(more thanks to Hana for the write-up)
We ended last session with Lily picking up a new… pet? Friend? Unclear. She brings it to the tavern with Dahlia. Lily then tells Dahlia that she wants her help asking Chief to participate in the Giant Chicken competition (which is a competition in the Arena in which 12 contestants stand on raised platforms and try not to fall, jump, get killed, or otherwise leave the platform as a blindfolded hill giant takes swipes at them with a massive club). Dahlia agrees that the competitions sound fun but she is also concerned about the information that the group learned the night before and this morning, and she explains that she wants to get the group’s opinion about telling Sabato some or all of the info they learned. She gathers the group minus Violante who has already left for her Lemonjack competition, in the cellar of the tavern to discuss. The group goes back and forth about what information to share and the pros and cons of sharing information. Ouss points out that there are two possible situations: either Sabato knows that Tore Como is going to escape and also knows that the group visited him, and therefore would be angry at the group for not sharing/suspicious of the group; OR he doesn’t know and if Tore does manage to escape, he will know that the group visited Tore (since they spoke to Osvaldo who would almost certainly report to Sabato that the group visited) and his wrath will be focused on them for not warning him. In any case, the group decides that they can’t make the decision with out Violante, and decide to go find her, emerging from the cellar. It should be noted that Sabato is still at his reserved table doing business, and Ouss asks Lif to keep an eye on him and note when he leaves. Lif writes “VERY BUSY” on his chailkboard, and Ouss reassures him he just wants to know the time, nothing more.
It is around this time that Lily notes that her owlbear cub (chick? chub?) is no longer visible. She searches behind the bar and finds the cub with its beak embedded in the side of a cask of cider. She pulls the cub out and can tell that it has drunk its fair share of cider, and also that the damage the beak has done to the barrel is making the cider spill out. After flipping the barrel over to prevent more spillage, she decides to name the cub Cider. A quick check confirms that the owlbear cub is in fact a girl. Ouss asks if Lily is all right and when she comes from behind the bar with this creature in her arms, the group is all very confuses as to what it is. Nonetheless, it seems like a very Lily thing to have, and therefore the group is generally accepting.
Owlbear in hand, the group sets off for the Lemonjack hall. Violante, meanwhile, has been following Mr. Felix as Nika the tavern manager. But the Triton proves too slippery and manages to shake her. She proceeds to the Lemonjack hall and plays a few rounds as Violante and a few as Vanna. However, Vanna doesn’t advance far in the competition and therefore Violante is the only remaining competitor of her two selves. While V is playing Lemonjack herself, a mysterious figure taps her on the shoulder and hands her a stone similar to the one she lifted from Felix, telling her she “may need this.” The group comes in during one of the Lemonjack rounds and starts booing V, mainly to let her know they are there, while keeping up the pretense of hating her for her own disguise. They then exist the hall in hopes she’ll follow and make their way to an animal wrangling competition. Here, both Rose (who has experience with handling animals due to growing up on a farm) and Chief (who has no experience with animals but is generally strong and athletic) compete. Both do well in the hogtying competition after an intiial roughs tart from Rose (who reenters after a Mulligan) and they both proceed to the second stage, riding the wild horse.
While waiting in line, Violante comes out of her competition for a brief break and meets the group in line. They explain to her their thoughts using increasingly and probably unnecessarily complex code words which Dahlia frequently forgets to use anyway. Eventually, the group comes to a compromise wherein they will tell Sabato the information they learnred from Como about his planned escape, but will leave out any information about Mr. Felix being the “fixer” and the tile with the yellow flower and the rendezvous point for Tore where the group suspects he will meet with someone who knows the whereabouts of the memory stone. That way, the group can use this information if Tore does manage to escape, and if they happen to find the Memory Stone they can charge a finder’s fee to return it to Sabato. Violante also tosses the group the stone she received and leaves them to figure out the exact magical properties. Dahlia and Ouss test the stones, with Dahlia speaking into the stone that V stole from Felix. Ouss hears a ringtone in his head, followed by Dahlia’s voice saying “Can you hear me?” Ouss responds “Under no circumstances is Lily to get a hold of one of these stones.” The two of them determine that this is a once-per-day thing.
Rose and Chief finish up the animal wrangling competition. They both compete well on the wild horse riding portion of the competition, and then comes the bull riding. Rose performs beautifully, but Chief, unfortunately, is thrown rather suddenly from the bull soon after getting on. The tie breaker is a bull-wrangling competition, and in which Rose emerges victorious. She is given a victory purse of 200 gold sovereins and a gem-studded belt. Chief feels pretty good abotu his performance considering this is the first time he’s really interacted with farm animals.
Armed with their information, Dahlia marches with singular purpose back to the Spirit Garden, trailed by the rest of the group in various states of distraction, due to the many sights and smells of the festival. Nevertheless they make it back, seeing Sabato still at the table where they left him. The group approaches, asks to speak to him, and pour him some fine wine. Dahlia proceeds to explain that they visited Tore and she was able to charm him using her magic to reveal that he was planning on escaping that night during the arena fight, leaving out all the other details. Sabato thanks the group for bringing this to his attention. Satisfied that they have cleared themselves of any potential suspicion, the group FINALLY decides to fully partake in the festivities, but not before Lily speaks with the cat Snowdrop, telling her to keep an eye on Sabato and listen to words that he says.
First, they decide to enter the Giant Chicken competition together (minus Chief who decides not to play, and V, still playing lemonjack) to stack their odds of winning the 500gold sovereign pot. Ouss, Lily, Rose, and Dahlia decide that if they win they’ll split it 5 ways with the winner taking 2 shares. In a harrowing game of luck and nerves of steel, Lily and Dahlia are knocked unconscious along with their 8 opponents, and Ouss and Rose are the last two remaining. Despite Ouss giving Rose the evil eye when she suggests that she jump so he can win, she fakes being hit harder by the club and falls off, leaving Ouss victorious and none the wiser for the deception. Lily and Dahlia are revived by the Arena crew, and they all take a short rest to recover and celebrate.
Meanwhile, V is crushing it in the Lemonjack competition. During a break, one of her former competitors from past games comes upa nd makes small talk with her, seeming on the verge of calling her out for lying about how much lemonjack she knew before she smooths over the situation with blatant flattery. He returns to tell her he’s bet 50 gold on her to recoup his previous losses, which reads vaguely threatening, but V doesn’t seem bothered. She handily wins the competition, receiving a pot of 250 sovs anda gold lemonjack piece.
As the group is walking to the Battle of the Bards, a bardic performance competition that Dahlia wishes to enter, they come across a dwarven fighter who challenges those around him (and specifically Ouss) to fight. Seeing that the victory pot is substantial, Ouss accepts the challenge. The battle is tense, with the dwarf demonstrating similar monkish skills to Ouss, and Ouss finds himself narrowly bested. The group encourages him afte rhis marginal loss and head to the bar where the Battle of the Bards is being held. Dahlia performs at the competition with Lily as her assistant providing visuals in the form of druidcraft displays. With Lily’s help she wins the competition, pocketing 100 sovs and a Lute that is of masterful quality and craftsmanship. She is rather pleased at this prize.
Rose, Ouss, and Chief decide to enter the 50-fighter melee with the strategy of faking fighting each other to allow others to wear themselves out and drop before fighting the remainder of the competitors. They also decide that the winner will get half the 1000 sov pot, and the two others will get 250 each. Ouss and Chief find each other quickly and do a pretty good job of keeping up the charade. Rose gets caught up fighting a guy in plate armor, but manages to lead him to the other two where they help finish him off. Eventually, after fighting some pretty nasty competitors, Rose goes down and the only two left on the field are Chief and Ouss. They are both close to dropping and Ouss takes a risk by breaking off melee and getting out of Chief’s reach, to try to force his rage to falter. Sadly, Chief is still able to lob a stone at Ouss, so Ouss comes back and is knocked out by Chief, who is close to unconsciousness himself. Meanwhile, Lily, Dahlia and Violante have been watching the competition. V bets all 250 gold on the three competitors, and at 2-1 odds breaks even no matter what. Lily bets 50 on Chief, and Dahlia declines to bet.
After the melee, Lily gives Cider to Rose and V to hold, and she uses her wild shape power to turn into a horse for the horse race, with Dahlia as her rider. Sadly, they don’t do very well, but it WAS Lily’s first time turning into a horse. The group reconvenes to watch the final event: A fight between Tore Como and the hill giant that had been blindfolded earlier for the Giant Chicken game. Tore enters the battlefield angry, and seems to get the fight over as quickly as possible. He rapidly destroys the giant with a series of surprise attacks using the terrain of the arena to maneuver. The group notices Sabato in his private box smiling smugly, and figure that he prevented whatever escape plan Como had.
After the long and profitable day the group had, they all decide to go to a tavern, and Chief, Ouss, and Dahlia participate in a drinking competition. Dahlia gets plastered, and Chief is close to drunk himself, conceding the victory to Ouss and helping to carry Dahlia back to the Spirit Garden. They let her sleep it off and decide to tie up loose ends and pay a visit to the house with the yellow flower tile in the Quay. They find it unlocked, dark, and empty with no furniture or any sign of habitation. They conclude that Tore’s failed escape from the Arena meant that no meeting occurred, and return to the tavern or their respective lodging locations.
Dahlia wakes up extremely hung over and Lily cares for her. Returning to her room, Lily finds her mattress completely ripped up with Cider the owlbear cub nesting happily in the middle. Dahlia had told her the day before that Cider needed a crate or some sort of habitat, so that Lily wouldn’t always be carrying it, but she was resistant to that. However, given the circumstances, she recruits Ouss to help her by building a suitably airy place for Cider to live in her room.
With the festivities (finally) behind them, the group takes a minute to recoup, count their earnings, and see what tomorrow will bring. And we level up to 4!