The sands of the Coliseum in Ul’dah were stained with the blood of competitors who had faced each other in battle. Overhead, the raucous crowd of Ul’dahn nobles watched and called out for more violence as they awaited the next match. The callers and promoters of the event had promised them a spectacle for the ages, a gladiatorial tournament to end all tournaments with the winner taking home a king’s ransom in gil and a contract from the Syndicate for an unannounced offer. Glory seekers and the power hungry looking to make a name for themselves had flocked to the tournament looking to earn the favor of the Syndicate; and by extension, the Sultana herself.
As the contest wore on, a pair of mercenaries made their way through the crowd to the Gladiator’s Guild. One was a female Hyur with violet hair tinged with fuschia highlights that stuck out in striking contrast in the long plait she wore on this day; an appropriate style to go with the traditional armor of the Ishgardian Temple Knights that she wore. The other woman, a Xaela with pink hair styled in a distinct fashion that offered a bold look in comparison to her black scales, was dressed in a custom silver suit of armor that had been polished to perfection and detailed in intricate trim made to look golden in appearance. Both women carried a sword and shield on them, careful to keep their hands on the hilt of their blades as they made their way through the crowd as the city was notorious for their pickpockets. Though keenly aware of their surroundings, the pair seemed engrossed in casual conversation.
“You know we could have done this at the company estate or even at your estate in Ishgard, Lady Rosalind,” the Xaela said with a smile in a slightly chiding tone.
“Oh please, Sin, don’t call me that,” the Hyur replied with a laugh. “I reserve my title and full name being used for people I dislike. Tis why my ex and half the nobles in Ishgard I’ve met of late are required at my insistence to address me that way; my compatriots in the company and my friends can simply call me Rose.”
Sin chuckled as she put an armored hand forward to get past a cheering Ul’dahn socialite with a polite tone. “Excuse me.”
She brushed past the woman with Rose behind her giving the socialite a nod before they came to a stop in front of the railing for a moment to see the spectacle below them. As the pair looked down, they were surprised to see a Hyur man with a medium build and dressed in leather armor with a pair of blades pitted against a much larger Roegadyn in full armor with an axe. Rose gave Sin a look of disapproval at the match as she folded her arms over her chest. The Xaela shook her head and looked at her companion with a smile.
“It looks unfair, but the Hyur isn’t weighed down by his armor. If he’s a member of the guild in Limsa, he’ll know to use his speed and agility to his advantage. Besides, that Roe’s armor weighs almost as much as he does from the looks of it; I wonder where he got it forged.” She put her armored hand up to her chin and gave Rose a pensive look. “The Temple Knights don’t have rogues in their ranks as scouts? I would think it would make sense to have a couple at least.”
Rose looked at Sin and shrugged in response. “I suppose we did; but I rarely saw them when I worked in the hospital in Ishgard. Most of the scouts I knew of were archers; well, at least the ones I patrolled Coerthas with were. Tis been a couple of years though, so I nae know if rogues are allowed in the ranks now.”
Sin nodded in response and continued to watch the match. As the fighters squared off, Sin seemed to be taking measure of the Roegadyn’s footing and watching the way he swung his greataxe. A smirk passed her lips as she watched the Hyur dodge the swing effortlessly and take to his opponent’s left flank. Without looking up, she casually waved her hand and spoke to Rose in a pleased tone. “See, told you. Say, you didn’t drag us all the way out here just to train so you could also meet your future spouse did you?”
Rose blinked and gave Sin a look of shock in return the sideways glance and smirk that now graced the Xaela’s face. “W-what?! Sin! I have nae intention of trying to find..”
Sin laughed and looked at her a moment before placing her hand on Rose’s shoulder and giving her a soft shake. “Relax Rose, it’s a joke; you need to lighten up a bit and not be so serious all the time. However, if the goal is to train, we should get to it; I have a client I’m supposed to meet this afternoon for the company.”
Rose gave her companion a look of relief and nodded. “Let’s train, and then I can go see Master Redolent Rose about some more training. I want to make sure I can pass that trial for the new guild you and Decima are putting together.”
“Rose, you’ll do fine; just do your best. Now come on, let’s get into the sparring area in the Gladiator’s Guild and…”
The sound of a woman’s scream pierced the din of the crowd. Sin and Rose looked at each other as the crowd began to murmur before looking down into the Coliseum. The Hyur laid on the ground with a large gash in his chest while two other men, clearly employees of the venue, had emerged to try and separate a now enraged Roegadyn and block him from delivering a killing blow. They blocked his path to the Hyur as they tried to calm him down while the Roe stood with his greataxe ready to cleave the men if they tried to stop him.
“I’m going ta kill tha’ godsdamned whoreson for wha’ ‘e said abou’ ma sister!”
The Coliseum employees looked at each other and put their hands out to assuage the man. One of them turned back to see that the Hyur was still alive, but bleeding badly while the other employee spoke to the combatant Roe in a somewhat terrified tone.
“L-look now, t-this is s-supposed to be a tournament, n-not a killing spree! The rules are to submit the opponent, n-not kill them!”
“I dun care wha’ the rules say! Tha’ shite is gonn’ pay fer wha’ ‘e said!”
Rose looked at the man on the ground and then looked at Sin, who was watching the Roegadyn with a furrowed brow. In a concerned tone, she spoke as her silver eyes trained on the dying Hyur. “That man needs help Sin, I can’t stand to see him left lying there like that.”
Sin nodded in agreement. “That Roe’s temper is going to get those men killed. Come on, I’ll try to talk him down while you tend to the Hyur.”
The pair pushed their way through the crowd quickly and made their way into and through the Gladiator’s Guild to get to the Coliseum floor, taking the same path that the employees had used. Sin looked at Rose as they reached the floor and furrowed her brow.
“You don’t have your staff or gear with you.”
Rose smirked and snapped her fingers to produce a small crystal that she pressed to her chest. In an instant she was dressed in her healer’s robes and had her staff in hand. She looked at Sin and pointed to the Roe who was now swinging his axe at the two employees with reckless abandon.
“Now I do; you tend to the Roe, I’ve got the Hyur.”
Sin nodded as she and Rose veered paths taking their targets. As Sin approached the men, she drew her shield that was imbued with ice magic and kept her hand on the hilt of her sword. The two men had managed to draw the massive Roe away from the Hyur, but now they were the targets and Sin was on the other side of the Roe. Sin glanced at Rose, who was now kneeling by the man and had cast a healing dome around them so that she could work quickly to save him and protect them from harm, before she turned her attention back to the Roe. With a commanding voice, the normally irenic Xaela stood resolutely behind the man.
“Hey! I get that you’re upset, but let’s all take a moment and calm down. You’re not going to do yourself any favors with the Syndicate if you show them that you can’t control your temper.”
The Roegadyn turned around to face Sin and caught a glimpse of Rose tending to the wounded man. He ran towards the pair with his axe raised to strike in anger. “I’ll cu’ ye both down!”
As he charged, the sound of Sin’s enchanted shield hitting his right arm rang throughout the Coliseum. She quickly charged at him, putting herself between the Roe and Rose as she picked up her shield.
“Those who make a peaceful solution impossible make a violent solution inevitable,” Sin said sternly as she positioned herself to defend his attack.
“I’ll cu’ ye down too, ye interferin’ wench.”
The Roe shook off Sin’s blow and raised his greataxe to try and split her in half. Sin quickly raised her shield to take the blow, covering her face. Rather than the sickening thud of metal on metal from the axe hitting the shield, she heard the Roe scream in pain as a bright flash of light surrounded them; though her shield blocked the majority of the flash. Behind her, Rose’s stern voice added to the noise of the crowd as they cheered from above.
“You can’t fight what you can’t see. Take him down Sin, I’ve got your back!”
Sin looked back and nodded to Rose before she took advantage of the man’s blindness and strafed to his left to bash his knee from the side to buckle it. The two employees blinked for a moment at the scene and ran to the conjurer as she finished stabilizing her patient enough to move. Rose looked at the pair and pointed to the wounded Hyur.
“Get him and yourselves out of here, now! We’ll deal with the big guy.”
The pair took the man and nodded, carrying him out. As they did, one of them called out to the crowd, taking advantage of the spectacle in typical Ul’dahn fashion.
“What a show folks! Rather than a pair of damsels in distress, we have a pair of warriors in our midst! Will they be able to overcome the massive Mountain of La Noscea?!”
The crowd cheered as Rose and Sin looked at the man kneeled on bended knee from Sin’s blow with her shield, still reeling from the pain of the temporary blindness. Sin shook her head and clicked her tongue in annoyance and looked at Rose, clearly displeased that the situation was being taken advantage of by the establishment. Rose shrugged and tilted her head as she gave a resigned sigh.
“If we put him down, at least he can’t harm anyone. Tis free publicity for the company either way, Sin.”
“You’re right, let’s finish this fight; the first round is on you later though.” Sin said with a grin.
“I have half a case of rum that says you can’t finish him off in three moves.” Rose answered with a smirk.
“Half a case? You’re on.”
As the Roe started to regain his sense of sight, Sin and Rose took position to defend against him. As Sin raised her sword, the sound of metal hitting the ground rang throughout the Coliseum as the Brass Blades rushed in and surrounded the three. Sin looked at Rose and relaxed her posture in the presence of the soldiers. Rose nodded and lowered her staff, holding it in front of her in a relaxed position. The so-called Mountain of La Noscea looked around and dropped his axe on the Coliseum sands.
“Now ‘his is jus’ perfect. Godsdamnit.”
Two of the Brass Blades’ largest men seized the Roe and shackled him before escorting him out. As they walked out a masked Lalafell man came walking in and approached the pair. Sin sheathed her sword and strapped her shield to her back as Rose walked over and stood next to her. The pair smiled at the man as he waved off the rest of the Blades and addressed them.
“That was a much better spectacle than what that brute was putting on. On behalf of the citizens of Ul’dah and Her Grace, I thank you for relieving us of that boredom. Miss Faye, Lady Rosalind, you both certainly lived up to the reputation that your company has earned itself.”
Rose and Sin looked at each other and smiled before Sin turned to the man and smiled politely, speaking to him in her customary cordial tone as the face of the free company. “Thank you, Lord Lolorito; that is kind of you to say. We really were just trying to preserve the peace in the face of that competitor being wounded.”
“Naturally, Miss Faye; peace through strength is something I can appreciate greatly,” the shrewd Lalafel replied. “Perhaps you will be kind enough to sit down with me this evening and discuss a potential contract I’d like to make with your company. You can tell Godwin that I would also like him to attend.” He then turned to Rose and waved politely. “I hope that Your Ladyship won’t be offended if the invitation isn’t extended to you; I’m given to understand that Master Redolent Rose is going to need you for a fitting this evening.”
Rose pursed her lips and smiled gently at Lord Lolorito. “I am nae offended, Milord. You are quite correct and it would be rude of me to presume any slight on the part of my late father’s closest friend here in Ul’dah.”
Lord Lolorito smirked at the Ishgardian’s polite response. “You are your father’s daughter indeed.” He then turned to walk away, only to stop and look at Sin. “I will see you and Mr. Fletcher promptly when the bells strike at seven.”
Rose and Sin were left standing in the Coliseum as the crowd above began to disperse. Rose nodded to Sin and let out a relieved sigh. “Nice work, Sin.”
Sin nodded. “You too; but you owe me a half case of rum.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Rose chuckled as she waved her hand and started walking toward the gate while Sin followed, smirking. “I’ll make sure you get it just as soon as we get back to the estate.”