It is Tuesday, and time for a teaser. This week I am going back to my second book in the Domains series, Bloodlust: Will to Power. In this book Gavin finds himself in a dark space, seeking revenge against a Gladiator who is considered to be well above him. He is forced to journey to the Killerès Circle, the heart of the brutal Death Leagues.
The Killer’s Circle surprised Gavin. None of the descriptions or rumours that he had heard about the Domains most notorious house of slaughter captured the essence of the place. The arena was much smaller than the Supplicant’s Arena, seating perhaps a thousand, all in luxurious private boxes. The arena itself was made from blocks of black stone, with tall fluted obsidian columns spaced five paces apart, with bases carved like screaming skulls and capitals carved into the likeness of grinning Gladiators. The fighting grounds were half the size of a standard venue, and cunningly built to maximize the sense of intimacy between watcher and performer. Even the sand seemed a little whiter than traditional, almost as if it had been bleached or perhaps carefully sorted for the purest colour, no doubt to better to show the blood that would be spilled. The entrances were ornately framed and all of the accessories were tasteful, gold, silver, black lace and burgundy velvet. Gavin imagined that it looked very much like the inside of well-appointed mansion.
The ceiling of the arena, however, was a forest of corpses hanging on chains, a grotesque mockery of a butcher’s cold room: the remains of those who had been killed on these fighting grounds. Rabble, Mon-sters, and Gladiators hung there, some whole, many in pieces; a constellation of gore. Gavin had been warned about it, but the sight still filled his throat with bile. If he failed, his body would join that ocean of quivering meat. It was no wonder that Valaran had been so disrespectful to Omodo’s corpse given that this was the league he frequented. Gavin looked away quickly, lest he begin to take in details better left un-examined, wounds and faces. What threw him most was the smell. Despite the forest of decaying corpses thirty feet above his head, not to mention the foul air of the city of Dregs, the Killer’s Circle smelled like crushed roses with a hint of strong, dark coffee and wine. The juxtaposition of savagery and decadence unsettled him; there was no pretence of sport here.