Our most recent session covered the final two contests proposed by Erindros' wife-to-be. Flush from his success at the race, Erindros felt that the next two contests played to his skill-set much better. He would find that they were still not easily won.
The Taming of the Bronze Pig
A few uneventful days followed the race, and the heroes were invited back to Oranvale's farm for another round of competition. She explained that the next challenge involved her family's ancient guardian, the Bronze Pig. The Pig had served the family since the coming of the Dundealos Tribe to the valley. It was a powerful wyter that inhabited the body of a massive boar, with skin made of actual (flexible) bronze. Throughout the Enstalos occupation, Oranvale had remained with the Pig, under it's protection. It was about the size of a large horse and reacted gruffly to the presence of anyone other than Oranvale.
She explained that Andrinorth and Erindros would both have separate chances to pass the test, each unhindered by the other. She kept a votive statue of Ernalda made from copper on a small altar within the Bronze Pig's pen. The marriage contestants would simply have to steal the statue from the Pig's pen, and bring it back to Oranvale's hands. The altar was a small lean-to made of sticks, but the Pig easily blocked the entire entrance, so the guardian would have to be overcome somehow. The distance to return to the fence was also considerable. Oranvale further specified that the contestants could call on help from their retainers, and use any tools or magic available to them. She finally warned Erindros and Andrinorth that the Pig could and would defend itself fiercely.
Andrinorth was called on to go first. He quickly jumped the fence with a few of his companions, and called on a thick mist to envelop the pen. The Bardori could not see exactly what occurred, but there was shouting, squealing, and one man was thrown out of the pen with a nasty wound in his side. In a matter of seconds, Andrinorth leaped over the fence again, breathless and spattered with mud. He held the statue and presented it to Oranvale, kneeling. The mist cleared, and she returned the statue without a word. Placing it back on the altar, she looked to Erindros. The Pig also looked toward him, now in a very agitated mood.
My players engaged in a very lengthy debate about how to handle this challenge. Because it was very open-ended, many different proposals were made and discarded, including-
- Erindros wrestling the Pig into submission. He was good at wrestling but otherwise kind of a weakling.
- Egajia defeating the Pig with spirit combat. This was deemed not impressive enough for Oranvale. The Pig also had an impressive POW.
- Erindros giving the Pig the gift of flight for a day in return for a win. Too expensive in Rune points.
When it was discovered that the Pig could understand Heortling, Erindros decided to simply charm it into submission. Armed with Glamour, and the Charisma Rune spell, Erindros made his case to the Pig. He explained that Andrinorth was a charlatan who clearly did not respect the Pig, it's family or it's land. He on the other hand was a "successful merchant" who would bring prosperity to the family, and treat the guardian with dignity and reverence. At hearing these honeyed words, the Pig stood out of the way and bowed to Erindros, allowing him to simply walk up and take the statue. While this got some jeers and accusations of cowardice from Andrinorth, the Pig clearly favored Erindros as the candidate. Oranvale declared the challenge to be a tie, and proclaimed that the final contest would be prepared in another few days.
Outside the Togarth clan hall, two competition grounds were being prepared. One was for the final challenge between the marriage contestants, the other was for anyone from the invited clans who wanted to prove their strength, and win some silver. Both competitions were being prepared in frothy pits of mud, knee deep, and one quite a bit larger than the other. Erindros prepared himself for this final showdown with a strict regimen of Esrolian calisthenics. Garkar and He Who Spits both decided to compete against the other clansmen in the Big Pit. Egajia was still missing one of her arms, and wasn't much of a hand-to-hand fighter anyway, so she sat this one out.
Oranvale again explained the rules for this last challenge. The wrestlers would face off in the mud, and prove their strength to her. No magic was allowed this time, under penalty of disqualification. The Togarth clan's lawspeaker oversaw the contest. Although the purpose of the fight was to prove her future husband's strength, all punches, kicks, and holds were still allowed. Victory would be determined in the following ways-
- A fighter was thrown out of the pit.
- A fighter was subdued in the mud for a ten-count (3 rounds)
- A fighter was knocked unconscious.
As Garkar and HWSAD prepared themselves, they learned that the rules in their own free-for-all contest were the same, except for the rule on holds. Even though everyone else competing was representing their clans, the spirit of the contest was every man and woman for themselves. There were two other fighters each from the Togarth, Ulandring, and Blue Jay clans. The two Bardori men agreed to tag team, and if they survived to the end... the best would surely win.
We handled this contest as a back-and-forth between Erindros, and the other two fighters. Most of the assembled crowd watched the big fight, while Egajia and Oranvale watched the smaller contest nearby. It proved fortuitous that Egajia was present, as her keen sense of smell picked up something pungent coming from Andrinorth, beneath all the mud he had smeared on himself. She recognized the smell as rhino fat, a powerful unguent that increases the natural armor of the one who puts it on. Andrinorth had no doubt planned to give himself an edge by protecting his body from any blows. Egajia simply pointed this out to the crowd, and demanded that he wash it off. The lawspeaker agreed, and Andrinorth sulkily had to scrub all the valuable grease off his body. After this was done, the fight began with another wave of the barley sheaf.
Erindros was a fairly talented wrestler. He had enjoyed competing as an amateur back in Nochet. Andrinorth began the fight by swinging his fists, attempting to knock his opponent back. Erindros easily parried the blows with his Grapple skill, and then attempted to grab a hold of his arm and throw him. The mud made this difficult. Erindros got lucky when Andrinorth rolled a fumble, slipping in the mud and landing face-first. He lost the momentum of his attack, and Erindros moved to grapple him again. With the next roll, the impossible happened: Erindros rolled a fumble, and I rolled a second fumble for Andrinorth in defense! The epic showdown had turned into an absurd farce, with two men slipping over each other, getting mud clogged in every orifice, and continually losing grips on each other. They both lost turns after I rolled on the Fumble table. The crowd roared with laughter.
Garkar and He Who Spits went back to back. The Togarth and the Ulandrings were distant kin, so their fighters ignored each other. Two Ulandrings rushed at the Bardori, a tall muscular woman, and a short but well-built man. HWSAD's player rolled for runic inspiration on his Beast Rune, to improve his grapple skill. Amazingly we had another big roll with a critical! His skill shot up to 90%. HWSAD roared and let his inner bull take over. Garkar is less of a skilled grappler, but has high STR and DEX, making him good at holds and throws. HWSAD managed to throw out one of the Ulandrings on his own, grabbing her by the feet and spinning her before tossing her out. Both of them then grabbed the remaining competitor by the arms and legs, and heaved him out of the pit.
After Erindros and Andrinorth stopped writhing and spluttering, they stood up and began the fight again in earnest. Andrinorth continued to use punches and kicks, but never landed any. After several rounds of nearly being subdued and thrown, Andrinorth got a solid grip on Erindros' abdomen, but the latter broke free. Erindros then saw one more punch coming toward him. This time, he managed to get a solid grip on his opponents arm, and judo-tossed him clear out of the pit. Andrinorth landed with a crash in front of Oranvale, and howled in fury. He had lost, and Erindros had finally secured his marriage (and his future family!). However, his rival swore his eternal hatred for Erindros, and stalked off.
Garkar and He Who Spits were left in the ring with the Togarth competitors. They included a giant of a man even larger than HWSAD, and another only slightly smaller. Still, the two Bardori made short work of them. This time Garkar dispatched the smaller one with an expert throw. HWSAD then successfully grappled the giant by the head, and brought him crashing to the ground in a deadly chokehold. The two of them then picked up the man on either side like a fallen tree, and rushed him out of the pit. Then there were two.
HWSAD was thrilled that he could prove his strength against his beloved boon companion. Garkar was less thrilled. Considering that the former was still high on the Beast Rune, the latter did not think his chances very good. After a few grapples however, luck proved to be with Garkar. His speed and wiry strength overcame HWSAD's classic Conan-esque physique, and the Bull Man was thrown giggling out of the pit. The crowd cheered Garkar, and the Togarth chieftain presented him with a small chest of silver as a prize.
The day had gone well for our heroes. Erindros secured his place as a future paterfamilias! We finished the night with experience rolls and off-time business. Next time, we move on to Earth Season 1626! Thank you for reading!