Joined: Aug 26, 2003
Location: Rocanis, Alastari
Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:18 pm
Hail fellow managers of Alastari,
My name is Grimwood (aka Mark G. Manley- author of the novel Dark Arena). I manage the Skull Squadron stable in the Rocanis arena #56. Rocanis is a little known Free Blade arena nestled in the southeast corner of Alastari. It has a rich, war-torn, and troubled history and in its prime produced some of the finest gladiators in all of Alastari. However, over the years the shine as lost some of its luster with stables moving on and leaving the arena stands not nearly as full.
One aspect of Duel II (which will always be Duelmaster’s to me) that I’ve enjoyed is adding another dimension to my gladiators by developing personalities for each and how they interact with each other when not on the sands.
It is with this in mind that I’m promoting Rocanis to all of Alastari, so fellow managers old, new, or former that are looking to open a stable might find a home in our corner of the world. Over the course of the foreseeable future I’m releasing my team’s spotlights from the past year from Rocanis’ newsletters to show the intrigue and depth that is the cornerstone of Rocanis. I hope you enjoy the spotlights, its content enhances your own Duel II experience between turns, and if you feel the urge, my fellow managers in Rocanis would welcome the challenge of crossing swords.
Without further delay, welcome to the first episode of Dark Arena – A supplemental.
* * *
Warlord General Pol was far from the Rirorni Empire and at great risk entering an Alastarian city. The lone Rirorni entered through the gates of Rocanis and tied his stocky horse at a hitching post outside a tavern with a sign reading, Mylar’s. General Pol entered and the yeasty smell of ale and hard liquor permeated the air. To the left of the room, a curved bar with recessed shelves held small kegs and bottles. To the right a burning hearth with a stag mounting hung overhead. Circular metal chandeliers suspended by chains lit the room. A stairway led to the second floor.
Despite the early evening hour and the gladiatorial games held earlier, the tavern was barely half-full. All eyes turned his way and he heard more than one snort and grumble in a patron’s throat at his presence. General Pol didn’t expect any less, considering the ‘light’ atrocities and ‘minor’ war crimes perpetuated by his people during the Rirorni War.
Pol stroked his long side moustache downward to his goatee, a habit he did when he sized up his opponents. His rough fingers gingerly traced the long scar that ran from the left side of his nose across his mouth to his chin, a long ago reminder to not under estimate your adversary. He removed his helm exposing his shaven head with three days’ worth of stubble, which highlighted a strong widow’s peak and appeared as if wore a black skull cap. It also revealed a fresh scar with stiches stretched along his left forehead.
Taking in the gladiators in the room, it seemed he had more war-wounds by the time he was sixteen than most of the gladiators present. His eyes found the reason that brought him back to Rocanis, absent these long years. The Duelmaster of Rocanis, Swytai of Grizzled Veterans. He was easy to spot in the back surrounded by adoring women admirers as he recounted his title fight for the day against the Scythe of Satan’s Blades. Swytai didn’t have so much as a blemish on his skin. Not one wound to recount a true warriors tale. He’d love nothing more than to walk over and give him his first scar, but he’d have to play nice…for now.
The innkeeper behind the bar called out. "Welcome to Mylar's."
Mylar’s hairline was receding on both sides of his head, the middle was thinning and had been slicked and combed back. He wore a low cut, sleeveless, tan cotton shirt, which revealed dense, black chest hair. When he came around the bar, Pol noticed his belt showed an obvious progression of notches corresponding with the man's expanding waistline. His pants were dark brown cowhide, well faded and stretched out and appeared to have been nice once.
“The room has already been prepared, if you would please follow me,” Mylar said as he reached out to grab his arm to guide him. Mylar hesitated and pulled his hand back, likely remembering the tradition that invading a Rirorni’s personal space, about a long sword’s length, risked a painful scar as a reminder.
Snorting in satisfaction, Pol liked Mylar and his understanding of their custom. He let a smile slip as he followed him into the back room. The interior was dark. When Mylar closed the door, it left them in blackness. Mylar pulled back the hood from a lantern, flooding the immediate area with light. Mylar led him down a set of steps into the taverns storage area among barrels and crates stacked high. He stopped in an open area surrounded by boxes. A lit candle and a small pouch sat on a round table.
"Please, wait here," Mylar said and picked up the pouch with a joyful coin sound then exited back down the darken path.
The candle's light extended only a few feet, but Pol wasn't concerned about a dagger in the back because the Free Blade Merchant Guild was going through too much trouble. If they had gone to these steps, they had a genuine offer. The Merchant Guild wanted to intimidate him with an unfamiliar setting. It was a common practice, which Pol himself had employed to gain an advantage.
“Mr. Pol,” said a male voice from the darkness.
“General Pol,” Pol corrected.
“General Pol,” said a female voice, “thank you for coming. Your reputation as a warlord in the Rirorni Empire proceeds you.”
Pol nodded slightly to the voice obscured in the darkness.
The male voice added. “Yes, and how is your expansion progressing within the empire?”
“I’m holding onto the claims I’ve made.”
“Ah, so what are these retreats I keep hearing about,” the male replied.
“Gentlemen, let’s just call them a graceful exit from the battlefield and move on,” the female said.
“I assume I was not brought all the way to Rocanis, just to be insulted.”
“No of course not. I assume the gold you received was adequate,” the female said.
“It did arouse my interest.”
The male said, “Good, we have a problem that outside assistance is needed. Our current Duelmaster, Swytai of Grizzled Veterans, sits on the title and based on the stables currently in Rocanis, he will hold the position for the foreseeable future. At least until Lady Greywand notices and summons him to the Isle of the Eye. This realization by the population has brought wagers and profit on the game to a standstill.”
“I am not for hire, if you want knife work done,” Pol replied.
The female said, “No, we need some outside talent to remove him from the throne.”
Pol scoffed. “I doubt the Gladiator Commission of Rocanis will allow a warlord of the Rirorni Empire to just walk out onto the sands and challenge the Duelmaster.”
“We’ve made arrangement for you to become a member of an inactive gladiator stable,” the female said.
“I believe they call themselves, Skull Squadron.”
“Skull Squadron?” Pol asked, wondering if it was the same stable that played an intricate part in defeating the city-state of Jhans and holding off the Rirorni horde when it invaded.
“Yes, is there a concern?” the male asked in mirth.
“No, but what about the stable’s manager?”
“There is no need to fret. Grimwood is residing in Malcorn. We’ve sent a veteran gladiator there under the disguise of a hungry peasant to entice him to open a stable,” the female said.
“Unless this Grimwood is a fool, he’ll realize the gladiator is not a mere ‘hungry peasant’,” Pol said.
“Our associate knows his role. He insisted on walking from Rocanis to Malcorn, just to ensure he looked the part by the time he arrives,” the female said.
“If I risk my life and remove Swytai as Duelmaster, what is in it for me? The title doesn’t interest me and the gold I’ve already been paid to come here could feed and equip my soldiers for six months,” Pol commented.
“Besides, a small horde of gold and finding accommodations in Rocanis for yourself and your men, if the need should arise, you’d be considered a favored partner within the Merchant Guild and avoid any and all tariffs imposed by the Free Blade Nation,” said the female voice.
General Pol contemplated the offer. He wasn’t worried about fighting Swytai in the arena, nor was he concerned about being betrayed by the Merchant’s Guild. If that happened he’d use the gold he’d been paid to march his newly supplied troops from the empire and wipe out Rocanis. The city defenses were weak and the populace seemed to have gone soft since the war.
Stroking his long side moustache downward to his goatee, General Pol said, “Your terms are acceptable. When do I begin?”
The Consortium ArchMaster Poster
Joined: Nov 23, 2002
Location: on the golf course, in the garden, reading, traveling, and now Consulting
Wed Nov 04, 2015 2:08 am
looking good, Grimwood ......................
_________________ The Consortium: Crapmaster 2013, Crapgiver 2014; 1213 ADM graduates (40+ manager IDs) including 176K+ fights and 118K+ wins plus 4 teams with 1500+ wins (Animal Farm DM11 @2085; Bulldogs DM11 @ 1976; Lenpros DM30 @ 1792; Fandils DM46 @1727
Grimwood! You forgot to fix your pronouns. Swytai is female which you no doubt learned in her two matches (which were split as I recall) with Pol. Otherwise I remember this one well. It's why I sent in a new team after she graduated. You will see the threatened spotlight when that squad returns, likely after the fall mail in, for more timing. I will attempt to tie in some of the stories with your own line, though they will be occurring in the past for a bit.
_________________ Dameon Darkheart
The Holy Legion - DM 10
Obsidian Hall - DM 33
Iron Cathedral - DM 52
Grimwood Advanced Expert Poster
Joined: Aug 26, 2003
Location: Rocanis, Alastari
Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:56 pm
Yes, you are absolutely correct about Swytai. I wasn’t very observant from the arena stands as Swytai’s hair was tucked in her cap and the armor wasn’t tight fitting. Regarding the reference in Mylar’s tavern with all the adoring women, I’ll assume Swytai is friendly with the lords, but even friendlier with the ladies. I look forward to your return and the spotlights.