Altaruk’s gladiatorial arena is tiny and dilapidated compared to the giant arenas of the city-states, but still draws an impressive crowd for daily events. Many of the fighters are slaves winning glory and purses for their masters, but plenty of freemen also compete for those prizes. Most matches aren’t fought to the death, but there’s at least one death every week anyway.
Bloodsand Arena lies between the Elven Market and the dockside Merchant Quarter, making it convenient to the slave pens, gambling stands, and the sailors who frequent its matches. Its walls are made of red bricks baked out of the clay of the Altaruk mountain range; inside, splintery wooden bleachers surround a relatively shallow sandy pit (7 or 8 feet deep, as opposed to Tyr’s 15-foot pit). This arena is far smaller than the massive auditoriums of the city-states, and every seat is as close as the “good” seats in the major arenas.
Altaruk cannot afford the magical illumination that makes night matches in the city-states possible, so all matches occur during the daytime. The morning is generally reserved for training and setup; after the “heat of the day” is over (around 3 or 4), matches run for around 4 hours, until dusk.
A long, low building stretches away from the arena towards the town’s wall. This area is off-limits to most citizens, as it is the staging ground for the matches and where gladiatorial slaves are kept when not training at their masters’ private stables.
The arched red-brick entrance to the arena is flanked by large, crudely drawn pictures of the evening’s gladiators wheatpasted to the wall. (Sometimes, pretty generic “mul” and “human with axe” type drawings are used when unknowns fight). A 2gp entry fee is collected (though sometimes the price is slashed or boosted, depending on the names slated to fight) and a booth takes bets at officially sanctioned odds.
A treasure-trail of stalls leads from the arena into the Elven Market, tempting attendees with alcoholic beverages, tokes of zatla, snacks such as roasted jankx skewers, and the like. In the Market itself are plenty of illegal gambling stalls offering better odds than the official stall in the Arena; a gamesgoer might be drunk enough when he arrives to lay a good deal of coin on long shots.
On 27 Sorrow, the Mericles Maulers (consisting of Petal, Korgil the Raver, The Crusher, Tik, and Tok) fought The Zatla Cowboys (consisting of Birel, Bost, Zuri, Vilsis, and Dazeel) for a purse of 50gp per person (on a loss) or 100gp per person (on a win), a deal agreed to by Two-Bit Grisk when his regular scheduled gladiator team fell ill due to spoiled jankx meat.
At the last minute, Vilsis and Tok were pulled to have a mano-a-mano missile-weapon duel, leaving the main event match four-on-four. After an epic struggle (during which Bost killed Korgil, after Korgil refused to stay down after being fairly defeated), the Zatla Cowboys triumphed.