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24,000 words and going strong! Here’s a quick snippet! Got to reach that 27,000 goal by this weekend! Lots to do!

“Good evening, Gladiatora Lucia. It is good to see you alive. I am happy to see my training has not been wasted, and in fact, was used to quite good effect.” Mergovin said, offering his arm. She stepped carefully in her long, formal toga, trying not to drag the hem along the dirt and stone floor.

“Well I’m incredibly glad to be here, myself, thanks.” She replied. He smiled at her.

“Are you ready to enter the most dangerous arena of all?”

“Oh?”

“Politics, the Imperial Family, and the head industrialists and merchants of the city. Do not mistake their bland faces and fawning attitudes for warmth, kindness, or friendship. This is the den of sharks, and you are a novice swimmer, out beyond the breakers for the first time. Watch what you say, say it to as few people as possible, and avoid answering questions directly about anything. You seem to have a connection with the Primus Imperio, use it to your advantage, but don’t be seen as too close, as it may be used against you.”

“Why, Lanista, I didn’t know you cared.”

“I care about the ludus. What you do reflects on us, can impact us. I’ve seen whole ludi closed for a wrong word in someone’s ear at a party in Byzantium. I watched a famous gladiator strung up for daring to smile the wrong way at the governor’s latest play thing.” He leaned in close. “I’ve figured out who your family is, Lucia. If I can do it, so can they. Now, shall we be to the carriage?” Lucia’s jaw dropped at those words, and her stomach twisted so violently she thought she might sick up right there on the pavement. But Mergovin hustled her into the carriage and she leaned on him to steady herself.

“Keep it together.” He whispered to her. She squeezed his arm so tight she was sure her nails drew blood. Taking several ragged breaths, she won control of her body again. So far it was only he who knew her family. He wouldn’t betray her. Not when it would involve aggravating an infamous family with the influence and power to make someone disappear. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone had already recognized me in the Coliseum. Half of Rome attended the festivities.


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