Gladiator Lore

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What a glorious Age this is. Think on it: the Turning has plunged the broken World into chaos and war, but at the same time robbed us real death. Now, men of steel have become like unto actors, thespians upon a stage without walls. They can fight, and can die, gasping out their final eloquence with pathos aplenty, and return the very next night to play their parts again. Death's meaning is lost, but the experience of it remains - there is still blood, and bone, and entrails for the audience to see. Therein lies the thrill of it, after all. I don't know why you've signed a portion of your lifetime away to me - perhaps you need the money, or you were forced to by a magistrate, or perhaps you've simply got a taste for killing - I don't know, and I don't care, either. Now that you're mine, I intend to put you to as much use as possible. Murder is barely a crime anymore, and now that our illustrious sport, once illegal throughout the Petty Kingdoms, is here to stay. The crowd loves to watch: to see the red blood fountain from a sliced jugular, or to hear the exquisite crunch as bones break, or a limb comes loose. They'll pay for the chance to see men gasp their last breaths, and I provide it to them. You, my friend, will do the fighting. And the dying. Think of it - a crowd of hundreds, chanting your name, staring at your every move, holding their breaths in anticipation of that fatal stroke.

Of course, there are some drawbacks to the current state of affairs. While I no longer need worry about my performers using themselves up permanently, now I must compete with a new enemy: boredom. The crowds get jaded quickly in this age of cheap and ready death. To keep them coming back for more, we have to show them sights they can't see even in the thick of battle. The bloodier, the fiercer, the more shocking, the better. Spectacle is the name of the game now. Costumes, beasts, even strange, dire sports with arcane rules are becoming the rage in every arena. We strive and strive, but still we must give the crowd more. They want pathos, they want tragedy. They want to see the blood of heroes. And you will supply it.

If you have talent, you should do pretty well. By the time your contract's up and you leave this place, you'll be a finer warrior than any mercenary legion could produce. To survive in the arena, you'll need tricks no fencing master teaches. Don't ever forget: this battlefield is a stage, and the people, above all, want a performance. Learn to move like a tiger, and dance like an Elf. Act for them, let them see your valor in every stride, or the pain in every movement. Your acting can lull your foes as well, luring them into overconfidence or frightening them away. You'll learn how to kill a man in one strike, the points that can cripple or stun a man, and what places a blade can draw the most blood while letting the victim linger on. The fight must last, after all: the crowd must feel they've got their money's worth. You'll learn to deal with pain, the tricks for how to ignore it and stay in the fight. If you do well, they'll come back for you, day after day after day. If you're truly good, I can make you a rich man. You'll lack for nothing: fine wine, the best food, any kind of luxury can be yours. If not, well… you'll get chopped into fishguts ten times a day, every day. And you'll keep coming back for more. Don't worry, you'll find a place here. You no longer have any choice.

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