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Watch Dogs: Legion - Review Thread

Game Information

Game Title: Watch Dogs: Legion
Platforms:
  • PlayStation 4 (Oct 29, 2020)
  • Xbox One (Oct 29, 2020)
  • PC (Oct 29, 2020)
  • Google Stadia (Oct 29, 2020)
Trailers:
Publisher: Ubisoft
Review Aggregator:
OpenCritic - 75 average - 62% recommended - 91 reviews

Critic Reviews

3DNews - Алексей Лихачев - Russian - 9 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion doesn't have the main protagonist, instead we have a city full of oppressed and tired people with their own stories. Other than that this is the usual Watch Dogs game and fans of the first two should be pleased with what it can offer.
ACG - Jeremy Penter - Wait for Sale

Video Review - Quote not available

Ars Technica - Kyle Orland - Unscored
In the end, the London of Watch Dogs: Legion feels a mile wide but only a few feet deep. What promises to be endless variety in character choice and hack-driven gameplay options quickly boils down to the repetition of the same old gameplay and plot tropes.
Attack of the Fanboy - Diego Perez - 3.5 / 5 stars
Watch Dogs: Legion is incredibly ambitious, but the play as anyone system needs a little more work. The story suffers from the lack of a central protagonist, and it's hard to get attached to any of your characters when the character models and animations are stiff and robotic. Still, there's a lot of fun to be had in futuristic London.
BaziCenter - Bahram Bigharaz - Persian - 6.5 / 10
After so much anticipation, Watch Dogs: Legion is finally here, failing to impress. Almost every single problem that prevented the 2 previous version to reach their full potential is still there, and the ability to play as all NPCs added even more issues to the game. Yes, the world is beautiful and you have all the freedom that you want, but as a game, Watch Dogs Legion is shallow and suffers from poor level and character design. A strong contender for the most disappointing game of the year.
Bazimag - Vahid Zohrabi Nejad - Persian - 5.6 / 10
Watch Dogs Legion is yet another open-world game like other Ubisoft's games, full of great ideas, but in action, they don't have enough depth and don't perform well in general. A soulless world with poor level designs and exhausting missions make a graveyard for the series's real potential.
COGconnected - Michael Chow - 75 / 100
Overall, Watch Dogs: Legion is a fun game with a nifty new mechanic that can be utilized in different ways in the future.
Cerealkillerz - Manuel Barthes - German - 8 / 10
Until now the story of Watch Dogs was an up and down, which doesn't change that much in Watch Dogs: Legion. The energy that went into the unique recruiting mechanic leaves a lot missing in the actual game world and the story, which makes the trip to london a bit cloudy, classic british.
Cheat Code Central - Jon Gronli - 5 / 5
Even though Watch Dogs Legion already gives you an impressive amount to do as well as a lot of options on how to do it, it’s still going to be growing. I can’t wait to see what’s coming next and how It is going to affect what’s already in place. I’m also looking forward to the multiplayer component, which I’m more than willing to write about when it comes out. So, come on. Join the resistance.
Console Creatures - Luke Williams - Recommended
Watch Dogs: Legion's Play as Anyone is an exciting mechanic and post-Brexit Britain is easily the best setting yet. However, Watch Dog: Legion's brilliance is hidden behind a fair amount of smog.
Critical Hit - Darryn Bonthuys - 7.5 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion is a fascinating game, massively ambitious and crawling with technology that isn't just on the bleeding edge of what's possible, it's pure magic to see unfold. All of that may sound impressive but slick software and a bustling metropolis of people power can't hide the dull gameplay and shallow approach to the sandbox shenanigans of Watch Dogs: Legion. It's still a fascinating game to experience in short bursts, and it's going to be fascinating to see how Ubisoft evolves London to make it vox pop as a next-gen headliner.
Daily Star - 4 / 5 stars
One that is very English, packed full of wild and interesting characters, each with their own story to tell.
It’s a huge step forward in that regard and one that should be celebrated as it shows a way forward for video game development.
Digital Trends - Tom Caswell - 2.5 / 5 stars
While Ubisoft presents its best open world to date, the main gameplay hook falls flat.
Digitally Downloaded - Trent P - 4 / 5 stars
What players will find when picking up Watch Dogs: Legion is a game that is prepared for a long post-launch game-as-a-service experience. The additional DLC announced so far leans into the strengths of the game and established ideas that the series does well. The beekeepers, paintball guns and magician tricks all bring a sense of playful humour to the series, but it is worth noting that anyone who is (rightfully) tired of Ubisoft's content approach to games is going to find this one a very content-driven game.
DualShockers - Ben Bayliss - 7.5 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion offers an incredibly vast recruitment system that wonderfully complements its hacking mechanics while boasting the darkest story in the series.
EGM - Michael Goroff - 8 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion pushes through Ubisoft's generally noncommittal attitude towards storytelling and exploiting current events to create something that feels like a genuine shift, or at least the prototype of that shift. It might be a sloppy game in many regards, but Legion offers a novel way to experience an open world, with its interconnected NPCs and the introduction of permadeath to the genre.
Enternity.gr - Panagiotis Petropoulos - Greek - 8 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion is much better in terms of depth and hacking and also comes with a huge living world. It's by far the best game of the series.
Everyeye.it - Alessandro Bruni - Italian - 7.6 / 10
Ultimately, while perfectly able to offer players a good number of hours of fun, Watch Dogs Legion fails to fully realize the potential of its basic concept, yielding to the flattery of an open world model that, at the end of the console generation, loudly requires more innovation.
GAMES.CH - Benjamin Braun - German - 89 / 100
Watch Dogs Legion mostly benefits from its rich game world in futuristic London. It's also fun to build a whole army of DedSec agents, using their special abilities within fight and stealth sequences or utilizing them on solving puzzles. It's not all roses concerning story or performance on current-gen consoles. Nonetheless it's the best part of Ubisoft's open-world hacker series so far.
GRYOnline.pl - Michał Grygorcewicz - Polish - 7.5 / 10
I had really low expectations and Watch Dogs: Legion turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It’s a decent action game with some cool ideas and mechanics that yield several dozens of hours of fun, prvided you like wandering around virtual cities doing the same thing over and over again.
Gadgets 360 - Akhil Arora - 8 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion lacks a soul. It's also a passive game, since there's no active push-and-pull. Albion took over London, and now you push them out one borough at a time.
Game Informer - Marcus Stewart - 9 / 10
Legion offers a refreshing and fun change-up to the Watch Dogs formula that succeeds in letting players forge their own path like never before
Game Revolution - Paul Tamburro - 4 / 5 stars
Watch Dogs: Legion‘s beautiful London and its array of recruitable denizens make it one of the most enjoyable games of the year.
GameMAG - Александр Логинов - Russian - 7 / 10
On the one hand Watch Dogs: Legion is a revolutionary game with ambitious open world and thousands upon thousands of characters, probably created by some kind of neural network. The gameplay is fine, and if you love original Watch Dogs, you will feel right at home with this new title. But on the other hand Legion clearly lacks a strong narrative lead.
GameOnAUS - Royce Wilson - Recommended
There are some fantastic ideas in the game which mostly work, but also require an element of metaphorically ignoring the stagehands and the suspension of disbelief may simply be too much for many players.
GamePro - Hannes Rossow, Markus Schwerdtel - German - 79 / 100
Watch Dogs: Legion relies on a unique concept that offers many possibilities, but for which many compromises are also made.
GameSkinny - Mark Delaney - 8 / 10 stars
Watch Dogs: Legion throws out a decade of Ubisoft's cluttered-map open worlds in favor of exciting systems that deliver unique emergent moments consistently.
GameSpot - Alessandro Fillari - 8 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion struggles with tone at times, but its empowering message about unity and justice still shines in a game that is as absurd as it is impactful.
GameZone - Cade Onder - 6 / 10
While it has its moments, Watch Dogs Legion doesn't have enough to feel like a fun place to escape to. The gameplay is too repetitive and too restrictive to allow for anything tremendously exciting over a long period of time. It's a game that shows all of its tricks within the first few hours and leaves you with nothing but jank for the remainder of your playthrough.
Gameblog - Rami Bououd - French - 7 / 10
Watch Dogs Legion is a fun title with interesting and clever gameplay.
Gamerheadquarters - Jason Stettner - 7.8 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion is great, it features an intricately detailed open world London to explore where you can recruit basically anyone though the story could have been more intriguing and the performance while driving could have been better.
Gamersky - 不倒翁蜀黍 - Chinese - 8.5 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion is the most ambitious and innovative one in the franchise. You can play as anyone and finish your job in any way. The open-world of future London is so beautiful and so well-crafted that I always can find something interesting to do.
GamesRadar+ - Alex Avard - 3.5 / 5 stars
Legion royally shakes up Watch Dogs' open-world template with a Play as Anyone mechanic that just about outweighs any headaches left by its rough edges.
GamingBolt - Shubhankar Parijat - 9 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion is definitely the best game in the series so far- and dare I say, one of the most engaging and inventive open world games I have played in years.
GideonsGaming - Joseph Pugh - Unscored
Overall I'm having enough fun that I want to stop writing and go back to playing it, which is always a good sign. The recruit anyone system is working incredibly well, and it's super addictive. The simulation is impressive, even if I haven't determined how much of that simulation affects the gameplay yet. And the few design flaws haven't been enough to hinder my enjoyment after 16 hours. Here's hoping it remains that way as I continue working on my full review.
Glitched Africa - Marco Cocomello - 75 / 100
Watch Dogs Legion is not a bad game I just believe it was too ambitious for its time. The recruiting system could have been something great but instead its shallow and delivered cliche characters with no real purpose. Unfortunately, this does not help the gameplay and story much. There’s a lot of fun to be had here but if you start expecting more from it, you are going to be let down.
God is a Geek - Mick Fraser - 8.5 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion suffers from a little jank in the tank, but the recruitment system is fantastic and there's just so much to see and do. The open world is full of detail, and the whole experience is full of heart.
GotGame - Dragos Dobre - 8 / 10
The post-Brexit dystopian London is exactly the right amount of craziness and fun I was expecting from a Watch Dogs game. Even though the original recipe hasn't changed a lot in the past few years, you can see the progress they made with Watch Dogs: Legion, polishing the game with every iteration.
IGN - Dan Stapleton - 8 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion's bold use of roguelike mechanics in an open-world action game pay off in interesting ways, making this visit to near-future London feel more varied than the previous two games.
Impulsegamer - John Werner - 4.8 / 5
Without a doubt, “Watch Dogs: Legion” ticks all the boxes required to be a true Watch Dogs game, embracing elements from both previous games while brining its own flavour to the table.
Inverse - Tomas Franzese - 7 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion pushes current-gen hardware to the limit, and suffers for it.
Life is Xbox - Dae Jim - 89 / 100
Watch Dogs Legion ‘play as everyone’ mechanic works brilliantly, this is a genre-defying feature and something that sets the game apart from its competition.
Marooners' Rock - Andrew Peggs - 8.4 / 10
Overall, I feel as if Ubisoft has dug back into what made Watch Dogs enjoyable to play. With some improvements to the overall gameplay and tweaks as time goes by, I can see others enjoying the game.
Metro GameCentral - 6 / 10
A disappointingly tame vision of a near future dystopia, that represents a perfectly competent use of the Ubisoft formula but falters in its attempts to add anything new to it.
MondoXbox - Andrea Giuliani - Italian - 8 / 10
Watch Dogs Legion keeps the series' base mechanics while enhancing the whole formula thanks to the higher gameplay and tactical variety provided by the huge choice of agents available. This has the downside of making every character pretty forgettable though, keeping us from establishing an emotional bond with any of them.
New Game Network - Alex Varankou - 65 / 100
Being able to Play As Anyone in Watch Dogs: Legion is impressive at first, but it becomes a detriment to the core experience that's in need of revitalization. The hacking and stealth infiltrations haven't changed a bit, and with repetitive mission design and numerous technical issues, this latest chapter finds DedSec in an identity crisis.
Nexus Hub - Sahil Lala - 8 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion is more of the same Watch Dogs formula fans of the franchise have come to expect. There are additional gimmicks and features that round off the product and it’s a great game to spend time in. The mystery plot and the intrigue around finding out just who exactly Zero Day is and putting a stop to him is great and will easily keep you entertained for 50 hours or more as you explore London.
PC Gamer - Christopher Livingston - 80 / 100
Playing as anyone works great in Legion—once you've finally found the right group of anyones.
PC Invasion - Tim McDonald - 7.5 / 10
The connected, living world here is a genuine revelation, and it's well worth exploring if you're willing to mess around and make your own fun. It's just a shame that some of the vibrancy and depth of Watch Dogs 2 has been lost in the process.
PCGamesN - Dustin Bailey - 7 / 10
Richly realised systems and empowering abilities create a tremendously fun sandbox to dig into, but another toothless story ensures these flashes of brilliance never cohere, leaving Legion feeling less than the sum of its parts.
Pixel Arts - Arman Akbari - Persian - 7.5 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion is a game that has been able to maintain diversity and difference among thousands of playable characters. However, along with the dynamic and detailed world, the game suffers from weakness in the design of the stages and unfortunately becomes repetitive and boring over time.
PlayStation Universe - Neil Bolt - 6 / 10
While Watch Dogs: Legion does the basics well and has a refreshing change of scenery, it moves backwards from Watch Dogs 2 in terms of characters and storytelling. It's still quite enjoyable to get up to tech-based naughtiness in London despite that, but the underlying open-world template Ubisoft keeps using ends up feeling overexposed here.
Polygon - Owen Good - Unscored
Watch Dogs: Legion’s cast of randos makes a surprisingly winning team
PowerUp! - Paul Verhoeven - 6.3 / 10
And that’s the real issue here: the previous game was a story and a damned good one. Watch Dogs Legion is a playground and a damned good one. All it took was a shift in priorities to make the open-world feel less like a world, and more like… well, a game.
Press Start - James Mitchell - 8 / 10
Watch Dogs Legion builds upon the solid foundation established by Watch Dogs 2 while adding its own ambitious twist with mixed results. Having literally every character playable is a gargantuan task, and from a gameplay perspective it works to cement Legion as the best Watch Dogs game thus far. Narratively speaking, however, it collapses under its own aspiration to offer an intriguing concept with spotty execution. Regardless, Legion is a triumph for making good on most of its lofty promise and a triumph for the series.
Rock, Paper, Shotgun - Nate Crowley - Unscored
While I may not identify with any of my guerrillas and their grab-bag backstories, nor feel any sense of real investment in the fate of DedSec as a whole, I’m still attached to this strange band of possessed berserkers. We’ve had a good time together, in this nonsense dystopian playground.
Rocket Chainsaw - David Latham - 4 / 5 stars
Watch Dogs: Legion brings new ideas to the franchise while keeping within the world of Blume Corp’s ctOS.
Screen Rant - Leo Faierman - 3 / 5 stars
The takeaway is this: Watch Dogs: Legion is an ambitious simulation which reliably fails whenever players push against its boundaries. Like the cargo drones which grant them the ability to freely fly, it hits an invisible ceiling that prevents players from soaring above London’s skyscrapers.
Shacknews - Donovan Erskine - 8 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion is a hacking good time and a great addition to Ubisoft’s technology-based saga.
Sirus Gaming - Lexuzze Tablante - 7 / 10
Watch Dogs Legion tries so hard to innovate the franchise, but in doing so, it feels like a product that was either rushed or there was no love for it. Ubisoft Toronto did their best to give us a whole new Watch Dogs experience, but when the second installment of the franchise is the benchmark, it’s hard for me not to nitpick on these issues I find in the game. I love the franchise, but this isn’t the kind of innovation I’ve expected Watch Dogs to have.
Skill Up - Ralph Panebianco - Unscored
Watch Dogs: Legion is an ambitious title. Perhaps a little too ambitious. As much as certain parts of the game shine, you can't help but feel that the game is too clever by half.
Slant Magazine - Steven Scaife - 2.5 / 5 stars
It's difficult to escape a sense that the game's ambition far outstrips the number of unique people it can plausibly render.
Star News - Rod Oracheski - 4 / 5 stars
Watch Dogs: Legion sticks you in the shoes of characters you’d never have chosen otherwise, and it works more often than it doesn’t.
Stevivor - Luke Lawrie - 6 / 10
There’s some fun to be had in Watch Dogs Legion, but it becomes so repetitive that by the end of the game everything feels like a chore — one I was desperately wanting to be over hours before its credits rolled.
The Digital Fix - Andrew Shaw - 8 / 10
The best Watch Dogs game yet. While it's dragged down by long load times and some repetition, Legion is a hugely enjoyable game that offers players a level of freedom that is rarely seen in this genre.
The Game Fanatics - Trevor Paul - 8.5 / 10
Overall, Watch Dogs Legion is a ton of fun. There is so much to do and experience in this game and so many different ways to do it. The hacking puzzles are familiar but still fun and sometimes challenging. The real star of this game is the variety of characters you can recruit and the backstories that come with them.
The Games Machine - Simone Rampazzi - Italian - 8 / 10
Watch Dogs: Legion starts with some really intriguing background ideas, ideas that try to dig deep and to leave us with many more questions about the near future. The overwhelming control of a state willing to know everything about its citizens, however, does not prevent a few uncertainties about the gameplay, a sore note that prevents the game from shining as hoped. However, it remains an enjoyable offer, ready to satisfy the taste of lovers of the genre.
TheSixthAxis - Miguel Moran - 8 / 10
Watch Dogs Legion is a different type of sequel to Watch Dogs 2, contrasting in its approach to creating a hackable open world playground, but with no less impressive results. Playing as any citizen in London leads to some less-than-engaging story moments, but the web of relationships and activities that crop up as a result of the systemic design is mind-blowing. I rarely did the same thing twice in Watch Dogs Legion, and if I did, I wasn't doing it the same way twice. Watch Dogs Legion truly feels like a living, breathing world, and it's a world that I plan to revisit often, even though I've seen the credits on the main story roll.
ThisGenGaming - Robby Bisschop - 90 / 100
Watch Dogs: Legion is a massive game with perhaps the biggest recruitable main cast of characters we’ve ever seen. With its varied gameplay and its tried-and-true Ubisoft open-world experience, it offers dozens of hours of entertainment and isn’t to be missed.
TrueGaming - محمد جابر الصهيبي - Arabic - 8.5 / 10
Watch dogs legion gives you freedom and it's accentuated in the new recruiting system which makes this title worth playing even before the release of next gen version.
USgamer - Mike Williams - 3.5 / 5 stars
The new "Play As Anyone" system is as impressive as it sounds on paper, creating a host of intriguing characters if you choose to dive into their backgrounds. Crafting your own version of DedSec is a ton of fun, especially early on. The problem is the gameplay of Watch Dogs Legion is mostly the same as its predecessors and the missions are quite repetitive overall. It's not a step back for the series, but the hacking and stealth core of the series does need an overhaul.
VG247 - Lauren Aitken - 3 / 5 stars
Watch Dogs fans and more die-hard anarchists among you might enjoy it more, but between the short storylines, underwhelming tech and mission types and the general “everything is on fire” vibe, it just doesn’t rate highly for me.
[VICE] - Austin Walker - UNSCORED
'Watch Dogs: Legion' Promises Revolution, But Mostly Delivers Distraction You can play as anyone you want, but the game remains the same.
Video Game Sophistry - Andy Borkowski - 6 / 10
The ‘Play as Anyone’ feature is the game's biggest fault. There’s no way to really work as a team. Instead each individual is one part of a fully fleshed out protagonist that has now been cut into 20 different pieces and called upon to work without the other. A severed hand doesn’t make a hero.
VideoGamer - Josh Wise - 5 / 10
Where the action comes alive is in the leaving behind of bodies altogether. Most missions involve breaking and entering, and the thrill lies in the absence of any breaking.
Wccftech - Rosh Kelly - 7.9 / 10
Watch Dogs Legion is a great step forward for the series, with enough experimental new gameplay features to complement the familiar mechanics. London is incredible, and exploring it is an almost visceral experience. It's just a shame that the story doesn't hold the same familiarity that the map does.
We Got This Covered - Todd Rigney - 3 / 5 stars
Although the recruitment system provides a few hours of entertainment, Watch Dogs: Legion feels like a series of systems masquerading as an open-world adventure game. Compared to the first two entries, Legion is a massive step backward, both in terms of story and execution. This is paint-by-numbers Ubisoft on autopilot.
WellPlayed - Zach Jackson - 8 / 10
With a surprisingly good narrative that excels thanks to the unique ability to turn anyone into a DedSec hacker, Watch Dogs: Legion is a damn good time
Windows Central - Carli Velocci - 4.5 / 5 stars
Watch Dogs: Legion is a departure from the typical Ubisoft brand, and it's better for it. The play as anybody system just works, there's a lot to do, and it's unabashedly political in a way that feels important in 2020.
submitted by wekapipol to Games

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Wizard Tournament: Chapter 46

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      Peter chuckled. He looked at the human fortress with a smirk. “It is a fortress, isn’t it? My, uh, sponsor takes security pretty seriously. I tried to tell him it would be better not to draw attention to ourselves.” He shrugged. “But so far it seems like nobody important ever comes back here.”
      “And what kind of a name is Camp Highway Robbery?” Draevin asked.
      “I only said it as a joke, but Alex took it seriously. He likes to tell customers his prices are so low it’s practically—”
      “Highway robbery,” Draevin finished. “Yeah, I get it…” He didn’t laugh.
      “Come on,” Peter said, “I’ll show you around.”
      A spiky wooden gate blocked the camp’s only entrance. The wooden stakes had ribbons of purple cloth draped over them that were nailed into place: cloth with runes of warding inscribed on them. Once Draevin noticed them he saw that most of the rest of the palisade had similar rune-inscribed ribbons pinned in place at regular intervals as well. One of the two guards behind the gate waved familiarly to Peter when he saw them walk up and wheeled the gate out of the way so they could pass. “Hey Pete,” the guard said. He had a shaved head and a lumpy burn-scar on his forehead. “Great match today. This guy with you?”
      Draevin bristled at the casual disregard the human had given him, but before he could comment Peter gave him a warning glance. “Yeah, this is Draevin the cryomancer.”
      “The Draevin?” the guard asked. He gave Draevin a second glance and looked star-struck. That was more like it. “Wow! Peter’s mentioned you before but I almost didn’t believe he knew you! I didn’t recognize you without the flashy robe and hair.”
      “Yes well…” Draevin didn’t actually want to admit that he was currently completely out of mana. “Sometimes it’s nice to not be recognized.”
      “Right,” Peter agreed in a flat tone. “Nice to see you, Paul, but Draevin and I need to get some food.”
      They passed the front gate and entered an orderly space of lined tents. The smell of latrines that normally accompanied the campgrounds dropped away as soon as they crossed the threshold. As Draevin looked around he was shocked at the size of the camp. The humans normally congregated into one section of the audience stands during arena matches, but it looked like more humans were living in this camp than Draevin had ever seen attending a match. “Gods, there must be thousands of you!”
      “Not quite,” Peter corrected. “Most of the tents are still empty. Alex accidentally ordered more than we needed but we decided to set them up anyway.”
      They were walking down a path that headed for the center of camp. Draevin could see a cleared area ahead with some fires going and it looked like there were several dozen humans bustling around over there. Peter was right that the tents seemed empty. He looked at one of them as they went past and noticed a shine to the fabric. “Wait a second, are these tents made of Treen silk?”
      Peter shrugged. “Yeah. Alex said he got a good deal by ordering in bulk.”
      Draevin’s eyes bulged. “You’re not even supposed to be able to buy this much Treen silk! They’re used to make airships, for god’s sake! What do you think the Trenal War is being fought over?”
      Peter kept walking. “With enough money you can buy anything. Alex has been doing well recently.” Peter looked up as they entered the central gathering space of the camp. A human with a hint of grey in his balding hair saw them and headed over. “Speaking of…” Peter said.
      The older human reached Peter and wrapped him in a hug that lifted him off his feet. Compared to Peter, this other man was shorter but wider and had thick arms. Peter squinted through one eye and tried to talk while enduring the older human’s hug. “Draevin, you remember Alex from the other day?”
      “I seem to recall meeting back in the woods the day we picked you up,” Draevin said.
      The older human, Alex, finally released Peter and gave Draevin a more formal introduction with one hand outstretched. “Name’s Alex, like Peter said. Owner and proprietor of…” he leaned over and shouted across the camp, “What were we calling ourselves these days?”
      A figure sitting at the nearest campfire with his back to them shouted back, “Haevish Family Mercantile.” Draevin noticed that the man had pointy ears. He was an elf. Draevin did remember that there’d been one elf among the humans when they’d first picked up Peter. The elf had a pile of bread rolls next to him and between bites he was in the process of painting runes onto ribbons of purple cloth. The ribbons looked like more of the type he’d seen nailed to the fortifications at the edge of camp.
      “That’s right,” Alex continued, “owner and proprietor of Haevish Family Mercantile.”
      Draevin met the man’s grip and found it strong. “And what exactly does your company do?” he asked. It was no secret their security was quite a bit tighter than any of the other campsites. He suspected they were probably smugglers, but he was curious if the human would admit to it or not.
      Alex winked at him. “Officially? Or unofficially?” he asked with a sly smile.
      “So you’re admitting you—”
      Peter grabbed one of Draevin’s arms and pulled him away. “Don’t engage with him,” he said. “He’ll be buying the boots off your feet by the end of the night if you let him.” Peter guided Draevin to a seat by one of the fires and told him, “Just sit tight right here and we’ll have something ready to eat in no time.” He turned to Alex and said firmly, “And don’t you dare try to sell him anything!”
      Alex chuckled to himself, then ruffled Peter’s hair as though he were a child. “Whatever you say Peter.” The older man crossed his arms and studied Peter more seriously now. “So, how was your little adventure then, did you get it?”
      Peter eyed Draevin sideways and pursed his lips tightly. “Yeah, I got it.” He pulled a small leather sack that was etched with runes out from inside his robes and handed it over. “I even managed to break out a few prisoners while I was there. I don’t think anyone even noticed.”
      Draevin’s mouth dropped open and just hung there for a moment.
      “And how long will the illusion last?” Alex asked next.
      “I bound it to a full mana potion of the same size and shape. The tournament will be over by the time it wears off.”
      “Wait just a second!” Draevin interrupted the exchange. “Are you saying that break in—saving Grrbraa and Sylnya—was just a front so you could rob the place?”
      Peter furrowed his brows. “Rob is a strong word, I only took one thing. And besides—they stole it first. It’s not like if you steal something and then wait three hundred years you magically become the rightful owner.” Peter held up a finger when he saw Draevin was about to respond. “I would have saved Grrbraa regardless. Taelshin was pretty insistent about that.”
      Draevin frowned at him. “So everything was arranged? Is that why Taelshin and that other mysterious ally showed up? How did your ally blow out the gate, anyway? You never explained that.”
      “I wouldn’t go as far as saying everything was arranged, no,” Peter answered. “Things didn’t exactly go to plan, but Taelshin was waiting nearby to make sure—”
      A human ran up to Alex in a panic and panted out, “Alex, sir, there are slave catchers at the front gate!”
      “Dammit!” Alex cursed. “Don’t let them in. That’s why we put up those barricades in the first place.” Alex pointed at the elf sitting by the campfire. “Tripla!” he barked. “Time to earn your pay.”
      The elf stood at attention and gave the human a mock salute. “Sure thing, boss!”
      Draevin didn’t know what to think seeing an elf taking orders from a human, but that was beside the point at the moment. He jumped out of his seat to stop Alex from walking away. “Alex. You’re in charge here? If there are really slave catchers here you’ve got to tell your men to stand down.”
      Alex shook his head grimly. “Nobody is getting into this camp without a god’s damned army behind them, so don’t worry about it.”
      Draevin groaned involuntarily. “Slave catchers aren’t going to come at you with swords, they’re combat wizards! I don’t think you quite understand how serious this situation is. If they have a contract for a slave and you prevent them from retrieving their target they’re going to start killing people!”
      “I’ve taken in a lot of ex-slaves. I told them they’d be safe here and I intend to keep that promise.” Though he was just a human, Alex spoke with an iron conviction.
      “One slave can’t possibly be worth—” Draevin was cut off abruptly by a loud explosion. A bright flash of light lit up the camp from somewhere behind Draevin’s head. He turned toward the front gate in time to see a massive ball of fire hurtling through the air towards them. When it reached the threshold of the front gates it splashed against a barrier of violet light. Whatever wards the human’s had put together didn’t look like they could compare to those of the arena or Eldesian embassy; the fireball fractured the barrier into cracks from the point of impact.
      “Tripla!” Alex shouted authoritatively.
      “I’m on it sir,” the elf replied, “but my magic’s not really ideal for combat.” Despite his protests, Tripla started weaving a many-fingered spell just the same. It looked too painfully complicated to be anything but lithomancy.
      Draevin was suddenly keenly aware of how little mana he had. He spotted several abandoned meals of half-eaten corn bread and some kind of soup on a table. There was no time for permission; he ran to the table and started shoveling food down his throat as fast as he could. In his haste he accidentally swallowed a spoon. He had to smack his throat to get it down and while he did so he silently cursed Peter for inviting him here. If his tournament career ended over accepting the wrong dinner invitation he would strangle that human.
      Another fireball crashed into the barrier around Camp Highway Robbery. This time the defenses gave in and the remainders of the spell rained down on the camp in burning flecks. Fires broke out all over the camp everywhere the flames landed. Draevin twisted his gut until he could squeeze a few drops of mana out of his stolen food and refreshed his Frost Armor defenses. The front gate was blasted inward a moment later.
      “Where’s that bloody dryad?” Alex cried.
      “She already got her son back,” Peter reported. “I don’t think she’s going to bail us out this time. I can try to signal the Telnarim Emperor again though.”
      “Do it!” Alex ordered immediately. A golden flare of light shot up into the air out of Peter’s outstretched hand. The signal looked very familiar. Alex pointed to a random thug who was in the process of donning a leather helmet. “You! Fetch Rashad and his men. Run!” The man took off at a sprint for the far side of camp.
      There was too much going on for Draevin to keep track of everything. He instead focused his attention at the front gate and he saw a squad of half a dozen slave catchers blow down the front gate and make straight for them. They were dressed in full military regalia with the falcon of their order emblazoned on their breastplates and were swathed in defensive wards so powerful their bodies were actually glowing with purple light. Draevin had thought for sure they’d be eldrin, but they weren’t. They were elves.
      A dozen humans wielding a haphazard mix of clubs, spears and swords descended upon the slave catchers. The man in front made a few quick hand signs and tossed them aside with an explosive blast of flame. The troop didn’t even slow their pace as they walked straight down the main corridor towards the center of camp.
      “Steady,” Alex told his men as they approached. “We just need to buy some time.”
      When the troop of slave catchers reached the edge of the central gathering space their leader stepped forward and held out a scroll. “We are bound by a lawful contract from the king of Caldenia to recover a runaway slave. If any of you continue to resist our efforts you will die. Turn over the—”
      “We aren’t in Caldenia!” Alex interrupted. “You have no jurisdiction here.”
      “This is not a negotiation!” the head slave catcher replied. “We have been granted permission by the Guild to retrieve our property and we only came here for one person.”
      “Is that what your paper says?” Alex asked. “You wouldn’t mind if I asked to see it, would you?”
      The slave catcher scowled at Alex but he held his scroll out. “If it will convince you to cooperate, you can go ahead.”
      “Great.” Alex stepped forward and grabbed the scroll. As he unfurled it he walked back towards his men. “Hmmm,” he said thoughtfully as he read. “It says here”—he dropped the scroll in the nearby fire—“that you fellas can go fuck yourselves!”
      “Insolence!” the leader shouted. He waved his men forward. “Seize them! Kill any who resist!”
      Draevin had been burning mana like mad but had only gathered enough for a small Icicle Spear at best. That would do little against enemies protected by armamancy wards. He took a step backward as the slave catchers surged forward. All he wanted was to get out of this situation alive. He’d been in enough combat for one day.
      Tripla darted forward with red light burning in both hands. “Shield your eyes,” he hissed to his companions before releasing some kind of spell. Draevin didn’t get the message in time and as the elf’s hands flashed with energy he saw the word “runaway” appear at the forefront of his vision. He tried to look away but the word followed his eyes wherever he looked. He tried to close his eyes but he could still see it pulsing in his mind’s eye with every beat of his heart. Draevin felt the overwhelming urge to run away. It burned through his mind. Runaway. Runaway. Runaway.
      Before he could stop himself, Draevin found his feet churning beneath him. He didn’t know where he was going, but he knew he had to run. He only made it a few steps before Tripla seized him by the shoulders and the compulsion left him as suddenly as it had come. One of the slave catchers had taken off at a sprint at the same time Draevin had but the rest had instead halted in their tracks. They weren’t fleeing, but they weren’t moving forward either and they seemed to be panting with effort to hold the compulsion at bay.
      Alex grabbed a red-hot poker from the fire. “Wʜᴀᴛ ᴀʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴡᴀɪᴛɪɴɢ ꜰᴏʀ ᴍᴇɴ! Aɴ ɪɴᴠɪᴛᴀᴛɪᴏɴ?” He leapt forward and jabbed at the lead slave catcher’s face with his poker and his men followed his lead.
      The fiery tip of Alex’s poker slid off the slave catcher’s defensive wards harmlessly. As the rest of the humans slashed and stabbed at the slave catchers their results were largely the same. A particularly burly human wrapped one of them in a bear hug and dropped his body directly in a fire but the four remaining foes were essentially unharmed.
      Tripla released Draevin’s shoulder and held out his hands. They were wrapped in the same red glow as when he’d cast his spell, but he was panting with the effort of maintaining it. “I can’t… hold them much… longer…”
      “Peter!” Alex shouted between jabs with his poker. “How’s that signal coming?”
      Peter released three more golden flares into the air. “I don’t think he’s watching,” Peter answered. He sounded worried.
      Something about Peter’s words snapped the head slave catcher out of his compulsion. He caught Alex’s poker with his bare hand and threw it aside while staring daggers at Peter. He pointed an accusatory finger in Peter’s direction. “Pᴇᴛᴇʀ Cᴀʟᴏᴍᴀɴ!” he roared. “Yᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴɴᴏᴛ ᴇsᴄᴀᴘᴇ! Wᴇ ʜᴀᴠᴇ ᴀ ᴄᴏɴᴛʀᴀᴄᴛ ꜰʀᴏᴍ ʏᴏᴜʀ ᴍᴀsᴛᴇʀ. Tʜᴇʀᴇ ɪs ɴᴏᴡʜᴇʀᴇ ʏᴏᴜ ᴄᴀɴ ʜɪᴅᴇ!”
      Peter. Peter was the runaway slave. Draevin’s head started spinning.
      Peter shrank away from the man’s words. He instinctively hid behind Draevin’s back. Draevin didn’t know what to think. Peter, a slave? It didn’t make sense. Was this another manipulation by Caelnaste? Kill Draevin, arrest Peter? It was possible.
      Draevin took a step forward and held his wand out towards the slave catchers. “I think you’ve got the wrong guy,” he warned. “This human isn’t a slave; he’s a contestant in this year’s tournament. As am I. You sure you want to face off against a tournament champion?”
      Rather than answer, the head slave catcher shot his arm forward and unleashed a lance of fire straight at Draevin. He wasn’t even sure if he had enough mana to completely block the attack, but he had to try. Draevin sliced the air with his wand and sent out a wall of snow to absorb the blast.
      For the second time in as many hours Draevin’s attack took on a life of its own. The maw of a great snow dragon exploded out of the end of his wand. The dragon swallowed the slave catchers whole, then twisted around and faced the group of defenders next. Draevin tried to direct it away, but the spell was completely out of his control.
      Great white wings of swirling ice descended on the remaining defenders. The dragon’s mouth opened and Draevin saw an impossibly vast whirlwind of ice and snow raging within. He heard the angry roar of a dragon… no, the howling winds of a winter blizzard.
      His own dragon reached him and Draevin was engulfed. He felt the cold bite of ice on his skin and in his lungs. Everything went white.
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submitted by JDFister to HFY