He'd liked that coat. As Tranton walked out of the sunshine of the arena and back into the darkness of the warrens beneath the audience, he held the pierced coat up, examining the tears from the quills. He turned back to the glare of the arena and looked through the gaping holes, where the lance-like missiles were still embedded. He had been lucky that none of them had kept going into his body. That's why he always wore heavy coats - he'd never been keen on armour, but heavy, beaten leather had got him out of more than one scrape over the years.
Finding a new coat wouldn't be a problem, given that the locals liked their hardy clothing, but paying for it would be another matter and eat into his slowly growing reserves. The king had promised to give him an allowance but that deal was probably off the table.
Passing through a series of gates into the interior, he threw the coat across the room then slumped down into a weathered old chair which had long ago vented all of its plush stuffing onto the floor. His bones ached and he longed to remove his helmet and the bandages wrapped around his hands. The north was cooler but keeping all his skin covered after such exertion was uncomfortable. He picked up a jug from a table and poured himself a drink, which he sipped through a small gap in his faceplate.
A metal door clanged open and in walked Sorensen, the owner of the arena who preferred to go by the title of Gamesmaster. "My mysterious friend!" he exclaimed, clapping and then spreading his arms wide. "You have excelled even yourself. A fine dance, if a little short, but you brought in even more paying customers today. You are my lucky charm, Outsider."
"You have my pay?"
"It is being calculated as we speak. You will not be disappointed. Will you not tell me your name, or let me shake your hand?"
Tranton shook his head slowly. "Best for both of us if you know nothing about me."
"But it would be so good for our marketing," the Gamesmaster lamented dramatically. "Putting your face on posters. Slayer of the sharaban!"
"They like not knowing who I am."
"Only for so long, Mr Outsider. Then they will grow bored, or think I am cheating them."
"I won't be here that long," Tranton said, rotating an arm slowly. He'd fallen in a stupid way during the fight. It had hurt his pride more than anything else, but the shoulder wasn't great either.
"More's the pity," the other man said, sighing deeply. "Anyway, I will have your pay ready for when you leave. For now, you have guests."
Tranton looked up sharply, paying full attention for the first time. "I don't do guests."
Sorensen grinned. "They clearly do you." He bowed absurdly, then walked backwards out of the room. A moment later, two startlingly familiar people and a young boy entered. Tranton groaned and tossed his drink across the room, where it smashed harmlessly against the wall.
"He went the other way," Tranton said dully, pointing at the gate to the arena. The boy actually darted in that direction, but was restrained by the older man - none other than Fenris Silt.
Standing beside Silt was Kirya Tellador, dressed in a rather more restrained manner than usual but lacking none of her pugnacious defiance.
"It is you," she said, laughing. "I didn't believe it, but I'd recognise that voice anywhere."
"How about this voice?" he responded, dropping an octave. It was useless - they'd found him, and would have him on the first airship back to the capital, except this time the king would certainly consider him less favourably. He moved a hand slowly, tapping the hilt where it was attached to his belt. A girl, some kid and an old man wouldn't be able to stop him from leaving if he wanted.
YOU ARE READING
The Mechanical CrownFantasy
An explorer, a princess, a slave and a sword. A belief that the world can be better. The Mechanical Crown is an epic adventure full of intrigue, mystery and romance. When Tranton Seldon becomes the first to cross the mountains in hundreds of years...