Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Title: ALL WILL SUFFER ME
Then, in one night, all of Dailia’s attempts to exact vengeance unravel and lead to an unspeakable tragedy. As her past comes back to haunt her, she will be forced to decide what she is really fighting for … and if keeping her secrets is worth forfeiting her power.
She saw the twitch of her opponent's leg just before his body twisted, and in the darkness of a blink Dailia Lovo debated on letting his fist connect with her face. She felt everyone's eyes on her like a small wave of heat against her skin. Torch smoke filled the air of the tavern, carrying the shouts and jeers of the stomping spectators. They all watched and waited for her to best the man, or get knocked down herself.
Her opponent finally shifted his weight and swung. She stopped herself from dodging and let his meaty fist slam into the side of her face. Pain exploded through her cheek as her head snapped to the side. Dailia stepped beyond the man's reach and flexed her jaw, wondering how many more blows would make getting paid worth the pain.
Tamsin's voice rose over the roar of the crowd. "I said 'win', Dailia. Win!"
Dailia flicked a glance at her employer before she leapt away from her opponent's next attack. Tamsin's demand echoed in her mind. Put this brute down quickly so we can get out of here. She didn't know how much gemstone her boss had riding on the fight. She learned a long time ago that it didn't matter. This was the only way to make up for what she'd taken from Tamsin. She was only to concern herself with winning whatever fight he chose for her.
Dailia shook her head and focused on the man circling across from her. He stood a full two heads taller than her. His arms were nearly as thick around as her waist, yet he moved deftly for someone so large. The odds were surely against her, and she huffed a chuckle at the amount of gemstone the crowd could have bet against her winning.
She dodged another punch aimed at her temple and watched her opponent stumble past her. He regained his footing and distributed his weight into the loose sand beneath him. He snarled at her, stretching the web of scars around his jaw. "If you're just going to dance, I'd rather you be naked."
Dailia pulled a corner of her lips into a humorless smile. She thought of seven ways to take the man down as she stepped along the perimeter of the ring. Yet her smile faded as she thought of the consequences. Fighting in the ring wasn't the same as killing in the field. Dead men never cornered her in a dark alley, demanding a private rematch. She was free to collect her payment and find a place to rest.
Yet it never happened that way after she won Tamsin his money in front of the crowds. He would spend half his gemstone in the taverns and brothels of Porold, oblivious to all the unofficial challenges she faced in the streets. Every man who felt slighted by a stronger female would come at her. They all felt the need to best her, either in the streets, or on the cold ground. She couldn't count how many times she'd been forced to kill the men she’d already beaten in the ring.
She spotted Tamsin just outside the ring, his greedy fingers clawed around the rope. His gaze burned into her, demanding that she finish the fight. Chirin stood at his shoulder, his face shadowed by his hood. No one seemed to notice that he'd kept her jaw from shattering. With all the flashes of light from the other Ecteniles in the place, her brother's energy hadn't caught anyone's eye. He inclined his head the slightest inch before she turned her attention back to the fight.
"Nothing to say, princess?"
"Don't call me that," she growled under her breath. She lifted to the balls of her feet.
Dailia saw a possible ending for the fight in her mind.
Running knee to the face.
She bounced on her toes as the man came at her for another swing. She dodged his fist and drove her own into his solar plexus. He grunted and bent at the waist. She took a step back.
Elbow to the top of the head.
Her opponent recovered. He threw out another punch and caught her in the chest. She bit the inside of her cheek to keep from crying out in pain. His reach was far longer than hers. She would have to keep her distance if she was going to stay on her feet.
Kick his legs from under him.
Dailia leaned back on her left heel. She threw out her right leg, her bent arms coming up for balance. He leapt back a second too soon and backpedaled across the ring. Dailia let her foot fall, bending her knees into a wide-legged stance.
Beat him until he bleeds. Or passes out. Whichever comes second.
She smirked at the very different fight happening in her mind. But then she saw herself in a dark alley, her opponent having recovered from his injury. She saw him coming at her again and again, with no crowd to cheer him on or call foul when he fought dirty. She saw herself pull the knife from her boot and drive it through the bottom of his chin into his skull. She saw his body lying on the ground, bleeding as payment for his pride and arrogance.
Dailia let the man charge at her.
His shoulder nailed into her stomach and knocked the air from her lungs. They both fell into the sand, Dailia taking the brunt of the fall along with the man's weight. Her spine collided with the hard ground beneath the loose sand, threatening to crack under the impact. Her opponent scrambled to sit across her waist. He let all of his weight do the work of holding her down, using his knees to pin her arms.
He bent at the waist and grabbed a fistful of her white hair. He brought his face within inches of hers. Dailia ignored the rank ale and fish on his breath. "So I was right. You do look better on your back."
A bell clang over the noise of the crowd. The fight was over.
"Get off of me," Dailia said through clenched teeth.
The man sneered at her and let his hand roam down her neck and chest. His hand went to grope her breast.
"Do it and lose your jewels." Dailia held the man's stare and let her intentions shine through her eyes.
The man scoffed and looked at her arms. "And how would that happen?"
Dailia twisted her hip against the inside of his thigh. The motion triggered the latch on the side of her belt. The sliding of metal sounded at her waist. Dailia watched the man looks towards the sound. She felt his legs tense around her. He saw the sharp tips of retractable silver spikes peeking from the open spaces in her belt.
His eyes slid back to Dailia’s face. She let her lips curl into a smile. She didn't catch what the man mumbled as he lumbered to his feet. He dragged his foot and landed a kick to her ribs before stepping over her. Dailia stayed still, not ready to deal with Tamsin. Yet dragging it out would only make him angrier, and she still needed to get paid. She took a deep breath and cleared her mind. Then she rolled up, her spine stretching and settling as she got to her feet.