“He’ll come on strong at first, trying to intimidate me. I just have to ride it out until he wears himself down.”


The Chaos growled and snarled across the ring, his glowing yellow eyes on Giguhl. “Good luck with that.” I patted Giguhl on the shoulder.

Slade jumped into the center of the pit and raised his hands for silence. “Good evening, fight fans! Tonight we have a special treat for you. Our new champion, Giguhl ‘the Killer’ from Gizal, has been challenged by two opponents.” A roar of approval from the crowd.

I grabbed Giguhl’s arm. “Did you know about this?”

He nodded, his eyes still on the Chaos demon. “Yeah, the second challenge came in last-minute.”

“This is bullshit,” I said. “How can he expect you to fight twice in one night?”

“I’m cool with it.” Giguhl shrugged. “Plus, I told him I’d only do it if he gave us a bigger cut of the winnings. He was fine with it.”

I’ll just bet he was, I thought. Knowing Slade, he had all the Black Light District bookies in his pocket. Giving Giguhl a slightly bigger cut of the purse wouldn’t affect Slade’s bottom line too much.

Slade carried on with his showboating in the ring. I turned to Giguhl and made him look at me. “If you lose this fight, I’m going to kick your ass. You got that?”

Giguhl frowned. “You suck at this motivational-speech stuff. You know that, right?”

The bell dinged. I punched him in the shoulder, racking my brain for something more inspiring. “Go get him, Killer!”

Giguhl rolled his eyes and jogged into the ring like a boxer. Not to be outdone, Chaos performed some sort of crazy spinning entrance. Like a whirling dervish. Or the Tasmanian Devil. Giguhl jumped out of the way when a spin turned into a leaping kick. The Chaos turned and growled, spittle dripping from its jagged teeth. It pounced then, going after Giguhl with sharp claws. It slashed and snapped its teeth in a frenzy of movement. By the time Giguhl extricated himself, he was covered in red slashes across his chest and face.

He fell back, bleeding and bruised. I held my breath as the Chaos went in for another round. Only this time, Giguhl was ready. He punched Jackal Face right in the snout and followed that with a swift kick between the legs. The Chaos howled and fell to the ground. But Giguhl wasn’t done. He grabbed the demon by his ears and pulled him off the floor. Giguhl’s biceps heaved with the effort. He tossed the Chaos across the ring. The demon crashed into a group of spectators, who fell like bowling pins.

Giguhl turned to receive adoration from the cheering crowd. He absorbed their attention, inflating and expanding with it. A roar made the hair on my arms raise. Giguhl turned just in time to receive a punishing kick to the face from the livid Chaos demon. Blood spewed from Giguhl’s mouth as he fell back, almost in slow motion.

The Chaos followed him down, going for the neck with his snapping teeth.

“Giguhl!” I shouted and moved forward. A hand caught my arm. I turned around to see Maisie frowning at me. I’d been so caught up in the fight, I’d forgotten about her.

“Let him handle it.”

I opened my mouth to tell her to butt out, but she nudged me just as a cheer rose from the crowd.

“Look.” She nodded toward the ring. I swung around to see the Chaos fly through the air again. This time, those standing in his path scurried out of the way. His body slammed into a cinderblock wall, cracking with the force.

Giguhl rose from the pit covered in dirt, blood, and sweat. He swiped a claw across his lips and stalked after the Chaos with murder in his eyes. This time, the Chaos didn’t fight back when Giguhl dragged his ass off the ground. Giguhl punched until his claws were bloody and raw and the Chaos’s teeth started raining down like hailstones. Giguhl moved to the midsection, savaging ribs and internal organs. The Chaos’s broken jaw moved crookedly, spilling out blood and saliva. A faint yelp emitted from the shattered maw. “Mercy!”

An hour later, Slade stuck his head into the locker room. “Hey, Killer? You ready to kick some more ass?”

Giguhl sat on a bench with the hood of his red-and-black robe pulled down over his head. If Slade had come in five minutes earlier, he would have caught Maisie performing a quick healing spell to speed up Giguhl’s recovery. I’d been worried about bringing my sister along, but now I thanked the goddess she was here to help. Even with Giguhl’s healing powers, two demon fights in one night wouldn’t be easy without some magical intervention.

I intercepted Slade and pushed him back into the hall.

“What can I do for you?” he said, seemingly unperturbed by my brusque interruption.

I crossed my arms. “What the hell were you thinking accepting two challenges in one night for him? I’m his manager—you should have asked me first.”

“Calm down. The second fight is rigged.”

My eyebrows slammed down. “What?”

He smiled, looking pleased with himself. “The demon’s handler’s in to me for a lot of money. I told him his debt would be cleared if he ensured Giguhl would win the fight.”

“Why would you do that?”

Slade smiled. “Surely you’re not that naive, Sabina.”

“You bet on Giguhl.”

He smiled. “I knew you were a clever girl.” He moved closer. “So just relax. Giguhl will breeze through this next fight, and when he’s done, we’ll all be a little richer.”

I sighed. “Next time, you talk to me first before you make decisions regarding Giguhl. As his manager, I have the right to veto these decisions.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

I moved back toward the door. “I’ll send Giguhl out in a sec.”

“Sabina?”

I stopped at the door and turned to look at him. “Yeah?”

“Any chance you can ditch your mage friend after the fight?”

I cocked my head. “No.”

He shot me a heated glance I felt all the way to my undercarriage. “Pity.”

23

I’d expected Giguhl to start shit talking the minute we reached the ring and saw his opponent. Instead, he stopped short, his gaze transfixed on something across the pit.

“Hey!” I complained when I bumped into his back.

He didn’t say anything. I followed his eyes and realized the problem. A gorgeous chick stood in the other corner. She was about six feet tall, and her long, peacock blue hair shimmered in the overhead lights.

I felt Maisie lean around me and let out a low whistle. “Is she for real?”

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