Tag: Gladiator

The Battle Pit

Reiver Two Swords stood alone on the sands of the Battle Pit of Dnur.  About him lay the bodies of forty-nine fighters, many of their spirits sent to the feast in Dath's hall by Reiver's hand.  Yet Reiver still stood, blades in hand.  After two years of captivity he had grown accomplished at waiting patiently for something new to be thrown against him. Dnur's citizens filled the stands that encircled the Pit with their chanting of his name.  The barbarian in the Pit raised his eyes to the Imperial Box and the sweating form of the corpulent wearer of the Ivory Crown.  Reiver's eyes lingered long upon the barely concealed curves of the girl clad in slave silk who held the Emperor's cup.  He had already decided she would be his.  She looked upon him with both contempt and admiration, contempt for a man fallen slave, admiration for a man who still stood after a Bout of Fifty. Reiver's eyes didn't miss the flash of anger that crossed the Emperor's face, nor the command that caused the slave-girl to blanche.  Minutes later the Beast-gate creaked open and the crowd fell silent.  Nothing stirred in the darkness behind the gate for several long seconds and Reiver stood, silent and poised, waiting.  Then, with a roar that elicited screams, both startled and excited, from many in the crowd, a giant mountain grinyt charged onto the sands, straight for the lone warrior. Reiver dove to the side as the grinyt landed on the…

On The Berserk-Gift

[Translator’s Note: The first part of this book was damaged beyond the recovery of anything that made sense. All that was left was individual words and fragments of words. Fortunately, most of the section on the Berserk-Gift, short as it was, remained largely intact. It made for fascinating reading.] Even as recently as forty years ago, it was believed that the Berserk-Gift was a unique talent derived from the gods, and that it was entirely homogeneous. Hersmann’s1 great study, delving as it did into the particulars of all the known gifts, revealed both of these assumptions to be false. Her study showed that the Berserk-Gift is of the same type as both the Mage-Gift, which allows the mage to summon magic, or the Shifter-Gift2, which allows the shifter to change their form, and can, with proper training and the correct trigger, be turned to either of those ends. (See the sections on Mage Gifts and Shifter Gifts for a more in-depth discussion on the nature of those particular Gifts.3) The Berserk-Gift is unique from Divine Frenzy (see ‘On the Nature and Origin of the Gods’4 for more on this), though the two were, and, all too frequently still are, mistaken for each other, a fact which led to the misapprehensions surrounding the Berserk-Gift. The simplest way to differentiate the two, and the proof used by Hersmann, is that in a case of true Divine Frenzy the possessed loses all control over their own actions, and all awareness, not only of…

Interview with Strikes-With-Venom

This is an interview I did with Venom some time after writing Battle Pits… I mean, Gladiator. The publisher re-titled it. I left the first part in because, though it’s not really about Venom, it does indicate the sort of situation I was in when I did the interview. Also, some people complained about the sparsity of the description in Ba… Gladiator. So here’s a description of the town where I met Venom, written by me while I was… let’s say, a little the worse for drink. Enjoy.   Strikes-with-Venom hasn’t shown up yet and I’m bored. I’m also soused. I’m sitting in a stinking little tavern in a smelly little town in what can only be called, by an immense effort of imagination, the last civilised country on the western edge of the D’nuran Empire. A couple of days west of here lies the escarpment which marks the actual border, but there’s nothing between here and there but empty rolling hills occupied only by the occasional shepherd. Beyond the escarpment lies the High Plains, barbarian country. The land of the Marauding Tribes. Venom’s people. Given the history between the Plainsfolk and the Empire, you’d expect there to be a strong Imperial presence along the border. You’d be forgiven for thinking there was a chain of fortifications of impressive size and strength here. No one would laugh at you for believing that the border was garrisoned by highly trained legionnaires who are constantly patrolling. The lack of laughs wouldn’t change…

Identity Thief

“What’s the strangest thing that’s ever happened to you?” asked Pin Wei. Reaper leaned back against the rock and drew deeply on his pipe. He held the smoke in while he thought about it, then sent up a long plume of smoke that broke up in the breeze that was whipping over the top of the narrow gully they were taking shelter in. “I dinna ken ifn it be th’ strangest, but t’were unusual, an’ all th’ fault o’ a young minstrel what liked ta embellish me stories an’ make ’em more… palatable-like.” Pin Wei snorted. “You’re always blaming minstrels for the way people treat you.” Reaper chuckled. “An’ ye dinna think tis all yer fault, eh lass?” “It’s not!” Reaper nodded. “Mebbe ye be right.” Pin Wei smiled. “But then ag’in, mebbe ye be wrong. Ye tell me.” He took another pull on his pipe and this time sent a flurry of smoke rings sailing away out of the gully. “So, this were a long span back, afore anythin’ what happened in Ishmek. I’d been out an’ about in th’ world some years, mostly fightin’ as a mercenary in one war or ’nother. People was startin’ ta know me name an’ ta want th’ glory o’ havin’ killed me, but dinna yet know th’ futility o’ tryin’.” Pin Wei snorted. Reaper quirked an eyebrow at her but when she didn’t say anything, he kept on with his story. “I’d just finished up a contract fer a bunch o’ merchants…