and they charge towards the wall. The crowd erupts in panic as nobles and citizens alike clamor over each other to rush for the exits. The bulettes have little trouble scrambling up the wall to devour the slower of the nobles. The announcer begs the crowd to stay calm as help is on the way. Whistles can be heard in the distance.

Focusing on the portcullis that leads to the central pit, it is apparent that the mechanism to raise the gate resides on the opposite side of the wall. There are tubes to either side of the gate, each with a large grappling hook. The orcs pull out the hooks and remove a length of rope. Hauling on the ropes raises the portcullis enough to allow the orcs to slide underneath.

The central ring is shaped like an octagon, the sand a volcanic sheen as if scorched by a great heat. The large pit is barred from the crowd, a fine mesh sitting over top to prevent raucous citizens from throwing items into the ring. The air takes on a decidedly humid state. A raised dais dominates the centre of the ring, a large hammer sits peacefully atop the stone platform.

Movement from the other side of the pit draws the orcs attention. Combatants appear behind a similar style gate and portcullis on the opposite side of the ring. Instead of cooperating, however, they are engaged in full scale melee. A large frost giant attempts to open the portcullis. Magus Mork hits him with a ray of enfeeblement. Unable to lift the gate, the giant is cut down from behind. The remaining combatants continue their quarrel until only one is left standing. The warrior attempts to lift the portcullis but, similar to the frost giant, is unable to muster the strength necessary. Dejected, the warrior solutes the orcs and walks back to the mustering area. The crowd voices its displeasure at the disappointing turn of events.

The other combatants no longer a threat, the orcs investigate the platform. Derp is the first to the dais, and as Gargle Rat attempts to warn him, he climbs onto the stone formation. A large ax falls from the ceiling in a pendulum motion and impales the unsuspecting orc in the chest. The trap begins to morph into a gelatinous entity. The magus recalls the story of a deadly creature that could fashion itself into a living trap. In the story, the ooze is vulnerable to fire, and the magus relays the information to the other orcs. Taking advantage of the weakness, Rooster mixes an exploding concoction, Gargle Rat tosses a flaming flask, and Herder casts burning hands. The creature quickly succumbs in an explosion of gelatinous matter.

All preconceptions of cooperation quickly vanish as the orcs individually make a play for the hammer. Derp is first to the platform. He grabs the weapon and makes a run for the exit. Herder clotheslines the barbarian and finishes him off coup de grace style while he is dazed on the ground. This brings the spectators back to their feet. The other orcs bow to the vicious display. With his name chanted across the stadium, Herder raises the hammer victorious to the crowd.

Arena officials escort the orcs from the stadium. The orcs are given their entry pay as well as Herder’s winnings as champion. Battered and bloodied, the orcs travel back to the Vengeance feeling satisfied with their showing.

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—> Read orc interlude chapter 1

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