This week’s teaser is from Bloodlust: The Great Games, a short story from my Domains of the Chosen series. The story follows a father taking his young daughter to watch a match and highlights the structure of a night’s entertainment at the arena. It introduces characters that appear later in the main series, including Melia, a woman who hates the games. I also delve into sport chants for the first time, which is fun.
“FIRST ROUND,” Quintus diKrass thundered. The trumpets sounded again and Rose felt herself holding her breath as the monsters entrance opened and four beastmen spilled out from the shadows, snarls sounding from foaming mouths.
Darius noted the scales and the mix of snake-like and crocodile-like features. Beastmen were one of the unfortunate leftovers from the wars that led to the Reckoning, a foul joining of man and beast, driven to crazed bloodlust by wild magic. They were a staple of the arena.
The reptilian Beastmen towered over Fiona, making the powerful Gladiatrix look like a mere slip of a girl. They rushed her, growling and snarling, foamy spittle flying from their jagged maws. The crowd tensed in anticipation.
For her part Fiona channelled power, readying her magic for a spell if she needed it. Beastmen were hardly a challenge for her.
The first, slim and serpentine, reached Fiona, darting forward to snap at her with a surprisingly long neck. Calmly, the Gladiatrix stepped aside. She caught the light glinting off its scales. Its jaws snapped past her as she brought her axe down on the long neck.
“YES!” shouted Darius as Fiona was awarded the extra points for a decapitation.
Roses eyes widened as the beast’s head fell to the ground, a great gout of blood spilling on the white sand as the body tumbled to a halt. She looked over at her father and saw the joy on his face as the crowd roared all around them. The score ticked up to two, a spectacular kill. She turned back to the match, smiling.
Meanwhile Fiona had moved away from the remaining beastmen. In truth, she did not want to kill them too fast; she wanted to entertain the crowd and warm up for the coming rounds. She dodged slashing claws and gnashing teeth with practised ease, barely breaking a sweat in spite of her heavy weapons and thick armour.
After a minute of this the Gladiatrix lured the largest of the Beastmen, a thick-scaled crocodilean fiend, towards her. Its massive jaws snapped shut above her as she ducked and shifted to the side, her sickle raking across the beast’s belly. Thick scales were no match for the true-steel alloyed edge. A mess of entrails spilled from the beast as she danced away.