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Suian 516

Russel Story

 

 

 

The Suian 516 AC

 

HISTORY

After the first two Graplores, the deity Han~Sui saw how well the peoples of the world reacted to the competitions.  He wanted to recreate that react with a competition of armed skill to promote his faith.  In the year 479 BC, he and his faithful organized the first Suian tournament.

The tournament was like its predecessor, the Graplore, in many ways.  It takes place in a hexagonal arena with ten foot walls, generally set into the ground to allow spectators to see.  The arena is twenty five feet across.  It consists of matches, which consist of best of three contests.  A combatant is eliminated after he has lost two matches.  Magic is disallowed, except for the enchantments places by the judges to attempt to prevent unneeded deaths and injuries, and enchantments meant to protect the integrity of the competition.

Much like in the Graplore, combatants are chosen by clerics.  They are chosen by clerics of Han~Sui for the Suian.  This means that chaotic combatants are uncommon, and combatants that are devout cultists are very rare.  The host city also gets to select one combatant, which is vetted by the religion, but rarely vetoes.

For many centuries, one of those ways was that it was held in the same city as the Graplore, on the following year.  That changed after Tyrogatore angered the Counsil deities.  He declared that the Graplore would be held in 240 AC in the city of Mydir, the home of the cult of Hemator.  Han~Sui, hating the cults, had his faithful hold the Suian in 241 AC in Nestonitop, in the Orcish Empire.  Since then, they have only been held in the same place on rare occasions.

Although the winner of the Suian has always received the same prize, the many of combatants have received different awards through the years.  The winner has always received a blade of finest quality, usually made of the strongest steel.  Occasionally, the host city or nation will provide another material, such as mithral or adamantium.  The blade is forged by the most notable and available sword maker of Han~Sui in the world.  It is traditionally a curved long sword, or katana, but that blade type is not a requirement.  The sword has the year and location of the tournament etched into the blade, and most times the name of the winner etched on after the tournament. 

 

 

THE TIME: 516 AC

Some would call the century before the Day of Falling Death as the best century the world has ever seen.  It clearly falls into what is historically known as the  Diamond Age, when the Kingdom of Icefia was the world power and its ideals were those that the world saw as best.

Around the world, there was tranquility.  The Spider Queen had been defeated long ago, and the powers that be held the underdark squarely in check.  The Grean Republic, which had long been the hard fisted rulers of the sea, had been defeated.  The seas were now as free and safe as any time in history.  Dragons had been hunted almost into extinction and posed no threat.  Tinkers had advanced science further than had ever been thought possible, and while many still refrained from the use of technology, few had a prejudice against it, and wherever it existed, as with high levels of magic, life was good for the people.

The powerful nations of the world, the Kingdom of Icefia, before any of its regions had revolted; the Destroytian Republic, before the Wars of Decency; and the Kingdom of Yellowia, while it still held sway over all its traditional lands; stood allied to each other.  Only the String Mountains knew war within two decades before.  The orcs knew their borders and did not stray beyond them.  The Great Forest was peaceful.  The lands surrounding the Great Plateau were sheltered under its umbrella.  The Odd Lands were calm.

The Counsil was strong, and despite a few cults existing, no evil cults had much of any power.  On the Counsil itself, the balance of power clearly favored good and neutrality.  Gremdelivian was near extinction.  Sutyr had not yet appeared.  Lavash’Ki had not made it on to the Counsil.  Highlander still sat on the Counsil and was an advocate for civilization.  Stasis had ascended from a demi god to a lesser power less than a decade earlier.

With all of that stability in the world, the generational time came to hold the Graplore, and then the Suian.  It is an event that for one of the rare times is not interfered with by any war around the world.  Magic and technology have created a time when communication and travel are as easy and safe as they will ever be, making it easy for clerics of Han~Sui to scout the world and easy for combatants to make it to the location of the tournament, in this case Massada.

 

 

THE PLACE: MESSADA

 

            Resplendent.  There is no other word that captures Messada at the height of its glory.  In the years just before the War, after the Arch was built and the river channel dredged and the city prepared for the Suian it was truly the greatest city of the world.  I will never forget the first time I came to it; sailing up the Tamin, under the Arch you could feel the city drawing close in the behavior of the crew.  It was like dawn, passing out of the dark wilderness into a bright safe place.  The valley flattens and the great granite walls can be seen from miles away. 

            After you passed the walls for a few minutes the whole city, sloping gently to the northwest and the castle, could be seen.  There was no interior walls on the river in those days, the city had little pretense of being a fortress, not with the world at peace.  From the Harbor you could see the bustle of the Gnomish wards on the east bank, never still, but sitting in the shadow of the new Royal Military College.  If you looked down the wide streets to the west eventually after seemingly endless perfect rows of stone townhouses with their sloped blue slate roofs, your vision would be blocked by some great structure.  In the south it was the Bardic College, a place so mysterious to me that I didn't dare to venture there for decades, until after the War.  Its strange triple tower and great keep-like hall seemed so out of place with the harmony of Dwarven perfection of the rest of the city.  Not far to the north was the arena, it is there still though it seems less than it was before, but in those days it was another symbol of greatness, the place where 300 years before Stasis had won the tournament and come so close to equaling Korda's legendary feat.  I arrived only a few weeks before the Suian and the whole Kingdom felt like crackling lightning so alive it was that the Suian had returned on the anniversary of Stasis' Triumph.

             Further north still and much closer to the harbor was the Great Market.  I had been raised on Red Island and had spent many a day in the market of Tas-tio-Horari so markets held no awe for me, but in those days it was a remarkable place.  If the College and its theatres were the height of culture then the market proved that the Kingdom was the height of civilization; so civil were its merchants, so honest the tradesmen and so skilled the craftsmen it showed every visitor a sincerely welcoming face.  Nearly any item or honorable service could be found there.  I will not say it is much changed today, but the suffering of the Kingdom has hardened its people and the joy has gone from many simple things. 

            The great northwest road, the Castle Road was like nothing I had ever seen.  After the energy of the market the sudden change to serene, idyllic calm was off putting.  In those days only a long arrow shot from the edge of the market you would come upon the great mansions of the city, huge stone homes, some compounds in their own right, stood guard over the wide tree lined boulevard.  They seemed like monuments to the Kingdom's triumph and the idea that they belonged to just one family was inconceivable.  Had I not seen the Castle in the distance I would have thought they were castles themselves.  Then as the High King's gate is clear ahead the road widens, becoming like a plaza and the great soaring temples and keeps of the city stand on both sides, like an honor guard for the Castle.  First to the right is the Headquarters of the Knights of the White Sword, a place that when I first saw it I never dreamed I would set foot inside.  Even its stern practical facade gave one a feeling of hope in those days.  Its walls seemed unnecessary, its doors guarded but unbarred.  Further along the High Temple of Stasis, its diamond keep the largest building I had ever seen its blue glass commanding reverence from every passerby.  Between them, in their protective shadow, stands the Temple of Hemator, its cheering pink and red glass casts a warm welcoming glow on the streets, though I remember even then where the red light fell on the blue flagstones I could not help but think of all the blood that had been shed to protect the Kingdom.

            Across from those magnificent structures were places strange to me, that as one so young I could not understand why they held places of such great honor.  First the temple of Gnarion, who seemed such an upstart to me to be accorded such a place when mighty Han-sui or Treetop's temples were nowhere nearby.  Another solid practical building, but it too radiated hopefulness and energy, for Gnarion expects nothing less of his redoubtable followers.  I have learned better in the centuries since.  Next the Fountain of Tfop, a power strange to me and of questionable use.  If I had been a better student of history I would have understood why he and his followers were shown such respect, and the relationship among He and Stasis and Falan.  A place of beautiful craftsmanship, so unlike the others, except its neighbor to the north, the Fountain was all glass and steel and copper.  It sparkled like a gem and cast its light all around when the sun or moon shown upon its walls and dome.  Then the last, the First Temple of Falan.  Nothing like what I expected from my enclave shine, it was a beautiful, soaring structure; full of great flying pillars and bright windows.  It was the first place I entered in the city, to pay my respects if not my worship. 

            There is so much more I remember of that happy time, too soon washed away by the long darkness of the War and the rebellions; but it does my heart hurt to dwell to long upon it, for there is much yet to be done to make the Kingdom as it was.

Wilar Tel'cu 783A.C.

 

The capital of the Kingdom of Icefia was the ideal place to hold a Suian tournament during the Diamond Age.  It is the seat of power for the Kingdom of Icefia, which was founded by Stasis, who in life won the Suian.  The home of his religion, which is often allied to Han~Sui and is a proponent of the tournament.  It is only the second time the city has held the tournament, the first being 300 years prior in 216 AC, when Stasis himself won.

 

RULES OF THE TOURNAMENT

The Suian Tournament consists of duels.  The duels pit two warriors against one another in a 25 foot diameter circle arena.  The arena has ten foot walls surrounding it.  Two warriors fight until one is unconscious, dead, weaponless, disqualified, or until one concedes.  A warrior must defeat another warrior two times to win the match.  The matches are therefore, the best two out of three duels.  A warrior is eliminated from the tournament after he has lost two matches.  The tournament is therefore, a two loss elimination tournament.  The tournament continues until there is only one warrior left, and he is the winner.

In the rare case of a draw in a duel, the warriors are allowed to be healed up to the point where they were at before the duel began, and they fight again.  If at all possible, two warriors do not fight against each other in two matches over the course of a tournament.  The opponents are randomly selected for each round, with the only disqualifier for a pairing being if the two warriors have fought in the tournament before, and there is another possible opponent for each.  In any given round, if there are an odd number of warriors, the judges select the warrior they feel is the best and give that warrior a bye for the round.  They will not award the same warrior a bye in two straight rounds, and if possible, not award a warrior more than one bye in the entire tournament, even if that means giving byes to warriors that are not the best.

 

Some entrants into the tournament are:
bulletFrancos Macomber, a human from the Destroytian Republic who fought in the last Suian, of 491 AC.  He came in 3rd at that tournament and for years after devoted his life to returning and winning.  However, being human has disadvantages, and time began to catch up to him.  He realized when he reached the age of 50, that he would stand little chance against the other that had defeated him and would not have aged by the time of the next tournament.  He changed his objective.  Instead of training himself, he set out to find a student to teach.  A physical specimen that could be modeled, trained, and win the Suian under Francos' banner.  He did just that.  Oddly, however, that was not the end of Francos' story.  In a twist of fate, two months before the tournament, he was called to be a replacement for a shrine in his home town in the Republic.  His ego took over and he agreed.  He faired very well in the tournament, getting to the 10th round before he was forced to face his protégé.  The very first duel went poorly for Francos, ending in him being badly hurt.  Realizing he had gone as far as he would, he conceded the match and resigned from the tournament.  He continues to participate as the aid to his protégé, who remains undefeated into round 13.
bulletVarak, a large Gatori from the Ekrudian isles, he is the protégé of Francos.  While still young, he was a wild berserker, using his immense size to defeat his opponents.  Francos came upon the beast and saw potential.  He convinced Varak that the best life he could have was with Francos.   It helped that he offered the Gatori lots of coin and food.  For the next several years, Francos used his own talents and hired others to teach the Gatori many other techniques.  When it became clear that Varak's rather short for his size arms would be a problem, Francos guided him to the use of a Glaive.  Despite that training, Varak often falls back upon his animal ferocity and crashes into his opponents with devastating force.  He has so far ran through almost all of his competitors, smashing their weapons before they can even attack him effectively.  He even defeated his mentor so decisively, that Francos retired from the tournament.
bulletAbernathy, a human from the Icefian isles, he is one of two sons of a wealthy merchant family that made it into the tournament.  It is widely believed that his father bought his entry into the Suain after his brother was selected to be in it.  Abernathy took out his frustration at that situation in the early rounds of the tournament, defeating his brother.  He is a skilled wielder of the ranseur, trained by the best Ekrudian Spear fighters alive.  His has bought the best trainers and been given everything necessary through life to turn him into the greatest warrior in the world.
bulletDrydan, the other brother who is the only competitor remaining with a loss.  He is also human, but went about gathering his skills in a much different way.  He is a noble warrior, knightly in virtue and honorable.  He has trained with many of the orders of Icefia, most notably the Bladelords.  He uses two scimitars, white in color.
bulletEmerius, an orcish Bladelord that has been training on the path of the Silencer.
bulletYnok the Bull, a Kobold from Borkondof.  Although the slow witted Kobold would say that he is no longer a slave, the truth is that his hobgoblin and bugbear masters still control his actions, even if they do so less directly than when he was simply a talented warrior in their arenas.  When the time came in Borkondof for the great tournament to be held to determine who the high cleric of Han~Sui there would select as his nominee for the Suian, Ynok entered after the 'suggestion' of his masters.  He easily defeated all but one of the hundreds of challengers.  It came down to Ynok and a massive bugbear named Foss.  NO one is certain, but most believe that his masters cheated to allow Ynok to win that final battle.  Regardless, the Kobold is now undefeated after twelve rounds of the Suian.  His victories have often been so quick that neither he nor his opponents have been seriously harmed.  He scares his opponents into submission wearing his unique bull headed full armor.  When he needs to, he charges more ferociously than nearly any other competitor.
bulletFoss, a Bugbear from Borkondof.  After being defeated by Ynok, he went on a quest to find another cleric to nominate him.  He was successful, and was nominated by the cleric of a small shrine in the great forest.  It is said he killed twenty ogres by himself to convince the cleric.  He ran through the first six rounds winning easily.  He made it clear that he wanted to fight Ynok, claiming that in the controlled environment of the Suian, he would easily win.  However, his wish did not come to pass.  He lost to the bladelord Emerius in round seven, and then two rounds later came up against the scimitar master Marcus.  He lost both fights and left the tournament disappointed.  He continues to hang around the competitors, hoping to cause the defeat of Ynok.
bulletTan'Fesh, originally from the great forest this Sakor'akai has traveled far and wide to prove his skill.  Early in his travels, Tan'Fesh came to the conclusion that the best way to prove his skill was inside the arena.  The great wars of the world had ended, so he had none to fight in to prove his talent.  Against the warnings of his family, he traveled to Borkondof, where he won many fights before having to escape.  Lore has it that he even fought against a young Ynok and defeated the Kobold, but spared his life.  He later lost to Foss the bugbear, who spared Tan'Fesh life after witnessing his honor earlier.  He went from there to the Orcish Empire, where he won again and again.  Just before he left the empire, he took part in a match Agyar'golyo, where he competed with a young Thrasius, allowing their team to win and vaulting Thrasius into a starting spot on a team.  He then traveled to Yellowia, where he learned from the Silverswords, including an already talented Lexi.  He continued to travel, fighting all over the world.  He fought in the desert of Intoria and in the String Mountains.  Finally, when the Suian neared, and he knew he had to compete, he returned home and was quickly nominated to the tournament.  So far, his most notable opponents were the Sledgehammer prince and the nephew of the Jungle elven queen.  He defeated both.
bulletGelaud Sledgehammer, the dwarven prince of the sledgehammer clan.  An able warrior and veteran of many battles, he was expected to go much further than he did.  He was one of the only competitors to have seen many actual battles, as the wars in the String Mountains were the only of significance in the world in the past twenty five years.  He ran through three opponents before coming against Foss the bugbear, who in an amazing, and some say lucky rush, killed the dwarf.  He was brought back, and won two fights convincingly, making him again a favorite to win despite the loss.  However, he then had to fight Tan'Fesh.  The Sakor'akai was too tricky for the dwarf and eventually force the prince to concede.
bulletErizzel Jungletree, part of the royal family of the jungle elves.  A talented ranger, treewalker, and acrobat, the jungle elf had a century of experience in combat.  His performances disappointed.  He tried trick after trick, and many failed, ending with him in precarious positions.  He lost two of his first three fights and became the biggest flop of the tournament.
bulletLexi Keegan, a female halfling from Yellowia.  She is this tournament as the representative of the Silverswords.  Like many of the Silverswords before her, Lexi is a master fencer and expert at defensive fighting.  She has the distinction in this tournament of being the quickest competitor.  Her duels have been long, and she has lost more than a few.  Despite that, she has yet to lose a match and is putting on a good show for her Silversword brethren.  She defeated and eliminated fellow female Rakel.
bulletThrasius Aggripa, a professional athlete and warrior from the orcish empire, and is this Suian's representative from the Agyar'Goylo sport which is so popular in the empire.  He is talented in manner forms of combat and has a better understanding of competition like the Suian than anyone who has not fought in one before.  His fights have ended in all different ways, but more often than not his opponent has conceded out of frustration.  To this point, he has not fought any of the other elite competitors, and he has dominated all of his opponents.
bulletGnax, a boisterous amatine gnome who many believe to be an assassin.  He is quick, sneaky, deadly, loud, obnoxious, and has humiliating many of his larger opponents.  When not fighting, he does not mingle as many of the combatants do.  He and his entourage fade into the crowds, only to appear again on the day of a duel.
bulletMarcus Vai, a former slave who calls Icefia home.  Once taken off a ship on the high seas, Marcus was rescued by a former Suian competitor and Sword Saint named Darren Felton.  A decade ago, when Marcus was merely a serving boy on some island, Darren traveled to the island and killed his slave master.  Taking the young boy under his wing, Darren taught him how to defend himself.  The boy proved to be naturally gifted and took to the art of the sword quickly.   Traveling with his mentor for years, Marcus learned many things and became quite wealthy.  Finally, Darren retired and Marcus took up all of his duties in Icefia and the isles.  When the time came for the Suian, the same cleric that had nominated Darren nominated Marcus.  The protege did not disappoint.  He has won most of his matches without even getting hit.  He has forced many to conceded before they did any damage to him.  He defeated the monstrous Foss, as well as defeating and eliminating the most talented paladin in the tournament.
bulletGerald Gala, a noble paladin and cavalier from Icefia.  Many believed the descendant of many great Icefian heroes would win the tournament, especially in his home nation.  Despite his advanced age, he remained the best warrior in his family.  He was nearly unstoppable against any unscrupulous opponents.  His long sword and shield was relics and had been used by his family in a dozen Suians.  In round four, he proved to be not lucky.  He drew the barbarian Kertullian, hater of Icefians.  Despite his clear skill advantage, Gerald was laid low, killed by the raging murderer.  He returned and stayed in the tournament, winning five more matches before he had to fight Marcus.  The skilled swordsman was vulnerable to none of Gerald's advantages and defeated the beloved champion.
bulletTheos Firstcrest, the chosen champion of the Destroytian Republic.  He is a noble warrior, Knight of the Republic, and skilled mounted warrior.  He is the best known combatant in diplomatic circles and his victory in the Suian would have more international ramifications than any other competitor.  He adheres to a classical style of combat and classic methods of victory.  He is well versed in all forms of combat, a jack of all trades and master of none.  He has won duels in many different ways, but always honorably.  He is a fearless warrior who is respected by all.  Theos was supposed to fight Francos in the round before the former winner retired.  It was reported that Theos would have conceded each fight out of respect to his countryman and former near champion.
bulletRakel, a nipit bard from Yellowia and member of Order of the Trueheart.  Having talked her way into a nomination, the lady was nonetheless a skilled warrior.  She won several fights before running into Geluad Sledgehammer, who mocked her songs of long and her whispers.  She conceded quickly, earning her boos and jeers from the crowd.  Saddened from the experience she only barely won her next match before losing to the Silversword Lexi, another female against whom she had no chance.
bulletKertuallian, a barbarian from Icefia whose declared purpose is the death of all Icefians.  The only reason he is allowed in the kingdom is because he was nominated to fight in the Suian, otherwise he would be arrested and likely killed.  His most satisfying victory came in round four when he fought the beloved veteran hero of Icefia, Gerald Gala.  He killed the knight and a riot almost erupted.  Taunting the crowd and trying to take the head of his opponent as a prize, Kertuallian had to be escorted from the arena and held in protective custody for a month.  He won that fight, but has only narrowly won many others.  When not fighting an Icefian, he appears less interested and has nearly lost four times.  He remains a tremendous threat late in the tournament, as one third of the remaining competitors are Icefian.

 

THE TOURNAMENT

ROUND 13

Emerius defeats Abernathy 2-1

Tan'Fesh defeats Lexi 2-0

Theos defeats Gnax 2-0

Marcus defeats Thrasius 2-0

Drydan defeats Ynok 0-2 DQ

Varak defeats Kertuallian 2-1

 

ROUND 14

Theos defeats Drydan 2-0

Abernathy defeats Varak 2-1

Ynok defeats Emerius 2-0

Marcus defeats Kertullian 2-1

Tan'Fesh defeats Gnax 2-0

Thrasius defeats Lexi 2-0

 

Drydan, Lexi, Gnax, and Kertullian eliminated

Emerius withdraws

 

ROUND 15

Theos get s bye

Marcus defeats Tan'Fesh 2-0

Varak defeats Ynok 1-1 DQ

Thrasius defeats Abernathy 2-1

 

Ynok and Abernathy eliminated

 

ROUND 16

Marcus gets a bye

Varak defeats Thrasius 2-0

Theos defeats Tan'Fesh 2-1

 

Tan''Fesh and Thrasius eliminated

 

ROUND 17

Varak gets a bye

Marcus defeats Theos 2-0

 

ROUND 18

Theos gets a bye

Marcus defeats Varak 2-0

 

Varak eliminated

 

ROUND 19

Marcus defeats Theos 2-0

 

Theos eliminated

 

Marcus Vai is the winner!

 

 

RESULTS

The final twelve combatants of the 516 Suain were quickly separated between contenders and pretenders.  After the 14th round, five of the remaining 12 were eliminated.  One could say it was the tournament of reach, since five of the final seven used a reach weapon.  But oddly, they began to drop out.  The master of the scimitar was a puzzle that could not be solved.  Only the hater of Icefians was able to defeat in a duel, by making him concede once.  The other finalist was classic fighter and a knight.  Fearless, he ignored the strategies of many who relied on intimidation and fear.  He brutal attacks overcame each opponents tricks, until he ran afoul of Marcus, whose trick was just a bit too deadly.

 

The Icefians, hosting the tournament, had high hopes for a home nation victory.  With a third of the final twelve being Icefian, they had a good chance.  Incidental deaths proved the nemesis of many of them.  Abernathy, Drydan, and Emerius all dying.  Emerius was so bad that after multiple deaths he was forced to withdraw.  The hope of Icefia fell to Marcus.  From a long line of light sword fighters from eastern Icefia, his family had entrants in the Suians for centuries.  He finally fulfilled their dream and won.

 

A factor that occurs every so often in the Suians is a new trick that someone brings in which fools the judges.  In years passed it has included strategy-less dwarven ragers, exalted warriors, and the like.  This year was the same.  After the tournament, the judges looked into the existence of Ynok and determined that while he had not broken the existing rules, his kind would no longer be allowed.  A new test would be developed to determine if a combatant had any connection to another plane, no matter how slight.  The connection would be analyzed and if deemed unfair, the combatant would be barred.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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