[Missed my Sunday Post, apologies to anyone who was looking — I was deeply embroiled in writing the Bloodlust: Seeds of Ruin and actually forgot…]
This week’s teaser comes from my first book, Bloodlust: A Gladiator’s Tale and serves as a reminder of one of the characters that figure prominently in the new book.
“I am called Lina, mistress.” The little woman’s eyes flicked up, meeting Sadira’s for the barest instant before darting again to the floor, demure and submissive.
“You need not call me mistress, Lina,” said Sadira. “My name is Sadira, and I am always happy to hear it spoken by a friend. Why don’t you take your things inside and make yourself comfortable while I talk with Gavin.” The woman shot Gavin a look of alarm, but obeyed swiftly.
“Well after what I’ve heard about Volcanus, I agree that we can’t send her back,” she said to Gavin after she was sure Lina was out of earshot; her voice was quiet but full of iron resolve. “We can make space for her. She can earn her freedom with us away from Moltar’s cruel Domain.”
“I won’t argue; we can make it work,” he put his arm around Sadira’s shoulders and kissed her on the forehead. “In fact, even though she was given to you by a man I despise, a man who is trying to steal you away from me, I think it’s the right decision. I approve of your compassion, my love.”
Sadira laughed gently. “Just don’t tell any of my opponents I’ve gone soft. Let’s go talk to our new friend.”
The cage was already uncovered, perched artfully on a table as they entered. The peacock phoenix, a glory of sparkling sapphire blue, shimmering molten gold and radiant emerald green, regarded them with expressive eyes. Its feathers seemed to sparkle and glow as if from an inner fire, bathing the room in a rainbow of warm colours. They both stopped for a moment, enraptured by the dazzling bird. Lina was kneeling in front of the door, waiting for them, like a dog for its master. Sadira regarded her and motioned for her to stand.
“Lina, you are no longer in Volcanus.” Sadira’s voice was quiet but firm. “I am not sure how the laws of that Domain function, but here Vassals may choose their service. The Deliberative safeguards your rights…” She stopped, confused, as she saw tears forming in the young woman’s eyes; the girl was trembling with fear.
“What’s wrong?” Gavin asked.
“My family still lives in Volcanus sir. If I do not please the mistress…”
Gavin and Sadira exchanged glances. This is why I want to become a Chosen, thought Sadira; I want to end such treatment. Gavin’s sentiment echoed hers but was tempered by the desire to end the grim prejudice against the Gifted that had forced this young woman into Vassal-ship.
When first introduced Lina is in her period of servitude as a Vassal, one of the Gifted who has decided to undergo sundering from the more destructive aspects of their magic. She is coerced by her former master, Valaran diVolcanus, to serve Sadira as a token of his affection in an attempt to win her away from Gavin (yes, its that creepy…)
Throughout the series Lina grows from a timid servant to a free woman who commands the household of a Chosen. Although not as flashy as many of the characters in the books, I am quite happy with her arc.