Since Today is Acacia Latione’s Birthday!

Every week, I’ll be posting a chapter from my book series: Solen Masters. This is a Paid Exclusive for a month in certain places until it’s posted here, before I release it to a Selection of Fiction Sharing sites, such as Scribblehub and Royal Road. Most Chapters for each book will at some point be mostly removed from almost all places. If you spot a typo I can correct it before the final release.

Staring at in to bucket while in a cell was not high on the list most peoples things to do. However, for elf Acacia Latione, there was little choice. She felt like was going to vomit, again. As a Combatant for the Lufas Arena upstairs, Acacia was kept in the cell to keep her away from other Combatants, and to prevent her from running away.

Just before Red Sand Matches in Lufas Arena, a selection of combatants had been seen loosing control of certain bodily functions. While Acacia felt the pressure like any other person, elven or otherwise, she had reasons for suspecting something else causing her to vomit. She had been unable to keep most meals, mainly leak soup, down since she was captured several days ago, and her nails where unnaturally blue. The root of the Loiasa plant had this effect on her, and she couldn’t taste it when in leak soup.

The inability to keep a meal down had left Acacia feeling weak. She felt exhausted despite not even getting off the shelf that served as her bed in her cell. Her last so-called meal before she woke in her cell was roughly three pints of various alcoholic beverages. She suspected that one of the drinks she had been was given had a sleeping drought in it. She didn’t know the person who gave it to her, and couldn’t even remember him, or even if was a her.

Somebody wanted her dead, which was not new for her. It was a constant thing, for a Queen whose parents were murdered. Being caught in a game of kill or be killed was not a new thing for her, it was almost a daily event. Her skill with a blade was earned with blood and pain. She had scars of some of her less successful deflects. She was glad that most of them where not noticeable at a glance, even when she washed.

In a one on one fight, Acacia’s experience could give her the upper hand. However, the fight was going to be a every man or woman for themselves. While she could attack on a few occupied competitors, she could get attacked herself while she was dispatching another. With no shield available, there would be ample opportunity for a quick strike as she parried an attack with her sword. Her Armor, if called that, showed more skin than most underwear.

“If I hadn’t known that you’d been fed Loiasa root, I’d have to check your tum to see if you’re expecting a little one,” said a female voice from out side Acacia’s cell.

Acacia turned to see a clearly pregnant drow elf woman, dressed in very smart dress. Her skin was a midnight blue, unlike Acacia’s drug induced staining, it was her natural colour. Her white hair tied in to a fancy ponytail, enhanced the business like dress. Tied to her left arm was a black ribbon, it was common for mourners to wear a black ribbon on their left arm. Contrary to her smart look, she was holding a burlap sack with a sword hilt sticking out.

Acacia was surprised that she had a visitor when the opening ceremony had already started. What surprised Acacia the most was that she knew who woman standing outside her cell.

“How rude of me, Miss Sophia Rosa, I’m Tabitha Rondita-Solanaea. I’m your new boss,” said the young drow. Sophia Rosa was the name on her cell, and the name of the woman who should be fighting in the arena instead of Acacia. The drow elf in front of her had lied to her, and both Acacia and the drow knew it. The woman was called Tabitha Solanaea Eston, and she worked indirectly for Acacia. The only person who was buying it was the guards, who had the key.

“OK, senior partner. My sister, Samantha Solanaea, is the other partner. Well, I’d normally be upstairs showing off to other owners and wealthy people. But, I swear that baby is going to be a fighter one day, as it feels like someone is using my bladder and stomach as a punching bag. You can’t really impress someone when you’re running to the bathroom every few minutes.” Tabitha continued apparently not needing to breathe.

“Ma’am?” asked a guard who came to check on Tabitha.

“Oh, there you are.” Tabitha had pulled a piece of legal looking paper, and was showing it to the guard, “I’d like to inspect my latest purchase before the big match. Can you open the door so I can give her gear?”

“Do you have…?” the guard started to ask before Tabitha showed the guard another piece of paper, this one had a wax seal set in to it. His key slotted straight in to the lock. He was anxious to get back to his duties, “Ma’am, will you be fine if I leave you? I need to check on the brand new prisoner in the Moon Wing. We’re very busy today.”

“This will be acceptable,” Tabitha said. Acacia noticed that Tabitha’s ears had changed from her usual dark blue, to a deep violet. Most people would not have noticed the colour change, but Acacia had played Poker with Tabitha to know her tell for a good hand.

It took only a few seconds for the door to open, and Tabitha and Acacia were facing each other in the cell. He shut the door, but in his haste he did not lock the door.

Tabitha sighed as she thought the guard was out of earshot. “Sorry Cassey, I can’t break you of here. At least not yet. Lana wants you to rescue someone.”

“The new Prisoner in the Moon Wing?” Acacia asked.

“Yeah, how did you know?” Tabitha said in surprise. She had pulled a pastry from her bag and gave it Acacia. She couldn’t work of the filling from the just baked smell.

“Your ears changed colour slightly when he mentioned the new prisoner. Lana usually has more information when she asks for a job like this.” Acacia said. Lana Weiss, the leader of House Wiess, was one of Acacia’s backers, in exchange for support and places of refuge. Lana, usually though her subordinates, had often explained their job in enough detail to complete it. Some jobs she had completed already, had elements that some would claim supernatural. When questioned about it, Lana and her employees would state science. Acacia took a bite of her pastry.

“She said you, Taithin and Erika know him from Reachal. His name is Trey Kazuki. Lana said that he would dress really weird,” Tabitha explained.

“I did meet him for a while. His tailor is very outlandish. It won’t be hard to find him, if he is here. The issue I have is that match is, only over after everyone else is dead. Please tell me that Lana, has a plan for both of us to escape,” Acacia asked, between bites.

“Lana says that Trey Kazuki knows how to do it. But going off what Taithin says, he’s a bookworm, not a fighter. Erika agrees with him. It would be like a execution for him. Lana says that his power can make it that person appears dead, while actually being alive. There are limits however, decapitation… being the most obvious one to not wake up from. Sustaining too many injuries, or just gaining a second fatal injury would just be nearly impossible wake up from even with Lana’s help,” Tabitha had apparently started to repeat what Lana said.

“So what does Lana needs me to do, skip the talk about the hocus pocus, it not like I can do it anyway,” Acacia said.

“Oh, yeah. Time is of the essence, and there is no back up plan if you fail to follow out Lana’s task. You need to protect Trey Kazuki without looking like you’re doing it. Near the end of the match, Trey will do his thing. He will decide who going to fake death. As for ‘hocus pocus’ you can do it,” Tabitha smiled.

“What?” Acacia stammered, around the remains of the pastry.

Tabitha sat on Acacia’s so called bed, and opened her bag. “Shared sight, penetration mode. That’s what Lana and her friends call it, I think. They’ve known that you and my sister have been training this in secret for the last year. Lana has given me a few tricks that should help you in battle. Strip off, I’ve got a change of clothes for you here,” Tabitha smile grew.

The armour Tabitha had already had pulled out of her bag looked better than the one she was wearing. Acacia was however not expecting Tabitha to pull a bottle of dark liquid out of the bag.

“Body Paint?” Acacia asked when Tabitha started shaking the bottle.

“Yeah, Lana’s idea. Apparently with the right paint and pattern you can create most of those spells that Lana people can do. The one I’ll be painting on your chest will quadruple the rate that your body can heal itself. Lana says that it helps someone else who’s trying to heal you, apparently she thinks you may find some with those skills,” Tabitha said as started to draw a line from the sternum, between Acacia’s breasts, up to her left cheek.

“Does this have to be this big?” Acacia said as a Tabitha drew second line from her chest down to her left knee.

Tabitha sighed, “Yeah, it’s a all or nothing. We could have made it smaller and better, but you’d have to have Lana in here. But what you’ve got is one of The Lace and Leather’s best painter, and a drawing of the pattern.” Tabitha showed Acacia a note of paper, it was a drawing of nude girl with the lines that Tabitha was drawing on her.

“Well, some people people are expecting this type of art work out there. Do you know why Lana didn’t give this to us earlier?” Acacia asked.

“There’s only one bottle of this paint, and it only works for you. According to Lana, it takes 4 years to brew it, and it needs a lot of your hair. There’s about a foot and a half of your hair used to create this bottle. It really helps with making Solen marks work. Just don’t ask me to explain it,” Tabitha said.

“What made you change your mind about this stuff? Two weeks ago you didn’t believe me that I could see things though walls, or behind me,” Acacia asked.

“Lana showed me a few things, one drawing she did on me was almost like when you shared sight with us, and when I concentrated on things. She called it Penetration Sight,” Tabitha said with a smile, “Lana said you can restore the bond between you and Sam without needing to touch.”

“Like imagining creating the bond with Sam?” Acacia said.

“Well, yeah. Remember the intimate moments and the times you both used the power,” Tabitha said. A flash of regret and annoyance soon followed, “Just keep your hips still. I’m still painting. The bond could be made without…. the dancing, as some would say.”

Samantha was the twin sister to Tabitha. Prior to Tabitha’s pregnancy, both girls were almost identical. The most noticeable difference was that Sam had her iris on her right eye turned red due to a blow to the head. Sam also had some different tastes to Tabitha. It was the one of these differences in tastes that lead Acacia becoming closer to Sam than Tabitha.

Acacia tried to remeber the night involving alcohol and good food in each others company, led to them discovering the shared sight ability. Sadly both of the Acaica and Samatha woke up with inability to recall that night. Acacia also learned first hand why Sam did not like bright sunny days.

Acacia closed her eyes and saw a hand with dark blue skin, holding a yellow ball of jelly. If Acacia had to guess, Jeeana Spheres. These most likely would have been prepared with expensive imported wine, a white sparking wine. Her father, the king, only had them made for parties, usually with several unmarried men offering her dances. A unexpected sensation of bubbles bursting in nose often caught out people on their time. The blue hands were bushing their owners top lip, assuming that one could look through their own face. The subsequent check of the hands, only showed a red paste that would be her lip marking.

Opening her eyes, Acacia saw Tabitha drawing a fine pattern on her right leg, using a finer brush than the initial strokes. The thicker brush she had been using, had been placed in between in her teeth.

“Thound her?” Tabitha asked.

“Yeah. She’s having a Jeeana Sphere. Did you screw Ceriwan Rondita for reals?” Acacia asked. Ceriwan Rondita was un-married minor noble, who had given Acacia some protection. Today, Tabitha was posing as his wife.

“Those thaid thor thy a sthonsor,” Tabitha removed the paint brush and stared in to Acacia’s eyes. “Most people are expecting you not be alive after the first half of eliminations. I’ve had more people asked me if you’d take down another person, usually one of the more experienced fighters in the arena, than me and Sammy get asked in a night out.”

“More than twenty? There’s only sixteen in the arena,” Acacia whistled. Acacia had spent some evenings having a girly night out with the pair, and found the attention on the twins annoying.

“Seventeen, actually. We’re not to know about Trey Kazuki, yet. While we wait for the paint to dry, you can see the arm brace, a small breastplate, and a few other pieces to protect you. That still leaves a lot of you unprotected. At least, it’s better than outfit that I can bend to fit with my bare hands,” Tabby said as she bent the old breastplate with her fingers. Her look of worry changed to a smile, “A 170 centis, 65 kilo girl should not have an issue with getting out the way of the dangerous end of those blades out there. Most people think you don’t know how to fight. The girl who you replacing got herself beaten up by a blind woman.”

Acacia held back a laugh, “Rachel did what?”

“Took down a so called Gladiator. She didn’t see it coming,” Tabitha groaned, “Your double, not Rachel. I see why you keep her around. She knows more and can do more than she lets on. Rachel got most of the information we needed to find you from her. I’ve heard that a few of the top people are not on top form. Just remember that you should pretend to be the Rookie.”

Acacia slipped in to a short pullover, and a pair of shorts. The metal armour tightly strapped over Acacia’s clothes.

“Wait, I forgot something,” Tabitha grabbed Acacia’s face, and started to draw on her left cheek.

“What!?” Acacia exclaimed.

“Tsk, no way that looks like a T any more. But I can make it an S,” Tabitha said, as she restarted drawing on Acacia’s cheek, “It’s Colosseum rules, all property of an condemned owner must be marked with an identifying mark. Its written in Dareric, I don’t think you are able to read it if you saw it. As property of Samantha, I’d expect her wanting your assistance in a private matter this evening.”

The sound of the guard coming down the corridor meant that time was up. Acacia’s round was going to be next.

As the guard open the gate to the cell, he noticed something in Tabitha’s bag. “Don’t tell anyone that I let a civilian in a cell with gladiator with a weapon.”

“You’re afraid that I’ll kill the next act?” Tabitha joked.

“No, ma’am. Quite the opposite,” the guard said.

“Make passionate love? Not on this bed, I’d be pulling splinters out of my backside for weeks,” Tabitha giggled as she stood up.

The walk to the gate was quiet, the din from the arena grew louder as they approached the gate. The gate, technically gates, acted as holding pen for the next combatants or victims. Acacia had to step over what she suspected to be warg droppings. Wargs were large dangerous beast if one couldn’t control one, given the damage to the Pen, the former occupants were barely trained. Even Trained wargs were still danger to their riders. Having just eaten, the Wargs were not likely to make second appearance in the arena.

The guard pulled open the gate, waved Acacia though. He turned to face Tabitha, he spoke loudly to make sure he was heard and understood, “Once I close this gate, your property will be in the Arena. This is last chance to make sure she’s ready and armed.”

Tabitha pulled out the sword from the bag. She smiled she presented the sword to Acacia, “I like the feel of this one.”

Acacia picked up the sword and stepped back to give herself some room. She swung the sword around herself. The sword felt balanced in a way that Acacia liked, and more importantly it felt sturdy. She had seen someone injure a fellow solider during training, after they had purchased a poorly made sword. The sword came apart mid swing, with the blade ending up in the fellow solider’s leg.

She caught a flash of light in the corner of her eye. It took a few seconds to realise it was polished bronze shield. She could see herself in the reflection. Acacia had her blonde hair tied up in to several braided stumps. The paint that seemed to cover her body appeared to be as if they were always there, like tattoos.

Now in the light, Acacia could see the blood red cloth and the black plates of her Armour. On some people the outfit could look menacing, but on Acacia’s petite body and combined with Acacia’s youthful face; Acacia looked like a untested young girl who thought she could fight. In her twenties, Acacia was still considered a child by many Elves.

The Guard caught Acacia looking at the shield, “Sorry, that shield already been claimed by the boss. If you want it so bad, talk to me after you’re done out there.”

“Hey,” Tabitha called through the gate, as it closed, “Got anything you need me to pass on?”

The portcullis that was between Acacia and the Area started to open.

“Tell Sam,” Acacia started to say, “I’ll say it myself when I get back.”

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