Teaser Tuesday

This week’s teaser is from my upcoming work, Bloodlust: The Sum of Hate (Domains of the Chosen #7).

The book centers around a duel between Chosen Sadira, one of the series most popular characters, and Chosen Silvius, an enjoyably scummy villain who takes on a new light in the Trump era.

This teaser focuses on an event that stretches all the way back to book #3, Bloodlust: The Shield Maiden, involving accusations against former Senior Centurion Hephus, who took field command of the Eighth Cohort of the Ninth Legion at the battle of Fort Nerus. Hephus is a Gifted (a magic-user) and the Gifted are not allowed to command in the Legions, by ancient tradition. The good guys argue that an exception had to be made for conditions in the field, while others argue that the Law is the Law.

Hephus’s focus snapped back to the inquiry as Assemblyman Skavetz called a witness.
“Legionnaire Septimus Bron, please take to the podium of truth.”

Maximus Skavetz cut an impressive figure in his formal toga. He was tall, square-jawed and straight-backed, with dark curly hair and piercing eyes. His voice, however, was what set him apart; a rich, a commanding bass that could thunder in judgement or offer deepest sympathy.

Hephus recognized Septimus Bron. The Legionnaire looked nervous and uncomfortable before the assembly as he moved forward and took his seat behind a heavy marble table facing the assembly. He had a noticeable limp and one side of his face was viciously scarred.

“Legionnaire Bron, do you know this man?” Skavetz pointed toward Hephus without looking at him.

“I do, sir, that is Senior Centurion Hephus of the Eighth Cohort,” said Bron, looking at Hephus. “He’s a good–”

“Please refrain from offering your opinion unasked, Legionnaire,” interrupted Skavetz.

There was some muttering among the assembly at his title. In the Legion, the Gifted were not supposed to command the Legionnaires. It was a fear founded in The Reckoning, the disaster cause by those who commanded the forces of magic, nearly destroying the world. The Legions were now see as a counter-balance to the power of The Chosen and The Gifted, answering to their own command structure and the people of Krass.

“Legionnaire Bron, firstly I would like to acknowledge your bravery and your service to The Empire. You have suffered greatly to bring us victory. We have brought you here to clarify some questions about the battle of Fort Nerus and the role played by one Hephus Krassius. I will be asking you questions which you should answer to the best of your ability. Please refrain from conjecture or colour commentary; this inquiry is purely factual. Do you understand, Legionnaire?”

“Yes sir,” said Septimus Bron.

“Very well, my first question concerns the promotion of Hephus Krassius to Senior Centurion. Septimus Bron, were you aware of any other surviving Centurions in the Eighth Cohort?”

“Yes, but…”

“Please keep to the questions Legionnaire Bron,” said Maximus Skavetz in a patronizing tone. “Were any of these other Centurions Gifted?”

“No, sir.”

“Interesting. What position did Hephus occupy before his ascension?”

“He was in charge of munitions and forging, sir.”

“Is that a command position, Legionnaire?”

“No sir.”

<>

The Shadow Wolf Sagas: The Whores’s War 3.26

Hello! this is my weekly serial, written raw as a writing exercise.

You can find the first post in the series here.

Last week’s post is here.

<>

“Are you certain you want to face Ulfgorr in one on one combat Ragnar?” asked Vethri, looking me in the eye. “I know that it is the honourable thing to do, but from what you have told us about him, it seems like it will be tough to win.”

“That is putting it diplomatically. Ulfgorr will likely paint the challenge ring with my blood.”

“Then why do it?” asked Carmen.

“Its a Nordan thing,” responded Eiskra. “The nobles are big on honour and single combat, even the women.”

“Without honour I will never be free to return to Nordan lands.”

“It seems like a foolish thing to throw away your life for, Ragnar,” said Carmen. “I know you love your homeland, but even without it, you still have a good thing going here. I envy you.”

“Do you really Carmen?”

I was a little wroth, but she did not seem to care. “Do you think that I would have fallen prey to someone like Sildus if I had friends like yours, Ragnar? The Nightblades recruit ‘most of us from pickpocket gangs and the like in the run down parts of the city. I don’t ‘have very many good memories of my youth; just little victories like getting enough to eat or finding a warm place to sleep when it got cold. I used to think that I was special, just to have escaped that, but now I know better. You have so much more than I do in that regard.”

I nodded. “What you say is true: I have always been fortunate to find myself in good company. But I cannot shirk this fight. Ulfgorr will not stop until one of us is dead. Fighting him in the challenge ring ensures a fair fight, and a chance to regain my honour. I cannot pass it up.”

“Fine,” said Carmen. “What are the rules of this fight? how can we help you win?”

The rules are simple. We both enter the challenge ring. We fight until one of us is dead. No one outside the challenge ring can help.”

“Can I poison your weapons?”

“That would be dishonourable.”

“Can we spend a small fortune on an enchanted blade?” asked Vethri.

“We could, If we had time. It is not exactly sporting, but then again Ulfgorr is a wolf-changing berserk. Sadly, there are no smiths that I know if in this town who could produce a better blade than I have now in the time before the fight.”

“I’ll see if I can get Git to make something useful for you with that fire concoction of his,” said Murith. “It seemed to work well on Ulfgorr the first time.”

“It would have to be thrown though; I don’t want to warp my blade.”

Carmen laughed. Cackled more like. Everyone looked at her.

“This has given me an idea that might help you out Ragnar. I have to return to the tower…”

“Are you going to give voice to this though of yours?”

“Nope. Nightblades prefer surprises. Don’t worry, I won’t hurt your honour, Ragnar.”

And she slipped out of the carriage and melted into the crowd.

“This should be interesting,” said Murith.

<>

.

Sunday Teaser

Tis late and here is a teaser for my friends, from the first draft of my next Domains book.

With a reputation as a defensive fighter, the crowd did not expect Green Glory to be truly competitive with an offensive virtuoso like King Blade. They cheered as she adopted her risky strategy, trampling her way to the depths of the horde.

Scores of stitched surged into the fighting grounds, trying to overwhelm the Gladiators. They battered Green Glory mercilessly leaving deep gashes in her hide. She shook them off like a seabird drying herself, and kept pushing into them, stomping everyone she overpowered into the sands. Such was her fervour that she threatened to overtake King Blade’s impressive score.

King Blade swung his sword tirelessly. Such was the dance of his blade that none of the stitched got within arm’s reach. The crowd cheered his skill, but he could tell that they were swayed by Green Glory, who put herself in harm’s way in order to seek victory. Thus, the big charger redoubled his effort, paying less mind to his own safety as he cut down stitched after stitched.

Not all of the stitched wore furs and leather, and when Green Glory cut down one of the zombies that was wearing and iron breastplate, she saw her score jump by several points, briefly overtaking King Blade’s. As soon as this registered she started looking for metal-clad stitched and pushed her way toward the closest one. A mace handed stitched smashed her side as she pushed, but she sent it sprawling with a flick of her horn and then brought her axe down onto the armoured figure, cleaving through the helm and spilling its pickled brain.

Sunday Night Teaser

A little teaser from my WIP:

Tugging on his mustache to hide the expression of pride on his face, Hephus watched as Bastion performed a second kata for a crowded room full of Iron Faction.

“He is impressive,” said Publius, standing beside him. “A metal Legionnaire.”

“Aye,” said Hephus. “The men accept him as one of their own. I theorize that shared hardships increase the rate at which bonding between occurs between sentient automatons as it does between the rest of the Legionnaires.”

“Interesting,” said Publius. “Is Bastion as attached to his flesh and blood comrades as they are to him, then?”

“Yes,” said Hephus. “He will not execute orders that will harm his fellows.”

“What criteria do you use when making that judgement? Is it an absolute or do you follow some kind of utilitarian guideline?”

“It is organic, learned behaviour,” said Hephus. “He learns from watching the Legionnaires and analyzing their actions as you have seen, but he also learns their morals and virtues like a flesh and blood child would. Occasionally he has questions, which I help him with, but it is not a programmed response.”

“Some might say that you are simply relying on second-hand programming, then. If much of our behaviour is determined by heredity and instinct, and he learns from us, then isn’t he inheriting our programming?”

Sunday Teaser

I am going to skip the politics tonight. It seems that everyone is aware of what is going on, one way or another 🙂 Instead, here is a bit from my work in progress, which still lacks a working title…

In this scene we have Gavin speaking in favour of a political proposal by one of his peers, a peace mission to The Pale.

Gavin swept the room with his gaze, continuing.

“The Pale are much like us. They have loyalties, they can be reasoned with, and I can tell you with certainty that decades of bloody warfare in The Trials have worn them down as well. We have much to gain from finding peace with them beyond a secure. Goods from the lands beyond The Trials will flow into The Empire once more and our people will gain access to new markets for their wares in return. We will gain safe passage to the lands beyond The Trials, something denied to us by the pirates on Sudra’s Horn. The Domains will expand, gain new knowledge, and grow in power and prestige.”

While he could see that his words had much approval, Gavin could also see some of his peers muttering or frowning in disapproval. It was not hard to guess why; many of them hated the idea of outsiders immigrating to The Empire.

“To those of you who fear contamination of our culture outside influences, I have but one thing to say: history has proven time and time again that walls are the end of Empires. We must meet go forth and meet new friends and new enemies on our own terms. Our ancestors, and some of you in this room sought shelter during the harsh days of The Reckoning. At the time this was wise decision for the storms of The Reckoning were beyond even the strongest of The Gifted. The great walls of Krass kept us safe. And yet, when the storms passed did we remain here, content in our shelter? No, we did not. The Legions, the Chosen, and the pioneers of The Domains marched out to meet the world. Sometimes we conquered, but when faced with a difficult enemy, sometimes we sought peace. Are The Pale any more alien to our ways than The Trolls who now share our Empire? I say that they are not.”

Some nodded approvingly, while others made sour faces.

Sunday Night Teaser

Watched the latest episode of Sherlock tonight, so instead of a dissertation on some topic, I will leave you with a teaser from my upcoming book.

Still, Shagra was a master ranked Gladiatrix and a Grand Champion, and Chloe had to admire that the woman still fought here, risking death instead of retiring to a comfortable life as a trainer or joining the Masters League in the Capital. Shagra was set for life, as easy as a Gladiatrix could have it, and yet she continued to perfect her craft on what was the harshest fighting grounds in the Domains.

Chloe allowed a moment for the members to admire Shagra. The Gladiatrix remained motionless, stoic really, showing no sign of emotion other than a sense of predatory readiness.

When she judged the time was right, Chloe stepped forward.

“Members, for your pleasure, this Gladiatrix will face a beast that has killed a dozen Gladiators in the Supplicants Arena, a notorious beast that was once a murderous criminal, I give you Vespus the Living Hive!”

Vespus rose into the arena unchained. The beast knew the rituals of the arena well enough to sit still. It was large, easily twice Shagra’s height. Its mottled flesh was green, brown, and yellow all pooling into each other. It moved like a great gorilla, with massive forelimbs and shorter legs, but was hairless and with a wide mouth full of hooked teeth.

Of course Vespus the Living Hive’s most impressive feature was on its back, where a huge hump of tissue spread out like a howdah, punctured by innumerable finger sized holes. That hump was home to a unique species of wasp that Vespus controlled. In the beasts previous fights the Gladiators that it fought were either swarmed by wasps or were so busy destroying them that they lost track of the beast and were pummelled to death by its crushing fists.

Chloe hoped that Shagra had it in her to overcome the beast, but Vespus was one of the best monsters that they’d had in the Killer’s Circle in ages. It was best not to become attached to a Gladiatrix in the Death Leagues.

The trumpets sounded.

Shagra stood her ground, casting a series of spells to enhance her physical prowess. Vespus growled and thumped its chest. A hum came from the arena then, one that Chloe could feel to her very bones, and then finger sized insects began to shoot forth from the hive.

Some familiar faces there… but in what context is the question 😉