7 The One Ring

The One Ring is a stone-lined fighting ring situated just off the southeast end of Port Square. Every Friday night, just as the merchants in the Seaside Market are securing their goods and packing up their tents for the night, the One Ring plays host to some of the most brutal conflicts ever seen outside of a dungeon or battlefield. The crowds come from all over the city to watch the fights and place bets on the contestants

There are fighting pits all over the city, in darkened alleys in Drac’s End to abandoned basements in Scurvytown, as well as the bloody fighting arenas in Bloodsalt, but none hold a candle to the success and appalling violence found in the One Ring. Sure, other venues have their share of death and maiming, but the One Ring makes a spectacle out of these contests, drawing people of every class and station.

Dahn Rey opened for business during the days of the last Sea Lord, Marquetta. A veteran gladiator, he brought a sense of style to pit fighting, recruiting some of the best warriors the city had to offer and promoting the fights. Rey has enjoyed incredible success in this venture, and the blood of countless champions over the decades stains the stones that form the ring.

Up until a few years ago, the fights in the One Ring were often fixed, with each side negotiating which fighter would take the fall. There were plenty of tricks that could make a fighter take a dive, including poison, disease, blackmail, or simple threats. Unfortunately, this trend attracted the attention of some of Freeport’s gangs, and it wasn’t long before the One Ring became a battlefield for rival groups. After one night of violence killed a dozen spectators, Rey reined in the corruption and now tries to run an honest business, though he’s been known to fix the outcomes from time to time—the promise of gold is often too much for Rey to resist.

The ring is a circular platform made of stones stacked and mortared about three feet high. It has been repaired several times over the years, but it is essentially unchanged for over a century. Spectators stand packed tightly around the ring, looking up at the battlers. Those sitting too close are spattered with blood, and there are plenty of tales of people being crushed by contestants flung from the ring. Rey had a set of boxed seats affixed to the walls of nearby buildings to give those with enough pull or gold an opportunity to see the fights from an unobstructed and generally safe vantage point.

Most fights are bare-knuckled boxing matches, though the Ring does offer at least one sword or knife fight each week. Nothing brings in the crowds like the sight of blood, and it flows freely in the ring during such matches. It’s not uncommon to see a loser or two at death’s door in the course of an evening. While there are few rules for the fights, the ones that are in place are strictly enforced. These are honest fights, so there’s to be no magic of any kind. The One Ring has been permanently enchanted with a spell that causes any magic items brought into the ring to glow brightly, as will any contestants who are under the effect of a spell or cast a spell during the fight. If anyone or anything in the ring glows at any time, the fight is suspended and the perpetrator grabbed and summarily tossed into the harbor.

Rey makes his money by charging for the good seats and by booking bets before every fight. Besides the regular Friday night fights, he also hosts special events on many holidays, including Swagfest, Raidfest, and even Captain’s Day. The Sea Lords have generally been fans of the fights, attending often. Even those who have not cared much for the fights have acknowledged their usefulness in keeping Freeport’s populace from attacking one another in the alleys instead.

Prominent Characters
Dahn Rey: A crusty dwarf with a famously long beard, Dahn Rey fled to Freeport almost a century ago. As a veteran gladiator, fighting was all he knew. Freeport certainly had smaller arenas for such contests, but none of them had the prestige of the fighting pits from his homeland. Dahn erected a platform in the Docks to cater to pirates and sailors, and he was surprised when after a few years of business, people came from other districts to watch his spectacle. Rey may be gruff and unpleasant, but he knows what to say to generate excitement and to pull in spectators and contestants.

Ragnar: The current champion of the ring is Ragnar, a berserker from beyond the Ice Wall who came to Freeport in search of his beloved Alfhild. The warrior-maiden Alfhild captains a longship that occasionally haunts the waters around Freeport but heads out to sea for months at a time. It was inevitable that Ragnar would eventually wind up in Freeport. When he did, he learned his wife-to-be had come to the city several times over the last few years but rarely stayed for long. Ragnar sent his crew home to the frozen wastes, and he decided to wait for his beloved. While he waits, Ragnar tests his skill in the One Ring. To his surprise and pleasure, he’s found few who can match his ferocity and is thus far undefeated after a dozen contests.

Ragnar is big, standing nearly seven feet tall and just under three hundred pounds of muscle. He has long, braided, blonde hair and a thick beard. When he fights, he strips naked, much to the delight of the gathered noblewomen. His muscled body is crisscrossed with scars of old injuries, giving him a wild and dangerous look. He’s killed at least three men so far, and few warriors are willing to fight him.

Jonas Virden: Dahn Rey is no fool. While he knows the blood brings in the audience, his house fighters are too valuable to end up in pieces scattered over the arena. As a result, he has a standing deal with the Temple of Kiril to give them a cut of his earnings to have a priest, Jonas Virden, tend to the casualties. Something of an amateur fighter, Jonas would probably come to the One Ring even if not paid. His job is to tend to the grievously injured, and if possible, bring them back from the brink of death. He tends other injuries but charges for them. Those who pay regular tribute at his temple get the same treatment for half the normal price. Those who can’t or won’t pay are reduced to their previously injured state; Jonas doesn’t suffer crooks lightly.

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