The Jhelom Dueling Pit Challenges

Ferran Azelle

UP: Catskills

    As of late, reports have reached my earsregarding challenges within the Jhelom Dueling Pit. In the past, however, itseems I have been awfully busy and missed out on the opportunity to attend oneof these "challenges". Recently the opportunity presented itself and Itook advantage of it...

I had just arrived at the East Britain Bank when I heard the news, the localcrier was shouting the announcement that the Jhelom Dueling Pits were open forchallenges, and almost any creature could be challenged! Intrigued by thepossibility, I decided I would make an attempt to attend the spectacle.Unfortunately, I had no means of rapid travel to Jhelom, but luckily a band ofmages who were attending the challenge offered me passage by means of theirmagical gate. I thanked them, and carefully stepped through and arrived justoutside of the Jhelom Bank and Jeweler. I rushed to the east, my parchment andquill in hand eagerly awaiting the opportunity to chronicle the evening's event.

As I approached I could hear the shouts and conversation of those within thearena, several shouting suggestions to the challengers below. I could make outthe roar of a drake, which immediately hurried my pace. Several guards stationedoutside of the arena instructed me to the entrance on the eastern side. Ihurried in and met another guard, asking him directions to the observation area.He pointed to the stairs leading to the deck above and I swiftly moved up them.

I pardoned my way past members of the observing crowd, luckily acquiring a spotnext to the deck wall. I placed my parchment against it and began taking notes.Now, admittedly, I am not much of an adventurer myself but the thrill of thebattles intrigued me. I peered down upon the arena as guards escorted inparticipants. Apparently challengers could face the creature of their choicealone or with a party of three or fewer members. In this particular case, asturdy warrior was challenging a lich lord. He soon felled the beast, and exitedthe arena to observe from above. I then noticed that an older gentleman wasescorting each challenger to the other side of the arena to prepare for theirchallenge. I heard a few folks nearby me mention that he was "the pitmaster". I scribbled some brief notes and watched as the next group ofchallengers was hurried in.

As the pit master lead the three challengers to the other side of the arena Inoticed them debating between one another. It seemed as if there was somediscussion in regards to what they would be challenging, and I was eager to seewhat their final decision would be. The moment soon arrived, and the pit masterreleased a daemon into the arena! I immediately stopped taking notes and watchedas the three battled the violent creature. The beast moved quickly around thearena, the adventurers regrouping several times in an attempt to prevent thebeast from escaping. However, escape seemed to be the least of the daemon'sdesires. Instead it lashed wildly at the challengers, both with its bare clawsand a volley of magical spells. Again the adventurers regrouped and then rushedat the beast all at once in attempt to subdue its attacks. Soon the attacks ofthe challengers proved too overwhelming for the beast and it collapsed to thedirt floor of the arena. I heard the pit master congratulate them as they movedout of the arena and to the observing area above. I took some notes andcontinued watching.

The night went on as most do and saw a large variety of challenges. Drakes,dragons, daemons, undead, elementals, orcs, ogre lords all served as challengesthroughout the night. Some challengers were successful against the beast theybattled, some were not. Although some were defeated, they lost nothing. Theywere resurrected and kept all their belongings and were congratulated on avaliant attempt. Before long, I noticed the crowd shuffling around and I wascurious why the sudden movement. Soon I found my answer.

After all the individual and group challenges have been completed, a finalebattle is conducted in the arena. Any willing adventurer may enter the arena,all at once for a free for all, “enter at thy own risk” challenge. At thispoint the pit master, along with his guards, release the surplus of remainingcreatures for the entire group to battle. On this night, the finale challengeconsisted of fire and ice creatures. I decided I would continue to observe fromabove while this dangerous challenge took place. The pit master issued his finalwarnings, and the beasts were released. I watched as a large assortment ofbeasts wandered the arena, quickly selecting adventurers for their targets.Dragons, fire elementals, daemons, ice fiends and snow elementals were allunleashed upon the willing challengers. The cries of both man and beast echoedthroughout the arena as both beast and challenger were slain. The battlecontinued for quite some time, while the observers above cheered and shouteddown at the challengers below. The battle concluded when a large white wyrm wasreleased into the arena. The warriors quickly positioned themselves around thebeast while mages and archers provided support from afar. The beast was slain,collapsing to the arena floor and creating a deafening echo in the process. Thepitmaster strode back into the arena and congratulated the challengers on theirsuccess. He bid them farewell and promised to see them soon at yet anothertournament.

Exhausted from my travels and amazed at what I had witnessed, I decided I wouldpolitely ask for a magical gate from a mage returning to Britain. However, Ipaused before doing so since I noticed one of the stationed guards nearby. Iapproached him and spoke with him briefly about the Jhelom challenges. Heinformed me that challengers could indeed select what they wished to challengebut the following is not available: Some of the lost lands creatures, balronsand ancient wyrms. He explained that most other creatures could be challenged,but creatures only; these were not gladiator tournaments. The guard alsoinformed me that the pit master was named Tykryon Valier, a former Captain inthe Chaos army. Now retired from the army, he runs the tournaments to attractvisitors to the city of Jhelom. For his work, he receives some compensation fromthe city. The guard explained that Pit master Valier attempts to conduct thetournaments each Tuesday in the evening, and announcements are always passedalong to the criers of each town in advance, and are conducted on both Trammeland Felucca, a different facet depending on the week. The polite guard bid mefarewell as he wandered off to close the pits for the evening. I decided to beoff myself, but noticed that the arena was empty. It would be a bit moredifficult than expected to get home to Britain.

Luckily a benevolent mage near the Jhelom Farmer's market was kind enough toprovide me a magical gate to outside of Britain. I stopped at the Blue Boartavern to finish my report before retiring. An exciting evening no doubt, butseveral questions still flood my mind, as they normally do. I decided theanswers would have to wait until I can speak directly with Tykryon Valier.Hopefully that encounter will shed light on Pitmaster Valier's past as well ashis motivation to conduct regular tournaments.

Until next week's tournament, farewell!

From the Town Cryer - The Journal of Ultima Online, Wednesday, August 2nd 2000