Battle At The Forge http://www.uo.com/spot_66.html For a warrior, few things are greater than the testing of one's skill against that of another. From the valiant knight Callach Gwain of Baja comes a tale of two great warriors facing each other in battle, with Callach forced to choose between the virtue of Honesty and the glory of victory. Our spotlight this week is on dueling, and the choices we face in our quest for a virtuous life. "I could hear the young knights getting rambunctious outside the halls of The Moon Tavern where we were held in a line, our horses shoulder to shoulder. "'Gate! Gate! Gate,' one of them chanted, 'Come on guys, all together now! We want to gate!' "Then I heard the shot of an arrow as it hit the youngster in the chest, and he cried out in pain. "'No. No. No,' repeated Raistlin calmly in reply to the upstart's plea. "I knew my friends, Rose and Duder, were already at the tournament ring, having come to cheer me on and watch, but also having volunteered their services to destroying all nuisances that may come the way of the combat area around Wrong. "'Oi!' I thought. ' If only these two could see these bunch of bouncy folk.' "The only calm ones, besides me, was a knight in black, named, and a lady knight decked out in green armor named Mary Jane. As I watched the dance of the tongues proceed and the group of combatants charge forward with their eagerness, my mind began to wander over my equipment, checking it to make sure it was all sturdy for the parrying competition. So far, as I knew it, I was the only one entered for that division. "As my mind wandered, I pulled it back to its concentration checking over my armor and weapons while listening to the conversations in the background. I couldn't help it but feel that something was amiss. "'Raistlin?' asked the green clad knight I had noticed earlier. "'Yes?' "'You put me under Fencing Division. I should be under Parrying.' "'Oh. All right. I'll change it.' "The one who had asked was Mary Jane, and at this news I smiled since now, I had a known opponent. "'Gate! Gate! Gate!' "Now I was getting a mix of emotions ranging from the nagging at me that something was wrong with what I had upon me, to the impatience of the young knights around me and indeed having to wait myself. It wasn't a long wait as the gate opened from the awesome tower at Heaven's Forge to the battlefield just outside of a cave near the dungeon of Wrong. We all stepped through in file and rank, and I was met by Duder and Rose upon the other side who greeted me warmly. "After we all got settled, Michael, all dressed in black armor, stepped forward to greet us, 'Alright everyone! Are we all clear on the rules?' "Some folk nodded and some shook heads. "With a sigh, and I think a little undertone of contempt, he began to recite all of the basic rules. 'Each combatant will stand opposite each other of the ring, and they will target each other and charge on my say. They will turn and await my signal to charge each other again. There is no magic allowed, no healing, and no magic weapons or armor of any type. Only weapons and armor with the maker's mark of a smith or less.' "'Can we use poisoned weapons?' blurted out one of the men in the line. He was the one I admired so, riding an Ostard, and the only man daring enough to ride the thing up to battle and onto the jousting field. "'No,' replied Michael. "'Well, that'll ruin my fun,' I muttered in joking manner to Duder who was sat beside me upon his horse. "Then it struck me, 'hadn't my son, Shavandric been toying with his poisons last month?' "He had indeed, and Aston had angrily cleaned all the weaponry off when he found out, or so he told me, but something just didn't feel right with my katana. I scowled darkly. "'Duder?' I whispered as Michael went on with his explanation of the rules and the calling of the archery contestants. "He looked at me and nodded in reply. "'I think my weapon might be poisoned, but I don't know. Aston cleaned all of them when he found out Shavandric had been playing his poisons on them.' "Duder smiled and said, 'I'll be right back. I'll drag a stag up with me so you can check your weapon out.' "I went to the edge of the fighting area and waited for him to return with the test subject. Soon, he ran up with an enraged stag following him not too far behind. I targeted the beast as he spoke forth the magical words making him invisible to the eye. Then, I struck the stag repeatedly as it knocked its horns against my shield time and again. "The stag fell, not being poisoned, but still, the nagging kept going at me. However, the stag hadn't been poisoned so I placed my feelings to be chalked up to nervousness before the contest. "'Well, it doesn't look like it's poisoned,' I said to Duder as he came out of hiding, 'Thanks.' "'Not a problem,' he smiled. "We made our way back to the ring just as the archery contest came to a close. "'That was quick,' Michael said. 'SWORDS! Report inside the cave for further details.' "As they all arrived to joust, I watched them, ever ready to just join them, with my nagging and intuitions growing ever more slight upon me as my time grew near, and I silently watched the competitions and divisions each take their turn. Parrying was the last to be called forth. "Mary Jane and, surprisingly, one other combatant stepped forward first. That was a long interesting battle indeed as no armor was allowed, just a shield and weapon. Indeed it was a close battle for I watched them both tire, and their shields dented, their bodies frayed, as finally the young man fell to her war fork when it hit him upon his shoulder, running him through. "I was called forward to compete against her after they had resurrected the fallen knight. The blade being out of my mind at this point, I stepped forward in proud glory, with a shield of the trusted smith to my husband, and a sword made by my armorer and close friend, Loki. I was going to battle with the luck of my loved ones at my side, and I smiled. "Michael gave the signal to start and I charged her hitting her upon the arm as she passed me. We both went back and forth like this for a while, her hitting me, me hitting her, her blocking my hits and so forth. Though usually ending up in me getting most of the hits through her defenses or us hitting each other as we charged back and forth upon the jousting field in a clash and glint of weaponry and shields. "She looked very weary and tired indeed, worn to the ends almost. Both of our bodies were boasting of the scores upon the other in combat. It was then in that last charge, figuring I could tire her out enough to yield, that her shield broke upon the fell of my sword which struck her in the arm. Then I heard a scream of pain as her blood bubbled around the wound and I saw the corrosion on my blade as I spun round on my horse at the end of the run. "The scream was not just hers for I knew in that instant what had happened. "'ARGH! I am gonna kill him!' "Now my battle lust was for my own son, Shavandric, who's toying with my arms had now, I knew, cost me my chance of victory this day. Also, a mixed temporary slight that came and went as the sand upon the shore, at Aston for telling me the blades were cleaned. Apparently not well enough. "Some one quickly cast a cure spell upon her, and I looked ashamedly at Michael. "'Callach. You know the rules. Did you know of this?' "'Aye, sir. I do sir. I was not aware of its being poisoned so. I had been told they were clean, and Duder and I tested it upon a stag before hand to make certain of it.' "Michael frowned and in reply, 'On this, I will have to disqualify you, making it 2-0 in Mary Jane's favor.' "I hung my head feeling of disgrace for what had happened, and walked from the battlefield raising it only to turn to my opponent and say, 'Nice fight.' "'Yes,' she replied, 'you too. You'd have beaten me were it not for that happening.' "I turned and hearing the booing and upset of the onlookers at Michael's decision to disqualify me, I had decided to keep my honor steadfast and walk off the battlefield with it intact despite the disgrace and mark I felt upon me inside. My intuitions had told me that the blade was amiss with the foul and acrid poison, and I was so eager to go to battle with that which I trusted and loved so much that I laid those feelings aside. I questioned the blade, but did not cross me to question asking for another in its place when I doubted my equipment's trustworthiness. "Even Rose and Duder stood up and shouted at him, 'She didn't know, they tested the blade!' "One other that had seen me test this blade out also stood forward and spoke of it. "At hearing all the arguing going forth at my dismissal I spoke forth knowing in my heart what I felt was right, 'I didn't know about the blade being poisoned, and it was. I would rather walk off the field with honor this day.' "'Cally has honor,' Rose said in last rebuttal to my stead in front of Michael. "Michael simply restated the rules to all, and I nodded again at them as he spoke. So the last round of the joust commenced as I sat upon my horse, Therion watching, my face straightforward and emotionless. I was sulking underneath and I knew it even though my face shown otherwise. "Duder and Rose soon announced that they needed to go back to their home for it was growing late. I smiled and thanked them for their support. Rose told me once again that I did well; it was an unfair decision, and not my fault. I turned to Khylia, who I had given my magical belongings to and left in town, if I could retrieve them as to be on my own way. I could not stay, sulking as I was underneath. It was more the dent and lost in honor I personally felt than the loss of the joust. "Back we went to her tower talking amongst the way, and I retrieved my stuff with my thanks to her. Once again I heard similar words to what Rose had spoken to me. "'There will be other chances. This isn't the only competition we are going to hold.' "I smiled at that, hoping deep in my heart, I got another chance to join in a tournament. I thanked her again, and rode Therion out of the front door wishing her a good night. I then recalled to my home in the isles of ice to bid the rest of the world a good eve as I slumbered off into dreams of happier days to come around Heaven's Forge with those rambunctious knights. -Callach Gwain Duels take place each day throughout the lands. Are your skills and integrity up to the standard? It is with pleasure that we present these tales of your communities and adventures in Ultima Online. Please join again next week as we share another of the many stories of Britannia that you have created. Please keep an eye on FYI for new spotlight topics!