The arena, long abandoned by its original denizens had fallen into ruin, although this didn’t stop the pedallers, mercenaries, drunks, bards, gamblers, whores, beggars, thieves, priests, prophets, lunatics and adventurers from pitching up tents among other things once a year for the Festival of Swords.
Even though the crumbling edifice was in the middle of nowhere, caravans nevertheless arrived from all corners of the land, indeed from many surrounding lands, and the dull coloured stone walls once again played host to a month of trade, blood letting and debauchery.
Instead of the music of the toothless old gossip monger’s concertina, the air was now filled with the sounds of braying, barking, snarling, whinnying, growling, moaning, wailing, roaring and screaming of beast and human alike; thick with curses, insults, banter and harsh laughter amid the cloying stench of animals and unwashed bodies, sweating and toiling under the unrelenting sun or holed up in the shade of some den or alcove, smelling none the sweeter for all that.
Walking over to a nearby mead stall Luther ordered a jug and looked around at this cauldron, the seething underbelly of the five kingdoms; if any fun was to be had, any stories of treasure or exotic climes, any work for mercenaries or assassins, this was the place to find it.
“You for hire?” asked a rasping voice beside him; he whipped around to see a hooded figure in a dark robe where a few seconds ago there had been nobody.