🎵 THE TALE OF THE WICKED ARENA: an original composition by our bard

An ancient, strange, and wicked force
Unknown in the mortal plane
Sought a bit of deadly sport
To keep him entertained

He found our traveling company
We seemed to suit his needs
He sized us up most hungrily
For magical misdeeds:

There’s the Monk, stoic and tall
The Thief, sneaky and small
The Mage with magic arrow-gun
And the brooding Aasimar

Four were named, two remain:
The heel and the hero
The shoeless Druid Shapeshifter
And yours truly, Zeno!

This Devil, having found his prey
Did capture us all six
He took us for his twisted games
Beyond the River Styx

“You’ll fight, you dogs, until the death
You’ll find there’s no escape!
‘Til only one doth still draw breath
However long it takes!

If you refuse to play my game
And save each other’s health,
By hells, your fate will be the same.
I’ll kill you all myself!”

And thus he did deposit us
Into his fel arena
So grimly did we steel ourselves
To set the dreadful scene

Knuckles cracked, daggers drawn
Incantations cast
But I had naught but wits and song
To help me through this test

I called the Monk, and tried to strike
A bargain, for a time
“Let’s work together, if you’d like!”
…He did not seem inspired

But we all knew our greatest bane
To getting out of here
Was one shapeshifting Druid man
That made our target clear

And so we set upon that heel
Who turned into a bear
Swiping claws and gnashing teeth
At any who drew near

The Thief threw daggers from the dark
The Mage shot magic missiles
The Monk, he dodged the raging beast
And punched him in the kisser

The Aasimar unfurled his wings
And struck with thunderbolts
But this assault was not enough
The bear’s resolve did hold

So I, with plenty wit in stock
Drew up a simple plan
“A bear? You can’t fool me,” I mocked
You’re barely half a man!”

On hearing from my repertoire
The druid bear did break
And he became a man once more
Who now was looking weak

The Druid spoke to rally strength,
“You’ve got this, little chap”
The Aasimar responded with
A dagger in his back!

So with the challenge of the Druid
Overcome together
The Monk, the Thief, the Aasimar
Began to fight each other!

The Druid’s body at their feet
A melee did ensue
But with these three so closely bunched
The Mage knew what to do

He cast a darkness spell to veil
His next attack from view
His massive torrent toward them sailed
And threw them all askew

Amid the flood, I took chance
To leverage the confusion
I played a melody dissonant
To craft an eerie illusion

The broody boy, he lost his head
He panicked, turned, and ran
The others flogged him as he fled
The Aasimar was slain

The Thief, she did not miss a beat
She turned and stuck the Monk
Her dagger pierced his somber heart
He slacked and slumped at once

Now friends, I am not proud of this
That Thief, though, she did scare me
I scrambled to the magic dark
And hoped that it would hide me

The Thief approached with dagger black
And called for me unkindly
“I am not here,” I whispered back
And lo, she did not find me

Our captor was not entertained
By this pause, however brief
“I’ll handle this myself!” He boomed
And vaporized the Thief

Now friends
you’ll remember
This was a fight to the death
But not just a fight among any old folks
For we were all traveling friends.

The Mage,–
I knew,–
Had a peculiar sort of a phobia
Frogs! You hear? Frogs! His fear!
Really, it’s true, would you know it?

So I conjured an image inside of his head
Through some fanciful use of my bagpipes
A giant frog! Ten feet tall!
That ought to give him a real fright.

I thought.
And it did!
But the effect wasn’t what I’d intended.
He responded by drinking a magical draught
That caused himself to be expanded!

So now, it’s I, a lowly Bard
Facing a giant Mage
We stared each other down and then
Our duel did engage!

He pierced me with a crossbow bolt
Squarely in the chest!
I took a heavy labored breath
My lungs must pass this test!

I blew and squeezed and played my pipes
He battered me with spells
I skirled and droned with all my might
To sound his final knell

The Mage’s will began to break
A deadly tune I played!
To cause his keen and clever brain
To melt inside his head.

Having emerged from this conflict victorious
I did not feel like any champion glorious
I lost all the friends in my traveling cohort
And by my own hand! …Had I no heart?

The Devil appeared with a glint in his eyes
“You have won, you have won! Now you must choose a prize!”
“I am no winner,” I solemnly said.
“Just take my life now, raise my friends from the dead!”

Moved by my grief—yes, Devils can feel
He spared me my life, and offered a deal
With a flick of his wrist, my friends were renewed
The Mage, Monk, and Thief, the Aasimar too

But deals with a devil are never clean-cut
There’s sometimes an “and,” there’s always a “but”
My friends are alive, at a cost though, it’s true
That son of a bitch brought the Druid back too.

(As transcribed from several Dramatic Performances given by Zeno Kelethin to the Sovereign Dungeoneering Company aboard the U.S.S. Sovereign Dungeoneering Cart en route to the Mages’ City, Paripas, and then to the Goblin Shopping Network on Beer and Deer Night, with tasteful bagpipe and soap bubble accompaniment.)

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