The war began in late 548 BC when Senzesuole, a slave gladiator of worthy renown, was defeated in combat by Setho of Dornum in 549 BC, who would later become his right-hand man. Because Setho was the only man who had ever defeated Senzesuole, and to that end, the only man who had ever spared him, Setho had lost his left eye and two fingers on his left hand as punishment. He was then imprisoned and left to die while Drakonia prepared to march into the Leyse Woodlands and secure the area, which had not been done since the War of Woods had been won in 564 BC. Feeling an opportune time to strike, a slave uprising, much smaller than what the Gladiator War would become, began in the autumn of 548 BC. It was not even worth mentioning other than in a few obscure records and accounts, and was swiftly put down, but word traveled, and Senzesuole heard of it. Escaping in the night using only a rusty nail as a lockpick to undo his chains and harness, Senzesuole escaped into the forests near where he was detained in Drakonia proper, and made his way to Merythaia, where he would find Setho and free him. Once he did that, the slave revolt gathered again until it was innumerable, with nearly the entire slave force that worked in Drakonia turned against its government; nearly all 30 million of them.
Alas, the war, despite being a victory, resulted in the loss of all but a few loyal to the slave cause. They were freed, but only 100,000 out of the booming 15% of the Drakonian population they had made up before.