The second book in The Order Of The Dragon takes place in a city state, inspired by medieval Venice. The main plot is introduced by a very short prologue, which I’m not including in the excerpt below.
While I’m planning to write the second book in a way that doesn’t necessarily require you to read A Gamble Of Gods, if you’re planning to read it or just haven’t finished it yet, it’s best to do so first, before checking out how the sequel starts.
The Republic of Demer, 12th The Month of Reaping, 1575
The men had followed us into the alley thinking they were going to take the girl from me. They were wrong – she was my gift to them.
You see, the two of us had a complex agreement. The core of the arrangement was that she should spend the nights with me. This had been her choice and she was never shy about specifying the things she wanted us to do. In turn, I got to select her outfits, her accessorises and even the shade of her hair. It was probably the closest I’d ever come to playing with dolls. This was our third night together and, in all honesty, I couldn’t remember the last time a woman had me this excited.
The dark alleyway stretched before us like a skilful courtesan. Accommodating, and full of possibilities. Candlelight peeked out between curtains in high windows where the inside world was still trying to hold on to today. The grey cobblestones felt smooth under my boots, undoubtedly polished by countless transactions too rough for the finer neighbourhoods of Demer. But what impressed me more was that the place didn’t even stink. Like an atmospheric parlour kept clean for dirty business, clearly favoured by the biggest bastards in town. Even the beggars didn’t dare to come in to piss.
‘You! Stop there!’ a deep voice called out behind us, making us turn. The brute of a man walked slightly ahead of the other two. He was bald, tall, well-muscled, and the naked aggression in his eyes made me want to step protectively in front of my dark-haired beauty.
‘Hand her over to us, pretty boy!’ he snarled.
‘Of course!’ I raised my hands in surrender. ‘She’s all yours, gentlemen!’
The guy stopped a few steps from us, cocking his head in surprise. A tattoo covered half his face, depicting a battle axe.
‘We’re going to have our way with her.’ A young copper-haired lad catching up with him on his right explained unnecessarily, flashing a wicked smile. ‘Deep and hard. Over and over again. Any way we like it. You will not interfere!’
‘I wouldn’t dream of it.’ I grimaced. ‘I’ll be just over there watching.’ I pointed at a few barrels set along the wall nearby.
‘You like watching?’ The third guy spat on the ground. A black eyepatch concealed one eye but the other stared at me with distaste.
‘I do,’ I confessed. ‘She can be very satisfying.’
The three men sniggered, sharing an amused look.
‘Get her!’ Battle Axe tossed his head towards Selena, already undoing his belt. ‘I’ll go first.’
I forced myself to walk away while the two guys closed in, even as every fibre of me screamed to stay and shield her. I moved a rusty-bladed shovel out of the way and settled on top of a barrel, my eyes glued to the scene in front of me, my mouth suddenly dry, my heart in my throat.
Selena put up no resistance, letting herself to be touched, dirty hands eagerly familiarising themselves with her curves through her soft shirt and tight trousers, gripping her body from either side, attempting to hold her and undress her at the same time. Had our tora been around, this would have been undoubtedly the end of the exercise. Given that it was only the two of us however, I gritted my teeth and stayed where I was. I knew why she chose to let them do it. Now their hands were full and busy, their focus solely on parts that presented no danger to them, leaving their own bodies unguarded, and foolishly close.
She twisted suddenly, turning towards Wicked Smile, grabbing his shirt with both hands and leaning against him as her right heel connected with One Eye’s groin behind her. The distance between them was so short, the man staggered back, bending in agony as her leg extended into the full kick.
Selena pivoted slightly on her heel and glanced down to check that the ground behind her was clear, something she should have done ages ago, as she pushed herself still closer against Wicked Smile, unbalancing him further. The guy was so surprised he even followed her gaze to see what she was looking at, clearly clueless about what was about to happen next.
Selena fell back, pulling him with her, her right leg straightening towards his stomach in the process. She hadn’t timed the move perfectly though and her foot ended up a couple of inches lower, which could have turned into a problem, had she been any slower or her opponent heavier. Wicked Smile was a skinny youngster though, who was now helplessly flying over Selena, half-carried by the momentum, half-accelerated by the kick. A moment later he was on his back, clutching at his balls and groaning in pain. It was such a pleasing sight, that I decided not to deduct extra marks from her.”