As war grips the seven realms of Lyssia, can young werewolf Drew Ferran survive?

Out 5 Jan

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The crowd had enjoyed their fill of blood. Fifty gladiators had entered the Furnace and only twenty-five had walked away. Every appetite had been catered for. Horseback warriors had jousted, boxers had duelled with bare fists, bowmen had peppered opponents with arrows while spearmen had launched their javelins. Swords, scimitars, axes and tridents had clashed across the volcanic earth, limbs and heads severed and hoisted as trophies. The Bestiari, specialists in fighting animals, had
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come up against lions, bears, jackals and wolves. The cruellest contests involved two recently condemned criminals pitted against one another: one armed but blindfolded – the other unarmed but clearsighted. The blindfold ultimately proved too great a handicap. now the Scorians quietened as Lord ignus appeared upon his balcony. ‘People of Scoria, i give you the rarest gift. i show the fire mountain the greatest generosity – my therian warriors from across the known world. You all saw the Blood Moon last night, signalling the need for sacrifice. Those gladiators who have fallen thus far today shall have gone some way to quench the mountain’s thirst, but she hungers for yet more. We must honour Scoria with the mightiest offerings in order to appease her fire. My Eight Wonders enter the furnace. The contest is over when only five remain standing.’
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He cast his hands over the arena below, oily skin glistening in the midday sun. ‘Behold: the Battle of the Beasts!’ Eight iron gates were cranked open around the furnace, each one sending clouds of dust billowing into the arena. from out of the pens the therian gladiators strode forward. ignus clapped his hands, turning to his fellow nobles and Lizardlords who had gathered as honoured guests. He’d just witnessed his most recent acquisition from Kesslar provide the fight of his life. Djogo had triumphed against the tridentwielding Obliss of Ro-Shann. Of the Goatlord there had been no sign. ignus suspected Kesslar was still smarting from the humiliation he’d dealt him. Drew squinted through the dust clouds as he looked around the furnace. He’d seen Djogo moments earlier when the gladiator had returned to the gates, the two sharing a look as they’d passed. Drew
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walked forward as the sand settled, taking in the combatants. The Behemoth had entered from a gate directly opposite. To his side the Wereapes, Arik and Balk, had appeared, immediately moving together into a pair. Between Drew and the brothers stood Taboo, limbering up as she prepared for the fight. To the other side of Drew stood the Rhino, Krieg, flanked by the lean figure of Drake. The Werecrocodile looked the most relaxed of all, turning to look towards the chanting crowd. Last of all, between Drake and the Behemoth, Stamm could be seen, the Buffalo shaking the dust from his shaggy mane. Drew wondered who – if any – would follow his lead. none of the other Werelords carried weapons. in a cruel twist devised by ignus, they were to use tooth, claw and their therian strength alone to best their opponents. Only Drew’s trident dagger remained on his stumped wrist. Drew hoped to avoid
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the Behemoth in the coming fight. The giant had been responsive to the idea of breaking out, but that was yesterday. Here, in the heat of the arena, it might count for nought. There had to be a fight: and that fight would separate those who were with Drew and those who were against him. Arik and Balk were certain enemies, while questions remained over Drake and Taboo. Then the battle began. it happened so fast, triggered by the two brothers. As if reacting to Drew’s thoughts, the Apelords wasted no time, rushing Taboo as their opening gambit. As they charged they changed, forearms exploding with muscles while their backs expanded, silver bristles bursting from their skin. Within seconds the brothers flanked the young woman, their mouths open to reveal huge, deadly canines. Taboo was ready. She kicked up the dust, sending a cloud into the air to provide
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cover. By the time Arik brought his huge hand down at her, the girl had gone. She shot a lithe leg through the dusty air, her clawed foot striking and piercing the Ape’s shoulder, sending him tumbling away. When Balk’s fist flew through the air where he’d imagined she stood, Taboo rolled out of the dust, transformed, her body shimmering with dark black stripes across orange skin. The Weretiger snarled, unfazed by the brutes. Drew turned just in time to see the bowed head of Krieg charging him. The Rhino was transformed, head down and shoulders thick with hide armour. Dodging the great horn, Drew caught the brunt of the attack from the Rhino’s shoulder. The collision was colossal, the pain immense. Drew was catapulted into the air, back towards his gate, and landed in the dirt. As he flew he tried to breathe, the air having been crushed from his lungs.
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Drew rolled, choking and gasping as he saw Krieg skid, changing his angle of attack. The head was his primary weapon and the ground thundered as he sped back towards Drew. ‘Krieg!’ he yelled, his breath returned. ‘What are you doing? We can fight together!’ ‘it can’t work, boy!’ Krieg snorted as he charged. ‘Better let me finish you, end this quickly. Three of us have to die, and i won’t be one of them!’

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OuT JunE 2012

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