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