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Time is a fleeting thing in the arena. It has a nasty habit of speeding up or slowing down depending on your circumstance. Cuts and thrusts and parries can feel as though they come at impossible speeds, or drawing a blade can seem to take hours. Actions become a blur as you surrender yourself to fate.

So, too, is the lot of a slave. Days become longer, years become shorter, and all of it meshes together until you no longer have a sense of yourself. You have no idea how long you’ve been a slave, just that it has been too long. Freedom seems a distant memory, or a far off future.

That’s not to say things are all bad. You’ve made a name for yourself as a gladiator on the field of battle, and that comes with certain perks: Food on the regular, lovers when you want them, and a facade that mimics the luxury of actual freedom. Continued servitude has been tolerable for you, if not exactly what you desire.

You and your allies (too strong a word for some of them), have come to a tentative agreement to help each other when the fighting happens. Or, at least, you’ve decided to stay out of each others’ way. That’s how you’ve all been able to survive so long doing the bloody business of gladiators. That, and your habit of picking up whatever gossip happens to be around.

Whispers of the return of your master, Rizkith, have been spreading among your fellow captives. He and the Scarlet King, ruler of the Empire, have been away for some time on the frontier of war. The word is that their conquests are now complete, and their homecoming precedes grand celebration. Grand gladiatorial games will commence in their honor when they arrive.

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Rizkith’s own slaves are to participate. You will participate. Normally, this would not be a problem. Combat is your lot in life these days, and you’re no stranger to the arena. So many battles have come and gone that you hardly remember most of them. This one, however, is different.

One of your allies has discovered that the coming battle will be nothing more than a farce. At the behest of the King, you are all to perish in a rigged match. Your bodies will then be consumed in a gruesome feast to inaugurate the games, as is traditional for the Folk.

Perhaps this is because you have made too much of a name for yourself. Or maybe the King is weary of the stories of Entaro, the Slave Who Defied an Empire. It could even be that someone among you holds a secret that could damage the Empire. Regardless of the reason it is clear that, one way or another, it is time to leave this life behind.

Whatever rumors you have heard indicate that time, like it is in the arena, is fleeting. You may only have a week to make good on your escape. After that, you stand a good change of facing your doom. So, there is but one question you must ask yourself: Will you accept fate, or forge your own?

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The Shattered Lands

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