We came out of the portal at the last place I would ever had expected: the bottom of a shallow well. In comparison with the wind and snow of Isla Norte, the air here was warm and dry, and I called up out of the well for help just as the magical fire behind us flickered and went out. With a heave, I was hauled out of the pit by a group of exuberant citizens, eager to help a mystical stranger from in his hole.
As I stumbled to my feet, I asked where I was. “Carthal, of course!” offered several people at once. “For the Tourney? The opening procession’s set to start in a few hours, you know.”
I was bombarded by questions as I brushed the dirt from my clothes. “Who are you?” “Did you fall in?” “Why are you sitting in a hole?” “If you’re stupid enough to sit in a hole all day long, why don’t you have your red speedo on?”
Behind me, my companions were being hauled from the hole one by one. I prepared to give the locals the full tale of my adventures, but from the back someone hissed “Guards!” before I could begin.
Shoving their way through the crowd, three guards from northern Mythron hustled towards me. “Hey, you! You’re under arrest for interfering with the city’s water supply! You need to come with me—or do I have make you?” A sneer curled the face of the bearded Mythronian, and the other two followed suit.
“Fascinating,” I muttered as they came towards me. I’d traveled around the Lands more times than these guards had probably been away from their village, and they looked ill-used to the pole-arms they carried: hired security to help out the peaceful Carthal soldiers, no doubt.
I waited until their leader was almost upon me, then grabbed for the base of his halbard and rolled to the ground. Waiting for me to punch him or flee, he was unprepared for this attack.
Rolling sideways into his legs, I simultaneously pushed upwards on the halbard. Smoothly and gracefully the Mythronian slid over the pike and flipped onto the road. As the other two moved in, I noticed the ring the crowd had instinctively formed around us. All the better that they get a good show I muttered.
Springing up, I swung the pike up and over the heads of the two Mythronians, catching the battleax one was swinging. The ax sailed into the air, wrenched from the hands of the guard who had held it.
I brought the haft of the pike around and bashed it into the face of the other as he tried to get to me. He reeled back with a cry, blood oozing from his broken nose.
The remaining guard tried to grab for the pike, but I flipped it down quickly, punching it into his stomach. With a groan, he dropped. I heard the hurrying footsteps of more guards coming from behind, and I turned, ready to defend myself.
Before I could do anything, though, two men in well-fitting red uniforms stepped between us. “You can’t arrest him,” a man with a well-waxed mustache said to the Mythronians in a thick southeastern Rainosian accent.
“Why shouldn’t we, Iberian?” asked one of the guards disdainfully, but they were evidently awed by his uniform.
“He’s part of the Crimson Knights. He claims the royal amnesty for competitors in the Tourney.”
Wait, what amnesty? Who are the Crimson Knights?
The Mythronians grumbled, but they soon left, seeming to realize there was nothing they could do.
“So, what’s this all about the Crimson Knights?” I asked the men suspiciously.
“The Crimson Knights are a guild in this year’s Tourney. It may be a bit late, but anyone who can knock out three armored guards with their bare hands needs to be in our guild. Besides, and pardon my presumption, you seemed to be in a spot of contention with the locals.”
“I appreciate the offer,” I said with reluctance, “but I’m afraid I can’t take it up. I’m just a trader; I don’t have the money for armor or a proper warhorse.”
Two Nerogue rangers strolled up to us. “If it’s money you lack,” one of them said, “I think we can help you out. We were planning on doing some betting on the jousts, but the way I figure, we maybe ought to place our money on you instead. Figure you can buy some good weapons with this?”
“I certainly can!” I said, shocked at the weight of the bag he handed to me.
“You’ll need a shield, too, and a helmet.” More contributions came streaming from the crowd.
An old man pushed his way through the throng, dragging a heavy crate. Although his clothes were dingy, they looked to have once been rich, and I inexplicably felt a strange familiarity with him. “I’m much too old myself,” he said confidentially, “to compete in the Tourney, but I used to be a ver’ famous knight in these parts. You can be my representative this year, so to speak. Here’s my old suit of armor f’ you to use. It’s old, but I’m sure you can wear it.”
I thanked him, hoping his armor was still wearable, but I was foolish to distrust him.
As the soldiers opened the crate, everyone let out a gasp of awe. The armor seemed to be made of solid gold, and it shone brightly in the afternoon sun. I turned to the old knight, stunned, but he had vanished entirely, with no chance for anyone to thank him.
“I’ll find you a warhorse, lad,” offered a knight. “Anything to help another Crimson Knight.”
“Then I shall compete,” I resolved, turning to face the crowd. “But if I win, it won’t be only who win. It shall be all of you who have together made it possible for me to compete! For all of us! For the Crimson Knights!” I smiled as the throng cheered. This was going to be spectacular!
The trumpets blared, the heralds called, and the citizens cheered as the procession began. My new armor fitted as though it was a second skin, light and mobile, but it was impossible to bend or break. It gleamed in the sunlight like a mirror. As I passed through the gates of the city, the streets erupted with more cheers than I could ever have imagined for myself.
I smiled and waved at the crowds. Spectators had swarmed the city to get good views of the parade, and King Rowan himself was even standing there to view the entrants.
As I rode, my mind skipped ahead to the coming contest. Which guild, which knight would win? I wondered. May the best guild emerge victorious, whatever happens in the coming jousts!
My character for the 2014 Tourney, Thomas the Trader, with the Guild of the Crimson Knights in the Wrestling bracket! Good luck to the other competitors in the Tourney, and a blessed, happy, and Lego-filled New Year to all!
Quoting Thomas of Tortuga Still working on that :P I haven't wanted to put major story developments in my Tourney entries, because to an outside judge I thought it would likely be confusing and cause point deductions.
Quoting Halhi 141
Great build! I see you left this until the last minute. Not as last minute as the four people in my guild who haven't yet posted, but still...
It is indeed last minute- by my computer's clock, I posted this in the Tourney group with about 15 seconds before midnight :D At least I have an excuse, however- I was distracted by the giant new Lego Movie sets that have just been announced to come out next summer :P