After contending with the giant squid-like creature in the underground lake, Beren and Mei continued on their trek through the mountain tunnels. Mei shared her story of her former life with the Crimson Phoenix and how that life came to an end the day the stranger arrived. Eventually, the two find the exit out and prepare themselves for the next trial ahead.
Mei breathed the crisp mountain air deeply. The sun was still shining, though midway to the west, what looked to be the afternoon hours. The mountain range seemed to stretch dozens of leagues, many of the peaks were covered in white snow and misty clouds. They were at a much higher elevation, in fact, Mei did not recognize these mountains at all. Were they even in the same region anymore? Regardless the view continued to stretch into the infinite horizon, taking her breath away.
Mei felt a hand on her shoulder, she turned and looked at Beren. He pointed to a direction and noticed a small, narrow path which led to an impressive tower. The two followed the icy way, though they had not seen any of the other contestants since their descent. They opened to two wooden doors, only to find a large sigil etched into black stone on the floor. They both looked at each and decided to step onto the rock. A few moments passed before they runes began to glow and instantly their vision blurred before returning back with a harsh jolt. A teleportation circle.
Once they got their bearings, they realized that they were in a similar building not far removed from the monastery they had left. An elf dressed in black robes greeted them and escorted them into a larger banquet hall. There were several individuals either eating or conversing with each other. Mei and Beren instantly spotted Jade Tiger and Hangul of the Nura Clan. A Goliath warrior from the Adamantine Dragon clan was devouring the food at a maddening speed, several servants tried to keep the pace of his gluttony though it seemed like a losing battle. A priest of the White Swan sat on a bench nearby with a small teapot and cup while reading a book. Jade Tiger rushed over to his friends and welcomed them.
“I’m glad to see you both alive, my friends. I was beginning to worry that you were lost in the caves.” The tabaxi hugged them both.
“Oh, you know me, Verro. I like to wander.” Beren joked.
Hangul approached the trio, still clad in black cloth and that odd, horned white mask.
“I am most pleased that all of you to arrive. Your presence in this tournament shall test my skills, empowering me before claiming the Mantle.” Hangul’s voice was still low but almost sounded elated.
Mei Fong and Beren bowed at the cloaked figure, knowing that soon everyone present and possibly more would participate in the final tourney. The large wooden doors opened again, two more figures emerged into the banquet hall. Mei Fong had spotted one of them previously in the other monastery. She only heard the name once, but she knew he was definitely an opponent to avoid: Shiro, the Black Frost from the Diamond Dust clan. Human in appearance, spiked black hair with piercing blue eyes. He wore black robes but kept a crystal staff at his side, possibly made of ice. The last one was a small kenku in dark leathers and a purple cloak, he undoubtedly was from the Twilight Gale clan.
The Elf addressed the contestants present. “I highly doubt any further participants will arrive, I was instructed only to wait for eight to come and here are eight now. In a moment, you shall be presented before the eight sages and the Chromatic Lords. There you shall be informed of the final details of the last tourney. Congratulations on reaching this last portion of your trials. May fortune smile on you all, and the god of victory be at your side.” The elf bowed and guided the contestants out of the banquet hall.
A few corridors later and the eight warriors arrived in a large room with nine chairs with small tables before each one. The chairs were of different colors, each supposedly to represent the nine clans. There were eight individuals in ornate robes, matching their chairs; two that were human, three elves, there was a dwarf amongst them, and two Dragonborn. Mei recognized the elf that sat on the seat for the Crimson Phoenix, he was an ancient sage named Tarvelian. Some of the participants bowed at their respective elders, even Jade Tiger bowed to the sage of the Verdant Conclave. Beren was the only one who did not bow, which made her wonder if he even had a clan affiliation. He supposedly was a guest, but a guest to whom? The seat for the Golden Spear was indeed vacant, the rumors of his passing were true after all.
Far past the nine seats were a row of thrones, five in total. At each seat sat an armored individual clad in a solid color: the Chromatic Lords. At the center, one adorned in red armor with a helm that resembled a crown, surveyed each of them as they entered.
He stood from this chair, his voice echoed across the room like a lion’s roar. “Let the final tournament begin…”
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