Here’s another excerpt from War of Nytefall: Rivalry. I was looking for something that would show off Titus Winthrop a bit. He’s kind of background here, but I enjoyed writing him as the ‘little guy’ for once. Check it out! As usual, there could be spoilers below.
The crowd cheers as Titus is hurled against the arena wall by his opponent who has transformed into a horned demon. Leaving a crack in the stone, he slides down to his feet and wipes a few marble chips off his aching shoulders. The warrior chuckles at how he is the smaller combatant, which is an alien situation for the tall and muscular vampire. Fighting the urge to use brute force, he jumps away from a fist that easily punches a hole through the thick stone. A woman in the front row screams at the sensation of the spiked hand striking her leg, which snaps in half like a fragile twig. The accident is enough to distract the false demon long enough for Titus to sprint towards a broom sitting among the rest of the debris that has been hurled at him by the crowd. Spinning around, he throws it like a javelin and nails his enemy in the back of the head. Unleashing a terrifying roar, the creature yanks the wood out of his dense skull and glares at the Dawn Fang. Not trusting the suspicious look, the warrior closes his eyes an instant before those standing behind him shriek in fear and collapse. Protecting himself against the mental attack leaves Titus exposed to the winged combatant, which soars towards him in the hopes of impaling him with his horns. Feeling the wind of its approach, the towering vampire drops to his stomach and rolls over to make a blind kick at the passing enemy. The blow hits the flying Dawn Fang in the chest and sends him flipping backwards where he crashes into the dirt. Both combatants get to their feet, but make no move to attack and begin circling each other in search of an opening.
“He’s doing much better than I expected,” Jewelz admits from her viewing box. Holding out her hand, she lets Dean wrap her fingers around a goblet of wine, which she sniffs before draining it in one gulp. “While Lord Tempest doesn’t care, I’m sure you feel concern for your loyal follower, Clyde. I assume you’ve already figured out that this match was designed to kill my mistake of a child. What better way to begin my tournament than sacrificing a blight on my past? He lacks an army to inspire with his voice, facing one opponent negates his phantom, and he has no weapons to lace with his blood. I’d feel sorry for the bastard if I didn’t hate him and his sister so much.”
“I see she has the arrogance and short-sightedness of nobility down,” Clyde whispers to Xavier, knowing their host will hear him. Enjoying how both of his companions scowl, the thief puts his feet on the railing and grabs a handful of grapes from a servant. “If you really knew Titus then you’d know he’s not one to underestimate. The man has survived more battles than I have and he’s always training with Bob and Luther. You can see how our child has improved since he’s using agility instead of brute force. The man you turned was all about strength. What say we have a wager? If Titus wins then I get the next fight, but if he loses then I pledge my loyalty to you.”
“She cannot possibly-” Xavier mutters before the Vampire Queen extends her hand. He rolls his eyes as the pair shake, the idea of being captured by someone so gullible feeling like an insult upon his honor. “I am curious as to why you have so many competitors if your interest lies entirely with Mab and Clyde. You could have left me alone and focused on your revenge. I would have been more than willing to form an alliance if you eliminated my enemies, but now you have forced me to align with this maggot.”
“Is maggot the best you can do?”
“I find them disgusting, so it is an apt description.”
“Abomination had a better ring to it.”
“Insults are not to be enjoyed by the target.”
“Fair enough, you rancid chunk of flesh.”
Having ignored the bickering, Jewelz cheers at the sight of Titus getting kicked in the side and sent rolling across the arena. With a guttural roar, the fake demon soars to the same height as the viewing box and turns to nod in the Vampire Queen’s direction. Enjoying the attention, she waves at the combatant even though her smile fades at the thought of the grotesque man winning the tournament. A rotten pepper hits the hovering beast in the arm and it looks down to where Titus is gathering more garbage to hurl in his direction. Drool dripping from his mouth, the fake demon dives at the Dawn Fang, who drops what he is holding to pick up the seat of a marble bench. The stone shatters and an echoing crack carries over the entire island as uses it as a club to knock his enemy away.