Day 13: Unwanted Diversion
After the heroes awoke and payed for their breakfast, they headed south-east. They were able to ignore Fyra and head straight to Morea, as the fianl element was in the Fergren cliffs, near Gandar City. The heroes decided to head to the city for provisions first. But when they could see the city, Ryan asked them to stop for a minute.
"Why are we stopping?" Xavier asked.
"Because I have something I need to tell you guys," Ryan said.
"There's another secret?" Yuki asked in an annoyed tone.
"Yes," Ryan said. "I've told Aidan my last name, and he didn't know what it meant."
"You mean how your last name is Daniels?" Ryan asked.
"Wait, Daniels?" the others asked.
"You guys are loaded," Trevor said. "Next to my family and the king of Gandar, your family's the richest in Elementia."
"You didn't have to hide that," Molly said.
"But I didn't want to risk it being spread around," Ryan said. "You see, the king has heard I've been training rigorously for years. He hosts a tournament, coincedentally it starts today, and he has been asking me for years to participate. But I always refuse."
"Then we'll keep your identity a secret," Yuki said.
The heroes arrived at the city, and immediately found it hard to hear themselves think. The city was loaded with citizens, new immigrants, and tourists. There was also barely any room to move, as people were moving this, that and the other way. But somehow, they managed to find their way to the marketplace. They bought more than enough food to last them for a few days. They were about to leave the city, when some girls randomly crowded around Trevor.
"OMG, it's actually THE Trevor Taylor!" one of them shouted.
"Oh my god, oh my god, please go out with me!" another one of them pleaded.
"No, go out with me!" a third one said.
"Sorry girls, but I've already got my eye on someone, and it ain't one of you," Trevor said as nonchalantly as he could.
"Awwwww!" all the girls said, then left.
"Gotta admit, he deserves credit for not just going with the first floozy who'll ask, huh?" Aidan asked Molly, trying to help Trevor.
"Maybe," Molly said.
The heroes then got ready to leave, but then they saw a horde of bandits approaching the village, with a catapult. The city guard could easily handle the bandits alone, but that catapult could easily cause tremendous damage to the city. The heroes nonchalantly approached the bandits, causing the bandits to drop their guard. When the heroes were close to them, they immediately drew their weapons and started to attack the bandits. They easily managed to plow through them, and managed to get to the catapult. However, the bandit controlling the catapult fired one before Ryan came up and jabbed his staff into his neck. Analice quickly cast a shield spell that bounced the rock away from the city. People from the city saw all of this, and were truly grateful for what the heroes did. The king then approached them, causing Ryan to put on a cloak he had hidden in case the king should come near.
"Thank you all so much for- oh, do my eyes decieve me, or is that the one and only Trevor Taylor?" King Elric said.
"Yes, it's good to finally get to meet you," Trevor said, while shaking the king's hand as if they'd actually known each other for years.
"So, you and your friends saved Gandar city?"
"You betcha. Those bandits were cake compared to other things we've had to do," Trevor said.
"Is that so?" King Elric asked. "Then I insist you come to the castle and recount your tales."
"Oh, uh, I'd love to, but we've got things we need to do," Trevor said.
"I promise, it won't take up too much of your time," King Elric said.
"Well, it couldn't hurt," Trevor said, which bought him the evil eye from the others, especially Ryan.
So, the heroes headed to the castle with King Elric. All the citizens were ecstatic to see that Trevor was in their city, and were incapable of hiding their excitement. The heroes nearly got swarmed a couple of times. Somehow, they managed to make it to the castle in one piece. The castle itself was huge, more than big enough to house the king's family, and all his relatives. The inside was also very vast. None of the heroes had ever seen a place like this, and they were incapable of hiding their awe.
"Always happens when someone first sees the castle," King Elric said.
The king then leads the heroes to a room with a very long table, and the heroes as well as the king take their seats.
"I've been meaning to ask, why hasn't that boy removed his cloak?" King Elric asked, pointing at Ryan.
"He's incredibly distant," Yuki said. "No matter what we tell him, he won't remove it."
"Fair enough. Now, I've been wondering, would any of you be willing to participate in the annual tournament?" the King said.
"What tournament?" the others asked, trying to make King Elric think they don't already know about it.
"You see, I host a grand tournament every year for the entertainment of the public, and with your skills, I know that you will put up a great show."
"Do people die in this tournament?" Aidan immediately asked.
"Well, yes, but they're simply prisoners who have commited foul deeds. What difference does it make?"
"We're not interested."
"Very well, then at least allow me to treat you to lunch. I'll go tell my servants to prepare you a feast. Help yourself to any room you want in the first floor, but please do not go anywhere else," King Elric said.
"Shall we investigate?" Ryan said when the king left.
The heroes were careful not to draw any attention as they searched the second floor for anything that the king may be planning. They then find the king's bedroom, which had a couch, his closet, a desk, and obviously his bed. Ryan searched his desk, and found proof that the King not only had prisoners who truly commited heinous deeds, but also petty thieves participate in the tournament as a way to put them to death. He also found proof that the king bribed other cities to send random people to Gandar to be put to death in the tournament.
"What is with this guy?" Aidan whispered. "Does he think people are just cattle he can do with as he pleases? Disgusting!"
Suddenly, the heroes heard several footsteps approaching the room. Yuki and Janus jumped to the ceiling, then Yuki used her invisibility capsule to conceal herself and Janus. Aidan and Trevor hid behind the couch, while Ryan went under the bed. Molly hid in the closet, and Analice hid behind the curtain. King Elric and several aristocrats walked in. King Elric sat behind his desk, some aristocrats sat on the couch, mildly crushing Aidan and Trevor, and the rest sat on chairs.
"So, how many do we have right now?" King Elric asked.
"56 people for the tournament," one of the aristocrats said.
"Hmm," King Elric said.
"What is it, Your Majesty," another aristocrat said.
"It's just that I think I may have found the last eight people to make this tournament even."
"Where are they?" yet another noble asked.
"They're in the dining room. They have no idea that I intend to put sleep powder in their food. They'll be unconcious, and they'll be forced to fight in the tournament," King Elric said.
"Can we open the curtain a little?" one aristocrat asked.
Analice quietly tiptoed to the edge, and prayed that the curtain wouldn't be opened too much. Thankfully, no one noticed her.
"Are you sure about those children?" an aristocrat asked. "They took out those bandits without even trying."
"I doubt they could break out if they don't have their weapons," the king said. "Could someone get my coat?"
Molly stepped to the back of the closet, praying someone would find the coat without finding her. When the hand of the noble found the king's coat, it left without anyone noticing Molly.
"Now, let us prepare to serve our guests," the king said as he and his entourage left.
"All clear," Janus and Yuki said after ten seconds.
"We've gotta get out of here," Analice said.
"Let's go," Ryan said.
The heroes were careful to avoid alerting anyone of their presence. They had to split up at one point, but all managed to make it to the front door. But then, the king noticed they were gone, and then the soldiers were deployed. The heroes tried to make a break for it. They managed to get out of the castle, but then they saw the king standing on the balcony.
"Why are you leaving?" King Elric nonchalantly asked.
"We're not going to participate in your stupid tournament!" Molly said.
"You peasants don't have a say in that," King Elric said. "I'll make sure you know your place."
"Oh yeah, you and what army?" Trevor yelled without thinking.
The king then snaps his fingers, and then hundreds of soldiers surrounded the heroes. This was promptly followed by the other heroes giving Trevor the evil eye.
"Sheathe your weapons, men. I want them alive, and the death penalty to anyone who does any worse than a broken arm to any of them!" the king yelled.
"Aidan..." Ryan started to say.
"I know, we have to get out of here," Aidan said as he drew his weapon.
The heroes scattered through the mob of soldiers, taking out those that they could. The soldiers, however, had better armour than most of their prior foes, and some of their attacks didn't do anything. Try as the heroes might, they were getting beaten up badly. One by one, all of them fell, though they were merely unconcious.
"Take them and their weapons," the king commanded as his soldier obeyed him without question. "Wait, let me see who the boy in the cloak is..."
The heroes awoke about an hour later, and found themselves in seperate, but nearby cells in a dungeon. Their weapons were gone, but that came as no surprise. They could tell that they were near the colosseum because of the roar of the crowds. They also noticed they all had necklaces with a strange crystal on it. For some reason, they couldn't take them off. Then, a warden approached them.
"So, ya finally got your fourty winks, eh?" the warden asked. "Alright, let me run ya through the rules of each match. In the first round, there's no weapons, though there's nothin' against spells. There are only two ways to win a match: either throw your opponent off the platform, or kill your opponent. Oh, and by the way, those necklaces have a crystal that poisons you if you try anything funny. Good luck, cause I think all of ya will need it," the warden said, then left.
"This is a fine mess," Xavier said.
"How are we supposed to fulfill the prophecy if we're stuck doing this?" Yuki asked.
"Wait, Analice, can't you cast a spell to get us out of here?" Aidan asked.
"Without my wand, I can't use any powerful spells," Analice said. "I'm almost tapped."
"I guess all we can do is go through the tournament and see what happens," Molly said.
After ten minutes, Janus was called up to the arena.
"Ladies and gentlemen!" the announcer yelled. "Get ready for the next round. In this side, hailing from Zuroshi, the city of ninjas, we've got the 18 year-old kunoichi, Janus Arashi!"
Janus steps onto the arena, where she is greeted by the applause of the citizens. A woman in her mid 20's shows up, and takes her position.
"Fight!" the announcer yelled.
Janus' opponent ran at Janus, but Janus grabbed her arm, and pinned her to the ground. Her opponent managed to break free, and tried to kick Janus, but Janus flipped out of the way. Her opponent ran at her again, but Janus suddenly sweep kicked her. But before she could hit the ground, Janus grabbed and flipped her so that she would fly out of the platform.
"The winner is Janus Arashi!" the announcer said.
The audience booed from the lack of bloodshed as Janus left. After several battles, Yuki was sent forth.
"Introducing the assassin from an unkown village, 15 year-old Yuki Inara!" the announcer yelled.
Yuki walked into the platform, as did her opponent. Her opponent foolishly just rushed at her. She easily avoided his attack, then hit several non-fatal pressure points on his body. She then grabbed him by his neck.
"Trust me, if I wanted to kill you, you would've been dead on the first hit," Yuki whispered to him just before throwing him off the platform.
"The winner is Yuki!" the announcer yelled.
Yet again, the audience booed as Yuki left. After several more battles, Molly was called up.
"Here comes our next competitors! Introducing the firebrand farmgirl from Suran city, 14 year-old Molly Collins!"
Molly steps onto the platform, and her opponent charged right at her. Molly sidestepped her, then kneed her in the stomach. Her opponent tried to attack, but Molly ducked and tripped her. She let her opponent get up only to grab both her arms and throw her clear out of the platform.
"The winner is Molly Collins!"
Molly was also booed out as she left. After several more battles, Analice was called up.
I've got the perfect spell, Analice thought to herself.
"Next up is the non-pacifist nun from Kran city, 13 year-old Analice Wickson!"
Analice steps on the platform, but keeps to the edge. Her opponent runs at her, but she's already started casting. Her opponent was about to hit her, but she had finished casting the repel spell. Her opponent easily cleared the edge of the platform. It took a while for anyone to process what happened, but when they did, the crowd was livid at how quickly it ended. They even threw stuff at Analice as she left.
"The winner is Analice!"
After several more battles, it was Aidan's turn.
"Next, we have the orphan archer from Corolla city, 14 year-old Aidan Barnes!"
Aidan stepped onto the platform, and his foe thought that this battle would be too easy. His opponent tried to punch him, but Aidan easily dodged it, then kicked him in the shin. He then swung around him and punched him in the head. His opponent managed to punch him in the gut, but Aidan then grabbed his fist and flipped him over himself. His opponent ran at him again, but this time he grabbed his fist and swung him so that he fell off the platform.
"The winner is Aidan!"
Aidan left, disgusted that people wanted to watch this violence. After several more battles, Trevor was called up.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have a special treat. Hailing from Emerelia, the one and only, 15 year-old Trevor Taylor!"
Trevor arrived, and the crowd roared with excitement. Trevor couldn't help himself, he started motioning the crowd to cheer even louder. He stepped onto the platform, and his opponent immediately charged at him. Trevor ran at him, and slid under his legs. He then sweeped his opponents feet, then stomped on his stomach. He then grabbed his opponent's foot, then made him slide out of the platform. If it hadn't been Trevor, the crowd would've been booing from the lack of bloodshed. They clapped and cheered as he returned to his cell. After several more battles, Xavier was called up.
"Introducing the sharpshooter from the Vaelin guard, 17 year-old Xavier Phillips!"
Xavier stepped onto the platform, then immediately ran at his opponent. His opponent dodged a punch to the face, but not the following kick to the gut. Xavier then elbowed his opponent in the face, then grabbed him by the arms, and flipped him over himself so that he fell off the platform. Again, since there was no bloodshed, the crowd only booed at him. After several more battles, Ryan was finally called up.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen, we have a treat for you. Thought to have died in the Daniels family massacre 6 months ago, we would like to introduce Ryan Daniels!"
The crowd roared with excitement to see that Ryan was alive, and participating in the tournament. Ryan stepped onto the stage, and his opponent immediately ran at him. Ryan immediately flipped his opponent and made him fly off the platform. He promptly headed back to his cell. The audience was speechless.
"And with that, the first round is concluded," the announcer said. "That's all for today, folks. Come back tomorrow for the rest of the tournament."
The heroes were given their meal for dinner, then told they were clear until tomorrow. They were really not enjoying having to do this instead of finishing their journey. But those necklaces on their necks meant that they didn't have a say in the matter. They knew they had to just press on, and hope an opportunity for escape presents itself.