Another teaser from Bloodlust: Red Glory this week, this one about the Gladiatrix, Hummingblade.
So still was she, standing with her sword held in a classic ready stance, that Hummingblade could easily have been mistaken for a statue in the Dropping Brook rock garden. Quicklings were naturally hyperactive, living in an Empire where everyone else seemed laughably slow. Stillness was not a quality that many of them sought. Years of discipline and introspection had gifted Hummingblade with the self-discipline needed for tranquility.
But although her body was outwardly still today, Hummingblade’s mind was not at peace. She had a decision to make. Word had reached the monastic school of the Flawless Blade, where she trained and was considering teaching, that a Chosen had been killed and that a Grand Championship Tournament would be held to replace him.
Hummingblade had fought in the last Grand Championships. She had been defeated by Sadira Lacivia, the Gladiatrix Prima and eventual winner of the tournament.
The memory of her blade lancing through Sadira’s chest, and the surge of pure, savage triumph that had followed was still sharp. That elation had turned to horror when Sadira had simply kept coming, heedless of the blade in her chest, snatching Hummingblade in an iron grip. The law of strength had been harshly applied. She forced herself to think of the brutal, inevitable struggle that had followed, to face the memory of having her bones crushed and of falling into darkness as the crowd roared her opponent’s name.
The arena was an unforgiving place. Hummingblade was at peace at the school, learning and teaching, following the teachings of the Faultless Blade and the Empty Mind Schools. She was, however, also a Gladiatrix and that moment of triumph still called to her.
Then, with shocking alacrity, the massive Berserker dashed forward, both blades raised, cleaving down at Hummingblade. The Quickling reacted by dodging aside but his hook sword caught her armour. She felt herself yanked off her feet, hurtling toward Rabid Edge. The shadow of the cleaver fell over her as she desperately tried to gain control of her momentum. Twisting and swinging her sword, she managed to deflect the massive weapon, which buried itself in the sand beside her head. Rabid
Edge grunted and slammed a boot down into her chest, pinning the tiny Gladiatrix while he hefted his weapon for another blow.
Hummingblade now turned her size to her advantage, aiming a savage kick at the back of Rabid Edge’s knee. She was not strong enough to do much damage to such a beast, but her kick was more than powerful enough to make his knee bend. This foiled his attack and freed her enough to twist out from under his foot, squirming like an eel. Then she shot to her feet, retreating rapidly.
Rabid Edge, however, recovered his balance swiftly, and Hummingblade felt the bite of his hooked blade, slicing into her upper arm and back as she ran. The hook did not catch, however, and she sprang to safety, her feet a blur on the sand.
Rabid Edge did not let up. His style was relentless and he pursued the Quickling with no signs of fatigue or pain, even as she attacked him with mental blasts. Hummingblade felt a spike of despair as her opponent seemed to grow stronger now that she was bleeding; meanwhile she had not really even wounded the berserker in return.
A master swordswoman, Hummingblade is a thoughtful fighter who always faces off against opponents who outclass her in size and strength. She perseveres though clever tactics.
Eventually she ends up with Ravius, a relationship that we will explore further in the Seeds of Ruin.