Before the first day of the big tournament I paid an early morning visit to Ardala. I decided to go broken nose and scarred face and all –might as well get some use out of it while I can. Her manager politely told us that she was busy preparing for the day’s festivities but we barged in anyway. Her tent seemed more like an actress’s dressing room than the sanctum of a warrior. She wasn’t pleased by the interruption nor was she pleased when I told her I was there to request a favor. Her displeasure really hit a fever pitch when I told her that favor was giving herself to a grotesque hunchback.
Once it let her know that if she didn’t do me this little favor I was going to tell “my” fighter Bellflower to ruin that pretty face of hers and rip her breasts off to boot she was even more displeased. But I told her to take a good long look at my once beautiful face and asked her if it was worth ending up like this to avoid a few minutes of easy work. I reminded her as well that she wasn’t really much of a fighter – more of a sideshow really. She reluctantly agreed. I told her it would be best if she did this right now, being the magnanimous sort I even gave her some tips on how to seem like she was enjoying it. In return she called me a cut-face whore. Some people have no manners.
My plan was to spend the rest of the morning trying to round up some more gladiator souls but I abandoned that notion quickly – turns out people aren’t interested in chatting right before a possible grisly death in front of thousands of screaming hoopleheads. I returned “home” and spent some time chatting with my goons, turns out that a couple of them are also on a quest for revenge. Small world huh? And they say there’s no money in revenge.
Once the games got underway I saw Kellgale in the crowd but she seemed intent on avoiding me. I also spied Mazzmus who grinned and gave me a big “thumbs up”, what a vile little creature. I’m not terribly interested in muscle-bound lunatics hacking each other to bits but what else was there to do? At least the weather was nice. They started off with the team events, one of the opening matches was the Hurk boys against the Belgrave Harriers.
The contests aren’t necessarily to the death, a gladiator can yield at any time, but deaths happen every now than then – I had chosen the Harriers because I heard they were dirty fighters who had a tendency to go for the kill, just for fun. My delight at seeing Jeb Hurk go down with a clearly fatal ax-wound to the head was dashed when a few seconds later he staggered to his feet. I, along with much of the crowd looked on in wonder and shock. The Hurk brothers were defeated but they all survived and quickly healed from wounds that should have killed them. My goons were just as puzzled as I, but Poor Annie showed up to explain that their soul shenanigans had made them a good deal harder to kill.
“Are you KIDDING me?
“I don’t think so, that doesn’t seem like the kind of thing I would do.”
“How can they be killed?”
“How much is that information worth to you?”
Stupid demon mutt. I watched with burning rage as the Hurk boys were embraced by their putrid mother, weeping with joy over their miraculous discovery. My day didn’t get any better when Achilla Thel won her match easily against a mohawked and tattooed dwarf. I have to admit though her triple-braid is quite eye-catching. Once I’m back in court maybe I’ll start a trend of gladiator chic. My day really took a turn for the worse when a large body of armed men invited me to leave the tournament grounds.
I was taken back into town into a three story house so narrow it almost looked like a tower – although it didn’t seem on the verge of collapse which is good for Heathgrove. My goons were made to wait in the bottom floor, which was just storage while I was bade to go to the top. The second floor was a large suite where I helped myself to a sparkling blue jewel and a hand-crafted set of lacquered playing cards. The top floor was an office where a man with an open tunic to show off his gaudy gold medallions sat behind a desk with two buxom “bodyguards” holding spears. I’m sure they’re expert spear-handlers.
Standing up he turned out to be a tall fellow and in much better shape than you’d expert for a hairy-chest and gold medallion type. He asked if I knew who he was.
He said that I must really have a sense of humor if I thought I was going to get away with messing with “his” tournament. I see now, Rilfus is just the front man, this is the guy pulling the strings. I told him he really should be talking to Rilfus since he’s the one who accepted bribes and changed the seeding and he assured me that he’d be speaking to him as well. He explained that since the matches had changed that had upset some very high-profile gamblers he had made promises to, which made him look bad. He asked what I could do to rectify the situation.
“Do you want to have sex with Ardala? I could probably make that happen.”
He went into full-on intimidation mode then, which was quite impressive.
“I’m going to tell you the truth sir, because I have to right now – it’s a whole thing- you’re very scary, I am totally scared of you right now. But there’s a couple things working against you. First of all I am drugged out of my mind on account of I took a pretty severe beating the other day. But more importantly three months ago I was Duke Eaglevane’s consort. Do you know what that means? I woke up on sheets that cost more than this house. And after I woke up I had a breakfast that cost more than this entire town. After that breakfast I took a bath, attended by several servants and they helped me get dressed in clothes that would bankrupt small kingdoms. And then all that was taken away from me and I’ve been left fighting for scraps in places like this. I’ve been bitten, I’ve been stabbed, I’ve been slapped around, I fell of a gods damned ROOF, and I’ve gotten so sick I wished I was dead more than once, I’ve been beaten, enslaved, locked in a cage. This kind of thing doesn’t faze me anymore.”
I laughed mirthlessly –
“You think you can make my life any worse? I reel from disaster to disaster like a drunken sailor on shore leave but at least that sailor gets to go back to their ship once they’re out of money and riddled with venereal disease. I have nothing anymore. Nowhere to go back to. I’m not going to say I’m sorry for messing up your tournament because I don’t really care – but I do want to not get killed by you so just tell me how much debt I’m into you for and I’ll start trying to get it for you and probably a bunch of terrible things will happen to me while I do it.”
He looked at me for a long while before he spoke “Are you insane?”
I shook my head “No, I’m fine – it’s the world that’s gone mad.”
“What happened to your face?
He said that he’d be in touch and had his men throw me out.
I decided to turn in early.
Funds: 385 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 (7 uses), Domiel family ring, walking stick, Heathensnuff (8 doses), aquamarine, masterwork playing cards
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, mother Hurk, Mazzmus Parmalee
Rumors : Exiled noblewoman (Reoccurring), vigilante “Litheria”(Reoccurring), murderous Halfling (Reoccurring)
Souls Damned to the Thirteen Hells – 8/10 (19 days remain)
Teams – Labors, Brute Squad (Robbers and two teams of Soldiers)
Buildings – Mill (repair time 1 days)
Managers – Master Smith (paid for next 1 days)
Heathgrove Buildings – House
Behind the curtain : Made the monthly lifestyle payment. The Hurk brothers like all the people Ela is selling power gained the Devilbound Creature template which gives them Regeneration.