Chapter 12 Bread and Circuses



Ilea packed the spare one of her backpacks with the things she didn’t need. Adding the Charred Drake scales too. ‘I won’t be able to drag them around with me all the time...’ looking at the other things she still had, she frowned ‘Do I want the bow? I mean it’s fun but a bit bulky...’ shrugging, she took the bow and quiver with her and soon found herself in Earl’s shop.

“Ah the battle healer. Well well, here to sell your precious things?” nodding, Ilea removed the Sword and daggers from her backpack.

Adding the bow and quiver, she closed her backpack. “Do I need to find an archery shop to sell that?”

Earl shook his head “It’s fine, I do have some people asking for bows from time to time too so I can sell it just fine.” checking the items intently, Earl started with the bow and ended with the daggers.

“The bow is very high quality. With the quiver I can do 3 Gold. The sword is worth 2 Gold. The daggers 1 Gold each. And Ilea, I’m not trying to rip you off here. These are very good items. I’m not prepared to haggle either.” having checked some of the prices for similar swords and daggers in the shop, Ilea believed him.

‘Less stressful for me as well, so it’s fine.’ getting out various things from her backpack, Ilea answered “That’s fine with me...only if you take these things too. Basically a basic backpack with necessities for an adventurer.”

“Hahaha, well I won’t ask you why you don’t need it anymore or where you got it. Fine, I’m sure I’ll find a buyer. Half a gold for that stuff, that makes 7 Gold and 50 Silver.”

Shaking the outstretched hand on the deal, Ilea removed the Charred Drake scales from the just sold backpack. “Wanted to ask you this...that armor for me, how many of those would I need?”

Earl’s eyes went a little wide “Wow, that’s a lot...I think a third of these would be sufficient, better half but that might be overdoing it a little.”

‘Perfect, that’s exactly how many I still have at the a backup I suppose.’

“Alright, then I’ll sell half of them to you now if you’re interested. The other half I’d like you to store if possible for when I get that hide.” smiling, Earl again agreed

“I like how direct you are. I hate the business part of this job. So that’s five gold for half of them. 50 Silver for storage. Plus the money from the other deal. Twelve Gold for you.” taking the scales and storing them, he handed her the money which quickly wandered to her pouch.

“Happy to do business with you Earl.” shaking his hand again.

“The feeling’s mutual. Come by whenever. I’ll think of some other material you could use for the armor. Maybe I’ll use the scales you sold me to create something...” seeing that the smith got back into his work mind, Ilea said farewell and left the shop. ‘That taken care of...time for second breakfast.’

Holding her stomach from the food, she slowly made her way towards the arena. ‘There’s no big building anywhere here...just normal houses.’ asking some passerby, she was apparently very close. Turning around another corner she saw the entrance. ‘Why are there no buildings here?’ looking behind the entrance, there didn’t seem to be any structures for a couple hundred meters.

Two guards blocked the way inside, an official sat next to them inside a booth. “Greetings, is this the arena where the tournament is at?”.

The man nodded. “Yes yes. I don’t think a healer was scheduled for today...all tournament really.” checking his books.

Ilea stopped him “Oh no, I’m just a spectator.”

“Ah yes, another foreigner I see. The entrance for spectators is further down the street. Here it’s only for the fighters. Enjoy the show!” excusing herself, Ilea walked around the supposed arena. The noises of the city grew and soon she found herself before a mass of people, trying to get into the main entrance. The mass was moving quickly though, so it took her only ten minutes to stand in front of another official. Ten of them were handling the masses at a surprising speed.

“Welcome, papers please.” handing him the magical paper, he checked it and nodded. “Sector 14, row 28, number 31. Please don’t move seats or you’ll be removed. Keep the paper on you while inside. Enjoy the show!” already greeting the next spectator, Ilea was shoved inside by the unruly mob trying to push its way in. Walking through a small dark corridor, she came out to the cheers of already more than a thousand people.

“Oh wow...” she uttered, as she took in the view. An arena dug into the ground stretched before her. Thousands of seats and just as many people continuing to fill the place, more streamedin from other entries as she stood there. About fifty meters further down, a sandy pit with some mages performing could be seen. Looking around, Ilea spotted her sector and soon found her spot. It’s around in the middle of it all. ‘Not too suspicious but a nice view...thanks Inna.’

There were people selling food and drinks walking around. Motioning to one of them, Ilea soon has an ale and some grilled chicken. ‘It’s pretty early but I mean it’s a festival right?’ eating the chicken, she watched the performers.

An ice mage and a swordsman were working together to create beautiful ice sculptures. The two performed for another fifteen minutes until an announcer started to speak. Identifying the man as some sort of mage. ‘He’s incredibly loud though...maybe there’s sound magic or something?’

“Welcome again to the newcomers. Welcome to the fifth decade of Riverwatch! Let us celebrate today. Now for your pleasure, the magnificent Chalene from the distant Thordain! The main show will start in another hour as soon as everyone has found their place.”

A mage with colorful clothing entered the arena, waving at the people. Cheers erupted from many of the spectators as his magic flared to life. Colorful changes and waves in the light form, and rainbows fill the whole arena. ‘Neat, it’s like a laser show...’ watching with Magic perception, it was even more impressive. Obviously a lot of preparation, work and skill went into this showing.

‘Some sort of light mage? Or maybe illusions...I can’t tell at all...’ the spectacle continued for another twenty minutes, the crowd silently watching on as Chalene span inside a colorful tornado of magic. Cheers and clapping filled the arena as his show came to an end. Bowing several times, the entertainer left the stage.

The speaker walked back to his podium on the ground level of the city. “Wonderful performance. Thank you Chalene! And now for the last performer before the tournament. Please help me in greeting Jyraiu, the great fire sage!”

The temperature in the whole arena suddenly increased and everyone stood up, some people screaming at the top of their lungs. ‘A big deal that Jyraiu...’ getting interested as well, Ilea stood to see above the people before her.

Fire erupted from one of the entrances for fighters below, blasting out is a man covered in flame and fiery wings steaming from his back as he rockets in circles spanning the whole arena, gently increasing in altitude with each complete circuit. A tornado of fire followed his ascent.

‘Beautiful…’ the only word in Ilea’s mind as she watched on with thousands of people. Jyraiu stopped at little above the arena, visibly concentrating. Releasing his spell, a fire erupted in the form of a lotus, burning above the place.

The lotus seemed to then split instantly into smaller pieces, that began to rain down. Just before hitting the people watching, they all grew wings and flew towards the center. Circling around the mage, the whole stream of fire followed him in a magnificent choreography.

‘...It’s like a jet show...and those wings...’ not able to get her eyes away from the man’s wings, Ilea was transfixed. Flying around for two minutes, the birds then formed into bigger targets, flying behind the mage. Seemingly threatening to eat him, he masterfully dodged them. A fiery lance appeared in his hand, which he threw at one of the birds.

Hitting his target, the bird exploded in a beautiful display of fire. ‘This is the best...’ the show came to an end, as all the small firebirds reappeared, forming a monstrous phoenix above the arena. Crashing down on Jyraiu, a bow made of pure fire appeared in his hand with a massive arrow made out of nearly blinding white flame. Releasing the arrow in the last second, the phoenix exploded from within, creating fireworks that would rival the best Ilea had seen on earth. Bowing elegantly in the air, his wings keeping him afloat, Jyraiu’s performance ended.

The crowd didn’t calm down for a whole five minutes, the announcer was unable to start his next sentence. ‘I want those wings...I don’t even care man but those wings are fucking amazing.’ looking at the descending mage, Ilea watched, transfixed with the intricate detail of the wings visible to her magical perception. ‘It’s even more beautiful like this...’

“Alright ladies and gentlemen!” finally getting the crowd’s attention, the announcer spoke up. “Thank you Jyraiu, that was magnificent to say the least! Now we’re ready to start the main event you’ve all been waiting for. The great tournament of Riverwatch!” cheers were accompanying his expected reveal. “Anyone between level 50 and 100 was allowed to qualify. They fought in up to five preliminary matches and now we have only sixteen people remaining. They will fight until but one remains at the top. We have healers standing by to help recover the contestants from pretty much anything but instant death. Intentional deathblows will lead to immediate disqualification. So now we start!”

‘Disqualification for murdering someone? Well this is hardcore...’

“For the first match it’s Aaron the bard against Silvis the rogue...”

‘They’re not revealing anything else...guess to keep it interesting. A bard hmm?’

A man in light armor and a short eastern looking sword emerged from nowhere in a bit of smoke. ‘Teleportation...that seems rather similar to my spell...’ teleporting around a couple times, the man bowed to the crowd.

[Rogue – lvl ??]

Throwing his weapon into the air, he caught it skillfully. While his opponent slowly entered the arena.

[Bard – lvl 60]

A huge bulky man with a metal hammer or something similar on his back. ‘That’s all muscle...he’s a bard?’ removing the cloth that had covered his weapon, Aaron unslung his huge lute.

It was a monstrous thing. With a dull metal color and spikes around it, he bowed slightly to his opponent who did the same.

“Let the match begin!” instantly vanishing Silvis appeared next to Aaron. ‘Over that fast?’ jumping back before getting a hit in, Silvis had to dodge a couple of stray rocks. As the dust settled, Aaron was covered in a rocky armor. Grinding noises could be heard as he turned towards the rogue.

Starting to play his massive instrument, Ilea watched on with magic perception. The shine of Aaron intensified as the notes leave the lute.

Silvis tried the same approach and got a couple shallow cuts in as Aaron ignored him and simply kept playing. The rogue’s movements became slower and slower the longer the sound played.

The rock around him started to crumble from the constant assault. Stomping to the ground, some earth spikes came out of the ground right around Aaron. He renewed his rock armor and stopped playing.

Turning the lute around, it seemed more like a mace. Suddenly rushing at Silvis with incredible speed for his size and what should be at least several inches of rock, the lute descending onto the rogues position.

A teleport saved the rogue as Aaron’s lute crashed into the stone floor and apparently getting wedged in there as he is trying to remove his stuck weapon.

Rushing at him, Silvis had to dodge spikes from the ground again. ‘There were no spikes in front of the lute in the way?’

Repeating the same thing two more times, Silvis seemed to catch on too. He rushed to Aaron, who again was removing his lute from the ground, but teleported right in front of him in the last moment. No spikes hitting him, he grinned while slashing at his opponents face.

Lightly stomping on the ground, Aaron took the hit as a surge in earth magic shot the lute from the ground in a burst of motion. Silvis was right in front of him, the musical instrument hit the rogue and threw him upwards.

A sickening crunch was heard through the arena as Silvis landed, not unlike a lifeless doll. Rushing into the arena, a team of three healers hastily worked their magic on the downed rogue. Ten seconds later the man coughed and tried to sit up. One of the healer pushed him down again and motioned to some other people on the sidelines.

Silvis was removed from the stage on a stretcher as Aaron covered his lute again, bowing slightly to his opponent and then to the crowd. “The winner of the first match is Aaron, the stoic bard!” not seeming to mind the added adjective, Aaron simply walked off the stage.

‘So that’s rock enhancement I’d guess? Seems pretty cool too but I’d think it’d remove too much of my mobility...hmm not necessarily but can you use armor while you have that spell activated...the skills he used seem mostly defensive in nature too, I probably have enough of that with Azarinth healer already. Otherwise I’d become a tank healer or something.’

After a ten minute break to repair the arena and some more food for many of the spectators, the announcer started the second match of the day. “For our second match, the lovely Eleonora! A beast tamer and traveling enchantress. Her opponent is Marco from the pranking falcons adventurer team! Please welcome the contestants!”

Walking on stage was a burly man with an even burlier shield.

[Warrior – lvl ??]

On the other side of the arena, a rather petite woman entered, wearing a colorful yellow and red dress. ‘Oh wow, she’s like a princess from a children’s movie...’ following behind the girl was a plethora of small birds in dozens of different color combinations.

[Beast tamer – lvl ??]

Waving to her opponent, the woman smiled and looked at the arena around her. Grunting, Marco took up his shield and unsheathed his short sword, while he got into a defensive stance. Ilea saw magic flow around him and concentrate on his shield.

‘He’s just gonna wait? I mean I guess he is the tank of that adventurer team...’ Eleonora sat down on the ground and the birds simply chirped and flew around, some landing on their master. Opening her bag, Eleonora removed some stones.

‘They’re glowing...’ Ilea turned off her magic perception and only saw normal stones. Some of the birds grabbed the stones and started flying around in higher and bigger circles. Getting more of the stones from her bag, Eleonora repeated the process until nearly all the birds held one of the enchanted pieces of rock.

“I’ve heard about you girl.” Marco spoke. “I’ve tanked the repeated magical assault of a level 130 Night stag. Now show me what you got!”

Eleonora ignored him and started to draw in the sand. “Did you hear m...” his shout was interrupted by the sudden need to raise his shield. One of the birds circling above him released its stone. Impacting on the shield, the magic unleashed. Marco’s knees bending hard, as the force of a magical explosion pushed his shield down. More of the birds started circling above him and every now and then they dropped their payload.

Some sort of pressure magic, fire magic and even lightning landed on his shield as he struggled to keep his balance. ‘His magic is weakening...’ seeing the magic on the shield, Ilea rooted for the small woman. ‘I like her dress, she should win.’

Eleonora was now drawing on the ground around her with her back to Marco. Five minutes of bombardment later, Marco apparently lost his nerve. Ilea is one of the few watchers in the arena who knew the real reason.

His shield would have not held for another ten seconds. Getting out of the direct strike zone of the birds, he ran towards Eleonora. Reaching her, Marco raised his sword and was about to strike as the ground around the woman started to glow.

His sword impacted upon a small dome shield around her. His confused expression turns into shock as he raised his battered shield, half of her birds releasing their payload all at once on top of them both.

The entire arena shook as different magical powers landed upon the tank. Ilea could make out a glow coming from him right before the first stone hit. Several dozens of impacts in the span of two seconds later, the dust slowly cleared.

Standing there was a disheveled Marco and a woman sitting inside a small dome shield. Jumping backwards, Marco dodged a late explosive stone. The birds followed him this time, unlike when he had approached Eleonora before. Like a bombing squadron, they peppered the ground before and around him.

He tried his best to block the impacts with his shield but one of the strikes eventually slipped through his guard, a lightning explosion propelled the huge man into the wall of the arena. The healers rushing to his side as the birds collected their stones and returned to Eleonora, her shield dissolving with a colorful aurora shimmer.

‘What a cool combination...she’s like heavy air support...and she can bomb her own position.’

Eleonora stood up and waved at the spectators, her birds happily chirping and jumping around. “And the second winner is Eleonora!” Clapping and cheering filled the arena as Eleonora left through one of the entrances below.

“We will now pause the event until later this afternoon, when Iris will face Atur in the first fight! Be here one hour after midday ladies and gentlemen!”

Leaving the arena, Ilea looked for some food again. She sat outside one of the restaurants nearby, when a group of lizardmen walked by. ‘Wait…what?’ looking after them, Ilea noticed some other people were staring as well. Most ignoring them completely.

Bringing the ordered beverage, the waiter smiled at her “Never seen any lizardfolk eh?” nodding at that, she took a gulp from the drink. “They mostly stay in the plains to the east. I mean it’s been mostly humans to found the cities south of the Navali forest.”

‘Why are waiters always so talkative?’ Ilea groaned silently.

“They just fear the elves too much...Oh am I boring you? I’m really sorry, you know I’m just super talkative. Do you want anything else with that mead? We have a great ham dish at the moment and some amazing fish...just caught earlier today!”

Finishing her mead while he stood there talking, Ilea laid down a silver piece and leaves without another word. ‘That’s why I like my temple...just need to find a way to produce mead there...’

A note from Rhaegar

2019 June: Updated to address issues with tenses, spacing, paragraphs and dialogue.

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