A shirtless man with ornate tattoos on his arms and back enters a fighting arena

Result 10 – Part 7

Asaari the Tainted steps forward, rolling his head and shoulders, preparing to fight against Assassin.

It’s definitely the guy from earlier. You and Ameronis have managed to push your way quite close to the front, ignoring complaints from the other spectators. From here, you get a better view of them, and see that Asaari has a very toned physique; he’s apparently a lot stronger than he looked when he was wearing his coat. Another thing you notice is that his arms, shoulders, pecs and upper back are all covered in elaborate, black tattoos.

A shirtless man with ornate tattoos on his arms and back enters a fighting arena
Asaari enters the arena.

He still wears his serious expression and focuses on the announcer and opponent in front of him. Ameronis crosses her arms before waving a hand dismissively.

“Guess we’ll get to see what he’s made of then”.

You remain silent. As the last bets are placed, the fight begins. Asaari strikes first, showing speed and precision as he bears down on Assassin, swinging his sword which Assassin manages to dodge and parry with his own two fake daggers. Asaari is very skilled and manages to get many hits in against his opponent, and despite his ferocity and speed, remains graceful as he continues the assault. But Assassin is more agile, managing to dodge many of Asaari’s attacks and strike back with numerous counterattacks of his own. Assassin manages to sidestep and dodge a particularly powerful thrust from Asaari, striking Asaari in the side of his neck with the tip of a dagger as he moves past.

Asaari stumbles forward and turns, taking his stance and facing his opponent again, but he seems unsteady now. Assassin watches him for a moment before going in to attack; before, Asaari was able to fend off Assassin with each, but now, he’s too slow; disoriented and unable to fully block the strikes. From here, he loses more and more ground, becoming less and less able to defend himself until, after taking one too many hits, he is successfully disarmed, with Assassin sweeping Asaari’s legs out from under him; pinned to the ground, and with a dagger at his neck and another above his heart, Asaari is forced to surrender.

As the winners and losers make themselves known, you watch Asaari as he rolls to his feet, covered in dust. He clutches the side of his neck with one hand, picking up the fake sword with the other, before making his way out of the arena without another glance, while the announcer parades the Shadow Assassin about. Ameronis watches Asaari’s exit too.

“Hmph. I guess he’s not all that without a real sword… Probably thinks a liiiitle bit too highly of himself.”

You’re not entirely sure; he did display a lot of skill. But, considering the circumstances just now and earlier, it does seem like he wouldn’t have been a match for you and Ameronis either.

With the fight over, the two of you push your way back up to the walkway and the exit. There, you meet up with Kuron and Rod, who assumed you got caught up in the crowd and decided to wait for you. Once regrouped, the four of you head back to The Rusty Bell, and outside, the two men attempt to convince you to join them for another round of drinks at least. You wonder how many drinks they’ve had so far tonight, and how many more they intend to have, especially with their much fuller purses. You and Ameronis politely decline, but Ameronis reminds them that she’ll come and visit them again soon.

Backtracking, (and keeping a close eye on the shadows), the two of you manage to make your way back to Stardust, which now has a line of people waiting to get in. It looks like things are starting to get well underway here.

Back inside, the two of you manage to find a spot to sit in a cosy corner, where you can still see the stage and dance floor. You sip on a mug of vibrant red tea with a sweet, caramel flavour, as you watch and listen to each act. The various performers do turn out to be very good, with the crowd having a great time, and the energy of the place being very vibrant.

You chat with Ameronis about the stint at The Pit; she suggests that those regulated, structured fights are quite likely to be set, with the winners predetermined depending on a handful of factors, including who the crowd favourite is, whether there’s an underdog, and how much of a show the fight will be. There’s a balance between keeping the crowd happy and squeezing them dry. Either way, she thinks that she might be able to get a few more coins from them later if needs be.

As the two of you hand out and enjoy the show, you witness a lot of interesting people, many of whom are well dressed and in good company or flanked by bodyguards; the rich and famous locals no doubt. You even spot a handful of people who you’re sure are part of the Bloodlines cast.

While a few spend their time in the common area of the lower floor, many come and go into the private rooms and areas, or settle themselves down on one of the balconies upstairs. There, they order the most expensive drinks and sit sparkling in their expensive clothes and lavish jewellery. Your thoughts drift back to the necklace and ornate dagger hidden away under the floorboards at Slaryn House, and wonder if any of these people happen to be missing either.

Eventually, the constant noise of the night starts to close in on you, and you can feel a headache forming. It’s after 1 now; time to call it a night you think. You finish your drinks, gather yourselves and step out of Stardust, ready to head back to the hotel. A pretty eventful night you’d say.

Outside, there are still groups of people here and there, moving between different venues and clustered outside of others. The general crowd has thinned, but it’s still quite active out here. Orienting yourselves, you make your way down the street, keeping your wits about you. Amongst the music and chatter, you hear somebody yelling, and as you glance casually in that direction as you walk past a side street, you catch sight of someone barrelling towards you. Beyond them, you hear a man call out.

“Come back! Thief!”

Not again. This place is infested with them…

You look down the narrow alleyway as you step forward, blocking the entryway, the thief rushing towards you, and a partially obscured figure following a short way behind.

Behind you, Ameronis is close by, now turning to see what the commotion is. Instinctively, you reach for your axe; it’s in its place hidden under your bag. You shift.

What will you do?

  1. Don’t get involved; step out of the way.
  2. Block the entrance so the other guy can catch up, but step aside if the thief tries to engage you.
  3. Block the entrance, so the other guy can catch up, but defend yourself if the thief tries to engage you.
  4. Actively engage the thief and try to beat them until they surrender.
  5. Actively engage the thief and try to kill them.

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