For the first time ever, I’ll be sharing a piece from my upcoming book, In the Frigid Ruins — for free! Read it below, comment what you think, and if you like what you see, go to nadinapopoviciu.com/shop to pre-order your copy to get next month!
WARNING: This excerpt includes gore and violence. (It’s medieval times, what can you expect?)
Opening a door to his right, he accessed the places where his parents and Codrin, among other invited royal families, would sit to spectate on benches of polished dark wood with velvet seats and corners lined in gold, facing the field below. He wondered what their reactions would be. Would they watch in horror? No, this was a once-in-a-generation spectacle to behold! Some might watch with boredom, others intently and giddily. From his guess, most of the men would place their bets and criticize the fighting form of the Marestran royal brothers while the women would gossip and put their hands over their eyes, pretending not to peek through their fingers. Dragan sat down in one of the front seats, looking out through the four-foot-tall opening that acted as a large window. The field looked the same as always, a large ellipse four hundred feet across one way and two hundred the other. Surrounding it were rising benches that could seat over ten thousand spectators, and all had a clear view of the sand-covered stage, which now hosted...his younger brother? Ludevit’s curly, bronze hair shone in the sun, his golden baby face scrunched up in concentration as he gnashed his teeth and swung two scimitars, cutting through the air as gracefully as if it were a dance. It would have been beautiful had it not been for the blood that spotted and stained the field below, along with the lacerated bodies of a couple of slaves. The last one standing held a cheaper, smaller sword, holding his side as if trying to hold in the blood spilling out through his fingers. “Put up a real fight,” Ludevit snarled at the slave, whose ivory-colored skin was half-covered in dark, wet blood. To his credit, the slave tightened his hand on his wound and tried to swing toward the youngest Prince, but sadly met his fate when the curves of those two swords wrapped around his neck and swiped his head off cleanly and effortlessly. As the only living man on the field, Ludevit raised his hands in victory, the blood on those blades glistening in the sunlight that bore down on him. Dragan watched his brother, not sure whether to be impressed or horrified. He knew from a young age that his father valued strength more than anything in a man and had educated them on the importance of maintaining that status in their kingdom, but it was another thing to see the implications for himself outside of a formal fighting circumstance. It sank in even further when Ludevit surveyed the stadium and met his brother’s gaze. Dragan could not even recognize his half-brother anymore. Those large eyes in which he had always seen innocence and wonder were now dark with bloodthirst and malice, paired with a cruel smile.
If you liked this excerpt and want to read more, go to nadinapopoviciu.com/shop and pre-order your signed copy of In the Frigid Ruins, and to be the first to find out what happens next! Pre-ordering will close on April 30th, so get it while you can!