A night of screams, blood, and death left an emptier monastery on the morning of the Chromo Gyam Dre. Mei Fong, Jade Tiger, Beren, and several other contestants survived the night and met at the central hall. The tournament was ready to start, twelve contestants would enter into the ring, only eight would advance into the final showdown. Another event to weed out the weaker warriors, what awaits them is anyone’s guess.
The contestants were greeted by the elf from the previous night, there were twelve in all. Survivors from a night full of blood and death, only the strongest were fortunate to survive the night. The monastery’s atmosphere changed drastically to one of foreboding and dread. The stories from the many clans across the realm had always depicted these events to be gruesome or cruel, some in the room knew that the trials ahead would only continue to test their resolve and mettle. The elf gazed at the remaining survivors, unflinching in character or emotion, still as the mountain itself.
“Good morning, warriors. You have all survived the first trial of the Chromo Gyamdre. I wish to congratulate you for your success. Today, marks the start of the next trial.” The elf turned and walked out towards a courtyard on the other side of the complex.
The group of warriors followed, Mei Fong took note of the other contestants. There was a tiefling with purple robes, a pair of orcs with black spiked armor and large axes on their backs. Behind them was a half-elf from the looks of it, the shorter pointed ears gave them away, a short crow-like creature in black leathers hopped quickly aside them.
Not from them, another odd assortment trailed nearby. Another human woman, but dressed with various furs and seemed to have small bells adorned in her long brown hair. A man who seemed to show signs of some emerald scales along his neckline, his eyes even looked serpentine; Mei Fong could not make out this particular person’s skill set from his plain clothes. She noted to be careful with that one. A large humanoid man, well over seven feet tall, grayish skin and tattooed. Finally, there was one draped in a long cloak, their face and features hidden underneath darkness. Mei Fong assessed that the next trial would dwindle these numbers before the final portion where the stories go that they would have singular matches with each other until a clear victor was determined. I have to win, she swore.
The group assembled in front of a smaller courtyard behind the monastery, leading to what seemed like a stone well with a large basket and pulley mechanism. Some of the contestants looked to each other with confusion, but the elf turned to them with poise and grace. A sly and mischievous grin, suggesting knowledge of the upcoming dread that awaited them. Beren let out a loud yawn, which left Mei Fong irate and she occasionally glared at the blissful warrior.
“Now, before awaits the next trial. This is the entrance, your goal is to reach the other side and ascend to the mountain peak. You have one hour to acquire provisions, for there are many paths in the dark but only a few that shall lead you to the light.” He gestured with grand flourishes and motions, like a merchant enticing a customer.
He continued, “once you are ready, you will descend down the shaft. Each of you given a ten minute head start before the next.”
Beren raised his hand into the air.
The rest of the group turned and looked at the dazed and bewildered human warrior with the beige tunic and saffron sash at his waist. “Will food be served once we reach the peak on the other side?”
Silence. Stone cold silence. Shock, awe, and perhaps a bit of disbelief on everyone’s faces.
Beren blankly looks at everyone. “What? It’s a legitimate question.”
Mei Fong and Jade Tiger sigh while the rest of the group turn back to face the elf.
“Uh, yes. There will be refreshments and food, along with some comforts waiting for you at the peak.” The elf seemed bewildered and still in awe.
Beren let out a wide grin and seemed pleased with the answer.
“How in the realms is he a competent warrior?” Mei Fong whispered aloud.
“It’s a fair question,” Jade Tiger interjected.
Mei looked up at the tabaxi with a displeased look, while Jade replied with a shrug and headshake. The two gaze at the large stone well, it was roughly twenty feet wide, with a set of carved stone to form the outer perimeter, a large basket with rope and pulley was easily seen hovering at its center. Below, even those with the ability to see within the dark could not help feel that the well was endless and that in fact there was nothing but the void below. After a few moments, the contestants dispersed and wandered to various facilities across the monastery in preparation for their descent. The monastery became a theater of sounds and thunderous scavenging by the various contestants as they acquire any provisions brought by themselves and some even took to looting the various corpses left behind from the previous night. When the rest of the group reconvened, Beren was already waiting and sitting with his legs crossed beside the well and the robed elf.
“To determine who goes into the well first, the first to arrive is the last to depart.” The elf eyed Beren with disdain. Many of the contestants chuckled and laughed when they realized that the foolish Beren was most likely last to go into the well. One by one, the contestants descended down into the well, some time would pass before the next, and then the next. Eventually Beren was all that was left. The elf guided the warrior towards the basket, but the human warrior refused and instead brandished a wide, toothy smile before diving into the well itself.
The elf looked into the abyss for several minutes more, contemplating about the events to unfold. “The fate of the world rests on your shoulders, I pity the one who prevails and rises as champion.”
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