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Chapter 7: Memories

May 27, 2023
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Rom was away from home for the first time. Was he ready to stray so far from everything he knew for his shot at greatness?

Rom was restless. The bed was clearly built for a gnome. Even as a young man, his legs hung off the mattress just past his knees.

For lack of sleep, he got up and began pacing around the room. It was dusty… even compared to the rest of NPC’s. He ran his hand across the armoire to see the cascade of dust go dancing in the moonbeams from the window on the north wall. Gontro had told him he’d show him how to summon his Nan’s other creatures today. Now it was another entire night of waiting.

He went to the bedside table where his satchel sat and rummaged through it. Finding the antique tokens, he ran his fingers over them one by one. He’d done this thousands of times, and it always took him to the most wonderful fantasies about adventures his grandmother had.

Reaching back into this satchel, he pulled out a flat pouch bound with leather and twine. He let out a muted clap to light the glow globe by the bed. His hand caressed the leather package for a moment before unlacing the twine.

His father would be furious if he knew Rom had taken this. Seri liked to pretend that he didn’t think of his mother… or at least that he didn’t care she was gone. Rom knew about the hidden chest under his dad’s bed since he was a little boy though… filled with newsparchment clippings, trophies and memorabilia from Harry’s illustrious career.

Slowly and carefully, he opened the portfolio. He’d only brought a few things, hoping his dad wouldn’t even notice they were gone.

With how Gontro and he had left though… probably didn’t matter much now. Seri was furious with him, he was sure. “I can never go home now.” He muttered sadly to himself as he reverently thumbed through the pages.

The Matchup of the Century

It was a cold day to finish out the Ancormarsh Invitational, but the field came ready for the heat of battle!

The semis started off scorching, with Ajax Hammerfist shutting down Gontro Greytooth in less than 12 moves– oo, that’s got to be embarrassing!

On the other side of the bracket, Karl “Kave Man” Salec put up a valiant fight against the up-and-comer, Harriet Destudo. Unfortunate for him, the young lady did her homework and brought hard magic attack counters, stopping the one-time champion in his tracks.

The stage is set for a legendary title bout. Two rising stars have bent the cards of every veteran in the field. Who walks away with this year’s Council’s Cup? Pay attention here as we keep you up to date on the latest coming out of this year’s invitational!

Rom lay back on the bed with a wistful sigh. Ancormarsh in those days… the Grand Coliseum. It all seemed so heroic and legendary. Rom wanted to be part of that world.

A Star is Born

We’ve seen all sorts of matches at this tournament, but today’s bout defies convention entirely.

Harriet Destudo — all the way from the provincial burg of Shallowharbor, squared off against Ajax Hammerfist of Grospodoc today in a championship match that will be remembered for ages.

Hammerfist came ready for war. He employed a classic Xurg Rush strategy that would’ve even made ol’ William Xurg blush, but he underestimated the pure tomfoolery of Harriet Destudo — a player with modern ideas, straight out of the new-school rogue style of the southern frontier.

The match started to seem like it would be a drawn out dragging through the mana muck for Destudo… Hammerfist’s relentless attacks would not let up. Destudo deflected, mitigated and overall seemed disinterested in the game… until suddenly, she flipped the scroll on Hammerfist!

Her strategy switched to draws and mana growth rapidly. A few choice boosts and a devastating hero attack… Hammerfist didn’t know what hit him! The man fumed and raged, sputtering vulgarities and vague threats… a total disgrace to the sport.

Destudo, for her part, is the epitome of showmanship and grace in the game of Chance. Each surprise she sprung on Hammerfist had intricate magical displays laced throughout– the more devious the move, the more awe-inspring the spectacle that accompanied it.

So it happened — Hammerfist raged, salvos of sparkling showers shot from the game board , and the raucus sound of magnificent, magical drums and horns accompanied the slapping of tokens and cards from Harry’s hand to the delight of onlookers. When Hammerfist could clearly take no more, Destudo then showed the breathtaking finale up her sleeve.

Purple smoke shot from the board and filled the room. A flash, then a roar. The smoke pulled back towards the table suddenly, and when the air had cleared onlookers were astonished at what they saw.

Harriet Destudo has unveiled a new creature, personally captured by her. This “Onyx Dragon” made quick work of the rest of Hammerfist’s scattered forces and won the hearts of fans across Tokheim.

Today, Harriet Destudo wins the Council’s Cup. Many think soon she may be eying the world championship.

Rom had read these articles hundreds of times. Rather than being transported to that wonderful day like usual, he now found himself wondering if Gontro was still sore about being beaten by Hammerfist. He must have improved a lot since then.

Rom spotted more than one ad for NPCs as he looked through the scraps of parchment. He’d never really noticed them before.

As he thumbed through those ghosts of the past, he found his thoughts darkening. That’s the thing about memories. You always know how they’ll end.

Dearest Seri,

The courier caught me last night. The waystation at Herald Hill forgot to register us on our way through, so the fool was running behind. I’m so sorry to hear about Martha. I wish I wasn’t half the world away right now and could be there for you and Rom.

I’m currently inside the Northern Embargo, so not even fast travel will get me to you. The ship won’t turn around for my sentiment… I’m so sorry. I’ll have to deal with these trolls and then I’ll be home to you and Rom.

I’m so sorry for your loss. Martha was the daughter I never had, but I’m sure my despair is nothing compared to yours. We’ll be together soon.

4 days at best, 8 at worst.

Your loving mother,


A tear splashed across the aged parchment. It wasn’t the first. Discolored patches across the page told the story of more than one person crying over this letter across the years.

Rom was just a baby when his nan wrote this letter. When Seri got it… still grieving over his wife — Rom’s mother he never knew. He was alone then, and Rom had left him alone now.

Tears welled up in Rom’s eyes. He flung himself face down into the bed and buried his head in the pillows as he let the tears flow. He screamed into the pillow. He’d let his da down. He’d come so far away and hadn’t learned the first thing about Chance yet. Maybe da was right about this whole thing.

As the tears subsided, he thought of meals around the table with Seri and time spent helping in the workshop. This still made him sad, but a happier sad. He went back to the bundle of parchments.

Near the back was the one he felt he had to read. It had a corner folded over… worn from his thumbs grabbing it so many times. Everytime he thought about his nan, he felt compelled to finish his reverie with this same reading.

Tragedy in the North: Destudo Falls

The great Chance champion Harriet Destudo met her end a fortnight ago at the hands of Rgothomp, the Troll King of the North.

According to friend, coworker and sole witness to her death, Gontro ‘Greytooth’ Beebleboop, she met her death honorably. Defiant to the end, she refused to beg for her life when commanded by her captors. Enraged, The Troll King crumpled her into a ball and threw her down the mountain’s face.

She is survived by her son Seri and her grandson Rom of Shallowharbor. Any bereavement gifts or funeral patronage can be delivered to Seri Destudo, care of Shallowharbor Coliseum.

Harriet Destudo was born in 1935 AC on a small ranch outside Kolton. Grilot, Harriet’s father, was a failed investment banker turned highwayman and traveling gamer. In 1944 he went AWOL on a N.O.T.E.C. expedition and was never heard from again. Harriet’s mother, Gretta, built a successful porc farm in the southern wetlands over the following decades, raising young Harry with a mind sculpted for hard work and honest labor… though her father’s adventuring spirit would never leave her.

After a difficult childhood and adolescent legal troubles, young Harriet distinguished herself through N.O.T.E.C exploration. She was personally responsible for surveying numerous lands and documenting dozens of new creatures for chance decks across the land. Famously, she discovered the first new dragon to be tokenized in over 100 years.

She made her professional Chance breakout after gaining entry to the Ancormarsh Invitational in 1956 AC through favors earned on expeditions. Dominating the tournament, she would go on to unseat Drago Tailbiter later that year as world champion. After this meteoric rise, she held the title for a record 37 years until her passing.

Some Chance players are champions for a short time, and a select few are legends for a while. Harriet Destudo shall be both forever. One of — if not the — greatest to ever play the game.

The tears fell again. Rom missed the grandmother he never knew… but above all, he missed his dad. What he wouldn’t give to hug him right now.

Far to the south, Seri looked over a sketch of Harriet holding baby Rom. More tears falling on parchment.