This week’s teaser hails from Bloodlust: Red Glory (Domains of the Chosen #4)
Sapphire Kiss is one of my favourite characters, although tough to write. The think I like most about her is her weapon, the flying headcatcher, a kind of chain weapon with a healthy dose of nunchucks (no, nonchucks, straight from 80s kids cartoons) and scythe blades. Basically it is the 80s love of ninjas in weapons form. It is a fun weapon to incorporate into arena scenes, dynamic and weird.
As a Gladiatrix Sapphire Kiss does not fit in with the other Grand Champions. After a rough early career, partly due to the difficulty of mastering the flying headcatcher, she turns to the Skyclad League, where the fighters wear ‘armour’ that leaves nothing to the imagination to regain her popularity. This league is frowned upon by other fighters, even though the Great Games are not exactly tame when it comes to objectification and crass sex appeal. Worse yet, the Chosen who runs this League, Silvius, seduces her and turns out to be a rather rotten relationship choice, abusive and manipulative, despite his ability to advance her standings.
Yet despite going through this and suffering through several epic humiliations in Red Glory, Sapphire Kiss manages to keep her head held high.
“Is our wager still on?” asked Sapphire Kiss, smiling at her opponent.
“I am going to mangle you so badly that even the Keystone won’t be able to save you,” sneered Lord Peerless. “I will expose you as the fraud that you are. The sands will glut themselves on your blood this day!”
“So you still think that you can tap me out in less than a minute?” said Sapphire Kiss, letting the audience hear the terms of their wager. “And if I last longer than that lady Flamina will dance Dockside?”
“You won’t,” said Lord Peerless. “You’re just a loser from the Skin Leagues, a curiosity marched out to excite the crowds. You have no business standing against me on the fighting grounds.”
“Prove it,” said Sapphire Kiss. “And remember, you’ve only got one minute, honoured Gladiator.”
Without another word Lord Peerless came at her like a falling mountain, an irresistible wall of flesh and steel, sword held high in a classic striking stance. As he moved he wove a spell, surrounding himself with an aura of flesh numbing cold. As Sapphire Kiss’s armour began to frost Lord Peerless swung, his greatsword tracing a swift, brutal arc. Sapphire Kiss was forced to dodge, and Lord Peerless anticipated this, dropping into a masterful lunge from his backswing.
To avoid getting skewered, Sapphire Kiss twisted away, tossing the blade of her flying headcatcher at her opponent’s face. Lord Peerless snarled and batted the projectile to the side, trying in vain to sever the flexible chain.
“Forty Five seconds left,” said Sapphire Kiss, grinning like a madwoman. She was in the arena now, baiting a giant, and all her cares had evaporated. She wove spells of regeneration and heart of the beast, enhancing her prowess.
Lord Peerless, who possessing quickness that seemed unfair for such a large man, lunged again. The cold around him intensified, and Sapphire Kiss’s skin began to burn. Sidestepping his attack, she found herself backpedaling to avoid a flashing follow up stroke. The third blow she deflected with the flying headcatcher. Such was his strength that it nearly drove the weapon from her hand.
Sensing weakness, Lord Peerless raised his sword for a quick slash aimed at Sapphire Kiss’s throat. This time she was swift enough to duck, but had to roll back over her shoulder to avoid the follow up attack. He was so swift and sure in his movements that the third stroke sliced into her forearm.
Ducking under another hard swing of the greatsword, Sapphire Kiss tossed her Flying headcatcher at one of his legs. The giant Gladiator stumbled as the chain pulled at his ankle.
“Thirty seconds!” shouted Sapphire Kiss.
Burning with rage, Lord Peerless stormed toward his enemy, his shining blade carving a bright arc as he tried to disembowel her. Sapphire Kiss shifted out of the way, countering with a toss of the flying headcatcher that sent it spinning like a saw. Lord Peerless swatted it away with a gauntlet, lunging at her, one-handed, with his greatsword. The blade nicked Sapphire Kiss’s side, drawing blood as she twisted away.
Seeing that his aura of cold was not working, the Gladiator Prime opted to weave a more direct attack. Channelling an enormous amount of power, he invoked a sudden twister that picked up the sands, causing them to fly through the air like tiny knives. The twister hit Sapphire Kiss with the force of a raging bull, tossing her through the air while the sand bit into her skin. As the twister dissipated, she fell to the ground, barely rolling to her feet as Lord Peerless charged.