...The light reflected off its pale green surface, glinting off what seemed to be veins coursing through the stone. A curious ring, just lying there as if asking to be found…
The grinding of gears in the dead of night is a precursor of an unforgiving danger. Survivors remember little, save the smell of metal and death.
A quick flash of steel was all that was seen in the moonlight…
With but a word, the small mantis made of fine copper wire came to life; growing at an alarming rate, ready to defend its owner…
A loud crack broke the silence of the night. A piercing howl of pure agony followed, but was cut short after a moment by a low gurgle and a thump. Cedir smiled coyly, just another victim of the Tongue of Demons
...The ring slid onto her finger as if it were lovingly crafted just for her. Its diamond seemed to take in the sunlight, amplify and reflect it in every direction. Then almost immediately, the light waned and the stone went dark. Her throat clutched in a constricting gurgle before she slumped to the ground, still and lifeless.
In a city where the justice system features judicial dueling, plaintiffs and defendants are permitted to request a champion to take their place in the duel: Someone chosen by lot from among the foreigners in the city. When anyone first arrives, they are given an enchanted ceramic pendant that marks them as a candidate for "court duty".
Wealthy folk entering the city are often escorted by burly guards, paid to carry pendants on their behalf: They elude court duty in that way.
Adventurers may seek work as a rich man's proxy or may find themselves magically summoned to serve as a champion.