Book II : Mourning Dye
Not what my war-training was for
As Fourth Chevenga Shae-Arano-e is dragged in chains into the heart of the Empire of Arko, he’s thinking that maybe those folks at home who said he was a fool to go visiting Arko on a peace mission were right.
But it gets worse. The slaver holding him doesn’t know his identity but can discern his warrior prowess, and so sells him to the Mezem, the City of Arko’s gladiatorial arena, to fight for the titillation of the audience or face an agonizing death. Chevenga undertook war-training only for the sacred task of defending his people. But to survive, he has no choice but to win fifty bouts in front of the slavering crowd, for which he will be rewarded with freedom.
He finds unexpected friends. His best friend Mana, captured separately and brought in without warning; Skorsas, the ultimately-loyal Mezem servant and peerless fashion advisor; Minis, the spoiled young heir to the Imperial Throne, whose favour is treason; Iliakaj the Immortal, the utterly-sanguine Ring-fighter who has more victories than anyone ever should... and Niku, the one female Ring-fighter, whose love for Chevenga causes her to entrust him with her people’s great secret: they have retained the technology of flight.
Things get much worse when Arko overruns Yeola-e using a strategy which Chevenga suspects was drug-extracted from his own mind. Haunted by the shadowy Mahid, aided by secret Yeoli operatives trying to spring him and invited to gruesome dinners with the Imperator now and then, Chevenga struggles to stay both alive and sane, so as to return home and lead the liberation of his people.