When faced with a dire situation, it is good to take comfort in routine. Having spent three days tied to a post inside a tiny wooden hut, Ignatious suspects that this situation is suitably dire to qualify. It is now noon and, as is usual at this time of day, the guard enters with the daily water ration. As per his routine, Ignatious attempts to make light conversation with his captor. After all, it doesn’t hurt to build up a rapore with your jailor. The guard adhers to his own routine, trickling the life-giving liquid straight into the mouth of the bound warlord in complete silence.
The tiny amount of liquid on offer is soon consumed and the guard begins to back out of the hut. Desperate to be helpful, Ignatious points out that the man’s shoelace is untied. The guard looks down at his foot, ties the laces up properly, nods in thanks and leaves without saying a word. Alone once again, Ignatious spends the next three hours trying to think of things he can say to the guard upon his next visit. However, in a complete break from routine, he receives a second visitor that day. A different guard. This one unties him from the post (leaving only his hands bound behind his back) and walks him outside.
Outside! Moor’s light-starved eyes struggle to adjust to the brightness of daylight. After a few seconds of blinking, they reveal that he is inside a newly-erected ramshackle fortress, freshly built from poorly cut wood. Being something of a veteran when it comes to fortresses, Ignatious notes the shoddy carpentry on display and sniffs haughtily in disdain as he is marched across the muddy grounds. If you’re going to build a wooden fortress, at least order your men to cut the timber into uniform-size planks. Moor does not get an opportunity to disapprove any further – his bonds are cut and he is thrown into an arena.
The warlord finds himself surrounded on all sides by men sitting on log benches, an audience who shout and cheer enthusiastically when he lands on their stage. He is thrown a sword, which he raises to the crowd with pleased relish as they call for the fight to begin. The sound of wooden slats being pulled sends the onlookers into a fresh wave of noise. The cages have been opened. Tightly holding the receipts of their bets in their hands, they watch three large, drooling rats scamper into the arena. Ignatious stands without fear as they fan out and then close in on three sides. In fact, he hollers to the crowd and jabs his sword into the air, clearly still intent on being his captors favourite bitch.
Encounter: Tis all in good sport
One man takes the opportunity presented by the noisy din to slink away from his colleagues. He strolls away from the fight towards a wooden shack much like Moor’s own. Reaching the door, he looks around to make sure the coast is clear, then enters. Inside is Sir Norman Bulip, tied to a post and wearing only his soiled undergarments. The man walks behind the captive dwarf and unsheathes a long knife with one hand. He cuts Norman free from the post, leaving only his hands tied. Suddenly unsupported, the knight falls forward onto the ground. The man is no rescuer. He puts a hand on Norman’s back to hold him down, then plunges the knife into his shoulder. He begins to carve something into the dwarf’s back, muttering loudly as he does so.
Norman remembers the voice from his knight training – this man was his bitter rival. The knife continues its work. Norman’s agonised screams are drowned out by the cheers of the crowd outside. Norman’s rival is disgusted when Norman faints from the pain and fear, but really this only proves him worthy of the word now carved into his back. He leaves the dwarf ravaged by scores of cuts in a pool of his own blood, rejoining the crowd just in time to see Ignatious get battered unconscious by the wolf Bloodfang, then rescued by Bloodfang’s handler. Moor is lifted obliviously into the air and carried back to his wooden hut. Norman lies still in his own, bleeding furiously until a patrolling guard finds him and reties him to his post.