Tuesday Teaser

This week’s teaser comes from Bloodlust: Red Glory, the fourth book in the Domains of the Chosen.

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This week I’d like to introduce Melia, a businesswoman who lives in the Capitol with her Husband, Darius, and her Daughter Rose. Melia originated in The Great Games, my short story about a night at the games.

To us Melia seems normal and reasonable. Her attitudes are modern and having been raised in a place with no Arena, she sees the games as violent and degenerate, an attitude that most of us would share. In the Domains, however, Melia’s views on the Games are considered odd and unpatriotic, almost insane.

Melia watched as the miniature Gladiatrix jerked to a halt. The idea of a woman the size of her little girl competing against some of the monstrosities that she had seen today turned her stomach. The Ogress with the filed teeth and the leering man with the shadow tricks were somehow even more disturbing than the two fighters strutting through the streets naked.

 And yet Melia was filling her purse to the brim, and more, with gold Krassics, all because of the Great Games. Ancestors curse her, Melia was a hypocrite. She wondered if she had sold some vital part of her spirit today, to secure a better future for her family or even just to watch people enjoying her wares.

“Are you alright, love?” asked Darius from beside the food cart.

“I’m tired from all of the running around, Darius,” said Melia, forcing a smile, skirting the truth. I don’t want to ruin this day for my husband and daughter too, she thought. What is wrong with me?

Darius looked at Melia with knowing eyes, but did not call her out. Melia felt a stab of guilt: Darius was a good man, grounded in the realities of the Empire and not given to railing against what he could not change.

<>

Then she saw Sapphire Kiss talking to Rose while Darius fumbled with a piece of fish. The woman was fully exposed like some brazen whore. Her ‘armour’ was a joke. Anger shot through Melia and she pushed forward.

“Get away from her you skank!” growled Melia, pushing through the crowd, her triumph forgotten.

The Gladiatrix straightened up. Melia was not a small woman, but Sapphire Kiss towered over her. The Gladiatrix’s strange weapons were peace-bonded, but those restraints looked rather pathetic up close. Nonetheless Melia steeled herself and stepped between her and Rose. The crowded street was suddenly silent. Two Grey-Robes were nearby, thank the ancestors.

“How dare you dress like that and talk to my child!” said Melia. “Prostitutes and dancers at least have the decency to cover themselves in public places. Have you no shame?”

“I’m sorry,” said Sapphire Kiss, hanging her head for just a moment.

“Sorry?” said Melia, stepping closer to the woman. “Is it an accident that you are strutting around naked? Did you forget to put on clothes? Did you not notice the breeze between your legs?”

I like the juxtaposition between the two in this obligatory Godiva scene and also between the very moral Melia, and the immoral people she encounters.

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Teaser Tuesday

This week’s Teaser is from Bloodlust: Red Glory (Domains of the Chosen #4)

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Throughout the series thus far, there has been a vein of conspiracy, starting with Valaran’s cheating in the first two books. In Red Glory we see all sorts of underhanded actions come to light, one detail that might seem trivial, but that appears in all of the books except the first, is strange runes that seem to appear on some Gladiator’s weapons (Karmal has these in book 2 when she fights Sadira. In the upcoming Seeds of Ruin the purpose of these runes is revealed. Red Glory, however, details how they appear.

It was all done right under the noses of the Grey-Robes: Scarmaker’s benefactor sent him another letter, telling him where and when to meet as well as what to tell the officers of the Deliberative who would be escorting him.

For a moment he wondered if it was a trap, but the actions he was being asked to take could not be seen as traitorous. Even if it was discovered, he could easily feign ignorance.

So Scarmaker went out into the city of Krass, stopping at a shop called Baret’s Blades, where he gave his weapons to a young smith to examine while the Grey Robes looked on.

The smith was not even a vassal, but Scarmaker still had to admire his work. He ran a whetstone across the edges of the blade, and oiled the metal. The young man checked the grip and tested all of the runes with a channelling rod. It took about half an hour before he was satisfied.

“These look fine,” said the young Smith. “However, I think you should return tomorrow before your match and let my master examine the edging on the major runes. He has a special carving technique that can enhance the power of the rune by as much as two percent in a small period of time.”

“Of course,” said Scarmaker, taking back the weapons that the smith handed to him.

The Grey Robes escorting him never realized that Scarmaker had left his actual knives behind and that the ones he carried were merely very convincing fakes, runes and all.

Teaser Tuesday

This week’s teaser hails from Bloodlust: Red Glory (Domains of the Chosen #4)

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Sapphire Kiss is one of my favourite characters, although tough to write. The think I like most about her is her weapon, the flying headcatcher, a kind of chain weapon with a healthy dose of nunchucks (no, nonchucks, straight from 80s kids cartoons) and scythe blades. Basically it is the 80s love of ninjas in weapons form. It is a fun weapon to incorporate into arena scenes, dynamic and weird.

As a Gladiatrix Sapphire Kiss does not fit in with the other Grand Champions. After a rough early career, partly due to the difficulty of mastering the flying headcatcher, she turns to the Skyclad League, where the fighters wear ‘armour’ that leaves nothing to the imagination to regain her popularity. This league is frowned upon by other fighters, even though the Great Games are not exactly tame when it comes to objectification and crass sex appeal. Worse yet, the Chosen who runs this League, Silvius, seduces her and turns out to be a rather rotten relationship choice, abusive and manipulative, despite his ability to advance her standings.

Yet despite going through this and suffering through several epic humiliations in Red Glory, Sapphire Kiss manages to keep her head held high.

“Is our wager still on?” asked Sapphire Kiss, smiling at her opponent.

“I am going to mangle you so badly that even the Keystone won’t be able to save you,” sneered Lord Peerless. “I will expose you as the fraud that you are. The sands will glut themselves on your blood this day!”

“So you still think that you can tap me out in less than a minute?” said Sapphire Kiss, letting the audience hear the terms of their wager. “And if I last longer than that lady Flamina will dance Dockside?”

“You won’t,” said Lord Peerless. “You’re just a loser from the Skin Leagues, a curiosity marched out to excite the crowds. You have no business standing against me on the fighting grounds.”

“Prove it,” said Sapphire Kiss. “And remember, you’ve only got one minute, honoured Gladiator.”

Without another word Lord Peerless came at her like a falling mountain, an irresistible wall of flesh and steel, sword held high in a classic striking stance. As he moved he wove a spell, surrounding himself with an aura of flesh numbing cold. As Sapphire Kiss’s armour began to frost Lord Peerless swung, his greatsword tracing a swift, brutal arc. Sapphire Kiss was forced to dodge, and Lord Peerless anticipated this, dropping into a masterful lunge from his backswing.

To avoid getting skewered, Sapphire Kiss twisted away, tossing the blade of her flying headcatcher at her opponent’s face. Lord Peerless snarled and batted the projectile to the side, trying in vain to sever the flexible chain.

“Forty Five seconds left,” said Sapphire Kiss, grinning like a madwoman. She was in the arena now, baiting a giant, and all her cares had evaporated. She wove spells of regeneration and heart of the beast, enhancing her prowess.

Lord Peerless, who possessing quickness that seemed unfair for such a large man, lunged again. The cold around him intensified, and Sapphire Kiss’s skin began to burn. Sidestepping his attack, she found herself backpedaling to avoid a flashing follow up stroke. The third blow she deflected with the flying headcatcher. Such was his strength that it nearly drove the weapon from her hand.

Sensing weakness, Lord Peerless raised his sword for a quick slash aimed at Sapphire Kiss’s throat. This time she was swift enough to duck, but had to roll back over her shoulder to avoid the follow up attack. He was so swift and sure in his movements that the third stroke sliced into her forearm.

Ducking under another hard swing of the greatsword, Sapphire Kiss tossed her Flying headcatcher at one of his legs. The giant Gladiator stumbled as the chain pulled at his ankle.

“Thirty seconds!” shouted Sapphire Kiss.

Burning with rage, Lord Peerless stormed toward his enemy, his shining blade carving a bright arc as he tried to disembowel her. Sapphire Kiss shifted out of the way, countering with a toss of the flying headcatcher that sent it spinning like a saw. Lord Peerless swatted it away with a gauntlet, lunging at her, one-handed, with his greatsword. The blade nicked Sapphire Kiss’s side, drawing blood as she twisted away.

Seeing that his aura of cold was not working, the Gladiator Prime opted to weave a more direct attack. Channelling an enormous amount of power, he invoked a sudden twister that picked up the sands, causing them to fly through the air like tiny knives. The twister hit Sapphire Kiss with the force of a raging bull, tossing her through the air while the sand bit into her skin. As the twister dissipated, she fell to the ground, barely rolling to her feet as Lord Peerless charged.

Teasder Tuesday

This week’s teaser is from Bloodlust: Red Glory, the fourth book in my Domains of the Chosen series. Red Glory follows the story of a half dozen Gladiators, some Chosen, and a few ‘normal’ people as they get caught up in a surprise Grand Championships.

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Red Glory takes place over the course of a single, huge tournament that is held to find a replacement for one of the Chosen. Everyone has a stake, even Gavin and Sadira end up backing a Gladiatrix. Fortunes are made and lost amidst the bloodshed, and even something as trivial as who supplies the food in a parade district in Krass becomes a matter of deep importance.

To bring this even to life I needed not just a handful of exciting perspective characters but dozens of opponents for them to face. Here are a few of my favourite secondary fighters.

The Weird lived up to his name; he wore a hood, for one. Most Gladiators who covered their face did so with an armoured helm or a decorative mask. Admittedly, Fiona herself  had considered wearing an executioner’s hood as part of her garb early in her career. Her red hair, however, was too much of a crowd pleaser to hide.

Aside from the hood it was difficult to tell how much of The Weird’s attire was armour and what was clothing. Gladiator armour was strictly regulated in both coverage and weight; the Deliberative checked it thoroughly before every match so it should be legal, but that did not help Fiona determine where to strike. The Weird’s clothing was made up of strips of grey, brown, and black, woven with plates of dull grey metal that appeared and disappeared as he shifted.

The Weird’s staff was a hand longer than the quarterstaff Fiona had been practising with, but otherwise unremarkable at first glance. The man himself was like his weapon, tall and lean, though not so thin as a light fighter would be. He sized her up as she approached, dark eyes surprisingly human despite the hood and strange costume.

The Wierd was interesting — he uses a magical, shifting staff to fight.

The Gladiator’s entrance opposite Scarmaker dropped open. Gloria Bella Maxima marched onto the fighting grounds. Everything about her shone, from her oiled skin and platinum hair to her silver coloured armour, set with enchanted diamonds, sapphires, and pearls in cunning patterns. Part of her garb even included a golden circlet. Her under-armour clothing appeared to be white lace, including a high collar.

Even more impressive than her sparkling, sumptuous costume were her eyes, which were the blue of a clear winter sky and somehow managed to outshine the gems she wore. Scarmaker wanted to pluck those beautiful eyes out and make a necklace.

Gloria Bella Maxima wore her hair in a long, simple braid, capped at her waist with a golden clasp, heavy enough to double as a weapon of sorts. Small blades and spikes were cunningly set into the twists of hair. Scarmaker thought he would like to grasp that hair despite the ruin that these would inflict on his hands, especially with the Gladiatrix at his mercy.

For weapons, Gloria Bella Maxima carried a long bladed glaive, a barbed net folded into a lash, and a simple legion gladius. The glaive was almost a naginata, with a blade the length of a man’s arm, elegantly crafted and bearing powerful runes. It too, was set with diamonds and pearls, and the whole weapon was beautifully etched with scrollwork patterns.

Above all, however, it was her bearing and attitude that commanded the audience’s attention. Gloria Bella Maxima entered the fighting grounds like a beloved queen of old coming before her adoring subjects. Tall and proud she exuded confidence and poise with every measured movement.

As she came closer, Scarmaker realized that Gloria Bella Maxima was somewhat larger than he had pictured her in his mind’s eye.

Gloria Bella Maxima was one of the odds on favourites at the tournament, but had the misfortune to draw the psychotic Death Leagues Gladiator as her opponent. Fun fact, most readers consider Scarmaker my most disturbing creation. How does the Arena’s premiere diva handle him?

Hummingblade was still considering her choices when Shagra the Bloodless was called into the arena. A broad-shouldered Orcish woman, dressed in dark green armour stepped into the arena carrying a large hammer. Shagra’s head was bald and smooth and her eyes were fearsome.

Despite her reputation for mayhem, Shagra was trained as a defender. Her main strategy was to outlast her opponents, and she used a combination of heavy armour, druidic magic, and incredible conditioning to survive. Unlike Rabid Edge, whom Hummingblade had faced earlier in the tournament, Shagra did not seek to attack relentlessly and overwhelm. Instead she seemed to endure her opponents until they made an error or she cornered them, then she struck them down with a well-placed hammer blow.

The hammer in question was large, and Hummingblade suspected that even a glancing blow from such a weapon could crush her. Shagra hefted it with the easy familiarity of a Master. She did not perform any tricks as she strode across the sands in front of the cheering crowd, stopping only to give her salute.

Up close Hummingblade could see that Shagra’s armour was made of ribbed plates that slid and moved as she walked.

Hummingblade returned Shagra’s salute. Their eyes met. Hummingblade saw a grim intensity in the other woman, but detected a surprising lack of arrogance or hatred. Without taking her eyes off Hummingblade, Shagra raised her weapon again.

“I call for Ut Nex!” said Shagra.

Shagra the Bloodless is one of my personal favourites. Another Death Leagues Gladiator, she represents the concept of unrelenting endurance and pure will to power in a competitor.

There are many more, but these stood out in my mind. Which is your favourite?

Teaser Tuesday

Because it is still Tuesday somewhere amirite?

Today’s teaser comes from Bloodlust: Red Glory. I have just finished watching Jessica Jones on Netflix (loved it), which got me thinking about abusive relationships.

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I like the idea that no matter how strong you are, there is always someone who has your number. This is one of the things that plays out nicely in Jessica Jones. In Red Glory, one of the main characters is Sapphire Kiss, a woman who will endure just about anything to get her shot at the grand championships. Unfortunately, she ends up in rough company, and despite her superhuman powers she ends up with a very human problem…

Silvius crossed the room, backhanding the Gladiatrix with enough force to knock her off her feet. Sapphire was shocked at his audacity but not his brutality. She rolled away, gathering breath to shout for help. Chosen Silvius was fast, however, and his magic was unbound. He closed before she could draw breath. The best she could do was roll with the blow as he kicked her under the chin. She spat blood and shattered teeth, but somehow got her arm in front of his next kick, which sent her sprawling into a corner nonetheless. Where were the Grey-Robes?

“Show some respect, you wretched whore,” said Chosen Silvius, looking down at her.

“You should kill me now you dog-fucking bastard,” spat Sapphire Kiss, glaring at Silvius. “If I win this tournament you and I will have a Reckoning of our own.”

Silvius’s laughter was cruel and mirthless.

“Good luck with that,” said Silvius. “I doubt you’ll have any fight left in you in a moment.”

And then he beat her. Kicking her, punching her, slamming her head against the ground. Sapphire Kiss surprised herself by actually catching a few of the Chosen’s attacks, despite her injuries. She felt her ribs crack and one of her arms fracture. She spat blood and lost vision in one eye. Then, when she was barely conscious, he stopped.

“You want to play at being a Champion?” said Silvius. “I can undo all of the damage that I have inflicted. All you have to do is beg my forgiveness, slut. Show me you know your place. Submit to your loving Patron.”

The other reason I was thinking of this passage today is that despite Sapphire Kiss overcoming her abusive patron, she is not even by a long-shot, which is a tale that would make an interesting addition to my next Domains novel.

Teaser Tuesday

This week’s teaser is from Bloodlust: Red Glory, the fourth book in my Domains of the Chosen series. Red Glory takes the action back to the arena, with the whole book covering a single Grand Championship tournament from multiple perspectives.

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Sapphire Kiss is one of the Gladiators who fights in the tournament. Because of the way that she has struggled to keep in the limelight, few take her seriously. Her internal conflict is shame at hurting her reputation as a serious fighter to make it to the tournament and a determination to show everyone that she is not just here as a curiosity to titillate the crowds.

She has a really cool weapon.

And yet her desire for glory did not dim. Desperate, Sapphire Kiss ingratiated herself with the powerful and influential, hoping to find a path back to prominence. She became a fixture at the parties thrown by the Blues and other influential patrons of the Arenas. There she had attracted the attention of Chosen Silvius himself. She had thought him handsome then, and fooled herself into believing that it was she who was seducing him. After they became lovers, she had been more than pleased when he asked her to become one of the founding fighters of his Skyclad League. She promoted the League, joined in the legendary revels, created an arena persona that was far more flashy than fearsome; All to stay relevant, to keep people interested in her. All to stay in the game.

Sapphire Kiss was not ashamed of the nudity. In her view, sex had always been deeply intertwined with The Great Games. If two fighters were equal in skill and story the crowd would always favour the better looking. The problem with the Skyclad League was that sex and titillation were the real focus, eclipsing all else. Her skill as a fighter was a barely a consideration. It was masturbatory, in every sense.

Even the matches themselves had a lascivious quality to them. And lately, some of the newer fighters joining the League were being put up against beasts that seemed more interested in rape than battle. It was only a matter of time before Sapphire Kiss ended up facing some sort of tentacled horror with the crowd jeering as it tried to probe her. And yet she was never able to bring herself to quit, especially since she was the most popular Gladiatrix in this new League. Anything to stay relevant, to claim her chance at the big prize.

Perhaps she should have joined a troupe of fighters for the Green or Orange Factions and worked her way back into the crowd’s graces that way. It would have been more pure, but far less certain.

Sapphire Kiss wondered if Crimson Rod had the same sort of mental crisis. She doubted it. The men in the Skyclad League rarely seemed to care. Then again most men admired and looked up to promiscuous males, while Sapphire Kiss was routinely denounced as a slut by both men and women.

And yet she had remained in the Skyclad League, and even excelled within it. She had always wanted to fight in the Grand Championships and now she had the chance. Why then, had the arrival of the letter announcing her selection, accompanied by a handwritten note from Chosen Silvius, inviting her to attend a “banquet” in her honour, filled her with sadness. Was she that ill at ease with what he had become?

“I suppose we can add self-pity to my list of flaws,” she muttered, then shook her head.

The trumpets sounded. It was time for her to fight. She looked in the mirror one last time. She had to admit that she looked alluring. How could any man resist that ass? Her armour consisted of a series of leather straps on her arms and legs, set with metal plates that she could use to parry attacks. Light armoured fighters had to rely on avoiding attacks. A wider, thicker plate protected her waist and further emphasized her hips. Shoulder plates and a thick iron collar with a large ring at the throat rounded out the look. No doubt many of her fans dreamt of attaching a chain to that ring.

 The dark leather and black metal contrasted nicely with her tanned skin. Solvanar had superb beaches and far more sun than Krass.

Satisfied, Sapphire Kiss squared her shoulders resolutely, ready to face the crowd, to make them hers. A small smile formed on her gemlike lips as she left the mirror and sauntered into the arena.

The crowd roared and jeered lewdly as they saw her.

Chosen Silvius himself stood at the announcer’s podium. He smiled down at her. As she gave her salute, she noted that the monster, which should already be in the arena, was absent.

“Welcome my lovely,” said the Chosen. “You all know Sapphire Kiss, the jewel of our beloved League.”

The crowd responded with cheers and lewd propositions.

“Tonight, in honour of what might be her last fight in front of us, she will be pitted against one of my favourite beasts,” said the Chosen. “A deadly creature that we have come to love in the Skyclad League: the Priaptian Squid.”

The arena shifted and a hunched form rose out of the sands. Its skin glittered obscenely in the twilight. Sapphire Kiss rolled her eyes as twelve phallic tentacles rose from the bulk.

“Have fun, you two!” said Silvius. At that moment Sapphire Kiss hated him with burning passion.

The trumpets sounded.

“This is what we do!” snarled Sapphire Kiss, whirling her weapon, channelling power.

The priaptian squid is exactly what it sounds like. Chosen Silvius is a massive bastard.

Sapphire’s story is a little different than that of the other Gladiators. I wanted to examine the lengths that people will go to after losing in life. If you get past the Skyclad bit, which is obviously pervy, she is really admirable, pushing forward despite all odds, trying to capture that dream…

Tuesday Teaser

This week’s teaser comes from Bloodlust: Red Glory, book four of the Domains of the Chosen series.

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This week’s post concerns Scarmaker, easily one of the creepiest characters I have created. Scarmaker is a Gladiator from the Death-Leagues, a vicious killer whose sadism is only exceeded by his lust for power. I was reminded of him when a friend mentioned just how nasty they thought this character was. (fair warning to those who read on, some of his scenes might turn the stomach of sensitive readers)

Then Chloe caught sight of Scarmaker. Her lips curled involuntarily. Scarmaker was in the shadows, of course; they seemed to follow him, wrapping around him like the arms of a protective mother. Hidden in the inky dark, Scarmaker was grappling with an unlucky Gladiator, holding the man with his legs while pulling his knife upwards through his belly toward his chest. He cradled his opponent like a lover while his blade did its work, unhurried despite all the chaos around him. While Chloe watched Scarmaker’s other hand crept between his victim’s legs, groping and violating. Chloe turned away, bile rising in her throat.

As the hostess of the Killer’s Circle Chloe diSilk had seen every sort of violence imaginable, but Scarmaker was monstrous in ways that she could not put into words. Physically, he was extraordinarily handsome, yet that beauty could not mask his love of depravity. Cruelty, sadism, and sociopathy were the bread and butter of her arena, but this Gladiator turned Chloe’s stomach even when he wasn’t fighting. She almost cheered when Shagra moved toward him, heaving her maul and sending it crashing down. Scarmaker disentangled himself from his prey with serpentine grace, rolling out of the way. Shagra followed, relentless despite the shadows that now enveloped her.

Watching him is one thing, but getting inside his head is another.

They were waiting for him in his arming room, as they always did. Scarmaker let his armour fall to the ground so that their eyes could feast upon his form in all its naked glory. He was already aroused; killing always did that for him.

He stopped to sniff his fingers; the scent of his latest conquest still lingered. He licked them while his thralls watched, six pairs of eyes, eager and fearful.

Scarmaker had managed two kills in the brief struggle on the fighting grounds. He could have had a third but he had decided to gut one while fondling him, enjoying making the man squirm and struggle instead of killing him. It was the right of the strong to use the weak as they desired. A little rape was the perfect garnish for such a slaughter.

It was most unfortunate that Shagra the Bloodless had interrupted his play. Fighting someone that tough was boring to Scarmaker. It was as if she didn’t even feel pain. Pity.

So bloody nasty… I feel like I need to shower every time I get in his head. Scarmaker represents a flaw in the Great Games, the fear that a lunatic could win a grand championships and find a place among the Chosen. Of course, the idea of Red Glory was to show some of the maneuvering behind the arena battles, and how the selection process does not come down entirely to skill or popularity, but rather involves a great deal of politics, patronage, and outright cheating.

Scarmaker floated across the sand, arms held out like wings, shadow billowing in his wake like the ashen smoke of a volcano. The crowd, sensing his impending ascension, cheered. No doubt they hoped to gain his approval.

After his salute, the prey was let loose into the arena.

“Disappointing,” muttered Scarmaker. “The arena masters will pay for this insult.”

Shining brass skin covered four automatons. Much of his magic was useless against such creatures, as was all of his mastery of cutting and bleeding. He hated fighting brass men. It was one of the many reasons that he eschewed the degenerate Faction Leagues and had made his home in the Death Leagues.

It was distasteful to fight things that could not bleed or feel pain. Best to kill them quickly.

Our little killer nearly ruins his own chances when he perform less than spectacularly in his first showing in the Grand Championships, essentially sulking because he draws automatons over living prey. Of course his recovery is spectacular:

Scarmaker got to his feet; the Manticore was charging him, hackles raised, madness and hate filling its huge eyes.

“Time to scream, beast,” muttered Scarmaker, weaving a pair of powerful spells. Magic coursed through him, and instantly the Manticore’s wounds began to putrefy. Pus ran into its eye and its charge slowed as movement became excruciatingly painful. It yowled like a tortured cat.

Scarmaker laughed, revelling in the sound. Now was the time to show his audience what he could do.

Drawing on tremendous power, his channelling bolstered by the crowd, the lean Gladiator jogged forward. The Manticore assaulted him with a mental blast, sending him reeling, but he righted himself quickly, and leapt at the beast. Fang filled jaws snapped at him as he touched the beast on one of its wounds then pushed off and rolled away.

The Manticore growled. For a moment, nothing seemed to happen, and then the beast’s skin began to crawl of its own volition. The Manticore howled in absolute agony, a sound so horrific that the spectators were frozen in fear and horror. It clawed and rolled around as its skin shifted on its body, huge tears appearing as if it was a bloody fruit peeled by a deft hand.

The crowd was stunned to silence as the beast flopped over, overcome by pain, its hide torn and flayed. The tortured screams reached a fevered pitch, turning gradually into whimpers as the Manticore was overcome. The scene filled many of the spectators with horror.

Scarmaker walked over to the Manticore. It was alive, barely, kept conscious by the spell. He raised his weapons to the crowd in supplication, asking for a show of thumbs as if this were a Deathmatch. After recovering their wits, the crowd gave him their reaction.

Scarmaker turned swiftly and plunged his blades into the Manticore’s eyes, pushing his hands into the sockets and driving them deep into the beast’s brain.

You would be right to feel pity for the poor beast. Of course, that idea is part of Red Glory as well…