“Winner of the Dorasani Open!” the presiding official shouts from the center of the arena. He’s a hulking whitehair minotaur dressed in an embroidered blue robe that might have once been stately. Now, it is faded and frayed.

You raise your hand to give a little wave to the crowd, and the minotaur grabs your wrist and yanks your arm above your head, almost hoisting you off your feet in the process.

“Your champion!” He hollers, and cries out your name.

A smattering of applause goes up from the half-empty stands of the arena. Someone in the back lets out a solitary, drunken cheer.

Dorasani Arena isn’t exactly the Golden Arena of Mount Mox, but you aren’t exactly Waka Spiritblade, either. After arriving in Praetoria, you spent the last several months battling in obscure arenas in backwater towns, working your way from Novice to Bronze to Silver League. You did well in the tournaments you entered, too, but the Dorasani Open is the first time you’ve come out on top. It feels pretty good, in spite of the lackluster ovation and the pain in your shoulder.

At last, the minotaur releases your wrist, and you drop your arm to your side. You wince and rub your shoulder, rolling it to loosen it up.

With a torturous whine of rusted steel, a portcullis rises in the arena’s western wall, and a pair of porters dressed in drab gray uniforms emerge from the shadows of the gateway and make their way toward you, carrying a large chest between them. The duo cast long shadows beneath a sun that has begun its descent toward the horizon.

They drop the chest at your feet, sending up a cloud of dust. You cough and blink your eyes.

“Your earnings, battle mage.” The minotaur motions toward the chest with a grandiose gesture.

You stoop and open the lid. You already know what’s inside: ten gold auros for first place. It’s not exactly a king’s ransom, but it’s not pocket change, either. It will buy a few choice cards for your collection at the marketplace and–hopefully–push you higher up the leaderboard.

You stuff your earnings into your pack, adjust the strap of your satchel of cards, and give a final wave to the crowd (no applause this time) before heading toward the exit.

The streets are choked with the penniless and the downtrodden: dirty townsfolk dressed in threadbare garments with their eyes on their feet and their shoulders slumped under the weight of oppression.

This is the world under the reign of the Chaos Legion.

You make your way down the dusty lane between ramshackle shops, hoping to reach your room at the inn before–

“Oy! Battle mage!”

–the Chaos Legion’s “constabularies” see you.

You duck your head and pick up your pace, clutching your satchel of cards against your hip as you weave through the crowd. Your pack bounces heavily against your back.

From behind you comes the rattle of armor and pounding of feet. A heavy hand falls on your shoulder and jerks you to a stop. You turn and come face to face with a hobgoblin and a cinder elf, both dressed in the silver, white, and black armor of the Legion.

“You deaf or just stupid?” the cinder elf says, giving you a shove.

You stagger back a step, but before you can respond, the hobgoblin says, “We saw you’s in the arena.” He flashes a yellow-tooth grin. “You put on a helluva show. Didn’t he put on a helluva show, Krin?”

Krin, the cinder elf, nods and raises his eyebrows. “Helluva show. Say, you won yourself some gold auros, didn’t you?”

You shift your weight. “It wasn’t much.”

Krin’s eyes widen, and he leans toward you and inhales deeply through his nose. “That isn’t blackberry wine I smell on your breath, is it?”

Your heart is pounding so hard, it feels like it might burst from your chest. “I haven’t had anything to drink.”

“I smell it too’s,” the hobgoblins says. “Look at that.
Staggering and weaving so’s can hardly keep upright.”

You look down. Drops of sweat fall from your brow and land on your boots, which are planted firmly on the ground.

Krin scowls and takes a step back. “No need to take that tone of voice with me,” he says.

“I didn’t say–”

“Stop right there!” Krin pulls a billy club from his belt and points it at you. “You’re drunk.”

“And disorderly,” the hobgoblin says, drawing his own billy club as he circles around behind you.

You hold your hands up, “I swear, I haven’t had a drop.”

Krin shakes his head. “Wandering the streets, smashed out of your mind. It’s a wonder some unsavory individuals don’t rob you of everything you’re worth.” He grins. “Oh, wait. They just did.”

Something slams into the side of your head, and everything goes black.


Looking forward to this. Good luck all!!!


“Wandering the streets, smashed out of your mind. It’s a wonder some unsavory individuals don’t rob you of everything you’re worth.”

I love this dialogue!