This week I’m headed back to the one that started it all, Bloodlust: A Gladiator’s Tale
This scene takes place in Scorpion’s Oasis, a luxurious desert spa town where the Blue Faction has dominated the standings for over a decade. Sadira, ever seeking greater challenges, decides to see if she can tilt the balance in favour of the Red Faction, and thus win even greater acclaim. Gavin and the others follow.
In the scene the Gladiators are fighting mechanical serpents that can burrow through the white sands of the fighting ground and spring suddenly from ambush. Two teams of Gladiators are competing to kill these beasts, with the team that gets the most kills winning the match (how barbaric!). Faction contests are notoriously complex however, so Gladiators gain more point for spectacular kills and lose points if they are knocked over or eliminated. However, the opposing team is disqualified if they score a kill on a Gladiator of the opposing faction. This creates and interesting dynamic where the fighters are jostling for position, but not seriously attacking each other, while trying to hunt down and avoid deadly monsters,
Sadira sensed motion beneath her. She held still, channelling power into a spell-weave that sent a pure, powerful surge of adrenaline coursing through her body. Gavin, his eyes finding her, channelled power into a spell of his own, enchanting her further. The two magics mingled, life entwined with thought; Sadira felt immense strength and vitality coursing through her limbs combined with the stillness of perfect focus. The world slowed around her. She waited as the sand stirred.
The metal serpent seemed to leap at Sadira in slow motion. Its gleaming coils began to close around her, almost too fast for the audience to follow, yet barely moving from her perspective. Calm suffused the Gladiatrix. When she moved it was an explosion of bladed fury to those who watched, but to Sadira the motions were simple and unhurried. She whirled, feet moving in the most intricate of dances, through three perfect steps, as the clockwork serpent coiled inwards. Her deadly twin obsidian blades cut elegant flowing arcs on both sides of her as she completed each step. Each cut was flawless, done so quickly and perfectly that to the audience her blades appeared to make all six cuts in a single motion, like a steel flower opening at the sun’s touch: a six-bladed blossom.
As the serpent fell into a half dozen pieces, oil pouring like black blood onto the sand, Sadira stopped, absolutely still and poised, the powerful magics coursing through her forming a brief pyrotechnic halo. The world seemed strangely out of focus for her as the effects of thep otent enchantments wore off. She breathed deeply, adjusting to the normal flow of reality again. She could still feel the afterglow of her magic mingling with of Gavin’s, leaving her breathless. She felt somehow, profoundly different, as if she had crossed some great unseen threshold.
Wonder suffused the arena; for a heartbeat no one spoke, and no one moved. The crowd could sense that they had witnessed greatness and the scene was now etched into the mind of everyone watching: that steel edged flower opening to reveal the Gladiatrix within. They knew now, all of them that they were in the presence of one who would be Chosen. Sound built slowly, dammed in by awe, and when it came the roar of the crowd was as if each man and woman was a lion. They forgot themselves, caught up in the moment, shouting their praise, reveling in the transcendent.
This scene speaks for itself in my mind. It is the first proof that when Gavin and Sadira work together, they are capable of great things.