Before departing from Stalwart Fortress, the travelers organize themselves into a grand tournament of duels.
Despite clear indication there was a strong probability of death, 8 fighters entered the arena.
The tournament was set, and many gathered around to witness the event. Spirits were high and many began to name their champions among the hopefuls of the arena. There was much excitement as the duels began.
As the battle started, Grahna led with a solid blow, opening a weakness in The Burner's greaves. However, The Burner retaliated with a devastating strike that severely wounded The Swift who was still looking to exploit the opening he'd made himself. Then, finding sure footing, Grahna let loose an arrow and landed his shot directly to the opening he'd made in The Burner's thigh, before following with a second arrow and turning the tide of the battle.
With such severe wounds, it seemed as though the fight had been won, but many had who had witnessed The Burner's prior fights knew that this was when he became most dangerous. Diving at Grahna with surprise punch and then another critical strike, the rage-fueled Burner sent Grahna the Swift to the ground.
The crowd cheered heartily as the first bout of the tournament concluded. The Burner left the arena to prepare for his next fight, sparing the life of his fallen combatant.
Going into the tournament, The Knight of Despair was a heavy crowd favorite with many side-wagers placed on his victory, while The Wolf was relatively uncelebrated. Still, all gathered around to see how the second fight of the day would play out.
The battle started with The Wolf leading a strong hit, followed by a second blow to the stumbling Knight, before knocking him to the ground with a third volley. Despite facing the crowd's favorite, The Wolf was offering no quarter to The Knight.
Suddenly, from the ground, The Knight leaps forward and tackles The Wolf. The two brawl and The Wolf lands a blow to The Knight's helmet that causes a ringing in his ears. Deafened, but not done, The Knight throws The Wolf who rebounds forward with an airborne strike before slamming The Knight into submission.
Once again the crowd roared with excitement, though their calls for blood began to rise. The Wolf regards his victory, then calmly steps over the fallen Knight of Despair, exiting the arena and sparing his life.
Among the crowd, little was known about either Ecko the Pilgrim or The Chosen Bald save for the vendetta the folically challenged brawler against The Bald Burner, and their desire to see their way through the tournament to face him.
The battle began with Ecko entering a meditative trance, and allowing The Chosen to approach before catching him offguard with a counter attack. Annoyed by this deception, The Chosen Bald let loose a side strike, followed by another to Ecko's leg, and a kick that sent him to the ground. Ecko rebounded with a returning blow after dusting himself off, but was quickly floored again by the relentless brutality of The Chosen Bald.
It was in this moment that Ecko the Pilgrim called upon divine strength and power as light flashed from his fist, knocking The Chosen Bald back and while rejuvenating himself. None in the arena had ever seen such a display of holy blessing.
Yet, for all the glory present, the rage within The Chosen Bald was too great. Returning to his feet he struck Ecko once, creating an opening, before leveraging it with a devastating critical strike. The majesty of Ecko's divinity was no match against the sheer will to destroy that exhuded from The Chosen Bald.
As he looked around the arena, hearing the bloodthirsting chanting of the crowd, The Chosen Bald plunged a sword into Ecko the Pilgrim's chest; snuffing his life out with no remorse. The first casualty of the tournament had been claimed.
Entering the final match of the quarter-finals there was a mix of somberness over the death of the previous round, but also a great excitement as many realized the reality of the combat's stakes. The Death Bringer and Ser Grenwald Tarsmoke prepared for their bout as the body was removed from the arena.
Their bout started somewhat timidly, perhaps the pall of the recent fatality hanging over both their heads. A mild strike from Ser Grenwald, followed by an equally soft counter from The Death Bringer. Though after a second half-hearted attack from Tarsmoke, The Death Bringer made show that this was no spar and laid a blow with genuine ferocity, knocking Grenwald to the floor with a successive strike.
Realizing that his life may be genuinely on the line, Ser Grenwald retaliated by tackling The Death Bringer and began to pummel him. Tumbling on the arena floor, the two rotated until The Death Bringer found himself on top, dazing Grenwald a punch to his face before swiftly ending things with a decisive knockout.
The Death Bringer stared into the lifeless eyes of his downed opponent, knelt down to whisper something in his ear, and then left the arena — Grenwald's life being spared.
A two-hour recess was called as the arena was cleared and the fighters recouperated before the semi-finals began. Many waited eagerly to see who would be the victor among the remaining four champions, as new favorites emerged within the crowd's opinion.
Not wanting to leave his opponent any opportunity to loose an arrow, The Wolf charged directly at The Burner with a hefty punch followed by another blow that knocked him to the ground, giving The Wolf chance to kick Burner in the face. Never before had The Bald Burner seen such immediate ferocity in a fight and was down bad, though he had come back from worse before.
Rising to stand, The Burner fired a short shot to The Wolf's shoulder who had no choice but to close the distance and strike back, lest he be filled with arrows. Now in close quarters, The Burner gripped an arrow and stuck it into The Wolf's thigh, retching it out, and then stabbing it into The Wolf's gut. Bleeding profusely, The Wolf was stunned as Bald Burner swept his legs out from beneath him, driving him to the ground.
The two were both gravely wounded and tussled for some time, and as The Bald Burner aimed to make a killing blow, The Wolf surprised him by pulling the broken arrow out of his gut and returned the bloody favor he had been bestowed. The Bald Burner fell for the first time in his fighting career, and the crowd went wild.
As The Wolf placed The Burner's arms and weapons in a funeral position, the crowd was shocked as they prepared to witness the death of an icon. Yet, as The Wolf drew his knife to end Burner's life, he spared him and turned to the crowd with only words; "We are all going to die... but this isn't how The Burner leaves this world..."
The Wolf then plucked the Field Notes off The Burner's body and left the arena to patch his wounds before for the final bout.
After witnessing such an upset in the prior fight, none knew what to make of this match; least of all The Chosen Bald. It should have been him who felled his rival, and yet he stood against The Death Bringer who was nothing to him.
Furious at missing the opportunity to face Burner in the finals, The Chosen Bald let loose his anger on The Death Bringer engaging immediately with a hard strike to catch him off balance before snapping his arm with a critical strike. Unprepared for such unbridled rage and already devastated, The Death Bringer recoiled as The Chosen Bald followed up like a machine. He kicked Bringer to the ground, and then pinned him to the floor with a sword. Death Bringer passed out immediately from the pain.
The Chosen Bald turned to the crowd and shouted, filled with rage, "It is my destiny to take on the Bald Burner. I would have done him in 10x faster than this so-called Death Bringer. Anyone who gets in my way before I meet him on the battlefield will face a similar fate."
As he walked out of the areana, the crowd started to chant "Chosen! Chosen! Chosen!" while others began to wonder if this violent warrior, who had now killed 2 combatants in cold blood, was not somehow worse than The Bald Burner he sought to end.
Tensions were high as the final bout of the night drew close The Wolf had defeated Bald Burner and The Chosen Bald hated him for it. Both knew that the loser of this fight would see their life in the hands of a bloodthirsty crowd, and that the winner would leave with untold spoils, glory, and fame.
The two entrants walked slowly into the arena. The Wolf bowings, and the Chosen Bald nodding his head forward, placing his hands together.. before slowly removing his hammer. The Wolf cautiously circled The Chosen Bald, having seen what he's capable of in his last fight.
As he sensed an opportunity to strike, The Wolf jumped in but got sidestepped by The Chosen Bald, who lands a first strike with his hammer. The Wolf slumped back, then lunged again at the opposite side. Chosen, seeing it coming, throws the front of his hammer straight into Wolf's gut, causing him to wince. As Chosen turned to the crowd with a laugh, Wolf's eyes lit up under his mask with a glowing red, and in a flash he tackled Chosen, forcefully ramming his own hammer into his side.
Chosen calmly grinned and picked up his hammer, laying it into Wolf twice before he could retaliate. Wolf then rolled to the side and knocked Chosen's legs out, a tactic that had helped him against The Burner. He then followed with a lunge and elbow to The Chosen's jaw. As the two brawled in the dirt, Chosen headbutted The Wolf, knocking his teeth out behind his mask.
Chosen's hammer layed between them. Both eyed it, and dash toward it. Wolf got to it first, but Chosen quickly kicks him away, picks it up, and slams it into The Wolf's skull before he can escape.
The crowd explodes, returning to their chant "Chosen! Chosen! Chosen!"
The Chosen Bald slowly walks towards the fallen Wolf, gripping his hammer tightly with two hands, as he looks out to the crowd. He awaits a consensus among the divided crowd, but quickly takes matters in his own hand.
In one swift movement, he then takes the hammer behind him and swings it in a half-circle over himself and straight to the head of the Wolf, crushing his skull into the arena floor as the crowd roars the loudest it's been the entire tournament.
The Chosen Bald leaves the tournament, richer in prizes, but with a violent legacy of his own, and a resolve to be the one to end The Bald Burner. He awaits the opportunity at the next Tournament of Champions.