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A Scholar's Inquiry Into the Deadlantis Arena.
I was writing a campaign, and got distracted by a character who could never tell his own story, so I wrote that instead of the campaign. Sorry for the pretentious title, but I was going for like a Darkest Dungeon narrator meets Adam Smith (I had Douglas adams here earlier because I get those two confused). If this is something people read, I'd like to do more stuff like this with an in world narrator explaining things I think there'd be within the realm.
As a bit of a preamble, I am new to the genre and haven't shared(or written in a while), but I did put a good amount of effort into it so I hope you like it. I've excluded a bit because I have much to edit write and assemble, but I'll get to them as soon as I can. And in case I did not fully capture the tone I was going for here is a list of words that might push it to that point.
And in the spirit of the show (and in lieu of an editor), here is a link to a google docs version where you can comment and make suggestions for stuff you have ideas for or grammar errors that annoy you (I did try to clean it up) or just anything. You can also read the authors scribbling in the margins and a chat too if you want to spam the letter F. I do have backup as well just in case. And, perhaps through your whispers John Von Geo will be able to curate your will into the common tongue.
Story in the spoiler to save time on later scrolling:
Far few pillars of the ageless society are recognizable within the realm of the living. Despite lacking the very most basic class and commerce even present in porcine savagery, there is one aspect that would be indistinguishable, or perhaps nearly indistinguishable if not for all the bones. In observing this departure from departures, as it were, we can gain insight into the what necessitates this commonality and gain better sense of society as a whole. Persistent through the loss of need, discomfort, and most importantly the withheld brevity of life, with all it's drive and prospective, is a manifest theatre of battle. And in what form does this combat turned sport choose incarnate? Why the familiar arena, of course, with all its bravado and ballyhoo. From the regalia of the Azveltara fighting power tournaments, to the lowliest pot puppy gambling gardens, arenas seem to be ever present anywhere beings have the intelligence to call themselves civilized. One might simply attribute the carnal joy of watching two combatants clobber each other to be the cause of this commonality, but that is to explain away the complexities of undeath.
No, the body politic is responsible for such a institute. Nevermore could such a perfect alignment of the conflicting wills of Deadlantis take such shape. For what more could appease the Skull Breakers than to see their brethren killed in such luster? The entertainment is believed by many Bone Guard to keep the other burgesses docile, in one part by allowing some would be suicidal Skull Breakers dreaming of their demise,and in one part sating the other factions want of violence without leaving the city. And for the those more than obtruding Grave Diggers and marauding Reaver fiends, practice of martial prowess for those many raids on coastal cities, and more importantly the replacement of new gladiators as an excuse for such raiding. One would be hard stretched to find something more agreeable to such a society that can hardly agree on a method of timekeeping.
But arenas do not sprout up out of the ground, if that were so they would not be so prone to tradition and decorum. While many do arrive naturally from locations predisposed to spectacular violence, or are ordained by the local governance, and despite the likelihood of the latter, this arena was formed by an individual rather than any collective. To understand the arena is to understand its founder, but more importantly his tool.
Central to any long standing consortium of quarrels is a certain host, gag, or gimmick. None more prevalent than the arena champion, a hero or villain central to the show, giving the story of the bout definable morals, concreteness and familiarity. Deadlantis is no exception to this rule. Their champion does not shoulder its mantle through prodigious skill or guile, but undying will of its oathbound mind. As other denizens of the ageless city may choose motionlessness for weeks at a time, this great skeletal black boar, is seldom still. The towering wretch is a metronome, moving With a constant cleave of both air and skulls to and fro. Its war club, far more opulent and righteous than most any decorum in the city, is not guided by eyes or ears, as it has few senses. While I am unaware of the apparatuses allowing ageless sight and hearing, the smothering blanket of thick coated bronze across his skull has enclosed its world to merely small taps of bone and its clubs dull vibrations. In spite of the eldritch of this poor creature's state, it is not without a history.
In the memoirs of Tilnor Tinshield (a crass attempt at creating a sparring partner upon discovery of believers), is detailed account of the giants origin. He writes:
“Though my rattling rhythm routed rife of the rotund rabble where we would without weary wail on the wretches, the grander gravehoofs, giving governance of their group to the cult of bones got away. Perhaps by pious plans, a ponderous porc paced out of the puke to plant itself in just passed the perpetual pelting of my pitch changing plate, patiently paying heed. So stayed by the sake of my surname, the sounds of my shield that some surmise the strut of so many soldiers, my stalwarts sought to slay the swarthy swine. But because the biggun breathed but not in belie, I benevolently bestowed employment as my esteemed escort.”
To spare you from Tinshield’s repetitive tautologies and abstruse alterations, I will summarize his words as I am able. The Lightbeard (while that descriptor will later become a point of contention for Tilnor) took the black boar for a squire, christening him Cairne the Cannon, a name, to Cairne, better left forgotten. To appease some of the more “gray tooth grumblings” of the more jingoist member of Clan Lightbeard, Cairne was made to take an oath. Not the proper oath of the clan, but a “vindictive vow” Tilnor, more to spite the elders than in solidarity with Cairne, also took the oath.
“Ne’re peace in the mountains, nor comfort in the divines shall I seek while I can still swing my weapon. Without honor of my own to swear upon, I pledge my life and life of my kin to this hold till the ageless curse be scoured from the lands. Lest you strip me of my name, and toss me too the sea.”
Cairne, later trained under the family Tinshield, became partner to Tilnor, to follow him into battle. With the advent of cannon fire and stronger mortar as resulting compensation, the clatter of Tilnor’s shield, which mimicked the marching boots of 100 soldiers, was not enough to flush ageless from some of the mightier holds. Tilnor, more clever than concise, saw a solution in Cairne, commissioning him a titanium great hammer headed with round chambers of black powder, an illuminated with Lightbeard engravings. The club, still in his possession today, has long since let the runes’ glow fade and powder has not thundered through its bore for many a year. In it's hay day, however, the wall had been known to topple walls and strongholds alike.
But it's with no facile effort to march a sizeable porc with an equally sized glowing hammer up to a fort unseen. To this end overtime a sort of language and rapport was developed between the two, contentious on Cairne’s once keen ears and Tilnor’s bardly tendencies. While Tilnor played his “concert of the cavalry” on his shield, Cairne would listen for the pattern whipped out by the enarmes, translations in Cairne’s mind moved him like a chessmen. Tilnor would see a lookout turn his head, and Cairne would turn likewise. Tilnor would hear the mutterings of guards and Cairne would be flush with the ground. Tilnor would notice the dousing of a torch and Cairne would move up to a wall blast a hole in it and have the surrounding area scattered for cannon fire in a matter of moments. Anecdotally, such strategium and understanding became so effective, in “characterless council” with elves Tilnor would often tap tales on the table of raids where their victims believed them ghosts, and feign ignorance at Cairne’s boisterous giggles.
There is certainly no open avowal among the Lightbeards on the events aft the book. In fact, some statements have gone so far as to attribute Tilnor to another clan or as myth. However, through extensive inquiry and means best kept hidden from my readership I have been made aware of some details, details, mind you, to a story well known to those in clan Lightbeard! But I digress, After upwards of some hundred exhibitions, Cairne’s hearing began to wane. And while the memoirs make but quick mention of his “auditory ailment” before it's epilogue, it can be concluded that the loss was of far greater consequence. Their last military record, destroyed or otherwise, places them quite close to their origins. Tilnor or some Lightbeard had tracked Porcs of some relation to the corruption of Cairne’s previous sounder to a cave. This was not to be a great triumph of vengeance for them, regardless if they had succeed, but Tilnor thought it simply as a “bonus boon.” From an unspecified authority I learned that Cairne, as the most boisterous and supposedly keen of ear, was to be the midway point between the guards cave's opening and the scouting vanguard. But despite all his vigilance, calls from the entrance we're not met with the calling back of the foremost troops. When a raiding party of ageless porcs returned to the cave, the troops inside did not come as reinforcements. The party, now piecemeal, was easily gathered up, either killed, or captured and turned.
From there the defeated, many returned home, either to be put to death for admission and even contention of there new ageless forms, or lived lying, obscuring the curse they bared. Others, knowing or fearing the oaths they had taken, strayed far from there hold or broke their own skull. It is unclear if Tilnor and Cairne fled, were turned away for there acknowledged service, or perhaps made to pay for their bygone oath. Their story for many years does not surface in the purview of history for many years, and on the surface it is not. From here forth out, we have but a note, the living history from a being who cannot possibly communicate, and tales spun from a deceitful keeper.
“I am sorry, so I scrawl this in stone. My will to wield a weapon weighs less than my weary withstanding of this world. Periodically, I Pray to the pitiless pantheon that you had not plated your perfect pate to protect your promise to you pyrrhic pledge; offering omnitude to occupy your outlook on oathkeeping. Tilnor, truly too terrible to transcend this torment. My hedigmony had you at our halfway, hearing not, and to bring about your bearing of blame is my blackest blunder. And so cruel a coward am I cannot even carry this confession to you, counting on kindness of cretins to communicate. It might I may imagine your ignorance of my indisposition is better, in interest of of your iron immortality. So selfish your sire, surely If susceptible I'd slay you so I could succumb without solitary. Furthermore, so fruitless forgo forfeiture of my farcical facade for my final feelings. Do I die due to discernment of my dire disgrace? No, my need gnaws at me as I am anxiously abhorred at axing ageless for all of always. Years yielded, yet infinite years yet to yield. Mindful of my message, may man mourn me not.”
For those of you too faint of heart, or poetic sensibilities to have gleaned information from that passage allow me to extrapolate. Tilnor wanted to die with nearly every ounce of his being; imagining any and all justifications to do so. Though I am fortunate enough to have no understanding of the despair that can put you in that state, I conjecture a love or guilt of Cairne may have delayed him from that fate. More than anything, in undeath Tilnor does not want an eternity of he would gladly of done in life. Is this shift come of the conclusion that ageless feel, or simply dread of immortality? Of what we know of Tilnor, I suspect it more likely the end of glory in his life, with his upbrought definition of honor unable to be reclaimed. Further, there is some less speculative presumptions to be made of the letter. Mainly, Cairne was voluntary in the encasement of his skull metal. Not a malicious deception, or will for an immortal weapon, but his propensity to destroy ageless and fulfill his oath drove him to his more absolute deafening. It can be concluded Tilnor, did not take this commitment, likely for early idealizations of death, or
perhaps founded in the practicality of having some sight amongst their party. Albeit the message etched included a translation of taps, a written rhythm from their earlier battle argot, that could pierce Cairne’s quite literal iron curtain, it did not reach him. It would be pleasant to say truthfully this bit of knowledge is known from the death of the messengers, or knowing Cairne’s response would of been self destruction on translation of Tilnor’s self obituary. however, this is not a comfort we can afford. From here we go into the living history of the now nameless contrivance.
Only suffering a dulled world, we must ask what guides this titan’s elegiac swings to it's would be victims. Granted there are plenty of skullbreakers eager to find themselves in the path of the hammer, or we can muse some wild methods of reading vibrations through the sand, but much more obvious answers if we move our thinking from the tool to the founder. Sitting rightly in the ribcage thumb wrapped at the back of the ribcage is a boney hand ever rapping on the spine. Those ossein cadences make the more whole portion of colossus's existence. The colorful, though confusing, descriptions, confidence and even conversations provided by Tilnor, we can assume once made this window. Now, without explanation, it has been replaced with simple commands, and binary knowledge typed out with slow errors.
Not the loss of sight, or hearing or supposed soul do I discredit Cairne’s name from his body. I cannot imagine more than a husk, let alone a mind or identity, persist through such destitution. It my place as chronicler to imagine what reasons Cairne attributed to the silence, and even more maddening it’s paltry reinstitution. The proprietor of those fleshless digits, scratching the minimum microcosm required of a taskmaster, brings us to our most unreliable evidentiary, yet most outright.
Balconied over the ring of wreck crafted bleachers, ivory in audience, sits the gnomish founder, Cassius Thormal. Although for time long enough to drive a man to despair, Tilnor and Cairne were hunting ageless in great mass, only Cassius had bought the event into decorum. By his own account, esteem of the living does not commute readily to the land of the dead, and his distinction as a ringmaster of Okonagnoma’s grandest circus goes unnoticed. From my brief tenure at Okonagnoma studying business from that period, I only recall much shoddier affairs. He faults the loss of acclaim on agelessness’s abundance of time.
“Why credit their betters on most such accomplishments? If they spent a tenth of the time they had counting grains of sand making an effort surely they would have all that I have. However, being really big, isn't something everyone can do, and someone really big is what I've got.”
A sound theory, if one discounts elves, enlargement magic, highbears, silver, and notoriety in ageless society. As boorish aas he may be, it is not in explicit malice he penned Cairne into such futility, but of unimaginable incognizance. Before Tilnor’s suicide, he thought herself a promoter for the duo, informing them where the ageless maybe hiding in exchange for his death delayed; Cairne simply never informed of his presence to snuff out. When tasked to deliver Tilnor’s final words to Cairne, he thought the situation was incredibly sad, but didn't see much benefit in doing so. By the time he could get a rudimentary grasp on translating it through his fingers, he had grown dull to the words, and figured anyone else would have too. As an award for his simple discovery he had Cairne carve out an amphitheatre from ruins of ships and wrecks of ruins. After that, he never much thought of another individual again. Cairne, slowly losing himself to a world of brief flickers, was considered with the same autonomy as another unruly limb. His audience, treated as a natural function responding to his showmanship, at the clatter of bone, and the upheaval of sand.
While little stock can be placed in his words, the manner and aim in which they come about stridently clear. Daily, he goes through moniker and moniker again, attempting to get the crowd to impute a repeated cry to his personage. Without one ever having stuck this blazane servitude to ego, is passed (as braggarts do) along as a appeal to variety. A similar indicator are Mr. Thormal’s frequent rally of attention, taking place any a time where his vindicator or his challengers dare steal a mote of his spotlight. Not completely a fool, I suspect he is so perceptive of the fact he owes all he has to so much luck. I can think of no greater reason for his shield of pride, resultant in his carefully nurtured voice, his quick shunt of examinations into his past, and inalienable dedication to a sport that has so little meaning.
This is where my article will have to take quite the departure from most other of my historical works for the story is without an end. My initial exploration of this subject may of been to find a very clear start and end point to denote the origins of this institution, but with so many of the actors still alive and influential I have little conclusiveness to stand on. With such aptly named ageless, I should've known to adopt a more belletristic structure more suited in studying the first elves. As it is, the creature once known as Cairne is still there, puppet master high above, the arena with little change outside of size from its inception, and Tilnor lay dead where he stood (as the truly dead ought to do). In unintentional broad strokes this is all I have: a bard to rejecting all stories yet to come, a brute with all stories lost upon them, and a braggart desperately envious of the other two.