The Return of the Tournament of Death

Photo by Dan Dennis on Unsplash

“Captain’s log, supplement. Our destination is Planet Uranus. My orders are to examine the reaches of Azerim, a region on one of Uranus’s moons. Meanwhile I’m becoming better acquainted with my new command – this carrier vessel BOURGOGNE. I’m still somewhat in awe of its size and complexity. As for my crew, we are short in several key positions, but I’m informed that some highly experienced women and men will be waiting to join the ship after our visit at Uranus.”

“Why did I even agree to this?”
Captain Haddock grumbled. He paced up and down the room. That wasn’t the mission! King Fulmen! Great idea!
All they were supposed to do was bring Fulmen to the moons of Uranus. Apparently he had made so much impression there that he had been appointed “replacement king for life”. No, that wasn’t right. It wasn’t about several moons of Uranus, but only one: OBERON!
“It was the only way, sir!” Said Pellton.
Haddock sighed. “As always, you are right, Pellton,” he said. “That’s why you’re such a damn good first officer. Do me a favor and please never take a command of your own. I don’t see what I would do without you.”
“Probably dying a gruesome death,” said Pellton, grinning.
“And yet: How could I agree to this charade? We can see how it ends now.”
“Oh, it’s not over yet.”
The captain looked out the window. You had a wonderful view of the landscape. Kagnaszax Castle was on a hill overlooking a wide valley. The little town of Honeywood was down there somewhere. Primitive humanoids lived there in an eternal Middle Ages, it seemed. Although they had contact with the other worlds of the solar system, somehow the inhabitants did not develop any further. They went about their simple life, that was it. Sometimes an evil ruler would come and suppress them, then they would call for a hero who would defeat the ruler. And the status quo was restored. Episodic, almost like one of the old TV series.

This is how Fulmen Grancolline came up with the title of “replacement king”. He had defeated an evil wizard and earned the thanks of the people. King Fullmen! It was only logical that he should use his royal power to enlist the help of the Honeywood people.
“And all because of a few computer chips!” Muttered Haddock.
The unusual activities in the Oort cloud, which the BOURGOGNE had noticed a few days earlier, had also been observed by a drone. Or at least that was what Haddock and the ASTROCOHORS staff suspected. Because that drone had been shot down over Oberon and come down in the Honeywood area. But the recordings that the drone had made were saved on chips that were in an explosion-proof container. And the fleet urgently needed the information on these chips!
It turned out that a few residents of the Azerim region had already recovered the wreckage of the drone. So King Fulmen should appear and at least demand the computer chips from the people. There and back again. Super easy, barely an inconvenience.
Unfortunately, since the last visit, a new man had moved into Kagnaszax Castle. And he had taken the glittering chips. Of course, he didn’t want to give them out that easily. He wanted to have fun.
“Sir, Fulmen is a good fighter,” Pellton confirmed. “He’ll be fine.”
“I wish I had your confidence in the future! Why do you think it is called the ‘Tournament of Death’? Because the fighters are throwing cotton balls at each other?”
“I’m surprised that there are still death tournaments in the solar system. The declaration banning …”
“Pellton, thunder and grenades! Haven’t you got it?” Haddock scolded. “Declarations and laws that have been issued by the Supreme Council of the Solar System are beautiful declarations. In order for them to have an effect, they must be filled with life by the members of the planetary community! And here on Oberon of all places one does not feel bound by such resolutions! Death tournaments have a long, sad and gruesome tradition in the solar system. And it looks like we’re seeing their return these days! “
“That’s the bad influence of Prostat Pupepa the Usovai’i,” Pellton noted. “There is no longer any cohesion among the peoples of the planets, everyone only fights for himself.”
“Maybe,” replied Haddock. “Recognizing that doesn’t solve our problem. Fulmen is supposed to take part in the tournament of death and defeat one of the best fighters in Azerim. Then we’ll get the chips.”
“And with it the information!”
“That worries me too.”
“What are you worried about, Captain?”
Haddock gave Pellton a piercing look. “What if Fulmen wins, we get the chips and find out it’s nothing.”
“Nothing?” Asked Pellton. “You mean that …”
“Right. We don’t know for sure that there is anything on the chips that will help us. So far we’re just speculating.”
“In the name of the Flying Spaghetti Monster!” Pellton exclaimed. “Then we can only hope.”
At that moment there was a knock on the door.
“Who’s there?” Haddock called.
“Groppler Norz!” Someone called through the closed door. “I am to inform you that the Exalted Ruler of Kagnaszax has decided that the Tournament of Death should take place in 20 minutes. Your presence is urgently required.”
“We’re coming!” Replied Haddock.

Kagnaszax was a spacious castle complex with a large inner courtyard. This is where the tournament ground was set up. The square consisted of a large square bordered by wooden barriers. The so-called “Sublime Ruler” and his court had gathered around the square. Then there were the few crew members of the BOURGOGNE who had accompanied Haddock and Pellton. Just as the captain and his first officer arrived at the battlefield, Fulmen Grancolline climbed over the barrier and into the ring. Two assistants had been assigned to him. One of them handed him a sword.
“Your opponent,” said the assistant, “wears the black mask of the best fighter in Rumaroma. It will not be easy to defeat him.”
“Oh,” said the second assistant, “just say it as it is. It will be impossible for the stranger to defeat a person wearing the Black Mask.”
“You give me courage,” said Fulmen with irony.
At that moment, Fulmen’s opponent climbed into the ring. It was a massive man who was dressed entirely in black. And he wore a black mask over his head.
“Captain,” Pellton whispered. “Could it be that this opponent is a black coat?”
“A servant of the High Hand?” Haddock asked back just as quietly. “Quite possible. No idea where they all have their fingers in the game. Not intended punch line.”
“I thought to myself, Captain. The situation is too serious to be antics now.”
“Listen! Listen!”, A herald appointed for the tournament called out loudly. “The tournament of death is now about to begin. If the strange giant wins, the exalted ruler will hand over the glowing sticks to the strangers that we got from the crashed sky car!”
“Let’s hope so,” said Pellton to Haddock.
The stranger with the black mask had meanwhile also got a sword. “Let the battle begin!” Shouted the Exalted Ruler. The two opponents took position.
“The battle will go on for a long time,” said the Exalted Ruler to his Herald. “My fighter is the best, and the giant doesn’t seem to be bad either. The light will go out in two hours, we should make sure that there is enough light so that the tournament can continue undisturbed.”
“You expect the fight to continue into the night?” Asked the Herald.
“But yes!” Confirmed the Exalted Ruler. “This is going to be a fight that will be read in the annals of Azerim! It might even be midnight by …”

There was a clapping sound. And the next thing you heard was the impact of the stranger’s body with the mask. This had fallen unconscious to the ground. It had happened so quickly that hardly anyone had noticed. Fulmen reacted very quickly. As soon as the fighters had got into position, he dashed forward, blocked his opponent’s sword with his sword, while he reached out with the other hand and struck. Fulmen hit his opponent in the face with his fist. And he fell like a sack of potatoes after the harvest.
“The … uh … fight is … uh … over …” the Herald stammered. “The winner is the strange giant. I think so.”

The Exalted Ruler of Kagnaszax was speechless. So that was the “tournament of death”? The tournaments weren’t what they used to be! Not to mention the black coats!
The captain was already standing next to the ruler. “The chips, please,” he said, “we’re in a bit of a hurry.”
The ruler handed over the chips. And he decided to terrorize the people of Honeywood a little to compensate for the missed tournament. He would have done that anyway. But now he had every reason to!

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