Rites of the Spring Horn

Game 36: Day 4 of the Games

Summary

Marcella and Fianna both compete in and just barely win their no-holds-barred singles matches. After that, the group watches two 8 on 8 Lambswool matches, then Hank, Zia, Marcella, and Fianna discuss strategy for their 4 on 4 Lambswool match the next day.

Log

Schedule for 7/17/13, Day 4 of the Games:
9:15 – No holds barred singles 1H
10:00 – No holds barred doubles 1E
10:45 – Weaponry singles 1C
11:30 – 8 on 8 Lambswool match
12:15 – 8 on 8 Lambswool match
1:00 – 4 on 4 Lambswool match
1:45 – 4 on 4 Lambswool match
2:30 – Long jump qualifier
3:15 – No holds barred singles 1I
4:00 – No holds barred doubles 1F
4:45 – Skeet finals
5:30-7:00 – Footraces

Everyone attending the games today comes to Marcella’s match. The group gets amazing seats, front and center in the best seats they don’t need to pay money for. Zia has her craft supplies ready. Everyone gets there around 8:30 for Marcella and Fianna’s 9:15 matches.

Marcella goes down to check in around 8:45, since she knows she’s supposed to be there about half an hour before. Fianna goes to check in as well.

When the two of them go to check in, the man who had checked them previously is not there. Instead, Madoc of the Destroyers is at the table. As they walk towards the table he says, “Good morning! Here to check in?”

Marcella walks up to the table. “Yes, Marcella Boneblade and Fianna, both for the no-holds-barred singles.” She nods at him. “Good match yesterday, congratulations on your win.”

As he rummages through the papers, he replies, “Thank you! I saw on the lists that you’ll be competing in the Lambswool matches. It is rare for fresh changelings to enter.” He takes his pen and checks off both of their names, making a small notation.

Marcella grins. “We thought it would be a fun game to try. If we make it long enough to face your team, that will be an honor in itself, but I’m not sure about our chances at that.”

“You never know! Well, I wish you both luck in this and the Lambswool! You’re all set,” he says. Marcella thanks him and heads over to the waiting area. Fianna as well.

Shortly, the now-familiar voice of the announcer blares over the speaker. “Welcome to the fourth day of the Summer Games! We have a full docket of exciting and bloody matches for you to watch today, so settle yourselves in, folks, we’re kicking today off with a bang with everyone’s favorite, the no-holds barred singles! Who will come out on top, and who will be carried off to the healers? Who knows? LET’S FIND OUT.”

The first round of four is called, but neither Fianna and Marcella are in this round. The fights don’t last very long—a feathered fighter with a bow drops their opponent in less than a minute in one notable match—and the Arena is soon cleared for the next round.

Marcella and Fianna’s names are both called in the next round. Marcella is matched up against a mountain of a man calling himself Eli Battlehewn carrying two gigantic swords, and Fianna is matched with another Fairest dressed to the nines in a dueling uniform reminiscent of something out of an old French court.

Hank perks up a little bit at the French court outfit, though of course he’s cheering for Fianna. Zia sits with an embroidery hoop. She is making another set of towels, this time themed for Vogelfrei, Marcella, Fianna, and Iris, to see if they sell. They will be very lovely towels that give a bonus to cleaning, but don’t do shiny things.

Marcella clasps Fianna’s hand and wishes her luck as they head out, and nods courteously to her opponent as they walk out into the ring.

Before the match officially starts, Eli Battlehwen pulls his two swords off his back—they are zweihanders, and he holds one in each basket-sized hand with ease. He smiles fiercely, and says, “I have seen you fight in previous matches. You are good. I think I am better. Why don’t we find out the proper way?”

Marcella grins fiercely back, drawing her onyx sword. “Sounds good to me.”

As Zia sees that Marcella’s opponent will be fighting with two swords, she says quietly to Hank, “Oh dear, do you think that this will go very well … is it hard to fight against someone with two weapons when you are using one?”

The announcer’s voice cracks over the speakers. “BEGIN!” Marcella’s skin hardens as she grows more bone plating armor. She darts in and slices Battlehewn across the ribs almost as soon as the announcer speaks, scoring a deep hit.

Hank frowns. “Typically, yes. However, it can depend on the fighting techniques used by each combatant. Marcella will likely count on being more maneuverable than Battlehewn.”

Battlehewn roars, but he looks more excited than angry. He swings the first of the giant swords at Marcella, and whiffs. He swings the second, and that one slams into her off arm.

Marcella roars back nearly as loud, and hits the arm that just hit her, scoring another hit. She also looks like she is enjoying herself, despite (or maybe because of) the intensity of the fight.

Zia eeps a little as Marcella gets hit. “Well, I certainly hope she does alright, that arm doesn’t look good … I hate watching people beat each other up …”

Hank shrugs at that, “It is pretty much the national sport back home. I mean, not this level of bloody.”

The Ogre lets out a thunderous laugh, takes a couple quick steps back to take advantage of his reach with the longer swords, and swings at Marcella again. The first strike scores a small hit on Marcella’s upper left thigh, and the second misses entirely. He is just out of her reach now.

“But to step into the Arena knowing you will be hurt, to do it over and over again…” Zia trails off as she has a little sigh of relief as one of his attacks misses.

Marcella sprints in close again, trying to keep her range close and deny him that reach. She spins behind him and slashes his back through a chink in his armor. He roars, and pivots to face her, but he’s looking pretty worse for the wear. He catches Marcella in the face with the hilt of one of the zweihanders, and the nasty point cuts her, and the other sword comes around to graze her.

Zia is no longer embroidering. “Oh dear, I hope she can see.” Hank nods. He is leaning forward in his seat, watching the match intensely now.

Marcella yells back and slashes across his front, ignoring the blood streaming down her face. Eli finally topples, the swords sliding out of his huge hands to rest on the sandy floor of the Arena. Marcella breathes for a moment, then lifts her sword triumphantly.

“Yay! Marcella!” Zia cheers quietly, more out of relief than anything else. Hank cheers.

Once she is sure she won’t fall over, Marcella leans down to make sure he’s still breathing. She is briefly alarmed, thinking she might have killed him outright, but judging by the medical team realizes he is not in fact dead. A team of changelings comes on to the field to bring him back to the infirmary. They bustle Marcella off as well.

While this has all been going on, Fianna has been having her own fight. When it begins, Fianna takes the first strike. A quick strike to the ribs does two damage to her opponent, who is carrying a rapier. Her opponent counters with incredible speed, and scores a bloody line into Fianna’s ribs.

Fianna responds with a strike to her opponent’s weapon arm that hits solidly at the shoulder. But it leaves her overextended, and her opponent stabs her through the leg.

Hank jerks, startled. That seems to be the worst hit any of the team has taken so far in the matches.

Now limping, and bleeding heavily from her leg, Fianna launches an uppercut at the chin of her opponent. He manages to almost pull back in time, but she still grazes him. He’s not looking too terribly good himself. His perfect outfit is torn and bloodied, and that last hit mussed his hair.

Zia is grumbling to herself, “Fianna, don’t go and get yourself killed before I’ve gotten you in that dress I’m working on!” She is clearly worried and expressing it with … rough affection.

Another strike from Fianna’s opponent takes her across the other side of the ribs, deeper this time.

In a last effort, Fianna launches a full on attack straight at the man’s nose. It connects solidly, and he drops, nose streaming blood. She stands there for half a second, breathing very heavily and streaming blood from her leg, but then she raises her hand in victory.

Zia nods in satisfaction and goes back to her embroidery

Changelings come to carry off her opponent, and one clearly offers to help Fianna walk, which she refuses. She has finished just after Marcella.

Marcella glances back at Fianna’s fight as she is led off the field. She gives Fianna a grin and small salute as she leaves the field. She has been in the healer’s room for approximately two minutes when she sees a very bloody Fianna walk in. Marcella raises a hand. “Hey, good match?”

Fianna nods. “Good match. Poncy little bugger certainly knew how to use that pigsticker. I’ve got a few holes that weren’t there before.”

Marcella grins, relieved to hear that Fianna sounds like her usual self. “Yeah, Battlehewn got in some good slices with those zweihanders. Glad to see you still on your feet.”

Hank goes down to check on them. There isn’t actually much useful for him to do, given the healers and medical equipment, but he hovers like an extremely oversized hen.

Next up are the no-holds barred doubles and a round of weaponry singles. Marcella and Fianna are both pretty hurt, but not fighting again today, so they are getting healed using the slightly slower methods than the other days. They will be released from the healing room in the middle of the first 8 on 8 match.

Zia completes her set of six Vogelfrei-themed towels. She is very pleased with them and once Hank comes back, she pops down to the vendor who has been selling her and Amy’s wares. The vendor is not initially eager to sell them, but she reminds her that the Queen herself acknowledge Marcella and Iris’ win and that she would be the only person with Vogelfrei merchandise. At that she capitulates and agrees to sell them.

Hank comes down to find Fianna and Marcella in beds next to each other having just been healed. A doctor is fussing with some bandages on Fianna. “Are you both all right?”

Marcella smiles and waves. “Hi Hank. We’re fine, just had a few exciting matches. Thanks for coming.”

“But of course.”

The doctor helping Fianna haphumphs a little bit. “About as all right as anyone who throws themselves to the lions. But they’ll be shipshape soon enough, Hank.” Hank knows the doctor to be Laurel, one of the shift heads.

Fianna giggles. “I feel floaty.” Marcella knows that they gave her a goblin fruit that’s basically magical anaesthetic so they could work on her leg. However, like many goblin fruit, it has a downside. In this case, like laughing gas.

Marcella winks at Hank. “Yep, right as rain soon enough.”

Hank nods at her. “Thanks, Laurel. How has this shift been overall? Do you need anything?”

Laurel shrugs, “Well enough, we’re good here though, you enjoy the Games with your friends.” She finishes with Fianna and admonishes her, “Now! You stay here until you don’t feel floaty at all, understood young lady?”

“I’m not a lady, I’m a star.”

Lauren is not fazed. “And I’m a magical healing tree. But your body is a lady’s. Treat it like one.” With that she heads off.

Fianna looks comically hurt. “I thought you were supposed to treat ladies nice,” she mumbles.

Hank heads back upstairs. After the weaponry duels comes the first 8 on 8 match for the day. The teams are an Aachen team including Knight Ryujiin and Knight Therese and a team from England. Both teams are clearly very practiced. The Aachen team divides into three parts plus the Lamb and focuses on pressure on the other side, slowly taking various members of other team out of play. Their Lamb is clearly using the dream contract Amy has and summons a steady stream of useful objects. The English team has a more defense-based strategy with their best two fighters making steady inroads towards the Lamb. Their Lamb creates a wall of vines that fight back. It is a long match, but the Aachen team wins.

Marcella and Fianna see the tail end of it. Fianna has stopped being off in lalaland and is now rather grumpy and a little dizzy. Marcella asks Hank about how the earlier parts of the match went, and closely watches the parts she is present for. Hank gives her a brief rundown when she arrives upstairs, and then goes through some of the plays with her when the match finishes.

The next match is a Koln team versus a team made up of players from a variety of freeholds. The second team is all older changelings. The group hears someone behind them say that they come together every year just to fight a few matches, and they were all in Arcadia together. And indeed, despite being a wide variety of kinds of changeling, they all have a sense of sameness.

The Koln team runs like a professional team. Their Lamb is a sand elemental who spends most of the match doing crazy things with the sand of the Arena. Their strategy seems to be very complex, more like a football team with the calling of plays. It is largely effective, but they can’t quite reach the other team’s Lamb.

The second team is clearly older, depending on kith abilities and contracts more than athleticism, but the years that they have played together is evident. They move like they know what the other is going to do before they do it. Their strategy is simple and consistent, a clean division of labor, with the Lamb protected by two people. They win the match when, with no outside indication anyone else can see, all seven of the not-Lamb players rush the other team’s Lamb while their Lamb pushes everyone away from him with a contract.

Marcella is intrigued by these changelings who were all in Arcadia together, and wonders if they escaped together like her and the chess pieces. She asks the person behind them for more information about the older team.

The person behind them, a grizzled hob who is munching on odd blue chips, replies, “Oh them? They’ve been around a long time. They play in this event every year and a few other games too. All of them came out of the hedge together, but live all over Europe.”

Marcella thanks him, and watches the team closely for any indication of what kind of Durances they might have had. The team as a whole has a sameness to them, like they were all either chosen for looking similar or made to look that way. All of them manifest their kith in a lovely but stylized way.

After the second 8 on 8, Hank will turn to the rest of the group and say, “Is there anything else anyone wants to see today? That was the end of the events I was particularly interested in.”

Marcella usually watches most of the events, but she is less interested in the footraces, so she is willing to head home a little earlier than usual, if not immediately. “I’d be interested in seeing the no holds barred singles and doubles that happen later this afternoon, but if the rest of you would prefer to head back, we can do that instead,” she says. “I would like to speak with you and Fianna and Zia about our Lambswool match, Hank.”

Zia looks up from her set of intricate, shiny Nodons handtowels. “I can leave whenever,” she says.

Hank is interested in watching the 4 on 4 duels, so the group stays for some of the other events. Their 4 on 4 match is tomorrow at 11:30.

Once they are back at the freehold and ready to discuss Lambswool strategy, Marcella offers her room at the freehold. “Or we can see if we can get one of the conference rooms, I’m not sure how busy those are during the Games.” She knows that two of them are currently essentially extra space for organizing the games, and others are hosting various events, so it would be potentially hard to get one right now.

Hank shrugs, “Whatever is easiest. Zia, is there anything you need to go over with us about our uniforms?”

“The uniforms will mostly take care of themselves, but I can bring them to the meeting,” she replies.

“Alright, how about we meet in my room when we get back to the freehold, then,” Marcella suggests. Hank nods.

When they get back to the freehold, Marcella and Fianna take some time to pretty themselves up. Then Marcella, Fianna, Zia, and Hank convene in Marcella’s room. Zia pushes in a rolling garment carts with four garment bags on it. Marcella looks impressed by the amount of preparation Zia is putting into this match. Hank starts to pull all of his notes and play charts out of his bag.

“Thank you all for agreeing to participate in this match,” Marcella starts, leaning against her desk. “Zia and Hank, I know you weren’t especially excited about doing this, so I appreciate your participation.” She nods in their directions. “So, Zia has agreed to be our Lamb. I was tentatively thinking that we’d designate Hank as her primary defender, and Fianna and I would go for the opposing team’s Lamb. Hank, how do you feel about that? What kinds of contracts do you have that would be relevant in this match?”

Hank nods, “That is what I was thinking as well. As my skills are primarily in close-range, unarmed combat, it makes more sense for me to be on the defense.”

Marcella nods. “Glad to hear it. Any contracts we should know about?”

He continues, “I have a few contracts that might be relevant to the match, though not significant game-changing ones. It is possible I could use Witches’ Intuition, though I am not sure of its application. If anyone is struggling they should fall back to me, because the Gift of Warm Breathe ought to allow us to prolong the fight past what might otherwise be possible.” He suddenly remembers, “I think I have already spoken with Marcella and Zia, but Fianna – you should offer me something to eat or drink tomorrow before the match. That is the catch for that contract.”

Fianna looks concerned. “Uh. Do I have to cook it myself, because … that might be a bad idea.”

Hank continues, “Transfigure the Flesh ought to help me, as well. I’ve already spoke with Zia about the possibility of working the catch into our uniforms.” He looks at Fianna. “No, it just relies upon the giving and receiving of some form of sustenance. I do not believe any of my other Contracts will be of particular use.”

“The ones you’ve already mentioned do sound useful, though,” Marcella says. “Zia, I’m hoping you won’t come into melee range of any of our opponents, but I wanted to offer you one of my swords in case you need it on the field.” She holds out her bamboo sword. “I know you have an ability to master any weapon if you practice with it first, but I’m not sure what the time limits on that are.”

Zia takes the sword reluctantly, but seems to instinctively hold the sword correctly. She looks down at the sword and her hand and puts the sword to the side. “Yes, I can certainly gain basic proficiency with any weapon I choose. I can do it before the match. I was planning on using these primarily.” She gets up and goes the garment rack. She takes out two long boxes. She opens the boxes and inside are two gun-like things, both enameled in rainbow colors with a batik theme. Marcella’s eyes widen slightly. Hank raises his eyebrows.

Zia pulls them out. One is smaller, closer to the size of a large handgun. “This one is a laser gun. The lasers are rainbow, naturally.” She takes out the next one. This one is bigger and has a large back end. “This one shoots little sticky bombs that go off about 30 seconds after sticking to the target.” She smiles at everyone, but is clearly still uncomfortable with the weapons.

Marcella whistles low. “Wow … I guess you have been busy, Zia.” Fianna glances at the garment bags with the uniforms with trepidation. Hank nods and Marcella’s comment.

“Oh, I just decorated these and helped plan the guns. A friend made the guns themselves. I am sure I could make guns … but I’d prefer not to explode myself in the Arena,” Zia replies. “I’m happy to carry the sword if you wish, Marcella,” she adds.

Marcella shrugs. “Whatever you are comfortable with. I don’t need three on me at once.”

“Guns are a bad idea at close range, anyways,” Fianna mumbles. “Especially that explodey one.”

“Fianna, we should also think about our strategy for going after the opposing Lamb. They will likely have a defender or two in addition to the Lamb, so I was thinking one of us could focus on holding off the defenders, and one could focus on getting the Lamb out of the circle,” Marcella says.

Fianna ponders for a few moments, then speaks. “Your defensive capabilities are better than mine,” she says. “I’m also faster. It might be best if you could keep the defenders occupied while I run in for the grab. Plus, even if they have a Lamb that’s wicked heavy, like in the match the other day, I can make myself stronger to move them.”

“I have that contract too, but you make a good point about durability. I can take a lot of hits without going down,” Marcella agrees. “That sounds good to me.” She looks over at the garment rack. “Anything we should know about these outfits, Zia?”

Zia smiles, much more excited about this than the weapons. “You should know that they are lovely and engineered to assist with your fighting styles. They are made as armor in and of themselves, no messing up the lovely lines.” She walks over to the garment rack and dramatically unzips all four of the garment bags. The uniforms are a rich blue with subtle green stripes and hints of yellow. Each of them is a tight fitting shirt, practical pants, and for the girls, a short skirt that goes over the pants.

She walks over to the first outfit. “Hank, this is yours! It should help you move more quickly and easily. There is a cap to go with it and it will grow and shrink with you without any damage to the outfit.” Hank gets up to examine his outfit. On the chest of the outfit is a stethoscope in green and a needle. On the back is a ball with a chain that has a broken cuff. Hank runs his fingers carefully over the stethoscope.

“Marcella, here is yours! It will make you stronger! I also made a translucent cover for your crown to protect it and color it to match the outfit! Oh, and Hank, this pull off easily and form into a very small cap!” Zia explains happily.

Marcella steps forward as well and admires the outfit. “Wow, this is amazing, Zia,” she says. The front of her costume has a stylized crown in yellow and green, the back the broken ball and chain.

“Thank you Marcella! Fianna, I hope you like your outfit too! It will make you faster and more agile, as well it cannot be cut by your stars or set on fire!” she says. Fianna’s little skirt has more frills on it than Marcella’s and there are cute little cap sleeves that segue into long sleeves. The front of her uniform has a trio of stars.

Fianna’s eye twitches, but all she says is, “Thanks.”

Marcella glances between Fianna and Zia, but doesn’t comment on Fianna’s attitude. “This will be a huge help, Zia, thank you for putting in all this effort.” She looks around the room. “Any other questions anyone has, or other strategy things we should make sure to discuss before our match?”

“I hope you all like the outfits. They all also have pockets and were made to try to self-heal themselves so that blood loss can be minimized,” Zia adds. No one else has other comments or questions.

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