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.

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“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.

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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 😉

Teaser

It is late, late Sunday night, and I am a little too tired to push out a full post, so instead I will share a little bit from my newest Bloodlust title, which should be out at the usual time this summer. Not sure on the title yet.

Obviously this is raw, unedited, and needs a lot of shaping.

Towering over Chosen Silvius, The Gorehound seemed out of place on the perfectly coifed fighting grounds in Silvius’s palace. He was too large, too square, and far too ugly for an arena usually reserved for the Chosen’s personal amusements.

The Gorehound peered at him with eyes mostly hidden under a thick brow, a dog-faced mask hiding his nose and lower jaw. Silvius had seen him without the mask, but it was hardly an improvement. The man was just ugly.

The Gorehound’s reputation for brutality was well deserved, having spawned numerous imitators after his career faded. He still fought in pit-arena Deathmatches in the Trapholds, killing criminals and heretics, ending innumerable lives over a decades-spanning career as a master that went most unnoticed in larger, more popular arenas.

In one thick hand the Gorehound carried a crude looking club, too heavy for most men to carry, covered in cruel spikes. His other arm ended in a gauntlet with spike and a bladed buckler attached to it. The fist spike itself looked more like some mad butcher’s tool than a traditional weapon, with a hooked point and jagged edges.

Even his armour spoke of single-minded dedication to relentless destruction on the fighting grounds. A heavy harness with thick metal plates protecting his vitals, the Gorehounds protective gear also covered striking surfaces such as knees and elbows with reinforced metal and short, jagged blades that could shred any opponent unfortunate enough to be caught in his grip.

And, to Silvius at least, he was so very, very ugly. While the Gorehounds huge frame was covered in muscle, he was thick and almost looked fat with little definition in some places. The beast’s head was shaved clean, but his chest, where unarmoured, was covered in coarse black hair like fur. His gear was functional at best, with little embellishment or even an attempt to match materials.

“Yet another reason why you don’t want to fight by Skin League rules Silvius,” said Chosen Noxaia from the announcer’s box in the viewing area above the fighting grounds.

Chosen Brand beside her, smiled thinly.

Teaser Tuesday

Tis Tuesday and time for a teaser!

Bloodlust TSM cover

This is part of one of my favourite scenes from the series.

Teven came up to the line of cannons, coming to rest beside Hephus. He saw what was left of Bosh hooked to the bloody banner of the Sixth Cohort. He saw Vintia. He heard the Third, the Second, and the First Cohorts moving into place behind him. He felt their shock at the vista before them. He saw Bosh’s lips moving. After that first moment, however, the emotions of the Legionnaires boiled into iron rage and they snapped into formation, ready and eager.

It would have been easy to lose himself in the grim sight before him, but instead Teven focused on the dawning realization on the faces of the Vvath as Warbound Vintia pulled back and the angry guns of the eighth cohort were revealed.

By the ancestors, it was glorious.

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Vintia had brought them the time to get into to the perfect position. The guns were massed perfectly.

The would fire grapeshot and incendiaries in alternating loads, at short range, against an enemy that was unprepared and closely packed together. It was all academic now, and the equation was very much in favour of the men standing behind the cannons.

All academic, save for one tortured Warbound andthea tiny handful of Legionnaires still holding against the horde that were also within range; the human cost that Hephus would have to carry the weight of for the rest of his life.

“FIRE!” shouted Hephus before the gunners could hesitate. He almost cursing Artillery Master Grannoch for being wounded.

The guns roared, and the day was won in smoke and fire.