This week’s teaser is from Bloodlust: Red Glory, the fourth book in my Domains of the Chosen series. Red Glory takes the action back to the arena, with the whole book covering a single Grand Championship tournament from multiple perspectives.
Sapphire Kiss is one of the Gladiators who fights in the tournament. Because of the way that she has struggled to keep in the limelight, few take her seriously. Her internal conflict is shame at hurting her reputation as a serious fighter to make it to the tournament and a determination to show everyone that she is not just here as a curiosity to titillate the crowds.
She has a really cool weapon.
And yet her desire for glory did not dim. Desperate, Sapphire Kiss ingratiated herself with the powerful and influential, hoping to find a path back to prominence. She became a fixture at the parties thrown by the Blues and other influential patrons of the Arenas. There she had attracted the attention of Chosen Silvius himself. She had thought him handsome then, and fooled herself into believing that it was she who was seducing him. After they became lovers, she had been more than pleased when he asked her to become one of the founding fighters of his Skyclad League. She promoted the League, joined in the legendary revels, created an arena persona that was far more flashy than fearsome; All to stay relevant, to keep people interested in her. All to stay in the game.
Sapphire Kiss was not ashamed of the nudity. In her view, sex had always been deeply intertwined with The Great Games. If two fighters were equal in skill and story the crowd would always favour the better looking. The problem with the Skyclad League was that sex and titillation were the real focus, eclipsing all else. Her skill as a fighter was a barely a consideration. It was masturbatory, in every sense.
Even the matches themselves had a lascivious quality to them. And lately, some of the newer fighters joining the League were being put up against beasts that seemed more interested in rape than battle. It was only a matter of time before Sapphire Kiss ended up facing some sort of tentacled horror with the crowd jeering as it tried to probe her. And yet she was never able to bring herself to quit, especially since she was the most popular Gladiatrix in this new League. Anything to stay relevant, to claim her chance at the big prize.
Perhaps she should have joined a troupe of fighters for the Green or Orange Factions and worked her way back into the crowd’s graces that way. It would have been more pure, but far less certain.
Sapphire Kiss wondered if Crimson Rod had the same sort of mental crisis. She doubted it. The men in the Skyclad League rarely seemed to care. Then again most men admired and looked up to promiscuous males, while Sapphire Kiss was routinely denounced as a slut by both men and women.
And yet she had remained in the Skyclad League, and even excelled within it. She had always wanted to fight in the Grand Championships and now she had the chance. Why then, had the arrival of the letter announcing her selection, accompanied by a handwritten note from Chosen Silvius, inviting her to attend a “banquet” in her honour, filled her with sadness. Was she that ill at ease with what he had become?
“I suppose we can add self-pity to my list of flaws,” she muttered, then shook her head.
The trumpets sounded. It was time for her to fight. She looked in the mirror one last time. She had to admit that she looked alluring. How could any man resist that ass? Her armour consisted of a series of leather straps on her arms and legs, set with metal plates that she could use to parry attacks. Light armoured fighters had to rely on avoiding attacks. A wider, thicker plate protected her waist and further emphasized her hips. Shoulder plates and a thick iron collar with a large ring at the throat rounded out the look. No doubt many of her fans dreamt of attaching a chain to that ring.
The dark leather and black metal contrasted nicely with her tanned skin. Solvanar had superb beaches and far more sun than Krass.
Satisfied, Sapphire Kiss squared her shoulders resolutely, ready to face the crowd, to make them hers. A small smile formed on her gemlike lips as she left the mirror and sauntered into the arena.
The crowd roared and jeered lewdly as they saw her.
Chosen Silvius himself stood at the announcer’s podium. He smiled down at her. As she gave her salute, she noted that the monster, which should already be in the arena, was absent.
“Welcome my lovely,” said the Chosen. “You all know Sapphire Kiss, the jewel of our beloved League.”
The crowd responded with cheers and lewd propositions.
“Tonight, in honour of what might be her last fight in front of us, she will be pitted against one of my favourite beasts,” said the Chosen. “A deadly creature that we have come to love in the Skyclad League: the Priaptian Squid.”
The arena shifted and a hunched form rose out of the sands. Its skin glittered obscenely in the twilight. Sapphire Kiss rolled her eyes as twelve phallic tentacles rose from the bulk.
“Have fun, you two!” said Silvius. At that moment Sapphire Kiss hated him with burning passion.
The trumpets sounded.
“This is what we do!” snarled Sapphire Kiss, whirling her weapon, channelling power.
The priaptian squid is exactly what it sounds like. Chosen Silvius is a massive bastard.
Sapphire’s story is a little different than that of the other Gladiators. I wanted to examine the lengths that people will go to after losing in life. If you get past the Skyclad bit, which is obviously pervy, she is really admirable, pushing forward despite all odds, trying to capture that dream…