One week of intense workouts later, and you've done all you can to help the Golden Shoes prepare. She knows your arguments forwards and backwards, practicing them while jogging, jumping, and swinging a blunted sword at an impressive-looking practice dummy. Reecho has kept in touch, checking on your progress, and Amele has helped you expedite the bureaucratic process, getting your Champion into a duel with the Pride's Champion in record time.
Now you're back in Trebulin, home of both POUNCE and the Pride of Arraveen. Curious Felisi stream into the Capitol building, crowding the Debate Arena and whispering as you make your way inside. Amele brings you to your seats and all you can do is stare across the recessed dueling grounds at the members of the Pride. Eight of them look back at you with steely eyes, deep and unfathomable. The other few lean forward, perhaps sympathetic to your situation. Or perhaps, they are just hungry.
A hush falls over the gathered crowd when an official in robes with elaborately draped sleeves steps out onto the floor. "Order! Order!" he shouts, tapping on a gilded shield. "We have before us today a suit for sponsorship, brought forth by the sentient species called the Humans. Their chosen Champion, known as the Golden Shoes, shall present arguments in duel with the illustrious Champion of the Pride. The debate shall begin at the clanging of the shield." He moves to the edge of the floor slowly, dragging his heavy garments.
"I am Kaylata!" A thundering voice booms from below the Pride, "Known as the Steady Tower, the Clear-Voiced and Unmovable. I speak for the honorable Pride of Arraveen. They will grant no sponsorship." A Felisi of substantial size in silk sparring clothes stalks to the center of the ring, carrying a wicked blade. "Who speaks against?"
Your Champion steps out onto the floor below you, and there is no denying that she is much smaller than the Tower. She glares fiercely across the arena anyway. "I speak against! I am Sechiri! Known as the Golden Shoes. I speak for the wandering Humans. They will have sponsorship!" She prowls forward carrying her own blade until she is toe to toe with the other Champion. The shield clangs on the sideline.
And with that clang, the duel begins. The Tower slams her sword down toward the Golden Shoes who leaps backwards just in time. "Outsiders are not Felisi!" she shouts, continuing to press forward, "Only a Felisi--" she swings, clashing swords with the Golden Shoes, "--can be trusted--" she presses forward, "--to uphold our reputation." The sword crashes down again, and the Golden Shoes is forced to dodge with an awkward tumble, leaving her leg open where the Tower scores a hit. The Golden Shoes recovers and retreats to the side while the Tower smugly addresses the crowd. "Only those Felisi born here and raised here can understand us. These Humans are too different, appearing suddenly and trying to sneak into our world. Outsiders!"
The shield clangs again, and the two champions continue their duel. "Ouch! This is going poorly," Amele whispers while the Golden Shoes stumbles and the Tower earns another monologue. The fight continues, and the Tower explains how the Felisi must protect their reputation, and only exemplary Felisi should be allowed association with Araveen on the galactic stage. The audience begins to cheer.
And then something shifts in the air. The Tower launches a powerful swing at the Golden Shoes, but she jumps towards it, diving under the blade and coming up behind to score a hit. "Hear me now." Her address reverberates throughout the chamber. "The Humans are here to seek, to find, and to know. It was not long ago that we Felisi ourselves wove our steelsilk ships and set out into the stars. These Humans have the same ability, the same courage, and the same curiosity that we ourselves display. They are worthy of our sponsorship." The shield clangs.
The Tower tries to resume her previous pace and regain the advantage, but the Golden Shoes leads her around the floor, dodging and pulling her forward into longer and longer reaches. "The Humans seek knowledge--" she leaps backwards, "--to discover everything worth finding." She twists as she lands, scoring a decisive hit on the Tower's massive shoulder.
"What shall they think of us, of our home of Araveen? Shall they call the Felisi closed-minded, not worth a visit? Or shall they think of us as I think of us: Strong enough, wise enough, and open enough to embrace these new explorers? If we Felisi are worth discovering, we must sponsor the Humans and enable their discovery." She turns directly to the Tower. "How could you think the Felisi unworthy?"
The shield clangs again, but the Tower does not resume the fight. Instead, she lays her sword on the ground right in front of the Golden Shoes. "The Champion for the Pride yields. The Pride of Araveen will sponsor a visa for the Humans and introduce them to Avallonis and the Federation Council." The Golden Shoes raises her sword in triumph, and many of the spectators cheer, including a few members of the Pride itself.
You have found a sponsor to help you.
End of Act I: Stay tuned for Act II during the Kickstarter Campaign!