The Arena. A place where gamblers come to play with their money and gladiators come to play with their lives. Early on in my Oblivion career, just after getting out of the sewers in fact, my Argonian was a stupidly low level. I must have picked all the wrong star signs and other things. I looked at my map and saw I was just outside the Imperial City. The capitol of Cyrodiil, the capitol of the nexus of creation (according to some book I read in Oblivion). It was the pinnacle of achievement, with the standing in triumph above the city. I wondered the market place, with just a few gems, some gold, a rusty sword and the clothes on my back. I took a risk and sold everything to buy a higher quality sword and a shield. My argonian was down to his handy loin cloth to protect him if any attacks got past the shield. Once again, I looked at the map... 'Temple District' No. 'Market District' I'm in it. '' No. 'Arcane university' Nope. 'The Arena'... I was instantly intrigued by it, and thought my Argonian needed a bit of beefing up in terms of combat skills. I fast traveled and found myself just outside the entrance to the arena. A Bosmer stood next to a chest (full of gold as I found out later), I spoke to him. He asked if I wanted to bet on a match and I said no.
I then turned left, towards a door that lead into the 'Bloodworks'. An area where blood often seeped through the large grate in the combat area down onto the walls. I walked down and saw a Blue Dunmer combatant firing arrows in a hay bale and a slightly pale orc, wearing an impressive look Raiment, was slashing a sheet of metal. I went into a room with three more NPCs. A 'Battle Matron' known as Ysabel, a yellow team champion and Owyn, a Redguard 'Blademaster'. I spoke to Owyn and saw the option to join the arena. I joined and skipped some un-important dialogue, mostly him telling my Argonian the rules and whatnot. I then went down and selected 'Rumor' with him promptly saying 'I heard you're an idiot, any truth to that?', which still makes me smile to this day and I hope a piece of dialogue like that makes it into Skyrim... After being told I was an idiot, I decided to test my might in a fight to the death.
The fights themselves weren't much of a challenge, at least the early ones weren't. They mainly just involved me hitting the opponent once, stepping back and avoiding their power attack (that left them very vulnerable), and attacking again. Rinse and repeat and they'd fall fairly quickly. It wasn't until Owyn started giving me advice (I think after like the first 13 fights) it started to get a little challenging. It wasn't so much the fact opponents did some decent damage (I lost a few Heavy Raiments because of the damage I was taking) but the fact they always blocked (except for the mages and archers). Whenever I blocked, they used a power attack that would make me stagger and they would be fine, but whenever they blocked and I did a power attack, I would stagger and they would be fine... But eventually I would prevail, since in between some of the fights I would go out and explore, get bored, and then explore while jumping about while swimming. This made me so much faster and jump so much further, my 'Heal Minor Wounds' was actually good for combat. At least in an arena it was...
Eventually I became the Champion of the Arena, and only one challenge remained. Agronak gro-Malog (correct?), the Gray Prince. After speaking to Agronak a bit, he told me he was only half orc, he had a superior amount of mettle and strength compared to his opponents. What I wanted to know was: what's the other half? 'Cos it sure ain't human. After speaking to him, and paying him a couple hundred to be my friend, he gave me a quest to find out his true origins. He was apparently born to a Noble of Crowhaven (anyone reminded of Ravenholm by this?), his father was the Noble and his mother was a lowly servant of said Noble. A few dialogue sentences later, I was on my way to Crowhaven with a key Agronak gave me. A crawl through a dungeon filled with skeletons, some rats, a group of vampires and Lord Lovidicus. The Gray Prince's father. I grabbed Lovidicus' journal from... somewhere and returned to Agronak.
When I returned with the journal, Agronak was not pleased. He realised he was part vampire, and then started to feel sorry for himself. I went off, unmoved by what had happened (what was there to be moved by?), with my small fortune of 3000 gold and bought a glass hammer and a chocolate teapot. I bought some better armour (better than the Heavy raiment, which is surprisingly good for the early part of the game) and I was ready to become the Grand Champion. I spoke to Owyn one final time, and then proceeded to challenge Agronak. I challenged a deeply depressed orc to battle, he still had his honour. When the battle started I could hear Agronak asking me to kill him because he was the 'spawn of a filthy evil'. He used some crazy vampire teleporting powers, but didn't survive the two swings from a glass hammer.
With my enemy dead, I looted what I wanted. I knew that the title of Grand Champion would precede me and that the skills I had gained would help me later on in the game. It was early on in the game and I was ready to take on Kvatch's arena... oh wait.