The story opens with each of our heroes—Ganodar, Cadoelin, , and —entering the Outmere tournament of champions. These four emerge as the survivors of the grand melee of unteamed participants in the arena. They become the final “Wild Card” team to enter the tournament.
The established teams, however, find their entry an intrusion, and pressure Londus, the interim arena master, to force them into another fight. They easily best a band of goblins, proving that they are worthy to vie for the title of champions.
They soon discover that they are still considered vast underdogs to win this honor—particularly by the bettors. Ganodar and Cadoelin entrust their remaining coin to Paik, to place a bet of 233gp on themselves to win the tournament at no less than 8:1 odds.
But Londus’ indecision keeps the tournament in a state of disarray. He hasn’t finalized the format, nor made preparations for the upcoming battles. The adventurers are able to combine efforts to help him make up his mind, and help themselves to determine their fate. After Paik reveals that he is a changeling, they seek a way to gain admission to see the hesitating head of the arena. They soon discover that he will only see his trusted advisor, a scarred veteran named Lach.
Ganodar’s recognition of Lach’s spellscars, Morley’s keen eyes and coin to buy drink, and Cadoelin’s fast fingers all combine to provide Paik the disguise he needs to gain an audience with Londus where his winning nature and quick tongue are put to use. Londus is given what he needs most: a plan for the tournament. Our heroes gain foreknowledge about the traps and challenges that lie ahead.
Excited at their successes, but knowing the difficulty of what lies ahead, our heroes seek to rest as fitfully as they can. Tomorrow, they will once again bathe in the cheers of the crowd as they face danger in the arena.