A Teaser for Tuesday

Barring unforeseen events my next Domains of the Chosen book, Bloodlust: The Sum of Hate will release next week. Here is a taste:

<>

The body was pinned to a tree with javelins through each shoulder and one in the belly. It was easy to read pain in the features of the dead man, although softened by death and decay.

“This is bad,” said Elder Hissu.

“This is my father’s work,” said Riritaka. “He wants to cause panic.”

“Who is this man?” asked Gavin.

“He is known to me,” said Elder Hissu, sadly. “He is a trader among your people, beloved by both the Legionnaires and those who seek peace among the tribes.”

“The scouts tell me he was put here four days ago,” said Strategos Mora. “This was done while we were attending the sodding peace talks.”

“Yes, that sounds like Gotka,” said Riritaka. “He will come for us soon.”

“How far away from the fort are we?” asked Gavin.

“If we marched clear through the night we could get there in less than twenty hours,” said Strategos Mora. “We cannot outpace The Pale in the jungle though, Chosen. Only the best of the scouts could manage that feat, and even then, it would be risky.”

“Can we evade them?” asked Gavin.

“No,” said Strategos Mora. “We believe they watch us, even now.”

“It is possible,” said Chosen Brighthoof. “But surely not in numbers large enough to be a threat.”

“The watchers will be directing two groups,” said Riritaka. “One will be between us and the fort, the other will be trailing us.”

“Should we move to the coast then?” asked Gavin, trying to formulate a plan.

“They would expect that, would they not?” responded elder Hissu, turning to Riritaka.

“Yes,” said Riritaka. “The paths to the coast will be heavily trapped.”

“Strategos Mora, how far away are your men?” asked Gavin.

<> (The edits on this next part have not been approved, so this is raw.)

The Duellum Dominantium was one of the few times that both groups enter the fighting grounds at the same time.

Silvius, followed by the mountainous form of the Gorehound entered from the south, while Sadira and Sapphire Kiss entered from the north. A half-million fans, all on their feet, screaming and cheering, greeted the four Gladiators as their feet touched the white sands.

Sadira, known for her flashy entrances, merely gave a salute to the crowd and then plodded to the centre of the Arena. The audience was taken aback; those who hated Sadira filled the air with jeers and boos, while those who loved her felt a touch of fear at the sight of their vivacious hero looking wan and full of sorrow. Sapphire Kiss walked beside her like an energetic filly following in the wake of an old mare, eager and ready to fight.

Silvius strode across the sand, his hair spilling over his shoulders in magnificent curls, jaw set in a confident smile. Everything about him shone, from his armour and the edge of his Draklaive to his oiled skin. He stood a head taller than Sadira and Sapphire Kiss, and looked leaner and more powerful than he had in many years.

Behind him lumbered the Gorehound, huge and foreboding.

For The Duellum Dominantium, Quintus diKrass, the most famed arena announcer of the day had been brought out of retirement. He named each of the fighters in turn and they all gave a salute. Sadira’s was curt, in marked contrast the impressive flourish given by Silvius.

“It looks as if the flower of Daer has wilted,” intoned Silvius. “Have you come to regret challenging me, kitten?”

Teaser Tuesday

This week’s teaser is from Bloodlust: A Gladiator’s Tale

Bloodlust-AGT-Front-cover

Cover for Bloodlust: A Gladiator’s Tale.

This week’s selection is from the start of the book. The writing is a little raw, being my first book and all.

While this scene seems like simple exposition, just a gladiator choosing his armour while a shop attendant flirts with him, it is meant to plant a few seeds in the reader’s mind. The first is the question of objectification. Gladiators are performers, after all, and crowd appeal is at least part sex appeal. The second is underlining that the rules of the arena are not meant to simulate those of battle. There are no spectators showing thumbs on the field of war, after all. The third is to remind readers that weapons and armour were subject to a fair amount of fetishism in warrior cultures.

“Um… Hello. I need armour for a match… this afternoon,” Gavin said a little nervously as Isabelle met his eye. He silently cursed his voice for not sounding as suave and heroic as he imagined it should.

“Well, unfortunately, that leaves out anything custom fitted; I can only do minor alterations in that span of time.” She allowed the barest hint of reproach to be heard in her voice, so that he would feel that she was doing him a favour. She smiled inwardly at Gavin’s shyness; the game was already won as far as she was concerned. “What armour class are you?”

“Middle,” he responded, unable to take his eyes off her as she closed in on him. “I’m looking for a breastplate, bracers, greaves, and also a shield.”

“Have you given any thought to style and colour, Honoured Gladiator?” she used the proper honorific to tickle his pride while she stopped at his side, just near enough to occupy his personal space.

“Um…” His thoughts were suddenly dashed upon the rocks as he became acutely aware of her scent and the nearness of her body. Her lips were a glossy crimson colour.

“Did they not teach you about the importance of style in your training?” She sighed, turning and moving away, rummaging for the tools she would need. She heard him let out his breath. Long ago she was surprised at how many novice male Gladiators did not pay attention to such an important facet of their career, but she had long since gotten used to it. She walked past him toward the fitting section, making sure to brush up against him, just so, as she did. “Follow me, please.”

She continued her lecture as she led him deeper into her shop, keeping her tone light with a hint of helpful amusement. “A Gladiator’s armour is not merely for protection; it is about how you present yourself to your audience. If you wish to be called to the Grand Championships, you will have to become famous as well as skilled. If you wish to become famous, you will have to win over the support of the people. And I must tell you that people respond very well to style and proper presentation Honoured Gladiator. It is part of building your legend.”

<>

“I think you should go for a more classical, heroic look, bright metal, silver and steel; pure and honest,” Isabelle said as they stopped at a well hidden fitting room. She handed him a mithril breastplate sculpted to look like the face of a ferocious roaring lion that she’d grabbed on the way. “Take off your tunic please. Let’s see how this looks on you.”

She watched as he stripped off his plain white tunic, enjoying the slight reddening of his cheeks. His arousal was obvious to her expert eye even through the conservative undergarment that he wore. For a moment she was tempted to act on her desires right there; she’d chosen the most remote fitting room just in case, but she kept her demeanour professional. With some men this would have been the perfect time to pounce, but she sensed this one was a romantic whose passions were best kindled a little more slowly. For the briefest moment she wished that she had met him when she was young and romantic herself, but she quickly slammed the door on that stray thought.

“Hold this to your chest while I put the straps on. You will be able to devise a glamour to help you put it on yourself fairly easily,” She said moving around behind him. “My name is Isabelle, by the way.”

I’m not certain how effective this is as a seduction scene, but it gets the point across. I’ve always wanted to revisit Isabelle, that carefree sampler of Gladiators, although I realize now that it is kind of a creepy relationship from our viewpoint since Gavin is around 16 at this point in the book… whoops.

Teaser Tuesday

Since it is Tuesday, here is a teaser from my upcoming book, Warbound: The Shield Maiden

“Bastard!” snarled Sadira, desperately parrying Gavin’s war-spear as she backed away.

Gavin chuckled, pressing his advantage.

Gripping Karmal, Sadira felt a rush of anger as Gavin’s spear sank into her shoulder. The crowd roared at First blood. Spurred by her sword, Sadira loosed a piercing war-scream. The blazing blade arced down. Gavin turned, bringing his shield up. Karmal smashed into his shield, denting the nearly unbreakable metal and driving him to his knees. The crowd roared.

Grinning, Sadira followed up with a series of rapid, powerful blows, trying to pummel Gavin into the ground. Her elation was short lived, however, as Gavin recovered and knocked her blade to the side. Karmal plunged into the sand and Sadira felt Gavin’s Spear graze her throat.

“Are you ok?” asked Gavin as she backed off.

“I’m fine, just feeling a little reckless,” said Sadira, brushing off his concern. She reined in her fury and attacked again. This time, after a brutal exchange, Sadira faked an attack, forcing Gavin to over-commit and Karmal left a line of blood and blisters across his side.

The fought until the trumpets called. The crowd awarded Sadira the victory, leaving her wondering if she deserved it. Gavin just smiled. 

I just added this scene today, in response to an early reader who wanted a little more action and less exposition in the early chapters of the book. In this case I heartily agreed.