Upstarts in Felac'Delb

Session 5

Duel to the Death!

The quartet had successfully taken Duras captive, and they set their plan in motion. Ollin suggested that they move their hostage to the mines so that he would be in a safe and defensible position if the Orcs tried to get him back. While they walked over, Duras spoke up in Dwarven. He told them that though he was able to escape from the strange prison ironbeard had encased him in, he was more interested in talking. He had gathered that they were using him to get his brother Gonthu to show his face, and he knew it would work. However, Gonthu’s reputation for leaving no survivors in his battles spoke the truth about his combat abilities. Orc traditions would call for Gonthu to hold duel to undo the insult of having his brother taken by “lessers”, and whomever entered this duel would be as good as dead. Duras said that he could help them win this duel, so long as they could reach an understanding about what happens afterwards. The quartet agreed to listen. Duras said that if Gonthu was killed in a duel it would be very easy for him to assume control of his brother’s hold. If he died in some other manner, then the opportunity to swoop in and take power would be some other less intelligent orc, and that would likely be bad for the Combine. Ollin stepped in and told him that this land now belonged to the Ekwan Republic. Duras responded that he didn’t care who he was dealing with, so long as he could get his brother’s land. Arcturus was surprised that he would turn on his brother like this, suggesting that he was trying to lure them into a suicide mission. Duras said that as a follower of Dumat, he believed that you shouldn’t be stopped by things like family ties to get what you want. Ironbeard spoke up and asked him why all of the sudden he cared about the people on the border when just a few hours ago he was preparing to rob a town. Duras said that he was willing to make a concession to get what he wanted, and if that meant that he would have to attack his fellow orcs to gain glory for himself, then so be it. If family ties don’t matter, then neither do racial ties. He was clearly a slime-ball, but his offer was good. In order to counteract the slime-ball factor, Ironbeard and Alphonse came up with the idea to bind Duras magically to his word that he would not attack the people on the border. He tried to twist their words with regards to what they were agreeing to, but it was too obvious, so they stated the terms even clearer. Their ritual worked, and Duras was mentally unable to resist the force of the pact they had created. He was bound.
Duras told them that the way that they could win the duel was to poison Gonthu. There was an alchemist named Ikta who was staying at Gonthu’s keep as a guest, and given sufficient payment, he would be able to concoct something that would be perfect for the duel. The ideal poison would be something that quickly sapped one’s strength, so that in the duel, the blows would appear to be landing heavier on Gonthu. It would be a simple enough matter to have something so toxic that he would die inside of a minute, but that would obviously indicate poison, which would ruin the whole setup. It felt wrong, but then again, so did being around Duras.
In two days, an orc was let into the town under guard, and he approached the quartet and told them that they had offended the Lord Gonthu the Stone Tiger, Lord of the Stony Hills, and their presence was demanded at his keep for a fight to the death. Failing this, he would come in force to lay waste to their hiding place and the town. They agreed to follow him, and set off.
The question of who would actually fight in the duel came up, and Ollin and Arcturus stepped up. A second or so of consideration showed that Arcturus, the former slave, and newly anointed Blood Eagle, should be the one to fight the border lord in a duel to the death. After a day and a half of walking through the Ekwan countryside, the arrived at Gonthu’s keep. The gate guards let them in when they saw Duras in chains (which Alphonse had created with illusion magic to make it very clear that he was their prisoner) walking with them. They were lead to the main chamber, and since Arcturus was the one who would be doing the duel, he decided to make a grand entrance. He epically pushed open the double doors to the keep, and everyone turned their attention to him. The orc in the big chair remained seated, and addressed them: “I am Gonthu, Lord of the Stony Hills, I demand that you release my brother, and that this injustice be righted with blood.” Arcturus agreed to a fight to the death, and they began to negotiate the terms of the fight. There was to be no casting of magic, there were no restrictions on weapons or armor, each side would name a second in case of the could not participate in the fight (Arcturus chose Ollin, and Gonthu chose Ludan), and the fight was to take place in the morning of the next day. Duras was released, and they left the room.
Duras had pointed out where the alchemist could be found within Gonthu’s compound as they entered, so now that the official business was over, they went to go do their… unofficial business. The quartet entered one of the side buildings and went to the room at the end of the first hall (of course the shady poisoner lives at the end of the hallway), and knocked on the door. A goblin answered the door, and Arcturus and Ironbeard told him they were interested in acquiring some potions and perhaps a poison. He let them in. He asked if they really wanted the potions or if they were just here for the poison. After a moment they admitted they only wanted poison, and prepared to tell Ikta exactly what they needed, and that they needed it tomorrow. Ikta was a businessman, but he knew that doing business with the wrong people could be worse than being poisoned, so he asked who they were. Ironbeard name-dropped himself, and Ikta knew that his customers were legitimate, if not on the wrong side of the border. After a moment of consideration, he knew which recipe to use, but said that it would take quite a bit of work to get it done and usable. Ironbeard took out a pouch of gems and silver coins and handed it to Ikta, saying: I offer you this, and my skills as an alchemist if it will help to get the poison done more quickly. He accepted both, and they got down to working. Ironbeard planned to use some extra alchemy magic to make the poison taste like the finest liquor in the land, but the end product was something that tasted alcoholic and slightly foul. Fortunately, so did most Orcish drinks, so it would be passable as not poisonous.
It was nearing nightfall, so the trio of Alphonse, Arcturus, and Ollin went to find some accomodations, namely a tent. While they were in Gonthu’s court, Alphonse had noticed that one of the orcs there was a wizard, so in their downtime, he used divination to cast out his magical senses to see what this wizard was up to. Right away he could tell that the wizard was focusing what Alphonse recognized as blood magic into an object of some kind. The logical inference was that this object was a weapon, and Gonthu would be bringing magic into their fight without having to cast a spell. Ollin and Alphonse considered a late night excursion to take out this wizard and stop his enchantment, but they decided that they were on thin enough ice as it was, and a dead wizard would only raise more suspicion and possibly derail their plan to take out Gonthu. Ironbeard had just come back from helping Ikta, and they shared the news with him. He decided they should do some enchanting of their own, so he worked up the spellpower to enchant Arcturus’ armor with life energy to counteract the blood magic in Gonthu’s weapon. There was nothing else to do, so they tried to get some sleep.
They rose early, and headed off to check on Ikta’s work. He had finished, but, as a businessman, he knew that selling poison to the wrong people could be just as bad as being poisoned yourself, unless you made a lot of money doing it. When they went to take the vial from him he asked them what it was for. Before anybody could think of a good answer, Alphonse spoke up and said “it’s for a practical joke”. For some reason, Ikta thought this was hilarious, and handed it to him while laughing hysterically, then bid them good day. The scheme to deliver the poison to Gonthu was now in action. Arcturus walked up to the first slave he found, a human woman, and asked her if she would like to be free today. It got her attention, so he elaborated that she was going to be replaced with an exact look-alike, she just needed to not be anywhere else, and anywhere else might as well be the republic’s side of the border, where she would be free. He assured her that he’d freed numerous slaves, so he knew that this could work. She was confused by the whole “replaced” thing, but had enough lady-balls to drop everything she was carrying and start running for the border. Meanwhile, Alphonse disguised himself as her using illusion magic, and set off to insert him/herself into Gonthu’s party as the wine-carrier. Arcturus, Ollin, and Ironbeard walked to the place where the duel was to be held, and saw Gonthu’s party there. Arcturus stepped into the fighting area, and they exchanged a round of insults. Gonthu called for wine, and they saw Alpohnse disguised as the slave woman hand him a drink. He brought the cup to his face, and stopped for a second. The heart of everyone in the quartet skipped a beat. Gonthu offered a toast: “To your death!” (as he looked at Arcturus), and downed the contents of the goblet.
The fight began. Arcturus used the mace that he had taken from Duras as well as his old sword to get some dual-wielding action going on. Gonthu used a fine orcish battleaxe and a shield. After a few blows were exchanged, Arcturus could tell that the poison had started to take effect. Gonthu was slowing down, but even this was enough to hurt Arcturus. They continued on for a few more exchanges, both of them starting to falter. The sideline crowds had been cheering their respective champions on, and Ollin knew that it helped Gonthu to hear his people cheering for him. Feeling mischievous, Ollin decided to instigate a fight between Gonthu’s cronies. He slyly drew his dagger and delivered a few well-placed jabs and slashes, somehow avoiding notice. Several of the orcs turned to Ludan, who Ollin had intended to implicate, and started yelling at him. Ludan was having none of it, so he grabbed one of the orcs and threw him. The side-brawl was begun. Ironbeard took advantage of the distraction to start helping Arcturus. Pulling a combo maneuver out of the ass-kicking book, Ironbeard used his alchemy magic to change the grass and dirt underneath Gonthu into a puddle of oil, then used lightning magic to cause sparks to fly from Gonthu’s armor and ignite the oil. While he was confused and on fire, Arcturus zoned in and delivered a textbook decapitation with his sword. Everyone stopped. Gonthu had been defeated. Duras stepped out of the crowd, and walked to his brother’s body, and removed a ring. He then claimed lordship of the Stony Hills, and the orcs in the crowd responded “Hail to Duras, lord of the Stony Hills”. Duras turned to Arcturus, and took his mace back. Arcturus, Ironbeard, and Ollin started walking away, back towards the Ekwan Republic. Alphonse detached himself from the crowd, maintaining the illusion of the slave woman walking with the group while he turned around and headed towards the other three. Arcturus picked up Gonthu’s head; a fitting trophy to bring to Saren.



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