One Arena. One Love. ONE DAY.
Happy-ever-after is never guaranteed but that’s the gladiator’s mission. It wasn’t his plan to fight to the death, but plans change. When Harvesters steal his wife, he tracks them down. The hunt takes all of his money and most of his self-control, but she’s worth it. He joins her as a slave forced to fight for his life without hesitation.
His wife is a deadly warrior, so it’s too bad she doesn’t know him. Memory stripped and struggling to survive she has no interest in the fool claiming to be her husband. He’s just another target standing between her and freedom, but not for long. She’ll take down anything and anyone in her way.
Can the gladiator live long enough to win his wife’s love? Unlikely. It’s the end of the season and the final day of fighting. They’re about to enter the Carnival of Death which leaves only a single survivor.
One of them must die.
I want to tell you my story—or at least my part in a much larger story. It may seem sad, but like all of us, this story is a work in progress.
The Old Man’s Journal
The man standing in darkness had no idea who he was. That realization hit like a fist in the gut—folding him forward to rest his hands on his thighs. His head ached and dizziness came with the movement, tipping him to one side.
His shoulder collected a cliff face. He let the rough rock hold him in place while his fingers explored the pain in his temple. He found a sticky mass cutting across his brow. It felt like a furrow that was damp in the middle, but dry and crusted around the edge. When he lowered his hand to inspect his fingertips, they looked dark in the low light.
It took him a long slow minute to realize they were wet with blood. His blood.
The man sucked in a breath. He was shocked to be hurt, but not surprised. The wound explained his amnesia, although little more. Was he a fighter? A criminal? Someone who courted danger, or an innocent who’d suffered an unprovoked attack? More importantly, was he still at risk?
A careful step let him turn to brace his back against the wall.
Sweat coated his bare skin and he tasted bile when he tipped his head back to rest it against the cool rock face.
The stars above were strange.
He took a long breath and held it until his panic settled.
The confusion still made him dizzy, but he ignored it to look around, gathering information. It was night-time, with no sign of dawn or dusk on the horizon. His fingers drifted carefully across the cliff supporting him until they found a straight line of something more brittle than rock. It flaked away under his touch, and he realized it was mortar. He was leaning against a wall made of massive blocks.
They scraped the man’s bare shoulders, and he was suddenly aware of the chill night air against his uncovered skin. He looked down and was relieved to find he wasn’t naked. He was wearing a leather vest with a cloak thrown back over bare shoulders, and trousers with reassuringly solid boots beneath.
There was a matching wall opposite, across a rough path. He was standing in an alley that felt more like a gully. It fell away to angle down toward a cluster of lights in the distance.
Where the hell am I? he wondered and shrugged. He was jumping ahead, but questions were like that. They tended to stack up quickly. He needed to start at the bottom of the pile. He drew a deep breath, and his voice was surprisingly steady. “Who the hell am I?”
“Your gene tag identifies you as a gladiator. You are seeking work in the arena on the slave-trading planet Vertigo,” a warm female voice said beside him.
Meet the Authors
Casey Lea is the pen name for a mother and daughter creative duo, dedicated to sharing their passion for all things sci-fi and fantastical.
A doting grandmother with too much time on her hands took the opportunity to put pen to paper. Her older daughter kindly placed the resulting scribblings in one of those new-fangled so-called “computing machines” and a writing partnership was born.
The Lea (pronounced Lee) half of Casey Lea now spends her days wrestling with words and her memory while reading aloud to any cat careless enough to settle nearby. Daughter Casey edits the results while wrangling her adorable offspring.
After a decade on the rollercoaster ride of indie publishing their shared passion for epic love and grand adventure, spiced with advanced tech and ancient magic, remains undimmed.
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