The Man Beneath the Stands
From the darkened corridor beneath the stands, he watched them as each entered the arena. He knew them all and he knew the secret that each held hidden deep in their heart. They were frauds, puppets, fictions, every one of them. This display was mere theatrics.
There had been a time when they had been the heroes that they claimed to be, but those days were long gone. These greats had reveled in their fame, but each one of them had been brought low by gluttony or sloth or lust or pride. The outward shell was untarnished but the core had rotted away.
The outsiders from the elsewhen must have used that defect to seize control. He could see the strings, the thin silver cords invisible to everyone but those with the eyes to see. It was puppetmasters that would compete, not these pithed nobles arrayed on the green.
He was uncertain how these enchantments might be dismantled, but he would work it out. He turned to leave the stands, and noticed in horror the silver cords connected to himself.