After a restless night in the brothel, and not the good kind, Kellgale gave me the lay of the land regarding the Clash of Champions. The gimmick was that all the contestants were winners of other tournaments, champions if you will, the reality or course was that they were all people willing to pay the hefty entrance fee. A tent-city of sorts had sprung up on the north side of town surrounding the tournament grounds – some of the contestants preferring that to the dubious comforts of Heathgrove – but mostly various spectators, freebooters and itinerate tinkers and the sort. The rumor was that several high ranking nobles were here incognito but I doubt that – rich folks usually have no problem finding their own cruel entertainment.
I decided to start with the fighters who chose to stay in town – after all they’ve already shown they don’t make great decisions. Setting out with my two most morally flexible guards I made the rounds of this rotting disgusting berg. My first visit was to a massively obese fellow who was holding court in a houseboat of some kind that had been dragged into the city. He was easy four times my weight and then some. I could scarcely believe he could move let alone fight but he was attended but a retinue of lackeys and rent-boys that made me think he had to be a successful fighter. He declined my polite offer of eternal damnation in return for martial prowess.
Next a seemingly mute beggar-boy led me to an abandoned boat-house where a burly fellow lay face-down, nude, in the ribs of a broken row-boat. His body was crisscrossed with scars everywhere, even in some of the more unlikely places. The stench of drink coming off him was as palpable as a slap in the face and the boy had to kick him in the ribs several times before he roused, swiping at the boy (who danced out of the way) before grabbing for an earthware jug and drinking deeply. I gave the boy a coin and he ran off but not before making a rude gesture at me.
Reaching for a long knife and a hatchet stuck in the floor nature man asked me if it was time to fight. I explained that it was two more days until the tournament but that I could help him win – all it would cost was his soul. He claimed to have once been a Thrice-Anointed Knight of the Order of the Mockingbird and had no need for such chicanery. I told him he looked more like a knight of a thrice-pickled liver.
But as they say the third time is lucky. I met up with the Hurk brothers at a waterfront inn. Three men each shaved bald as an egg with crude tattoos and your standard thuggish look. They were only too happy to make a deal that would help them win – when Poor Annie appeared to broker the deal their massive attack dog – Spur – growled like thunder but a glare from the demon-hound’s pitiless black eyes sent him running like a cur.
Not bad for a day’s work.
To end the night I joined Kellgale and a couple of my more presentable goons at dinner with Bellflower – this is apparently a tradition for investors to treat their investment to a fine meal before a contest. You’re not going to find a fine meal in Heathgrove of course which is why we were in a pavilion tent with a cook Kellgale had brought in specifically for the occasion. Bellflower was as unimpressive as I expected – seriously, a half-elf maiden? Give me a break. But I did have an interesting conversation with her manager Trixa – she takes twenty percent while her clients take all the risks? You have to admire that.
Funds: 1424 gold
Inventory: Peasant outfit, wooden box, Signet ring, Ring of Many Garments, thieves’ tools, land deed, Bag of Tricks (rust), gold ring, Cap of Disguise, Secure Pocket, candlerod (9), masterwork dagger, succubi carving, Disguise kit (8 uses), Domiel family ring, walking stick
Revenge List: Duke Eaglevane,
Piltis Swine, Rince
Electrum, watchman Gridley, White-Muzzle the worg, Percy Ringle
the butler , Alice Kinsey , “ Patch”, Heroes of the Lost Sword, Claire
Conrad, Erist priest of Strider, Riselda owner of the Sage Mirror,
Eedraxis, Skin-Taker tribe,
Kartak, Królewna & Bonifacja Trading Company, Hurmont Family, Androni
Titus, Greasy dreadlocks woman, Lodestone Security, Kellgale Nickoslander,
Beltian Kruin the Splithog Pauper, The King of Spiders, Auraluna Domiel
Rumors : Exiled noblewoman (Reoccurring), vigilante “Litheria”(Reoccurring), murderous Halfling (Reoccurring)
Souls Damned to the Thirteen Hells – 8/10 (22 days remain)
Teams – Labors, Brute Squad (Robbers and two teams of Soldiers)
Buildings – Mill (repair time 4 days)
Managers – Master Smith (paid for next 4 days)