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Arena 13


Arena 13


Also available by Joseph Delaney

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Book No: 1


Book No: 1

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Quote 1


Quote 1


They dream of the world of Nym and twist
hopelessly within its dark labyrinths,
seeking that which they can never reach.
But for a few, a very few, a wurde is called.
It is a wurde that summons them again to life.


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The Midgard Glossary


The Midgard Glossary

This glossary has been compiled from the following primary sources:

  • The Manual of Nym
  • The Testimony of Math
  • The Manual of Trigladius Combat
  • Amabramsum: the Genthai Book of Wisdom
  • Amabramdata: the Genthai Book of Prophecy
  • The Compendium of Ancient Tales and Ballads


These are the devotees of the Trigladius; spectators whose knowledge of the proceedings – of the positions adopted by lacs and their tactical manoeuvres – is often greater than that of some combatants. Some specialize in the history of the Trigladius and can remember classic encounters of long ago by recalling, step by step, the patterns that led to victory.


This is The Genthai Book of Prophecy. Although this holy book is written by a multitude of Genthai authors, it is believed that it represents the voice of their god, Thangandar.


This is the name of The Genthai Book of Wisdom. It contains observations on djinn, Midgard and the world before the fall
of the ur-humans. This is the collective wisdom of Genthai scribes. It is not a holy book.

Arena 13

This is another name for the Trigladius Arena. Once it was compulsory for human combatants in this arena to have the number 13 tattooed upon their foreheads. When this rule was rescinded, it remained fashionable for many years, but the custom is now dying out.


These are adepts skilled in patterning the wurdes of Nym. The first artificers were ur-human and they developed their power to its height in the Secondary Epoch of Empire. Asscka are now the greatest artificers, having total control of Nym and the ability to shape themselves. The poorest artificers are barbarian humans, who pattern lacs who lack sentience. They build into them the steps of the dance that informs Trigladius combat in Arena 13.


In Norse mythology, this signifies the Place Where the Gods Dwell. Some inhabitants of Midgard use this name to signify
the place beyond the Barrier.


Great Barrier is the zone of mist, darkness and fear that encircles Midgard, preventing entry or exit. Those who approach too closely either never come back or return insane. The Trader passes through the Barrier unharmed, but he makes the journey by sea.

Chief Marshal

This official is the highest authority within the Wheel, with many assistant marshals to enforce his decisions. The main focus of his attention is Arena 13, where he supervises combat. Although his function in that arena is largely ceremonial, in the case of any dispute his decision is absolute and there can be no appeal.


This is the name given to the underground zone beneath the Wheel where lacs are stored by owners who cannot afford to lease private quarters.


He is the official responsible for the Commonality, the large underground zone below the Wheel. With the help of a small army of assistants, he supervises the storage of lacs, the kitchens, the training areas and the combat zones. Cyro rules his domain with absolute authority and nobody interferes in his activities, some of which are highly illegal.


A djinni is the wurde made flesh. The different types of are more numerous than the visible stars. They range from low singletons, who may hardly be higher than base simulacra, to high djinn known as asscka, who may now generate selves almost beyond counting. Almost all djinn are subordinate in some way – some major, some minor – to the patterns of the ur-humans who first gave their progenitors shape. But of all these, most deadly of all is the djinni who is no longer subservient in any way to the wurdes that shaped him. Originally they were created by the military to serve the Human Empire.


This is the close-down function called when a blade is inserted into the throat-slit of a lac, which becomes temporarily inoperative. For the min combatant, it signals the end of the contest. All that remains is the ritual cut to the arm of the defeated human combatant.


This is a characteristic of Nym which allows a patterner to add new wurdes and features or modify existing ones. The language can be increased by those who have the skill to do so.

False flesh

False flesh is the derogatory term first used by ur-humans to describe the flesh hosts of any djinni born of the shatek and the wurde. When the war between djinn and ur-humans intensified, the former adopted the term in defiance and proved, victory by victory, its superiority in every way to ur-human flesh.


This computer language was created by a programmer called Charles H. Moore. It became the main source from which Nym was eventually developed.

Gambling house

The gambling agents (sometimes known as ‘touts’) accept wagers on behalf of the three large gambling houses which underpin the economy of Midgard. From their profits fees are paid to combatants who fight from the mag position. Only min combatants are allowed to bet upon themselves – but only to win.
Bets offered to Arena 13 gallery spectators are often very complex. Many aficionados attempt to predict the actual time of a victory and use accumulators, where winnings are placed upon the outcome of succeeding contests. Red tickets are sold, and these bets are made on the likelihood of a contestant suffering injury or death.


This is the only city of Midgard, although there are some small towns and hamlets. Gindeen consists largely of wooden buildings, with roads that are just mud tracks. Its main landmarks are the Wheel, the large cube-shaped slaughterhouse, and the citadel of Hob, which casts its shadow over the city.


It is believed that Hob is a rogue djinni who remained within the Barrier when barbarian humans were sealed within it. He preys upon humans, taking their blood and sometimes their minds. He occasionally fights within Arena 13 from the mag position.


Humans are the ur-race of creatures that created the language called Nym, thus constructing the first djinn and preparing the way for those that would supersede them. Outside the wurde, they are termed ur-humans, whereas their fallen and debased descendants are called barbarian humans. These latter are closest in form to the type of singletons known as lacs, though without their strength, speed and coordination. Their strength comes from their ability to cooperate and combine strength for a common purpose. It may also spring from the fear of death, having only one self which can easily be snuffed out in battle.


This is the catalogue of lacs, souls bound within false flesh and wurdes offered by the Trader on his twice-yearly visits to Midgard. The Index exists only within the mind of the Trader and there is no written record of its contents.


This is a substance used to coat the blades of lacs for contests in Arena 13. It is a combined coagulant and an intensifier of pain. Thus the ritual cut suffered by the loser is agonizing. That pain must be faced with courage, as the spectators watching from the gallery judge how the losing combatant conducts himself.

Lottery orbs

These objects are made out of crystal or glass. One is used to select the five winners of the annual blue-ticket draw. These are then given free training to fight in Arena 13. Another smaller orb is used when Hob visits the Wheel 13 to issue a challenge. The min combatants draw straws. The one who selects the shortest must fight Hob. That orb is also used to select the pairing of combatants in the Trainee Tournament.


From Norse mythology, it means the Place Where Men Dwell or the Battlefield of Men. It is the zone allocated to the barbarian humans, the survivors of the fallen empire.


Newt is an analytical wurde-tool used by an artificer to explore a wurde-matrix and, if necessary, penetrate defences set up by the original creator of that system. It is a far more sophisticated than either poke or peek.


These are the ancestor gods of the Genthai, who are believed to live in the sky on a long white cloud.


Nym evolved from a primitive patterning language called FORTH. It is the language that enabled the creation of the first djinn. All djinn are the wurde made flesh.


This is the centre post of the Wheel. Cut from a tree of great girth, it is considered by some to be the very centre of Midgard and the hub of the Wolf Wheel.


The ‘Other’ is the term used by djinn for those not numbered amongst its own selves. Only by protocol can djinn achieve cooperation. Only by combat can they know their position.


This is the title given to the man elected by the gambling houses and financial institutions of Midgard. He oversees all gambling and the issue of tickets for that purpose. He chairs meetings and adjudicates when there is conflict.


This is a basic Nym wurde-tool which is used to read elements of patterns and how they are linked.


This is a basic Nym wurde-tool which is used to insert other wurdes or primitives into a pattern.


Primitives are the building blocks from which a wurde is constructed.

Protector, the

The Protector is the ruler of Midgard. He was placed in that role by the djinn from beyond the Barrier and is answerable to them. His role is to keep order, and for this he has an armed guard of several thousand men who mainly confine themselves to the city of Gindeen and the surrounding area. Some believe that the Protector is the same one who was appointed when the Human Empire fell and the remnants were placed within the Barrier. He has the appearance of a middle-aged man, but there is speculation about his provenance; some believe that he is a djinni.


Protocol is the name for the rituals, both physical and of the wurde, by means of which djinn coexist without constant bloodletting. Protocol, once completed successfully, is known as a handshake.


This is a category to which all high djinn belong. To change the form of a self takes time, ranging from hours to weeks depending upon the degree of change required. Preceding this process, high intakes of food are necessary, the most useful being blood taken directly from living
creatures. The more usual method of shape-shifting is through use of the wurde and the shatek to generate selves for particular tasks.


A self is a sentient component of a djinni; it is a host of false flesh born of a shatek.


The stack is a defensive tri-glad tactic in which the human combatant is sandwiched between two defending lacs which rotate like a wheel according to the dictates of combat. The stack is also the term for a sequence of Nym code to which a patterner might add or subtract. New code is always placed at the summit of a stack.


This is the name given to those who dwell on the fringes of Hob’s citadel and sometimes within it, serving his needs. Some have been grotesquely modified by Hob and are no longer fully human. These have enhanced powers, such as extreme strength and speed, plus the ability to see in the dark and locate the position of their victims using their sense of smell. Some are related to Hob’s victims and serve him hoping for news of their loved ones; some belong to a cult which worships Hob, hoping that one day he will return their wives or children to them in perfect new bodies. Others are spies who scratch out a living by supplying Hob with information or acting as go-betweens in contacts with certain citizens of Gindeen.

It is the behaviour of this last group which resulted in the name tassels, which are fringed knots on the hem of Hob’s cloak. The name was given in mockery because they are a fallen and degraded group, but the idea of knots is appropriate because they are also part of the tangle of conspiracy and counter-conspiracy as the various groups within Midgard struggle to achieve their goals.


The Trader is Midgard’s only source of lacs and new wurdes of Nym to enhance the patterning of lacs.


This is fought within Arena 13, the highest level of combat within the Wheel. Three lacs face a lone lac in a contest where victory results from the spilling of human blood. A human combatant stands behind the three in what is known as the ‘mag’ position; his opponent stands behind the lone lac in the ‘min’ position. They present themselves as targets for their opponent’s lacs. Victory is marked by a ritual cut to the arm of the defeated combatant. Although the intention is not to kill, accidents do happen. In addition, grudge matches are fought which end in the decapitation of the loser.


This is a sound-code used within the Trigladius Arena to communicate with and direct a lac, delivered by taps of the combatants’ boots on the arena floor. Each combatant develops his own version of Ulum and keeps it a secret.


The Wheel is situated in the city of Gindeen, within the Barrier. It is a huge circular building, and within twelve of its combat arenas gladiatorial contests take place between lacs. Arena 13, the highest ranked zone, is where the Trigladius occurs. The combat there involves both lacs and humans.


The wurde is the basic unit within the ancient patterning language called Nym. Wurdes contain other wurdes, and to call one wurde is to call all that is embedded within it, both manifest and hidden.

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Rules of Combat


Rules of Combat


  1. The objective of Arena 13 combat is to cut flesh and spill blood. Human combatants are the targets.
  2. No human combatant may wear armour or protective clothing of any kind. Leather jerkins and shorts are mandatory; flesh must be open to a blade.
  3. An Arena 13 contest is won and concluded when a cut is made to one’s opponent and blood is spilled. This can occur during combat or may be a ritual cut made after a fight is concluded. If it occurs during combat, hostilities must cease immediately to prevent death or serious maiming.
  4. If death should occur, no guilt or blame may be attached to the victor. There shall be no redress in law. Any attempt to punish or hurt the victorious combatant outside the arena is punishable by death.
  5. The right to make a ritual cut is earned by disabling one’s opponent’s lacs or lac.
  6. The defeated combatant must accept this ritual cut to the upper arm. The substance kransin is used to intensify the pain of that cut.
  7. An unseemly cowardly reaction to the ritual cut after combat is punishable by a three-month ban from the arena. Bravery is mandatory.
  8. Simulacra, commonly known as lacs, are used in both attack and defence of the human combatants.
  9. The min combatant fights behind one lac; the mag combatant fights behind three lacs.
  10. For the first five minutes combatants must fight behind their lacs. Then the warning gong sounds and they must change position and fight in front of them, where they are more vulnerable to the blades of their opponent.
  11. A lac is disabled when a blade is inserted in its throatsocket. This calls the wurde endoff; the lac collapses and becomes inert.
  12. Arena 13 combatants may also fight under Special Rules.


1.   Grudge Match Rules

The objective of a grudge match is to kill one’s opponent. All Primary Rules apply, but for the following changes:

  • If blood is spilled during combat, hostilities need not cease; the fight continues
  • After an opponent’s lac or lacs have been disabled, the opponent is slain. The throat may be slit, or the head severed from the neck – the decision belongs to the victor. The death blow is carried out by either the victorious human combatant or his lac
  • Alternatively the victor may grant clemency in return for an apology or an agreed financial penalty.

2.    The Trainee Tournament Rules

The objective of this tournament is to advance the training of first-year trainees by pitting them against their peers in Arena 13. For the protection of the trainees and to mitigate the full rigour of Arena 13 contests, there are two changes to the Primary Rules:

  • The whole contest must be fought behind the lacs
  • Kransin is not used on blades for the ritual cut.

3.    A Challenge from Hob

  • When Hob visits Arena 13 to make a challenge, a min combatant must fight him on behalf of the Wheel
  • All min combatants must assemble in the green room, where that combatant will be chosen by lottery
  • Grudge match rules apply, but for one: there is no clemency
  • The fight is to the death. But alive or dead, the human combatant may be taken away by Hob. Combatants, spectators.


  1. Blades must not be carried into the green room or the changing room.
  2. No Arena 13 combatant may fight with blades outside the arena. An oath must be taken at registration to abide by that rule. Any infringement shall result in a life-time ban from Arena 13 combat.
  3. Spitting in the arena is forbidden.
  4. Cursing and swearing in the arena is forbidden.
  5. Abuse of one’s opponent during combat is forbidden.
  6. In the case of any dispute, the Chief Marshal’s decision is absolute. There can be no appeal.
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Quote 2


Quote 2


The Compendium of Ancient Tales and Ballads