Day 3-The Joust. Murder!
Early in the morning, the body of one of the carnival girls is found in the fields, horribly mutilated (i.e. partly eaten). Fingers point to Vathmar, who's been bragging about sleeping outdoors. The Magistrate examines the body and concludes that a wild beast has been chewing on her remains. Rumor assumes the girl was the victim of a drunken assault - a rare scandal in Hounsgor, and popularly and unjustly associated with various foreign visitors. (The culprit is the Gherent, whose hunger finally got the better of him.) The next contest is postponed whilst ceremonies of protection and remembrance are performed. No indication of the murderer's identity is uncovered, and the festival proceeds on a more sombre note.
Part 1: The Joust
What the Priestesses Say
Butterfly Girl's suitors often fought amongst themselves to prove who was the greatest warrior. You now have a chance to demonstrate your prowess as a warrior in this joust. At the end of the joust, the priestesses announce that the rest of the festival should proceed harmoniously since all the contestants have had their fill of discord and fighting. This event was also originally fought on foot, but the locals have adapted it to qurrock-back. Each contestant is provided with an average qurrock, saddle, and tack from Sir Davis' stables.
The opponents for each joust are decided by drawing numbered chits from a helmet. Chit 1 jousts Chit 2, Chit 3 jousts chit 4 and so on. Contestants may use their own armor, shield, and one personal melee weapon of their choice; special blunted jousting lances are provided. However, qurrocks are light mounts - medium armour will decrease their move by 1" and heavy by 2". The joust here is a somewhat informal affair. The jousting field is a rectangular area 60 meters by 10 meters, with tall pennant-marked poles at each of the four corners. The two contestants begin at opposite ends of the long dimensions of the rectangle. At the signal, each contestant must seek his opponent in the jousting field. Every contestant must make one jousting pass before they are allowed to dismount. No magic of any kind may be called upon until the signal. Thereafter, any magic is permitted except that cast directly onto your opponent or his mount, or which makes a lance less fragile. Special jousting lances are used which break rather than impale their victims. Any contestant who leaves the marked jousting area is immediately disqualified. If lance does maximum damage, it will break. If it breaks, a new lance may be obtained from racks standing at the four poles marking the corners of the jousting area. If a person rides to recover a lance from the edge of the field, their opponent may decide to give chase. If both or either rider is dismounted, he may not remount. He may leave the field, acknowledging defeat, or he may remain on the field and continue to challenge his opponent. Each joust continues until one opponent leaves the field, yields, or is incapacitated. If one opponent is dismounted and remains on the field, his opponent is under no compulsion, legal, moral, or chivalric, to dismount to face him. It is only common sense to exploit the advantage of qurrock and lance against an opponent on foot (unless, of course, the rider has more to fear from falling off his qurrock than from the attacks of his opponent on foot). Some noble warriors may of course show their superiority by dismounting.
The joust is a bloody, dangerous, event, but temple healers are stationed at each of the corner poles. An incapacitated competitor (i.e. one who does not move for a whole phase) immediately receives healing attention. A competitor who receives such healing is eliminated. Interference with healers is a serious offence, and is cause for immediate expulsion from the games. No charge is levied for this healing. Three points are given to the winner of the joust, and two points to his defeated opponent. Ties for third place are decided by a further joust; the third place winner receives one point.
Contestant Strategies in the Joust
Carylon - He will use the lance while mounted, but will switch to the enchanted broadsword if on foot.
Promidor - He will cast the GLARE spell as soon as combat starts. Remember his torc gives him +3 to his ride rolls, so he will attempt to remain mounted as long as possible. If his opponent is dismounted he will ride away, cast his SHARPEN WEAPON spell and then go for the kill with his lance.
Vathmar - He will attempt the BLINDING FLAMES spell on his first approach hoping to blind his opponent and finish them off as quickly as possible. He will try this again if he is forced to fight on foot. If he is unqurrock'd whilst his opponent remains mounted, he sprints to safety out of bounds if at all possible.
Myrrhyn - He will attempt to cast BLESSING on himself before entering the combat (but see also the Samadrian Trick below).
Sir Barharach - He casts SPELL OF THE CHARMED BLADE as soon as the combat starts, and will attack aggressively confident in his riding skill.
Jarst - He will use BURNING EYES on his opponent's lance as soon as combat starts. Jarst will consider jumping from his qurrock at the first pass in order to fight from the ground if it looks like the better option. (He will make it look like an accidental fall).
Samadrian Trick .Before the contest, Agrestis assumes the disguise of a local peasant woman, and a carefully choreographed exercise will take place where Samadrian agents disguised as locals will form a human wall to block him from view whilst he uses LEGERDEMAIN (with the invisible advantage) to remove Myrryhn's opponent's weapons, so that when they splinter their lance they will suddenly find themselves unarmed.
Gherent Trick. There's not very much the Gherent can do in this situation, so it sits quiet.
The Joust Prize:
The prize for this event is a lance that is extremely strong, well made and well balanced, and yet weighs less than most other lances. It is also blessed by all of the Priestesses at the Festival and when wielded by the winner will always give them +2 OCV with Lance Attack.
Lady Jezra, the daughter of Lord Raus, takes a fancy to one of the non-competing Characters. She sends a lady-in-waiting with an invitation to join her in her father's box to "explain the finer points of the joust." A hostile Lord Raus regards the Character as an unwelcome guest while his daughter teases and flirts with her beau all afternoon. She invites him back tomorrow, but implies that she loves gifts - "amusing trinkets" as she calls them. Jezra's idea of a "trinket" includes anything rare, expensive, and stylish. Such items are obviously difficult to come by in a hick town like Houndsgor, unless the purchaser is willing to spend an exorbitant sum (3-600 sp) or try his hand at theft.
That night a brawl at The High Tail, between off-duty Samadrian soldiers from Sorghall's bodyguard and the local lads, is quelled when the Magistrate and five burly militiamen arrive and begin to crack heads. The local lads started the fracas, but Sorghall prevails upon the magistrate not to press charges in the interests of community good will. As the brawl spills out into the neighboring streets, Vathmar is seen rushing to the aid of a Samadrian guardsman's qurrock, which is about to be hamstrung by a pair of drunken hill clansmen.
This is the night that the Gherent steals his Stormapple (presuming he is a contestant). He is not spotted unless a Character is keeping tabs on him, or gets lucky whilst otherwise successfully scouting around.